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Famed political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal in critical condition

By Herb Boyd | Amsterdam News | March 31, 2015

4f0e16551e795.image_t750x550Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the world’s most prominent and celebrated political prisoners, is reportedly in a diabetic coma and in intensive care at the Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, PA.

According to emails from his contingent of supporters, Abu-Jamal was taken to the hospital facility on Monday “Shackled to the bed, alone, and prevented from knowing that his family is close by he remains in intensive care. Prison officials and hospital officials when not spreading misinformation are denying Mumia’s family access to visits, while also denying the family and his lawyers any information or records about his condition.”

His brother, Keith Cook stated “The rules that the prisons have are very arcane. They don’t give out any information about prisoners to their families or anyone else. It’s like you have your hands tied because you don’t know how the prisoner is and you have no way of talking to him. I remember a month ago— Phil Africa exercising in the prison, next thing they know they moved him to a hospital and didn’t tell his family where he was, and three days later he was dead.”

As of Tuesday morning, the family has been given access to see Abu-Jamal who has been incarcerated since 1982 for the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Long the subject of countless rallies and demonstrations with protesters, like him, proclaiming his innocence, he spent years on death row before being removed three years ago and now serving a life sentence.

Veteran activist and a close associate of Abu-Jamal, Pam Africa was outraged by the treatment and conditions he was enduring. “Prison officials are lying,” she said. “Mumia is going through torture at the hands of the Department of Corrections through medical neglect. It is clear to people that they want to kill Mumia. They gave him the wrong medication which made his condition worse.

“Inmates on the inside who questioned what was happening have been subjected to direct retaliation by the superintendent,” Africa continued. “They have been moving concerned inmates out of Mumia’s unit in an effort to both bury and keep this critical information from the public.”

Ms. Africa was unable to talk extensively when called since she was at the hospital and at a press conference with an aim toward dealing with prison officials.

And dealing with officials of the state, those directly linked to repression and oppression is something Abu-Jamal has a long acquaintance and a relentless resistance. “Armed resistance to slavery, repression, and the racist delusion of white supremacy runs deep in African American experience and history,” he wrote in his book We Want Freedom—A Life in the Black Panther Party. “When it emerged in the mid-1960s from the Black Panther Party and other nationalist or revolutionary organizations, it was perceived and popularly projected as aberrant. This could only be professed by those who know little about the long and protracted history of armed resistance by Africans and their truest allies. The Black Panther Party emerged from the deepest traditions of Africans in America—resistance to negative, negrophobia, dangerous threats to Black life, by any means necessary.”

Another stalwart in the liberation fight for Abu-Jamal is Professor Johanna Fernandez who cited that “Mumia has been complaining about being ill since January. If he had gotten the proper care he needed originally, he would not be in this situation. This crisis illustrates the problem of health care in American prisons as a basic human rights violation. I am personally concerned because Phil Africa of the MOVE organization was rushed to the hospital not long ago in good health and a few days later he was dead. We need to fight to defend Mumia’s life, and that of all prisoners.”

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Humanitarians for War on Syria

AVAAZ, “White Helmets”, HRW, PHR, Amnesty & More

By RICK STERLING | CounterPunch | March 31, 2015

A massive campaign in support of foreign intervention against Syria is underway. The goal is to prepare the public for a “No Fly Zone” enforced by US and other military powers. This is how the invasion of Iraq began. This is how the public was prepared for the US/NATO air attack on Libya.

The results of western ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya have been disastrous. Both actions have dramatically reduced the security, health, education and living standards of the populations, created anarchy and mayhem, and resulted in the explosion of sectarianism and violence in the region. Now the Western/NATO/Israeli and Gulf powers, supported by major intervention-inclined humanitarian organizations, want to do the same in Syria. Is this positive or a repeat of past disasters?

Who are the Humanitarian Interventionists?

Major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the campaign include Avaaz, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), “White Helmets” also known as “Syria Civil Defence, “The Syria Campaign” , Amnesty International etc.. These campaigns are well funded and in accord with the efforts of John McCain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others who are explicit in wanting “regime change” in Syria. Turkey continues to press for the No Fly Zone as the US and Turkey launch another round of training “moderate rebels” at bases in Turkey.

Today March 30, 2015 Avaaz is ramping up its campaign trying to reach 1 million people signing a petition for a “Save Zone” in Syria.

“Life Saving” No Fly Zone?

Avaaz organizer John Tye explained the rationale for the Syria No Fly Zone petition in a lengthy letter. He argues that a No Fly Zone (NFZ) will “save lives” and help “stop the carnage”. In sharp contrast, here is what General Carter Ham, the head of AFRICOM when the ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya was enforced, said on “Face the Nation”

“I worry sometimes that, when people say “impose a no-fly zone,” there is this almost antiseptic view that this is an easily accomplished military task. It’s extraordinarily difficult. Having overseen imposing a no-fly zone in Libya, a force that is vastly inferior in air forces and air defenses to that which exists in Syria, it’s a pretty high-risk operation… It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties and increased risk to our own personnel.”

Recent History of No Fly Zone

The most recent No Fly Zone was that imposed on Libya in March 2011. It was authorized by the UN Security Council after a wave of media reports claiming that Libya was using mercenaries, Libyan troops were engaging in widespread violence and Viagra fueled rape, and finally that the city of Benghazi (population 700,000) were facing massacre and possible ‘genocide’.

Alarming press reports were issued by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, etc.. Avaaz launched an online “Libya No-Fly Zone” petition. These groups rallied public opinion which contributed to the UN Security Council resolution granting USA and NATO right to take over Libyan airspace. That led to a bombing campaign of nearly 10,000 attack sorties over the next eight months, the murder of Qaddafi, deaths of about 30 thousand, downfall of the government and installation of the outside appointed National Transition Council.

Since then there has been an explosion of violence, racism, sectarianism, and chaos. Libyans have experienced a huge decline in security and standards of living. The No Fly Zone which was supposed to “prevent a massacre” has led to vastly greater violence and chaos in Libya and beyond. Fighters and weapons flooded from Libya to Turkey and into Syria, expenses paid by Qatar.

As for the early reports about mercenaries, rape, viagra and looming massacre ….. these have been exposed as false. The mercenaries were fighting on the side of the “rebels”. The massacres were those that followed the NATO destruction. The entire “viagra” story was a fraud.

The details are documented in Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa by Maximillian Forte and Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya by Horace Campbell. Forte devotes one entire chapter to detailing the false manipulation of public opinion by would-be humanitarian organizations.

Avaaz Ignore Results from Libya

Despite writing the long letter in response to specific questions including Libya, Avaaz organizer John Tye avoids any reference to their “Libya No Fly Zone” campaign and the aftermath. This is perhaps understandable but raises questions about sincerity and motivation. Are many members of the public being unwittingly duped into joining the campaign?

Part 2 of this article will examine: What is the evidence of war crimes in Syria? Are the humanitarian interventionists R2P (right to protect) or R4W (responsible for war)?

Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syria Solidarity Movement.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saudi Arabia prepares for possible ground offensive in Yemen, Iran calls for ‘dialogue’

RT | March 31, 2015

Yemen’s ousted officials have requested a ground intervention to bolster a Saudi-led air offensive against the country’s Houthi rebels. Meanwhile, neighboring Iran has made calls for diplomacy, saying the military campaign is a “strategic mistake”.

Saudi authorities say they have gathered troops along the border with Yemen in preparation for any possible ground offensive, Reuters reported on Tuesday, adding that no exact time to send the troops in has yet been stipulated. Pakistan, which has previously supported Riyadh by deploying troops to Saudi Arabia to provide extra regional security, also said that it is sending troops to support Saudi Arabia in the context of the current Yemeni conflict, the agency reported.

Despite airstrikes delivered by Saudi air forces and their Gulf allies, the Houthis are continuing their offensive against the dwindling loyalists of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Hadi was ousted by the rebels and fled to Saudi Arabia, requesting military intervention from the Arab states.

The heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of air offensive was reported on Tuesday, with Saudi troops clashing with Yemeni Houthi fighters. Hadi-allied officials have remained hopeful that Riyadh would send ground troops to turn the tide for the ousted official.

“We are asking for that [Saudi ground operation in Yemen], and as soon as possible, in order to save our infrastructure and save Yemenis under siege in many cities,” the president’s Foreign Minister Riyadh Yasseen said an interview with al-Arabiya Hadath TV channel.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian labeled the Saudi strikes a “strategic mistake” and called for a dialogue to help solve the crisis in Yemen. “Iran and Saudi Arabia can cooperate to solve the Yemeni crisis,” the official said in Kuwait, as cited by Reuters, adding that Iran “recommends all parties in Yemen return to calm and dialogue.”

“This war is not about Yemen or the Houthis, it’s about what used to be a cold war between the Persians and the rest of the Islamic world, especially the Arab Gulf. Today the cold war became a real one,” political analyst Roula Taj told RT.

More casualties have been reported in the escalating conflict, with overnight street clashes in Hadi’s stronghold Aden claiming at least 26 lives, Reuters reported, citing a health ministry official. Ten others died during the Tuesday shelling of a residential building close to the residence once used by the president, the agency reported referring to witnesses accounts. In the central town of Yarim, an air strike hit a fuel tanker, killing at least 10 people, residents said.

Coalition bombers targeted rebel positions near the airport of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, while fighters from the Houthi militia entered a coastal military base overlooking the Red Sea’s strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait on Tuesday, local officials told Reuters. Heavy fighting between Hadi loyalists and opponents was also reported in southern province of Dhalea.

On Monday, 45 people were killed and another 65 injured in an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition at a refugee camp in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen, according to the International Organization for Migration (IMO).

The airstrikes have also affected the Red Cross medical supplies deliveries to the area, with the planes which are carrying the necessities unable to fly to Yemen.

“In Yemen today we have a very serious humanitarian situation. Hospitals are running at a low capacity… We need to bring in urgent medical supplies to sustain our stocks,” spokesperson at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for Near and Middle East Sitara Jabeen told RT.

She added that the organization was expecting to bring in a plane carrying medical supplies for up to 1,000 patients to Sanaa, “but so far have not been able to get the permission we need to move this plane from Jordan to Yemen.”

So far, the airstrikes have failed to change the military balance in Yemen. While Houthis reportedly found an ally in Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who resigned in 2012 amid mass public protests, some Western officials have alleged that Iran financially supports the Houthis in an effort to control Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

Voicing support for the Saudi bombing campaign, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last week accused Iran of seeking regional dominance in the Middle East. Tehran officials said Erdogan’s visit to Iran, which is scheduled for next week, may now be scrapped. The warning came from Iranian MP Esmayeel Kosari in his Sunday interview with the semi-official Fars news agency. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Ankara to act responsibly in the conflict.

Russia has also warned against reducing the complex Yemeni conflict to a simplified stand-off narrative, whether national or sectarian in nature. “We cannot allow it to degrade into a Sunni-Shiite confrontation. Neither can we allow the situation to turn into an open conflict between the Arabs and Iran. We will do everything to prevent it,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

The intensified fighting in the country provides a fertile ground for extremism and terrorism, with Yemen having already been an operational base of Al-Qaeda militants for years. After the Yemeni and Saudi branches of Al-Qaeda merged to form Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group became one of the world’s biggest exporters of terrorism, with the US considering it the most dangerous branch of Al-Qaeda.

AQAP claims to be behind January attack on Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris, with terrorists saying the main enemy of Islam is now France rather than the United States. The latter has already scaled down its operations against AQAP in the region, undermining an effort dating back to 2002.

The conflict in Yemen may also hamper the campaigns against the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where US and its Arab allies found themselves on the same side as Iran. Extremist groups affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) now operate in Yemen, with its militants claiming responsibility for recent attacks on mosques in the country’s capital Sanaa, in which over 100 people have been killed and hundreds injured.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A “Good Day” for NATO?

Sixteenth Anniversary of the War Against Yugoslavia: Surdulica

By GREGORY ELICH | CounterPunch | March 31, 2015

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) proclaims its “commitment to maintaining international peace and security.” Mainstream media rarely, if ever, look beyond Western self-justifications and bland assurances of moral superiority, and little thought is given to what NATO’s wars of aggression might look like to those on the receiving end.

During the first two weeks of August, 1999, I was a member of a delegation travelling throughout Yugoslavia, documenting NATO war crimes. One of our stops was at Surdulica, a small town which then had a population of about 13,000. We initially met with management of Zastava Pes, an automotive electrical parts factory that had at one time employed about 500 workers. In better days, annual exports from the plant amounted to $8 million. Western-imposed sanctions had stopped export contracts and prevented the import of materials, forcing a 70 percent reduction in the workforce and a decline in the local economy.

Staff at Zastava Pes told us that bombs and missiles had routinely rained down upon their town.

We were first taken to a sanatorium, located atop a heavily wooded hill overlooking the town. The sanatorium consisted of a Lung Disease Hospital, which also housed refugees, and a second building that served as a retirement home.

Shortly after midnight on the morning of May 31, 1999, NATO planes launched four missiles at the sanatorium complex, killing at least 19 people. It was not possible to ascertain the precise number of victims because numerous body parts could not be matched to the 19 bodies. Another 38 people were wounded. We were told that the force of the explosions had been so powerful that body parts were thrown as far as one kilometer away. Following the attack, body parts were hanging in the trees, and blood dripped from the branches. By the time of our visit, the area had largely been cleaned up, but we could still see torn clothing scattered high among the branches of the tall trees.

Although only one missile struck the nursing home, it caused enormous damage. We walked around to the back, on the building’s southwestern side. A section of the second floor had collapsed, and the entire side of the building was extensively damaged, with mounds of rubble at the base of the building. On the northeast side of the complex, the building that housed refugees and patients bore a gaping hole in its façade, from which a river of rubble had poured like blood from a wound. We clambered up the mound of rubble and made our way into the building. Debris littered the hallways and in several rooms we found scorched mattresses, clothes and damaged personal belongings jumbled together in disarray. Bricks and chunks of concrete were strewn among the rubble, and a loaf of bread rested against a child’s shirt. In another room, teenage magazines and a child’s textbook were mixed among the wreckage. In the center of the room was a child’s teddy bear.

nursinghome

Rear of nursing home in Surdulica. Photo: Gregory Elich.

According to the on-site investigation report of June 3, it took three days to dig the bodies from the rubble. The yard outside the Special Lung Hospital “was covered with parts of human bodies, torn heads, arms and hands as well as bodies partly covered with rubble material, dust, broken bricks” and debris from the building. “A torn-off head of a man, approximately 70-years-old, was found outdoors. North from this head, there was another body covered with debris and a torn arm.” Three bodies were a short distance away, including one with a partially damaged head. “Brain tissue…could be seen on some parts of the building ruins,” the report continued.

As refugees from Croatia, nineteen-year-old Milena Malobabich, her mother, and two brothers stayed in the sanatorium. The entire family was killed in the attack. During the air raid, panic-stricken, Milena ran from the building, clutching a notebook in which she had written poetry. The examiner of Milena’s body noted: “The brain tissue is completely missing, and there is only dust and sand in the cranial cavity.” Blood had flowed from behind the right ear. Milena’s ribs were crushed, and her abdomen and left leg were lacerated. Her notebook was found near her body; on one page she had written in large letters, “I love you, Dejane!” The brain that composed poetry and cherished a man named Dejane was scattered in pieces throughout the yard.

We next visited a residential neighborhood that was completely wiped out by NATO missiles. As we had seen in other towns, a remarkable reconstruction effort was underway. Responsibility for national reconstruction was assigned to the Directorate for National Recovery, which was formed just ten days into the war. An energetic program was soon launched, and destroyed neighborhoods were cleared of debris and construction of new homes began even as NATO continued its attacks.

By the time of our visit, every trace of rubble had been removed from this neighborhood, and the earth smoothed over. A bulldozer and grader were parked nearby, and construction of two new homes had begun. Surviving residents approached and talked to us, showing us photographs they had taken in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. The level of destruction shown in the photographs was appalling, a jumbled riot of debris where several homes once stood.

We visited a second neighborhood obliterated by NATO missiles. Here too, reconstruction was underway. Smashed automobiles and partially roofless homes bordering the area were the only physical reminders of the tragedy.

In the first neighborhood, a man named Dragan told us that the homes were hit as a result of errant missiles. “They were trying to hit the water supply plant nearby, with two missiles.” Another survivor, Zoran Savich told us that sirens sounded every day, and the town was bombed on multiple occasions. Four months had passed since his neighborhood had been hit, but Dragan’s son was still so terrified that he fled into the basement every time he heard the sound of an airplane overhead. Quite a long distance away was another of NATO’s targets, an army barracks that was abandoned during the war. I climbed atop a large mound of dirt to view the barracks from afar, and saw that it too was damaged. NATO sprayed its bombs and missiles liberally around Surdulica. The destruction of an empty barracks was of doubtful military utility. The targeting of a water supply plant was cruel, but there were no words to adequately characterize the destruction of entire neighborhoods, as we had repeatedly witnessed in our travels. By the end of the war, NATO had destroyed about fifty homes in Surdulica and damaged around 600 more.

One of the bombed homes belonged to Radica Rastich. In a deposition, her neighbor Borica Novkovich recalled, “The sound was like a huge blow on the head. Everything turned over and rolled down the hill. Radica was screaming, screaming, when we came to help her. She was taken from the house all twisted and bent over. She was shaking and shaking; her hands were pressed tight over her ears.” Another survivor, Perica Jovanovich, stated, “I’ll never forget the strange voice of the bomb. When the plane is flying and drops the bomb the noise changes. It’s awful. It’s like the static on the radio but so loud, and then there is this awful crash and pressure and everything moves and boils up.”

It was a clear day on April 27 when the first neighborhood was bombed. On Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj Street, children were happily playing outside when NATO warplanes made their approach. Hearing the wail of air raid sirens, the children ran into the home of Aleksandar Milich, where they took refuge in the strongest basement in the neighborhood. It was not long before two NATO missiles sailed into that very house. The sound of the blast was deafening, and smoke and dust filled the air. Every home in the area was destroyed, and survivors were screaming as they struggled to escape from under the rubble.

Stojanche Petkovich reported that after hearing the first explosion, he rushed into the Milich home. He was in the upper cellar and about to descend into the lower cellar when the next missile hit the house, hurling him against a wall. “I covered my mouth with my hand to prevent the dust to enter, because there was a cloud of smoke and dust in there. When I recovered a bit after the second explosion, I called out to those from the second basement, but no one answered me. I could see that the ceiling in that part of the basement had collapsed.” Moments later, Petkovich heard blocks falling and looked up to see “the ceiling above my head coming down on me. The concrete ceiling was now down, pinning my right lower leg. I was watching the other end of the ceiling also coming down on me, and I saw the iron bars in it stretching. Then everything stopped.” It took two hours to pull Petkovich out, the lone survivor from the Milich home. Blood was spattered all around where the cellar had once been, and the smell of burning flesh filled the air. Every victim was decapitated and dismembered. “Bits of them were all over the road,” one man was reported as saying. “We found the head of a child in a garden and many limbs in the mud.”

When 65-year-old Vojislav Milich heard the air raid sirens that day, he ran to his home. He was about 100 meters away when he saw the two missiles exploding on his home. “When the smoke vanished, I saw just ruins of my house. It had been razed to the ground, completely torn down. I presumed that all of the members of my family and all of the people from the neighborhood got killed, which unfortunately proved to be true.”

The morning after the attack, I read the news on a Yugoslav internet site. There was a photograph of the back of an ambulance, its doors thrown open. Inside were piled chunks of shapeless human flesh, still smoking – remains of the eleven victims, the youngest of whom was only four years old.

Four hours after the attack, the British Ministry of Defense announced that it had been a good day for NATO.

Gregory Elich is on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute and the Advisory Board of the Korea Policy Institute. He is a columnist for Voice of the People, and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period, published in the Russian language.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

What Happened to Aafia Siddiqui and Where is She Now?

By Judy Bello | The Deconstructed Globe | March 30, 2015

A Pakistani Woman named Aafia Siddiqui was abducted from a taxi in Karachi, Pakistan along with her 3 children 12 years ago on March 30, 2003. At the time she was vulnerable, recently divorced from an abusive husband; living with her mother; her father had just died of a heart attack. The youngest child was an infant. Following her abduction, Aafia Siddiqui and her children disappeared from view for 5 years. She spent those years in US Black Site prisons in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One can only imagine the torment she suffered there, in a system created to enable the torture and abuse of terrorism suspects. She was a woman alone. They took her children, and threatened them when personal torture was not enough to gain her acquiescence.

They say other women came and went from Bagram and the secret prisons in Afghanistan,  but Aafia Siddiqui is the only one whose story is known. This is true in part because she had lived, studied and worked in the United States for more than a decade, but even more so because of the devoted persistence of her family, her mother Ismet, and sister Fowzia, who never for one moment ceased their efforts to find her and bring her home. Using their standing as an upper middle class family in Karachi, a conservative Muslim family, well educated, known for their involvement in various aspects of civil society during, the Siddiqui women engaged with the government at all levels, engaged the press to publicize Aafia’s disappearance and to investigate her whereabouts and the circumstances of her disappearance.

Ismet says that shortly after her daughter’s disappearance, a man came to her door and threatened her. He told her to drop the search for her missing daughter or ‘else’. The two women, Ismet and Fowzia, were convinced that Aafia and her children had been detained by either Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) or the CIA. This is not surprising because Pakistani citizens were frequently disappeared during that period, mostly by the Pakistani Secret Police and Intelligence forces complicit with the American CIA and FBI who were casting a broad net to fish for ‘terrorists’ after 9/11/2001. Thousands were abducted and imprisoned for long or short periods of time. A few eventually landed in Guantanamo, but who knows what happened to the rest?. Many never returned.  Thousands of Muslim immigrants were rounded up and questioned here in the United States as well. Many of them were tortured. Many were held for months and years with no accessto legal aid or their families. Many were eventually deported despite having committed no crime.

No, Aafia Siddiqui wasn’t the only person rendered during the first years of the Global War on Terror, nor was she the only Pakistani disappeared under the Musharraf regime.  We now know that thousands were rendered from the streets of Pakistan and around the globe during the first years following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. We know that torture was ubiquitous during that period, while brutal violence against civilians characterized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What is extraordinary about Aafia Siddiqui’s case is that she was a woman, and was taken with her children. Also somewhat unusual is the fact that she had spent many years in the US where she went to college and eventually obtained a PhD from Brandeis, married a Pakistani Doctor and had 2 children; and worked for various charities generally leading a conscientious life of good will. She sent Qurans to prisoners, and taught children at a Mosque in an impoverished city neighborhood.

But after 9/11 it all fell apart. She and her husband were not abducted, but they were interrogated. A young Saudi the government was pursuing had stayed for a while in their apartment building. Her husband had used his credit card to buy night vision goggles, he said for hunting. The marriage was becoming increasingly stressed and at times, violent. Aafia had a long scar on her cheek from a cut caused by a baby bottle her husband admitted to throwing at her. Aafia took her children and returned to her parents’ home in Karachi. She was pregnant with their third child when her husband divorced her and remarried. We are told she seemed nervous and agitated during this period. Who wouldn’t be nervous and agitated under those circumstances? And then, one day she set out for a family visit with her uncle, got in the taxi with her children, and disappeared.

In July of 2008, Aafia Siddiqui arrived in Manhattan a week after abdominal surgery to remove a couple of bullets from her intestines, and was brought directly into a courtroom in her wheelchair for arraignment on charges of attacking US military personnel in Afghanistan. After a highly publicized trial during which the press consistently referred to her as ‘Lady al Qaeda’, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison and sent to Carswell Medical Center, a high security federal prison in Texas, where she remains to this day, so we are told.

At the trial, no physical evidence was presented by the prosecution. There was none. Basic questions related to context were neither asked nor answered. Where was Aafia Siddiqui between the time of her disappearance 5 years earlier, and her encounter with the soldiers in Ghazni, Afghanistan? Why wasn’t she believed when she said she had been rendered and tortured? Why did the Pakistani Government allow her to be extradited from Afghanistan, then pay a small fortune for lawyers for her, lawyers that she did not want or trust because, whatever their qualifications, they had been selected and paid for by the Pakistani government? Why, when a fragile woman, who was obviously physically and mentally broken, said that she had been tortured, did no one investigate her story?

Between 2003 and 2008, US officials repeatedly denied having Aafia Siddiqui in custody. They insisted that she was not in the system anywhere. But, when she showed up in 2008, they had a story all ready to tell about her involvement with al Qaeda, conferring with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some of his associates. They actually said she was married to his nephew Ammar al Baluchi, a charge her family absolutely denies. She was only recently divorced, and had just birthed a child when she disappeared. The specific accusation against Siddiqui was that she had got a mailbox in Maryland for Majid Khan, a young man who had associated with Khalid Sheikh Muhammed in Karachi.  He had allowed his visa to lapse while he was visiting family in Karachi, and needed a US mailbox address to reapply for it so he could return to the US. Khan was accused of plotting to commit terrorist attacks on returning to the USA.

But this isn’t the crime Aafia Siddiqui was tried for, just a story leaked to the press. Majid Khan was detained a few weeks before Aafia Siddiqui and her children were. Like her, he had lived in the United States for some years and had attended high school here. Raised in a middle class suburb of Baltimore, he was restless and unable to decide what to do with his life, so he went to Karachi to visit the extended family and married there. Members of his family were initially detained with him, then later released. According to his brother, Majid Khan was tortured and beaten during this period, and coerced into making unreliable and false confessions

Majid-Khan-250x169

Majid Khan

Although he may have known KSM and his nephew, Khan was never proven to do anything other than talk and spin stories. After touring the black sites and being tortured for a couple of years, Khan landed in Guantanamo where he apparently continued talking and spinning stories. Majid Khan was eventually able to arrange a plea deal for early release from Guantanamo in 2012 in exchange for testimony against Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Ammar Al Baluchi and others. Perhaps Siddiqui did help Majid Khan with his immigration problem. He was a kid who needed help. That is an immigration violation that might keep her from returning to the US. But we don’t even know for sure that she even did that. We do know that Khan told a lot of stories in return for a plea deal in 2012 that capped his sentence at 19 years.

The government, however, claimed that Aafia Siddiqui spent the 5 years she was missing in a terrorist cell developing chemical and biological weapons. She was a scientist, after all, with a PhD. When she was arrested in Pakistan, there were some chemicals in her bag along with some recipes for biological and chemical weapons written in her handwriting and a picture of the statue of liberty, an odd choice for someone who had lived many years in Boston area and Texas before that. These items were brought into evidence. Again, when Aafia Siddiqui explained that she wasn’t that kind of scientist, that she was an educator, she was ignored. Her PhD was in neuroscience as it pertains to learning capabilities. This is a matter of public record at Brandeis University. She was Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, but neither a physician, a chemist nor even a biologist except in a narrow tangential sense. She said she wrote in the documents what she was told to write by men who threatened to harm her children if she did not do as they wished.

Aafia Siddiqui suffered from severe PTSD which made it difficult for her to present a consistently calm and pleasant demeanor during trial. She told the court she had been tortured during the time she was missing, but this testimony was dismissed as untrue and irrelevant. The government, of course, had denied it. She didn’t want the highly paid lawyers hired on her behalf by the Pakistani government because she didn’t trust the motivation of the Pakistani government, and she didn’t like the way they were building her case. But the judge chose to ignore her protest and allowed those lawyers to continue. Judge Berman was privately informed of the details the US held against Siddiqui. The story was apparently leaked to the press as well. But it wasn’t told in open court where she might have refuted it. The jury convicted despite the lack of physical evidence on charges normally bringing a sentence of around 15 years. They did not convict on the charge of premeditation, but Judge Berman added a ‘terrorism’ enhancement to her verdict, and sentenced Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in a federal prison.

Today, Aafia Siddiqui remains in the psychiatric division of Carswell, seven years into her 86 year sentence. She had a hard time early on, and apparently was beaten at one point, by the guards? Other inmates? That we don’t know. We do know she was in solitary after that. She hasn’t been allowed to receive mail. I, myself, have sent her many letters, all returned. Early on they came back unopened, marked ‘undeliverable’. When I called the prison to inquire whether I had the wrong address, the person who answered went off to ask advice on what to tell me. He said, when he returned to the phone, that she refused her mail.  A few months later when I was in jail myself (for direct action protest at the gate of Hancock AFB) I received a letter from my attorney, and realized that they have to open your mail and inspect it before offering it to you.   After I called again to question this issue, my letters started coming back opened.

Aafia Siddiqui hasn’t spoken to her family in more than a year. She has a brother, also in Texas, but he has not been able to see her. No one has had contact with her for over a year now. The last time she was given a chance to talk to her family, to her mother and sister, and the 2 children returned to them after she was imprisoned in the US, was following a national press conference outside the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC and a well-publicized protest outside Carswell Prison.  At the time, Fowzia asked her why she was refusing her mail, and she replied ‘What mail?”

Last year Robert Boyle, a new attorney hired by the family, submitted a motion to vacate to Judge Berrman, requesting that he throw out the verdict because Aafia’s repeated requests for an adjournment of the proceedings so she could find an acceptable attorney were ignored. The motion lays out a detailed argument that Siddiqui’s request was sane and reasonable, and described the potential bias of the Pakistani government and the ways in which their choice of attorneys, even well-known human rights lawyers, might not have been in her best interest. Judge Berman called the lawyers in a few days later and said that Aafia Siddiqui had written a letter to him, asking that the motion be dismissed, and that he was therefore required to dismiss it. He went on to say that he had, in any case, no intention of granting the motion.

Since then, another six months have passed with no word to anyone from Aafia Siddiqui. It’s true she is likely depressed. Is she sick? Is she being heavily medicated? Is she alive? An appeal that had earlier been rejected which focused on procedural issues. This motion that Judge Berman says she asked to have dismissed very directly mirrored her own concerns at the time of the trial. It’s true; she may have done this out of depression or despair. But if she was too disturbed for the Judge to support her initial request in the court room, why was her current request honored without a hearing?

Aafia Siddiqui said that she had been tortured and raped. Why her assertion was dismissed as a fabrication with no investigation, and why were any investigations into her claims treated as collateral conspiracy theories? How did she neatly fall into the hands of US soldiers just as the family felt their sources were near locating her? Why did the Pakistani Government allow her to be extradited if they thought she was innocent? Where is Aafia Siddiqui now and what is her status?

The fact is that Aafia Siddiqui’s story is not so different than many of the other Pakistani, Afghan and Arab men swept up after 9/11. Why is it so unbelievable? All of the evidence is in her favor except for the ‘secret’ evidence and the fact that the US denies her assertions. Would we expect anything different from them? We have heard the stories of others illegally swept up in the rendition program. But maybe we don’t want to believe they would do that to a woman. We’ve heard a lot of stories about horrors visited on women by US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Vietnam, but maybe we don’t want to think that might happen to a vulnerable middle class housewife with a PhD in Education. What would they do to cover up committing these atrocities against this kind, well educated, English speaking woman who had spent nearly half her life in the US when she was detained? And to cover up the cover up?

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Last summer’s Israeli aggression is sending Gaza back to the Middle Ages

Zionist colonisers destroy the tools for self-sufficiency of Palestinians in Gaza

By Miguel Hernández | International Solidarity Movement | March 31, 2015

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Months after the last massive Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, thanks to the social and independent media, everyone has read news and seen pictures of the attacks from the Zionist regime against residential buildings, United Nations shelter-schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, churches and thousands of family homes.

However, little has been said about the almost complete destruction of Gaza’s industry and economy. As the Israeli Minister of Interior Eli Yishai said, the objective of the last operation was to “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all of its infrastructure.” One of the more terrible blows committed towards this end has been the total destruction of the Beit Hanoun industrial area.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 15.05.00There were around 50 factories in Beit Hanoun, from which only three have been able to resume work seven months after the end of the assault.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 15.05.10The factories in this industrial area provided work for 25% to 30% of Gaza’s population. Among the destroyed factories are those for paper, construction materials, clothing, medical equipment, plastic products, food and livestock products.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 15.05.28The agricultural industry has also been wounded by Israel’s summer attacks on Gaza. The owner of the Afanah Company showed us the pictures of his 800 cows killed by Israeli attacks during the last war on Gaza. Each cow was going to feed 7 families during the Eid holiday. Besides losing all his cows, Israel also destroyed the four fridges of the company, which contained 400 tons of meat.

Abu Fakhri Abu Ghais, from Beit Hanoun, explained how during the last massacre Israel killed his 17 sheep, and all his sons’ sheep, they destroyed all his farming equipment, worth over 15,000 US dollars. Israeli forces also destroyed the pumps for extracting the groundwater and the 20 tons of reserve of wheat seeds that Abu Fakhri had stored for the current year. The occupation also demolished the cabling that brought electricity to his village, Abu Safiya. He and his family now live in a tent without water or electricity, as his home was also destroyed.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 15.05.37He and his family now live in a tent without water or electricity, as his home was also destroyed. Given the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip, the struggling government of Hamas informed him that they don’t know when they’ll be able to restore the power supply, as they do not have available wire that is long enough.

In a Bedouin village located at the North of Beit Lahia, Hassan Sharadkha invited the author and his companions for a cup of tea in the wood cabin that he has built next to the rubble of his home.  He showed us the pictures of everything he lost during the last summer at the hands of the Zionist occupation forces: 32 dunums of fruit and olive trees, 27 sheep and their stable, 2 cows, a 200 chicken farm, a horse, the water pump and the car he had just bought.

His older son, an electric engineer, was made unemployed because the solar panel company he worked for has also been bombed.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 15.05.48Ninety per cent of the Palestinian farmers in Gaza live in similar or worse circumstances.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 15.05.58These attacks – against factories, farms, farming equipment and homes – were not by chance or accidental. These attacks demonstrate once again that the target of the genocidal Israeli colonialism is the Palestinian people itself, and that the war that Israel has been waging the last 66 years, under cover of Europe and the US, is against a nation, Palestine, that they seek to wipe off the map.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Who Spies for Israel in Washington’s Nuclear Negotiations?

By James Petras :: 03.31.2015

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (3/25/15) headlined: ‘Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks with the US’. The article goes on to detail the way in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the confidential information to sabotage the talks, including ‘playing them back to US legislators to undermine US diplomacy’.

The WSJ report of this incident tries to play down the serious implications of Israel’s espionage by claiming that Israeli spying on US diplomatic negotiations is ‘normal even among allies’; that ‘both sides do it’; that the US ‘tolerates’ Israeli spying; that the ‘Israelis have not directly spied on the US’ but use sympathetic US agents . . . and several other excuses for Israel’s behavior.

After having revealed Tel Aviv’s espionage – the WSJ dismisses the sabotage. Worse still, it makes no attempt to investigate who, among the highly-placed US government officials with direct access to the negotiations, has been spying for Israel. This essay attempts to address this question by identifying the most likely suspects.

We will proceed by describing the seriousness of the crime by noting the centrality of the US-Iran negotiations for US global politics and the enormous damage, which has resulted from Israel’s securing secret documents, reports and proceedings of the talks and having a highly placed agent among the US diplomats.

The Significance of the, US-Iran Negotiations

The negotiations between the major powers (P5+1), composed of the five UN Security Council members plus Germany, led by the US, with Iran have proceeded for over two years. Israel is not part of the negotiating process-formally but indirectly its presence is substantial. For Washington the stakes are very high: securing a nuclear agreement with Iran in which Teheran submits to constant and pervasive ‘inspections’, and dismantles a substantial part of its nuclear program, certainly weakens Iran’s regional prestige and increases US influence in the region. Secondly, through the initial agreement, it is likely that Washington will move forward to deepen joint political activity with Iran in neighboring countries. Thirdly, Washington will use the agreement to isolate Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Yemen, from Iranian financial, military and diplomatic support. Fourthly, US multi-national oil corporations could gain access to the Iranian oil fields and exporters could access a huge consumer market of 70 million Iranian citizens. Fifthly, the agreement would lessen the danger that Israel would initiate a major war, which the Zionist power configuration in the US could quickly convert into a disastrous US regional war. Given the fact that the US-Afghan war has lasted 14 years, and counting, and cost over $1 trillion dollars, and that the Iraq invasion has far exceeded those costs and intensified over the past year, a US nuclear agreement with Iran would avoid a catastrophic, prolonged war designed to enhance Israeli dominance in the Middle East.

Israel’s Interest in Sabotaging the 5 + 1 Nuclear Negotiations

Israel knows that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program (as does Washington). The US government uses this as a pretext to secure political concessions from Iran, to degrade its regional influence, and to secure their support in policing the Middle East. In contrast, Israel seeks to destroy Iran’s capacity to support the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.

Netanyahu and his Zionist supporters, in and out of the US government, seek to induce the US to increase economic sanctions in order to strangle the Iranian economy, to foment internal unrest and to set US-Iranian relations on a path toward a military confrontation.

Netanyahu launched a multi-prong attack on the negotiations. During the AIPAC meeting in March 2015 he ‘dictated the line’ to 10,000 fanatical Zionist followers. He made Iran and US negotiations the central focus of activity for the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, their billionaire donors and Washington operatives. Netanyahu told them that they must concentrate on degrading Iran, on turning Congress into a bastion for undermining any agreement reached via diplomatic negotiations.

Central to Netanyahu’s strategy is securing first hand, up to date, information (intelligence) on the negotiations, identifying the concessions which Iran is willing to make, the demands which they consider extreme and unlikely to accept, the points which might lead to a break-up of the negotiations and the position of the P5 + 1 participants which are closest to Israel. Netanyahu’s closest supporter is the Zionized-regime of French President Hollande and in particular Laurent Fabius, his Foreign Minister.

The sequence is as follows: American and Israeli spies, operating within the US government, pass intelligence to Netanyahu who sends directives to AIPAC which writes up resolutions for US Congress people which then transmit it through the mass media to the US public and to the White House which raises the issues, in part, to the negotiators the P 5 plus 1.

The question of timing is central, as the negotiations approach their deadline and the possibility of an agreement is advancing. The spies and sources, both among the US officials and among the European diplomats (mostly the French) involved in the negotiations, must intensify their undercover work for Israel.

Israeli Espionage Network in Washington: The Prime Suspects

The success or failure of Washington’s nuclear negotiations and the sustainability of any agreement depends on overcoming Netanyahu’s formidable army of supporters in the US Congress and his corporate allies in the mass media. The single most decisive aspect of the negotiations is maintaining the secrecy of the proceedings, especially with regard to the compromises that are inevitable in any historic agreement – especially Iran’s compromises. If Netanyahu has real-time intelligence, he can devise effective counter-moves to sabotage the agreement before it is announced.

While a score of Zionist-influenced think tanks and hundreds of full-time AIPAC functionaries have incredible ‘access’ to US officials, especially those involved in Middle East policy-making, the timeliness of information/ intelligence that Netanyahu needs can only be obtained from officials who are directly or closely involved in the current negotiations with Iran.

The likely criteria for identifying such agents among US diplomatic officials include (1) a long-standing history of strong pro-Israel activity and anti-Iranian animus; (2) extensive interactions and involvement with Israeli intelligence and foreign ministry officials; (3) deep involvement in devising and implementing sanctions policies against Iran; and (4) immediate access to or, better still, direct participation in the negotiating group.

Numerous officials fit one or two of the criteria. However if we consider all four, we can identify a narrow circle of five officials, who have the history, contacts and access to secret negotiations, which make them prime candidates for spying for Israel. They are:

Michael Froman, top US trade negotiator

Jack Lew, US Secretary of Treasury

Penny Pritzker, US Secretary of Commerce

David Cohen, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

Wendy Sherman, Undersecretary of Political Affairs and Chief US negotiator in the nuclear talks with Iran.

While all five have been ardent supporters of Israel before and during their time in the Obama administration, only two could have direct, real time access to the negotiations.

David Cohen, has been extremely active pushing for sanctions against Iran and has a lot to lose if sanctions are lifted or weakened. Like his predecessor, Stuart Levy, he has been closely associated with AIPAC, which was instrumental in creating his post in Treasury and in orienting its activities toward prosecuting banks and multi-nationals, which directly or indirectly trade with Iran. Cohen, although not directly involved in the negotiations, could easily access their deliberations since they affect his field of work. He also has very ‘fluid’ relations with Israeli officials engaged in intelligence, finance and foreign affairs. He has excellent relations with Netanyahu and supports AIPAC’s agenda. While he could serve as an Israeli informant and certainly does exchange intelligence, he does not have the real time details of the proceedings, because he is not a member of the negotiating team.

Only Wendy Sherman fits all the criteria. Sherman, as head of the US negotiating group, has access to all the details of daily discussions, proposals and concessions by the US and Iranian negotiators. Moreover, Sherman is in a position to translate Netanyahu’s demands on Iran into key agenda items and proposals. Sherman is a lifelong zealous Zionist and according to one sympathetic writer, is ‘widely considered one of Israel’s most supportive high level friends’. Sherman’s reputation on the negotiating team has been that of a ‘hard negotiator’. Sherman was one of the key authors of the ‘Joint Plan of Action, which was designed to extract the maximum concessions from Iran while making the fewest changes in US policy.

In a speech on October 23, 2014, designed to reassure Israel-Firsters in Washington, Sherman boasted: ‘In return for limited sanctions relief, Iran has halted the expansion of its overall enrichment capacity, put a cap on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride, stopped the production of uranium enriched to 20%, agreed not to make further advances at the Arak heavy water reactor, opened the door to unprecedented daily access for international inspectors to the facilities at Natanz and Fordow’. Sherman has secured US colonial oversight over the entire Iranian uranium program – which the CIA and the entire US intelligence consortium have repeatedly declared is not a ‘weapons program’!

Sherman shares Netanyahu’s visceral racist ideological contempt for the Iranians. She publicly told a US Senate Committee that, “we know deception is part of their (Iranians) DNA”. This was clearly a crude remark designed to provoke the Iranian government and undermine the negotiations before they began!

If the ideological affinities and hatred of Iran point to Wendy Sherman as the Israel’s ‘mole’ in the State Department, her strategic position as head of the negotiating committee immediately provides her with the secret details that Israel needs to sabotage Obama’s approach to Iran and to organize opposition in the US. The WSJ article underscores Sherman’s role as an agent of Tel Aviv: ‘Mr. Netanyahu and his top advisers received confidential update on the Geneva talks from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and other US officials who knew at the time that Israeli intelligence was working to fill the gap.’ Washington eventually curtailed the ‘briefings.’ But there is no evidence that Sherman ceased her activities on Netanyahu’s behalf. It’s likely she continues to provide timely intelligence to her Israeli counterparts.

Israel is pursuing a complex strategy: 1. Opposing the negotiations outright; 2. Organizing political forces in Congress to impose new sanctions to undermine the negotiations; 3. Securing sympathetic US officials on the negotiating team to spy and report the proceedings to Israel and 4. Helping Israel by making the most extreme demands on Iran, offering the least concessions in order to force a breakdown of the negotiations.

In other words, Israel pursues a complex division of labor: Netanyahu sets the rejectionist hardline. US Zionists transmit that policy into Congressional opposition. Top officials in the State Department provide intelligence for the hard ‘outsider’ campaign and work within the negotiating framework to subvert the proceedings. As the chief negotiator, Sherman plays multiple roles on behalf of Israel, only one of which involves the immediate transfer of highly sensitive intelligence. Sherman has ensured that most of Netanyahu’s demands are incorporated into the US negotiating agenda in a win-win format. If Iran rejects them, the US will effectively break-off negotiations, blame Iran and impose even harsher sanctions; if Iran accepts the demands, its peaceful nuclear program will be destroyed and it will be even more vulnerable to an Israeli and/or US military attack with all its military installations infiltrated and monitored by the US controlled International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA).

While Netanyahu bellows against the idea of negotiations with Iran, and opposes any process lifting sanctions, the realistic agenda of the Israeli Foreign Office is to: 1. Prolong the sanctions, 2. Minimize any immediate relief, 3. Include clauses which would give the US any pretext for unilaterally revoking sanctions without any consultation; 4. Minimize the amount and level of enriched uranium Iran could retain within the country; 5. Dismantle most of Iran’s centrifuges and impose severe limitations on scientific research and development; and 6. Stop operation of Iran’s multi-billion dollar new fortified nuclear power facility at Fordow.

While Sherman cannot outright terminate the negotiations she is doing everything in her power to either force a breakdown or thoroughly humiliate the Iranians.

Conclusion

The failure of the Obama regime to go after its own State Department officials acting as agents for Israel; its refusal to confront long-term aggressive espionage designed to undermine its relations in the Middle East; its tolerance of Israel’s direct interference via its ‘fraternal organizations’ of the US legislative process; and its refusal to identify, arrest, prosecute and sentence high-level spies within the Cabinet have severely compromised the sovereignty of the United States. It is Israel’s intervention in the US, not ISIS, Iran, Houthis, Venezuela, Syria, Russia or China, that poses an immediate and direct threat to US national security. Increasing Jewish colonialist expansion in Palestine; the flaunting of its vast stockpile of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; operating its powerful network of political agents and spies in high US offices are a direct, immediate threat to peace and stability in the Middle East and the United States.

The activities of US Zionists as spies and shock troops for Israel’s effort to destroy Iran and undermine US diplomacy, pose a long-term threat to all Jews in America. Sooner or later, Israel’s deep penetration of US power centers and its manipulation of elected American officials, will lead to a prolonged, bloody, destructive war. And it can be expected that the greater US public will seek out those responsible and demand they be held to account. Under the impact of the devastation of war, who can be sure that the American public will be able to distinguish between loyal Jewish-Americans and highly placed Zionists acting on Israel’s behalf ? For that reason it is incumbent that peace-loving American Jews get on their feet and clearly and forthrightly denounce the Zionist minority, which claims to speak for them.

All those Zionist ‘wise-guys’ of both genders, who think they have been so clever using their high office to serve Israel, are fooling themselves. More and more citizens are becoming aware that Israel’s espionage, its dictates to the US Congress and its manipulation of Executive powers are harming America. At the present, highly placed Zionist officials hold sway over the Obama Cabinet, but in the future they may find themselves facing charges of being agents of a foreign power, and a threat to US national security. They may find themselves sharing a cell block with Jonathan Pollard!

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli explosive artillery fired on Gaza up more than 500% in 6 years – UK study

RT | March 31, 2015

Civilians living under Israeli occupation in the besieged Gaza Strip face a greater risk to their lives in the wake of a recent shift in Israel’s “military rules of engagement,” a new study warns.

In a report released on Tuesday, British NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) said theIsrael Defense Force’s (IDF) use of artillery on Palestinians is characterized by a“wide gap between public rhetoric and the reality on the ground.”

The think tank warned Gazan civilians face a greater risk of death from Israeli “artillery shelling” than they did prior to 2005.

As part of its research, AOAV examined regulations dictating where the IDF have deployed explosive weapons since 2005.

While Israel withdrew its ground troops from Gaza in 2005, the IDF’s air, land and sea blockade of the coastal strip remains steadfast.

AOAV’s research, ‘Under Fire’, examined suggestions made by Israeli officials that the IDF have greatly improved the protection of Palestinian civilians from the effects of its explosive artillery.

Israeli military experts often describe such artillery as ‘statistical weapons,’ according to AOAV. The think tank argues this terminology reflects the “inherent accuracy” of explosive weapons, which fire repeated rounds of “heavy, unguided shells.”

Because these explosive weapons lack accuracy, they require particularly robust rules to protect civilians from unintentional ‘collateral damage,’ AOAV says.

The think tank’s report reveals that rather than decreasing the risk of civilian deaths from Israeli explosive weapons, the IDF’s rules regulating such practices have been relaxed since its ground troops withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

As a result, Gazan civilians face a greater risk of dying from Israeli artillery shelling than they did nine years ago, AOAV said.

Director of policy at AOAV, Iain Overton, stressed unguided artillery shells are a “relic of a bygone day.”

He said there is no reason to prevent the IDF from scrapping its use of such dangerous and destructive weaponry in civilian populated areas.

The think tank’s research found 2014 was characterized by the heaviest use of “high-explosive artillery shells” in eight years.

Despite Israel’s investment in alternatives to the artillery it traditionally used, a minimum of 34,000 “unguided shells” were fired into Gaza last year, AOAV said.

This marks an increase on the number of unguided artillery shells launched in any IDF military campaign since the Lebanon War of 2006, it added.

The think tank’s report revealed the IDF launched almost five and a half times as many “high explosive artillery shells” during its military assault on Gaza in 2014 as it did during its military offensive against Gaza in 2008/09.

It added the IDF has dramatically reduced the distance that regulates how close artillery shells can land to residential homes in recent years. While this distance stood at 300 meters in 2005, the IDF shortened this limit to 100 meters in 2006.

AOAV said this policy shift puts civilians at greater risk because the estimated “casualty-producing radius of a 155mm artillery shell is close to 300 meters.”

The think tank’s report concluded the only policy to have yielded a clear improvement in the rate of civilian casualties in Gaza was a temporary suspension on artillery shelling implemented in December 2006. After 2008, however, this measure was scrapped.

“In recent years the IDF has shifted away from using other devastating weapons like multiple rocket launchers or globally-banned cluster bombs,” Robert Perkins, Senior Researcher at AOAV, said.

“It doesn’t seem like this shift has extended to unguided heavy artillery, but these wide-area effect weapons have no place in an urban populated area, where their effects cannot be controlled.”

A UN report published last week found more Palestinian civilians died as a result of the conflict with Israel in 2014 than in any year since 1967.

The report, published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), claimed Israel’s Operation Protective Edge resulted in the death of over 2,220 Palestinians, 1,492 of whom were civilians.

In what the OCHA described as the “worst escalation of hostilities” since the Six-Day War in 1967, 71 Israelis were also killed, 66 of whom were soldiers.

Read more: ​Palestinian death toll in 2014 highest since 1967 – UN

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

MH17 probe looking for witnesses to back ‘Buk missile’ scenario

RT | March 31, 2015

The international team of experts investigating the MH17 tragedy in eastern Ukraine have called for possible witnesses to turn in any evidence that might back a scenario that the airliner was shot down by a Buk missile system.

In a video address, released by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), possible witnesses have been encouraged to share their photo and video materials to prove that a Buk surface-to-air missile launcher was transported through the Donbass region before and after the MH17 incident last July.

“The focus of one scenario is that the MH17 was shot down by a Buk missile system,” JIT said in a statement. “We are looking for witnesses who have seen Buk crew members or have more information about the identity of those involved in ordering and launching the Buk.”

Although some media rushed to conclusions, spokesman for the Dutch Public Prosecutor, Wim de Bruin, emphasized that there is “more than one” scenario. “But the one of the Buk rocket has a lot of unanswered questions and that’s why we have put out an appeal,” de Bruin said, calling it a “leading scenario.”

“This appeal for witnesses does not mean that police and prosecutors have definitively concluded what caused MH17 to crash,” the address said. “For that, more investigation is needed.”

A preliminary report of the official investigation published in September 2014 only said that the crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck the Boeing from the outside. The report did not specify what the objects were, where they came from or who was responsible.

No other verifiable evidence has yet been made publicly available, besides objective air control and military monitoring data partially released by the Russian Defense Ministry, which indicated the presence of Ukrainian surface-to-air batteries and warplanes in the area on the day of the Boeing shooting.

Amid the JIT call for witnesses, a local resident in Lugansk region – whom Reuters cited as saying he saw evidence of a surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory – has told RT that the news agency gave a false report of his interview.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed Reuters’ report as“stovepiping”from a seemingly“respected agency”.

“Attempts at distorting facts, enforcing theories as to what could have happened continue to exist, with some based on openly dirty intentions,” Lavrov told journalists.

Yet the JIT investigators, pursuing their “leading” scenario in the crash investigation, have compiled a video that incorporated both social-media-sourced materials and unverified audio files apparently provided by the Ukrainian Intelligence Service, stipulating direct Russian involvement in the tragedy. The team alleges that the Buk missile launcher was seen several times around the time of the crash, yet no real evidence has been offered to support this theory.

The US intelligence community apparently does not have any evidence to support Russian involvement in any way, investigative journalist Robert Parry told RT, citing his intelligence sources and own probe.

Soon after the tragedy, Parry was told “their actual evidence was going in a very different direction.” Eight months after the tragedy the US stands by its old assessment of the incident all based on “circumstantial evidence” and social media reports, refusing to release new data, Perry says.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

University of Southampton cancels Israel conference, citing ‘health and safety’

MEMO | March 31, 2015

The University of Southampton has withdrawn permission for a conference next month on Israel and international law, citing “health and safety” concerns.

The university has been under significant pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups in the UK to cancel the conference, despite legal obligations to protect free speech.

Conference organisers confirmed Tuesday morning with “extreme astonishment and sadness” that Southampton authorities have pulled the plug on the gathering.

We were told that the decision was taken on the grounds of health and safety: a number of groups may be demonstrating for or against the conference which could present risks to the safety of the participants, students and staff. The University claims that it does not have enough resources to mitigate the risks, despite a clear statement from the Police confirming that they are able to deal with the protest and ensure the security of the event.

In their statement, organisers say that they are “extremely dissatisfied with the risk assessment conducted by the University”, where “high risks remained high even when seemingly effective mitigating measures were put in place.”

Organisers claim that the “security argument” has been used “to rationalise a decision to cancel the conference that has been taken under public pressure of the Israeli Lobby”, calling it a “sad decision for freedom of speech.”

Conference organisers say that they will now “explore legal emergency measures to prevent the University from cancelling the conference, to reverse its decision and to properly collaborate with the police so that the demonstrations can be managed.”

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Reporters arrested in Ferguson sue St. Louis police

RT | March 31, 2015

Four journalists are suing St. Louis police over their arrests during the Ferguson, Missouri protests last August. They claim to have been detained and mistreated by the officers even though their press credentials were in plain view.

The suit was filed Monday by US citizen Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept and three German nationals residing in the US – Ansgar Graw of Die Welt, Frank Herrmann of the Rheinische Post group and freelance reporter Lukas Hermsmeier.

“This was a very new experience,” Graw wrote following his release. He had visited many disputed areas and conflict zones, from Gaza and Georgia to Iraq and Cuba. “But to be arrested and yelled at and be rudely treated by police? For that I had to travel to Ferguson and St. Louis in the United States of America.”

The four plaintiffs are charging the St. Louis Police Department with “intentionally and willfully” subjecting them to “violations of freedom of the press and free speech” for the purpose of “obstructing, chilling, deterring, and retaliating” against reporters covering the unrest in the Missouri town.

According to the San Francisco-based Freedom of the Press Foundation, 24 journalists were arrested in Ferguson between August and November 2014, including RT’s Denise Reese.

Protests broke out following the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. In addition to police officers from nearby departments, Missouri authorities deployed the National Guard, banned all assembly and even established a no-fly zone over Ferguson.

At the time, the authorities said officers had difficulty telling reporters apart from the protesting activists. In their complaint, Graw and Herrmann allege they were detained while carrying their cameras and wearing press badges around their necks. Hermsmeier and Devereaux claim they had shown the officers their media credentials before they were shot at with rubber bullets and arrested.

The complaint names the St. Louis County Police and the County of St. Louis, as well as 20 officers identified only as “John Doe,” as they refused to disclose their names to the reporters at the time of the arrests. One officer reportedly introduced himself as “Donald Duck.” The plaintiffs demand unspecified punitive damages and a jury trial.

Last week, the St. Louis County Police, city police and the Missouri Highway Patrol agreed to settle a federal lawsuit by six Ferguson protesters over the use of tear gas and other chemical agents against the demonstrators.

READ MORE: Revealed: Ferguson no-fly zone was meant to keep media away

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Ansarullah: Response to Saudi Arabia Will Change Mideast Geopolitics

Fars News Agency | March 30, 2015

TEHRAN – A senior member of the Yemeni Ansarullah movement warned that his country’s crushing response to the Saudi aggression will devastate the Arab kingdom and change the geopolitics of the region.

“The Yemeni nation will change the map of the region,” Al-Alam Arabic-language TV quoted Nasreddin Amer, member of Ansarullah’s Information Dissemination Committee as saying on Monday.

“We will respond to Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz in the battlefield and unexpected events will take place in the coming days,” he added.

He reiterated that the Al Saud regime have embarked on attacking Yemen in order to prevent Yemen from becoming a free country which will not be under the control of the Saudi regime.

On Sunday, a senior member of Ansarullah movement’s Political Council Mohammad al-Bakhiti warned that the movement will give a crushing response to any possible ground invasion of Yemen.

“Any ground attack on Yemen will receive a rigidly harsh response,” al-Bakhiti said.

“We have not responded to the Saudi aggressions in the past five days because we wanted to allow the Arab countries to reconsider their action and stop their attacks,” he said, and added “but from now on everything will be different”.

Al-Bakhiti described the Saudi-led alliance against Yemen as a moral crisis, and said, “Whatever the Arab conference decided about Yemen will end in serious crisis.”

He underlined that the Yemeni people have confidence in their resistance and are confident that they will win.

On Saturday, a senior member of the popular Ansarullah movement warned of immediate attacks on Saudi territories if the latter refrains from putting an immediate halt to its aggression against Yemen.

“As the Ansarullah movement has promised collapse of some Arab regimes supporting the terrorists, if Saudi Arabia continues its aggressions against the oppressed Yemeni people the Ansarullah fighters will pave the way for the Saudi regime’s destruction by conducting martyrdom-seeking (suicidal) operations inside Saudi Arabia,” member of Ansarullah Executive Committee Abdel Mon’em Al-Qurashi told FNA.

He reiterated that Israel and Al Saud are on the same front and Saudi Arabia is taking orders from Washington and Tel Aviv.

“The main cause of the Saudi aggression is the failure of Riyadh’s policies in support of fugitive Yemeni President Mansour Hadi and Takfiri groups and its disappointment at them,” Al-Qurashi added.

He reiterated that the Yemeni army and people will give a crushing response to the Saudi aggressors.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for five days now, killing, at least, 70 civilians and injuring hundreds more.

Five Persian Gulf States — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait — and Egypt that are also assisted by Israel and backed by the US have declared war on Yemen in a joint statement issued earlier Thursday.

US President Barack Obama authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the military operations, National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said late Wednesday night.

She added that while US forces were not taking direct military action in Yemen, Washington was establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment