The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has strongly criticized a recent decision by a court in Luxembourg to seize $1.6 billion of the Islamic Republic’s assets, saying the verdict did not amount to the enforcement of a related ruling by a US court.
In a statement on Sunday, the CBI announced that it would use all means at its disposal to protest and appeal the decision by the Luxembourg court, adding that legal efforts would continue until the rights of the Iranian nation are restored.
“The recent decision by the court in Luxembourg does not mean the recognition and enforcement of the US court verdict and the aforementioned seizure [of assets] only is a preliminary measure, which can be countered through various means,” it said.
“There are numerous means available under Luxembourg laws to counter it, such as protesting and appealing the verdict at higher courts, and the Central Bank [of Iran], with the cooperation of the Iranian Presidency’s Center for International Legal Affairs, will make the utmost use of the above means,” the statement added.
“Measures by the United States of America in line with issuing so-called terrorism rulings against the Iranian government are in various respects violations of international law and conventions.”
According to the statement, the procedure adopted by the US against Iran is in contravention of the immunity of governments under international law and a violation of the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights signed between Iran and the US in 1955.
Furthermore, the CBI said, the execution in other countries of the ruling in absentia lacks any justification and basis in international law.
“The Islamic Republic has cataloged in detail the reasons for the illegality of this measure by the government of the United States of America in a petition registered at the International Court of Justice,” added the statement.
It added that several years ago, in response to the intensification of US sanctions against Iran, the CBI launched a campaign to “curtail the share of the US dollar in its income basket and this measure was implemented gradually but continuously. This policy is also followed closely today.”
A Luxembourg court on Wednesday denied a request by Tehran to retrieve $1.6 billion of Iranian assets claimed by the US as compensation for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The New York Times released a report on March 6 about a confidential ruling by a Luxembourg court to freeze $1.6 of CBI assets in a financial institution in the European country.
According to informed sources, the Luxembourg court ordered the freezing of the CBI assets after a group of terror attack victims, who had won a default judgment against Iran in the US, filed a lawsuit at the European court to try to enforce it, the report said.
In 2011, the group had persuaded a federal judge in New York, George B. Daniels, to find that Iran had provided assistance to al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks, an allegation vehemently dismissed by the Islamic Republic. In 2012, the judge ordered Iran to pay the victims two billion dollars in compensatory damages and five billion dollars in punitive damages.
That judgment stagnated for years, as there was no obvious financial source to collect it. However, after the nuclear sanctions against Iran were lifted, following a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, which was signed last year, the group referred the case to the Luxembourg court as it came to light that the Clearstream system in Luxembourg, which facilitates international exchanges of securities, was holding $1.6 billion in CBI assets.
In a similar case in April, the US Supreme Court issued an order authorizing the transfer of around two billion dollars of frozen Iranian assets to the families of the victims of a 1983 bombing in Beirut, which targeted a US Marine Corps barracks in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and other attacks blamed on Iran. The assets belong to the CBI, which have been blocked under US sanctions.
Iran has denied any role in the attacks and strongly criticized the move by the US.
One year to the day after the Brussels terrorist attacks, a terrorist drove a car into Westminster parliament buildings killing four people and wounding several others. The British public are in shock. Westminster is considered to be a monument to British ‘democracy’. The date 3/22 will be remembered among those who mourn over the skulls and bones of loved ones lost to terrorism.
Today, many of those mourners are in Syria. Just a few hours earlier, 50 destitute families staying at the al Badiya Dakhilya school in the village of Mansoura on the outskirts of Raqqa, were blown to pieces after an air strike by the ‘international coalition’. The Pentagon said it would “investigate” the atrocity. The British Government and its Western partners were silent. Thirty-three people were murdered. The United Nations – the international arm of US imperialism- was mute. The Syrian government asked them why. No answer was given.
On the same day, Al Nosra terrorists entered the village of Majdal, Northwest of Hama. Several women and children were reportedly killed. There are not enough reporters in Syria to cover all the atrocities committed almost every day by psychopathic killers the Western media calls ‘moderate rebels’.
Britain’s ‘jihad’ in Syria
In 2009, former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas attended a meeting in London with British government officials. They told him they were planning to send Jihadi terrorists into Syria to take over the country. It was part of Britain’s contribution to the Greater Israel project.
Israel’s quest for Middle East supremacy was outlined in a policy paper written by Israeli official Oded Yinon in 1982. The Yinon Plan involved fomenting civil war in Arab and Muslim countries in order to establish Israeli suzerainty over all its hostile neighbours. Like its partners in France and the United States, the British government is a whore of Israel.
Westminster was finalising a grand strategy for the Middle East which would combine people-power uprisings and covert snipers, followed by Takfiri terrorism. The US grand strategy for the Middle East was announced by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005 in her speech before the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where she proudly proclaimed that President George W. Bush had a “new policy” for the Middle East and North Africa.
The US launched an “unprecedented international venue for reform”, by training activists in social media and regime change tactics. The Centre for Non-Violent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS), Albert Einstein Institute, National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, Freedom House, Facebook, and many other CIA-affiliated US agencies brought about what came to be known as the “Arab Spring”. The American/Israeli plan for a New Middle East was fully backed by most sou-disant ‘anti-imperialists’, who couldn’t resist the romance and fantasy of revolution and ‘Marxists’ waxed lyrical with “the masses make history”.
The consensus among the anti-war left that the Arab Spring was “spontaneous” and “popular” meant that NATO was able to carpet bomb Libya for 8 months, making the bombing look like a humanitarian intervention. Hundreds of thousands of civilians would perish. When Libya was destroyed, Syria was next on NATO’s target list. For 6 years this month, the Syrian Arab Republic has been fighting a war of national liberation from the international horde of Takfiri terrorists that British government officials were training in 2009 for deployment to the country.
The attacks on Westminster come at a time when Britain is set to “get tough” on immigration. Though Brexit holds out the possibility of economic and democratic progress in Britain – and immigration needs to be controlled and planned – reactionary forces and news outlets are increasingly pointing the finger at Muslims and Islam as the root of Britain’s problems. A similar process is taking hold in the United States and throughout the European Union.
Since the Zionist false flag bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on the 22nd of July 1946, the Lavon Affair of 1954, the 911 attacks, the Brevik Massacre, and many others, Zionism has boldly carried out terrorist attacks and blamed them on Muslims or far right groups. The war on terror is a Zionist construct which is designed to goad the Western public into supporting foreign wars on behalf of Israeli interests, where recruits from Israel’s Gulf State partners are used as pawns and patsies in the infernal narrative of the “clash of civilisations”.
Today the terrorism or its simulacrum has struck Westminster. The script is typed on a well-worn palimpsest with exotic Arab names parroted in the non-stop media hysteria. Not until the public realises that the terrorists are, and always have been, inside the corridors of Westminster – an edifice that attests to the dictatorship of a decadent oligarchy over the toiling masses – will the reign of terror come to an end.
In the latest in a bizarre string of hoax hate crimes in the US since Donald Trump was elected president, a New York man has been arrested for spray painting swastikas on his own home.
The Schenectady Police have arrested Andrew King, a man who made the rounds on local television stations expressing his fear about being targeted for his Jewish faith, for filing a false report.
Even stranger, it is now being questioned whether the man is even Jewish.
“I didn’t know, maybe they are going to do more than that, maybe from spray paint to trying to harm me,” King told NEWS10 ABC in February.
After police found that he had drawn the hate symbols himself, News 10 spoke to community leaders and those who know King, and all claimed that he is not Jewish.
King had reportedly attempted to convert on multiple occasions, but was turned away by at least two congregations, the station found.
King, seen with two black eyes in his mug shot, also claims that they were caused by police officers who were arresting him on charges of harassing a county employee.
Since the rise of Trump, there has also been a rise in fake hate crimes, as stories posted to social media immediately go viral and grab the nation’s attention.
In a recent example, Yasmin Seweid, 18, was arrested after it turned out that her viral story about being attacked on the New York subway by three white men shouting support for Trump while attempting to snatch her head scarf was a lie.
The Baruch College student had posted her fictional hate crime to Facebook, where it was rapidly spread by Trump detractors as “proof” that his presidency is inciting violence.
“Nothing happened, and there was no victim,” a police source told the New York Post.
Seweid is now charged with filing a false report and faces up to one year in prison if convicted.
In another post-election incident, an 18-year-old Muslim student from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette told a fake story about being accosted by two white men. She asserted that one of the men was wearing a Trump hat, and that they shouted racial slurs at her, knocked her down, stole her wallet and ripped her headscarf off. Her post about the incident was shared widely.
She later admitted to the Lafayette Police Department that she had lied, and is now facing misdemeanor charges and disciplinary action from her university.
“During the course of the investigation, the female complainant admitted that she fabricated the story about her physical attack as well as the removal of her hijab and wallet by two white males,” Lafayette police said in a statement. “This incident is no longer under investigation by the Lafayette Police Department.”
Another student from Ohio, 24-year-old Eleesha Long, claimed that she was attacked by three white men wearing Trump hats who threw rocks at her and called her a racial slur. Her post about the pretend incident, which went viral, detailed what each man was wearing as well as very specific details about the alleged hate crime.
Throughout the police investigation, law enforcement noticed that Long’s story changed multiple times, and that her Facebook and Verizon history proved that she was not where she claimed to be. It turns out that the student made the story up out of frustration with friends and family members who supported Trump.
Long has now been charged with falsification and obstructing official business.
A 19-year-old US-Israeli citizen has been arrested in southern Israel on suspicion of carrying out a wave of telephone bomb threats targeting Jewish centers and communities around the world.
The months-long, multi-agency investigation led Israel Police’s International Crime Investigations Unit to the city of Ashkelon, where the suspect and his father were arrested, and a search of their home was conducted on Thursday, local media reports.
“This specific investigation was complex in terms of the suspect and its nature,” Micky Rosenfeld, foreign press spokesman for the Israel Police, told the Jerusalem Post.
“There was a significant breakthrough in the investigation which led us to make the arrest of the suspect who lives in Southern Israel.”
“He was the main suspect behind the numerous amount of threats which were made to different Jewish communities and organizations around the world,” Rosenfeld added.
“I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Thursday, as quoted by Reuters. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs.”
The suspect employed a variety of advanced masking technologies to disguise his identity, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed police spokesperson. His motives remain unclear.
Police seized a range of equipment during the search of the suspect’s home in southern Israel, which could potentially have disguised his physical location and IP address from authorities, frustrating the months-long investigation, Haaretz reports.
The FBI has been investigating a spate of bomb threats made to Jewish centers in Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and North Carolina, as well as similar threats to Delta Airlines.
The main break in the case came following a 2016 bomb threat to a Jewish center in New Zealand, after which authorities were able to trace the origin of the IP address to Israel.
The FBI, in coordination with the US Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies also traced the origin of the calls to the US back to an IP address in Israel and coordinated their efforts with Israeli authorities, handing over all relevant data to help with the investigation.
Osama bin Laden, it’s a name every American knows and loves to hate. After the horrific terrorist attacks on 11 September 2011, former US President George W Bush told his countrymen that this terrorist bin Laden orchestrated the 911 attacks in New York City, Washington DC and Shanksville, Pa. and people believed it. They envisioned his face with a target on it and blamed him for the deaths of thousands of Americans. Why shouldn’t they? No president would lie about something so serious, right?
The real truth may never be known, the Central Intelligence Agency will see to that. But here is what we do know… in the simplest terms: GW Bush told the nation almost immediately that bin Laden was responsible, but Osama bin Laden denied having any involvement in 9/11. Americans are widely familiar with the first part, but almost nobody knows the latter.
On 17 Sept. 2001, Bush placed the blame on bin Laden in an ABC News article titled, Bush Says Bin Laden Wanted Dead or Alive,
“Bush reiterated today that bin Laden is ‘the prime suspect’ in Tuesday’s attacks, in which hijacked planes slammed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, where thousands are feared dead. Another hijacked airliner crashed in Pennsylvania, apparently after passengers overwhelmed the hijackers.”
I have been watching all of this unfold for many years. Media agencies all over the world, including mainstream agencies in the US, carried bin Laden’s denial initially. The Saudi dissident flatly denied having anything to do with 9/11. Isn’t that odd? Why, after all, would a terrorist who was actually able to strike the world’s premier super power from a cave while dying of kidney failure, deny it? Wouldn’t he want everyone in the world to know that he scored three direct hits on the Great Satan, the USA itself?
Osama bin Laden knew, of course, that such an act would bring an overwhelming military response. If you toss enough stones at a beehive, they’re going to get your ass. The only thing that 9/11 really did, was inspire a series of bloodbath wars in the Middle east, none of which were legal or justified, and put billions and billions of dollars into the pockets of Dick Cheney and an assortment of other military contractors and mercenaries. Well over a million Muslim people have died as a result. Mr. bin Laden, in spite of his reputation for committing acts of terror (bin Laden is the suspect in the bombing of American embassies in Africa in 1998) said at the time that he did not seek to invoke a massive reprisal against his own people.
It was a set up.
Today, most of the US media links referencing bin Laden’s denial of having any role in the 11 Sept attacks, are all dead ends. Fortunately, long before they disappeared, I mapped them all out in a Salem-News.com article titled Bin Laden’s Ghost and the bigger truth, is that all of these articles exist today in hard copy archives. One example of an article that made it through, is the 15 Sept. 2001 LA Times piece, On Trail of the Real Osama bin Laden which states, “Bin Laden denies involvement in Tuesday’s attacks, and some terrorist experts caution that others might have been more directly involved. They cite evidence that terrorist cells tied to other radical groups and governments could have been the organizers.”
(Entrance to bin Laden’s former training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan during the Soviet war. Photo by Tim King)
Among the US news archives that are still intact, is a story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel titled, Bin Laden denies being behind attacks, which carries the statement, “Jamal Ismail, a Palestinian journalist, has said a bin Laden aide called him after Tuesday’s attack to say bin Laden denied being involved but ‘thanked almighty Allah and bowed before him when he heard this news.’”
(CNN and almost all western media carried the denial initially)
A Yahoo News article from 13 Sept. 2001, Taliban says Bin Laden Denies Role in Attacks, contains the quote from Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef who told Reuters, “We asked from him, (and) he told (us) we don’t have any hand in this action.”
Many mainstream world agencies still maintain online copies of the bin Laden denials.
Trump Says Bush Knew About Pending Attacks
Many have suggested that the US government was well aware of the pending attacks in Sept. 2001.
Willie Brown, Former Mayor of San Francisco and Former Speaker of the California State Assembly, was warned not to fly on 9/11 several hours before he was to take to the not so friendly skies. And even newly elected US President Donald Trump spoke out about GW Bush’s alleged knowledge that the 11 Sept. attacks were going to take place before they did. Politifact wrote in the article, Donald Trump says CIA warned George W. Bush of Sept. 11 attacks, “Trump claims that the CIA told the Bush administration that a domestic terror attack was coming. The report assembled over a span of three years after Sept. 11, 2001, found no specific alert. The potential for a domestic attack was discussed in early August, but it was mentioned only in broad terms and was not brought back up. Investigative reports in the years since found that the CIA warnings emphasized possible targets overseas.”
The 17 Sept. 2001 article Bin Laden and family flee to the hills and family goes into hiding by The Guardian, states, “In a statement faxed to the pro-Taliban Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency, Bin Laden yesterday denied having anything to do with last week’s attacks in New York and Washington. ‘I am residing in Afghanistan. I have taken an oath of allegiance [to the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar] which does not allow me to do such things from Afghanistan,’ he claimed.”
The Bin Laden Interview
The most direct response from bin Laden was the article, Who was behind 9/11? – an interview with Osama Bin Laden by The Daily Ummat of Karachi. This is an excerpt, a direct quote from Osama bin Laden.
“I have already said that I am not involved in the September 11 attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other human beings as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of battle. It is the United States which is perpetrating every sort of maltreatment on women, children and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that has been going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to invoke the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel. There is also a warning for those Muslim countries that witnessed all of this as silent spectators. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya and Bosnia? Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers, namely that America is an anti-Islamic power and is patronising anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just show, or rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Cast a glance around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims.”
I suggest reading the entire interview. It is hard for Americans to understand, but one of bin Laden’s principle concerns was the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. The US, irreversibly pro-Israel, misses the point that most of the world does not approve of the suffering of Palestinians, this fact is key to all of the world’s problems in the Middle east. Just this week, a UN report confirmed that Israel has established an ‘apartheid regime’ with separate laws for people of different religions; affirming many of the political points made by both bin Laden, and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was a stalwart supporter of Palestinian human rights.
Among those reacting to Trump’s selective Muslim ban while it was in effect in the US was “No Place For Hate,” a brand created by the Anti-Defamation League and retailed by synagogues and other Jewish organizations across the country. The ADL explicitly supports advocacy and activism for Israel. “No Place For Hate” operates under their banner.
On February 3, 2017 the steering committee of “No Place for Hate” in Falmouth, Massachusetts wrote a letter to the editor stating that the Trump administration’s “misguided policies foster an environment of fear toward others and encourage expression of bias.” They continue, “we are especially concerned about the religious bias implicit in this ban that may only serve to increase anti-Muslim sentiments, as well as prejudice against other religious minorities.”
Though the rabbi and others who signed this letter may have been sincere, it is hard to avoid the hypocrisy of any group which advocates for Israel saying it is “concerned” about bias against Muslims. Israel was built on bias against Muslims. It is practiced day in and day out there, with home demolitions, stealing of Palestinian land, military attacks on Gaza, almost daily executions of Palestinians in the streets of the West Bank, and an entire program of genocide since 1948. Further, Israel has exported bias against Muslims to the rest of the world, especially the west, so that it can justify its colonial project in Palestine and get the US and Europe to destroy nearby Muslim-majority lands for the sake of its other project — Greater Israel. The starting point of this campaign was blaming Arabs and Muslims for the false flag attacks of September 11, 2001. Israeli agents from the Bush-era neoconservatives to the Mossad were central in the planning of September 11. If any Arabs or Muslims were involved, they were involved as patsies. A large number of false flag attacks have been blamed on Muslims in the years since, in much the same way, just to keep the momentum going. No place for hate? Israel wrote the book!
Making this possible is an amazing feat of propaganda. While Israel organizes the attacks on Muslims in Asia and Africa, it tells the ADL to lead the defense of Muslims in the US. The criminal pretends to the role of his victim’s best friend. He steals with one hand while offering to help with the other. He bombs Gaza while leading a worldwide struggle for human rights. He profits from the African slave trade and then takes up the cause of African American civil rights. He leads the neoconservative warmongers, and at the same time leads the antiwar left. He creates the wars and also the opposition to those wars. He spies on the US, and he claims the US as his closest ally.
Israel has lasted so long on the world stage because it is an expert at deceit. It is so good at deceit that it can commit monstrous crimes in broad daylight and have the world believe Israel was the victim. The Zionist preempts criticism of Israel by convincing the world that such criticism is a hate crime, and gets laws passed to prevent it. On its website the ADL boasts that “45 states and the District of Columbia have enacted hate crimes laws based on (or similar to) ADL’s model.”
Perhaps this is the motive behind “No Place For Hate”: the real haters must appear to be the leading opponents of hate. If an organization gets itself into the position of defining what hate is and who is doing it, it is in a good position to make sure that the power it represents — racist Israel — is never accused. Has the ADL ever called out Israel for genocide in Palestine? Of course not. What about administrative detention? What about home demolitions? No. The ADL was created so that it could facilitate Israel’s genocide against Palestinians, and make sure the perpetrators never get blamed.
Several years ago, in this same small town in Massachusetts, the venue of a film group was shut down for its screening of Occupation 101, a documentary about the realities of life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. The opposition was anonymous. Pressure was brought to bear on the board overseeing the venue. Although a number of bureaucratic explanations were given, the final explanation was that the movie was “hate speech.” The same scenario has played out all over the country. Free speech is shut down on the basis of a construct promoted by organizations like the ADL, specifically to protect Israel. “No Place For Hate” is used as a weapon against free speech, dressed in liberal guise.
Perhaps the purpose of Jewish activism for human rights is, as the letter above says, protecting “other religious minorities” — namely, their own. Many Jews have been outspoken on the cause of Palestine because they know a crime has been committed, and they know that retribution may come. Those who are not witting participants have a guilty conscience. Some may wish to deny, some may wish to bargain, some may wish to obstruct, some may wish to shift the blame, but they all act out of guilt. It is up to those who have suffered in the many wars for Israel to decide what justice should be rendered — most notably, the Palestinians, but also the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen, and Iran. It is certain, however, that the ones who have set themselves up as the arbiters of human rights — the ADL among them — are the ones who should actually be on trial.
Requiem for a Martyr: The “Blind Sheik”, Omar Abdel Rahman, Innocent Victim of Seditious Conspiracy Trial
“[America’s treatment of me] is a crime that history will never forgive.” – Omar Abdel Rahman
Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the “blind sheik”, died on the morning of February 18, 2017, near the 24th anniversary of the 1993 WTC bombing. He was an innocent victim of the US agenda to create a new enemy by engineering events that would make terrorism virtually synonymous with “Islamic fundamentalism”.
Sheik Rahman attained national fame in Egypt while he was on trial for inciting the 1981 assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. With a passionate moral integrity, he courageously attacked the government during his two days on the stand; the intensive trial media gave him a national platform that made him famous throughout the Muslim world. His sermons were taped and traded throughout Egypt.
While he was vindicated of the charges against him, President Mubarak’s government ominously refused to give the necessary certification of the verdict and eventually drove Sheik Rahman out of Egypt. The Sheik went to Afghanistan, where he helped the CIA recruit Arab fighters to serve with the US-backed mujahadeen (he would lose at least one of his own sons there), and the Sheik was reportedly on the CIA payroll.
Sheik Rahman came to the US in 1990, hoping to remain until he could safely return to Egypt. According to Benjamin Begin in a 1993 Israel Today newsletter, Rahman’s mosques were infiltrated by FBI and Mossad operatives and would be the source of recruitment for their operations.
The World Trade Center explosion occurred on Friday, February 26th, 1993. The Sheik was soon declared deportable when some of those charged were identified as members of his mosques. The sheik was in the FBI’s crosshairs; the FBI offered Egyptian intelligence agent Emad Salem over one million dollars to entrap him.
The cagey Salem, who had become a trusted member of the Sheik’s inner circle, was aware of the obligation that the Sheik had as spiritual leader to respond to congregants’ needs. Salem blindsided the sheik by going to his home after midnight on a Sunday, pretending to be in a spiritual crisis. He claimed that he felt guilty for his years in the Egyptian military and needed to atone for his actions by attacking a target in the US — such as the United Nations. The sheik tried to fob him off and talked him out of that terrorist target; he suggested that a US military target would be more appropriate, but he told Salem to “slow down” — to cool off. Salem went home happy.
The Joint Anti-Terror Task Force and the Justice Department were allegedly dubious about whether they had evidence that would convict Rahman. The Sheik had repeatedly and publicly denounced the bombing of the WTC and claimed that he had nothing to do with it. Those who heard Emad Salem’s recorded attempt to incriminate the Sheik didn’t think it was persuasive enough to stand up in court. The FBI had tapped the Sheik’s telephones from two weeks before the WTC explosion until June, 1993; there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. The INS said he was complying with the requirements of his deportation appeal. Authorities noted that incarcerating the Sheik would be expensive because of his diabetes. A detention until appeals were completed could have lasted for months — if not for years.
Attorney General Janet Reno, who had publicly been reluctant to charge the Sheik, finally succumbed to the political pressure: pressure that also came from the Egyptian government, which still felt threatened by the Sheik’s popularity. Egyptian officials, afraid that Rahman would be deported to Egypt, wanted him safely incarcerated in the US. On July 1st, 1993, the Justice Department, while avoiding making any criminal charge, decided to take the Sheik into custody – “indefinite administrative detention” — on immigration charges.
The Egyptian conundrum
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was afraid of Rahman’s popularity and influence; he appeared to be worried about suffering the same fate as the Shah of Iran, deposed by a popular religious leader. Mubarak banned tapes of Sheik Rahman’s sermons; those found with copies were subject to up to five years in jail. Three thousand copies of a newspaper Al-Hayat that featured a March interview with Rahman were confiscated, and Rahman’s mosque in Fayoum was empty, guarded by a police agent.
While the Egyptian government had initially asked the Clinton administration to hold the Sheik to make sure he was not deported to Egypt, they changed their minds when they were informed that under the immigration charges, the sheik could accept his deportation voluntarily and go to any country that would take him, which could make him even more of a threat to the Mubarak government. After intense discussions, the US agreed to accept Egypt’s official extradition request, which it claimed would take precedence over the deportation charge. The only hitch was that appeals might take as long as eight years.
Mubarak was livid. He reminded the U.S. that he had hosted an Arab summit before the 1991 US-led invasion of Iraq which brought most of the Arab world onside, providing important “optics” for the engineered invasion.
Egyptian authorities were also outraged that two employees of the US Embassy had met earlier that year with prominent members of the Islamic Group, which regarded Sheik Rahman as their spiritual leader. The US seemed to be hedging its bets on Egyptian leadership so that it would not be caught out in Egypt as it had been in Iran, when Khomeini was swept into power. To add insult to injury, there was even a Congressional effort to cut back on US aid to Egypt.
President Mubarak then demonstrated to the Clinton administration who was in charge of Egypt. On July 8th, the Egyptian government hanged seven followers of Sheik Rahman for attacks against foreign tourists and for conspiring to overthrow the Mubarak government. It was the largest number of executions for a political crime in more than four decades, and it would be the start of a brutal campaign against dissidents that would last until the 2011 Arab Spring.
After witnessing Mubarak’s treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood, it was evident that Rahman’s supporters were powerless; Rahman was expendable.
US rejects political asylum for Rahman but can’t extradite him to Egypt
Meanwhile there were unforeseen complications with U.S. efforts to extradite Rahman to Egypt. While the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected Rahman’s appeal for political asylum, it appeared that his appeals would eventually reach the Supreme Court. Also, State Department officials realized that the 100-year old extradition treaty between the US and Egypt did not permit extradition based on “any crime or offense of political character.” While one official claimed that US courts were not limited by treaties, another noted that the treaty strengthened Rahman’s case for political asylum.
The Egyptian plan to ensure that Sheik Rahman would be placed under their control hit another challenge at the end of July when Afghanistan’s Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar offered his country as a refuge for the Sheik. The Sheik’s lawyers realized that deportation might be the only way for the sheik to regain his freedom, so they contacted the office of U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to request his deportation.
White’s office sat on the sheik’s deportation request while trying to accommodate Egypt’s demand for permanent control of the sheik. The problem was that those who were deported were free to go to any country that would accept them, but Egypt did not want the sheik in Afghanistan, where he would be free to communicate with his followers.
The “seditious conspiracy” solution
The sheik’s lawyers were still waiting for a response when, a week later, on August 25th, 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno issued an indictment for Sheik Rahman along with 14 others for “seditious conspiracy”, an obscure charge employed against political dissidents.
The 20-count, 27-page indictment claimed that one terrorist organization [which started in 1989, the year before the sheik arrived in the U.S.] was behind all of the plots and that Sheik Rahman, while not directly involved with the acts, was the “mastermind” who explicitly gave the orders. The listed plots included: plans to attack American military installations; plans to murder F.B.I. agents; plans to seize hostages to help release jailed conspirators; the 1990 killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane; the 1991 killing of Alkifah Center President Mustafa Shalabi; the 1993 WTC bombing [ambiguously included, since there was currently a separate trial for that]; the June “landmarks bombing plot”; and the plot to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak. The New York Times featured a map of the presumed terrorist targets; it appeared that New York City was under a Muslim siege.
The “seditious conspiracy” charge, which had been created to target Confederates at the end of the Civil War, was defined as when two or more people “conspire to overthrow, put down, or destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them.” Experts noted that the broad nature of the conspiracy indictment, which did not require connecting a defendant to any specific act of violence and allowed prosecutors to bring in evidence not related to terrorist acts, made it possible to convict people with little proof (let alone evidence) of guilt. Criminal defense experts claimed that the Government was framing the case as much on the defendants’ beliefs as on any acts they may have committed.
Defense lawyers were also disturbed by the Government’s piling up of charges on a socially-isolated and demonized group, especially reviving the Kahane case just two years after El Sayid Nosair had been acquitted. Claiming that the indictment was an attempt to “create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation“, defense lawyer Ronald Kuby noted that, “What they have done is take every allegation, every rumor, every loose end and created a vast mythical Islamic conspiracy. They have created a case that is so big and complicated that it is impossible to defend, impossible to understand, and impossible for any of these defendants to get a fair trial.”
Emad Salem’s tapes
Defense lawyers claimed that Emad Salem entrapped their clients by hiring them for his plots, then taped them making incriminating statements. Salem’s tapes, on which most of this trial would be based, would also include two FBI admissions of overseeing the provision of the WTC explosives. Ron Kuby requested that all of Salem’s tapes collected as evidence (which also showed the FBI’s unsavory ways of doing business) be released in their entirety to the public to expose the case as a conspiracy to frame the defendants. Judge Michael B. Mukasey, (who would be named Attorney General in 2007), refused to allow the tapes to be made public.
The seditious conspiracy trial would be delayed until January, 1995, and corresponded in time to the televised O.J. Simpson trial, which contributed to its lack of media coverage, despite being touted as the terror trial of the century. The year and a half between the defendants’ arrests and their trial gave the Government and courts time to strip the sheik and other defendants of Constitutional rights, including the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the Fourth Amendment right against unwarranted search and seizure, and other basic freedoms. The homes of two of Rahman’s paralegals would be raided for information against him, and dissident reading material found in defendants’ homes that was deemed “anti-American” or showed “hatred of Jews” could be used as evidence against them.
The seditious conspiracy trial
As with the first World Trade bombing trial, there would be no change of venue, the jury would be unsequestered and — supposedly to protect them from Muslim terror threats — would be identified only by number; their names would never be made public. None of the jury was Muslim.
The media during the entirety of this trial would be filled with various terror stories. The seditious conspiracy trial had barely started when the “mastermind” of the WTC bombing, Ramzi Yousef, arrived in New York with huge media fanfare. Mukasey asked the jury on the day after Yousef’s arrival if their opinions were changed by this media coverage. He immediately determined that they weren’t, but ignored the subsequent barrage of prejudicial media exposure that lasted throughout this trial. Some of Yousef’s publicity should have helped the defendants because Yousef, who didn’t know sheik Rahman, made statements that should have exonerated Rahman and others. Unfortunately Yousef refused to testify at this trial and Judge Mukasey would not permit the defense counsel access to Yousef’s documents that the FBI had taken.
The Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred six weeks later in mid-April, was initially claimed to be similar to the WTC bomb, and due to Muslim terrorism. Mukasey “assumed” that the jury would not be affected by the anti-Muslim media, although the defendants received heightened physical protection in their detention center.
That June, the actual driver of the bomb-laden Ryder van came to media attention and in August, there was media fanfare with his extradition to the U.S.
Sheik Rahman’s (nonexistent) Constitutional rights
Prosecution attention turned to the Sheik’s sermons to show his attitude towards the U.S. as well as his leadership in the Muslim community. Many of the Sheik’s sermons, which encouraged the devout to fight enemies of Islam and God, were read out in an effort to criminalize what should have been his freedoms of speech and belief.
Mukasey barred witnesses that would have shown the role of politics behind the arrest of Sheik Rahman, that would have testified that Rahman was not the radical that the media had described, and that would have provided a clearer understanding of Muslim terms (such as jihad and fatwa) that were being used against the defendants. Mukasey’s rulings were devastating to the Sheik’s defense.
The defense lawyers tried to introduce sealed material from the previous WTC trial that would show the lengths to which the FBI had gone to implicate as well as convict the previous defendants in the World Trade Center trial. Although that material was not produced, FBI scientist Fredrick Whitehurst’s subsequent testimony about the FBI’s incompetence, perjury and obstruction of justice that facilitated the convictions of the four charged in the WTC bombing did tell part of that story.
The Government’s desperation to find damaging information on Sheik Rahman was evident in the arrest of his paralegal at the end of April. The authorities’ claim that Nasser Ahmed’s overstay on a student visa “just came to our attention”, was contradicted by an FBI agent’s message to Ahmed that if he did not cooperate with the FBI, he would be deported to Egypt. After being charged with “secret evidence” and spending three years in solitary confinement, Ahmed would not be released until 1999.
Since this trial showed that there was little evidence that any of the defendants were guilty of any untried crime that had taken place, the prosecution tried to criminalize Islam; it described the defendants as a frightening “jihad army”: foreigners of a mysterious, militant culture. Judge Mukasey assured the jurors they could find that there was a single conspiracy despite the differing defendants and plots, “so long as you find that some of the conspirators continued for the entire duration of the conspiracy to act for the purposes charged in the indictment.”
After deliberating for seven days, the jury returned on October 1, 1995 with guilty verdicts for 48 out of the 50 charges. Sheik Rahman’s lawyer Lynne Stewart broke down and cried.
The defense cries “foul” and calls for a mistrial
The defense counsel immediately called for a mistrial because they believed that the problems with the trial were so egregious. It was clear that the FBI made use of Egypt’s intelligence agent as an agent provocateur to carry out its own agenda. Some defendants claimed that exculpatory conversations were missing from the tapes; the FBI admitted that they had “briefly” returned the tapes to Salem after they had been entered as evidence.
Judge Mukasey told the defense lawyers that he would consider their request to hold a post-trial hearing on the issue of whether he should overturn the convictions. But on January 10, 1996, he rejected the defense motion to throw out the convictions of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others, claiming that there was no proof that the evidence that Salem had destroyed would have helped exonerate the defendants. Mukasey ignored Salem’s obvious motive for destroying evidence and the FBI’s interest in wanting him to do it.
Mukasey was determined to make an example of these “terror” defendants. While the sentence for seditious conspiracy was 20 years, Mukasey used that as a starting point, and added the other charges on top of that. He used his discretionary powers to make each part of the sentences sequential rather than concurrent; the sentences ranged from 30 years to life.
Sheik Rahman was sentenced to life. Worse, the government silenced Rahman even further by new “Special Administration Measures” which allowed them to essentially isolate him totally. To facilitate that agenda, it taped what were supposed to be his private conversations with his lawyer Lynne Stewart, and would imprison her for trying to circumvent the restrictions.
The obscure conspiracy law came into its own
The prosecution congratulated itself on its use of the seditious conspiracy charge. The verdict showed that the conspiracy law provided them with an easy venue to obtain verdicts with little evidence and for which no crimes had occurred. The conspiracy charge would become the mechanism to convict Muslims in future terror trials because of the low standards required of any individual’s involvement.
This trial demonstrated how the efforts of the government, the courts and the media — particularly the New York Times — ensured that the Muslim defendants could not obtain a fair trial. The New York Times enabled convictions in all of these related trials by maligning the defendants with anonymous government leaks, generally using biased and inflammatory language to describe them, and invariably assuming their guilt.
The injustice of these convictions and the fruitless appeals have been clear to those following the cases. While few Americans seem to be aware of the injustice, it has not been lost on the worldwide Muslim community. There were various actions designed to free Sheik Rahman, including the 2005 kidnapping of the four Christian Peacemaker Team members in Iraq: Tom Fox (who died), James Loney, Norman Kember and Harmeet Singh Sooden.
The world lost a passionate voice for moral integrity with the silencing of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and his death before attaining justice was tragic. His passing should provide Americans the opportunity to understand how FBI-monitored acts were used to eliminate Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of belief, the right against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to counsel, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. By ignoring the elimination of Muslim rights, Americans are laying the groundwork for the elimination of their own.
Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.
Copyright © Karin Brothers, Global Research, 2017
A group of US lawmakers is seeking to return North Korea to the list of states that sponsor terrorism and give it once again the less-than-honorable title of terrorist state. US President George W. Bush took North Korea off the list some nine years ago in order to support talks about North Korea’s nuclear program and to offer sanctions relief in exchange for North Korean concessions.
Now, according to the lawmakers, the alleged assassination of Kim Jong Nam shows that North Korea is practicing state terrorism. The lawmakers are not short on aggressive rhetoric.
“The murder once again highlights the treachery of North Korea,” said Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who also chairs a Senate panel on Asia.
“We should never have taken North Korea off the state sponsor of terrorism list,” Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California told a Congressional hearing Thursday.
“It is time to put little Kim back on that list because he is a world terrorist and a threat to world peace,” said the bill’s Republican sponsor, Representative Ted Poe of Texas.
So far, no official conclusions have been made by the investigation as to who really killed Kim Jong Nam, or why. Experts say until the investigation is complete, making allegations would be “irresponsible.”
According to military.com, North Korea was first put on the list of terrorist states back in 1987, after a bomb explosion destroyed the South Korean Boeing 747 known as Korean Air Flight 858. The US State Department treated the incident as a state-sponsored act of terrorism.
North Korea was removed from the list by US President George W. Bush in 2008, “to smooth the way for aid-for-disarmament negotiations,” the website reads.
If the hawkish lawmakers are to put the country back on the list, they will have to provide solid evidence that the country’s government “repeatedly” supported international acts of terrorism.
However, that is going to prove quite a challenge, since back in 2016 the US State Department officially declared that North Korea “is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts” since the plane attack 30 years ago. This statement came as a response to another attempt to relist North Korea as a terrorist state in June 2016.
But the lawmakers insist that North Korea’s record be reviewed again. According to Gardner, there is evidence of North Korean “actions and relationships that would meet the criteria of state sponsor of terror.”
It should be noted that US officials repeatedly claimed that there was “evidence” of alleged Russian meddling with US presidential elections in 2016, though it has presented precious little to the public.
North Korea is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. Its aspiration to secure nuclear weapons in conjunction with its official status as a communist state has caused the United States and the UN to impose numerous sanctions, which severely reduce the country’s trade options. However, each round of sanctions also erodes the space for diplomacy.
Sanctions so far have not prevented North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons, but they do affect the standard of living of the common people in the country.
While people on both sides of the phoney left/right divide squabble over terrorist boogeymen and Trump’s CIA chief gives Saudi Arabia an award for “counter”terrorism, everyone has lost sight of the bigger picture: The blithering morons who are the face of international terror are aided, funded, controlled and handled by the intelligence agencies. It is all part of the con to get you scared of your own shadow so the terror-industrial complex can laugh all the way to the bank. Today James breaks down the latest chapter in this never-ending psy-op saga.
The massacre of Muslims in Canada at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday, January 29, raises a number of questions about what happened but also raises deep questions of morality and justice since the massacre of Muslims in Canada is rightly condemned but another massacre of Muslims, in Yemen, is shamefully and criminally condoned. In one situation, a suspect faces trial for murder and is condemned by public opinion, while in the other the guilty are treated as heroes and will receive medals. Let’s deal with the Canadian situation first.
Instead of facts we have confusion since first reports are of two figures, wearing ski masks, blasting away with Ak-47’s. Now the two are declared to be one. We have a conversation on a bridge between a “suspect” and the police, after the “suspect” is alleged to have called them “because he feels bad,” to tell them he “was involved.” What that means is not stated but is played in the press as a confession, but there is no confession. At his bail hearing on Monday, the sole accused Alexandre Bissonnette, entered no plea and said not a word.
He is portrayed in the press as a right wing oddball, a loner type. Friends and family never saw it coming. Much is made of his mundane “likes” on his Facebook site as if these indicate his guilt or innocence any more than my “likes” indicate mine. Was he a hidden ideological time bomb and killed with an objective in mind, to make a cruel statement, to create terror for political objectives? If so, and after so brazen a massacre, where were the shouts of defiance, of bragging, from this terrorist madman? Instead, a man shuffled and hung his head and dared not look anyone in the eye, tried to keep a low profile when all eyes were focused on him. Why? Is he one of the shooters? Were there two or just one?
The Toronto Star reported on the Sunday, January 30, that,
“Two attackers carried out a shooting at a Quebec City Mosque…”
Quoting Radio-Canada, the Star stated that,
“One man who was at the mosque told Radio-Canada that there were two attackers wearing ski masks who burst into the building and opened fire. The man, who didn’t want to be identified by name, said they had strong Quebecois accents, but added that he believed them shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’… The man said he narrowly escaped when a bullet whizzed over his head. He said the gunmen took aim at those who were still praying.”
There we have it, a recent direct witness statement that there were two shooters, not one, as the police now claim. The witness talks in the plural all through his statement. There can be no doubt this event is seared in his mind. He was there. There can be no doubt there were two men involved. But now one has disappeared from the official narrative. I am not surprised he feared to give his name because if killers can disappear witnesses can too.
Even the CBC, on Tuesday January 31, in reference to a witness who was arrested as a suspect by mistake, quoted that witness as stating, “I found a victim near the door. I didn’t know if he was alive or dead… when I gave him my jacket to keep warm, I saw the image of someone with a firearm. I didn’t know it was the police. I thought it was a shooter who’d returned.”
He refers to “a” shooter not “the” shooter implying there were more than one. He even thought the police officers were the shooters. But clearly he misunderstood why they were there. And the CBC article also cited the witness who saw two attackers and repeated the Radio-Canada story.
The police now state there was only one shooter. Yet the police statement from the Surete de Quebec on January 30 said, “The Surete de Quebec confirms that only one of the individuals arrested yesterday evening is connected with the attack in Quebec and is considered a suspect.” That does not exclude other attackers and does not say that Bissonnette is the only attacker. Now the press are quoting witnesses saying there was one attacker but the police state they have two long guns used in the crime. Witnesses described them as AK 47’s. They also say that a shooter also used a 9 mm pistol after his rifle jammed. The 9mm could hold 15 rounds and since more than 20 people were shot the question of two shooters does not go away.
What is the motive? Not a word on that from anyone though the media is heavy with speculation it is because of alleged right wing views. But many people in Quebec and Canada share these opinions. This is not evidence. If it was Bissonnette, was this a hate attack against Muslims and if so how did this come about? If it wasn’t, is he insane so that now he is arrested we no longer need worry? Very different scenarios cause different reactions and consequences. But we are left with the word “terrorism” as if saying it explains things. Where and how did he or they get the automatic weapons they used? Was CSIS, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service aware of any of this developing? If not, why not?
Who benefits from this crime? We know that President Trump issued an executive order banning entry of Muslims from certain countries on Friday. The Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, in reaction to the Trump travel ban, stated on Saturday,
“To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of faith. Diversity is our strength.”
One day later, on Sunday, came the message in the form of the attack that Muslims better forget Canada as a safe place to be. So, was there a political objective? If so, was it to damage Trump through the murder of innocents? Was it to slap down Trudeau and damage Canada’s reputation? Will it be another in a long string of such incidents the past few years which have been used to excuse even more draconian security laws and loss of civil rights and freedoms?
The anti-Trump media, political opponents and commentators are using it to link Trump to right wing murderers, while Trump has tried to use it to call for more security and offered Canada the help of American security services.
The Canadian media are in a frenzy putting out stories about Canada as a welcoming country that is horrified by this crime and condemning violence against Muslims. The only thing the public knows is that we do not know the whole story.
But the massacre in Quebec City was not the only massacre that took place on that Sunday. That same day American special forces invaded Yemen and carried out a series of “raids,” in reality a series of invasions of a sovereign country to kill its citizens. One of these raids was against a man they claim was a “suspected Al-Qaeda leader” their code phrase for anyone they want out of the way in the Middle East, since Al-Qaeda does not exist; it is just a label attached to any group in the middle east that resists US hegemony, or in Yemen, is part of the resistance to the US-UK sponsored war conducted by Saudi Arabia against Yemen.
This invasion of Yemen, an act of aggression against a member of the United Nations, was planned by President Obama and approved by President Trump, showing the seamless continuity of American imperialism. It was supposedly to “gather intelligence,” in the form of a computer hard drive. To obtain that hard drive, the Americans slaughtered dozens.
In one version in the US media, the American soldiers descended from their helicopters, surrounded a house, and then killed everyone in it. They then began to meet resistance and more violence ensued as the Yemenis tried to resist the American invaders. A US helicopter was shot down, and as is often the case with them, the Americans fired and bombed indiscriminately and killed, according to local media, 30 people including civilians, 8 women and children among them, and bombed a school, a medical facility and a mosque. It was reported that the Americans killed more people in Yemen in other raids that day.
This is a war crime under international law, a crime against humanity, to invade a country and kill its citizens who have every right to resist the attack. Yet where is the condemnation of President Obama for planning this operation and for President Trump for carrying it out? Where are the arrests of these two men and the soldiers who carried out this atrocity? Are they not as guilty as Alexandre Bissonnette, if indeed he is one of the attackers in Quebec? Why is it insignificant that Muslims are murdered in their homes and mosques in Yemen by a powerful state but a world tragedy when Muslims are murdered in a mosque in Canada?
Yet, as the Surete de Quebec and the other Canadian police forces and intelligence agencies carry out their activities to determine what happened in Quebec City and as the Canadian and world media put out wall to wall coverage of the massacre in Canada, the same media do nothing more than regret the death and wounding of the American murderers who carried out the massacre in Yemen and excuse this mass slaughter while the prosecutor of the ICC sits at her desk and wonders why she and the court she represents have become totally irrelevant to what seems to be a hopeless quest to prevent war crimes and the wars from which they arise and which have led directly to the crimes in Canada and Yemen.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events.
A group of European journalists and aviation experts has sent an open letter to Donald Trump asking him to back a new UN-run investigation into the 2014 crash of Flight MH17. The current Dutch-led inquiry is “neither independent nor convincing,” they said.
The open letter, signed by 25 journalists, former civil aviation pilots and researchers from Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, was posted on the website of Joost Niemoller – a Dutch journalist who publicly challenged the current investigation into the ill-fated Flight MH17, which was downed over Ukraine in July 2014.
With Trump having taken office as the new president of the United States, the letter says “there is now a real chance of resolving the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine,” and also “hope of improving the quality of the investigation into the alleged shooting down of the MH17.”
The experts suggested that the new investigation should include independent international researchers able to overcome governments’ reluctance to disclose information, and should be overseen by the United Nations. At the moment, Ukraine’s secret service (SBU) plays a major role in providing data to the Dutch investigators, while Russian investigators are being excluded from the process.
In September last year, the Dutch investigators said the aircraft was shot down with a missile from a Buk launch system that “was brought from the territory of the Russian Federation and after launch subsequently returned to the Russian Federation territory.” The investigation stopped short of accusing Russia directly, saying that “we have determined that the weapons came from the Russian Federation.”
Furthermore, the experts’ letter referred to former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who claimed in July 2014 that Washington possesses “satellite imagery” showing the trajectory of a surface-to-air missile from areas controlled by rebels in eastern Ukraine. The US should release the images or recognize that they never existed, the experts stressed.
Notably, the open letter calls for a forensic investigation into the impact holes on the fragments of the MH17 wreckage, and suggests the same damage patterns should be reproduced in a shooting test. Similar experiments have already been staged by Almaz Antey, Russia’s leading missile manufacturer, in July and October 2015, although their results were subsequently ignored by international investigators.
Almaz Antey’s experts said that judging by the T-shape strike elements, the missile was an old Buk-M1 model fired from a Ukraine-controlled area, contesting the preliminary theory by Dutch investigators. “If the Malaysian Boeing was downed by a Buk missile, it was done with an old Buk model which does not have double-T iron strike elements,” CEO Yan Novikov told a media conference in Moscow after the experiment.
The new investigation proposed by Dutch, German and Australian experts should pave the way for “an international tribunal under the auspices of the UN,” the letter said, staffed with judges from countries that are not related to the disaster.
In 2015, speaking on MSNBC, Trump contested preliminary findings of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), whose report alleged that the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was hit by a surface-to-air missile launched by eastern Ukrainian rebels.
“It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them,” Trump said. “I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.”
Karl Rove. Credit: Jay Godwin/Wikimedia Commons
In a famous exchange between a high official at the court of George W. Bush and journalist Ron Suskind, the official – later acknowledged to have been Karl Rove – takes the journalist to task for working in “the reality-based community.” He defined that as believing “that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” Rove then asserted that this was no longer the way in which the world worked:
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do. (Ron Suskind, NYTimes Magazine, Oct. 17, 2004).
This declaration became popular as an illustration of the hubris of the Bush-Cheney government. But we could also see it as fulfilled prophecy. Fulfilled in a manner that no journalist at that time would have deemed possible. Yes, the neoconservatives brought disrepute upon themselves because of the disaster in Iraq. Sure, opposition to the reality Rove had helped create in that devastated country became a first rung on the ladder that could lead to the presidency, as it did for Barack Obama. But the neocons stayed put in the State Department and other positions closely linked to the Obama White House, where they became allies with the liberal hawks in continuing ‘spreading democracy’ by overthrowing regimes. America’s mainstream news and opinion purveyors, without demurring, accommodated the architects of reality production overseen by Dick Cheney.
This did not end when Obama became president, but in fact with seemingly ever greater eagerness they gradually made the CIA/neocon-neoliberal created reality appear unshakably substantial in the minds of most newspaper readers and among TV audiences in the Atlantic basin. This was most obvious when attention moved to an imagined existential threat posed by Russia supposedly aimed at the political and ‘Enlightenment’ achievements of the West. Neoconservatives and liberal hawks bent America’s foreign-policy entirely to their ultimate purpose of eliminating a Vladimir Putin who had decided not to dance to Washington’s tune so that he might save the Russian state, which had been disintegrating under his predecessor and Wall Street’s robber barons.
With President Obama as a mere spectator, the neocon/liberals could – without being ridiculed – pass off as a popular revolution the coup d’état they fomented in the Ukraine. And because of an unquestioned Atlanticist faith, which holds that without the policies of the United States the world cannot be safe for people of the Atlantic basin, the European elites that determine policy or comment on it joined their American counterparts in endorsing that reality.
As blind vassals the Europeans have adopted Washington’s enemies as their own. Hence the ease with which the European Union member states could be roped into a system of baseless economic sanctions against Russia, much to the detriment of their own economic interests. Layers upon layers of anti-Russian propaganda have piled up to bamboozle a largely unsuspecting public on both sides of the Ocean.
In the Netherlands, from where I have been watching all this, Putin was held personally responsible in much of the media for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner flying over the Ukraine, which killed 298 people. No serious investigation was undertaken. The presentation of ‘almost definitive’ findings by the joint investigation team under Dutch leadership has neither included clues supplied by jet fighter cannon holes in the wrecked fuselage nor eyewitness stories, which would make the government in Kiev the prime suspect. Moscow’s challenging the integrity of the investigation, whose agreed-upon rules included publication of findings only if Kiev agreed with them, were met with great indignation by the Dutch Foreign and Prime Ministers.
As the fighting in Syria reached a phase when contradictions in the official Washington/NATO story demanded a stepping back for a fresh look, editors were forced into contortions to make sure that the baddies stayed bad, and that no matter how cruel and murderously they went about their occupation in Aleppo and elsewhere, the jihadi groups fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government in Damascus remained strictly labeled as moderate dissidents worthy of Western support, and the Russians as violators of Western values. Architects of an official reality that diverges widely from the facts you thought you knew must rely on faits accompli they achieve through military or police violence and intimidation, in combination with a fitting interpretation or a news blackout delivered by mainstream media.
These conditions have been widely obtained in the Atlantic basin through a gradual loss of political accountability at top levels, and through government agencies protected by venerated secrecy that are allowed to live lives of their own. As a result American and European populations have been dropped into a fantasy world, one under constant threat from terrorists and an evil dictator in Moscow. For Americans the never ending war waged by their own government, which leaves them with no choice but to condone mass murder, is supposedly necessary to keep them safe. For Europeans, at least those in the northern half, the numerous NATO tanks rolling up to the border of the Russian Federation and the massing of troops in that area are an extra guarantee, on top of the missiles that were already there, that Vladimir Putin will restrain his urges to grab a European country or two. On a smaller scale, when every May 4th the 1940-45 war dead are remembered in the Netherlands, we must now include the fallen in Afghanistan as if they were a sacrifice to defend us against the Taliban threat from behind the Hindu Kush.
Ever since the start of this millennium there has been a chain of realities as prophesied by Karl Rove, enhanced by terrorist attacks, which may or may not have been the work of actual terrorists, but whose reality is not questioned without risking one’s reputation. The geopolitical picture that they have helped build in most minds appears fairly consistent if one can keep one’s curiosity on a leash and one’s sense of contradiction sufficiently blunt. After all, the details of the official reality are filled in and smoothed out all the time by crafty campaigns produced in the PR world, with assistance from think tanks and academia.
But the question does reappear in one’s thoughts: do the politically prominent and the well-positioned editors, especially those known for having once possessed skeptical minds, actually believe it all? Do those members of the cabinet or parliament, who can get hot under their collar as they decry the latest revelation about one or other outrage committed by Putin, take seriously what they’re saying? Not all of them are believers, I know that from off the record conversations. But there appears to be a marked difference between the elite in government, in the media, in prominent social positions, and ordinary people who in these recent times of anguish about populism are sometimes referred to as uneducated. Quite a few among the latter appear to think that something fishy is going on. This could be because in my experience the alert ones have educated themselves, something that is not generally understood by commentators who have made their way through the bureaucracy of standard higher education.
A disadvantage of being part of the elite is that you must stick to the accepted story. If you deviate from it, and have your thoughts run rather far away from it, which is quite inevitable once you begin with your deviation, you can no longer be trusted by those around you. If you are a journalist and depend for your income on a mainstream newspaper or are hired by a TV company, you run the risk of losing your job if you do not engage in self-censorship.
Consequently, publications that used to be rightly known as quality newspapers have turned into unreadable rags. The newspaper that was my employer for a couple of decades used to be edited on the premise that its correspondents rather than authorities were always correct in what they were saying. Today greater loyalty to the reality created in Washington and Langley cannot be imagined. For much of northern Europe the official story that originates in the United States is amplified by the BBC and other once reliable purveyors of news and opinion like the Guardian, the Financial Times and the (always less reliable) Economist.
Repetition lends an ever greater aura of truth to the nonsense that is relentlessly repeated on the pages of once serious publications. Detailed analyses of developments understood through strings of false clues give the fictions ever more weight in learned heads and debates in parliament. At the time of writing, the grave concern spread across the opinion pages on my side of the Atlantic is about how Putin’s meddling in upcoming European elections can be prevented.
The realities Rove predicted have infantilized parliamentary debates, current affairs discussion and lecture events, and anything of a supposedly serious nature on TV. These now conform to comic book simplicities of evil, heroes and baddies. They have produced a multitude of editorials with facts upside-down. They force even those who advise against provoking Moscow to include a remark or two about Putin being a murderer or tyrant, lest they could be mistaken for traitors to Enlightenment values or even as Russian puppets, as I have been. Layers of unreality have incapacitated learned and serious people to think clearly about the world and how it came to be that way.
How could Rove’s predictions so totally materialize? There’s a simple answer: ‘they’ got away with momentous lies at an early stage. The more authorities lie successfully the more they are likely to lie again in a big way to serve the purposes of earlier lies. The ‘they’ stands for those individuals and groups in the power system who operate beyond legal limits as a hydra-headed entity, whose coordination depends on the project, campaign, mission, or operation at hand. Those with much power got away with excessive extralegal use of it since the beginning of this century because systems of holding the powerful to account have crumbled on both sides of the Atlantic. Hence, potential opposition to what the reality architects were doing dwindled to almost nothing. At the same time, people whose job or personal inclination leads them to ferret out truth were made to feel guilty for pursuing it.
The best way, I think, to make sense of how this works is to study it as a type of intimidation. Sticking to the official story because you have to may not be quite as bad as forced religious conversion with a gun pointed at your head, but it belongs to the same category. It begins with the triggering of odd feelings of guilt. At least that is how I remember it. Living in Tokyo, I had just read Mark Lane’s Rush To Judgment, the first major demolishing in book form of the Warren Report on the murder of John F. Kennedy, when I became aware that I had begun to belong to an undesirable category of people who were taking the existence of conspiracies seriously. We all owe thanks to writers of Internet-based samizdat literature who’ve recently reminded us that the pejorative use of the conspiracy label stems from one of the greatest misinformation successes of the CIA begun in 1967.
So the campaign to make journalists feel guilty for their embarrassing questions dates from before Dick Cheney and Rove and Bush. But it has only reached a heavy duty phase after the moment that I see as having triggered the triumph of political untruth.
We have experienced massive systemic intimidation since 9/11. For the wider public we have the absurdities of airport security – initially evidenced by mountains of nail-clippers – reminding everyone of the arbitrary coercive potential that rests with the authorities. Every time people are made to take off their belts and shoes – to stick only to the least inane instances – they are reminded: yes, we can do this to you! Half of Boston or all of France can be placed under undeclared martial law to tell people: yes, we have you under full control! For journalists unexamined guilt feelings still play a major role. The serious ones feel guilty for wanting to ask disturbing questions, and so they reaffirm that they still belong to ‘sane’ humanity rather than the segment with extraterrestrials in flying saucers in its belief system. But there is a confused interaction with another guilty feeling of not having pursued unanswered questions. Its remedy appears to be a doubling down on the official story. Why throw in fairly common lines like “I have no time for truthers” unless you feel that this is where the shoe pinches?
You will have noticed a fairly common response when the 9/11 massacre enters a discussion. Smart people will say that they “will not go there”, which brings to mind the “here be dragons” warning on uncharted bits of medieval maps. That response is not stupid. It hints at an understanding that there is no way back once you enter that realm. There is simply no denying that if you accept the essential conclusions of the official 9/11 report you must also concede that laws of nature stopped working on that particular day. And, true enough, if you do go there and bear witness publicly to what you see, you may well be devoured; your career in many government positions, the media and even academia is likely to come to an end.
So, for the time being we are stuck with a considerable chunk of terra incognita relating to recognized political knowledge; which is an indispensable knowledge if you want to get current world affairs and the American role in it into proper perspective.
Mapping the motives of those who decide “not to go there” may be a way to begin breaking through this disastrous deadlock. Holding onto your job is an honorable motivation when you have a family to maintain. The career motivation is not something to scorn. There is also an entirely reasonable expectation that once you go there you lose your voice publicly to address very important social abuse and political misdeeds. I think it is not difficult to detect authors active on internet samizdat sites who have that foremost in mind. Another possible reason for not going there is the more familiar one, akin to the denial that one has a dreadful disease. Also possible is an honorable position of wishing to preserve social order in the face of a prospect of very dramatic political upheaval caused by revelations about a crime so huge that hardly anything in America’s history can be compared to it. Where could such a thing end – civil war? Martial law?
What I find more difficult to stomach is the position of someone who is worshiped by what used to be the left, and who has been guiding that class of politically interested Americans as to where they can and cannot go. Noam Chomsky does not merely keep quiet about it, but mocks students who raise logical questions prompted by their curiosity, thereby discouraging a whole generation studying at universities and active in civil rights causes. One can only hope that this overrated analyst of the establishment, who helps keep the most embarrassing questions out of the public sphere, trips over the contradictions and preposterousness of his own judgments and crumples in full view of his audience.
The triumph of political untruth has brought into being a vast system of political intimidation. Remember then that the intimidater does not really care what you believe or not, but impresses you with the fact that you have no choice. That is the essence of the exercise of brute power. With false flag events the circumstantial evidence sometimes appears quite transparently false and, indeed could be interpreted as having been purposeful. Consider the finding of passports or identity papers accidentally left by terrorists, or their almost always having been known to and suspected by the police? What of their death through police shooting before they can be interrogated? Could these be taunting signals of ultimate power to a doubting public: Now you! Dare contradict us! Are the persons killed by the police the same who committed the crime? Follow-up questions once considered perfectly normal and necessary by news media editors are conspicuous by their absence.
How can anyone quarrel with Rove’s prophecy. He told Suskind that we will forever be studying newly created realities. This is what the mainstream media continue to do. His words made it very clear: you have no choice!
A question that will be in the minds of perhaps many as they consider the newly sworn in president of the United States, who like John F. Kennedy appears to have understood that “Intelligence” leads a dangerously uncontrolled life of its own: At what point will he give in to the powers of an invisible government, as he is made to reckon that he also has no choice?
Karel van Wolferen is a Dutch journalist and retired professor at the University of Amsterdam. Since 1969, he has published over twenty books on public policy issues, which have been translated into eleven languages and sold over a million copies worldwide. As a foreign correspondent for NRC Handelsblad , one of Holland’s leading newspapers, he received the highest Dutch award for journalism, and over the years his articles have appeared in The New York Times , The Washington Post , The New Republic , The National Interest , Le Monde , and numerous other newspapers and magazines.