Russian Cyberspies Are Rushing to Exploit Recent Flash 0-Day Before It Goes Cold

Catalin Cimpanu–A cyber-espionage group identified in the cyber-security industry as APT28 and believed to be operating under the supervision of the Russian state has recently dispatched several malware distribution campaigns that try to take advantage of a Flash zero-day vulnerability that Adobe patched earlier this week.

It is clear that APT28 is trying to exploit the CVE-2017-11292 zero-day before the vast majority of users receive patches or update their systems.

According to US cyber-security firm Proofpoint, the one which first spotted these attacks, APT28 targeted a broad set of targets across Europe and in the US.

Current data on the email spear-phishing campaign suggests the group targeted state departments and private-sector businesses in the aerospace industry.

Group was sloppy in recent campaign

Evidence also suggests the group rushed to assemble an exploit and the distribution campaign, reusing code from past attacks, and leaving experts with an impression of a sloppy operation.

This is not specific to APT28, a group that’s been quite apt at its job, albeit not perfect. The group is known under other nicknames such as Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Sednit, Tsar Team, Pawn Storm, or Strontium, and has orchestrated attacks against the DNC, the German Parliament, NATO, the Pentagon, the White House, and many more.

This is also not the first time the group races to exploit a zero-day before most of its targets patch their systems. The group did the same in May this year after Microsoft patched three zero-days — CVE-2017-0261 (Office EPS feature), CVE-2017-0262 (Microsoft Word), and CVE-2017-0263 (Windows).

APT28 found a way to exploit CVE-2017-11292 as well

APT28 discovered and exploited those zero-days. This time around, the Flash zero-day patched this week was not their own. Nonetheless, APT28 found a way to deduce its exploitation chain and use it in attacks before it went completely cold and lost its efficiency.

Kaspersky researchers discovered the CVE-2017-11292 Flash zero-day in attacks carried out by a Middle Eastern cyber-espionage group known as BlackOasis. The group is known for employing a spying (“lawful surveillance”) toolkit named FinSpy, sold by UK firm Gamma Group International.

It is unclear if APT28 purchased the zero-day as well, discovered it on their own, or reverse engineered it from the BlackOasis attack.

Proofpoint working to take down APT28’s infrastructure

APT28’s CVE-2017-11292 attacks were easy to spot because they employed the same old DealersChoicemalware.

DealersChoice is an exploitation framework embedded in Office files sent via spear-phishing email. When the user opens these booby-trapped files, DealersChoice calls to a remote server, downloads the CVE-2017-11292 exploit code, and tries to run it on the victim’s side.

Proofpoint said it’s currently trying to take down C&C servers associated with the DealersChoice attack framework used in this recent campaign.

A technical breakdown of the recent attacks, along with IOCs, are available in Proofpoint’s report here.

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ISIS SINA’A: Publishes Photographs of Its Attack on The “Egyptian Army”

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Anonymous OpSaudi 2017&The ISIS Fatwa 2013

July 24th, 2017 

Operation started on 25/7/2017 | Main attacks: Data Leakage , Deface , DoDS

Why Saudi Arabia?

+ Saudi Arabia, a country that makes life for expatriates a hell on earth.

+ All the expatriates living here are harassed by the police no matter what nationality they are.

+ They are imposing many new types of fees on the expatriates and yet the expatriates won’t get any benefits out of it

+ The expatriates here are treated like dirt by the local citizens.

+ No one here has a freedom of speech here.

+ The banks here are all under the influence of Illuminati.

+ For most of the stuff here, you’d need to be a saudi or else you can’t get the benefit.

+ Expatriates can’t get any citizenship even if they lived here for 50 years.

+ Most of the news here is fake and gets censored if it goes against the kingdom.

+ If any one speaks against the kingdom here, they get executed by the officials.

+ Humanity doesn’t exist here

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SYRIA WAR REPORT – OCTOBER 19, 2017: U.S. BLAMES ASSAD FOR ‘HINDERING’ ITS ANTI-ISIS EFFORTS

https://southfront.org/syria-war-report-october-19-2017-u-s-blames-assad-for-hindering-its-anti-isis-efforts

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and ISIS are still fighting for the city of al-Qaryatayn in the province of Homs. On October 18, the SAA retook the railway station north of it. On October 17, ISIS claimed that 20 SAA members were killed in clashes in the city’s vicinity.

According to local sources, the SAA has still not started a direct storm of the city because ISIS uses local civilians as human shields.

In Deir Ezzor province, the SAA has advanced against north of the provincial capital, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. According to pro-government sources, all villages there are now under control of government troops. However, these reports still have to be confirmed by photos or videos.

On October 18, the Republican Guard’s Gen Issam Zahreddine was killed in an IED explosion during the operation against ISIS in Saqr Island northeast of Deir Ezzor city. Zahreddine was one of the most prominent Syrian generals and a hero of the battle for Deir Ezzor. He had been leading government troops defending the city from ISIS terrorists over the past years. Under his command, local government troops kept control over the military airbase and a part of the urban area until the unblocking force reached the city and broke the ISIS siege in September 2017.

On the same day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee accused the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance of hindering efforts of the US-led coalition against ISIS during the battle for Raqqa city.

“This eminent victory by the global coalition and our brave servicemembers comes at a high cost, particularly to the Syrian Democratic Forces who suffered many casualties as they fought to liberate their own country from the oppression of ISIS,” she said adding that “Unfortunately, the Syrian regime and its supporters hinder the efforts to liberate Raqqa. Instead of focusing on fighting ISIS, the pro-regime forces attacked our partners and attempted to block them from liberating the Syrian people from the brutality of ISIS.“

Huckabee also added that the US remains “committed to supporting stabilization efforts and local security forces in liberated areas through a political transition in Syria.”

During the Obama administration, the words “political transition” meant that the US is seeking to overthrow Assad and to enforce the rule of the “moderate opposition” [accidentally linked to al-Qaeda] in Damascus. Right now, it is not clear what the Trump administration means when it uses these words.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) media wing announced that the US Special Envoy for the US-led coalition Brett McGurk claimed during a meeting with the SDF-linked Raqqa Civil Council that the “Syrian regime will never have a foothold in Raqqa.”
The American rhetoric definitely show that Washington is going to use the SDF and the SDF-held area as a foothold for own diplomatic and, in the worst-case scenario, military actions in the expected standoff against the Damascus government and its allies in post-ISIS Syria.

M.E. MEDIA POST, LLC:  Open Letter from Hizb ut Tahrir Wilayah Syria to the Leaders of the Syrian Revolutionary Factions

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FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

TheHill

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.

When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”

In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.

That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.

But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

Spokesmen for Holder and Clinton did not return calls seeking comment. The Justice Department also didn’t comment.

Mikerin was a director of Rosatom’s Tenex in Moscow since the early 2000s, where he oversaw Rosatom’s nuclear collaboration with the United States under the Megatons to Megwatts program and its commercial uranium sales to other countries. In 2010, Mikerin was dispatched to the U.S. on a work visa approved by the Obama administration to open Rosatom’s new American arm called Tenam.

Between 2009 and January 2012, Mikerin “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire confederate and agree with other persons … to obstruct, delay and affect commerce and the movement of an article and commodity (enriched uranium) in commerce by extortion,” a November 2014 indictment stated.

His illegal conduct was captured with the help of a confidential witness, an American businessman, who began making kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction and with the permission of the FBI. The first kickback payment recorded by the FBI through its informant was dated Nov. 27, 2009, the records show.

In evidentiary affidavits signed in 2014and 2015, an Energy Department agent assigned to assist the FBI in the case testified that Mikerin supervised a “racketeering scheme” that involved extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks that were both directed by and provided benefit to more senior officials back in Russia.

“As part of the scheme, Mikerin, with the consent of higher level officials at TENEX and Rosatom (both Russian state-owned entities) would offer no-bid contracts to US businesses in exchange for kickbacks in the form of money payments made to some offshore banks accounts,” Agent David Gadren testified.

“Mikerin apparently then shared the proceeds with other co-conspirators associated with TENEX in Russia and elsewhere,” the agent added.

The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI. The probe is not focused on McAuliffe’s conduct but rather on whether McCabe’s attendance violated the Hatch Act or other FBI conflict rules.

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.

Its many twist and turns aside, the FBI nuclear industry case proved a gold mine, in part because it uncovered a new Russian money laundering apparatus that routed bribe and kickback payments through financial instruments in Cyprus, Latvia and Seychelles. A Russian financier in New Jersey was among those arrested for the money laundering, court records show.

The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.

One of Mikerin’s former employees told the FBI that Tenex officials in Russia specifically directed the scheme to “allow for padded pricing to include kickbacks,” agents testified in one court filing.

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.

The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered.

On Dec. 15, 2015, the Justice Department put out a release stating that Mikerin, “a former Russian official residing in Maryland was sentenced today to 48 months in prison” and ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million.

Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told The Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.

“Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them,” he said. “The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking.”

This story was updated at 6:50 p.m.

Indictment Affidavit by M Mali on Scribd

Warrant Affidavit by M Mali on Scribd

Mikerin Plea Deal by M Mali on Scribd

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

UPDATED: WHEN BELARUS TALKS….

Revolutionary Action is an anarchist organization which unites active members of anarchist movement. Basis of RA’s ideas is anarcho-communism, social anarchism and illegalism. The voice of our position is the website and social networks, where we express position about different events, cover anarchist movement activity, publish instructions and recommendations. Materials published on the website can be created by our collective or by sympathizer volonteers. Organization is an editorial board of the website and it decides what material will be published.

Revolutionary Action is an organization, because systematic, constant activity with planning, analysis and improving efficiency is necessary for movement development and approach of social revolution. It requires material, human and informational resources. Organization allows to distribute it such way, that organization members’ activity doesn’t stop on one direction, but spread on different practice as wide as it’s possible.

Strategic goals of Revolutionary Action

1. Coverage of anarchist movement’s activity and popularization of anarchist ideas in society. Website functions as speaker for radical part of anarchist movement. Organization members can take part in published materials and actions or not. Although website has editorial board, almost all sent on our email materials are published. We don’t publish only actions from political opponents, actions without media value and those, which can discredit anarchism by it’s format. RA’s editors reserve the right to make corrections to spelling, punctuation and correct grammatical mistakes and also to bring the text style into a more acceptable form, without changing the main idea or the message of the sent material.

In addition to direct formatting and publication of news, the editorial board carries out the distribution of press releases in the other mass media, share actions and other materials with the help of social networks.

2. Creation of a strong, prepared and organized anarchist movement. Transfer of experience from generation to generation and personnel training:development from recruits to trained revolutionaries, which are able to solve a wide range of tasks the movement is facing with. Lack of transfer of experience from generation to generation is one of the most important reasons for the defeating of lots of promising movements in the past. Partly the website is used for these purposes, the same work is conducted also during direct interaction with the activists.

The main emphasis is on the transfer of practical experience: from security issues to street actionism and radical practices. But it is also important to spread the ideological principles (anarcho-communism, illegalism) and strategic assessments (social revolution as the only way to achieve anarchist society)  of organization as broadly as possible. The principle of concentric circles is used as the basis for practical work with activists and participants in social movements.

3. Aspiration of the organization to be a team of the best organizers and experts in the anarchist movement, standing on a close ideological platform. Those few persons who participate in the movement, regardless of political conjuncture and external conditions. Fanatics of the anarchism ideals. Revolutionary Action supports the synthesis of agitation and direct action. For the synthesis of work in the media field and work in the underground field. Working in a media field only without the possibility of radical struggle makes the movement weak and unable to respond to the challenges of the time. At the same time, going into deep underground will dampen the movement and make it’s impossible for the influx of those people which are interested in the anarchist movement and the realization of an anarchist society on practice.

4. Approximation of social revolution is the only way to establish anarcho-communist society worldwide. Establishing such society is a real task and final goal of organization. At the same time, the organization does not consider that such revolution is possible only by its efforts or by its acting as an avant-garde. We guess the cooperation with many other anarchic collectives around the world, with ideological positions close to ours, is possible.

5. Expansion – the organization is looking for the ways to its intensive expansion within Belarus and abroad. The Revolutionary Action is ready for international cooperation, exchange of experience and mutual aid.

Organizational principles of Revolutionary Action

1. Membership in organization is closed – no one outside organization should know it’s actual group members. Members of RA don’t advertise their membership in organization.

2. Distribution of duties exists in organization. Each member is responsible for certain tasks and perform several functions, that provide development of organization and anarchist movement.

3. Each member has equal voting rights. Revolutionary Action has fixed membership: activist can be accepted to the Organization or expelled from it. All decisions are made by collective discussion, strategic issues with consensus, tactical issues with voting if it’s necessary.

4. Planning is the key to successful revolutionary struggle. The using of various methods is justified by objective circumstances, profit for movement and development prospects, but not by personal preferences or esthetic attractiveness. So organization uses methods, which are the most useful at the specific moment.

5. Conspiration – organization is an semi-underground structure. Part of it’s activity isn’t published on the website or in mass media.

6. Illegalism – the organization carries out activities without regard for the legality of it. The main reason for the action is the its effectiveness,  and secondary – if it is prohibited or allowed by law.

Salute, dear comrades all around the world!

We are anarchists from the organization called Revolutionary Action from Belarus. Our main goal is anarchy worldwide, our main method to reach it is social revolution, our current activity is class struggle, agitation on the streets and the development of our own media.

Our principles are: illegalism, anarcho-communism, revolutionary anarchism. We are close to neoplatformism practice, which was developed by the anarchists from Rio de Janeiro. We veil our names and the participation in the organization, we don’t sign any action with our organization name.

We have been organized since 2005 and we are still active. There was a big wave of repressions against us in 2010, but it didn’t stop us. Our comrades made symbolic actions, for example in this video you can see all activities of our close comrades in 2016:

Starting from February there has been the biggest wave of protests for almost ten years in Belarus. People of different ages and occupations went out and said their “NO” to Lukashenko and his dictatorship on the streets of their cities. The reason for these protests was the new tax for unemployed people, but people started to demand not only the abolishment of this tax: people were saying about big social changes. One of the main object of protesters’ critics was the police staff in Belarus. Belorussians are really tired of the special police that seize their neighbors and relatives. Belorussian people are tired of KGB, new aristocracy and the elite of Belorussian society, with their corruption and total control.

Our collective supports the struggle of ordinary people for their rights. We think that the main recipe to win the battle against the police state are the organized and radical groups of people, which struggle on their places with different ways: workers with strikes, students with agitation and symbolic actions. And all of them with radical methods – from small group attacks to clashes with police on the streets.

Our comrades at first took part and then headed the march in Brest on the 5th of March.

We also tried to call people to protest more frequently on the 18th of March.We called people to join us in the protest on the 25th of March, which was brutally broken up by police forces.

 

But, the state knows our position well and try to don’t give us any chance to send our message to people. Our main web-domain was blocked in Belarus (revbel.org). After that, police blocked our four mirrors (revbel.ga, revbel.info, revbel.net and revbel.cc), which were created for people, who don’t know how to use Tor or VPN. Also the government censored our main social network page and group in Russian social network called VKontakte (https://vk.com/rdbelarus and https://vk.com/revbelorg). Now it’s impossible to reach it from any Belarusian IP. Nationalists and politicians ignore our existence and activity. Their media don’t publish anything about our actions and calls – so we try to reach more people through social networks.

In april we also have faced with censorship from Facebook side. They have blocked administator account of facebook.com/revbelarus

Our comrades always have a chance to be arrested and sentenced to administrative arest (till 25 days) or even criminal sentences (Belorussian police can fabricate fake criminal proceedings and sentence people for maximum 3 years of prison for fake preporations for “mass disorders”).

We started our own project, where people from Belarus can add any police officers, state propagandists, judges or bureaucrats with info about them. We are collecting the information about their addresses, telephone numbers, social network pages, photos and videos. The project is called Banda Luki (Gang of Lukashenko): https://bandaluki.info (only russian), now it’s also blocked in Belarus.

We have also developed the application for Android to bypass the censorship and which uses Orbot, VPN or our mirror. It is avaliable now in Google Play in English.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.news.revbel&hl=en

It’s rather a difficult period for our country nowadays. We need much more than our salaries can give us to win this battle with a well-armed police structure.

Posted in ANONYMOUS, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Explained: Alt-right, alt-light and militias in the US

Evropa flag

White nationalists, carrying the Identity Evropa flag, pass a militia member in Charlottesville, Virginia [File: Reuters]

 

MWC — With the rising prominence of groups such as the alt-right throughout US President Donald Trump’s campaign and election, differentiating between the various currents that comprise the American far right has become challenging.

Media outlets and political commentators have struggled to define the parameters, often inaccurately labelling high-profile far-right figures as part of the alt-right.

MWC NEWS has broken down some of the factions of the American far right, explaining their similarities and differences.

Alt-right

The alt-right is a loosely knit coalition of far-right groups that includes populists, white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis. Many alt-rightists promote various forms of white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

The term “alt-right” was first coined by US white supremacist Richard Spencer in 2008 to provide an alternative to the neoconservative politics that dominated the Republican Party establishment in recent decades.

Shortly after Trump’s November 2016 victory in the presidential elections, the movement became a household name in the US when Spencer led an audience in chants as they performed Nazi-like salutes. Spencer roared: “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!”

The movement promotes what it calls “white identitarianism”, a worldview that advocates European racial and cultural hegemony. Alt-rightists often cite racial science as vindication for their views.

Researchers and experts note that sexism is as integral to the alt-right as racism, pointing out that there are few females among the cadres of the movement. One exception is Brittany Pettibone, a contributor at AltRight.com and Red Ice, a Sweden-based white nationalist video and podcast platform.

Among the groups involved in the movement are: Spencer’s think tank, the National Policy Institute; the National Socialist Movement; the neo-Confederate League of the South; Identity Evropa, the white supremacist group and, among others, the neo-Nazi organisation Vanguard America.

Online organising made the alt-right’s success possible.

The key websites are: AltRight.com; the Occidental Dissent blog; the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website; Radix Journal; the Counter-Currents website and the Right Stuff blog, among others.

The alt-right has many connections to groups in Europe, many of which predate the movement.

Some prominent figures within the alt-right are: Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin; the Right Stuff’s Mike Peinovich; Identity Evropa’s Nathan Damigo; former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke; Traditional Worker Party’s Matthew Heimbach and Swedish businessman Daniel Friberg.

Alt-light

The alt-light is a term used to describe a comparably moderate group of far-right figures, organisations and websites.

Unlike the alt-right’s call for a white ethnostate, the alt-light promotes a hardline version of American nationalism and often eschews the openly racist and white supremacist politics advocated by the alt-right. Much of the alt-light’s positions are predicated on support for President Trump.

The most prominent website on the alt-light is Breitbart News, a far-right blog headed by Steve Bannon, who briefly served as Trump’s top strategist. Another increasingly important alt-light publication is Rebel Media, a Canada-based website founded by right-wing media figure Ezra Levant.

Some of the most important personalities within the alt-light include: provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos; media personality Gavin McInnes; journalist and activist Lauren Southern; social media figure Mike Cernovich; media personality Alex Jones and conspiracy theorist Jack Prosobiec.

Yiannopoulous used to be the technology editor at Breitbart News, but he was fired after public uproar over comments he made defending pedophilia. Recently, he has hosted anti-Muslim rallies and “free speech” events. He often verbally attacks immigrants, Trans people and feminists.

McInnes co-founded Vice Media and later left the company in 2008. Most recently, he hosted a Rebel Media online programme. He also founded the Proud Boys, a far-right group that describes itself as “Western chauvinist” and opposes feminism. The Proud Boys often brag about seeking out physical confrontations with anti-fascists, known as Antifa.

There are also several conspiracy theory websites that fall within the sphere of the alt-light. The most well-known is InfoWars, hosted by Alex Jones. In 2015, Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time, appeared on InfoWars and was interviewed by Jones.

Many alt-light groups argue against the alt-right, while others have participated in the same rallies and events as alt-rightists.

Militia groups

Most militia organisations describe themselves as “patriot” groups. The largest and most active of the militia groups are the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters. Member of these groups often attend rallies armed with assault rifles and wearing bullet proof vests.

While it is difficult to know the exact number of people involved in these organisations, the Oath Keepers claims to have tens of thousands of members nationwide.

Historically, the militias were considered anti-government. They claimed that they were defending the US Constitution from politicians who were seeking to impose unconstitutional and authoritarian rule on the country. However, most of them have been vocal supporters of the Trump administration.

Militia organisations often show up to protests held by groups they view as political opponents – Black Lives Matter and anti-fascists, among others – where they claim to be maintaining order by carrying weapons.

Common among groups such as the Oath Keepers are former and current law enforcement officers and military members.

Although these groups claim to reject racism and white supremacy, they have been present at many rallies and events alongside alt-rightists. On April 15, militia members came to Berkeley, California, where they rallied with alt-right groups and participated in street brawls against Antifa and other counter-protesters.

Conflicts between alt-right and alt-light

The alt-right and the alt-light have always shared several political positions and had common opponents. Both camps oppose the Democratic Party, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, undocumented immigrants and their advocates, and others.

Some alt-light leaders used to be open supporters of the alt-right, and others have migrated from the alt-light to the more hardline alt-right.

Recent months have seen increasing tensions between the alt-right and the alt-light, and their divisions have grown more defined.

In Houston, Texas, these divisions spilled over into a physical confrontation.

On June 10, Oath Keepers demanded that William Fears, a 30-year-old construction worker and alt-right activist, leave the rally. Angered by the Fears’ racist posters and refusal to leave, one Oath Keeper member put Fears in a chokehold. The incident was filmed and widely publicised online.

Later that month, on June 25, the divide played out again when the two groups held competing “free speech” rallies on the same day in Washington, DC.

During this event, the alt-right’s Richard Spencer openly criticised his more moderate counterparts. “They’re liars, they’re con artists, they’re freaks,” he told reporters of the alt-light. “The alt-right will be better when we just cut away these people who are going to weigh us down.”

Charlottesville as pivotal moment

On August 12, alt-rightists attended “Unite the Right”, a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General Robert E Lee.

During the event, 20-year-old James Alex Fields rammed his car into a counter-protest, killing 32-year-old anti-racist Heather Heyer.

The alt-light joined the chorus of public condemnation as Fields was charged with second-degree murder.

However, critics have noted that Jason Kessler, a former journalist who had recently joined the alt-light Proud Boys group, organised the rally.

The Proud Boys condemned the rally.

Several other alt-light figures denounced the events in Charlottesville, while alt-rightists celebrated them.

Speaking to Vice News, alt-right member Chris Cantwell said that Heyer’s killing was justified. The day after the rally, the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer described Heyer as a “fat, childless 32-year-old slut”.

On the other hand, Gavin McInnes, then at Rebel Media, denounced James Alex Fields, who was charged with Heyer’s murder, as a “domestic terrorism”.

In response to the Charlottesville violence, alt-light Twitter personality Mike Cernovich decried the alt-right.

“That’s all the alt-right stands for, is white nationalism,” he told The Atlantic at the time. “They are now indistinguishable. Worse than that, they are now associated with domestic terrorism.”

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Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

All newspapers on Saturday highlighted the anti-Iran allegations raised by US President Donald Trump and the widespread reactions sparked by his Friday speech.

Several paper particularly covered Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s reaction and the strong support shown by the European Union for the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The above issues, as well as many more, are highlighted in the following headlines and top stories:

19 Dey:

1- Larijani: Iran Not to Be Trapped in US Spider Web

2- Trump: We Don’t, Won’t Certify Iran’s Compliance with Nuclear Deal

3- Zarif: You’ll Later Find What Great Role Larijani Played in JCPOA

4- Putin to Visit Tehran

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Abrar:

1- Kremlin: Iran to Withdraw from Nuclear Deal If US Exits JCPOA

2- Iraq’s Hakim: Iraqi Gov’t to Show Peaceful, Legal Reaction to Kurdish Referendum

3- Defence Minister: Offending IRGC Equal to Offending Entire Establishment

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Afkar:

1- Nuclear Deal without Clear Result: Iran’s Time, Energy Still Wasted on JCPOA Conflicts

2- Velayati: European Countries Should Force US to Remain Committed to JCPOA

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Aftab-e Yazd:

1- He Just Nagged: Trump Delivers His Speech, Didn’t Scrap Iran Deal

  • US Does Not Blacklist IRGC, but Imposes Further Sanctions against It

2- Rouhani: Not Surprised! Trump’s Words Repetitive

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Arman-e Emrooz:

1- Isolation of Mr Goofy! World’s Reactions to US President’s Immature Remarks

  • Twitter Storm against Trump’s Use of Fake Expression for Persian Gulf

2- Mogherini: No Country’s President Can Annul JCPOA

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Asrar:

1- Mogherini: No Country, President Can Scrap Iran Nuclear Deal

2- Larijani: US Playing with, Not Fighting against Terrorism

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Besharat-e Now:

1- Trump Destroys US Face instead of Iran Nuclear Deal

  • A Report on Global Reactions to Trump’s Unbalanced Decisions

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Ebtekar:

1- Trump Defeated by JCPOA

2- Rouhani Reacts to US President’s Remarks

  • Rouhani Teaches Trump Lessons of History, Geography

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Emtiaz:

1- Iran Signs Deal to Cooperate with Russia on Int’l Payment Systems

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Etemad:

1- Trump Didn’t Say Anything New

2- Parties to JCPOA Underline Need for Maintaining Iran Deal

3- Rouhani: How Hasn’t a President Learned Historical Name of Persian Gulf?

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Ettela’at:

1- Iran’s Response to Trump’s Anti-Iran Allegations

  • Iran Voice of Peace, US Sponsor of Terrorism

2- Trump’s Remarks Pile of Delusional Claims, Insults

3- Parliament Speaker: US Behaviour towards JCPOA to Spread Int’l Chaos

4- Kurdistan Regional Gov’t Calls for Ayatollah Sistani’s Help in Resolving Kirkuk Crisis

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Ghanoon:

1- Axis of Humiliation: World Reacts to US President’s Remarks Made to Please Arabs, Israelis

2- Iranians Widely Condemn Trump’s Use of Fake Expression for Persian Gulf

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Haft-e Sobh:

1- We Don’t Certify, We Don’t Withdraw, Either!

  • In Uncontrolled Speech, Trump Raises Lots of Accusations against Iran

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Hosban:

1- Larijani: Iranian Officials Not Worried about Trump Statements

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Iran:

1- Rouhani Urges Trump to Study History

2- Washington’s New Strategy: Worn-Out Iranophobia Scenario, Trump’s Inefficient Strategy

3- Pointless Allegations Raised against Iran Nuclear Deal

4- Trump Backs Off from Scrapping Iran Nuclear Deal after Global, Domestic Pressures

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Jame Jam:

1- American Shamelessness: Trump Unveils His New Anti-Iran Strategy

2- Trump Refuses to Certify Iran’s Commitment to JCPOA despite IAEA Confirmation

3- Rouhani: US President Had Better Study History, Geography, Int’l Law

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Javan:

1- Trump Destroys Trust in US

2- Rouhani: Trump’s Remarks Pile of Delusive Claims

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Jomhouri Eslami:

1- Trump Not Capable of Annulling JCPOA, Asks Congress to Make Decision

2- Iran Air CEO: Deal Finalized for Purchase of 20 ATR Planes

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

 


Kayhan:

1- Trump Keeps Iran Nuclear Deal: Advantages for US, Constraints for Iran!

2- IRGC’s Formula Works! Trump Did Not Dare to Put IRGC in List of Terror Groups

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Khorasan:

1- Trump Unveils Strategy of Wounded Nuclear Deal

2- Iranian Users: Only Thing Iran Was Not Accused of Was Mass Suicide of Whales!

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Resalat:

1- Washington’s Evil Face Revealed after Trump’s Election: Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani

2- Iran Not to Stop Fighting against Global Arrogance: Ayatollah Nouri Hamadani

3- Maintaining Establishment’s Dignity Hinges on Standing against Enemy: Ayatollah Mazaheri

4- US after Causing Rift among Muslim States: Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

5- IRGC Blacklisting Tantamount to Declaration of War: Iran Nuclear Chief

6- Larijani: Nothing Will Be Left of JCPOA If US Withdraws

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Roozan:

1- US Wants to Be Both Player and Referee; It’s Not Acceptable to World

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Seda-ye Eslahat:

1- Trump’s Dangerous, Dishonest Mischief against Iran

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Shargh:

1- Iran Is Standing: Trump’s Remarks Widely Criticized in US, Other Countries

2- Rouhani: Iranian Nation Not to Give in to a Dictator with His Hatemongering Words

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech


Sobh-e Now:

1- Illiterate Dictator: Rouhani’s Harsh Reaction to Trump’s Remarks

 

Iranian Newspapers Widely Cover Reactions to Trump’s Speech

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions Announces Reinvigoration Of Project Safe Neighborhoods And Other Actions To Reduce Rising Tide Of Violent Crime

5 Oct, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced several Department of Justice actions to reduce the rising tide of violent crime in America. Foremost of those actions is the reinvigoration of “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.

In announcing this recommitment to Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Attorney General issued a memo directing United States Attorneys to implement an enhanced violent crime reduction program that incorporates the lessons learned since Project Safe Neighborhoods launched in 2001.

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In a statement on the program, the Attorney General said:

“According to the FBI, the violent crime rate has risen by nearly seven percent over the past two years, and the homicide rate has risen by more than 20 percent. We cannot be complacent or hope that this is just an anomaly: we have a duty to take action.

“Fortunately, we have a President who understands that and has directed his administration to reduce crime. The Department of Justice today announces the foundation of our plan to reduce crime: prioritizing Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that has been proven to work.

“Let me be clear – Project Safe Neighborhoods is not just one policy idea among many. This is the centerpiece of our crime reduction strategy.

“Taking what we have learned since the program began in 2001, we have updated it and enhanced it, emphasizing the role of our U.S. Attorneys, the promise of new technologies, and above all, partnership with local communities. With these changes, I believe that this program will be more effective than ever and help us fulfill our mission to make America safer.”

“The Middle District of Pennsylvania fully supports the reinvigoration of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program which has proven to help reduce violence in our communities,” stated United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler. “Our district’s Anti-Violence Crime Strategy, issued in March 2016, draws upon the Project Safe Neighborhoods model, emphasizes strong partnerships with our state and local counterparts and has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of federal prosecutions against the most violent individuals in our district.  Just this week, Rolando Cruz, a leader of the violent York based gang known as “Southside” was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment for his activities that ravaged the York area for over a decade.”

The Attorney General also announced the following Department of Justice initiatives to help reduce violent crime:

  • Additional Assistant United States Attorney Positions to Focus on Violent Crime – The Department is allocating 40 prosecutors to approximately 20 United States Attorney’s Offices to focus on violent crime reduction.
  • More Cops on the Streets (COPS Hiring Grants) – As part of our continuing commitment to crime prevention efforts, increased community policing, and the preservation of vital law enforcement jobs, the Department will be awarding approximately $98 million in FY 2017 COPS Hiring Grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
  • Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force’s (OCDETF) National Gang Strategic Initiative –The National Gang Strategic Initiative promotes  creative enforcement strategies and best practices that will assist in developing investigations of violent criminal groups and gangs into enterprise-level OCDETF prosecutions.  Under this initiative, OCDETF provides “seed money” to locally-focused gang investigations, giving state, local, and tribal investigators and prosecutors the resources and tools needed to identify connections between lower-level gangs and national-level drug trafficking organizations.
  • Critical Training and Technical Assistance to State and Local Partners –The Department has a vast array of training and technical assistance resources available to state, local and tribal law enforcement, victims groups, and others.  To ensure that agencies in need of assistance are able to find the training and materials they need, OJP will make available a Violence Reduction Response Center to serve as a “hot line” to connect people to these resources.
  • Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGIC) – The Department has provided grant funding to support a comprehensive approach to identifying the most violent offenders in a jurisdiction, using new technologies such as gunshot detection systems combined with gun crime intelligence from NIBIN, eTrace, and investigative efforts.  These FY 2017 grants were awarded to Phoenix, AZ, and Kansas City, MO.
  • Expand ATF’s NIBIN Urgent Trace Program – The Department will expand ATF’s NIBIN Urgent Trace Program nationwide by the end of the year.  Through this program, any firearm submitted for tracing that is associated with a NIBIN “hit” (which means it can be linked to a shooting incident) will be designated an “urgent” trace and the requestor will get information back about the firearm’s first retail purchaser within 24 hours, instead of 5 to 6 business days.

 

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The Tiananmen Square Massacre-CHINA

In the early hours of the morning on June 4th 1989, the Chinese military began a brutal crackdown of the protest movement that had seen up to 100,000 people camped out in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square for more than a month. What had begun, back in April, as a series of small student gatherings to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang – the erstwhile General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party who had been expelled for his vocal support of political reform – had, by June, grown into a mass demonstration of civil disobedience by a number of disparate groups.

More than twenty years later we should be aware that not only do the events of June 4th remain a taboo subject within China, they are significantly misunderstood outside the country; without a doubt, the version provided by western media is better than the total information blackout instigated by the Chinese authorities, but it’s nonetheless misleading. In fact, even the title of this article – “The Tiananmen Square Massacre” – is a misnomer. Sure it’s a handy catchphrase, but it illustrates the inaccuracy and misunderstanding that surrounds the events of that tragic day. As James Miles, a BBC correspondent in Beijing at the time of the massacre, was to later write, “I and others conveyed the wrong impression. There was no Tiananmen Square massacre, but there was a Beijing massacre.” For while it is true that the bulk of the protests occurred within Tiananmen Square, the bulk of the violence occurred elsewhere. This may seem like a trivial point, but it is indicative of the fact that the full story of what happened is not well known either within China or elsewhere.

Part of the reason for this is, of course, the totalitarian nature of China and the effective media controls put in place by the government. But it’s also partly to do with the sheer complexity of the events and the fact that they do not fit within the convenient “evil commies crush pro-democracy students” narrative favoured by western news sources. Which is not to suggest that the One True Version can be found within the text you are currently reading. Such a claim would be beyond presumptuous. No, the purpose of this short article is twofold; firstly to commemorate those who risked their lives – and in many cases paid the ultimate price for that risk – by pitting their voices against the guns and tanks of a totalitarian government. We salute their breath-taking bravery. Secondly, to remind ourselves – if such a reminder is needed – that even in the “freedom-loving, liberal west”, the version of world events we are fed often comes with a specific agenda. Or at the very least excludes elements that might add inconvenient complications to a story.

One of the more fascinating misconceptions about the Tiananmen Square protests is that they were exclusively “pro-democracy” protests. While that was certainly a central element, it is a long way from the whole truth. It’s true that the initial gatherings mourning Hu Yaobang had political reform and greater democracy at their heart. And it is also true that pro-democracy elements formed a significant part of the larger protests and were the most vocal; though there is a suggestion that the western media tended to exaggerate this impression by consistently focusing on that issue, to the exclusion of all others. However, the pro-democracy element was but one strand of a coalition that – paradoxically – also included elements who felt that the economic reforms of the 1980s had been too extreme and had happened at too fast a pace. As Wang Hui, a Beijing university professor, said of the protesters… “their hopes for and understanding of reform were extraordinarily diverse”.

By the early 1980s reform of the Chinese economic system was underway. At the same time the government was determined to maintain the political status quo at all costs. Initially these reforms were universally applauded both within China and overseas. However, by the mid-80s problems were beginning to emerge as government price controls began to bump up against market mechanisms and government employment policy began to disintegrate. Previously, university graduates had been guaranteed a job, but the economic reforms began to undermine this security. While at the same time, the friction between price controls and a limited free market sent inflation on a steep upward trajectory.

Foreign free market ideologues – most notably Milton Friedman – insisted that China’s economic problems were not a result of the reforms but were happening because the reforms weren’t going far (or fast) enough. They also insisted that a capitalist-orientated economic liberalisation would inevitably, in and of itself, produce democratic political reform. “Free market capitalism”, it was argued, “demanded democracy”. Of course, Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore seems to have demonstrated the falsehood of that claim and in recent years China has followed suit. In the words of Slavoj Zizek, the controversial cultural theorist, “capitalism no longer naturally demands democracy but works even better within an authoritarian political structure”.

In late-80s China however, the tension between economic reform and political orthodoxy was threatening to pull the nation apart. The previous decade had seen an almost four-fold increase in the university population to meet the demands of the burgeoning economy and rapid urbanisation, but the removal of many of the traditional social safety-nets was creating widespread fear and anxiety. A paradox was developing at the heart of Chinese culture, and it was this paradox that drove students onto the streets in their tens of thousands, rather than simply a demand for more democracy and political transparency. Just as was happening half a planet away in Yugoslavia, economic liberalisation was undermining certainty and security, resulting in social unrest. It would be foolish to try and portray the Tiananmen Square protests as “anti-capitalist” protests, but it’s noteworthy that the two most prevalent non-Chinese songs sung by the students were John Lennon’s Power to the People and the worldwide socialist anthem, The Internationale.

It’s important that we understand the dual nature of the protests; not merely so we may fill the gaps in our knowledge left by a media narrative unable or unwilling to differentiate between democratic and free-market capitalist reform; but also so that we may better appreciate the depth of the tragedy of the brutal military response. For as the intervening decades have demonstrated, the Chinese government has worked hard to deny both sets of demands. They have failed to significantly reform their political system so as to provide greater democratic participation or transparency. While simultaneously they have enthusiastically embraced the free-market capitalism that breeds so much economic insecurity and social division.

Back in May 1989, however, that bleak future was as yet unwritten. By mid-May the Tiananmen Square protests had reached a critical mass and rumours were sweeping the crowd that the government was preparing to listen to their demands. Mikhail Gorbachev visited the country and despite couching his words in the language of diplomacy, clearly extolled the virtues of political reform. Meanwhile rumblings had begun in Eastern Europe, and while it would still be a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a tangible sense of hope that genuine political change was not only possible, but underway. The General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Zhao Ziyang, visited the protesters upon hearing the news that over a thousand of them had begun a hunger strike. His speech hadn’t gone so far as to offer concrete concessions, but like the words of Gorbachev left the protesters with the clear impression that he sympathised with their demands.

What none of the protesters could have known was that it was to be Zhao Ziyang’s final public appearance. An internal struggle within the Chinese Politburo was underway and the reformers would not prevail. Supreme Leader Deng Xiaoping and Premier Li Peng were both opposed to his conciliatory stance and viewed any concessions to the protesters as likely to lead to social chaos and the dissolution of the Chinese State. So even as the hopes of the Tiananmen Square movement were reaching their zenith, a decision was being made to crush them.

In the last week of May 1989, Zhao Ziyang was ousted from his position in the Communist Party. He would spend the next 15 years – until his death – under house arrest. Simultaneously martial law was declared and the military mobilised. Years later it emerged just how close the internal power struggles had come to tipping in the other direction as certain elements of the military were sympathetic towards the protesters. Nonetheless, on June 1st the Politburo officially declared the protesters to be “terrorists” and ordered two divisions of loyal troops into the city. They were ordered to “clear the streets of Beijing” and while the order did suggest that this be done with the minimum amount of bloodshed, they were left in no doubt that if non-violent means did not prevail, they were to use any means necessary.

On June 2nd an army vehicle was involved in an accident that left four civilians and one soldier dead. This unforeseen event massively increased tensions city-wide and led to the protesters erecting barricades in a number of locations around Beijing, setting the scene for what was to come. The following day saw the first shots fired (mostly into the air as warnings) and skirmishes breaking out between soldiers and protesters, though both sides were still exercising a degree of restraint. Tragically this reluctance disappeared in the early hours of the morning of the 4th when troops of the 27th Division of the Chinese Army were ordered to disperse a crowd that had set up a barricade about a half mile from the square. It was the beginning of a massacre.

While the enduring image of that day was and will always be “Tank Man” – the lone protester standing defiantly in the middle of the road, preventing the advance of a column of tanks – elsewhere the army was less reluctant to crush those who refused to move. As a further example of just how little we know of what happened in Beijing that terrible day, casualty numbers vary from between 186 and 10,000 dead (with the Chinese Red Cross estimating up to 30,000 others injured). Over the course of that single day not only were so many innocent lives snuffed out by a brutal government determined to maintain absolute control whatever the cost, but the internal conversation about political reform that had begun – albeit in hushed tones – within Chinese society came to a premature end. Even as economic liberalisation has continued apace and the rapid industrialisation of China is leading inexorably towards ecological catastrophe, so the ability of the general populace to influence these changes has remained almost non-existent. Despite the official silence surrounding the June 4th massacre, the people of China have not forgotten that lesson in brutality and continue to live in fear of a government that refuses even to acknowledge the possibility of an alternative perspective.

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WHEN “SNOOPY” ACTS “SNOOPER”

The bill which was laid out in a 299-page document outlined the amendments the government wants to make regarding the interception as well as hacking of devices and computers so as to seamlessly access information when probing a case.

Tor

Developers of Tor (Tor is an anonymous browser that hides users’ IP addresses), claim that the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka snoopers’ charter) will “harm” people safety as it requires the storage of personal data.

This threat comes alongside a caution from defence experts that the idea will likely become obsolete within five years.

tor browser logo
On 4th November 2015, UK Home Secretary Theresa May released new rules that would give government intelligence agencies power to snoop on private data of UK citizens.

Tor said this bill is a humanitarian risk, especially when it comes to human rights defenders and people who are dependent on anonymity for their protection.

Tor Users

Most of Tor users are human rights defenders and rely on anonymity for their protection and the new law could mean information about these individuals is accessible by anyone.

If passed in its current form, the new bill will require Internet companies to store people’s communication data for up to 12 months for access by the police and security services.
According to Tor, large-scale data leaks and security breaches indicate that companies are not ready to store such personal data.

As Tor explains, most large data companies don’t have effective measures to protect computer systems from attacks, particularly when the attacker with the government backing is a possible threat.

Warning from Tor was accompanied by evidence from the British aerospace, security, defence, and space industries that the pace of technological innovation will be rendered obsolete and will require revision within five years.

The coalition has also warned that the bill’s provisions will interfere with the rights to privacy and freedom expression.

They also warned that the implementation of the bill will have far-reaching consequences for the whole world since other countries will emulate the UK’s policies.

Tor views the bill as a trade-off between surrendering powers to law enforcement and government intelligence agencies in exchange for taking away human rights defenders ability to protect themselves. Google, Facebook, Twitter Microsoft, and Yahoo have also blasted the so called “Snoopers’ Charter,” terming it a threat to the people.

images

The five Internet giants highlighted fears over the conflicting legal obligations the proposed bill would raise.

Their submission to parliament stated that it is the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens and their privacy.

Apple has also voiced its concern regarding the bill.

The company cautioned the UK government against weakening the security of their products.

The association of tech companies also warned there are risks if warrants are served on firms based outside the UK via their employees working there.

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Inside DPRK’s Unit 121……

DPRK.jpg

— Kevin Coleman–Military planners and security experts have intensified their shouts of concern about the development of cyber weapons and the distinct possibility of a cyber war. Cyber warfare is not new. It has been in modern military doctrine for the past decade not to mention the number of terrorist groups who have threatened the use of cyber weapons against the west. However, what has changed is the number of countries that posess these capabilities today.

The North Korean military created a new unit that focuses solely on cyber warfare. The unit, dubbed Unit 121, was first created in 1998 and has steadily grown in size and capability since then. Interest in establishing cyber war forces shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but North Koreas intense effort stands out among the top ten nations developing cyber weapons.

Unit 121 Capabilities Assessment:

Force Size: Originally 1,000 – Current Estimate:17,000

Budget: Total military budget $6 billion USD. Cyber Budget $70+ million. North Koreas military budget is estimated to be the 25th largest in the world.

Goal: To increase their military standing by advancing their asymmetric and cyber warfare.

Ambition: To dominate their enemys information infrastructure, create social unrest and inflict monetary damage.

Strategy: Integrate their cyber forces into an overall battle strategy as part of a combined arms campaign. Additionally they wish to use cyber weapons as a limited non-war time method to project their power and influence.

Experience: Hacked into the South Korea and caused substantial damage; hacked into the U.S. Defense Department Systems.

Threat Rating: North Korea is ranked 8th on the Spy-Ops cyber capabilities threat matrix developed in August of 2007.

Capabilities

Cyber Intelligence/Espionage: Basic to moderately advanced
weapons with significant ongoing development into cyber intelligence.

Offensive Cyber Weapons: Moderately advanced distributed
denial of service (DDoS) capabilities with moderate virus and malicious code capabilities.

North Korea now has the technical capability to construct and deploy an array of cyber weapons as well as battery-driven EMP (electro magnetic pulse) devices that could disrupt electronics and computers at a limited range.

In the late spring of 2007, North Korea conducted another test of one of the cyber weapons in their current arsenal. In October, the North Koreans tested its first logic bomb. A logic bomb is a computer program that contains a piece of malicious code that is designed to execute or be triggered should certain events occur or at a predetermined point of time. Once triggered, the logic bomb can take the computer down, delete data of trigger a denial of service attack by generating bogus transactions.

For example, a programmer might write some software for his employer that includes a logic bomb to disable the software if his contract is terminated.

The N Korean test led to a UN Security Council resolution banning sales of mainframe computers and laptop PCs to the East Asian nation. The action of the United Nations has had little impact and has not deterred the North Korean military for continuing their cyber weapons development program.

Keeping dangerous cyber weapons out of the hands of terrorists or outlaw regimes is next to impossible. As far back as 2002, White House technology adviser Richard Clarke told a congressional panel that North Korea, Iraq and Iran were training people for internet warfare. Most information security experts believe that it is just a matter of time before the world sees a significant cyber attack targeted at one specific country. Many suggest the danger posed by cyber weapons rank along side of nuclear weapons, but without the physical damage. The signs are there. We need to take action and prepare for the impact of a cyber war.

 

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WHEN HOSTAGE NOTHING BUT, COOL…..

Woman hands tied up with rope Missing kidnapped.The kidnapping of British model Chloe Ayling could have been nothing more than a publicity stunt, according to one of the defendant’s lawyers.

British glamor model Chloe Ayling’s horrendous July kidnapping could have been a publicity stunt, according to one of the suspect’s lawyers.

The 20-year-old claims to have been held by the two suspects at a farmhouse in Turin, Italy after they lured her to Milan for a fake photoshoot.

The young model claims that her release came six days after she was kidnapped, once her captors became aware that she was a mother.

Ayling’s account of the ordeal placed 30-year-old Lukasz Herba and his 36-year-old brother Michal Herba under suspicion of kidnapping with the aim to extort £270,000 ($350,000) from the model’s agent.

The model, who said she was drugged throughout the experience, also revealed that she had been under the constant threat of being auctioned on the dark web.

Suspects Believed to Be Part of Syndicate Called “Black Death”

The young model’s July kidnapping received a surprising amount of media coverage, and it was not long before the two suspects were linked to an organized crime group known as the Black Death.

Speaking on the behest of his client, George Hepburne Scott relayed his convictions concerning the legitimacy of the case. Herba’s lawyer consistently pointed out the holes in the account issued by Ayling, noting that there were “several anomalies” which indicated that the kidnapping might as well have been a well-orchestrated publicity stunt.

One of the outstanding anomalies in the case was the model’s claim that one of the suspected kidnappers contacted a tabloid newspaper to inform them of their hostage’s upcoming auction.

According to Herba’s lawyer, the period before her release to the British consulate six days after she’d been drugged, stuffed in a suitcase and allegedly held against her will at a remote location did not ring true to a genuine hostage situation.

He went on to back his convictions by carefully laying out what he considered anomalous features that robbed the young model’s kidnapping ordeal of its authenticity.

Case Could be a Sham, Claims Defendant’s Lawyer

Open-source material placed Ayling at the center of another publicity stunt at the scene of a previous terrorist attack in Champs-Elysees in Paris, according to Scott. While this observation alone was not firm enough to tilt the scales in his client’s favor, it showed that the young model was no stranger to generating controversy.

Vintage tone of Hands of a victim tied up with rope.
She recounted her horrific abduction when she appeared on Britain’s “This Morning” shortly after being released by her abductors.

Herba’s lawyer went on to highlight the strange incident when Ayling went shoe-shopping with one of her alleged captors. Furthermore, on the day of her release, she and her kidnapper had apparently been seen having breakfast together after finding the British Embassy closed.

Furthermore, on the day of her release, she and her kidnapper had apparently been seen having breakfast together after finding the British Embassy closed.

The anomalies observed by Scott, in his opinion, indicated that the legal process of the Italian authorities had been abused and that the ordeal may have been nothing more than a carefully planned publicity stunt.

Critics Not Convinced

Ayling came under an expected amount of criticism following her suspiciously unauthentic kidnapping ordeal. She recounted her horrific abduction when she appeared on Britain’s “This Morning” shortly after being released by her abductors.

The model spoke about her horrific experience at the hands of her kidnappers, who she was certain would eventually kill her. She had hoped for a quick and painless death.

The model also revealed that her tormentors were torn between selling her on the dark web as a sex slave and holding her for ransom.

Ayling expressed hurt at the skepticism portrayed by the people who did not believe her kidnapping story was real.

The Case Continues

The district judge presiding over the case, Paul Goldspring, remained unconvinced by Scott’s findings, pegging his decision to not be swayed by the revelations on the fact that a lot of his material was obtained from the press—most of which could not be verified.

On Friday, Judge Goldspring delivered a ruling that Michal Herba should be extradited to Italy for a trial.

Though Herba’s lawyers stated he will appeal the decision, the case will likely continue to go on for months to come.

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Shocking Iraq Torture Photos Raise Ethical Dilemmas-AFP

 They are like the infamous images from Abu Ghraib prison, only worse. Iraqi civilians in Mosul facing rape, torture and murder from members of their own army who had retaken the city from the Islamic State.

“They are the most sinister, upsetting pictures I have seen in my entire life,” the veteran BBC war correspondent Jeremy Bowen said of the images taken by Kurdish photographer Ali Arkady.

This weekend the brutal series of pictures called “Kissing Death” Arkady took last year while embedded with members of an Iraqi special forces unit, won France’s top prize for war correspondents.
The photographs were not just “really strong” said Bowen, who chaired the Bayeux-Calvados jury, “they were evil”. But it wasn’t only their content that disturbed the jury.

Arkady, 34, admitted to being pressured into hitting two suspects during a torture session to save his own skin, actions of which he said he was “not proud”.

But other war photographers asked whether a line had been crossed?

While Bowen insisted that “the service he did by taking those pictures is more powerful that the fact he made some mistakes”, others were not so sure.

Another member of the jury, who asked not be named, told AFP that he was disturbed by the ethical issues the ‘shocking’ pictures raised. “The story is not clear. A lot of people think he has been very brave in telling this story… but I think we are not sending the right message in rewarding this type of work,” he added.

Arkady was forced to flee Iraq with his family earlier this year, bringing with him images and films which he said proved war crimes were committed by the Emergency Response Division [ERD] which he had followed for two months.

Arkady said he kept working with the unit after the torture began partly from guilt because he had painted the soldiers as heroes in an earlier report for the US television network, ABC.

“What began for Ali as a positive story about Shia and Sunni Iraqi soldiers fighting on the same side against a mutual enemy, turned into a horrific journey that included torture, rape, killing and thieving of innocent Iraqi civilians by the ERD,” said the US-based photo agency, VII, who helped get him out of Iraq.

“I’d seen two heroes (the unit’s commanders) do something bad,” Arkady told AFP. “They started torturing people, raping women. Everything changed in my mind. I was confused. I decided to investigate more.”

One of Arkady's poweful images. PHOTO: ARKADY

One of Arkady’s powerful images. PHOTO: ARKADY

Bowen, who has spent decades reporting from the Middle East, said the fact that Arkady had exposed abuses that would otherwise have gone unreported was the overriding factor. “I think it is very important he admitted the mistakes he made. In moral terms, he is not a torturer,” he told AFP.

Award-winning British war photographer Sean Smith of The Guardian, who was not on the jury, said he “would not condemn” Arkady either.

For him, however, “the system which put him in that position – where often inexperienced locally hired freelance ‘stringers’ provide the coverage” from dangerous war zones, is the real problem.

“The whole thing has got so compromised because major news organisations are sending fewer and fewer experienced people,” he said. “There is no one there. Virtually all the coverage is coming from stringers and social media.”

Stringers often go “from not covering anything to covering extreme stuff. They just feed the machine” of photo agencies that want to show “they are still in the business even if they don’t cover most things anymore. “And then when something goes wrong, the guy becomes a scapegoat and everyone becomes very self-righteous.”

VII co-founder Gary Knight told AFP that the agency did not know what Arkady had uncovered while he was working on the story. “We did not pressure Ali to publish the images, the opposite is true,” said Knight.

“We suggested that he think long and hard… because we knew that he would have to leave the country for his own security – possibly forever – if he did,” he added.

 

One of Arkady's poweful images. PHOTO: ARKADY

Knight said he and the agency’s other acclaimed war photographers Christopher Morris and Ron Haviv had mentored “Ali for years to offer him support and advice”.

Smith said although Arkady should not have taken part in torture, photographers were sometimes put in desperate positions.

“If you go with people like that you can’t say, ‘I don’t agree with what you are doing.’ You blend in and disappear, you may even end up getting drunk with them.”

For there is always “a very real danger you can end up dumped by the side of a road with a bullet in your head”, he said.

Arkandy’s work can be found: http://projects.thestar.com/iraq-torture-abuse-murder-war-crimes/

 

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America’s decline and the future of two political systems-DAESH 2011

In the West, the mighty European Union, once a bastion of stability and power is teetering on the brink of implosion. The euro-debt crisis that has engulfed the European continent threatens to unleash dark forces of nationalism that have remained dormant for sixty odd years.

In the East, the Arab world enslaved by the autocratic regimes implanted by the old European powers are falling like dominoes, and unveiling forces of change that are dynamic and untested.

These events when seen through the lens of optimism are interpreted positively by some; Europe will emerge stronger and more united than before, and the Arab world will be transformed into an oasis of liberty and democracy.

When viewed through the prism of realism a completely different picture emerges. The post-modern European experiment is fast coming to an end, and the Arab world is finally freeing itself from the vicious shackles of colonialism by dislodging pro-Western autocratic regimes. The demise of both political systems is no accident, and is tied to America’s global decline. In many ways, the political systems of Europe and the Arab world are a product of American hegemony and ingenuity.

The Marshall Plan provided the edifice for America to control Europe’s propensity for war and curb her ambitions to seek and maintain colonies abroad. Post World War II, American leaders sought to diminish Europe’s domination of the world. As the historian John Lumberton Harper put it US President Roosevelt wanted “to bring about a radical reduction in the weight of Europe” and thereby make possible “the retirement of Europe from world politics” (Harper, American Visions of Europe: Franklin D. Roosevelt, George F. Kennan, and Dean G. Acheson, Cambridge UK, 1996).

Under the shadow of American economic aid and security architecture, Europe ravaged by war charted a new route towards a postmodernism—a break from the warring nation state which had consumed the continent in the past. Eventually, the European Union (EU) was born, where nationalism was finally suppressed and national sovereignty gave way to a transnational authority that presided in Brussels. Europeans marvelled at their postmodern creation and touted it as the natural evolution from the nation state model. A foremost proponent of this model, Robert Cooper an advisor to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, said, “The postmodern system in which we Europeans live does not rely on balance; nor does it emphasise sovereignty or the separation of domestic and foreign affairs. The European Union has become a highly developed system for mutual interference in each other’s domestic affairs, right down to beer and sausages…It is important to realise what an extraordinary revolution this is.” (The new liberal imperialism, The Guardian, Sunday April 7 2002). However, the birth of the postmodern state came at a cost. The EU was no position to challenge America’s primacy in the world and lost many of its colonies to the US. America employed several means to subdue the EU, especially its most powerful member Germany: the enlargement of NATO, the expansion of the EU to include new member states, and the use of the single currency i.e. the euro.

Through this approach, America was able to control levers of economic and military power in Europe. This continued until the collapse of Lehman brothers, which brought the onset of the current economic depression. The American financial crisis is the real cause behind Europe’s economic and political turmoil. It is precipitating the collapse of the EU thereby undermining sixty years of American primacy over European affairs. Probably, Germany will arise from the EU rubble as a major power capable of not only thwarting American interests in Europe, but supplanting her as the main provider of peace and security on the continent. The euro-crisis and not Germany’s militarism has handed Berlin a carte blanche to cast European politics in its own image.

Another portent is that within the context of European history the postmodern experience is truly an anomaly. Europe’s disposition is to eschew peace and engage in inter-warfare fuelled by unbridled nationalism and the quest for ascendancy over other nations.

The present day Arab world owes much of its political structures and institutions to the old European powers that colonised it. However, after 1945, America emerged as the world’s leading state and entered the Arab world with the intention of displacing British and French influence, and usurping the oil fields of the Middle East. The US state department described the find as “[the Middle East is] a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”

America had no intention of dismantling the despotic regimes; rather she sought to place her own agents to run these regimes while making false pretences about delivering freedom and democracy around the world. America armed with the “Truman Doctrine” proceeded to deprive the Arab world the freedom from tyranny and the ability to rule for themselves. She covertly buttressed these regimes to keep the Arab population imprisoned and subdued. But in 2011, popular revolts erupted throughout the region, removed a few tyrants, and destabilised the political order America had so painstakingly put together.

Today the political landscape is no longer dominated by secularists; a new wave of Islamic revival has hastened to fill the void. In Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt political Islam is on the ascendancy and its dominance pervades the political medium. Most probably Libya and Yemen will follow suit. Nothing epitomises the Islamic trend better than the stir caused by the moderate Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali who referred to the present time as “a divine moment in a new state, and in hopefully a 6th Caliphate,” and that “the liberation of Tunisia will, God willing, bring about the liberation of Jerusalem.” If the moderates possess grandiose designs to resurrect the Caliphate then one can only image what most of the Arab masses covet.

The nation state concept is alien to the Arab world, and was imported to the region by European powers. The natural inclination of the Arab masses is to gravitate towards the caliphate—a political system that kept them united under a single leader for well over a thousand years. And certainly the Arab world is firmly on that trajectory, no matter what the American government contrives to portray.

As America struggles to manage its decline, the fate of two political systems is about to change for good. The world will then return to the pre-1945 model—a multipolar world, dominated by different centres of geopolitical influence, with the caliphate at its helm.

Abed Mustafah

December 4 2011

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Serious Consequences of Halt in Visas Between Ankara and DC

Serious Consequences of Halt in Visas Between Ankara and DC

On Sunday, the U.S. embassy announced the suspension of Turkish visa applications for the U.S., stating that “recent events…have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission facilities and personnel.” In retaliation, the Turkish government suspended its own visa services to U.S. citizens early Monday morning. As the diplomatic crisis continues, The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with former Ambassador to Turkey and Cipher Brief Expert James Jeffrey about how the United States can protect its embassy and consular staff in Turkey without permanently damaging relations with a key NATO ally.

The Cipher Brief: How significant is this imposition of visa restrictions?

James Jeffrey: This is very, very serious because suspending all visa issuance has a huge effect on routine business of every sort between the two countries, not just the two governments. It involves your military programs, military sales, business activities, education, culture, etc. It has a huge disruptive effect on everything, and the U.S government would not have taken that action in my view if they did not think that there was a punitive aspect to the arrest by Turkish authorities of this Turkish consular employee.

Leaving apart the whole American side, the problem is that the approach that Turkey under [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has taken, particularly in the post-coup investigation of networks connected to Fethullah Gulen, is to cast a wide net. This behavior is familiar to me from the 1980s and 1990s, pre-Erdogan Turkey. It’s basically that you’re guilty – or at least detainable – until proven innocent. It’s the reverse of innocent until proven guilty: you can be detained and held indefinitely until somebody can prove your innocence.

What they’re doing with the Gulen organization is exactly what Michael Flynn and Stanley McChrystal did with al Qaeda in Iraq. When you have a clandestine movement – and the Gulenists were a clandestine movement – you have to figure out who talks to who and who knows who. You’re going to have a huge number of people who get pulled into this thing, many of whom are by nature innocent.

So it could both be that the consular employee is totally innocent, but since his job was to talk to police officials and the police were heavily infiltrated by Gulen, there might be cause to interrogate and investigate even though the guy is innocent. But in Turkey, you’re not interrogated and sent home, you’re held in jail.

It’s also possible that the guy is actually guilty – who knows – and the last possibility is that the employee was targeted because the Turks want to send a message to the Americans on two cases. One is the Fethullah Gulen extradition case, and the other one is the Reza Zarrab case. Zarrab is an Iranian Turk who was involved in undercutting U.S. sanctions through a quasi-government bank, Halkbank, in Turkey and for some reason he stupidly showed up in the United States and was arrested. Erdogan has been particularly insistent on this because he has a lot of relationships with Halkbank and apparently this guy. Erdogan has actually publicly said that maybe he would trade people, such as an American pastor who is currently being held in Turkey, for Gulen and possibly Zerrab.

The problem is that America can’t respond – even if it wanted to – on either the Zarrab or the Gulen case because these are cases that require judicial review and judicial action. The executive branch doesn’t control the judiciary.

However, there is a lot more the U.S. could do about Gulen. Frankly, it could do a much more rapid and serious investigation. They have already come up with some very good evidence – that they recently passed to the Turks – on contacts between the ringleaders of the actual coup and Gulen. I know my bureaucracy. If somebody said, “Put a hundred prosecutors on this,” and simultaneously said, “Let’s crack down on the Gulenist activities in the U.S. that have already been investigated by the IRS and other agencies,” much more could be achieved and that’s the way to solve this thing.

However, at this point this is going to require Trump and Erdogan talking to calm things down.

TCB: What do you see as the Trump Administration’s desired goals here? Are they drawing a red line on the arrest of consular employees here?

Jeffrey: I wouldn’t go too far. My biggest concern is that Trump won’t care.

The decision to yank all visas was taken by the Department of State, but State is typically going to follow what an ambassador says on this kind of issue, particularly an important ambassador. But I think that Trump may not care all that much about this.

The reason to worry here is that if the Turks can start arresting members of our embassy staff at will, then our ability to function as an embassy in Turkey is severely undermined. But Trump might just say, “Tell me why I should care? Aren’t they part of the swamp?” That’s the problem we have with this guy, he has no appreciation of what every leader around the world takes as a given.

Trump might say “Hey, he’s a Turk, why should I care?” That is my fear. And it shouldn’t be too difficult to say that you can’t arrest our embassy staff. You can interrogate these people but you don’t have to detain them, they’re not going to flee, and my talking point to Erdogan if they do is, who cares? Is 55,393 people prosecuted for being Gulenists more important than prosecuting 55,392, but with the 55,593rd you get a breakdown in the relationship with America? Unless it’s really egregious, you don’t mess around with us. How do you like that?

TCB: When it comes to Turkey what does Trump want? What does he care about?

Jeffrey: He sees them as a possible ally in the fight against terror, and as he’s focusing more on containing Iran now, you can’t really do that without Turkey.

TCB: When you look at the underlying causes of this crisis, is this a bubbling over of tensions that already existed?

Jeffrey: I don’t see this as two incompatible countries. This isn’t the U.S. and Cuba in late 1959, for example. We have mainly compatible interests with Turkey as a status quo country. However, Erdogan has a genuine political interest in provoking the West for domestic political reasons, be it us or the Germans, and apart from some basic strategic questions – what do you do about the Syrian Kurds, what do you do about Syria, what do you do about Iran? – that we have between us, you have all these particular political disputes of a judicial nature, which are almost tit for tat.

On Gulen, we shouldn’t have had this goddamn guy in the country, the same way the Turks shouldn’t have let Zarrab come to United States. But these are very hard problems to fix, because the government doesn’t really intervene with what federal prosecutors do, that’s a rule that has almost always held.

It’s really a mess right now, and there’s always the danger that they might arrest a U.S. citizen who is a consular employee because those employees only have immunity on things that they do in their official business for the U.S. government. It does not cover, for example, if you hit somebody with a car. In practice, consular immunity is almost always treated as diplomatic immunity because it’s very hard to draw the line, but it is a possibility.

Ambassador James F. Jeffrey is the former U.S Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey. Currently, Ambassador Jeffrey is the Philip Solondz distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute where he focuses on U.S. regional, diplomatic, and military strategy, as well as Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. He previously served as assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the George W, Bush administration, with a special focus on Iran.

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Tools of a madman: Leaked pictures of the weapons used in the Las Vegas massacre

On Sunday the United States endured one of its bloodiest days in its history as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock unleashed upwards of 1,000 bullets into unsuspecting concert-goers, turning a country music festival into a hellscape of death and agonizing pain.

The Las Vegas Police Department, in a press release late last evening, raised the death toll to 59 killed with 527 injured marking this the single deadliest mass shooting in American history. More Americans died that Sunday than any number of service members had in a single day of combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

We will never truly know what Paddock’s motivations were on this fateful day, he put a bullet in his head before Las Vegas SWAT could end his rampage. Questions still remain as to how or what Paddock used to exact such a large number of people killed or maimed. Many around the U.S. and the media are speculating that Paddock possessed some sort of fully automatic military-grade machine gun. Others were convinced he modified some sort of semi-automatic rifle to be able to shoot at near cyclic rates.

SOFREP has obtained leaked images from Paddock’s Las Vegas hotel room turned parapet that depict two of the 23 weapons that Paddock had in his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino and resort. And as you can see, Paddock had indeed modified his rifles for maximum deadly effect.

 

Lets take a look at the above picture for a moment. Initially what you see here is a AR-15 style weapon with a standard holographic site and a high-capacity magazine, or what the average American would call a “clip.” This specific model appears to be able to hold 60 rounds of ammunition. Something that author and former U.S. Army Ranger sniper, Nick Irving and myself assessed as being highly probable in Paddock’s arsenal, “The time it takes to dump a 30 round magazine is around 3-5 seconds.” The average time between Paddock shooting was about seven to ten seconds. “The time to change the mag for an average Joe, 3 seconds for a mag[azine] on a machine gun. A belt fed [weapon] would take longer, around 5-8 seconds.” Irving continued, “A 60 round drum or beltwould make more sense,” Irving surmised.

Within the same picture if you look at the buttstock, or the non-barreled end of the rifle you can see a device affixed to it. This is what is known as a “bump-fire” or “slide-fire” stock. With this modification, the buttstock attachment slides back and forth freely during the recoil of the rifle expending a bullet from its chamber. In essence, the gas pressure released from the tiny explosion set off by the firing pin igniting the gunpowder inside a bullet casing pushes the bolt or firing mechanism back into the rifle recoil tube and thus chambering another round for firing.

What the bump-slide attachment allows is for that recoil to be harnessed to increase the rate of fire to almost automatic levels. So all you would have to do would to pull the upper portion of the rifle forward and the inertial force depresses the trigger in rapid fire. This attachment cobbled with what appears to be a 60 round high-capacity magazine is how Paddock was able to achieve an almost constant rate of fire.

The picture below shows another of Paddocks weapons which appears to be an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle as well.

 

The weapon appears to have what looks like a 30 round magazine along with a 4-6 power scope which would indicate that it was intended for accuracy. This raises questions as most of the footage from the shooting shows only rapid fire, which is not consistent with using a scope to take well-aimed shots.  Short of the bipod, there is no clear outward evidence that this model was also modified with a slide-fire mechanism or any other rapid-fire whizbang attachment. However, the weapon could have been modified internally at the trigger mechanism to allow fully automatic fire as well.

Just to the top left you can see what looks like a small sledge-hammer that was more than likely used to smash out the hotel windows from his ad-hoc firing position.

As the gun debate is assuredly going to heat up as they often do after such a tragic event, more questions and fears will emerge. What is certain though is that Paddocks actions are those of a deranged madman, and no amount of debating will change that.

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MAMAMIA: If You See The Letters ‘SSSS’ On Your Next Boarding Pass……

Traveling to your next destination by plane may be the quickest way to get from point A to point B, but there’s no denying there are many, many things that air travel leaves to be desired.

$ Like having to get to the airport hours before boarding, struggling with baggage size and weight limits and attempting to battle the near unstoppable desire to buy a new novel and three magazines before each and every flight.

But all those things pale in comparison to the four letters that can delay your next trip to the airport an absolute nightmare.

Travellers who see the letters ‘SSSS’ on their boarding passes face extra security and screening measures before they are able to board a flight.

The code stands for ‘Secondary Security Screening Selection’ and means a passenger faces additional screening by security which could take an extra half hour.

The term only appears on the passes of those travelling to the United States, but with the US among the top destinations for Aussie travellers, the code is one many holidayers have faced.

According to The Sun, the code was introduced to reduce the risk of terror attacks and involves Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents subjecting passengers to extra pat downs, swabs and bag searches.

Passengers may also be asked to prove their identity and give officers a detailed run-down of their travelplans and itinerary.

The TSA has said that people are added to the list after being ‘randomly selected’ by a computer, but some passengers say they are branded with the SSSS code each and every time they travel.

The list is kept secret by the TSA and there is no way to check if you are on it, but buying tickets with cash or regularly buying one-way tickets could flag you as a potential security threat.

Passengers who have travelled to certain countries, like Turkey, may also face the prospect of SSSS showing up on their next boarding pass.

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WARNING — THE DARK SIDE OF YOUTUBE

TRUTH SHOCK TV– Isaiah 29:16 declares that “They turn everything upside down.” These end time signs feel like the hammer of nightmares has knocked holes through the sky and shattered this world to blood and ruin. One of those nightmares is that children’s innocence – one of the very last things pure – has also now been turned upside down. If you thought the filthy sex subliminals in Disney cartoons was bad … you’ve seen nothing yet.

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The Satoshi Revolution – A Revolution of Rising Expectations

Wendy McElroy

POWERED BY BITCOIN.COM

There is a fight for the soul of Bitcoin.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of personal freedom confronts one of state control.

“The Satoshi Revolution” argues passionately for Liberty by championing the political and economic emancipation inherent in Bitcoin while exposing the specifics of how the state and central banking system oppress the average person.

Section One: The Trusted Third Party Problem
Chapter One: Listening to the Past

“The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts.”
—Satoshi Nakamoto

A trustless system is one that does not depend upon the intentions of its participants, who may be honorable or malicious. The system functions in the same manner regardless of intentions. The blockchain, with a peer-to-peer protocol that is also transparent and immutable, is trustless. Intentions become important only when there is an intermediary who must be trusted. The third party’s good or bad motives become a determining aspect of the transaction and place the other parties at the mercy of his honesty. This is the trusted third party problem.

On a small scale, the problem will always exist because there are times when a middleman is useful or necessary. The ideal third party is trusted, trustworthy and competent. Some people are dishonest, however. They steal, overcharge, lie or otherwise betray their customers’ confidence in order to make profit over a fee. If the swindling is a one-time event and other third parties are available, the damage is limited. The two people take their business elsewhere, consider suing, report the swindler to business watchdogs and warn others.

An occasional dishonest third party is not the problem Satoshi Nakamoto addressed when he used Bitcoin as a lever to upend the world. It is the institutionalized and constant corruption of governments and central banks from which the average person cannot escape. Almost everyone who worked over-the-table, ran a business, bought goods from stores, accepted government benefits or paid taxes had to accept a fiat that constantly plunges in value due to inflation. Almost everyone who used credit, accepted checks, took out loans, conducted commerce or did business abroad needed to use banks that stole like drunken muggers.

To the average person, the situation looked hopeless. Competiting with the government-banking cartel was illegal and severely punished. No speedy, safe and private alternative existed for transferring funds across borders…or across town. Attempts to reform or remove the system seemed doomed. Reform was impossible because monetary policy had rotted to its core and needed to be uprooted, not improved; removal was inconceivable because the monopoly was deeply entrenched and all-powerful. People’s need for money became a straitjacket.

And, then, Satoshi Nakamoto. And, then, the blockchain and bitcoin. Not just a new currency but a new concept of money was created, and in a form that cannot be inflated because it is fixed at 21 million units. The supply of bitcoin can only decrease as some coins are inevitably lost, for example, by people who forget a password. Satoshi noted, “Lost coins only make everyone else’s coins worth slightly more. Think of it as a donation to everyone.”

Peer-to-peer transactions go through a middleman called a miner but no trust is required as the transaction is released only when “proof of work” is rendered; this consists of a miner solving complicated math. The solution is costly in computer power and time-consuming to produce but easy for others to verify. Satoshi commented, “With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless.” The soundness and propriety of the blockchain’s protocol itself is assured by the use of an open source that is visible and verifiable to all. Satoshi’s private currency snaps the monopoly of governments and central banking.

There is precedent for this in theory and in practice.

Precedent in Theory

Friedrich A. Hayek is the most respected Austrian economist of the late 20th century. In The Denationalisation of Money: An Analysis of the Theory and Practice of Concurrent Currencies (1976), he argued vigorously for private and competitive currencies to displace government issued ones. Hayek asked a key question. “When one studies the history of money one cannot help wondering why people should have put up for so long with governments exercising an exclusive power over two thousand years that was regularly used to exploit and defraud them. This can be explained only by the myth” of the necessity of government money “becoming so firmly established that it did not occur even to the professional students of these matters…ever to question it. But once the validity of the established doctrine is doubted its foundation is rapidly seen to be fragile.” (A slightly revised edition entitled Denationalization of Money: The Argument Refined was published in 1978.)

Governments know it is hugely profitable to debase the currency as long as people have no alternative but to accept it and they put the full weight of bureaucracy behind currency manipulation. But the system is fragile because it relies on people not understanding that debasement is theft and not having a choice. Otherwise, the status quo crumbles. The 1974 Nobel laureate pondered why public understanding was so elusive. “[W]hy [is] a government monopoly of the provision of money…universally regarded as indispensable” and what would happen “if the provision of money were thrown open to the competition of private concerns supplying different currencies.” (Hayek’s specific proposal for private currency is explored elsewhere in this book.)

With eerie prescience, Hayek argued for currencies to be developed by entrepreneurs who could innovate new forms of money just as they innovated in other areas. One of the drawbacks of governments’ monopoly on money was that it imposed a freeze on the sort of invention now running free in cryptocurrencies.

The voluntaryist historian Carl Watner observed, “No one can tell in advance what form these monies might take because no one can know for sure what choices individuals would make or what new technologies might be discovered. Laws forcing people to use the Federal Reserve System money have frozen monetary developments at a certain stage….Just imagine if Congress had protected the Post Office by passing laws that would have prevented people from communicating via the internet. We would never have experienced the marvels of e-mail.”

Along with Hayek, the Austrian economist Murray Rothbard wrestled with the question of “why do people so vigorously resist private currencies?” His book, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto offered an explanation. “If the government and only the government had had a monopoly of the shoe manufacturing and retailing business, how would most of the public treat the libertarian who now came along to advocate that the government get out of the shoe business and throw it open to private enterprise?” Rothbard predicted they would attack the libertarian with outrage for depriving them of the only possible source of shoes. People were thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that government was necessary and daily life could not function without it.

Hayek and Rothbard are unusual among economists in that they embrace private money. Even free market zealots rarely champion free market currencies and private banking. Instead, they debate marginal issues such as fractional reserve banking which amounts to a trivial reform. Or they argue for the need to restore a gold standard. But if the gold standard is applied to existing fiat, then it means trusting governments and banks to be transparent; it means trusting them to act directly against their own interests, which they have historically refused to do. The trusted third party problem remains untouched and it is the root of all other corruption, including currency manipulation. An inherently corrupt institution cannot be reformed; it must be swept away or totally avoided.

What could convince the public and economists that private currencies work as well or better than government issued ones? One way is to point out that they already have worked better by providing real examples from the past and drawing parallels to cryptocurrencies.

America is Born into Private Currency

Early America offers powerful lessons about private currencies.

The British colonies naturally used British currency, but the homeland’s monetary policies created an appetite for alternative monies. Rothbard explained in A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War, II (2002), “Great Britain was officially on a silver standard….However, Britain also coined gold and maintained a bimetallic standard,,,,In 17th- and 18th-century Britain, the government maintained a mint ratio between gold and silver that consistently overvalued gold and undervalued silver in relation to world market prices.” Great Britain’s policies created a robust market in substitutes for its own money.

Gresham’s law ruled colonial money as it rules all currencies. The law states: if two types of money are valued the same by law even though the market values of one is higher than the other, then the more valuable money will disappear from general circulation and be used for other purposes like hoarding or foreign trade. That is the meaning of the phrase “bad money drives out good.” Full-bodied silver coins began to disappear from circulation within the colonies, which turned to lighter silver, commodity-based money such as cotton or foreign and privately minted coins. These monies were parallel currencies with Spanish pieces of eight being particularly popular.

The first privately-minted American coin was the Granby or Higley Token that was struck by Dr. Samuel Higley of Connecticut in 1737. Samuel died shortly thereafter and his brother, John Higley, produced the copper coins from 1737 to 1739 inclusive. Valuing the tokens at three pence each, John is said to have spent most of them at the local bar until the barkeep refused to accept any more. Then he cast coins with one side reading “Value Me as You Please” and the other side stating “I Am Good Copper.” No value was stamped on the coin, which was common practice in those days. The coins circulated widely for many years even after John ceased minting largely because goldsmiths used them as a reliable alloy with which to make gold jewelry. Later metallurgical analysis of the Granby found the coins to be 98-99% pure copper.

The Granby benefited from what the Austrian economics icon Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) called the Regression Theorem. In The Theory of Money and Credit, Mises wrote, “The theory of the value of money as such can trace back the objective exchange value of money only to that point where it ceases to be the value of money and becomes merely the value of a commodity.”

Economics Professor Jeffrey Rogers unpacked the concept. Today’s purchasing power of money “draws on yesterday’s, and yesterday’s…and so on….How far back does the regression…go?….[L]ogically, Mises explained, for a commodity money it goes back to the day before the commodity first started being used as a medium of exchange. On that day it had an exchange value or purchasing power due only… as an ordinary commodity (for consumption or for use as a productive input) and not for use as a medium of exchange. For…the U.S. dollar that became a fiat money by terminating the redeemability of what had been a claim to a commodity money…the historical chain goes back to the day before termination, and thence back to the day before that commodity became a medium of exchange. Application of the logic to a new fiat money,” is with reference to the official rate of redemption for an established fiat money.

In short, the value of a money is a composite of the demand for it as a medium of exchange and the demand for it as a commodity.

Bitcoin’s relationship to the Regression Theorem is important since critics often dismiss cryptocurrencies as money or currency because they violate the theorem. Most bitcoin enthusiasts react in one of three ways: they don’t care; they claim the theorem does not apply to the digital age; they insist it does apply to bitcoin, but in a misunderstood manner.

The economist Robert P. Murphy explained how bitcoin emerged as a medium of exchange without being tied to a commodity or redeemable in a fixed amount to an established fiat. The article “Why Misesians Need to Tread Cautiously When Disparaging Bitcoin” argued, “[T]he very first people to trade for it did so because it provided them with direct utility because they knew there was at least a chance that it would serve to chafe the governments of the world….[T]he early adopters of Bitcoin were doing it for ideological reasons, not for pecuniary reasons.” The ideology and the freedom it provided were the ‘commodity’ value of bitcoin‘.

Bitcoin enthusiast Jeffrey A. Tucker took a different tack. In a Foundation for Economic Education article entitled “What Gave Bitcoin Its Value?,” he pointed to the purpose Mises’s theorum served; it helped answer the question of why certain commodities emerged as currencies while others did not. Tucker ascribed the emergence of salt rather than gravel, as a currency to a widespread desire for salt and its direct utility.

Tucker then linked bitcoin not to a hard good but to a hard service which fills a deep need and has direct utility: the blockchain as a payment system. “Bitcoin is both a payment system and a money. The payment system is the source of [non-monetary] value, while the accounting unit merely expresses that value in terms of price. The unity of money and payment is its most unusual feature, and the one that most commentators have had trouble wrapping their heads around….This wedge between money and payment has always been with us, except for the case of physical proximity. If I give you a dollar for your pizza slice, there is no third party. But payment systems, third parties, and trust relationships become necessary once you leave geographic proximity. That’s when companies like Visa and institutions like banks become indispensable.”

The non-monetary worth of bitcoin resides in its payment system that does not require a trusted third party and, yet, has no geographical limitations. Otherwise stated, for Tucker the blockchain is the independent root with intrinsic value from which bitcoin as a medium of exchange emerged. The Regression Theorem applies to bitcoin, but it needs to be expanded to include services in order for the theorem to fit the digital age.

The private currencies of early America offer many such lessons. The history of the NYC goldsmith and silversmith Ephraim Brasher (1744-1828), for example, demonstrates a means by which privately-minted coins circulated widely through the colonies without being restrained by doubts about their purity and weight. Many private minters had reputations within their own communities but circulation was often limited to those communities. Brasher offered a solution. He became renowned for testing coins upon which he stamped “EB” if they were sound. Backed by his reputation, coins migrated far and wide.

The need for minters to be of good reputation highlights an advantage bitcoin has as a currency. It sidesteps the entire issue of the verification of purity or weight. Unlike physical coins, bitcoins cannot be shaved down, counterfeited, diluted by alloys or negated by the reputation of miners who release them or of users who exchange them. A bitcoin is a bitcoin is a bitcoin and no one can alter that fact. But cryptocurrencies do compete with each other for acceptance. Reputation is important to the competition and it is established largely by feedback from the Internet-connected community.

[To be continued]

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Terror on Twitter………

P.W. Singer and Emerson Brooking– When the militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) descended on the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014, they didn’t just march into town—they simultaneously launched a Twitter hashtag campaign, #AllEyesonISIS. It was blitzkrieg with a digital marketing strategy.

Within hours, images of ISIS barbarity spread throughout the Arab world, sowing fear among Mosul’s residents and defenders. The social-media campaign gave an air of inevitability to the looming seizure of the city, and the atrocities that would follow. Despite the fact that they outnumbered the attacking ISIS force by 15-to-1, the Iraqi army units defending Mosul disintegrated and fled. A militia of no more than 2,000 ISIS fighters captured a city of 1.5 million.

From its start, social media has been integral to ISIS’s rise. It enables ISIS militants to raise its prestige among terror groups, and overtake older jihadist competitors like al-Qaeda. It serves to coordinate troops and win battles. And it allows the group to administer the territory under its control.

Members of Anonymous announced their intention to fight back against ISIS on YouTube in November.

AJ+ via YouTube

Now ISIS is using social media to expand its war far beyond its borders. What started with the choreographed execution video of James Foley, blasted across the Web through an army of dummy Twitter accounts, has now morphed into something more devious and distributed. Rather than calling followers to the front lines, ISIS’s social-media strategy cultivates them at home in the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Asia. And it can use those followers to devastating effect, whether sending masked gunmen storming into the Paris Bataclan theater or inspiring an American citizen and his wife to massacre 14 co-workers at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California.

In the idealistic and early days of the Internet, many Silicon Valley pioneers thought that in creating a more connected world, they might also create a more peaceful one. The reality is more complicated. Global connectivity has brought many new opportunities, undoubtedly, but it has also bred a new generation of threats. A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable that a militant in Syria might become pen pals with a lonely teenager in small-town America. These sorts of interactions now keep those at the FBI, NSA, and local law-enforcement agencies awake long into the night.

A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable that a militant in Syria might become pen pals with a lonely teenager in small-town America.

Yet in war, just as in nature, every action merits an opposite reaction. Over the past few years, many new forces have marshaled to engage ISIS in this war of social media. The United States has launched a constellation of social-media accounts to battle ISIS misinformation, while spies map ISIS networks through what they reveal of themselves online (one U.S. air strike was even guided in by an oversharing jihadist). Outside government, social-media companies have increasingly revised their own systems and terms of service in an effort to mop up terrorist accounts before they spread, as with Twitter’s recent ban of all “indirect threats of violence.” Hacker and independent activists are also playing an increasing role. Many associated with the hacking collective Anonymous, have taken to patrolling the darker places of the Internet, waging their own private fight to take down ISIS content wherever it is found. Some of them even named today, December 11, ISIS Trolling Day, an event dedicated just to making fun of the group.

So far, there is only one certainty in this fight. What ISIS has discovered—this very weird, effective new way of war—is not a novelty or a one-time thing. ISIS may have been the first to wield this cross of social media, terror, and war, but it will not be the last.

How ISIS Uses Social Media as a Weapon

Rather than a centralized master plan or single person in charge, the Islamic State’s social media campaign is networked, reflecting the networked nature of the space. The core of ISIS is seasoned veterans of the Iraqi insurgency that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion. Well versed in the power of the media, they have been joined by a new generation of Millennial recruits. The average age of foreign fighters who traveled to join ISIS is 24, meaning tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are what they’ve grown up with. In the context of global jihad, this is a dangerous combination.

Intimidation

CHOREOGRAPHED VIDEOS

Early on, ISIS became known for its slickly produced videos of foreign-hostage executions. Unlike other jihadist videos, these typically include a script, multiple high-definition camera angles, and even a graphical introduction to set the stage.

MASS EXECUTIONS

ISIS regularly records the executions of large groups of local prisoners in order to intimidate and demoralize the opposing units on the battlefield. The videos are also engineered to go viral: with unusual killings such as immolation, drowning, and even explosive collars, all set to a thundering male chorus.

HASHTAG HIJACKING

Using careful planning and an army of Twitter bots, ISIS militants hijack unrelated hashtags to amplify their message and reach wider audiences. The group shouldered into online celebrations of the 2014 World Cup with an image of a decapitated head. The caption? “This is our football, it’s made of skin #WorldCup.”

Coordination

CIVIC FORUM BOARDS

Writing on encrypted forum boards, ISIS militants discuss and plan many aspects of civic administration and operations.

SECURE MESSAGING

In ISIS-controlled territory, day-to-day conversation has moved to services like Skype, Silent Circle, Telegram, and WhatsApp. Secure battlefield communications are sometimes carried out over encrypted messaging platforms like Kik.

BATTLEFIELD DRONES

ISIS fighters have flown small Web-linked drones above the battlefield, gathering real-time footage for valuable reconnaissance, as well as video for social-media propaganda.

Reassurance

“DOCUMENTARIES”

Using a captured Western television journalist, ISIS staged a series of “investigative” reports. Geared toward potential Western recruits, the videos were in English and have tried to portray the attractiveness of life in the Islamic State.

PRESS RELEASES

Like any business or government, the Islamic State churns out a feed of regular announcements via social media that gives appearance of normality: In one, it announced the grand opening of a children’s hospital.

INSTAGRAMMING THE CALIPHATE

cat sleeps with a grenade on instagram

Many social-media accounts exist to highlight the lighter side of life in ISIS, trying to build its online image. The most bizarre might be “Cats of Jihad,” which gave ISIS fighters a chance to pose their cats with their guns.

Recruitment

ONLINE MAGAZINES

Dabiq is a monthly English-language online publication that has higher production values than many Western magazines. It discusses issues of politics, faith, jihad, and bomb-making. The mastermind of the November 2015 Paris terror attacks was even featured in an earlier softball interview, asking how he could sneak through Europe as a known jihadist.

TARGETED ENLISTMENT

ISIS militants cultivate vulnerable recruits with sympathetic messages, and engage them via secure messaging services. Recruiters will occasionally ship gifts to the targets—and sometimes, even an airline ticket. If the recruit cannot travel, they are encouraged to launch terror attacks at home.

Q&A SESSIONS

Holding sessions for potential applicants on Last.fm and other such question-and-answer discussion boards, ISIS fighters frankly discuss the ups and downs of their jobs.

(ISIS) Viral Marketing 101

Part of why ISIS has thrived in social media is that it follows the model of what has worked best for leading online figures and brands. According to Haroro J. Ingram, an expert on insurgent information operations at Australian National University, they are “more strategic plagiarists than geniuses.”

fighter with islamic state holding flag

Islamic State Dabiq / Alamy Stock Photo

1. HAVE A CONSISTENT BRAND

Just as the Star Wars branding is consistent on the big screen or on a Happy Meal, so too is the Islamic State’s. The ISIS flag is extremely easy to draw and reproduce: monochromatic with two simple slogans: “There is no god but Allah. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah”/“Mohammed is the messenger of God.” The monochrome flag also has a long history in Eastern, Arabic, and Islamic tradition—hearkening back to one of the first flags purportedly used by the prophet Mohammad—while the slogans give the appearance of religious sanction to a group that has actually been condemned by leading Muslim scholars.

2. BE INTIMATE

At 78 million followers, singer Katy Perry is the queen of Twitter. Her posts are authentic—written like someone in a hurry who has taken a minute out of her day to talk to her friends. By the same token, ISIS propaganda often weaves in raw testimonials from their front-line fighters. ISIS fighters describe sharing meals and laughing together; they also celebrate comrades who’ve been killed.

3. NETWORK

In the release of her 2015 music video for “Bad Blood,” singer Taylor Swift shared the spotlight with 17 other stars, including Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, and Kendrick Lamar. These figures benefited from their association with Swift, while she expanded her reach to new fan bases. In the same way, ISIS permits other terrorist groups to swear bayat (fealty) to it and then weaves them into its social-media campaigns. Both groups expand their credibility, connection, and reach.

4. ENGAGE

In early 2015, deals site Groupon featured the Banana Bunker, a storage unit for bananas. Anticipating more than a few lewd jokes on its Facebook page, the Groupon social-media team made jokes back—to every single post. The Banana Bunker sold out almost immediately. Likewise, many ISIS fighters often respond or field questions in social media. Audience engagement reached a new macabre low with a January hashtag in Arabic, “Suggest A Way to Kill the Jordanian Pilot Pig,” before a video was released of Capt. Moath al-Kasasbeh being burned alive.

5. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS…TROLL

Businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has mastered a particular social-media strategy: He starts arguments with other high-profile figures, which then draws further attention to himself. Surprising to some, ISIS followers have actually welcomed debate about their many horrible and seemingly contradictory acts (for example, the above death by burning is banned by Islamic scripture), believing it widens their reach and gives them standing.

How to Win the War of Social Mediaanonymous member in mask on computer screen

With threats mounting, an unusual alliance has begun to fight back against ISIS’s social-media war. Governments have launched offices that monitor and refute terrorist propaganda in real time. Companies have set new rules of conduct to prevent ISIS from using their products. Community activists seek to identify and reach out to youth in danger of falling under the sway of ISIS recruiters. And members of the Anonymous hacking collective hunt and destroy ISIS websites in the darkest corners of the Internet. Together, this loose coalition seeks to rob ISIS of one of its most powerful weapons: kicking it out of the very social-media ecosystem that helped give it life.

Suppression CONTENT MODERATION

Google, Twitter, and Facebook—platforms intended for free and unfettered speech—have aggressively revised their terms of service to ban jihadist content. Google’s YouTube now deputizes some human-rights groups as “trusted flaggers” to identify ISIS content; Twitter has banned “indirect threats of violence”; Facebook proactively removes known jihadists from its service.

TWITTER ACCOUNT HUNTING

Organized groups of hacktivists hunt down and report ISIS accounts on Twitter; they claim to have eliminated as many as 110,000. They use algorithms to flag these accounts hundreds of times in rapid succession.

DETECTION

Because accounts can be quickly re-created, activists have written programs to search for multiples of similar-sounding Twitter handles. ISIS militants have responded with programs that automatically hide these from activists.

Hacking

DISTRIBUTED DENIAL OF SERVICE (DDoS) ATTACKS

Hackers use tens of thousands of linked computers (botnets) to overwhelm ISIS websites, sometimes burning out their physical servers.

DOXXING

Posing as potential recruits, hackers slowly gather data about their ISIS recruiters, using cyber forensics to identify and locate specific individuals. This information is then revealed to the world and passed to local authorities. One such tip, discovered by the hacktivists of Ghost Security, helped avert a July terror attack in Tunisia.

SABOTAGE

Hackers plunge into the deep Web, beyond the reach of normal search engines, to find and eliminate ISIS recruiting centers and bitcoin donation pages. In one instance, the Ghost Security Group (not to be confused with Ghost Security) replaced an ISIS propaganda hub with an advertisement for Viagra and Prozac.

tweet about isis fighters being prepared for twitter to suspend their accounts

Counter-Recruitment

REFUTING TERRORIST NARRATIVES

The U.S. government manages a series of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr accounts, such as the “ThinkAgain TurnAway” series, to highlight and counter misinformation spread by ISIS.

TARGETED ADVERTISING

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a British think tank, has used Google search results (for example people searching “How do I get to Syria?”) to target at-risk users. They are sent instead anti-extremist Web videos that (initially) look like just another piece of ISIS propaganda.

COUNTER-ISIS HACKATHONS

Australia is one among several countries that has launched national hackathons to convene Web developers and Muslim community leaders to engineer online tools that can help resist the group’s siren call. Ideas have included cooperative games, specialized social networks for Muslim youth, and even a “Tinder for mentoring.”

Counter-Intelligence

FORUM INFILTRATION

Both intelligence services and hackers use a variety of tactics to infiltrate jihadist forums. They become “flies on the wall” who gather information on who is recruiting and being recruited.

OPEN-SOURCE INTELLIGENCE GATHERING

Activists comb ISIS social media accounts for clues to upcoming attacks, passing them to local law enforcement. In July 2015, this kind of activity prevented a terror attack in Tunisia and led to the arrest of nearly a dozen militants.

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European Left-wing extremism in the 21st Century

Brendan Clifford–Left-wing violence appeared to have had its heyday during the 1970s and 80s with Italy’s Red Brigades, Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Gang and Red Army Faction and France’s Action Directe.[1] Economic development in Europe, combined with the collapse of the Soviet Union as an ideological lodestar, eventually reduced these once-feared urban terrorists to romanticised memories of those just fighting for the good of the people (consider the embarrassingly gentle treatment of John Barker of Britain’s Angry Brigade, which attempted to blow up the houses of Cabinet Ministers).[2] However, although extreme right-wing organisations are challenging Islamist terrorist groups in Europe for the position of Public Enemy No. 1, violent left-wing organisations have been on the rise over the last ten years.

We will define the extreme left as groups willing to use violence against people and property in support of traditional left-wing objectives, such as the challenging of capitalism, imperialism and nationalism.

The reasons for the increase of left-wing violence is very similar to the reason for the rise of right-wing violence. The 2008 financial crash allowed the extreme right to blame the international financial class and appeal to nativist politics, while it allowed the extreme left to agitate in favour of the rights of the workers of the world against that same financial elite.[3] Furthermore, the two wings feed on each other – the extreme-left justifying its actions as ‘antifa’, antifascism, while those on the right define themselves as resisting a Marxist revolution. When one side increases in prominence, the other is required to increase their efforts correspondingly, and both sides have become more polarised as distrust in mainstream political parties increases.[4] Many incidents of left-wing violence occur at right-wing protests, and vice-versa.[5]

One relatively unique trait of extreme left violence is the level of solidarity displayed between different groups. Although the extreme right in one country is often happy to point to right-wing successes in another as a sign that their politics is vindicated, often groups cannot stand one another, in keeping with their often insular perspective. On the left the actions of one group in one country will often be echoed, in solidarity, by the actions of another elsewhere.

Italy’s recent history of left-wing violence contains examples of this. In 2013 the CEO of a nuclear engineering company was kneecapped in Geneo by Italian left-wing extremists belonging to a cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation-International Revolutionary Front. (FAI or sometimes IAF).[6] The cell was named after Olga Ikonomidou, one of eight Greek anarchists imprisoned in Greece.[7] They promised more attacks to be perpetrated by terrorist cells named after Ikonomidou’s fellow detainees.

In a separate incident, a German left-wing group burnt several cars outside a German telecoms company in protest of Greek austerity and the imprisonment of another left-wing activist, arrested for terrorist activity, Stella Antoniou.[8] The cell is named after Lambros Foundas, a Greek anarchist shot by police during a protest.[9

These expressions of, and actions to support, solidarity between different extreme left-wing organisations is something to watch; while the right either has no interest in uniting or has failed to do so, the far left has a long history of cooperation across borders.

 Germany shows the triangular relationship between Islamist extremism, right-wing extremism and left-wing extremism. A report by the German intelligence services observed that all three forms of extremism had increased dramatically between 2015 and 2016.[10]An increased level of violence by one is usually met by an increase in violence by the other two.[11]

 However, Germany’s left-wing violence also demonstrates that the extreme left is not just reacting to the struggle between Islamofascists and the regular European variety of fascists. Recent violence between left-wing groups and the police have focused on domestic issues of housing and class. We should not make the mistake of focusing on left-wing groups as always a reaction to right-wing violence, though this is a trend we will see increase.[12]

Greece and Sweden have the most active left-wing extremist groups in Europe today. Sweden’s Revolutionary Front is actively involved in violent combat with far-right groups, with one member notoriously stabbing a neo-Nazi in the back at a protest in 2013.[13] They are some of the most overtly militant left-wing extremists active in Europe today. At the same time they are relatively unknown outside Sweden, and are careful to conceal their identities, presumably out of fear of reprisals from far-right groups as well as arrest by the Swedish police. Sweden is currently struggling to deal with a rise in far-right violence and a new and large immigrant population, and the Revolutionary Front making sure the far left is involved in the struggle over Sweden’s political culture.[14]However, as with many extreme left wing groups the Revolutionary Front was active before the spike in nationalism and the social tension caused by the migrant crisis of the last couple of years.

Greece has an extensive history with far-left groups, both in opposition to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn organisation and involved in a wider struggle against capitalism.

 In April 2012 a far left organisation took credit for a bomb left on the Athens Metro. They objected to the Metro’s closure during an anti-austerity protest, which they viewed as a betrayal of the working class.[15] Before this, the Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei group were involved in several bombings and arson attacks, including posting letter bombs to European heads of state. The organisation has been proscribed as a terrorist threat by the US State Department.[16] In short, Greece’s experience of left-wing violence shows that the phenomenon has been present for much of the 21st century, rather than only reacting to the far right.This does not mean that the pattern of left-wing right-wing violence is not playing out in Greece as well. The murder of Pavlos Fyssas by members of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn members, which led to police investigations and a foiling of the group’s parliamentary ambitions, also led to reprisals from the far-left Fighting People’s Revolutionary Power. Members of the organisation shot dead two members of the Golden Dawn, and chillingly declared every member of Golden Dawn as ‘legitimate’ targets for execution.[17]

Britain has avoided domestic left-wing extremism this century (with some exceptions), but thanks to modern technology’s ability to transmit ideology across national boundaries we should not become complacent.[18] Just as Thomas Mair was radicalised by American far-right groups it is far from inconceivable that violent continental organisations on the other side of the political spectrum could have the same effect on impressionable minds in the UK.

Left-wing extremism, fed by ongoing economic dissatisfaction as well as reaction to the even more prominent European far right, will likely remain a European security issue for years to come. However, as with right-wing extremists, left-wing extremists are probably benefiting from police and intelligence services’ focus on Islamic extremism as the main security threat. Looming European elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands will show increased public support for the far-right politics of Le Pen, Petry and Wilders, not the far-left ideologies of Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain. This political trend will provoke reaction, with left wing groups organising in opposition. While we must hope both sides use words not violence, historically extremists on both sides will make themselves felt.

[1] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/25/how-europe-won-the-70s-war-on-terror.html

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/03/angry-brigade-prison-bombings-john-barker

[3] http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/the-return-of-the-radicals-crisis-fuels-rise-in-left-wing-extremist-violence-a-695415.html

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/25/across-europe-distrust-of-mainstream-political-parties-is-on-the-rise

[5] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5786592

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/may/11/italian-anarchists-kneecap-nuclear-executive

[7] http://www.grreporter.info/en/police_believe_it_captured_fire_nuclei%E2%80%99s_leaders/4215

[8] http://actforfreedomnow.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/text-by-stella-antoniou-arrested-on.html and

[9] https://325.nostate.net/2012/04/12/commando-lambros-foundas-burn-nine-cars-of-deutsche-telekom-in-berlin-germany/

[10] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hugo-muellervogg/germany-faces-extremism-from-the-left_b_10946174.html

[11] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-sparks-record-year-for-political-violence-in-germany-as-right-and-left-wing-clash-a7044521.html

[12] https://www.rt.com/news/350446-germany-berlin-leftist-riot/

[13] http://www.thelocal.se/20140429/man-jailed-after-stabbing-stockholm-nazi-in-the-back

[14] https://news.vice.com/video/swedens-war-on-fascists

[15] http://www.reuters.com/article/greece-bomb-idUSL6E8F10GI20120401

[16] https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/266628.htm

[17] http://www.zougla.gr/greece/article/i-prokiriksi-tis-ektelesis-819462

[18] https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/the-return-of-left-wing-terror-in-europe

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Hizb ut Tahrir in Wilayah Jordan Campaigns in Support of His Shabab And All Muslims

In continuation of its campaign to champion the detainees of Al-Haq (the Truth) and opinion of its Shabab and other Muslim sons in Jordan, Hizb ut Tahrir / Jordan continues its campaign throughout the country to release the detainees, to lift the injustice on them, and to show the injustice, oppression, persecution, humiliation and ill-treatment that they are subjected to by the regime’s security services, and the unjust provisions issued by the military judiciary against them. Their “guilt” is that they said our Lord is Allah and cracked with the word of Al-Haq (the Truth), which is ordered by Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, and heard by the Khaleefah of the Muslims, Amir al-Mu’minin Omar bin al – Khattab (r.a), and he did not arrest the one who said it, or tortured him, or empowered anyone over him nor did he narrow his life. They said the word of Al-Haq that Abu Bakr (r.a) said about it: (There is no good in us if we do not hear it and there is no good in you if you do not say it”. Another “guilt” is that they show that they are youths who believed in their Lord and proclaimed the truth to hold the regime accountable and force it to follow the truth. Their work and their ideas do not involve sabotage or violence or any act criminalized by Allah’s law. They are known to care for the country and its people much more than those who chant that they are keen on the country while they have wasted it and squandered the dignity of its people! And to show how the corrupt people are tolerated, overlooked and even protected; those who have plundered the country and increased its poverty and corruption because they are privileged by the regime at home and favoured by the forces of tyranny and colonization abroad.

The campaign will take many forms to expose the practices of injustice, oppression and persecution of the Shabab of Hizb ut Tahrir and other Muslims. It also urges the public and politicians from ministers, deputies and senior officials who are in charge or outside their responsibility, the judiciary, jurists, trade unionists, sheikhs, tribal and camps leaders, media professionals, writers, preachers and imams in Jordan; it urges them all to take a position on this injustice and to work towards lifting it in accordance with the legitimate duty towards the oppressed of their brothers in religion and blood.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

«مَا مِنْ امْرِئٍ يَخْذُلُ امْرَأً مُسْلِمًا عِنْدَ مَوْطِنٍ تُنْتَهَكُ فِيهِ حُرْمَتُهُ وَيُنْتَقَصُ فِيهِ مِنْ عِرْضِهِ إِلَّا خَذَلَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِي مَوْطِنٍ يُحِبُّ فِيهِ نُصْرَتَهُ. وَمَا مِنْ امْرِئٍ يَنْصُرُ مُسْلِمًا فِي مَوْطِنٍ يُنْتَقَصُ فِيهِ مِنْ عِرْضِهِ وَيُنْتَهَكُ فِيهِ مِنْ حُرْمَتِهِ إِلَّا نَصَرَهُ اللَّهُ فِي مَوْطِنٍ يُحِبُّ فِيهِ نُصْرَتَهُ»

“No (Muslim) man will abandon a man who is a Muslim in a place where his sanctity is violated and his honor attacked without Allah abandoning him in a place here he wishes his help; and no (Muslim) man who supports a Muslim in a place where his honor may be attacked and his sanctity violated without Allah supporting him in a place where he wishes his support.”

Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir in Wilayah Jordan

21/09/2017 CE

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“Alsa3ka Technology” Hacks Israel University Website

downloadIsrael university website hacked by Alsa3ka Technology

They said “Game over Israel Leave Palestine”

The original post is


{+} تم اختراق جامعة تل ابيب {+}
https://www2.tau.ac.il/
{+} التسجيل {+}
http://mirror-h.org/browse/976210/
{+} القادم اعظم {+}

Their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Alsa3cka.Tchnology/

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“Anonymous Greece” To Attack Greek Auctions Website

  Anonymous Greece

“Those who think the call was to help us hack Greek government websites are wrong! All Anonymous from around the world when they open Operations call other members for more voluminous hits. As in 2010 2,000+ people participated in the hit at FBI, SONY, PayPal and the like. Do not be in a hurry to draw conclusions!”………………..

Tagrets:

auctions.aade.gr IP: 84.205.254.16

http://www.bankofgreece.gr  IP: 40.68.86.188

http://www.piraeusbank.gr IP: 149.126.72.245

…………………..”We are calling all Anonymous from around the world to join on this massive attack on Greek auctions website to help Greek people from the Government and system!

The Government comes and announces electronic auctions without the approval of the people. And you want to say that this is democracy?

Every Greek is suffering everyday in his work for a piece of bread so that he can feed his family! And so the electronic auctions are coming to get their homes where they worked so hard for that! You are CRIMINALS! The people do not fear you and we are next to them. The war against you will not stop!”

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Radical Islam in the U.S.

The underground activity of radical Muslims in the U.S

 

 

 

 

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Islamdin: Special Statement of the Command of the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate Abroad

Shura of the Caucasus Emirate and Shura of the CIC abroad makes an official explanation that the former representative of the Caucasus Emirate Abdul Aziz has been excluded from the Imarat Caucasus by the sham of the Imarat Caucasus, which is the only legitimate body of the Caucasus Emirate to date, which was established by the Amir Abu Usman al- Gimraviy rahimahullah.

In August 2016, Abdul Aziz voluntarily resigned from the position of the representative of the Caucasus Emirate abroad and Abu Saad al-Dagistani was appointed as the Shura of the Caucasus Emirate. Then in October 2016, Abdul Aziz was removed from his post as an Amir of the Mujahideen KBK abroad by the sham of the Caucasus Emirate abroad.

The main reasons for which he was removed from office and expelled from the Nizam:
– The introduction of a split in the ranks of the Caucasus Emirate. Called the Mujahideen of the KBC to the division with the Vilayat of the WD
– Dissemination of false information among the IC brothers, which undermined the integrity of the IC and the brotherhood as a whole. He deliberately made intrigues between the Mujahideen.
– I set up brothers against the Emir of the Caucasus Emirate abroad, slandering them, making bays and gybats, trying to blacken the members of the Shura of the Caucasus Emirate abroad.
– Violation of the Nizam of the Caucasus Emirate – disobedience and disobedience to the Amir of the Caucasus Emirate abroad.
– The order is not rightfully entrusted to him by the amanate contrary to the orders of the Amir KBC abroad.
The above reasons have evidence with witnesses and were presented to Abdul Aziz personally, and he was also asked to challenge these charges in a Sharia court, which he refused.
He was repeatedly called to maslyah, called to make a touba, to join the ranks of the Mujahideen and submit to the Amir, but all our appeals remained, unfortunately, in vain.
For this reason, we appeal to our brothers and sisters and warn you that no one should be involved in his intrigues and thereby harm the Nizam of the Caucasus Emirate. For the same reason, the Shura of the Emirate of the Caucasus decided to issue this clarification.
Also, those who financially or somehow want to help the Nizam of the Caucasus Emirate should know that this person no longer has anything to do with the Nizam of the Caucasus Emirate and his trust is lost.
As Allah said: “If a man acts righteously, he acts well for himself.” And whoever does evil, he does himself harm. And then you will be returned to your Lord. (Kneeling, 15)
In connection with the incident, we appeal to all the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate. Dear brothers and sisters! We urge you to unite in one line under one banner and not to dispute, as Allah told us about it in our Book, as this deprives us of our strength against our enemy.
To date, the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate carry a combat riabat on the lands of Sham, helping their brothers and sisters by faith. Today, when the war is being waged in such extremely difficult conditions, do not leave the Mujahideen without the help of your brothers!
Allah says: Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not argue, or else you will fall in spirit and lose your strength. Be patient, for Allah is with the patient. (Anfal, 46)
Also we bring to your notice that Shura of the Caucasus Emirate on all important issues consults with well-known scientists of jihad.
We remind you that the site of IslamDin is the only official source that covers the decisions taken by the Shura of the KBK and Mujahideen KBK.
And in the end, we give Praise to Allah and ask Him to exalt Islam and Muslims and humiliate disbelief and polytheists.
We ask Allah to strengthen our feet on His path and to resolve all the fitnah that occurred between the Mujahideen.
We ask Allaah to strengthen our new Amir Abu Saad ad-Daghestani, give him wisdom in the affairs of government and barakat in jihad.
We ask Allah to give victory to the Mujahideen in all fronts on earth.
O Allah, answer us our prayers and save us from the machinations of the Shaytaan and his henchmen among the people. Amine!

Source: Press Service of the United Vilayat KBK IK
IA IslamDin

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Genocide in Myanmar: A global call for a true end to the mass slaughter of Muslims

Hizb ut Tahrir Canada–

For the past half century, the indigenous Muslim population of Rakhine (in present day Myanmar, previously known as Burma) live as second-class citizens with their economic and social rights stripped away. They are barred from accessing government services, and prevented from obtaining marriage licenses or even moving from one village to another. This apartheid policy has escalated over the past few years into a campaign of total extermination, which Queen Mary University scholars describe as “the final stages of genocide.”

The Muslims in Myanmar are subjected to this merciless savagery for no reason other than their worship of Allah alone, the same as the People of the Ditch (As-haab Al-Ukhdood) who were burned alive by an unjust king, as Allah (swt) tells us of them in the Qur’an:

وَمَا نَقَمُوا مِنْهُمْ إِلَّا أَن يُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَمِيد

“And they (the disbelievers) hated them for no reason other than for their belief in Allah, Al-Aziz Al-Hakeem”

(85:8)

Muslims around the world have been sending money and praying for our brothers and sisters in Myanmar, and we have even seen prominent Muslim political leaders and heads of state calling for a resettlement of Rohingya refugees in different Muslim lands and have offered to pay their expenses.  However, as Muslims who have been commanded by Our Creator to be one Ummah, and to be a protection for one another, this is an insufficient response.

Defending the Ummah

Making Du’a is the essence of worship, and charity is part of the core character of a Muslim; however, when the blood of the Muslims is freely being spilt in the midst of a genocide, we need a real plan that can end the oppression. Sincere prayer requires a real-life action plan, in order for us to work toward that which we are praying for. When we pray for our Rizq (income/sustenance), do we not put in our best practical effort, such as writing resumes, preparing for interviews, and completing our educational qualifications to the best of our ability alongside our Du’a? When we pray for marriage to a good spouse, do we not actively seek the right one by meeting families and getting to know everyone involved in order to ensure a good longer-term choice? So, why do the people of Myanmar deserve only our vague “wishes for well-being” and some spare change, without a serious and collective effort toward a real plan for their protection?

It is insufficient to merely resettle the Rohingya Muslims in neighboring countries, for it is not right or fitting for the Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ – the best Ummah brought forth for mankind – to be made an Ummah of refugees anytime a problem arises.

We call upon the armies of the Muslim lands to directly and decisively intervene to end the bloodshed in Rakhine. You are the only ones who have the capability, training, and structure to end this bitter chapter in the history of our Ummah. The military forces of Indonesia alone would be enough to handle this matter. All that is missing is sincere and courageous leadership. And if the rulers who have been imposed upon you do not allow you to fulfill your obligation – which we do not expect they will – you must replace these rulers with a sincere Islamic leadership that fears the Creator instead of the lowly creation.

أَلَا تُقَاتِلُونَ قَوْمًا نَكَثُوا أَيْمَانَهُمْ وَهَمُّوا بِإِخْرَاجِ الرَّسُولِ وَهُمْ بَدَءُوكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ أَتَخْشَوْنَهُمْ فَاللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَنْ تَخْشَوْهُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ

“Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and determined to expel the Messenger, and they had begun [the attack upon] you the first time? Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are [truly] believers.”

(9:13)

How else will you answer to Allah (swt) – who has entrusted you with the unique capability to stop this evil – when He asks you what you did when your mothers and sisters were being raped and cut to pieces right before your eyes? No military rank, no stars on your shoulders, and no leader on earth will be able to protect you or answer on your behalf on that Day when your Creator holds you to account for your disobedience towards Him after receiving His Command:

وَإِنِ اسْتَنصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمُ النَّصْرُ

“And if they ask you for military help (Nusrah) in the Deen (as believers), then you are required to help”

(8:72)

We ask the Muslim masses, wherever they are in the world, to apply pressure on the political and military leaders of the Muslim lands to do their duty and liberate our brothers and sisters in Myanmar. And if they are unwilling to, then we must organize ourselves to rally around the restoration of the Khilafah state that will do what they cannot or will not do: to unify our armies, to liberate our lands, and to defend the blood of both the Muslims and non-Muslims under its rule.

We must not settle for half solutions or slight improvements in our situation while we wait for the next catastrophe to take place. Instead, we must implement the full solution revealed to us by Allah, the Most Merciful and Most Wise.

The Honor of this Ummah

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said while performing Tawaf around the Ka’ba:

«مَا أَطْيَبَكِ وَأَطْيَبَ رِيحَكِ مَا أَعْظَمَكِ وَأَعْظَمَ حُرْمَتَكِ وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ لَحُرْمَةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ أَعْظَمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ حُرْمَةً مِنْكِ مَالِهِ وَدَمِهِ وَأَنْ نَظُنَّ بِهِ إِلَّا خَيْرًا»

“How delightful you are and how great is your scent! How magnificent you are and how great is your sanctity! But, by the One in whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the sanctity of a believer, his wealth, and his blood, are greater in the sight of Allah than your sanctity.” [Ibn Majah]

This is the honor, status, and dignity that Allah (swt) has given to this Ummah. Is it not time for us to hasten towards His Command?

We must do our part to end the desecration of Muslim life, blood, and lands, by working day and night to re-establish the Islamic Khilafah state (Caliphate) in the Muslim world. Our reward awaits us with our Most Merciful Creator, so let us exert our utmost in claiming it.

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ

“And strive and fight for the sake of Allah as He deserves to be strived for; He has chosen you, and He has not placed upon you in the Deen any hardship (beyond your capability) – it is the religion of your father, Ibrahim. It was Allah who named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation], so that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people Helper is He.” (22:78)

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Khilafah Organisation Chart

Overview

KCOM_orgchart_khilafah


Structure of the Provinces

KCOM_orgchart_admin_units


The Provinces

KCOM_orgchart_majlis


Department of Foreign Affairs

KCOM_orgchart_dept_foreign_affairs


Department of Industry

KCOM_orgchart_dept_industry


Department of Internal Security

KCOM_orgchart_dept_internal_security


Department of Military

KCOM_orgchart_dept_military


Government Departments

KCOM_orgchart_diwan


Executive Assistants

KCOM_orgchart_exec_assistants


Department of Information

KCOM_orgchart_information


Council of the Ummah

KCOM_orgchart_wulah


Judiciary

KCOM_orgchart_judiciary


The Treasury

KCOM_orgchart_treasury


KCOM_orgchart_treasury_expenditure


KCOM_orgchart_treasury_revenues

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Bitcoin wa Sadaqat alJihad (Bitcoin and the Charity of Violent Physical Struggle)

Taqi’ul-Deen al-Munthir–“O’ you who believe! Shall I guide you to a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in Allah, and his Messenger, and that you strive hard, and make jihad in the cause of Allah with your wealth, and with your lives! That would be better for you, if you but knew!” [61:1011] After the fall of the khilafah, the bastions of alshari’a fell. Kufr law spread across the entire earth with few areas even considering just economics or hudud 1. The Muslims found themselves trapped in the middle of this, with the banners of disbelief being raised above their heads. Consequently, many were outright forced to use kafir currencies. These currencies, simply through usage, assist the kufar by strengthening their economy. They often feed directly into taxes that go to funding their oppressive, murder, military forces. So, then, does not being pleased with paying taxes to the kufar, not intending to change it, believing it to be okay, and doing it willingly, constitute kufr2? Alhamdullilah3, much of the ummah is ignorant, so we cannot make takfir of them, nor should we, nor would we. Yet this question is very puzzling. We must actively look for solutions to avoid bolstering the kufar whilst preparations are made to move to ardh alkhilafah, which has only recently been established. Ordinary currency requires a system of trust. One must trust in the kafir government to back the currency, unlike the Islamic model which sees wealth backed by physical precious metals. The corruptness of a khalifah cannot hurt a Muslim or dhimmi’s4 wealth, whereas the corruptness of a president can harm all of his people, as seen with the intense poverty in the United States and the uplifted condition of ahlulIraq after distribution of wealth. This system has, therefore, eliminated sadaqah5 for jihad on a large scale. One cannot send a bank transfer to a mujahid or suspected mujahid without the kafir governments ruling today immediately being aware. Perhaps, a few incredibly wealthy Muslims may find ways to avoid this system, especially ones in Arab countries, however the majority of Muslims are incapable of donating to those who need it most. Donating to impoverished children or needy mothers is a good deed, however, we as Muslims must understand that this will not stop the problem. Only the law of Allah will succeed in ultimately eliminating poverty and spreading wealth and tearing down oppression. A proposed solution to this is something known as Bitcoin. It is a digital only currency created through a process called mining. A mining machine is a powerful computer that processes recent transactions sent through the Bitcoin network, and validates them. If it finds that the transaction is legitimate, the money, Bitcoins, are sent and some Bitcoins are given to the miner. The people sending Bitcoins get their transactions validated and the miner receives a small fee, benefitting both sides. This system allows for no counterfeit Bitcoins to ever exist, as each one can only exist alongside validation. Bitcoin is sent instantly across the world, with waiting times not exceeding fifteen minutes on the norm. No central servers, individuals, or groups own the entire Bitcoin system. The network is based off of miners who use their own personal computers, and anyone can mine. The network is therefore worldwide and not based in a single area either. Trying to change the software for Bitcoin requires an extremely large majority of the miners to agree, and if they dislike any change, it will not go through, as demonstrated in Rabi alThani of 1434 . 6 Since Bitcoin only goes from one user to another, not through any system such as PayPal or eBay, it is completely decentralized. There is no point of weakness, no one can hack the entire Bitcoin system, and as long as people use Bitcoin, it will exist safely. New developments in Bitcoin have allowed marketplaces that run on whatever law system the individuals choose. This instantly allows for shari’ only compliant markets that cross all borders, nation state regulations, send money instantly, and are untrackable by kafir governments. Contracts used in an online marketplace could be arbitrated by third parties who judge to see if the conditions of the contracts are met. Qadis7 could easily be introduced to this system and rule by shari’a between Muslims across alkhilafah. It solves the online marketplace issue for alkhilafah instantly, whilst giving Muslims an alternative to use until they offer hijrah8 . The Silk Road was the popular online market running mostly on Bitcoin. It was an online black market that could have potentially be used for anything from purchasing weapons to donating to mujahideen, though most kufar used it to intoxicate themselves. It utilized user’s Bitcoin wallets, mixers to confuse those trying to spy on transactions, reputation systems, private messages, seller pages, and arbitrators, which could be readapted to be qadis. Dark Wallet is a new Bitcoin wallet designed to completely hide the activities of it’s users, providing total online anonymity. It eliminates government regulation that tries to identify bitcoins through associating them with an individuals wallets. It mixes all transactions together into an indecipherable mess, making Bitcoin untrackable. This allows our brothers stuck outside of the ardh DawlatulIslam to avoid government taxes along with secretly fund the 9 mujahideen with no legal danger upon them. To set up a totally anonymous donation system that could send millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin instantly from the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Ghana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, or wherever else right to the pockets of the mujahideen, very little would be done. Dark Wallet’s beta release will be published within the next coming months, the mujahideen of DawlatulIslam would simply need to set up a wallet and post their wallet address online. Then, Muslims from across the globe could simply copy the wallet address, login to their Dark Wallets, purchase whatever amount of Bitcoin they wish to send, and send them over. The mujahideen would then have someone on the other side convert Bitcoin into whatever currency they wish at optimal Bitcoin to currency transaction rates to receive the donations from the whole ummah. This system has the potential to revive the lost sunnah of donating to the mujahideen, it is simple, easy, and we ask Allah to hasten it’s usage for us.

END NOTES

  • Islamic legal punishments
  • Disbelief
  • All glory and thanks belongs to Allah
  • People of the book living under the protection of the Muslim state
  • Charity
  • In March of 2013 a new version of Bitcoin caused transactions to be recorded in an incompatible way with previous versions of the software, the miners decided against it, and it was not updated.
  • Islamic Judges
  • Migration for the sake of Allah
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CONGO: REGIME CASH MACHINE

OverView–More than $750 million of mining revenues paid by companies to state bodies in the Democratic Republic of Congo was lost to the treasury between 2013 and 2015. Instead, the money disappeared into a dysfunctional state-owned mining company and opaque national tax agencies. There is no clarity on what this money was spent on or where it ended up, but testimony and documentation gathered by Global Witness indicates that at least some of the funds were distributed among corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila’s regime.

Gécamines, the state-owned company, is the main culprit in the diversion of Congo’s mining revenues from the budget. Its chairman, Albert Yuma, was appointed by Kabila in 2010 and is an ally of the president. He is described as a “financier” to the regime. He is on the audit committee of Congo’s Central Bank and is the head of Congo’s Business Federation.

Investigation shows how Gécamines is haemorrhaging money in suspect transactions
– sometimes involving millions of dollars in cash – while simultaneously failing to make any substantial contribution to the national treasury or invest in its own mining operations. The company is saddled with well over a billion dollars of debt and it carries out almost no mining of its own, despite having once mined up to 500,000 tonnes of minerals in a year.

Gécamines has apparently prioritised paying off debts to a friend of the president over paying its staff, who have at times gone months without their salaries, and has handed out a crucial contract in opaque circumstances to a little-known sub-contractor. Meanwhile, it fails to pay dividends to the government, its sole shareholder, and barely pays more than $20 million in tax per year, according to an industry transparency body – much lower than the contributions of several private mining companies in Congo.

Furthermore, each year Congo’s national tax agencies keep back a portion of mining revenues for their “own funds”, rather than transfer it to the treasury. What happens to this money is unclear. The agencies are secretive and often headed by powerful individuals with close professional or personal ties to the Prime Minister’s office or to the Presidency. The opacity around the withheld funds makes this system highly susceptible to corruption………………………..

POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES

In the midst of Congo’s turmoil, there is an enormous opportunity. The country now produces more minerals than at any other time in its history. It has grown to become the largest copper producer in Africa, and the largest cobalt producer anywhere.

Copper’s price on global markets slumped in 2015 down to under $5,000 per tonne. The price crash served as an unwelcome demonstration of just how important copper is to Congo’s economy. In 2016 the Congolese government was forced to slash its budget by 22 per cent, devastating public spending plans in a country already severely lacking in schools, hospitals, roads and other basic infrastructure.

By May 2017 the Congolese franc had lost half its value compared to a year earlier, inflation leapt to over 25 per cent in 2016, and GDP growth slowed.

However copper prices rallied in late 2016 and early 2017, reaching nearly $6,000 per tonne at the time of publication. Cobalt prices rose 70 per cent in the first half of 2017 on the back of high demand for electric car  batteries. Congo’s production of copper and cobalt, already at record highs, has boomed again at the start of 2017 as output of both minerals has risen by over 20 per cent in the first quarter of the year.91 If a price crash can cause such devastation, then a price rise (and a production boom) could have a strikingly positive impact on Congo’s economy.

The country and its people can scarcely afford to miss out on further public funds. With President Kabila overstaying his second and final term in office, some have begun to see parallels with Mobutu’s rule. The promise of elections delayed, the national conferences or dialogues, his refusing to abide by political agreements and attempting to split the opposition by unilaterally appointing a Prime Minister considered by his opponents to be unacceptable all seem eerily familiar.92

The difference today is that the money looted from Gécamines comes largely from transfers from international mining companies, rather than sales of its own mineral production. Also, the listed companies operating in Congo often have Western investors and pensions tied up in their profits and risks.

Time is running out for Congo to get this right. Its natural resources wealth may be bountiful but it is also finite. Much more of the money from the mining sector needs to reach the treasury and be spent on improving Congo’s education, health, transport and justice infrastructure, among other public spending priorities. While reporting to the EITI is an important move forward for transparency, it remains only a step towards the end goal of accountability and responsible management of natural resource revenues. More needs to be done to close down the gaps in Congo’s revenue- collection system.The alternative could be disastrous for the country.
If money continues to be siphoned away into parallel networks of power, then Congo’s political crisis is only likely to escalate. The continued mismanagement of revenues from mining companies is bound to discourage responsible investors from coming to, or staying in, the country. The result would be a shortfall in investment and the arrival of unscrupulous companies seeking to take advantage of Congo’s weakened institutions.

READ FULL REPORT How the Democratic Republic of Congo_s booming mining exports are failing to benefit its people ATM

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ISIS – WILAYAT SINA’

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UANI Iran Summit 2017

– On September 19th, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) held its second annual Iran Summit on the sidelines of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, with debate and discussions focusing on Iran’s role in the Middle East and options for policymakers in the Trump administration and in capitals around the world. The summit featured a number of global leaders and thinkers, including: General (ret) David Peatreus, HRH Prince Turki Bin Faisal Al Saud, Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Bill Richardson, Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Ambassador John Bolton, and Governor Chris Christie. Opening remarks were by CEO of UANI Ambassador Mark D. Wallace and Chairman of UANI former U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman.

UANI 2017 Iran Summit | Partners in Proliferation: Iran and North Korea

– UANI Advisory Board Member Ambassador John Bolton shares his knowledge on the Iranian – North Korean nuclear relationship and makes a compelling argument against the partners in proliferation.
The New York Daily News: Stay focused on Iran’s bad behavior, nuclear and otherwise

This week, UANI hosted its second annual Iran Summit, calling upon a distinguished lineup of current and former foreign leaders, lawmakers and Iran experts to examine the political and economic environment since the signing of the 2015 deal, with a focus on the regime’s role in the region, its relationship with North Korea and the future of Iran policy in the Trump administration.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/stay-focused-iran-bad-behavior-article-1.3509406 

 

Trump Pushes to Revisit Iran Nuclear Deal, and Asks Allies to Help

The maneuvering suggested a possible path forward for Mr. Trump short of abandoning the accord, but it remains uncertain whether he can reach consensus with the European allies, much less with Russia and China, the deal’s other patrons. Iran on Wednesday ruled out revisiting the agreement as President Hassan Rouhani declared it a “closed issue” and warned that if the United States pulled out, Iran might resume uranium enrichment.

“We see today the Americans are seeking an excuse to break this agreement,” Mr. Rouhani said at a news conference after his own speech to the General Assembly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/world/middleeast/trump-iran-nuclear-deal.html?_r=0

The New York Times: Trump Says He’s Made a Decision on Iran Nuclear Deal

President Trump is seeking to revisit the nuclear agreement with Iran to toughen its provisions rather than scrap it right away as he has threatened, enlisting allies to pressure Tehran to return to the negotiating table, administration officials said Wednesday.

Mr. Trump, who denounced the agreement in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week as an “embarrassment to the United States,” wants to expand on it by extending its time frame and imposing new limits on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles. Although European officials strongly back the current deal, some signaled openness to negotiating a separate follow-up agreement.

The maneuvering suggested a possible path forward for Mr. Trump short of abandoning the accord, but it remains uncertain whether he can reach consensus with the European allies, much less with Russia and China, the deal’s other patrons. Iran on Wednesday ruled out revisiting the agreement as President Hassan Rouhani declared it a “closed issue” and warned that if the United States pulled out, Iran might resume uranium enrichment.

“We see today the Americans are seeking an excuse to break this agreement,” Mr. Rouhani said at a news conference after his own speech to the General Assembly. For that reason, he said, negotiating with “an American government that tramples on a legal agreement would be a waste of time.”

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How Telegram Channeled Russia’s Political Intrigue

David Kharebov–In January this year, Russia’s state-run television channel Rossia-24 aired a special report featuring an anonymous political blogger. His face was concealed behind a black mask and his voice artificially altered.

Appearing on a wall-to-wall screen in front of a guest panel, the blogger explained he wasn’t interested in reaching a mass audience. He was publishing for a niche demographic of political specialists and Kremlin insiders.

“We think of it as our responsibility to inform critical observers,” the blogger, who called himself NeZygar, said. “We don’t publish in the traditional blogosphere. We publish for those who understand and can evaluate.”

In the months leading up to the interview, NeZygar had won notoriety for publishing scandalous insider information about the inner workings of the Kremlin. The scoops were published entirely on Telegram, an instant messaging service similar to WhatsApp or Viber. Some of it even turned out to be true.

After the program aired, NeZygar mocked Rossia-24 on Telegram for airing an imposter. “[I’m] surprised,” he wrote. “I don’t give interviews. I don’t like balaclavas. I don’t know a Pankin or a Bankin,” he said parodying the presenter’s name. “And I don’t want to.”

Whether NeZygar gave the interview or not, his cameo hurled into the spotlight a new phenomenon revolutionizing political gossip — anonymous bloggers spilling the beans on Telegram,  the secret messaging service with Russian roots.

A Controversial Start

Telegram was launched by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov in 2013 when he was CEO of VK, Russia’s largest social network. In 2014, he was forced from VK and announced soon after that he was fleeing Russia.

Meanwhile, however, he had been working on an encrypted messaging service. It rivaled popular messengers like WhatsApp, while promising to protect users from third party interference.

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Marine Gives A Message To The NFL & It’s Players – Anonymous Global

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Anonymous Crypto-currency Arms Race

Hidden For All to See

Bitcoin allowed less friction in deep web commerce, but most importantly, it was run by computer code and not people. Government sanction (regulated) currencies and commerce provided a stiff barrier to the online black market, even people pro black markets provide a risk. Pre-Bitcoin digital currencies like Liberty Reserve, and E-Gold, did not mind people using their currencies to trade drugs and other illicit goods. The government, on the other hand, would not allow this Laissez Faire attitude. The government forced both businesses to either shut down or comply with the state’s law. With Bitcoin, there is no one for the state to point guns at. Bitcoin’s run free without the burden of gatekeepers of any kind.

Bitcoin was an amazing improvement, but it had its issues. Early, and until quite recently, Bitcoin was synonymous with financial anonymity. In some ways, it is more anonymous. The decentralized nature of it allows use of the currency without having to put your name, address and other private info in some database. On the other hand, the public blockchain leaves a trace of all transactions that can be tracked to the very beginning. Some have tried make shift solutions, like mixers, Tor, and schemes and technology. Some of practices and technology provide a decent level of anonymity but they are time consuming and complicated. Technically knowledgeable people can use Bitcoin anonymous but for the average person, it is well above their heads. For deep web, that is growing and getting more normal people using it, a simple but effective anonymous crypto-currency is must for the deep web’s further growth and maturity as a market. A simple but effective anonymous crypto-currency could have the same effect Bitcoin had the deep web.

The other issue, is a lot of interest and res reach. A lot of these practices and technologies have not been tested thoroughly. When, these technologies are analyzed, they have tendency to fail. This was seen, when, security researcher, Kristov Atlas proved he could de-anonymized transactions “mixed” by the very popular Coinjoin. The one thing that is true for all technologies and schemes to make Bitcoin anonymous, is that they are after thoughts. Sadly, Bitcoin wasn’t designed with anonymity in mind and thus all potential solutions are awkward fits.

This has left a hole to be filled. As Bitcoin becomes closer and closer to being regulated and controlled, some Bitcoin users have disdained themselves from the currency. They are looking for a more subversive currency. Political dissents, black market businessmen, and privacy minded individuals are looking for a currency better than Bitcoin. One that meets their needs of anonymity, ease of use, and regular transactions.

Beyond Bitcoin

As Bitcoin’s lack of anonymity have become more and more well know, a urgency has emerged.   At first, technologies surfaced which would work with the existing Bitcoin system, but these, such as ZeroCash and Coinjoin have faced issues. Then Altcoins, such as Darkcoin emerged, declaring a new currency must be made to achieve financial anonymity. While, Darkcoin pioneered the idea that a currency from scratch was needed, but Darkcoin itself, didn’t provide anything new. Since Darkcoin many anonymity focused Altcoins have popped up that are trying to new ways to anonymize crypto-currency transactions. This has resulted in an anonymous crypto-currency arms race. Communities have sprung up around each coin and ultimately the idea itself. Competition between the various currencies has caused innovation at a rate never seen before. No single currency has become the first truly anonymous currency but many currencies are fighting to emerge as the victor.

A truly anonymous crypto-currency would be a world of difference. Bitcoin’s lack of a central controller already allows for a more subversive currency but is still vulnerable to attacks from various states. An untraceable digital currency would allow online black market commerce to roam freely and at a rate of popularity we have not seen before. Though, the deep web is huge, it is just a tiny section of the black market at large. With each story about Silk Road, people convert from the physical drug trade, to the digital drug trade. They see more variety of drugs, and higher quality. They see more barriers to their personal protection from their dealers or police. What remains iffy, is the finical anonymity of Bitcoin. With a digital currency that is proven and built for anonymity, the floodgates of new users will open.

While developers scramble to get coins equipped with secure and anonymous features to present to the market at large, and raise above fellow anonymous crypto-currencies – all these coins come from a handful of technologies – CryptoNote, ZeroCoin/Cash, and decentralized mixing of various sorts. The differences between the technologies are huge, and could be mean life or death for these coins in the highly competitive world of crypto-currencies.

CryptoNote

CryptoNote is a open source protocol, that has been used to build numerous crypto-currencies off of. The protocol was initially launched in July of 2012, about 3 years after Bitcoin was first lunch. CryptoNote wanted to improve upon Bitcoin, with simpler and more efficient protocol, but most importantly, greater anonymity. Bitcoin’s transparency of bitcoin’s blockchain bothered them. They felt for a crypto-currency to be successful it needed greater privacy. As a result, CryptoNote’s anonymity came be narrowed down to two things – ring signatures, and sleath addresses

Ring Signatures

Ring signatures go beyond simply sharing coins, and obstructing the coins involved in the transaction. Ring signatures actually share each other’s identities, making it much harder to know who is involved in the transaction. In a normal transaction there is two people or keys involved – the receiver, public key, and the sender, private key. In ring signatures there is six keys involved. As with any crypto-currency scheme, every participant has a private and public key. What ring signatures does is complicates the transaction by adding “senders” and “receivers” to the transaction. As in the example below, instead of the transaction being between Bob and Romulus, the addition of Alice, Carol, Dave, and Remus muddles the transaction. You don’t know if Bob sent funds to Romulus, or Remus. Alice could have sent funds to Romulus, and Bob sent funds to Remus. Or Bob could of not been involved at all and it Dave and Carol are the people who sent the funds. The private and public keys of random people are used in each transaction. Private keys, still working in a one way function fashion, are unseeable to the public, and don’t restrict the person sending the funds. It is just a simple requirement to obscure the transaction.

Unlinkable Transactions

CrypotNote anonymity is amazing for this very reason. If someone is looking at the blockchain, they wouldn’t be able to tell you who, is who. That in itself is major improvement over bitcoin, but CryptoNote doesn’t even let someone look at it. CryptoNote uses stealth addresses, stopping anyone from seeing your balance or what your public address actually is.

With sleath addresses you create one public address, from that public address many onetime public addresses are created. Anyone watching the blockchain would only be able to see the one time public address, but that is worthless for any investigator. That one time address will never be used again. In a crypto-currency without sleath addresses, if someone is trying to keep their anonymity, they will have to make a new address for each transaction, to avoid linking various addresses. Users start to lose their anonymity when they send funds from one of their addresses, to another address. That creates a link between them, but with sleath addresses that doesn’t happen, and you don’t have to go through the tiresome process of creating a new transaction each time. It does it automatically.

ZeroCash/Coin

ZeroCash, originally ZeroCoin, is a very complex beast. With its developers hailing from the halls of academia, it is one of the most well-funded crypto-currency developments out there. It has been around for many years, and has not made stable, usable version yet. That hasn’t stop more hungry coin developers, like Anoncoin, to implement ZeroCoin’s open source technology.

ZeroCoin was originally a plan to create a decentralized mixer over the bitcoin blockchain. ZeroCoins were simply, what the developers referred to as basecoins, and bitcoins were the actual currency involved. This plan was scrapped after the ZeroCoin developers talked with the Bitcoin developers, and discovered there would be technical problems. ZeroCoin was burned to the ground, and ZeroCash rose out its ashes. ZeroCash was created in order to create a currency built around the ZeroCoin’s decentralized mixer. Currently, there are also problems with that project, as in its current form it would require a third trusted party to start the network.

While the semantics of ZeroCoin and ZeroCash are different, the underlying transaction anonymity is the same, and boils down to zero knowledge.

ZeroKnowledge Transactions

ZeroCoin/Cash transactions work on the cryptographic concept, zero-knowledge. Zero Knowledge allows people to transact without letting the person they are interacting know their public address, or any other information. The information that is needed for the transaction, such as the public address, is encrypted and hidden from both parties. Only the protocol itself, can decrypt and look at the information needed. That information lives in a world that only the protocol itself can reach.

Other Coin’s Anonymity Schemes

These two protocols are used by several coins, but beyond these two protocols there are numerous anonymity schemes made up by individual coin developers and used solely by that coin. In part 2, I will be looking at the leading anonymity focused crypto-currencies. While describing each coin, if the coin has unique anonymity scheme, not based on these, then I will explain it. Stay tune for part 3 and see the actual coins competing to win the arms race.

It takes much more than a solid protocol to become a successful anonymous crypto-currency. Many of these schemes require large adoption of the coin, in order to work. Plus, merchant adoption, good press, and a solid developers are key elements. Here are the current top players in the space.

Darkcoin

  • Price Per Coin: $ 2.94 (At the time of writing this article)
  • Market Capitalization: $ 13,817,985
  • Volume: $ 99,134
  • Available Supply: 4,696,337 DRK
  • Mining: Proof of Work

Darkcoin in the past was a coin of a great suspect. It rocketed in adoption and market capitalization, but failed to really bring any anonymity to the coin. Worse of all, it was closed sourced, and smelled strongly of scam. Besides that, it abandoned its plans to implement ring signatures and instead focused on a mixing scheme. Mixing technology has proven to be insufficient in past. It is a coin that a lot of people use, and has the highest market capitalizations out of the all anonymity focused crypto-currencies.

Recently, it has open sourced its code, updated its mixing technology, and has been reviewed by respected security researchers. This has cleared any suspicions and cemented its lead in the anonymous crypto-currency space. It is one of the most widely used anonymity crypto-currencies, and is the most liquid as well. Though, its development has been slow, and has experiences many bumps in the road – it is the most solid and widely used anonymity focused coin out there.

BitcoinDark

  • Price Per Coin: $ 4.40 (At the time of writing this article)
  • Market Capitalization: $ 5,222,490
  • Volume: $ 14,171
  • Available Supply: 1,185,798 BTCD
  • Mining: PoW/PoS

Out of all four, BitcoinDark has the most to prove. BitcoinDark markets itself, as you can plainly see, as the Darkcoin of Bitcoin. In the whitepaper, that they call Darkpaper, it describes faults with all current anonymous crypto-currency schemes. Saying Darkcoin’s mixing is insufficient, and CryptoNote’s ring signatures are too much of a burden on the blockchain. BitcoinDark’s solution is something that is still being tested, but is called,”Teleport”. Teleporting is a unique approach to crypto-currency anonymity. According to their “Darkpaper” is the act of sending funds off the blockchain through telepods. Telepods are packets of information containing everything needed to make a transaction. Allows the person who receives the telepod to be able to send funds from that address, but the funds stay in wallet of the person who sent the telepod. That way it there is no linkage between the two people.

Telepods are sent off the blockchain by massaging the telepod to the person you want to send the funds to. The whitepaper suggests you to immediately send the BitcoinDark if you do not trust the person who sent the telepod. Apparently there is no safeguard against the very possible reality that person who is sends the BitcoinDark removes the funds from there that account and send the funds to other another address. It gets really confusing, as the Darkpaper goes on to say, these telepods can be sent to person after person. Making it very hard to know who has it originally, and thus impossible to know whether that person is trustable or not. Also, the whitepaper says that with a VPN or Tor the first two people, the person who creates it and person who sends it, won’t know anything about each other, making it very unclear to me how you are suppose to know that the funds that you can send are really there. It is also unclear if the person who has the telepod has the private key, and move other funds in the wallet.

I have a lot of suspicion of BitcoinDark. The coin promises a lot, including anonymous debit cards, dividend ends for holders of BitcoinDark in BItcoin, but it hasn’t produce that much yet. It is also has a very high market capitalization, among altcoins. BitcoinDark might not be a scam, but it deserves a lot of suspicion until it proves otherwise.

Monero

  • Price Per Coin: $ 1.22 (At the time of writing this article)
  • Market Capitalization: $ 4,566,209
  • Volume: $ 76,320
  • Available Supply: 3,748,663 XMR
  • Mining: POW

Monero works off the very strong anonymity of CryptoNote. If you are not familiar with the anonymity features of CryptoNote, it comes down two things – ring signatures, and sleath addresses. To learn more about these things, read part two of this series. Monero is a very strong in the department of anonymity, but ring signatures put a lot more stress on the blockchain, as they are about twice the size of a regular transaction. They also take longer than a regular transaction which hurts it ability to be used in daily commerce.

In terms of actual anonymity, it is one of the few coins out there with a stable and proven anonymity scheme, despite some limitations. It is working on I2P integration, which would help add to the anonymty of the coin. Monero, like a lot of anonymous focused altcoins, does not have very good website, or marketing. That is likely one of the reasons why Monero isn’t being adopted by more people. BitcoinDark might end up beating Monero in terms of anonymity, if Teleport is successful. Currently it does not have any anonymity features in place, but is far ahead of Monero by market cap. The reason being, they have much better marketing.

AnonCoin

  • Price Per Coin: $ 0.792956 (At the time of writing this article)
  • Market Capitalization: $ 1,016,240
  • Volume: $ 26,573
  • Available Supply: 1,281,584 ANC
  • Mining: POW

Anoncoin is the current underground favorite. It has a team of anonymous programmers, and economists. It is openly for the darknet markets, the elephant in the room for most anonyous coins. It has a small, but faithful fanbase. Tis currently last, among the 4 coins in market capitalization, but its volume is almost double of BitcoinDark’s. A very interesting and powerful sign that people are actually using this coin. There is good reasons why they are. The coin is highly developed. The devs get what they promise done, and that has lead to a rather robust coin. You can run Anoncoin through Tor or I2P, which masks your IP. Anoncoin is currently implementing their version of the ZeroCoin protocol. That is the now defunct decentralized mixer project that I described in greater detail in part two. Zerocoin has one of the highest levels of anonymity out there, but it fails to provide true anonymity because it needs a trusted third party to start the currency. That is a point of failure that is disastrous for software, but Anoncoin’s developers have found a work around and soon they are going to release their version of ZeroCoin, that doesn’t require a third party to set up.

The coins lacking market cap probably has very little to do with the technology behind the coin. It has a really good dev team who has a track history getting things done. Marketing for this coin is at poor, at best. It really is non-existent. Anoncoin has gotten very little press, and their blog is not regularly updated. Important, and basic info about the coin is harder to find, than it should be. Despite that, its devs are pretty active on reddit, and IRC, mustering a strong community. While it has a core group of users who truly believe in the coin, it is not too friendly to the mildly interested new user. A greater focusing on marketing can take this coin from position 30 on coinmarketcap.com’s list, to 20 or 15 easily because the technology and dev team is very solid.

The Arms Race

Who will win these arms race? That is left up to the market to decide, but what we seeing from this is a real market emerge for anonymous crypto-currency. This competition has resulted in many innovations in crypto-currency anonymity, and is bringing these ideas to life. These currencies are making a future of financial freedom, and privacy possible.

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Nuclear Dynamics In A Multipolar-Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense World-Intel’ Study

Courtesy of “KoreaHerald”

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY-– This report examines the nuclear dynamics and implications for strategic relations in a world where four nuclear-armed states are developing strategic ballistic missile defenses (BMD). These states are the United States, Russia, China, and India. Each state appears to have the common rationale of wanting at least limited protection against ballistic missile attacks, and all will respond with various countermeasures to ensure that their nuclear deterrents are viable as they react to missile defense developments in other countries. In addition, we have found that each state has differing motivations for strategic BMD.

The United States is primarily motivated to protect itself and its allies against missile threats from Iran and North Korea while also wanting to have the capability to shoot down a very limited number of ballistic missiles from any source due to unauthorized or inadvertent launches. The United States has the dif cult balancing act of trying to assure Russia and China that U.S. strategic BMD programs are neither intended to defeat nor capable of de- feating those countries’ nuclear deterrents, while trying to deter or dissuade use of Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles in armed con ict. However, Russia and China are not so much concerned about the present U.S. BMD systems, but what these systems could be- come in the next several years to couple of decades.

Russia’s motivations for strategic BMD have largely been focused on having missile inter- ceptors to protect Moscow, but several independent analysts have doubted the effective- ness of this system. While many Russian defense analysts have assessed that a nationwide missile defense is not possible, Russian defense engineers are still trying to develop im- proved missile interceptors based on hit-to-kill, kinetic technologies, while still consider- ing keeping nuclear-tipped interceptors.

China, for decades, has vociferously expressed opposition to U.S. missile defenses, argu- ing that they are destabilizing. Nonetheless, Chinese technical researchers have been in- vestigating BMD seriously since the mid-1980s in response to wanting to understand the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative. Since 2010, China’s activities in BMD have stepped up to include missile intercept tests and analytical assessments about the bene ts for China of potential limited BMD deployments. The primary motivation for China is to ensure that it has a viable second-strike nuclear force. Effective Chinese strategic BMD could give Beijing the con dence it needs about its nuclear forces’ survivability.

India began exploration of BMD about 20 years ago in response to New Delhi’s concerns about Chinese transfer of ballistic missiles to Pakistan and further developments of Paki- stani-produced ballistic missiles. Some Indian analysts have argued in favor of strategic BMD that would protect New Delhi (the national command authority) and Mumbai and its surrounding area (containing nuclear forces’ storage facilities) as a way of buttressing the credibility of India’s no- rst-use policy of nuclear weapons in the face of Pakistan’s rst- strike policy. Also, India has appeared to be motivated to have some protection against China’s ballistic missile threat. Conversely, China’s defense experts say that they do not feel threatened by India’s nuclear forces. But this assessment could change as India tests in the coming months and likely eventually deploys in the coming years the Agni-6 missile. With an estimated range of 6,000 to 7,500 km and reportedly able to carry multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), the Agni-6 missile poses a potentially serious threat to China, which could further motivate China to deploy BMD to guard against this new threat.

As these states pursue strategic BMD, the dynamics become even more complex because of security trilemmas, or nested security dilemmas, and because of security commitments between certain nuclear-armed states and their allies. For example, while the United States seeks to protect itself and its allies, Japan and South Korea, from North Korean ballistic missiles, China could feel threatened depending on the real or perceived capabilities of the missile defense systems. If China responds by building up its nuclear forces, India in turn could feel more vulnerable and then buildup its nuclear forces; this would adversely affect Pakistan, which could then be further aided by its ally China. Also, while the United States is focusing its missile defense efforts in Europe to provide protection to European NATO na- tions from potential Iranian missile threats, Russia expresses concern that the system could expand to eventually pose a threat to its nuclear deterrent. In sum, the action-reaction dy- namics in this multipolar world likely result in more instability, but as this report discusses there are also BMD deployments that could be stabilizing under the proper conditions.

While several arms control and defense experts from China, India, and Russia have ex- pressed interest during our discussions with them about potential multilateral arms control mechanisms, such as a multilateral Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, they have voiced skepticism that the United States is willing to accept any limits on its BMD system. During our discus- sions with numerous experts, we heard expressed interest in having Track 2 (nongovern- mental level) dialogues on strategic stability and BMD. These forums could help support discussions at the level of the ve permanent member states of the UN Security Council, or P5 (also the of cial nuclear weapon states), that could focus on developing a common un- derstanding of what would be needed to achieve strategic stability in a world with multiple nuclear-armed states deploying strategic BMD systems.

Study recognizes that the multipolar nature of the nuclear-armed world greatly com- plicates the strategic landscape and the decision-making tasks of deterrence and defense against multiple nations’ nuclear forces. One can almost view the Cold War with nostalgia as a “simpler” time when the nuclear challenge was mainly about the bilateral relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States.

 The George H.W. Bush administration reduced the scope of SDI by initiating a program

called Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS). GPALS was intended to be no more than half the size of the Phase I SDI program, but was still an ambitious program in that it was intended to protect against attacks of up to a few hundred warheads. GPALS would have consisted of numerous space-based and ground-based sensors and missile in- terceptors. The range of coverage was truly intended to be global with the objective of pro- tecting against missile attacks from any source.8 It would also include theater missile de- fenses for protection of U.S. allies and deployed forces. In 1993, President Bill Clinton came into of ce and his administration decided to emphasize development of improved theater missile defenses (TMD), in part due to the experience and challenges of trying to intercept Iraqi SCUD missiles during the 1991 Gulf War. Thus, GPALS was not developed, but several TMD programs were underway in the 1990s.

Growing concerns in Congress about missile threats especially from North Korea and Iran led to the creation and enactment of the 1999 National Missile Defense Act, which stated: It is the policy of the United States to deploy an effective National Missile Defense system as soon as is technologically possible and that this system should be capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether acciden- tal, unauthorized, or deliberate) and that funding is subject to the annual authorization of appropriations in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as discussed by Thomas Karako, Director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).9 President Clinton decided in late 2000 to defer the decision to deploy the rst phase of NMD given concerns about cost, effectiveness, and the strategic reaction from Russia. The George W. Bush administration decided to move forward with deployment and recognized that it needed to notify Russia of withdrawal from the ABM Treaty because of the intent to defend the U.S. national territory, though the administration still envisioned a relatively limited size system.

In late 2016, Congress updated the NMD Act to underscore that the policy of the United States is to maintain and improve an effective, robust layered missile defense system capa- ble of defending the territory of the United States, allies, deployed forces, and capabilities against the developing and increasing complex ballistic missile threat. Notably, the word “limited” was removed from the 1999 act. This deletion has raised some concern from oppo- nents that the system could grow to an immense size and thus potentially have nancially and strategically destabilizing effects. Proponents have argued that the new language of protection against “the developing and increasingly complex ballistic missile threat” is in line with policy statements since 2002 in the Bush administration and further mentioned in the 2010 Obama administration’s Ballistic Missile Defense Review.

The Trump administration announced on January 27, 2017 that it would conduct a new Ballistic Missile Defense Review and a new Nuclear Posture Review. The schedule is to complete these reviews by early 2018. The description in the Trump administration an- nouncement is to “identify ways of strengthening missile-defense capabilities, rebalancing homeland and theater defense priorities, and highlighting priority funding areas.”11 Notably, the congressional language in the NDAA “requires the Defense Department to conduct a broad review of missile defense policy and strategy, including programs and capabilities to defeat ballistic missiles before and after launch, as well as to defeat cruise missiles and hypersonic glide vehicles.”

Read Full Study Nuclear-Dynamics-In-A-Multipolar-Strategic-Ballistic-Missile-Defense-World

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The Colombian Cellphone Registry is Bad For Human Rights

The Colombian General Prosecutor said recently that the blocking of IMEI is not working. He is talking about a registry created in 2011 that aims to reduce cellphone theft by blocking reportedly stolen phones of Colombian networks.

Fundación Karisma has been following this program and now, after six years of implementation, it is clear for us and for our institutions, that the registry is not working as intended. Even more, our recent research report shows that it affects our rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

Along with the report, Karisma has launched a series of multimedia pieces that explain the problems found with the registry.

Below a summary guide in English to the problems we found and what can we learn from them.

What is the registry?

In 2011, the death of a priest in Bogotá was attributed to cellphone theft. By that time, around 400 people were killed for related reasons, and more than 1.6 million devices were reported as stolen http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/el-robo-del-celular-linea-letal/259968-3 . Responding to pressure, the ICT Ministry issued a decree to establish a measure to reduce the incentives for thieves to go after cellphones and thus reduce theft and related crimes.

The decree was followed by a law and regulations established by the Telecommunications Regulator, which included a registry consisting of:

(1) lists of IMEI, or databases, as the legal documents call them, and

(2) a verification procedure

The core idea of the registry is that every legal device is allowed to work on mobile networks because it’s listed in a “positive database”. Whenever a cell phone is stolen or lost, its IMEI is recorded in the “negative database”. Mobile carriers should block any IMEI listed on this negative database to bar them from working on their networks. Also, a verification procedure was devised to keep both lists operational and effective. Based on communications metadata, the activity of each cellphone in Colombian networks is monitored to detect counterfeit or duplicated IMEI, along with devices that lack a certificate of conformity.

What is the problem?

The registry poses several problems from a human rights perspective.

First, each IMEI is tied to a person’s ID because the registry requires carriers to record IMEI, IMSI and telephone number along with the owner’s name, ID and address. These registry mechanisms have been rejected by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression because they eliminate the possibility to communicate anonymously. This allows the tracking of people and facilitates the surveillance of communications.

Second, the verification procedure uses communications metadata, bypassing the constitutional protection recognised for communications content. The list of requirements for data retention that mobile carriers must follow may fill voids in surveillance communications law, which effectively reduces privacy and data protection rights.

Finally, the system affects human rights and is not effective. The same results currently achieved can be reached without the registration of people’s ID and the use of metadata. Sharing the list of stolen cell phones may be as effective and less invasive than the current registry. Moreover, using only the negative list of IMEI is how it works generally in other countries and it is the way GSMA promotes the use of the system.

EXECUTIVE  A tracker in your pocket

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PAVEL DUROV, WHISTLEBLOWING…….

BY ANONYMOUS– Pavel Durov – “Russian Mark Zuckerberg”, a young Internet tycoon who created the most popular social network in the country, and then was forced to cede it to the Kremlin – all at the age of 30. Soon after the famous American unmasker Edward Snowden fled to Russia, fleeing persecution, Durov offered him a job, but then he himself was forced to leave the country because of a conflict with the Russian government. Because of a quarrel with the Kremlin, he was initially considered a cyber-assidant, but subsequently Durov attracted to himself the insistent and aggressive attention of the American special services.

Durov talking about a vague paranoid world in which cryptic-security-minded supporters of privacy – a world where espionage rules, everything is not what it seems, and you can not trust anyone. Paranoia does not surprise me. For the past three years, I’ve explored the sources of cybersecurity tools that formed the basis of the current powerful Internet privacy movement: anonymizers, applications for encrypted messaging, untracked cloud storage for “truth fighters”, and ultra-reliable operating systems that are rumored to not be able to hack even the US National Security Agency. They enjoy the confidence of journalists with the Pulitzer Prize, hackers, unmaskers, as well as all famous people and organizations fighting for the inviolability of information – from Edward Snowden and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to the American Civil Liberties Union. Applications like Tor and Signal promise to protect users from an all-seeing American surveillance device. And what about cryptographers and programmers who developed this “popular crypto”? Many of them say that they walk along the edge of the abyss; they are cryptoanarchists fighting with the authorities, persecuted and overpowered by government agents of the invisible front. Some of them, on the pretext of persecution, left the United States altogether, leaving for a voluntary exile in Berlin.

In any case, that’s how they see themselves. My information shows a different reality. As I was able to find out by digging through the financial documentation and requests for the FOIA, many of these self-proclaimed online radicals turned out to be military contractors on the salary of the very apparatus of US national security with which they allegedly are fighting. Their rebellious crypto technologies, upon closer examination, also turned out to be self-made “Potemkin villages” in the world of secure digital communications. Moreover: similar software, as it turned out, was funded by the US government. Every year, the Pentagon, the State Department and a host of organizations, promoted by the CIA, allocate millions of dollars to the cryptoradicals.

The study of this community gave me a lot of problems: military contractors spread slander and threatened my life and the lives of my colleagues; The media published sucked stories about my sexism, and CIA agents paid for undermining confidence in cryptography. So to my sources I have long learned to approach with skepticism and circumspection – especially to such notorious as Durov, who got into an unpleasant story with his Telegram, which became the most popular application for messaging in IGIL.

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Internet tycoon on the run
Durov, asked to hide the place of meeting because of the conflict with the Russian government, was also cautious. And with full right.

A thirty-two-year-old multimillionaire – and, according to the media, the most radical Internet tycoon in Russia. In 2006, at the age of just 22, he became one of the founders of VKontakte, a social network modeled on Facebook, which, in popularity in Russia and the former Soviet republics, surpassed Facebook itself. But the company was not under his control for long. In 2011, when mass protests against the ruling party of Vladimir Putin became possible largely thanks to coordination through social networks, the government decided to tighten control over VKontakte. Durov resisted and repeatedly arranged acts of disobedience: he published photographs of documents in which the company was required to block certain political groups, and openly ridiculed the FSB.

But the Kremlin persisted and, ultimately, achieved its goal. Durov was tired of the fire at the suppression that led the Russian state, resorting to various tactics: police raids on Durov’s apartment; strange blackmail with, according to him, a fake video on which he shoots a traffic cop on a black Mercedes; trumped up charges that forced him to leave the country. So in 2014, the young social network creator was forced to sell his 20% VKontakte to a concern led by the Uzbek Alisher Usmanov, a creepy oligarch loyal to Vladimir Putin. Without his brainchild, Durov could no longer claim the role of Zuckerberg in Russian politics.

He left Russia and, having made a strategic investment of money in St. Kitts and Nevis, became a citizen of this Caribbean country. In the past three years, he led the life of an independent multimillionaire, wandering around the globe and living in luxury hotels, neglecting the purchase of land and real estate. Durov could do whatever he pleased, so in exile he and his older brother Nikolai worked on a new major project, wasting time and money – and his fortune is estimated at about $ 300 million – to develop a new messaging application, Telegram.

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Telegram has about 100 million users worldwide, ten times less than WhatsApp, its closest competitor, owned by Facebook. But Telegram has succeeded in quite unexpected places: for example, it is extremely popular in Iran and Uzbekistan. In Europe, he also has many users and a growing number of fans among Russian journalists. In addition, Telegram liked “Al-Qaeda” and IGIL, which consider it the safest messenger available on the market. These terrorist groups use Telegram’s encrypted chat rooms to coordinate attacks, and the channels – to spread propaganda, solicit extremists and reports of responsibility for successful terrorist attacks. Telegram was exposed during terrorist attacks in France, Germany, Turkey, and, in the latter case, in Durov’s hometown of St. Petersburg, where a single terrorist carried out an explosion at a metro station that killed 15 people and mutilated many more.

How to understand hints
Not surprisingly, the Russian government was again interested in Durov. Representatives of the Russian special services exerted pressure on him, trying to force him to share information under the threat of blocking the service. But the Russian government is not alone in trying to pin Durov to the wall. Americans also want to take part in this.

While the waitress brings a plate of bread and snacks – chopped squid and tuna tartar – Durov explains that in the past few years the FBI has been trying to get him to go into a secret collaboration, and it came to bribing one of the developers. Previously, he had never publicly mentioned any problems with the FBI.

Durov says that the pressure began in 2014, shortly after the sale of VKontakte. Then the FBI agents began constantly questioning him on the US border. Sometimes he was detained for additional interrogation at the entrance, sometimes intercepted him to “chat” while he was hurrying to the plane. Initially, the FBI was interested in his work on VKontakte and the company’s relations with Russian special services, including actions when receiving information from the authorities. “These questions put me in an awkward position,” says Durov, “I did not want to become an American” mole “, so I limited myself to the very minimum of information that the media already knew.”

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Later, the FBI officers switched to questions about Telegram. Where it is located? How does it work? How can the FBI contact Durov in the future? Agents sent Durov friendly emails, offering to feel free to contact them in case of any problems or need for help. All these flirting Durov ignored, but the FBI obviously wanted something. The only question is what exactly. In 2016, there was an answer. In May of this year, he flew from Europe to San Francisco for the annual Google I / O conference. On the first morning, at eight o’clock, two FBI agents made an unexpected visit to a house in Mountain View, which Durov shot through Airbnb. “How did they know the address? – Asked Durov. – Have you tracked the sim card? They followed me from the airport? Got information from Uber? I do not know”.

Whatever it was, both agents were clearly acting on the job. “From the doorstep they began to ask questions about Telegram, and it bothered me,” Durov says, explaining that it was not necessary for unwanted guests to go to the bottom of the matter: they needed an unspoken channel to drain information in order to receive data from Telegram on certain users in the event of a terrorist threat; agents even came with ready-made and seemingly official documents. “They showed the court’s ruling and stated:” We highly respect your views on personal information and cryptography; we respect what you are working on. But terrorism exists, it represents a serious problem, and we have a duty to protect society. We hope that you will understand us correctly. We want to establish an information exchange process in order to get help from you in the event of a terrorist threat, “Durov retold. In the course of twenty-minute conversation, the agents made it clear that they were hoping for the beginning of a long and fruitful cooperation.

Telegram is registered in the UK under the name of Telegram Messenger LLP – in turn, this company is owned by two others, from the British Virgin Islands and Belize. The messenger data is also fragmented and distributed to different states – this is part of Durov’s overall strategy, which in theory will make it difficult to legitimate access to user data as much as possible. In the United States, Telegram is not legally present, so the FBI has no legitimate reason to demand anything from Durov or his company. Durov says he understood: the court ruling was a ruse to get him to cooperate, but he played along and promised that he would contact the agents after Telegram lawyers got acquainted with the document.

Nevertheless, according to Durov, this case made him think. “In Russia, the guys from the FSB, with whom I dealt, did not impress me. The grasp is so-so, professionalism is also not up to par. In the US, the FBI looks quite different. The people who spoke to me were very competent. They spoke several languages. They investigated the essence of the matter and knew exactly which questions to ask. In a word, first-class specialists. Then I realized that America allocates such means to security that it is simply frightening. American intelligence agencies are much more effective. ”

Find the mole
The FBI agents left, but they could not be forgotten. As Durov says, they took aim and the developer Telegram, who flew to the Google conference and stayed in the same house in Mountain View as Durov (the FBI spokesman refused to discuss the details of Durov’s case with The Baffler).

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At the airport, the FBI’s cybersecurity agents already stopped and interrogated the developer, but later he was assigned another meeting at a cafe in San Francisco. Agents who met the developer, fell asleep with general questions about the architecture of Telegram and the work of the cryptalgorithm, while lavishly extolling the praise for his profound knowledge. Soon came to the real goal: to gain access, for which they were willing to pay. Durov did not disclose the name of this developer, but shared a story that the subordinate told him. The FBI wanted to conclude an agreement according to which the developer secretly would pass on information about the internal mechanisms of Telegram like new functions and other components of the architecture that might be of interest. The agreement would be strictly confidential, and the remuneration would be high. “For you it definitely will be worth it,” they said. According to them, the developer would “advise” the FBI – not too veiled euphemism for obvious bribery. “FBI agents hinted at an approximate amount,” says Durov, chewing on bread, “about tens of thousands of dollars.”

After the developer refused the offer, the agents met with him again, asking nobody, and especially the boss, not to talk about their conversation. “They were very straightforward,” notes Durov. “Do not say anything to Paul, it’s our secret.”

He shrugs his shoulders and smiles. It seems that the FBI deal broke down. “We pay our developers very well,” Durov says in a small burst of arrogant complacency, “our developers are millionaires. Of course, they can not be bribed with such proposals. ”

So, the FBI is trying to turn Durov’s employee into a “mole”? I thought that Durov would not fail to inflate this case. Companies from the Silicon Valley and anxious about crypto-security cling to any opportunity to appear as victims of government oppression and often exaggerate the smallest incidents to add points to this confrontation. Take, for example, the case when Apple inflated the FBI request to unlock the only phone (used in the attack in San Bernardino, when 14 people died) in opposing the tyranny of the authorities – and this despite the fact that at the same time, Apple complied with the requirements China to provide data (in the end, the FBI received the necessary data for San Bernardino, using the services of third-party hackers). Or, just recently, a developer who worked for Tor, a project for anonymity on the Internet, funded by the Pentagon, fled to Germany after the FBI agent left a business card at her parents’ house.

A special page on the Apple website about the incident in San Bernardino and the intervention of the FBI

Given the libertarian views of Durov and his closeness to such circles, I thought that he would start raging against tyranny, but he was amazing, even discouragingly balanced and judicious. Of course, he was concerned and upset by the pressure from the FBI and promised to resist all attempts by the US government to access the Telegram data. But what happened did not surprise him. After all, the FBI exists for such purposes. “Americans, in effect, are doing their job. After all, if you look from their point of view … Here’s a young guy, his application is used by terrorists. It is necessary to find out who he is. What is his command? This is all logical. I do not see anything supernatural in this, “he says. “When that happened, of course, I could make a big noise.” “Look, Americans are pressing me!”. But I thought that it would be too pretentious and melodramatic. ”

So why tell about this now? Durov says he just wanted to emphasize a fact that is usually completely overlooked in the heat of the dramatic struggle of the Silicon Valley inhabitants with federal authorities: the Telegram case is indicative of the ways in which authorities try to influence the sphere of large data. “I talked about this only to point out that the US intelligence services are acting persistently and persistently, and they only fulfill their duties. You will be intercepted at the airport. They will be declared uninvited at the address, which only you would have known. Try to bribe the developers. In general, the FBI does its work very carefully, and we’ve only had a couple of days in America, “he says.

If the FBI is so persistent in dealing with Telegram, without stopping even before bribing employees on a short business trip, then how does the US government behave towards companies headquartered in the US? “I can not imagine how I, or someone else, could manage applications in such conditions, focused on the preservation of personal information. They will start with the requirements to share data on terrorism, and then God will gradually reach the news. ”

This suddenly started talking in news programs, Frontline investigations began, the Pulitzer Prizes were poured. The protests against surveillance were raging, signatures were collected on the Internet, and state supervisory services and consumer protection organizations scanned the mass of reports. In 2013, we seemed to be on the verge of a mass movement that would help people enact laws to protect the integrity of information and not only restrict government surveillance, but also drive uncontrolled data collection by companies from the Silicon Valley. But everything went differently.

Four years later, it became obvious that the energy, fury and potential of civil protests were redirected into a narrow channel. The new consensus, voiced by the Silicon Valley, says that to protect against surveillance we just need to download the application for cryptographic protection of data and run it on your iPhone. Instead of seeking a political and democratic solution to the government-corporate crisis that is poisoning our society, the movement for the inviolability of information turned out to be in the libertarian rut. In the shortest time, supporters of the inviolability of the data forgot that the people and politicians can change the world for the better and chased after a clear fantasy: if everyone gets powerful crypto weapons at his disposal, he can challenge corporations and all-powerful organizations like the NSA; will be able to use technology to protect information on its terms.

Edward Snowden himself became the chief troubadour of this approach, not missing the opportunity to state that civil policy is meaningless, but the use of technological tricks is the right thing. The question of commercial surveillance, which is actively engaged by companies from the Silicon Valley, he actually ignored, saying The Washington Times that “Twitter does not keep anyone at gunpoint.” On the contrary, Snowden considers private companies like Apple and Facebook as allies – like small islets of security in the raging sea of ​​the Internet. In his eyes, private developers and software specialists are real advocates of citizens, whom he calls to rebel against government oppression. “If we want to get a decent future, we’ll have to create it ourselves. Politics will not do much, and as history shows, the political path is the most unreliable way to achieve change … after all, the law is just letters on paper. They will not rise to protect your rights, “he told the visitors to the Fusion’s 2016 Real Future Fair in the video message from Moscow. For Snowden, who turned from a denunciator into a political philosopher, political movements and civic actions are a total frivolity, giving no real guarantees; on the contrary, crypto protection and computer technologies are reliable tools based on the laws of mathematics and physics. “Technologies do not work like laws,” said a runaway denouncer to the guests of the Real Future Fair, “technology does not recognize jurisdictions.”

This is an absurd position. Let’s replace the word “technology” with an “assault rifle”, and Snowden’s speech will sound very appropriate at the Republican Conference of Conservative Political Action (CPAC). But on Real Future Fair Snowden applauded standing. Although why not? From the moment they started talking about Snowden, a whole chorus of laurel journalists, activists, leftist intelligentsia and powerful organizations like the EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) supported the techno-centric view of the world. Silicon Valley also supported Snowden’s views. Legion of brave developers has proposed a number of extremely narrow technical solutions for security, stating that this will save users from government surveillance. In doing so, they themselves shamelessly follow the same users for profit.

Whatever it was, but Snowden’s call to arm with crypto weapons inspired Durov to create Telegram. “I am far from politics and can not lobby for bans on total surveillance,” he wrote in October 2013, a few months after Snowden arrived in Moscow and shortly before Durov himself was forced to leave Russia – but there is something -that that we – IT entrepreneurs and programmers – can do. We can develop and finance technologies aimed at ensuring that total surveillance is technically impossible. ”

In America, the initial impetus to move the fight against surveillance to the territory of the Silicon Valley itself has gone out and degenerated into something strange and miserable: activists began to cooperate with Google and Facebook to counter the NSA with the help of cryptology. Sense in this is exactly the same as in the association with Blackwater (or Xe, or Academi, or whatever they call themselves these Pentagon contractors) against the US Army. But the tendency to pursue policy by software has intensified after the election of Donald Trump as president. Civil rights fighters, advocates of information integrity and demoralized liberals vie with excitement that encryption – even that offered by monsters of surveillance from the Silicon Valley – is a reliable way to protect themselves from the totalitarian administration of Trump.

“Trump became president. Encrypt the letters, “Max Reed of New York Magazine called in a column that the New York Times published in March.” A few weeks after Donald Trump won the election, there was a clear split between my friends. ” And it’s not about political disagreements about the new president or philosophical discourse about the future of the country; it’s about what application we’d better use for messaging … “. The authors of Buzzfeed expressed the same opinion: “How to protect your information in America Donald Trump: Simple methods of protection from closer surveillance of the state,” the publication wrote, offering its readers from the generation of the 2000s a detailed guide how to “go into the shadows” in the open spaces world network.

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The title of Max Reed’s article for NYT

What are these applications? Who designed them? Do they really work? And here the situation takes an even more strange turn.

Mysteries and lies
Durov’s involuntary meetings with the FBI revealed an unpleasant fact from the “big data” industry: the modern movement for information integrity is almost entirely dependent on the cryptography tools fostered and paid for by the US foreign policy apparatus – a conglomeration of government agencies and organizations generated by the Cold War propaganda wave The CIA.

In 1948, the CIA received carte blanche for all kinds of covert operations to contain and neutralize the spread of communism from the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe. In this war of ideologies, radio propaganda became the main tool, and the CIA used various groups to create radio stations with names like “Radio Liberation from Bolshevism” and “Radio Free Europe”. In the fifties and sixties, the CIA expanded its radio network for use in operations against communist, leftist and other suspicious forces that could spread the dangerous bacillus of Bolshevism in Asia and Latin America.

The idea was not to allow the states there to freely dispose of their own information sphere, as well as in influence and domination over the minds of people for the promotion of American interests. In the opinion of the CIA itself, this secret propaganda operation has become a masterpiece, and the intelligence agency still regards it as one of the most successful psychological warfare projects carried out by the United States.

In the end, the propagandistic octopus of the CIA became out of the secret, and the US Congress transformed it into an International Broadcasting Supervisory Board, a federal agency like the State Department. In our time, the Supervisory Board with a budget of almost a billion dollars manages all the country’s foreign propaganda. About its existence, the American public has the vaguest idea, and meanwhile the Supervisory Council conducts satellite, television and radio broadcasts to almost every corner of the world. And, as it was with the CIA almost seventy years ago, the council’s mission is precisely in what American politicians now accuse Russia: news financing is part of the objective, and partly distorted, in the interests of the struggle for geopolitical domination.

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Newsroom in Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc., which is funded by the Supervisory Board

But this is not all. As the Internet spread throughout the world, it turned into a powerful instrument of influence, and the US government began to mercilessly use its advantage over competitors under the banner of “Internet freedoms.” The policy adopted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not limited to broadcasting news. Its goal was to turn this technology of world communications into weapons to weaken opponents, to overthrow unfriendly governments and support opposition movements from China and Russia to Iran, Syria and Libya. “The Obama administration is the world leader in promoting” shadow “cellular and Internet systems that dissidents can use to fight authoritarian governments that try to drown out their voice by censorship or blocking communications networks,” the New York Times said in 2011, when for the first time the program “Free Internet” began to unfold.

Within the framework of this program, one can also tell about secret projects for the creation of independent cellular networks in other states, and a purely spy story, as in a five-story store in Washington’s L Street, a group of young entrepreneurs reminiscent of amateur musicians pushed deceptively innocent devices into a prototype ” Internet in a suitcase “… Such a suitcase can be secretly carried across the border and quickly create a wireless network with access to the Internet in a large area.

Further, as usual, more. In the years that followed, the Supervisory Board, with the support of the State Department, deployed Free Internet to a program with an annual budget of $ 50 million, under which hundreds of projects are financed in a variety of countries – China, Cuba, Vietnam, and Russia. Surrealism continues to grow: this program was designed to project influence on other countries, but somehow ended up at the head of the American movement for privacy on the Internet. It finances activists and private researchers, collaborates with EFF, ACLU and even companies like Google. Wherever you look, eye-catching programs to protect the confidentiality, funded by this organization. These include the most widely distributed products today: Tor, a platform for anonymous Internet visits, including the so-called “dark web”, and Signal, the messaging application that is actively advocated by Edward Snowden. To keep these applications afloat, the government spent millions of dollars.

Security from strange hands
When Pavel Durov was seized VKontakte and forced to flee from Russia, the Western public welcomed him as a hero, a kind of modern Sakharov who fought for freedom and paid with his business. American adepts of crypto-security also took it with open arms. But very soon this idyll was destroyed, and the main culprit was Signal: a mobile cryptography created by a small and unclear company called Open Whisper Systems, also known as Quiet Riddle Ventures LLC.f0c48e905890332fb09969b6a51c5cf9.jpg

Messenger Signal

It was invented by a radical cryptographer named Moxie Marlinspike (although in reality he is most likely not even Matthew Rosenfeld or Mike Benham), gave a ticket to the Open Technology Fund, financed by the Supervisory Committee (which since 2013 has been uploaded almost 3 million dollars), while government infusions are keeping afloat. Despite close ties with the organization, sputtering from the CIA, the apostles of the American movement for crypto-security supported the application. “I use Singal every day. # on the FBI note, “Snowden said in his tweet to legions of supporters who immediately rushed to download this application. Marlinpike used Snowden’s praise to its fullest, proudly placing the verdict of a former NSA employee on the company’s website: “Use any Open Whisper Systems development.”

Thanks to this support, Signal has become the most massive messaging app among American journalists, politicians and activists – from anarchists and Marxists to fighters for the rights of African Americans. Now they are fond of using also oppositionists at the organization of actions against Trump. Signal has triumphantly entered even Silicon Valley: Marlinspike collaborates with the management of Facebook and Google, helping to integrate the cryptoarchitecture of the application into their own programs for communicating through mobile devices, including WhatsApp. It is significant that the integration of Signal in WhatsApp was approved by the Supervisory Board; the leadership of the propaganda body boasted that the state-funded instruments of crypto-security will be used by a billion people.

Despite the links between Open Whisper and the US authorities, authoritative fighters for confidentiality began to discourage people from using other means. This applies to Telegram with its special cryptographic methods, created by Pavel Durov’s brother, mathematician Nikolai. Even Snowden considered it necessary to scare off users from Telegram, advising political activists, journalists, dissidents, unmaskers – in short, all in a row – instead use Signal or even Facebook WhatsApp. “Telegram is by definition less secure than WhatsApp, which makes it dangerous for non-specialists,” Snowden wrote on Twitter, answering the question of a curious supporter.

But for an application designed to protect people from the scrutiny of the US government, Signal has a weird architecture that has already made other information security experts think hard. The algorithm for encryption Signal is considered flawless, but its server module for some reason works in the cloud service company Amazon, which, in turn, is a major contractor of the CIA. In addition, the program requires entering a real mobile phone number and granting access to all address book subscribers, which is somehow unexpected for the privacy application. Finally, Signal is installed on a cell phone through Google and Apple services, and both these companies help the NSA to keep track of users. “Google usually has root access, it’s basically. Google is still cooperating with the NSA and other special services, “writes Sunder Venema, a developer who leads information security courses for journalists. “I’m pretty sure that Google can use special updates or versions of Signal to track specific individuals, and those by naivety themselves will install a malicious program on a cell phone.” And given that Signal is usually used by political activists and journalists, the application turns into a clear label: let it encrypt messages, but it also labels users who have something to hide. The inscription in large letters: “I NEED TO PONABLE ME”.

Whatever it was, but if your opponent is the government of the United States, it does not matter what crypto applications you use. The last draining of documents on the CIA hacking tools on WikiLeaks showed that the department for mobile devices of this special service has developed many ways to intercept information from the phone even when using applications like Signal, WhatsApp and even Telegram. “These methods allow the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by integrating into smart phones and collecting audio and text data before applying encryption,” WikiLeaks notes.

Durov admits that his cryptography has its limitations. But the criticism of Telegram on the part of Snowden surprised him and annoyed him. According to Durov, he and his brother were very cautious about choosing cryptographic methods lobbied by American experts, especially after Snowden published NSA documents, which indicated that the agency secretly paid RSA, an influential computer company that used imperfect methods that NSA skillfully hack. Duros wondered if the same thing could happen to other popular encryption algorithms. Even more, they were alarmed when American experts on cryptography launched public attacks on Telegram in the media. “Their criticism was not based on the real weaknesses of our approach, but only on the fact that we did not use their preferred algorithms,” he says, “because there was no meaningful dialogue on cryptography, we began to realize that they pursued some other goal , and not a search for truth or increased security. ”

But the attacks continued. Snowden and his allies not only declared their confidence in Facebook, a company that oversees and cooperates with the NSA; they also supported the application, funded by the foreign policy department of the US national security apparatus. It was complete nonsense.

Durov was shocked. He told me that he can not understand why people trust an allegedly anti-government application, paid for by the government itself, from which it is called to protect.

I said that I completely share his perplexity. As I studied all these cryptoradicals financed by various offspring of the CIA, I continued to ask the same simple question, to which no one could give an intelligible answer: if applications such as Signal really undermine the NSA’s ability to watch citizens, then why does the US government continue their to finance? I tried to imagine how such an alliance between the government and corporations would be perceived by representatives of American technical circles and the media, if something like that happened in the Soviet Union. For example, the KGB would finance a secure fax line and suggest that Alexander Solzhenitsyn and dissident samizdat people use it to protect themselves from the attention of KGB agents. And Solzhenitsyn would not only believe the KGB, but he would also advise fellow dissidents such a line to use: “She is completely safe.” The idea of ​​the KGB in the capitalist West would be ruthlessly ridiculed, and Solzhenitsyn would be considered, at best, a puppet, and at worst a traitor. No matter how ridiculous this union of technology and state interests is under the guise of dissidence, in America it somehow worked.

While I expounded my analogies, Durov nodded in agreement: “I think it is no coincidence that we both understand the naivety of such thinking, and both were born in the USSR.”

The power of trust
What would I be preparing for when meeting with Durov, but not to political understanding. Judging by what I read in the press, our views on politics are diametrically opposed. He is a libertarian, who can throw a 5000 rubles bill on the street to watch how passers-by shuffle each other off to pick it up; who can write that Hitler and Stalin are no different from each other on the day when people in the former Soviet republics celebrate the victory over Hitler’s Germany.

But on a personal level, he turned out to be a pleasant and even shy person. For a representative of the world of cryptography, he turned out to be a great realist in terms of limitations in this field. The fanatical faith in technology, so characteristic of the representatives of the American movement for the confidentiality of information, is not at all there. And one more feature: Durov is a fighter.

Let’s start with the simple fact that he openly told about the details of the FBI’s attempts to bribe his team and force Telegram to secret cooperation. Although Durov himself tried to play down this case, in fact, his significance is great. Despite the forced flight from Russia, he did not yield to the American intelligence services and decided to fight on two fronts. Such an act is unusual and produces a deep impression. Most people who come into conflict with the Russian government and seek security in the West under the guise of modern dissidents usually begin to repeat Western propaganda, becoming thoughtless conductors of American interests, even in their worst form. As members of Pussy Riot, who fled Russia and criticized Vladimir Putin, and then slipped into photos with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

As for cryptography, there is no certainty that Telegram is more secure than its competitors from the Silicon Valley. But even more so, there is no certainty that a security-funded campaign and a profit-bent campaign for confidentiality in the West can bring real results.

In reality, which sparked the life of Snowden, the protection of private information was placed on crypto applications. Because of this, we found ourselves in some kind of nightmarish paranoid game where ordinary citizens have no influence and they are forced to rely entirely on people and organizations creating algorithms for these crypto technologies. It all boils down to trust. Can you trust these people and organizations? A young Russian technocrat who quarreled with the Kremlin? A former American spy who fled to Russia? Fashionable crypto applications paid by the US State Department? Google and Facebook, collaborating with the NSA?

Confusion? Misunderstanding? This is the movement for protecting personal information in our time.

Sources:

 

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Will North Korea set off a new arms buildup in Asia?

TETSUSHI TAKAHASHI, Head of Nikkei’s China Headquarters–Since North Korea sent an intercontinental ballistic missile soaring 3,700km into the sky on July 28, Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump have spoken by phone six times — sometimes for close to an hour. In each of these conversations between the Japanese prime minister and the U.S. president, Trump has gone to great lengths to offer assurances that the U.S. stood behind Japan “100%.” He sometimes repeated the phrase as many as five times in a single call, according to Japanese government sources.

pac-3-tokyo_20170912_article_main_imagePAC-3 missiles are deployed at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo on Aug. 29. (Photo by Koichi Mimura)

For Abe, who has sought to build strong ties with Trump since his election, the president’s words were a welcome change from the rhetoric of his campaign, when he frequently attacked the cost of U.S. defense commitments in Asia. Despite Trump’s assurances, however, Japanese political and military leaders have started to question the strength of the security compact that has underpinned the relationship between the U.S. and Japan in the postwar era. Under its pacifist constitution — which Abe would amend if he could — Japan relies on the U.S. to carry out offensive military strikes. But a North Korea equipped with nuclear ICBMs might change the equation: Could the Americans still be counted on to fight for Japan if doing so carried the risk of losing Los Angeles or New York?

“When North Korea has been armed with nuclear weapons, the security regime under the current Japan-U.S. alliance, however strong, may be unable to fully protect Japan’s safety,” said a security-related Japanese government official.

A North Korean missile launch interrupted the Japan-U.S. summit in Florida in February. © AP

Japan is not the only country in the region questioning decades old policies and alliances as North Korea moves closer to developing nuclear missile capability. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s unpredictable 33-year-old leader, has gone out of his way this year to provoke China’s president, Xi Jinping. That has prompted some in Beijing who had previously tolerated the regime’s behavior to conclude that he must be reined in. In Seoul, President Moon Jae-in has agreed to allow the deployment of U.S. anti-missile launchers, reversing a key campaign pledge, amid concerns of a split between his administration and Trump’s. And in Tokyo, military planners say the country’s missile defense system requires an urgent, and costly, upgrade to deal with the new threat.

Some Japanese security experts predict Pyongyang could be able to deploy the weapons within two years or even sooner — a time frame that is not expected to move much even after the new sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 11. If North Korea succeeds in developing nuclear missile technology, Asia could witness an arms buildup unlike anything seen since the Cold War, experts say. China has complained loudly about Moon’s decision to deploy more of the U.S. anti-missile launchers in South Korea, and any increase in Japan’s capacity also would be seen in Beijing as a threat to its security.

“Calls are growing in South Korea for acquiring nuclear weapons in response to the North Korean threat. Japan is also talking about deploying Aegis missiles on its own mainland,” said Masao Okonogi, a North Korea expert and professor at Tokyo International University. “No matter how they do it, their military buildup will increase tensions in the region, especially vis-a-vis Russia and China.”

Okonogi and others say they do not expect a nuclear “domino effect” in the region, given Japan’s firm opposition to the weapons and South Korea’s commitments under the non-proliferation treaty. But any friction over military expansions would add new risks in an already tense region, where disputes over territorial claims, fishing rights and China’s island-building have sparked periodic conflicts in recent years.

“I don’t think the region becomes more stable” in the coming years, said Tetsuo Kotani, senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. “There may be more chances for accidents.”

HOW MANY MISSILES IS ENOUGH? It has been an anxious summer. Trump’s vow on Aug. 8 to deliver “fire and fury like the world has never seen” — followed by North Korea’s promise to consume Guam, home to a U.S. military base, in “enveloping fire” — raised worries that the two leaders could be on the brink of war. South Koreans, who over the years have become accustomed to erratic and threatening behavior from the North, have grown worried, with 76% saying in a poll last week that North Korea’s latest nuclear test threatens to disrupt the peace on the peninsula. And in Japan, the anxiety came to a head at 6 a.m. on Aug. 29, when a ballistic missile flew across the island of Hokkaido before falling into the Pacific Ocean. The launch triggered a J-Alert, the national emergency system, with residents in the northern part of the country receiving a text from the government reading “Missile passing.”

Protesters march against the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system outside the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on June 24. © AP

Few in Tokyo military circles think North Korea would carry out a pre-emptive strike on Japan with nuclear missiles. The concern is more that a conflict on the Korean Peninsula could escalate to the degree that it triggers a nuclear attack by the North. There is another worry: that Trump could launch military action against North Korea without consulting Japan first. This is one reason Abe tries to speak to the U.S. president as often as possible.

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German Law Enforcement to Trial Run a “Cyber-Armed Forces” Center

C. Aliens– The State Criminal Police Office in Stuttgart and the Ministry of the Interior, in collaboration with numerous private industry organizations, announced plans for a new law enforcement branch known as the “Cyber-Armed Forces Coordination Center.” Depending on how the pilot program plays out, the Cyber-Armed Forces may set the standard for cyber defense in Germany, Minister of the Interior Thomas Strobl announced. Strobl, according to StN, could not yet reveal the location of this new center or what exactly it would do. He was, however, able to reveal information the news outlet considered “concrete.”

Minister Strobl explained that many small businesses are unable to afford IT or cybercrime specialists. Yet, many of the large companies handled cyberattacks on their own. He introduced the concept in the days before August as a cyber defense center that could respond “seven days a week and 24 hours a day quickly if they [small or medium sized businesses] were affected by a cyber attack.” He added that “IT security is the foundation of the digital world” detailed the reasons every organization should have access to “cyberexperts.”

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The LKA and collaborators will test the Cyber-Armed Forces Coordination Center for 15-months. After the trial period, government officials will determine whether or not the program will expand to states other than Baden-Württemberg. Currently, the known collaborators (with the LKA and Ministry of the Interior) are the Research Center for Computer Science, the Competence Center for Applied Safety Technology (KASTEL), the Central Contact Point Cybercrime (ZAC), and the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

And according to the LKA, the need for this center has reached an all time high. In 2015, the Baden-Württemberg LKA recorded 400 attacks on businesses. By 2016, the number of attacks had grown to nearly 1,200. They usually saw attacks similar to the attacks the IRS had warned US companies of in 2016 and 2017 . Business Email Compromise or BEC scams. “These are incredibly tricky schemes that can be devastating to a tax professional or business,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen reported. “Cybercriminals target people with access to sensitive information, and they cleverly disguise their effort through an official-looking email request.”

The LKA also reported an increase in ransomware through malicious emails. ”The criminals demand a payment of ransom – usually in the form of the so-called bitcoins,” they explained. Strobl said that Baden-Württemberg was an innovative market leader in Europe. Because of this, criminals are attracted to Baden-Württemberg. “[The government] is therefore doing everything it can to help those small and medium-sized businesses who still need a lot of support in this area,” he said. “If data and the know-how are not secure, everything is nothing in the process of digitization.”

 

BackGrounder

IRS Warns of Tax Information for Sale on the Darknet Through W-2 Fraud

According to the IRS, a scam called a “business email compromise” (BEC) had increased in frequency since inception, topping the charts in 2017. From a tax management perspective, these emails are potentially the most destructive. “A business email compromise occurs when a cybercriminal is able to “spoof” or impersonate a company or organization executive’s email address and target a payroll, financial or human resources employee with a request,” the IRS said. “For example, fraudsters will try to trick an employee to transfer funds into a specified account or request a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.”

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This warning came as “Step 6” of the IRS’s “Don’t Take the Bait” series. The series, in turn, is part of the “Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself” campaign. It encourages tax professionals to “increase their computer security” and employ caution when checking their email. These professionals, the IRS warned, “must remember that they have not just an obligation but a legal requirement under federal law to protect taxpayer information.”

BEC scams had circulated various financial sectors for years, but the IRS only warned of the W-2 scam in 2016. The BEC scam expanded as rapidly as it did due to the numerous methods of profiting from the stolen information. Scammers often immediately filled taxes on the victim’s behalf, delaying detection for months. The scammers also sold the victim’s information on the darknet, the IRS revealed. This practice is increasing in popularity.

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“These are incredibly tricky schemes that can be devastating to a tax professional or business,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen reported. “Cybercriminals target people with access to sensitive information, and they cleverly disguise their effort through an official-looking email request.”

According to an FBI announcement from early 2017, this type of scam increased 1,300 percent since January 2015. Additionally, it has been connected to more than $3,000,000,000 in fraudulent wire transfers. The Bureau discovered that the majority of the scammers are part of both national and international organized crime groups that stretch across more than 100 countries.

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Calhoun: Terrorist innovations in weapons of mass effect

Rasmussen, Maria…………….The experts assessed three categories of terrorist innovation: tactical, strategic, and organizational, with emphasis placed on the first two. Tactical innovation usually involves inventing or adopting new techniques or technologies to achieve unchanging objectives. Strategic innovation entails formulating new objectives, which necessitate the adoption of new operations, targets, or technologies to advance those objectives. Organizational innovation involves new ways of structuring the terrorist group or inventive methods of drawing recruits. Preconditions and Causes Preconditions refer to the context in which innovation took place. This includes political, technological, or security developments which made innovation by terrorist groups more or less likely. For example, experts agreed that larger and/or wealthier terrorist organizations would find it easier to innovate. Causes are those internal and external drivers that directly precipitate innovation or accelerate its progress. The expert consensus was that terrorist innovation is often a product of a gradual, incremental synthesis of earlier innovations, rather than a dramatic leap in terrorist tactics and technologies. • The PFLP airplane hijackings beginning in 1968 involved a synthesis of two innovations that appeared much earlier: non-political airplane hijackings in Latin America and the strategy of internationalizing a local conflict. • Euskadi Ta Askatasuna’s (ETA, Basque Homeland and Freedom) 1973 assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco, the Spanish Prime Minister, by planting explosives in a tunnel beneath his travel route was inspired in part by an earlier ETA prison breakout involving the digging of a tunnel. • Al-Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks, which were the ultimate manifestation of WME terrorism, merged two prior terrorist innovations: airline hijackings and suicide bombings. The participants also agreed that terrorist innovation is usually motivated by problem solving intended to overcome constraints in the security environment, or limitations in the political one. Terrorists seek new technologies, targets, or opportunities in order to circumvent security measures, revitalize support for their cause, pursue a new strategy to remedy failed ones, or simply escalate a conflict because lower levels of violence are assessed to be ineffective.

• The PFLP airplane hijackings were in large measure a response to the failure of Arab states to defeat Israel on the battlefield, requiring a new strategy to mobilize Arab masses and international support for the Palestinian cause.

• Aum Shinrikyo’s drive to acquire its deadly capacity for chemical attacks began after the failure of its leader to gain acceptance through the electoral process.

• Al-Qaeda’s organizational innovation of recruiting and training “homegrown” terrorists for an attack in London was driven by its inability to send its own militants abroad in the post- September 11 security environment. There was widespread agreement among the participants that leadership is central to innovation. In nearly all the cases of WME innovation discussed at the workshop, leaders played a key role in demanding, funding, and justifying deadly innovation. The experts were not in agreement on what types of leadership styles are propitious for innovation.

• Experts pointed to the PFLP, Al-Qaeda, Aum Shinrikyo, and Irish Republican Army IRA case studies as evidence that “centralization of leadership and decentralization of execution” is a necessary condition for innovation.

• Case studies highlighted the role of “charismatic entrepreneurs” (PFLP, Independent Islamist cell London bombings) or “maniacal entrepreneurs” (Aum Shrinrikyo, Oklahoma City, IRA) with an irrational desire to inflict mass casualties or create a mass psychological impact.

• The critical leadership variable is openness to new ideas and willingness to experiment and learn through trial and error, regardless of how centralized or decentralized the organization. The discussion among experts highlighted the important role of ideology or “toxic grievances” in inspiring and legitimating WME attacks, especially the ones that concern mass destruction and mass casualties among civilians. Groups with grandiose worldviews, millenarian ideologies, or deep feelings of humiliation are less likely to impede the use of mass casualty terrorism than those with clearly defined objectives.

• Aum Shinrikyo was a cult inspired by a “cosmically scientific belief system” that viewed killing as a vehicle to elevate its victims to a “higher spiritual plane.”

• Timothy McVeigh was a product of a long and festering “warfare ideology” that framed the U.S. government as encroaching on the basic liberties and freedoms of its citizens.

• Al-Qaeda’s “martyrdom complex” was aided by clerical support that justified suicide attacks in defense of Islam and permitted the targeting of Western civilians to reciprocate the killing of Muslims by Western governments.

The experts did not give too much weight to explanations for innovation centered on state sponsorship, safe havens, or competitive outbidding between terrorist groups. These factors inspired or facilitated innovation in some cases, but they do not appear to be necessary or sufficient for recurring patterns of WME innovation.

Predictive Indicators

Predictive indicators refer to the observable steps and preparatory behaviors leading to the innovative terrorist attack and that could have revealed the terrorists’ intent had they been investigated thoroughly. The experts were pessimistic about our ability to pick up on predictive indicators that could help flag or foil terrorist innovation. In five of the seven cases, experts argued that intelligence and/or law enforcement work could have provided warnings of an impending WME attack, but the significance of these potential warnings are only apparent with hindsight. Moreover, the evolutionary nature of innovation, which is marked by gradual learning and adaptation, and the seemingly endless possibilities of combining older innovations in new ways, makes it difficult to pinpoint the trajectory of specific innovations. Furthermore, predictive indicators are not universal; any potential list of indicators must be confined to the specific innovation sought after by the terrorists. This finding suggests that security specialists may have to proceed on a case-by-case basis when seeking to anticipate and foil deadly innovations. Specific threats made in terrorist leaders’ statements are one predictive indicator of innovation commonly found in the cases analyzed in this workshop. Another salient indicator is prior attempts by the terrorist group to deploy innovative tactics.

• Al-Qaeda repeatedly threatened to strike the U.S. homeland and undertook several mass casualty operations against American targets abroad prior to September 11.

• Aum Shinrikyo undertook extensive research in chemical and biological agents, and conducted some attacks using chemicals prior to their major Tokyo subway operation in 1995.

Earlier failures in terrorist innovation should not be taken lightly because they could serve as indicators of future intent as well as opportunities for the terrorists to experiment and learn through trial and error. Underestimating the terrorist adversary and the failure of the authorities to investigate with due diligence its prior activities often precedes successful WME attacks. Considerations for Future Research Experts agreed that the study of terrorist innovation is a burgeoning field that requires much more scholarly attention and analytical rigor. They recommended several strategies to help advance our understanding of the topic:

• Investigate past cases of failed terrorist innovations or ones that were not widely adopted by other groups. This type of research could reveal barriers to innovation and diffusion, which can be helpful in shaping security countermeasures against the innovation and diffusion of WME terrorism.

• Investigate terrorist campaigns alongside individual incidents, because the former could reveal patterns of subtle innovation and adaptation that single episodes cannot uncover. This research would be particularly useful for understanding organizational innovation, which was not covered in depth in this workshop.Investigate WME terrorism in cases that do not pertain to Western societies. Some of the most spectacular acts of terrorism in the 20th and 21st centuries have taken place in the developing world. These case studies could reveal patterns of terrorists exploiting opportunities associated with underdevelopment, corruption, weak state enforcement capabilities, or protracted civil and regional conflicts.

FULL STUDY Terrorist innovations in weapons of mass effect- preconditions, causes, and predictive indicators

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SPECIAL PROGRAM ON BURMA MUSLIM ISSUE-PaighamTV

About Paigham TV

Paighamtvlogo Paigham TV is an Islamic educational media group. It launched its Urdu language TV channel in 2011 and Pashto Channel in 2014. Paigham TV was inaugurated by Imam al-Kabah Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais in Harmain Al Sharifain Auditorium. The production of this channel is based on the teachings of Quran and Sunnah. A team of Islamic scholars monitors the material presented on its programs. Each program of Paigham TV is previewed according to authentic references of Quran and Hadith. The Board of Directors, consisting of 14 members from different countries, is working under the supervision of Imam al-Kabah Al-Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, looking after the matters of Paigham TV. Paigham TV is transmitted through Asia Satellite 3S in more than 70 Asian countries and Australia. It can also be watched through live streaming on its official website. Mobile Phone application is also available to watch live streaming.
Objectives: 

  • To create the spirit of Islamization.
  • To educate the people of Pakistan using the tools of electronic and social media.
  • To discover our Islamic identity for which we need to create awareness, understanding and conscience in the masses.
  • To awaken the nation by bringing home the message of fraternity, social justice and philanthropy to make them the proud bearers of their nationality and Muslim identity.