Foundations Sponsoring Putin’s Re-Election

This is the first time Putin’s election has been funded in this way. When he last ran for reelection in 2012, a significant portion of the funds were provided by businesses and private individuals.

The actual source of the foundations’ funding is not clear — so the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project decided to try to find out who was behind them.

Reporters found a number of insiders, including Gennady Timchenko, one of the country’s wealthiest businessmen; relatives of Andrey Vorobyev, governor of the Moscow region; and Irina Shoigu, the wife of the minister of defense. Furthermore, some of the foundations have, in the recent past, received support from the state and from state-controlled companies.

The approach is a novel way to finance a presidential race.

“It’s a headache, since the scheme isn’t transparent. Before we were able to at least see and legally identify those individuals who were officially and directly contributing funds to Putin’s electoral campaign,” said Stanislav Andreychuk, coordinator of Golos, a movement that protects voters’ rights. “Now, thanks to these foundations, we don’t even know who stands behind these … donations.”

Indeed, the foundations have not revealed who sponsors them, and they don’t like to talk about themselves. Reporters were not able to find a single website with any financial accounting. And attempts to find out more by telephone twice ended with the same demand — to end the conversation.

“There’s no website. All the accounting can be found at the ministry of justice and tax inspectorate. We’re not a public company,” snapped one representative of a foundation located at United Russia’s Moscow address. “Let’s end this discussion. Anyway, your calls are getting a little exhausting.”

“Independent” Foundations

The central foundation behind Putin’s reelection campaign is the National Foundation for the Support of Regional Cooperation and Development (NFPR in Russian). It is the founder of 20 regional foundations, all using similar names, which contributed to the pre-electoral race.

Many of these are registered at the addresses of regional United Russia party offices, and until 2015 all of them — including the NFPR — used the words “United Russia Party Support Foundation” in their names.

Oleg Polozov is the NFPR’s president. Portraits of President Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev hang in his Moscow office at 3 Banniy Alley — which he shares with United Russia’s Central Executive Committee.

Nevertheless, Polozov assured OCCRP that the foundations are independent of the political party, and that though they were founded in the early 2000s to provide it with financial support, it exercises no direct control over them.

After 2014, a legal change meant that the foundations were no longer able to collect money for the party directly. But they could support its social projects — planting trees, holding sporting events and so on, said Polozov. He isn’t himself a member of United Russia, but said that he “sympathizes with its projects.”

So how did these foundations become the sole sponsors of Putin’s presidential campaign?

“There was no order from on high about it. The initiative came from the foundations themselves. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm,” said Polozov. “We got together, discussed everything, and in a few days got all the money together for a special pre-election account [for Putin] with Sberbank.”

A person who worked for the United Russia party confirmed to OCCRP that there had been no official order for the foundations to play such a role. Nevertheless, the source said, their initiative was discussed informally at the highest political levels and there appear to have been no objections.

None of the foundations are public and transparent about their finances. Though they are legally required to publish their reports on an annual basis, they have yet to do so.

“Is that necessary?” asked Polozov in response to questions about the foundations’ transparency.

“In many traditions it’s not acceptable to shout from every corner that you’re doing a good deed. Furthermore, there are different organizational cultures. In one of them, one needs … publicity to attract sponsors. In the other, the circle of sponsors has already formed, and it’s no longer necessary to advertise oneself. If the goals and tasks of the foundation are being realized, then why does it need a website?” said Polozov.

The Importance of Keeping in Touch

The ties that bind: shared telephone numbers and addresses link the ostensibly independent foundations donating to Putin’s election campaign to a number of high-profile Russian businessmen, politicians, and their families. Photo: Edin Pasovic / OCCRP

The NFPR and its associated foundations were founded in the early 2000s, around the same time that the United Russia party itself was formed. When reporters investigated their registration documents, they found that some of them, including the NFPR, shared their Moscow address and telephone number with businesses connected to prominent officials, their relatives, and people known to the president.

This use of the shared telephone number, which appeared in the foundations’ registration documents as recently as January 2018, is unusual, experts pointed out, except in cases when a general number for a building, accountants’, or lawyers’ office is used. That is not the case here, however.

“This could be one of several signs that these organizations are connected with one other,” confirms Alexander Zakharov, a former Russian tax ministry assistant and partner of Paragon Advice Group.

Fishy Relations

One of the connected firms is the Russian Fish Company, once a major fish supplier in the Russian market. The company was once owned by Andrey Vorobyev, the current governor of the Moscow Region and an old acquaintance of one of the founders of United Russia — Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu. Vorobyev’s father had worked with Shoigu for many years.

In early 2000, Andrey Vorobyev left the business to begin a career in politics, first becoming an advisor to Shoigu during the latter’s brief tenure as deputy prime minister. Vorobyev then headed the United Russia Support Foundation (the NFPR’s name before 2015).

After Vorobyev’s transition to politics, he transferred the seafood company to his brother Maxim, according to Forbes. As the publication reported, the company’s fortunes grew alongside Vorobyev’s political successes in the 2000s. This was when the Russian Fish Company, which later became a subsidiary of the Russian Sea Group, became one of the leading suppliers of salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and smelt to the Russian market.

In 2011, Maxim Vorobyev found a new, powerful partner — Gennady Timchenko, a friend of the president, became a co-owner in the seafood business.

The Ministry of Emergency Investments

The seafood business is not the only connection between the foundations, Timchenko, and Vorobyev. Some of the foundations own businesses themselves — and these were connected to the same men.

According to the Russian company register, the NFPR once owned a significant share (60 percent) of a firm called Arleya Palatium, also originally registered at United Russia’s address in Moscow. Judging by telephone directories, Arleya Palatium used the same telephone number as the party foundation and the fish company.

Among Arleya Palatium’s owners was an offshore firm based in Cyprus that also owned a share of Vorobyevs’ and Timchenko’s seafood company.

It’s also curious that the phone number indicated by Arleya Palatium in its registration document was used by Kordex, a Timchenko company which owns a 12.5 percent share in SOGAZ, the insurer of Russian state gas giant Gazprom. In 2013, the value of this share was estimated at approximately six billion rubles ($185 million). Following the introduction of sanctions against him, Timchenko transferred Kordex to his daughter.

The company has an illustrious pedigree — it was previously owned by a company that helped finance the construction of the elaborate mansion known as “Putin’s Palace” in Gelendzhik, on Russia’s Black Sea coast, which is allegedly owned by the Russian president.

The Matviyenko Connection 
An organization called “Culture and Law,” founded by the NFPR, once owned 40 percent of Arleyia Palatium and shared the foundation’s telephone number.
 Culture and Law was also registered to the same address as the Grand Land Group of Companies, which belongs to Lyudmila Vorobyeva, the mother of Maxim and Andrey Vorobyev. The group offers real estate development services in the Moscow region. Among its partners were Irina and Ksenia Shoigu, wife and daughter of the Minister of Defense, as well as Sergey Matviyenko, son of the chairman of Russia’s Federation Council,Valentina Matviyenko.
An assistant to the director of Grand Land stressed that neither the company nor Maxim or Lyudmila Vorobyeva were in any way connected with the party foundations and Arleyia Palatium, had neither business nor financial relationships with them and never sponsored them. The assistant added that the company neither participates nor has ever participated in any electoral campaigns.
Neither Timchenko nor Vorobyev explained these connections, nor did they answer questions as to whether these companies supported United Russia’s party foundation.

Enter Shoigu

Arleya Palatium also connects the foundation to the family of Russian Defense Minister Shoigu.

Though the company was a complete unknown, and had been founded just months before, it was named by the Ministry of Emergency Situations — which was then headed by Shoigu — as an investor in the construction of a rehabilitation center for firefighters and emergency workers just 300 meters from Josef Stalin’s dacha in Moscow’s Matveyevsky forest. Soon after the building was finished, Arleya Palatium moved in.

Sometime later, a diagnostic laboratory owned by the Russian firm Rekapmed appeared in the same office. This firm is majority owned by Irina Shoigu, wife of Russia’s Minister of Defense, and by Yekaterina Zhukova, wife of the first deputy chairman of Russia’s State Duma.

Contacted by reporters, Rekapmed said that the firm was founded to research eastern medicine, and that it does not collaborate with the other organizations registered at the same location. The firm also said that Irina Shoigu had only been the firm’s “temporary founder” until February 2015, and that Yekaterina Zhukova was the founder until May 2015. Nevertheless, according to state registry documents, the two women are still the company’s co-owners. Sergey Shoigu did not respond to requests for comment.

Whose money?

The case of the secretive foundations exemplifies the interrelated nature of politics and business in Russia, say observers.

A former employee of the presidential administration said that some of the people connected to the foundations — Andrey and Maxim Vorobyev, Sergey Shoigu, and Gennady Timchenko — are a fairly close-knit group who enjoy the trust of the president himself. While there are no records available to prove how much money, if any, the trio have provided to the Putin campaign, they have certainly provided it with the necessary infrastructure to collect money.

Polozov, the head of the NFPR, says that, at least since 2013, the foundation has not worked with Maxim Vorobyev and Timchenko’s businesses in any way, has never received any funds from them, and does not do so today. Polozov calls “ridiculous” the idea that the 22 foundations were made sponsors of Putin’s election campaign in order to hide the identity of the real donors.

“If somebody wanted to hide it away, they’d just hide anyway,” said Polozov.

The NFPR head said that the foundations serve the purpose of making sure donations are vetted and improper donations are quickly removed.

Polozov told reporters that many people wanted to contribute to the president’s reelection campaign, and the idea was not to single anybody out. “The foundations solved that problem,” he concluded. He assured reporters that the NFPR, at the request of regional foundations, thoroughly examines the “cleanliness” of all donations, and that the Ministry of Justice knows the donors and has thoroughly checked them.

Once again, Polozov would not disclose who exactly donates to the foundations.

It’s not even clear whether they currently receive money from state-owned companies and state institutions — but at least some of them have in the past.

In 2015, Omskenergo, a state-controlled energy company, decided to provide financial assistance to the Omsk Foundation for Regional Cooperation and Development. One year later, the Yugra Territorial Energy Company, also controlled by the state, provided charitable support to one of the local foundations (as the company’s press release says). And in 2017, the Voronezh City Council decided to grant the use of a municipal building to the Voronezh Foundation for Regional Cooperation and Development for five years, free of charge. Meanwhile, the Samara Foundation is hosted by Samara’s municipal center for communal services.

Deep pockets

The secrecy of the foundations sponsoring Vladimir Putin’s electoral campaign is not the only issue which raises questions. The financial accounting of these foundations shows that not all of them had always been wealthy enough to donate substantial sums to the presidential race. In fact, for the entirety of 2016, several earned less money than they’re currently donating to the campaign.

According to their tax filings, the Kaluga Foundation for Regional Cooperation and Development collected a little over half a million rubles ($7,600) in 2016, but donated a single sum of 15 million rubles ($227,000) to the campaign. The Volgograd Foundation, which collected five million rubles ($76,000), has mustered a one-off payment of 10 million ($152,000). The Pskov Cooperation Foundation, which scraped together 840,000 rubles ($12,700), gave three times that number to the presidential race. Meanwhile the Kemerovo Foundation, which had collected 20.9 million rubles ($315,000), poured 25 million ($380,000) into the campaign, according to the Central Electoral Commission. And all the while, all these foundations still spend money throughout the year on events and the maintenance of their organizations.

NFPR president Polozov explained that the larger sums of money being donated by the foundations can be explained because their own donors made contributions specifically for Putin’s electoral campaign. In Polozov’s words, while the foundations did not publicly announce that they are collecting funds for the presidential race, their permanent sponsors had been informed.

The Generosity of Future Generations

The list of donors to the presidential campaign includes two wealthy foundations which both gave a minimum of two million rubles ($30,300) each. These are the People’s Projects and Civic Initiatives Foundation and the Foundation for the Support of Future Generations, which are both also registered at the United Russia address in Moscow (the latter of which also uses the same telephone number). In 2016, donors gave them nearly one billion rubles.

A multi-sided transformable board, which advertises the campaign of Vladimir Putin ahead of the upcoming presidential election,  on display in a street in Moscow, January 2018. Photo (c): REUTERS/Sergei KarpukhinA multi-sided transformable board, which advertises the campaign of Vladimir Putin ahead of the upcoming presidential election, on display in a street in Moscow, January 2018. Photo (c): REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Nobody could explain exactly which “people’s projects” or “future generations” these foundations support, nor how they came by such sums of money. But it is known that they have supported the electoral campaigns of United Russia’s parliamentarians and regional governors. Neither foundation has a website. And people listed as their directors or founders on the state registry did not want to answer questions, or assured reporters that they hadn’t had anything to do with the foundations for a long time.

The President of the People’s Projects and Civic Initiatives Foundation, Olga Tomenko, asked reporters to call back, and then stopped answering her phone altogether. Yury Puzynya, one of the co-founders of both foundations, asserted that he hadn’t had anything to do with them for over two years.

“I haven’t worked for United Russia since 2015, I passed everything onto… Let’s stop this conversation,” said another of the co-founders, Olga Shabalina.

Unusually, a representative of United Russia told reporters that the party knows nothing about its two wealthy benefactors.

Why Now?

The reason behind the change from individual support to Putin, as has been done in the past, to the new wall of opaque foundations, is unclear.

Some experts believe one possible reason could be to “not spoil the whole picture of donations to Putin’s election with companies and individuals,” since in previous years some donations to his campaign had to be returned for various reasons. The process of screening undesirable donors and casting them aside had taken a lot of time and energy.

It’s also possible that this method of financing was chosen so that sponsors would not be put off by foreign sanctions.

“Some sponsors might be disturbed by the risk of suddenly appearing in a sanctions list due to their supporting Putin. Others, it’s possible, are already under sanctions and do not want their names and the names of their companies publicly listed among the donors to the presidential electoral campaign,” suggests Golos coordinator Andreychuk.


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Iran bans US dollar

Iran bans US dollar thumbnail

The government of Iran imposed new restrictions on the use of the US dollar in the country. The use of the US dollar for import operations in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been banned from February 28, Forbes reports with reference to Iranian media. – Peak Oil

Starting from February 28, any supply orders or other import declarations where US dollars are used will not be processed by the Iranian customs authorities.

According to Mehdi Kasraipur, the director of Foreign Exchange Operations and Policy Department of the Central Bank of Iran, the new rules should not affect current trading operations much, given that the use of the American currency in Iran was already limited. Iranian banks could not conduct operations in US dollars because of US sanctions.

“Given that the use of the dollar in Iran is already prohibited, traders use alternative currencies in their transactions. Therefore, there is no longer any reason to quote prices in dollars in invoices,” the official said.

It is worthy of note that the Iranian national currency, the rial, has dropped vs. the US dollar by eight percent this year. Specialists believe that most of Iran’s foreign trade transactions will be carried out in euros.

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Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program

More than 4,200 websites, including many run the U.K. and U.S. governments, were infected on Feb. 11 by a Monero cryptocurrency miner delivered through Browsealoud, a hosted accessibility service that can read website content aloud for people with visual impairments.

Browsealoud developer Texthelp has taken the service offline temporarily while it works on a fix. The exploit was active for four hours and Texthelp had been preparing for such an attack for a while, CTO and data security officer Martin McKay said in a statement.

“Texthelp has in place continuous automated security tests for Browsealoud, and these detected the modified file and as a result the product was taken offline,” he wrote. “This removed Browsealoud from all our customer sites immediately, addressing the security risk without our customers having to take any action.”

No customer data was compromised or lost, and an investigation is underway, according to McKay. A list of the affected websites, which stands at 4,275, is available here.

The infection was first reported by security researcher Scott Helme. A friend of Helme’s told him that his antivirus software was issuing a warning when he visited the site of the U.K. Information Commissioner’s office, prompting Helme to investigate.

“They’re the people we complain to when companies do bad things with our data,” Helme wrote. “It was pretty alarming to realize that they were running a crypto miner on their site, their whole site, every single page. … I quickly realized though that this script, whilst present on the ICO website, was not being hosted by the ICO, it was included by a 3rd party library they loaded.”

That turned out to be Browsealoud, which had been compromised by attackers that altered one of its hosted JavaScript files, Helme said.

“This is not a particularly new attack and we’ve known for a long time that CDNs or other hosted assets are a prime target to compromise a single target and then infect potentially many thousands of websites,” Helme added.

The attack could have been averted if the sites had employed a simple technique called subresource integrity, Helme said. This tells web browsers to run an integrity check on anything being loaded from a third-party source.

Helme explained the technique in a previous blog post.

“By embedding the base64 encoded cryptographic hash digest that we expect for the asset into the script or link tag, the browser can download the asset and check its cryptographic hash digest against the one it was expecting,” he wrote. “If the hash of the downloaded asset matches the hash that we provided, then the content is what we were expecting to receive and the browser can safely include the script or style. If the hash doesn’t match then we know we can’t trust the data and it must be discarded.”

It’s not clear how much Monero the managed to generate, but crypto mining schemes have been coming into vogue among cybercriminals. The Smominru botnet, which infected more than half a million machines, has made up to $3.6 million worth of Monero since May, Proofpoint reported.

Last week, a Monero botnet showed up in China and South Korea, infecting Android devices through port 5555, which is associated with the OS’s Debug Bridge tool.

via Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program

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Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program

Joseph Menn-Reuters The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

The firm declined to publicly name the country behind the spying campaign, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyberweapon that was used to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. The NSA is the agency responsible for gathering electronic intelligence on behalf of the United States.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the intelligence agency valued these spying programs as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives, but said he did not know which spy efforts relied on it.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines declined to comment.

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, which should help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001.

The disclosure could further hurt the NSA’s surveillance abilities, already damaged by massive leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden’s revelations have hurt the United States’ relations with some allies and slowed the sales of U.S. technology products abroad.

The exposure of these new spying tools could lead to greater backlash against Western technology, particularly in countries such as China, which is already drafting regulations that would require most bank technology suppliers to proffer copies of their software code for inspection.

Peter Swire, one of five members of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, said the Kaspersky report showed that it is essential for the country to consider the possible impact on trade and diplomatic relations before deciding to use its knowledge of software flaws for intelligence gathering.

“There can be serious negative effects on other U.S. interests,” Swire said.


According to Kaspersky, the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.

Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.

“The hardware will be able to infect the computer over and over,” lead Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu said in an interview.

Though the leaders of the still-active espionage campaign could have taken control of thousands of PCs, giving them the ability to steal files or eavesdrop on anything they wanted, the spies were selective and only established full remote control over machines belonging to the most desirable foreign targets, according to Raiu. He said Kaspersky found only a few especially high-value computers with the hard-drive infections.

Kaspersky’s reconstructions of the spying programs show that they could work in disk drives sold by more than a dozen companies, comprising essentially the entire market. They include Western Digital Corp, Seagate Technology Plc, Toshiba Corp, IBM, Micron Technology Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Western Digital, Seagate and Micron said they had no knowledge of these spying programs. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment. IBM did not respond to requests for comment.


Raiu said the authors of the spying programs must have had access to the proprietary source code that directs the actions of the hard drives. That code can serve as a roadmap to vulnerabilities, allowing those who study it to launch attacks much more easily.

“There is zero chance that someone could rewrite the [hard drive] operating system using public information,” Raiu said.

Concerns about access to source code flared after a series of high-profile cyberattacks on Google Inc and other U.S. companies in 2009 that were blamed on China. Investigators have said they found evidence that the hackers gained access to source code from several big U.S. tech and defense companies.

It is not clear how the NSA may have obtained the hard drives’ source code. Western Digital spokesman Steve Shattuck said the company “has not provided its source code to government agencies.” The other hard drive makers would not say if they had shared their source code with the NSA.

Seagate spokesman Clive Over said it has “secure measures to prevent tampering or reverse engineering of its firmware and other technologies.” Micron spokesman Daniel Francisco said the company took the security of its products seriously and “we are not aware of any instances of foreign code.”
According to former intelligence operatives, the NSA has multiple ways of obtaining source code from tech companies, including asking directly and posing as a software developer. If a company wants to sell products to the Pentagon or another sensitive U.S. agency, the government can request a security audit to make sure the source code is safe.

“They don’t admit it, but they do say, ‘We’re going to do an evaluation, we need the source code,’” said Vincent Liu, a partner at security consulting firm Bishop Fox and former NSA analyst. “It’s usually the NSA doing the evaluation, and it’s a pretty small leap to say they’re going to keep that source code.”

Kaspersky called the authors of the spying program “the Equation group,” named after their embrace of complex encryption formulas.

The group used a variety of means to spread other spying programs, such as by compromising jihadist websites, infecting USB sticks and CDs, and developing a self-spreading computer worm called Fanny, Kasperky said.

Fanny was like Stuxnet in that it exploited two of the same undisclosed software flaws, known as “zero days,” which strongly suggested collaboration by the authors, Raiu said. He added that it was “quite possible” that the Equation group used Fanny to scout out targets for Stuxnet in Iran and spread the virus.


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There’s wisdom in crowds, and scientists are applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to better predict global crises and outbreaks. You Could Live On One Of These Moons With an Oxygen Mask and Heavy Jacket
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The Exoneration: “Al – Zawahiri’s Book full of lies, calumnies, jurisprudential fallacies, and indirections”- Dr. FadI Sayed Imam Abdulaziz al-Sharif

The book of al-Zawahiri, ‘The Exoneration of the Nation’ appeared encyclopaedic and contrived: despite attempts to embellish it with all kinds of fakeries, and using all sorts of arguments, al-Zawahiri’s book is trite and fails to make an impression on the reader or evoke his interest, let alone convince him.

via The Exoneration: “Al – Zawahiri’s Book full of lies, calumnies, jurisprudential fallacies, and indirections”- Dr. FadI Sayed Imam Abdulaziz al-Sharif


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The Exoneration: “Al – Zawahiri’s Book full of lies, calumnies, jurisprudential fallacies, and indirections”- Dr. FadI Sayed Imam Abdulaziz al-Sharif

Is the Jihad movement collapsing on itself from the inside?

Dr. FadI Sayed Imam Abdulaziz al-Sharif  Jihad theoretician and allegedly the founding father of Al Jihadi, the precursor to Al-Qaeda) released a revision of the rules of Jihad. (Rationalizations on Jihad in Egypt and the World [2008]). – Full Document Below


Dr Fadl’s position among the jihadists and the nature of his long relationship with Dr al-Zawahiri. Certainly, Dr Fadl had for years been regarded as the master mind and ideologue of jihadi activity, so much that the Jihad Group (Jamaa’at al-Jihad) of Egypt had no hesitation conferring on him the title of “The mufti of the jihadists worldwide”. Also his friend Ayman al-Zawaheri was so convinced of his credentials that he vehemently urged him to take on the role of leader (Amir) of the Jihad Group when they met in the city of Peshawar on the Afghani-Pakistani border during the eighties of the past century. This title
of Amir that al-Zawahiri was eager to bestow upon Dr Fadl does in fact reflect his yearning to imitate and at the same time rival the Islamic Group (al-Jamaa’a al-Islamiyya) which had at its helm another great legal scholar in the person of Sheik Omar Abdal-Rahman.
Al–Zawahiri met Dr Fadl fifty eight years ago in the corridors of the medical faculty at Cairo University in 1968. This collegial environment of the university allowed the two to meet regularly and converse about all kinds of issues beyond their common interest in medicine, and to ultimately form a friendship that would last many years after the two had graduated. This friendship, it is worth recalling, was to take on other proportions about forty years ago, particularly in the wake of the collapse of the grand Nassiri project, and was to consolidate further during the wave of political Islam that swept through Egypt during the era of the late president Anwar al-Sadat and reached its peak after the assassination of the latter in 1981. Following this event, Dr Fadl left for Saudi Arabia where he was soonjoined and by al-Zawahiri after his release from jail in 1986. From there, they went to Afghanistan and were at the heart of the jihadi resistance to the Soviet invasion, and then both made their way to Sudan where they finally parted ways in 1994, following a growing difference of opinion between the two of them regarding the jihadi philosophy of the Tanzeem, notably after al-Zawahiri had succeeded inswaying the Group towards the course of violence and armed confrontation withthe Egyptian regime, and before the latter had finally joined al-Qaeda followinghis infamous deal with Osama Bin Laden in 1998, which saw the birth of theInternational Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders (al-Jabhaal-Islaamiyaa al-‘Aalamiyya li Jihad al-Yahud wa al-Nasaara)  After Sudan, Dr Fadl went to Yemen where he worked as a doctor under his real name, al-Seyyid Imam Abdul-Aziz. However, the authorities in Yemen handed him over to Egypt to face the sentence of life imprisonment in a court trial known the case of “The returnees from Albania”. While Abdul-Aziz was doing time in jail, his friend continued on the path he had chosen for himself along his new companion Osama Bin Laden. Both al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden had dreams in the Afghani caves that soon turned to crazy quests that Muslims all over the world had to pay the price for. When Dr Fadl published his Document for the Guidance of Jihadi Action about a year ago, it fell like a bombshell whose impact was most disruptive to the jihadi planners of al-Qaeda. The die-hards of the organisation were so taken aback by Dr Fadl’s document; they wasted no time nor spared effort in mounting a response to it. Al-Zawahiri and his ilk were naturally fully aware of the weight of such a document: it was after all authored by the Sheik Abdul-Qader Bin Abdul-Aziz (Dr Fadl) who may not only be regarded as the foremost ideologue of jihadi activity in the organization (tanzeem), but also of al-Qaeda if one takes into consideration the fact that his books and ideas have become the very basis of the organisation’s ideology after it had formed an alliance with the Group. It was due to this trepidation that The Document had caused in the ranks of al-Qaeda, that the book of al-Zawahiri, ‘The Exoneration of the Nation’ appeared encyclopaedic and contrived: despite attempts to embellish it with all kinds of fakeries, and using all sorts of arguments, al-Zawahiri’s book is trite and fails to make an impression on the reader or evoke his interest, let alone convince him.

Perspectives on the occupation of Iraq and Al-Qaeda coming from the insides of those organizations. a way to glimmering of understanding of their motives and rationales.

Summary of Rules he suggested;

1. The life or property of a muslim can not be harmed or taken from him.

2. Jihad against the leaders of muslim countries is not allowed.

3. It is forbidden to harm foreigners or tourists in muslim countries.

4. It’s an illegal betrayal to kill people in a non-muslim country if you have gotten into the country with permission of the government.

5. People shall not attempt to commit Jihad on their own.
6. The person committing Jihad must not only be physically capable, but also financially capable in his own right. There is nothing in Islam which condones kidnapping or theft as a way to finance Jihad.

7. The Jihadists must be able to take care of their family, also after they have comitted Jihad.

8. The parents must approve if their children wish to commit Jihad. God does not accept Jihad without the parents’ permission.

Dr. Fadl is currently in Egyptian prison. He is claimed to have divorced from the practical side of Jihads in 1994 and lived oddly in peace with Yemen security forces until he was arrested after 9/11, because of pressure from the US.

EXCERPTS: “Commenting further on the behaviour of the Arab  Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, Dr Fadl went on to say:  “This emotionality and impulsivity appears to have taken a much tighter grip over  the action of the jihadists and have become in time their hallmark, such that in  recent years they were led to commit mass-killings and genocides in the name if Islam and jihad. I know the people who perpetrated those crimes, just as I know the extent of their religious knowledge and their stance vis-à-vis religion. Indeed, not only have these people committed crime, they have even had the audacity to find a jurisprudential basis for it in Islamic law. Dr. Fadi pointed to some of the salient features of this ‘exonerative jurisprudence’ and have exposed it in my Document for the Guidance of Jihadi Action and in the journalistic interview which was later added to that document. But the followers of this corrupt doctrine and jurisprudence from the members of alQaeda were led by arrogance to morecrime and so after months were able to summon up a reply to the document, though it seems that they have began preparing their response well before my document was published, and that more than one attempt was tried prior to the present response. Indeed, the first attempt appears to go back a few years and came to an end in July of 2007, when one of those members who took on the task of replying to the document was killed in Sana’a, Yemen, this was followed by a second attempt which was discontinued in January 2008 when another member was killed in Waziristan in Pakistan, and finally that most hapless wretch from among them, al-Zawahiri, rushed forward to commit his evil deed in March of the same year, and wrote his own response to the “document” in a book he named ‘The Exoneration of the Nation’. Al-Zawahiri had no qualms tampering with the truths of Islam and seemed to have completely ignored the lesson in the death of his two precursors, no doubt thinking that he could not possibly meet the same fate as theirs. Concerning such behaviour, God, may He be exalted, has said: “And, indeed, We tested them through suffering, but they did not abase themselves before their Sustainer; and they will never humble themselves” (23:76), and also:”

Full Document:  Unveiling th e Great Deception in al – Zawahiri_s ‘Exoneration of the Nation_


2010, Al-Zawahiri released a 2016-page rebuttal (“The Exoneration”) of the document, choosing to highlight the fact that Dr. Fadl contradicts his own, earlier work and leaves important questions Dr. Fadl brought to the forefront unanswered.Al-Zawahiri also chooses to warn the author and readers of the work  that Dr. Fadl wrote this while under incarceration and the only beneficiary of the document is the United States. He claims that Dr. Fadl has been pressured by “Crusader and Zionistic” forces.

BULLET POINTS: Ayman Al-Zawahiri, has engaged in an ideological counter offensive against his detractors.

First, in early March 2008, he published a 188-page Arabic book online titled The Exoneration: A Treatise Exonerating the Community of the Pen and the Sword from the Debilitating Accusation of Fatigue and Weakness.   In it, he responds to the November 2007 criticisms of his former mentor, Sayid Imam Abdel-Aziz Al-Sharif (Abdel-Aziz), who lambasted him for misapplying the doctrine of jihad and for bringing harm to the Muslim world. Then in late March, Zawahiri released part one of his response to questions he solicited online from other militants.

Around the same time, he also released a statement on the plight of the Palestinians.
Many of the themes and arguments in the book, the Q&A, and thestatement overlap, suggesting a campaign to repair the ideological and pu blic relations damage done to
Al-Qaida over the past year. The broad thrust of the campaign is to defend the religious legitimacy and political efficacy of attacks that affect civilians. It is also to explain why Al-Qaida’s strategic focus has been on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Algeria instead of the Palestinian Territories and Egypt or responding to European insults to the Prophet Mohammed. The number of his statements which have been released and their detailed nature suggest that Al-Qaida’s senior leadership is concerned that it is losing its relevance among its base.
Zawahiri gives four indications as to Al-Qaida’s current strategic orientation.
First, he wants Al-Qaida in Iraq to shift its violence away from Shi’a civilians and towards Shi’a militias.
Second, Zawahiri calls for militants to increase attacks against Jewish targets
abroad in the near term and against Israeli targets in Israel and the Palestinian Territories in the long term.
-Third, he calls for the death of those associated with the cartoons of the Prophet in Europe.
– Fourth, Zawahiri wants militants in Egypt to ready themselves to seize the opportunity when Hosni Mubarak dies. By focusing on Israel, ending sectarian viol ence against civilians in Iraq, punishing Europeans who have insulted Mohammed, and overthrowing the unpopular Mubarak, Al-Qaida may be tryingto increase its diminished popularity by highlighting issues that resonate with popular Muslim resentment.

For more on Al-Zawahiri’s rebuttal, SIW-AQ-2010


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Never before has a nation-state attempted billion-dollar bank heists like North Korea is now accused of masterminding. The goal, experts say, is funding the nuclear weapons that act as a morbid guarantee of the regime’s survival.



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In the shadow of nuclear weapons, bank robberies tend to be forgotten. In North Korea’s case, the two are closely connected. Reuters

Conventional wisdom says North Korea is an arsenal-craving backwater under the rule of despots. The regime, however, is driving toward a modern version of authoritarianism, with cyberwar capabilities complementing hydrogen bombs. While the nukes purposefully grab the world’s attention, the regime is taking unprecedented steps in the cyber domain. And it’s targeting more than just its critics.

It’s been just over one year since the collective known as Lazarus Group stole $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh in a heist that ran through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The theft, one of the biggest bank robberies in modern history, initially targeted $1 billion but came up well short because of a simple typo during the online bank transfer process. It’s now the subject of a U.S. federal inquiry looking into North Korea’s possible role in what amounts to modern bank robbery.

This is just one in a series of hacks that prompted accusations against North Korea of targeting, hacking and stealing money from financial institutions from at least 18 different countries.

Never before has a nation-state attempted billion-dollar bank heists like North Korea is now accused of masterminding. The goal, experts say, is funding the nuclear weapons that act as a morbid guarantee of the regime’s survival. While the amount of money stolen is unprecedented, the country’s actions match its longstanding tactic of borrowing from the criminal playbook to skirt crushing economic sanctions.

“What the North Koreans are very good at is continuing to find ways to earn income around the sanctions regime,” Stephan Haggard, visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics, said. “Because they’re sanctioned and because they have absolutely no compunction about violating international law and norms, they’re perfectly happy to devote resources to sanctions circumvention. The cyber piece of this is an income earning piece of a larger picture.”

If the bank hacks continue to be successful, there’s no reason to believe they will stop anytime soon.

“If I were a consumer bank right now, I would be pretty concerned about attempts from North Korea to exfiltrate money,” Jon Condra, director of East Asian research and analysis at the threat intelligence firm Flashpoint, told CyberScoop.

The Lazarus-Pyongyang Connection

Lazarus’s involvement in the heists was first pointed out by Symantec as it investigated both the group and North Korea’s increasingly aggressive and idiosyncratic cyberattacks. 

“We find them to be quite unpredictable,” Eric Chien, technical director at the security firm Symantec, said. “People try to put [North Korean hackers] in a box and say, ‘This is how they operate.’ They did the Sony wipe, they did the South Korean wipe. If you asked me at that time, ‘Are they going to try to steal $1 billion out of the Bangladesh Bank?’ I would have said, ‘No, that doesn’t fit their profile at all.’”

Earlier this month, Symantec announced a new set of links between Lazarus and hacking attempts on Polish regulators and banks, a cybersecurity incident deemed the most serious the Polish banking system has ever faced.

Chien’s team at Symantec has been actively tracking the Lazarus Group since the Sony hack in 2014, an attack the U.S. government has attributed to North Korea. Researchers have watched the group grow in both ambition and impact but, despite it all, Chien says Lazarus remains “quite low” on a technical perspective.

“Only now they’re starting to take on some of the most modern techniques, the regular techniques you’d see any cybercriminals use in these latest Polish attacks,” he said. “Just because you have low sophistication doesn’t mean you can’t have high impact. We see that with the attack on the Bangladesh Bank. It was really only a typo and some procedural errors that prevented them from getting away with $1 billion and only getting away with $81 million.”

A Connected Dictatorship

For the Kim dynasty, criminal activity is a matter of national security. North Korea’s cyber activity is just the latest step in a decades-long provocation performance.

“They have switched across different domains,” Jon R. Lindsay, a professor at the Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, told CyberScoop. “In the last 10 years, it’s switched to cyber. North Korea keeps trying to find ways to come in under threshold deterrence, response, retaliation. The means it uses to do that have continually varied as the U.S. and South Koreans have come up with more effective deterrent regimes to lock that out.”

Even while revenue has been choked out of the country with sanctions, the dictatorship has poured considerable resources into developing cyber capabilities over the last 38 years. According to South Korean intelligence, it came into stark focus in 1986 when North Korea hired 25 Russian instructors to train “cyber-warriors.” The training took place at Mirim Command Automation College (now known as Kim Il Military College), an institution that became legendary for its shadowy activity. The Korea Computer Center, a top research center from the Pyongyang regime, was established in 1990 and has since branched out to offices and commercial dealings around the world.

The hackers who make up Lazarus may have been part of the North Korean programs that educate students from middle school to the university level at institutions like Kim Il Sung Military Academy, the top school in the nation. By 2000, as the country emerged from a four-year long famine that killed as many as 3.5 million people, North Korea increased investments in technology, connectivity and personnel that slowly began to open the country up, albeit through the internet, to the outside world.

“North Korea is not famous for its considerable levels of access to the international community nor its internet infrastructure,” Condra said. “That said, they’ve invested significantly in developing asymmetric cyber capabilities as a means of countering a symmetric military advantage on behalf of the United States and its allies in the region.”

Beyond attacking financial institutions, information warfare provides North Korea with a force multiplier in the looming specter of military conflict with its southern counterpart. South Korean intelligence assessments show a low enough stockpile of conventional weapons to emphasize North Korea’s need for asymmetric weapons that would enable it, in theory, to strike quickly and with a high impact. Along with cyberweapons, nuclear arms, biological weapons and electronic warfare characterize this approach.

“Grooming prodigies, deploying them, setting up internet, buying programs, and providing conditions for them to operate in China or another third country is considerably cheaper than buying new weapons or fighter jets which cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to a North Korean defector interviewed in 2011.

According to former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) — North Korea’s top spy agency — is responsible for Lazarus. Within RGB, different groups handle different aspects of cyberwar. It’s RGB’s 110 Institute, the Technical Reconnaissance Group, which South Korean officials say command the Lazarus Group. The 110 Institute is one among several known to send operatives abroad to work within international private and public industries as cover for conducting operations.

How Lazarus Works

The hacking group started operations in 2009, the same year as Operation Troy, a cyberattack in which South Korean military secrets were stolen. That same year saw a flurry of activity including denial of service attacks against South Korean and U.S. targets. Financial institutions and other targets have been hit with attacks every year since by North Korean-affiliated targets, though never with the same level of success that Lazarus saw inside the systems of the Bangladesh Bank. All of these attacks have been pinned on the Lazarus Group.

“Directly stealing money out of bank accounts is something that has not traditionally been the purview of nation-states,” Condra said. “This has been an interesting twist in the APT saga coming out of the East Asian region.”

Offering an estimate, Haggard said that over the last two decades North Korea has made from 10 to 15 percent of its foreign exchange earnings — several hundred million dollars per year — through various shifting forms of illicit activity.

Describing Lazarus’s tools, tactics and procedures, Symantec’s Chien said the whole package is very distinctive.

“When you look at the way they write their code, it’s all written in kind of a different way,” he explained. “If you didn’t have the internet as a reference manual, if you didn’t have the classic text books and computer science university knowledge, you would maybe do it in a different way, whatever way you thought. A bunch of their code is written in a nonstandard, nontraditional method.”

This almost exactly matches up with how North Korea universities operate. A former teacher at a North Korean university who spoke to CyberScoop on the condition of anonymity described students reading from books and other slow, tightly controlled sources of information because the country so thoroughly monitors and blocks internet usage. Whereas hackers in China, Russia or elsewhere might simply rely on Google to solve a problem, North Korea’s students have been thoroughly siloed. As a result of that relative separation and lack of contact, they’ve simply done things differently than the rest of the world.

“We go back to Sony as a start,” Chien said. “Just the most obvious things are when they got into Sony they displayed this blinking animation, skull and cross bones, a ‘was here’ animation with their names scrolling across the bottom. It was a bit laughable, but unfortunately, there was real impact there on Sony.”

That’s slowly changing now as North Korea’s cyber operatives increasingly adopt tactics like watering hole attacks.

“We had never seen them reuse off-the-shelf code before,” Chien said while discussing the recent attack on Polish banks. “It’s the kind of thing where if you took an average person in the U.S. and they became a hacker they might do this from the start: Go out on the internet, see how are people doing this and start there. [The Lazarus Group] is at that stage now.”

While the group does have sophisticated capabilities in regards to disk-wiping malware and destructive attacks, according to Condra, they’ve fallen so short of their goals when it comes to stealing money.

“They do seem to manage to get their way into financial institutions but as far as actually exfiltrating the money, they’ve proven less than capable at that,” he said. “It was $81 million they successfully got in the Bangladesh incident out of almost a billion they tried for. I think they are learning and evolving over time, I would certainly venture to say they are more sophisticated than they were in 2009 when they started, but they haven’t proven incredibly successful from the financial theft perspective yet.”

The Chinese Conundrum

When tracking the history of North Korea cyber capabilities, the trail runs right through Xi Jinping’s China.

“[North Korea has] obviously benefited tremendously from their relationship with China,” Condra told CyberScoop. “China is their primary benefactor and many people see China as the only reason North Korea continues to exist in its current form.”

While North Korea was top of discussion between Presidents Xi and Trump during their recent meeting, neither side expects the problem to be solved any time soon. Theft against banks by Pyongyang may end up continuing into the foreseeable future. The current U.S. investigation into the bank hacks could force North Korea to retool but few expect a stop to the hacking or, in a larger sense, provocation.

“I do think that North Korea is really going to be the issue that defines U.S.-China relations under the Trump administration,” Shannon Tiezzi, editor at the Diplomat magazine, said earlier this month. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “put it quite directly that strategic patience, the Obama administration’s policy, is dead. The Trump administration is determined to craft a new policy. Realistically speaking, unless that policy is we’re going to enter into unconditional dialogue with North Korea, any of the other options are going to be upsetting to China.”

Although Flashpoint’s Condra warns banks to worry about North Korea’s activity, he says they face more common day-to-day threats from elsewhere. “[Lazarus is] a high-impact, low-probability event for most organizations. The more likely vector is cybercrime affecting consumer banks is still probably the cybercrime communities particularly coming out of Eastern Europe. Those guys don’t tend to go after the bank itself, they go after the customers,” he said.

“If we’re ever going to solve the North Korea issue, at least from the cyber domain, China’s going to have to play ball, Condra said. “China is going to have to make the determination that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Fundamentally, the decision is going to have to be made in Beijing.”

North Korean representatives have repeatedly denied the country has been involved in any hacking whatsoever.

North Korea has been blamed in recent years for a series of online attacks, mostly on financial networks, in the United States, South Korea and over a dozen other countries.

Illustration photo of binary code against a North Korean flag

Cyber security researchers have also said they have found technical evidence that could link North Korea with the global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack that infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries this month. Pyongyang has called the allegation “ridiculous”.

The crux of the allegations against North Korea is its connection to a hacking group called Lazarus that is linked to last year’s $81 million cyber heist at the Bangladesh central bank and the 2014 attack on Sony’s Hollywood studio. The U.S. government has blamed North Korea for the Sony hack and some U.S. officials have said prosecutors are building a case against Pyongyang in the Bangladesh Bank theft.

No conclusive proof has been provided and no criminal charges have yet been filed. North Korea has also denied being behind the Sony and banking attacks.

North Korea is one of the most closed countries in the world and any details of its clandestine operations are difficult to obtain. But experts who study the reclusive country and defectors who have ended up in South Korea or the West have provided some clues.

Kim Heung-kwang, a former computer science professor in North Korea who defected to the South in 2004 and still has sources inside North Korea, said Pyongyang’s cyber attacks aimed at raising cash are likely organised by Unit 180, a part of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), its main overseas intelligence agency.

“Unit 180 is engaged in hacking financial institutions (by) breaching and withdrawing money out of bank accounts,” Kim told Reuters. He has previously said that some of his former students have joined North Korea’s Strategic Cyber Command, its cyber-army.

“The hackers go overseas to find somewhere with better internet services than North Korea so as not to leave a trace,” Kim added. He said it was likely they went under the cover of being employees of trading firms, overseas branches of North Korean companies, or joint ventures in China or Southeast Asia.

James Lewis, a North Korea expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Pyongyang first used hacking as a tool for espionage and then political harassment against South Korean and U.S. targets.

“They changed after Sony by using hacking to support criminal activities to generate hard currency for the regime,” he said.

“So far, it’s worked as well or better as drugs, counterfeiting, smuggling – all their usual tricks,” Lewis said.


The U.S. Department of Defense said in a report submitted to Congress last year that North Korea likely “views cyber as a cost-effective, asymmetric, deniable tool that it can employ with little risk from reprisal attacks, in part because its networks are largely separated from the Internet”.

“It is likely to use Internet infrastructure from third-party nations,” the report said.

South Korean officials say they have considerable evidence of North Korea’s cyber warfare operations.

“North Korea is carrying out cyber attacks through third countries to cover up the origin of the attacks and using their information and communication technology infrastructure,” Ahn Chong-ghee, South Korea’s vice foreign minister, told Reuters in written comments.

Besides the Bangladesh Bank heist, he said Pyongyang was also suspected in attacks on banks in the Philippines, Vietnam and Poland.

In June last year, police said the North hacked into more than 140,000 computers at 160 South Korean companies and government agencies, planting malicious code as part of a long-term plan to lay the groundwork for a massive cyber attack on its rival.

North Korea was also suspected of staging cyber attacks against the South Korean nuclear reactor operator in 2014, although it denied any involvement.

That attack was conducted from a base in China, according to Simon Choi, a senior security researcher at Seoul-based anti-virus company Hauri Inc.

“They operate there so that regardless of what kind of project they do, they have Chinese IP addresses,” said Choi, who has conducted extensive research into North Korea’s hacking capabilities.


Malaysia has also been a base for North Korean cyber operations, according to Yoo Dong-ryul, a former South Korean police researcher who studied North Korean espionage techniques for 25 years.

“They work in trading or IT programming companies on the surface,” Yoo told Reuters. “Some of them run websites and sell game and gambling programs”.

Two IT firms in Malaysia have links to North Korea’s RGB spy agency, according to a Reuters investigation this year, although there was no suggestion either of them was involved in hacking.

Michael Madden, a U.S.-based expert on the North Korean leadership, said Unit 180 was one of many elite cyber warfare groups in the North Korean intelligence community.

“The personnel are recruited from senior middle schools and receive advanced training at some elite training institutions,” Madden told Reuters.

“They have a certain amount of autonomy in their missions and tasking as well,” he said, adding that they could be operating from hotels in China or Eastern Europe.

In the United States, officials said there was no conclusive evidence that North Korea was behind the WannaCry ransomware, but that was no reason to be complacent.

“Whether or not they are directly involved with ransomware doesn’t change the fact that they are a real cyber threat,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of prominent U.S. security firm CrowdStrike Inc, added: “Their capabilities have improved steadily over time, and we consider them to be a threat actor that is capable of inflicting significant damage on U.S. private or government networks.”

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Over the summer of August 30, 2016,, Majalla has been in contact with a figure they referred to as Abu Ayyub al-Iraqi, though this is not his real name. He has presented credible evidence that he was a senior commander of ISIS and, before 2003, a Brigadier General in the Iraqi military.

Abu Ayyub supplied documentation verifying his identity, as well as several recorded audio statements providing key identifying information. Majalla corroborated the details with sources personally familiar with him, including several ISIS members who were in detention in Iraq and Germany. All confirmed that, until recently, he was one of ISIS’s most prominent military commanders. Abu Ayyub also demonstrated that he maintains an active presence on jihadist web platforms affiliated with ISIS.

Majalla independently verified the details in collaboration with a former Iraqi intelligence agent personally familiar with Abu Ayyub. The agent contacted him, verified his identity, and confirmed his standing within ISIS-affiliated web forums.

The following is a summary of Majalla’s findings:

Who is Brigadier General Abu Ayyub al-Iraqi?

Abu Ayyub was a Brigadier General in the Iraqi Army under Saddam Hussein’s regime. More recently, he joined ISIS, acting as a military adviser. He helped SIS establish military courses specializing in the manufacture of bombs and explosive belts, and taught courses on intelligence, security and covert activity. At the time, he was residing in Kurdistan and operating from there.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s Front Man

On June 29, 2014, ISIS announced the establishment of what it called an “Islamic caliphate,” naming Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as “the Imam and Caliph for Muslims everywhere.” Standing from the pulpit of Mosul’s Great Mosque, he called on all Muslims to swear a bay’ah — an oath of allegiance — to him. But, according to Abu Ayyub, this swearing-in was theatrically, but not operationally, significant.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Ayyub has provided Majalla with audio recordings and other evidence demonstrating that, while Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an important doctrinal voice within ISIS, in operational terms he is more a secondary figure. Indeed, as he recounts, Baghdadi has not commanded any of ISIS’s battles. His main contribution to the front lines was to visit Anbar on two occasions as a preacher to boost the morale of fighters.

Abu Ayyub added that Baghdadi joined ISIS at the end of 2007. Prior to that, he had no military experience. At the time, he was known as a preacher who would give sermons in the mosques of Fallujah. He issued fatwas, or Islamic legal rulings, on behalf of ISIS from the pulpit, even though he was not then affiliated with the group. Up till then, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had worked with a local Anbari faction.

‘The Prince of Shadows’: Hajji Bakr

In June 2010, ISIS was at the nadir of its fortunes. Its nominal leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi had been killed two months before, making him the third leader of the group to be killed in four years. It had lost most of its territory in Iraq, and was reduced to several hundred fighters on the fringes of the Iraqi desert.

Enter Hajji Bakr, whose real name was Samir al-Khlifawi — widely known as the “prince of shadows.” In Abu Ayyub words, “Hajji Bakr was a former Army colonel in the pre-2003 Iraqi regime. Afterwards he joined Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group, Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which later evolved into Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He was very close to Zarqawi, and in time he grew to become one of ISIS’s most powerful and influential operatives, running the organization and acting as its de facto operational leader until he was killed in Syria in 2014.”

Hajji Bakr
Hajji Bakr

Hajji Bakr moved energetically to re-organize ISIS’s ranks. He aggressively recruited deputies with military and intelligence experience. According to Abu Ayyub, Hajji Bakr recruited several individuals who would later prove to be key players in the organisation:

Mazen Nuhairi, known as “Abu Safaa al-Rifai”. Born in the 1970s, he had been a Colonel in the Iraqi Army before the US invasion in 2003.

Abd ar-Rahman al-Qaduli, also known as “Abu Ali al-Anbari”, a former physics teacher and jihadist veteran of Afghanistan. He would go on to play a key role in the establishment of ISIS’s presence in Syria and foothold in Libya, before being killed by US special forces in eastern Syria in March 2016.

‘Adnan al-Bilawi, also known as “Abu Abd ar-Rahman al-Bilawi”. Al-Bilawi was imprisoned in Abu Ghraib until 2013, when he escaped in a massive, ISIS-orchestrated prison break. In the following months, he travelled between Iraq and Syria before being killed by Iraqi security forces in Mosul, just prior to ISIS’s capture of the city in June 2014.

Abu Ayyub also notes that most of ISIS’s current high command “was shaped inside prisons. Men such as Abu Abd ar-Rahman al-Bilawi, the military commander and mastermind of the Mosul operation; Abu Ali Anbari, a senior security official and religious leader; and Abu Muhannad al-Suwaydawi (nicknamed Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi), a major ISIS official in Syria. And many others besides them.”

The three were detained in Boca Prison in Basra in 2006, and most were released in 2007. Working under Hajji Bakr’s direction, they devised a plan for revitalizing the then-moribund ISIS.

First, they decided the organization needed a new public face. They were men with checkered pasts, veterans of Saddam’s army and the Ba’ath Party, neither of which commanded much respect at the time. But Sunni clerics are highly respected in Anbar, and installing a man with Al-Baghdadi’s profile in the fore would make it easier to win local support. As an added benefit, employing Al-Baghdadi as the face of the organization enabled them to avoid competing amongst themselves for the post.

After the three commanders came to an agreement amongst themselves, they decided to meet with Al-Baghdadi. When they first approached Al-Baghdadi with their proposed reorganization of ISIS, he rejected it. However, Hajji Bakr ultimately persuaded him to go along, informing Baghdadi that he would be the State’s leader in name, while Hajji Bakr would retain actual control.

‘Those Who Loosen and Bind’

Abu Ayyub claims that ISIS’s principal operational commander today is a man named Mazen Nuhairi, who goes by the nom de guerre “Abu Safa’al-Rifa’i.” A former colonel in Saddam’s army, he is hardly a cleric and not a Sunni. According to Abu Ayyub, he is the acting successor to Hajji Bakr.

Abu Ayyub’s most important claim is that ISIS is run on a day-to-day basis by a committee known internally as Ahl al-Hall wal-’Aqd, a classical Arabic term meaning “those who loosen and bind” and denoting powerful decision makers.
According to Abu Ayyub, it is they, and not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who supervise ISIS’s overall hierarchy, including its specialized offices (known as diwans) and network of provinces (known as wilayat).

ISIS itself partially corroborated this arrangement in early July 2016, releasing a video documenting the existence of a so-called “Delegated Committee” which oversees the entire organization, including all its provincial offices and specialized bureaus.
Within the Delegated Committee, according to Abu Ayyub, seven commanders have stood out as particularly important in recent years: Hajji Bakr, Abu ‘Alaa al-Afri, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, Ni’ma Abd Nayyef, Abu Abd ar-Rahman Al-Bilawi, Abu Muhannad al-Suwaydawi and Abu Ahmad al-’Alwani.

Since their appointment, all seven have been killed. They have been replaced by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, Abu Muhammad al-Shamali, Saleh Haifa and Iyad al-Jumaili.

Abu Ayyub believes that “the Delegated Committee represents the Ahl al-Hall wa’l-Aqd. It is more important than al-Baghdadi himself. It supervises 14 bureaus, 35 provinces as well as six offices and agencies.”

Mazen Nuhairi: ISIS’s Operational Commander

Nuhairi, according to Abu Ayyub, was born in the 1970s. He joined the Iraqi military and rose to the rank of colonel. After the US-led invasion, he joined the insurgency and eventually became one of ISIS’s founding members. Today he goes by the nom de guerre of Abu Safaa al-Rifa’i, and has succeeded Hajji Bakr as ISIS’s effective operational commander.

He is one of the key architects of ISIS’s revival, recruited by Hajji Bakr in the dark days of 2010. A succession of high profile casualties has contributed to his rise. Hajji Bakr was killed by Syrian rebels in the Aleppo countryside in early 2014; Abu Abd ar-Rahman Al-Bilawi fell to an Iraqi special forces raid a week before ISIS took Mosul in June 2014. Mazen Nuhairi’s role grew still more important after the killing of Abu Muslim al-Turkmani and Abu Ali al-Anbari, who represented the second tier of ISIS leadership.

Nuhairi essentially modeled ISIS’s intelligence apparatus after the Baath regime in which he came of age, with the added responsibility of providing personal security to ISIS field commanders.

According to Abu Ayyub, Nuhairi works behind the scenes, minimizing exposure even to ISIS’s second tier commanders. The intelligence bureau for which he is primarily responsible has been linked to covert suicide operations carried out by ISIS cells abroad.

ISIS Compounds the Mistakes of Al-Qaeda

As ISIS sought to recover from its defeat in Iraq in 2007-10, it remained scarred by the “Sunni Awakenings” which had seen Iraqi tribesmen and former Sunni insurgents turn on the group. This led ISIS to become obsessed with the rise of other extremist factions and groups in Syria, seeing in them potential “Syrian Awakenings.”

For its part, the Assad regime had a vital interest in ISIS’s early success, in that it would inevitably come to blows with the Free Syrian Army and mainstream Syrian opposition factions.

Soon ISIS’s ire was trained on the Nusra Front. Founded by Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, a Syrian veteran of ISIS, and initially funded by the group, it soon grew into Syria’s strongest jihadist faction. As Jawlani grew increasingly powerful, ISIS’s leadership proved unable to maintain control over him.

In his conversations with Majalla, General Abu Ayyub claimed that ISIS’s most senior military leaders plotted to assassinate Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani. Jawlani’s death would have been a boon to the Assad regime, which had suffered significant losses at the hands of the Nusra Front. At the same time it would have rid ISIS of a formidable adversary.

Al-Baghdadi Enters Syria

In early 2013, ISIS began to move against the Nusra Front. According to Abu Ayyub, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Col. Hajji Bakr and their operational team entered Syria in mid-March 2013. They took up residence along the Turkish border near the Klis area, traveling in mobile homes not far from a Syrian refugee camp. Al-Baghdadi and his team held intensive meetings with branch commanders of the Nusra Front and sought to impose his authority on them. He deceived these leaders, keeping in the dark his split with Jawlani and saying that ISIS had come to serve “the common good” with unanimous consent and the support of both Zawahiri and Jawlani. Al-Baghdadi also promised them that he would embrace Nusra Front commanders, religious officials, and advisers, with the general aim of restoring the [Nusra Front] branch to the [ISIS] root.”

In an effort to force Jawlani to fall into line, Al-Baghdadi formally announced the merger of the two groups on April 8, 2013 into the newly proclaimed ISIS of Iraq and Syria. Jawlani rejected the merger the following day, and a period of bitter infighting ensued.

Meetings with Iranian and Syrian intelligence officers

Abu Ayyub went on to say that “Hajji Bakr made constant visits throughout Syria and coordinated directly with the Syrian regime, through Syrian intelligence agents named Moaz Safouk and his cousin Ziad Safouk, both of whom were prior acquaintances of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Hajji Bakr and Al-Bilawi met with several intelligence officers including Hossein Al-Khedr (an official in Syrian intelligence) and Ali Faramani (an Iranian officer who took over the ISIS file within Iranian intelligence at the end of 2014). Nevertheless, the extent to which the Syrian regime proved helpful to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was limited. It was more economic than political or military. For by then the Syrian regime had begun to lose control on the ground, especially in the areas outside Damascus. Faramani was in contact with al-Baghdadi and provided him with information on the leaders of extremist organizations and factions in Syria, especially the commanders of the Nusra Front.”

Iran’s Ties to Sunni Jihadists: A Backgrounder

The ideological and sectarian divide separating Iran from the Sunni jihadists of Al-Qaeda and ISIS often casts doubt on claims of cooperation or collusion between them. However, since the 9/11 Commission Report, evidence has accumulated that Iran acted as a gateway for jihadists to and from Afghanistan and Iraq. Many reports have noted the presence of Al-Qaeda leaders and families in Iran, including the family of Usama bin Laden. Several top-tier commanders have also taken shelter in Iran, to such an extent that Iran has been described as a “reserve” of Al-Qaeda’s leaders.

Bin Laden’s personal letters disclosed a good deal about these ties. The relationship between Iran and Al-Qaeda, and later between Iran and ISIS, reflects the Islamic Republic’s focus on waging unconventional war by relying on militias, its intelligence cells, and a network of spies in targeted states, including the Gulf States, Europe, and the U.S.

Last June, Majalla published a number of documents taken from a vast collection of over one million documents retrieved from Usama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan during the May 2011 operation in which he was killed. Some of the material showed that, after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, some Al-Qaeda leaders and families fled to Iran, where they were kept under house arrest. Some of them, including Bin Laden’s family, were later released. Others remained in custody.

Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who rose to Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command after Bin Laden’s death but before Al-Zawahiri was chosen as his successor, complains in those documents about Iranian behavior in negotiations.

A New York court summary judgment against Iran in December 2011 found that Iran provided important material support to Al-Qaeda both before and after the September 11 attacks. Skeptics often note that in 2001 Iran aided the international coalition in toppling the Taliban (which had been its enemy throughout the 1990s). However, according to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, by 2007 the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had begun supplying arms to the Taliban in an effort to harry the Western military presence on its borders.

More recently, in early June 2016, a conservative Iranian website confirmed that former Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour had been residing in Iran for two months, during which time he signed an agreement to secure aid from Iranian officials after intensive talks — despite repeated Iranian Foreign Ministry’s denials that Mansour was even in the country.

Iran has a long history of forging relationships with extremist organizations and providing them with logistical support and a haven.

Iran possess an extensive network of spies engaged in activities ranging from espionage to technological piracy to terrorist bombings and assassinations. In an unclassified report, the Library of Congress detailed extensive support provided by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence to extremist groups in Iraq. The report noted extensive “cooperation” between Iran and al-Qaeda “based on their shared opposition to U.S. hegemony in the region.” Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC have participated in terrorist attacks from Argentina to Lebanon.

Clandestine Iranian-ISIS Meetings

The mutual hostility of Iran and ISIS to the US is well known. Less appreciated is their shared antagonism to mainstream Sunni factions opposed to Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria.4Middle East Media Scope , LTD Likewise, Iran’s interest is to keep America and the West preoccupied with the burdens of dealing with ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. So there are shared interests and informal agreements between the two parties.”

It was Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the IRGC, who set the tone for Iranian policy towards ISIS. In Abu Ayyub’s telling, he acted primarily through a deputy known as Ali Faramani: “Hossein Salami was communicating with Iraqi and Syrian figures to clear the way for ISIS’s expansion. He was authorized to represent the Supreme Leader in foreign affairs. Ali Faramani carried his messages to senior [Syrian and Iraqi] officials in order to secure the release of prisoners affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Ba’ath party.”

According to Abu Ayyub, Hossein Salami “has an intelligence officer’s mindset par excellence.”

Abu Ayyub alleges that his Syrian and Iranian interlocutors then “facilitated the escape of prisoners in Iraq, and the release of [jihadist] detainees in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons. All that took place on Iran’s orders. ISIS’s leadership didn’t believe that such things could simply be ordered, until a meeting was held between a Syrian intelligence officer named Khedr Al-Hossein, Ali Faramani, Safouk and Hajji Bakr in Syria. Ali Faramani detailed how Iran’s activities benefited ISIS, and claimed that he personally facilitated the prisoners’ release. That was when Iran’s indirect support for ISIS began.”

Abu Ayyub went on to say: “Communications between Iran and ISIS were carried out through Syria, and later through some Kurdish operatives. With the assault on Mosul, Iran played a major role in aiding ISIS, as Iraqi commanders ordered their troops to withdraw and leave behind their weapons and equipment for ISIS to capture.”

The Iran-ISIS Oil Trade

According to General Abu Ayyub, “ISIS sold Iraqi oil at a discounted price to Iran through Iraqi and Syrian middlemen at the height of the Iranian sanctions. This Iraqi and Syrian oil started to flow into Europe through Turkey, with some being transported in tankers through Bandar Abbas as if it was Iraqi oil. For Iran, the benefits were twofold: first, it managed to partially lift the blockade and benefit from Iraqi and Syrian oil supplies; second, it supported ISIS. All this proceeded along lines planned by Hossein Salami.”

Abu Ayyub confirmed that Salami received letters of thanks from ISIS’s operational leadership — though not al-Baghdadi — for his role in propping up ISIS.

“However,” the dissident general hastened to add, “the organization knew full well that Iran was planning [against them], but their interests, and dire necessity, required they accept the support.”

Iran continued to provide ISIS with weapons in exchange for oil. The most visible deals between both sides took place at the end of 2014. Most crucially for ISIS, it received TNT, C-4, and other munitions that Tehran managed to purchase from Western countries via Kurdish intermediaries.

Abu Ayyub claims that Iran trafficked arms in this roundabout manner to dispel suspicions: if the weapons were discovered, they could plausibly claim that they originated in the US and Europe.

Iran’s Deepening Hold

Two years later, Iran’s hold over Iraq is stronger than ever. Media reports and private testimony indicate that hundreds of Iranian advisers are participating in the fight against ISIS in Samarra, Diyala, Salah ad-Din, and Anbar, and that Iran is providing logistical support and training to several dozen predominantly Shi’ite militias. International wire reports have noted the presence of dozens of advisers from the Quds Force in the Iraqi battlefronts. They are providing arms and jointly directing military operations with Iraqi commanders.

The Iranian presence has grown so overt that Qassem Soleimani, the once secretive head of Iran’s vaunted Qods Force, now openly flaunts his role in directing Iranian offensives across both Iraq and Syria. He has appeared in dozens of photos and videos with Shi’ite militias near the front lines. These appearances have raised new questions about the extent of Iranian control of the Iraqi security sector, now exercised more openly than ever. These Iranian gains won tacit acceptance by prominent members of the international coalition against ISIS due to the threat posed by the organisation.

Faramani continued to meet with leaders of the organization in several European countries, while some secret meetings took place in Iraq in the areas of Suleiman Bek and Tuz Khurmatu. He conveyed Salami’s messages to ISIS commanders. Abu Ayyub was not privy to their contents.

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“The Lebanese Rocket Society”

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: “It begins with an image we discover in a book.


The image is of a stamp with a rocket on it. The rocket bears the colors of the Lebanese flag—an image we don’t recognize, we don’t understand. It does not belong to our imaginary.

What does it show—a weapon, a missile, a rocket for space exploration?

Is it serious or just a fantasy? Did the Lebanese really dream of participating in the conquest of space? It’s hard to believe and rather surreal. We ask our parents, our friends … No one remembers anything, no one knows what we’re talking about.

Stamp issued by the Lebanese Post Office in 1964.

It is 2009 and we begin our research. A web search for “Lebanese rocket” yields only images of war, specifically Hezbollah missiles targeting Israel and Israeli missiles targeting Lebanon. When we search for “rocket” or “conquest of space,” we find many images, but no trace of our Lebanese rocket. But we do find some useful information.

The adventure began in the early 1960s, when a group of students from Haigazian University in Beirut, led by their mathematics professor Manoug Manougian, designed and launched rockets into the Lebanese sky. They produced the first rocket in the region. While the United States was preparing to send its first Apollo rocket into space, while the USSR was on the verge of launching the first manned spaceflight, Manougian and his students began their research on rocket propulsion. A crazy challenge for a tiny country!

We go through the daily newspapers from that period. At first, we find very few details about Manougian’s rocket research, except for the dates on which his rockets were launched. More than ten rockets were launched, each one more powerful than the last; their range increased from 12 kilometers to 450 and even 600 kilometers, reaching the stratosphere. The state and the army helped with logistics and financing and provided the scientists with a permanent launching base in Dbayeh. The Lebanese Rocket Society was born. A stamp—the very one we had seen—was issued to celebrate the event on the occasion of independence day in 1964.

It was a scientific project, not a military one. Manoug and his students wanted to be part of the scientific research going on at the time, when the great powers were vying for the conquest of space. The period from 1960 to 1967 (when the Lebanese space project came to an end) was considered by many to be a time of revolutions, with the possible alternative offered by the pan-Arabism of Egyptian President Abdel Nasser, before the Arab defeat in the 1967 war. Lebanon was just emerging from a civil conflict between Nasserists and pro-Western groups, which in 1958 had led to the landing of 15,000 Marines to support the latter. When elected President, General Fouad Chehab needed to bring society together under a strong and centralized state, which made the space project convenient for the political interests of the time. This made for two opposing strategies: On the one hand, the state could use the project as a symbol for its army, which hoped to weaponize the project. On the other hand, the scientists from Haigazian University, mainly Armenians who came to Lebanon from all over the Arab world (Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and so on—Manougian himself was born and grew up in Jerusalem) were convinced that only through research and education could peace be built.

Strangely, this project has totally disappeared from individual and collective memory. No one really remembers it. There is no trace of it in our imaginary. This absence surprised us. It was like a secret, a hidden, forgotten story. As artists who have built a great part of our work on stories buried or otherwise kept secret, we were interested in this type of narrative and the way it resisted the dominant imaginary.

With this, we began doing in-depth research and making a film on the Lebanese Rocket Society.

Group portrait taken before the launch of Cedar 3, 1962. Image from the Lebanese Rocket Society Archive, ©DR.

1. The Unrealized Imaginary

The representations of the rockets do not call on any imaginary of our past. Is this gap in our imaginary due to an absence of images of the rockets?

In Beirut, we find an album of photos by Edouard Tamérian that the members of the Lebanese Rocket Society offered to President Chehab. At Haigazian University, where the project was born, we find a few images, and then we find a few more at the Arab Image Foundation. There are about ten altogether. They were taken by photographers Assad Jradi and Harry Koundakjian. Both photographers lost their negatives during the Lebanese Civil War. Jradi lost his in 1982; when Israel invaded Lebanon, his brothers got scared and burned the negatives. Koundakjian lost his when a bomb fell on the Associated Press offices where he kept his images.

When we meet Assad Jradi, he tells us something we find quite interesting: during the civil war, all the photos he took were out of focus. He didn’t understand it, he still doesn’t understand it: he couldn’t capture clear images—the outlines, the features were all blurred. This immediately reminds us of a text by writer and artist Jalal Toufic, who asserts that during a war, the images taken are necessarily out of focus. The photographer is subject to imminent danger, has little time to focus, and his compositions are erratic. His images are nearly always blurred by the speed of war. After the war, the fuzziness still present in the images is due to the withdrawal of what is photographed, which is no longer there to be seen. Toufic argues that, because of this withdrawal, part of the referent cannot be precisely located, whether in matters of framing, of focusing, or both.

This is also what we have focused on in our own research: referents that cannot be located.

We begin to work on the film, using as a starting point the absence of images. But very soon the situation changes. We end up finding images of the Lebanese rockets in Tampa, Florida, with Manoug Manougian, the professor who started the project before leaving Lebanon, never to return to the region again. From the smallest to the largest rocket—from Cedar 1 to Cedar 8—Manoug kept all the films and photo archives! He saved everything for over fifty years.

Even when we see these images, we do not completely recognize them. The history of that period was written without them, maybe because most of the witnesses—those who participated in the project—left Lebanon and are scattered all over the world.

This may also be a consequence of the Lebanese Civil Wars, which took with them memories of the past. Or even before that, it may be a consequence of the June 1967 War between the Israeli and Arab armies. When the space program was halted definitively and suddenly sometime after the 1967 war, it was the end of a certain idea of the Pan-Arab project that was supposed to unite the region and inspire people to shape their own destiny. The end of this project shattered an alternative vision, a progressive and modernist utopia that promised to transform our region and the world. Such is the phantasm that we have inherited from the ‘60s, and even if we refuse any kind of nostalgia or idealized link to it, it keeps haunting us. Our research on the space project is in a way a reflection on those years and those mythologies that changed after the war of ‘67.

But maybe what has changed the most is the image of ourselves, of our dreams. We just can’t imagine ourselves having undertaken a project like the Lebanese Rocket Society. But while that imaginary has withdrawn, perhaps telling the story could enable the photographs and documents to somehow bring it back. It is what we attempt to do in the first part of our film. And as the narrative unfolds, we ask ourselves:

How were we able to totally forget this story?

2. Different Reconstitutions

It is not the first time we have faced oblivion and invisibility. They were what first prodded us to make images in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil Wars. Artists of our generation have often investigated the writing of history and the difficulty of sharing it.

For certain cultures, permanency stems from the act of redoing, destroying, and reconstructing. But in a country that has preferred amnesia, what does it mean to save traces, archives? If we need history, how can it be written without our being mesmerized by memory, whether individual or collective? How to think about history, about its manipulation, its rewriting, its function, while trying to understand which representation of ourselves we choose, or which we allow to be chosen for us?

What is left of the space project today? No commemorative stone or monument relates the adventure of the rockets. Facing this absence, how can this story be told in the present? What would it mean today to think about this forgotten story and reconstitute part of it? What does it mean to reproduce the gestures of the past today?

Issues of reconstitution and reenactment can be said to go way back in our lives, before even our practice and research. In 1922, Joana’s paternal grandfather and his family were thrown out of the city of Izmir by the Turkish army. They took refuge in Lebanon, having lost everything, including the contents of a safe holding the dowry of Stephanie, the mother of her grandfather. At first they lived in real misery, and her grandfather furiously tried to recover the family estate and the contents of the safe. When negotiations with the Turkish government proved successful and the safe was finally opened, there turned out to be a big hole in the back. Its contents had been stolen.

Joana’s grandfather then rented a safe in a Lebanese bank and began, with great determination, to reconstitute his mother’s dowry. It took his whole life: from the two silk handkerchiefs, to the drachmas and rubles, to the diamond ring and bonds. Nevermind if some of the currencies had lost their value, everything had to be exactly as it was before. This is the original instance of reconstitution Joana observed, and it gave her much food for thought.

In 1999, while shooting a film on the Khiam detention camp, those questions of reconstitution arose in a very practical manner: The camp of Khiam, located in the area occupied by Israel and the army of South Lebanon, was a camp about which much was heard but no image was ever seen. There was a kind of impossibility of representation. We met and filmed six detainees who had been recently freed. Through their testimony, the film is a kind of narrative experimentation, an exploration of the way the image, through speech, can be built progressively on the principles of evocation; this work echoes a long reflection on latency that we have been carrying out.

In the film Sonia, Afif, Soha, Rajae, Kifah, and Neeman, who spent about ten years in detention, recall the camp and narrate how they managed to survive, and to resist, through the creation and the clandestine production of a needle, a pencil, a string of beads, a chess game, and a sculpture. Faced with a total lack of elementary and necessary objects, the detainees developed and exchanged astonishing artistic production techniques. When we met them, most of them wanted to demonstrate how they made these objects. They wanted to reproduce their gestures in front of the camera, to recreate the objects for us. We had very long discussions on the subject: the gestures they had made, in spite of fear and torture, arose in the camp from their rage, their will to survive, to disobey, to preserve their humanity. Spending hours rubbing olive stones against the wall and getting bloody fingers trying to pierce them—how can one reproduce that?

Objects from the film Khiam: (left) engraved stone; (right) string of beads made of olive stones.

Very soon, their gestures appeared, in our eyes and in theirs, as fake, out of context, just the opposite of what they were trying to convey to us. Reconstitution seemed impossible. Only speech could really evoke all this, underline its strength. When the camp was dismantled in May 2000, it was possible, at last, to go to Khiam. The camp was later turned into a museum. However, during the war of 2006, it was totally destroyed by the Israeli army. Faced with ruins, there was a debate about rebuilding the camp as it had been. But is it possible to reconstitute a detention camp? What would that mean? And if it’s not possible to reconstitute the camp, how to keep a trace of it?

In 2007, we again filmed the six detainees we had met in 1999. We asked them to react to the destruction of the camp and also to its possible reconstitution. They shared with us their reflections about memory, history, reconstitution, and imagination. They seemed to us somehow defeated. With the liberation of South Lebanon and the dismantling of the camp, the “winners” of the moment had no real consideration for them. The history of the camp was being rewritten without them. In the film, many of the former detainees mention the Ansar camp, which was much larger than Khiam, and which was also demolished. Today, on the site of the Ansar camp there is a restaurant, an amusement park, a swimming pool, and even a zoo.

The former detainees mention this camp as if they feared that Khiam would someday also be forgotten. It is a question of the trace, of the monument, of reconstitution. But how does one proceed? Can we rely on our memories, our perception? How can transmission occur? How to ensure the transmission of testimonies when faced with the impossibility of reconstitution and the danger of disappearance?

When, in 2001, Jalal Toufic asked us to comment on our work for a special edition of the magazine Al Adab, we simulated an interview with Pierre Ménard, a fictitious character create by Jorge Luis Borges. In Borges’ short story “Pierre Ménard, Author of Don Quixote,” Ménard wants to rewrite identically the famous novel by Cervantes, but without merely copying it. Rather, he wants to place himself in the same writing conditions as Cervantes in order to find the original process which gave birth to the novel. Borges describes this whimsical and surreal work as philosophical proof of the superior, nearly overwhelming power of the historic and social context that surrounds a literary work.

In the interview, Pierre Ménard criticized us for burning, in our project Wonder Beirut, postcards of the ‘60s. The burning was meant to imitate the destruction of the real buildings depicted in the postcards by bombings and street battles. Pierre Ménard said:

We had spoken about them and I had keenly advised you to do a literal version of the literal version, a literal photograph of the literal photograph. To photograph anew these postcards, yes, I do agree! But why burn them? You could have stopped just before that.

I have here two images, one taken by the photographer in 1969, the other of this same postcard, dated 1998. Even if the photographs, as you say, are basically identical, the picture from 1998 is infinitely richer and subtler than the original photograph from 1969. It is amazing.

By simply photographing these images you invented a new path, that of deliberate anachronism and wrong techniques.

To simply reproduce them in 1998 would have been a revelation. To burn them is an understatement that weakens the strength and the power of the work.

In Pierre Ménard’s opinion, redoing a gesture is never redoing it. It is doing it for the first time. It is like ecmnesia, the emergence of old memories, of the past relived as a contemporary experience. It is like dejà vu, this false temporal recognition due to a confusion between the present situation and a similar but not identical one in the past.

Assad Jradi’s attempt at photographing the Lebanese Rocket Society’s rocket launch.

3. A Trace of a Trace: The Reconstitution of the Rocket Cedar 4

Faced with the absence of any record of the adventure of the Lebanese rockets, we feel the desire to rethink it in the present. While we are working on the film, we have the idea of redoing these gestures in the form of various art installations.

The first one consists in producing and offering to Haigazian University, where the project began, a scale reproduction of the Cedar 4 rocket, eight meters long and weighing a ton. The rocket is built in a factory in Dbayeh, mounted on a truck, and then transported through the streets of Beirut to Haigazian University. In doing this, we try to combat a narrowing of significations and of our territory. Those rockets were first devised in a Protestant university, directed by a reverend dean who considered this research a gesture of peace through education. Nowadays, the same object is synonymous with war and perceived only as a missile—knowing of course that missiles and weapons are a major political topic in Lebanon. Doing this is also an affirmation that this is not a weapon but the result of the research of a group of dreamers and scientists. And it’s here, on the campus of the university, on this territory, that it will be recognized for what it is: an artistic and scientific project.

(Left) Transport of A Reconstitution in Lebanon; (Right) Installation of A Reconstitution at the Haigazian University, Lebanon.

Furthermore, making a sculpture as a tribute to the project and those dreamers means giving a materiality to that absent imaginary. It also means questioning the possibility of a “monument” (with all its connotations) to science, insofar as our society has very few unifying elements, little shared history, and many community or sectarian monuments erected by micro-powers. It also means overcoming the nostalgia for what used to be, the regret over what could not be achieved. We attempt to tell the story, to extend the gesture of the Lebanese Rocket Society into the present, to activate the chain of transmission. It means somehow respecting the archives when narrating this story, and at the same time eluding their excessive authority, as well as the charm of the photographic process. It is essential to avoid fetishizing the image. What is at stake is not conformity to an original. The gesture does not refer to the past. The gesture recalls it, but happens in the present, reaching for the possibility of conquering a new imaginary. To question this process, we tried to restage, to relaunch the rocket itself.

We remembered a discussion we had with the photographer Assad Jradi. Looking at one of his images, Assad believed that he had screwed up the photo and he was furious: he photographed only the trace of a rocket, a spoiled, unusable photo. We disagreed and said that we loved the photo, which we considered highly artistic. He looked dubious. There lies the difference between the document, its producer, and its use: to us, the image was artistic, while to Assad, it was rubbish. This gap expresses the transfer of the very stakes of the image. In our view, this image was a trace, the trace of a trace. It gave us the idea to replay what had been played.

Once again we requested the authorizations—about ten of them—to parade the rocket through town, but instead of moving the entire rocket, we transported, six months later, its cardboard outline in two pieces. We no longer feared being arrested or bombed, or causing an accident or a drama. We went along the same route, with the same convoy, to block the streets and attempt a photographic experience.

With the help of two other photographers with a digital cameras, and with our own argentic camera, we were to photograph the rocket passing through the frame during the time exposure of the photo, which meant that the photo depended on the speed of the convoy, the distance traveled, and the distance at which we stood from the moving convoy. Such an experience can only be carried out through repetition; various tests had to be conducted, many attempts for each image, starting all over again, blocking the streets, the highway, sending the convoy through once more until we found the right speed both for the truck and the camera shutter.

Since the outline of the rocket was white, the streaks behind it were ghostly, like the trace of a trace. This led to the Restaged series, a photographic reenactment of the event of transporting the rocket. These gestures of rebuilding the rocket and restaging its passage through the city differ from a traditional reenactment. In a traditional reenactment, you do again something that has already been done. Usually, the purpose is to relive important moments in history, to bring back to life and transmit a historic heritage. Reenactment of this sort has a pedagogic and an illustrative aspect, as seen in common practices of recalling and recording social history. Usually it is based on communication strategies. An established power would like to make it known that a certain event occurred, and resorts to theatrical form. What we are talking about is different. The notion of reenactment we are working with is not a representation or an investigation of a past event in order to better understand it. It is not a repetition or an illustration. Rather, it is an experience: it consists in introducing an element from the past into today’s reality and seeing what happens.

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Restaged n°3, 2011. Part IV of the Lebanese Rocket Society project.

4. Between Reenactment and Reenaction: On Ruptures, Past, Present, and Science Fiction

In the preface to The Crisis of Culture, Hannah Arendt defines the notion of breach as the moment of rupture in which man, caught between past and future, is compelled to project himself into an uncertain future, and therefore into the possibility of starting something new, of inventing himself in uncertainty. Arendt begins her article by quoting René Char: “No testament ever preceded our heritage.” This aphorism testifies to the abyss created after the Second World War. Arendt describes a situation that is “at odds with tradition.” Work, or more precisely action, should not attempt to link both. It is not a question of reviving a tradition or inventing a replacement to fill the breach between the past and the future. This very breach is at the heart of our vision of reenactment, facing a rupture which at the same time questions the relation between two worlds, between a past and a future.

The point, therefore, is to invoke a story to be able to reconfigure, to reinvent ourselves, and at the same time to experiment, to perform in the present, in doubt and uncertainty. Rather than reenactment, we should call it “reenaction,” like an experiment, a restaging, a restart. In our work as filmmakers, we assemble the elements and let things happen, hoping something unusual will arise. Reenaction is doing something that has already occurred, but for the first time, such as repeating a gesture that did not originally registered in the collective consciousness. The traditional definition of reenactment—“do once more in the present what occurred in the past”—could be replaced by “do for the first time something that already occurred.” This brings us back to Pierre Ménard.

What is required is not to communicate but to experiment, to discover, to search without knowing the ultimate result. The possibility of failure always exists. Above all it is a matter of experience but also of negotiating with reality, within reality, aiming at creating new situations, new contexts, new meanings. Such an experiment is a sort of resistance to existing powers, a strategy of opposition and contestation.

Video still from The Golden Record. Part III of the Lebanese Rocket Society project.

What is performed in the Lebanese Rocket Society is the gesture of dreamers, the will to push against limits, to consider that science and art are the place of this possibility. In such a case, the rocket appears no longer as an object of war but refers to a scientific and artistic project. Such an action should not be a collective one that could be seen as an instrument of patriotism or nationalism. It is a personal and singular experience, an individual effort, a singularity which attempts to reconfigure and link itself to history. It does not stem from a place of power or of knowledge, from a place of certainties, but rather from a place of doubts in the face of the unknown and the future. It is also a recognition of filiation, a tribute.

This is what we try to get at in the installation The Golden Record. Starting in 1962, the Lebanese Rocket Society began installing in the heads of the Cedar rockets a radio transmitter, which broadcast the message “Long live Lebanon.” This reminded us of the American space exploration missions, such as Voyager 1 and 2, which carried on board a gold-plated copper disk as well as a cell and a needle to read it. Engraved on the disk were sounds selected to draw a portrait of the diversity of life, history, and culture on earth, a message of peace and liberty, a “bottle thrown into the sea of interstellar space”.

The National Museum of Space, Beirut, 2025. A drawing by Ghassan Halwani for the film The Lebanese Rocket Society, The Strange Tale of The Lebanese Space Race.

We wondered how we could represent that period of the ‘60s through sound. This led to the creation of “The Golden Record of the Lebanese Rocket Society,” a soundtrack created from sound archives of the ‘60s, based on the memories of the various members of the Lebanese Rocket Society. It is a portrait and a sound representation of Beirut and the world in the ‘60s. “The Golden Record” is at the heart of the animated film that ends our documentary on the Lebanese Rocket Society. The uchronia we developed with Ghassan Halwani imagines a Lebanon in 2025 where the space project did not cease in 1967. Strangely, in the Arab world there are very few science fiction works that imagine the future, not only in cinema but also in literature.

These various tributes to dreamers are individual attempts to, as Hannah Arendt says it, move in this breach between past and future. Like a game of reference and historical crossings … That is maybe where history, past, present, but also science fiction and anticipation, can be questioned, where we can project ourselves into a future, even an uncertain one.

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The United States, Russia and the United Kingdom are reducing their warhead inventories, but the pace of reduction is slowing compared with the past 25 years. France and Israel have relatively stable inventories, while China, Pakistan, India and North Korea are increasing their warhead inventories.



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 Status of World Nuclear Forces
                                                      Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris 

The number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined significantly since the Cold War: down from a peak of approximately 70,300 in 1986 to an estimated 14,550 in late-2017. Government officials often portray that accomplishment as a result of current arms control agreements, but the overwhelming portion of the reduction happened in the 1990s. Moreover, comparing today’s inventory with that of the 1950s is like comparing apples and oranges; today’s forces are vastly more capable. The pace of reduction has slowed significantly. Instead of planning for nuclear disarmament, the nuclear-armed states appear to plan to retain large arsenals for the indefinite future.

Despite progress in reducing Cold War nuclear arsenals, the world’s combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: approximately 14,550 warheads as of end-2017. Of these, roughly 9,450 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which more than 3,900 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which nearly 1,800 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.

Approximately 93 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States who each have roughly 4,000-4,300 warheads in their military stockpiles; no other nuclear-armed state sees a need for more than a few hundred nuclear weapons for national security:

The United States, Russia and the United Kingdom are reducing their warhead inventories, but the pace of reduction is slowing compared with the past 25 years. France and Israel have relatively stable inventories, while China, Pakistan, India and North Korea are increasing their warhead inventories.

The exact number of nuclear weapons in each country’s possession is a closely held national secret. Despite this limitation, however, publicly available information, careful analysis of historical records, and occasional leaks make it possible to make best estimates about the size and composition of the national nuclear weapon stockpiles:

Status of World Nuclear Forces 2017*
 Country Deployed
Total Inventoryb
 Russia  1,710c 0d  2,590e 4,300 6,800f
 United States  1,650g 150h  2,200i 4,000j 6,600k
 France  280l n.a. 10l 300 300
 China  0m ? 270 270 270m
 United Kingdom 120n n.a. 95 215 215n
 Israel  0 n.a. 80 80 80o
 Pakistan  0 n.a. 130-140 130-140 130-140p
 India  0 n.a. 120-130 120-130 120-130q
 North Korea  0 n.a. ? 10-20 10-20r
Total:s  ~3,760 ~150 ~5,515 ~9,450  ~14,550

How to read this table:

Deployed strategic warheads are those deployed on intercontinental missiles and at heavy bomber bases. Deployed nonstrategic warheads are those deployed on bases with operational short-range delivery systems. Reserve/Nondeployed warheads are those not deployed on launchers and in storage (weapons at bomber bases are considered deployed). The military stockpile includes warheads that are in the custody of the military and earmarked for use by commissioned deliver vehicles. The total inventory includes warheads in the military stockpile as well as retired, but still intact, warheads in queue for dismantlement.

 a Warheads in the “military stockpile” are defined as warheads in the custody of the military and earmarked for use by military forces.
 b The “total inventory” counts warheads in the military stockpile as well as retired, but still intact, warheads awaiting dismantlement.
 c This number is higher than the aggregate data under the New START treaty because this table also counts bomber weapons at bomber bases as deployed. Detailed overview of Russian forces as of 2017. Numbers have been updated for later changes.
 d All are declared to be in central storage. Several thousand retired non-strategic warheads are awaiting dismantlement.
 e Includes an estimated 790 strategic warheads and all 1,800 non-strategic warheads.
 f In addition to the 4,300 in the military stockpile, an estimated 2,500 retired warheads are estimated to be awaiting dismantlement. Details are scarce, but we estimate that Russia is dismantling 200-300 retired warheads per year.

2017 overview of Russian forces
 g This number is higher than the aggregate data released under the New START data because this table also counts bomber weapons on bomber bases as deployed.

US numbers have been updated to account for recent developments.
 h Approximately 150 B61 bombs are deployed in Europe at six bases in five countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey).
 i Non-deployed reserve includes an estimated 2,050 strategic and 150 non-strategic warheads in central storage.
 j The U.S. government declared in January 2017 that its stockpile included 4,018 warheads as of September 2016. Since then, a small number of warheads are thought to have been retired for an estimated 4,000 remaining in the stockpile.
 k In addition to the roughly 4,000 warheads in the military stockpile, the US government in January 2017 announced that approximately 2,600 retired warheads are awaiting dismantlement. In addition, more than 20,000 plutonium cores (pits) and some 5,000 Canned Assemblies (secondaries) from dismantled warheads are in storage at the Pantex Plant in Texas and Y-12 plant in Tennessee.
 l Only weapons for France’s single aircraft carrier are not considered deployed, although it is possible that warhead loadings on some submarines missiles have been reduced.
 m China is thought to have “several hundred warheads,” far less than the 1,600-3,000 that have been suggested by some. None of the warheads are thought to be fully deployed but kept in storage under central control.

The existence of a Chinese non-strategic nuclear arsenal is uncertain. The Chinese arsenal is increasing with production of new warheads for DF-31/31A/41 and JL-2 missiles.
 n The number of British warheads on each submarine has been lowered from 48 to 40. This has lowered the number of “operationally available” warheads from 160 to 120. By the mid-2020s, the stockpile will be reduced to “not more than 180.” This reduction is already underway.
 o Although Israel has produced enough plutonium for 100-200 warheads, the number of delivery platforms and estimates made by the U.S. intelligence community suggest that the stockpile might include approximately 80 warheads.
 p None of Pakistan’s warheads are thought to be deployed but kept in central storage, most in the southern parts of the country. More warheads are in production.
 q Indian nuclear warheads are not deployed but in central storage. More warheads are in production.
 r After six nuclear tests, including two of 10-20 kilotons and one of more than 200 kilotons, we estimate that North Korea might have produced 10-20 warheads, although the operational status is difficult to assess.

Detailed overview of North Korean nuclear capabilities

 s Numbers may not add up due to rounding and uncertainty about the operational status of the four lesser nuclear weapons states and the uncertainty about the size of the total inventories of three of the five initial nuclear powers.

The information available for each country varies greatly, ranging from the most transparent nuclear weapons state (United States) to the most opaque (Israel).
Accordingly, while the estimate for the United States is based on “real” numbers, the estimates for several of the other nuclear weapon states are highly uncertain.
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State of Union: “Trumka says Trump has Actively Hurt Workers”

“One day after President Trump spews his vision for moving America even further away from being the global leaders confronting climate change we know we can and must be, movement leaders will share stories on the urgency of the current political and climate crises and light our path ahead: Resist the Trump administration’s ongoing attacks on our climate, build power toward the 2018 and 2020 elections, and secure the lasting change we need through local action,” the Sanders-led group said.


\via State of Union: “Trumka says Trump has Actively Hurt Workers”

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State of Union: “Trumka says Trump has Actively Hurt Workers”

Communist Party (USA) – After a year in the Oval Office, Republican President Donald Trump has “actively hurt” U.S. workers, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.

“Broken promises are bad enough. But President Trump has also used his office to actively hurt working people,” Trumka told a roundtable in advance of Trump’s Jan. 30 State of the Union Address.

Trump “joined with corporations and their political allies to undermine the right of workers to bargain collectively. He has taken money out of our pockets and made our workplaces less safe. He has divided our country, abandoned our values and given cover to racism and other forms of bigotry,” Trumka said.

“At the end of the day, this is bigger than any politician or president. It’s about making progress for regular working people. If President Trump wants to change course and join us in the fight to raise wages and standards, strengthen our democracy and build better lives, we will be ready. But if he continues down his current path, workers will be looking for a new president in 2020,” the union leader promised.

Trumka wasn’t the only Trump critic who chimed in before the speech. Progressive women and Economic Policy Institute weighed in, too.

Trump used the speech to brag on the U.S. economy and tout his infrastructure rebuilding plan. But advance news about it from the White House disclosed he would include only $200 billion in federal funds – with the rest coming from states, cities and private-public “partnerships.”

That caught the critical eye of EPI analyst Josh Bivens. He said most of the private-public money would wind up in Wall Street’s pockets, rather than fixing the nation’s roads, bridges, railroads, airports and Internet infrastructure.

“Throughout the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump had little to say about infrastructure. It wasn’t until the end of the campaign…Trump offered a no-details boast that he would spend $1 trillion on infrastructure,” Bivens explained.

“A serious plan to invest in the nation’s infrastructure would be welcome indeed. Infrastructure investments would create jobs, boost the nation’s productivity growth, and provide vital public services to a wide range of Americans.”

“But the Trump campaign plan wasn’t just empty, but outright corrupt” featuring tax credits to private developers, and Trump’s new outline is “empty promises.”

Bivens said private investors – Wall Street – will use the federal loan guarantees Trump offers to fund the remainder of his infrastructure investment plan to line their pockets by issuing bonds for toll roads through rich communities, while refusing to fund new water pipes in poor neighborhoods, for example.

“The recently leaked Trump plan would kick the responsibility for funding infrastructure to states, or allow private developers to obtain federal loan guarantees in exchange for the privilege of collecting tolls from American taxpayers. That’s not an investment in the public good. It’s an open invitation for crony capitalism, corruption and rampant inequality of public investments across communities.”

Meanwhile, more than 500 progressive women from 50 groups, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapral, D-Wash., Ai_jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza and Cecile Richards, the soon-to-retire Planned Parenthood president, met at Washington’s National Press Club for their own livestreamed “State Of Our Union” to counter Trump – at the time he spoke.

And announced a pro-climate change conference in D.C. the following evening, featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., climate activist Bill McKibbon and representatives of the NAACP and the Hip-Hop Caucus to discuss climate change activism and the 2018 election, among other topics.

“One day after President Trump spews his vision for moving America even further away from being the global leaders confronting climate change we know we can and must be, movement leaders will share stories on the urgency of the current political and climate crises and light our path ahead: Resist the Trump administration’s ongoing attacks on our climate, build power toward the 2018 and 2020 elections, and secure the lasting change we need through local action,” the Sanders-led group said.

The women and their groups offered “an alternative vision for our country in which gender and economic justice can overcome forces that seek to divide our nation along fault lines of race and class.”

“There is nothing more powerful than women coming together and demanding change,” said Ai-jen Poo. “We have already demonstrated we are willing to carry more than our share of the weight in defending our democracy. It’s now time for action and solutions – on everything from sexual assault and harassment to low wages and pay equity, from elder care and childcare to paid family leave.”

Jayapal, one of at least 13 House Democrats who boycotted Trump’s speech, said the organizations and leaders gathered at the alternative D.C. site “will focus on the State of OUR Union, our opposition to his agenda, and we will lift up a progressive and inclusive vision of our country.”

“With all the racism and hatred coming out of this White House, I will NOT be attending Donald Trump’s State of the Union address,” Jayapal said.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee – critics of the weak Democratic response to Trump — set up a hashtag #TrumpSellsOut and sent out a statement explaining why: “Trump will continue selling out working people to Wall Street and the billionaire class — and he’ll continue to lie about it,” spokeswoman Marissa Barrow said.

“While we wish the Democratic establishment good luck in responding to Trump, progressives in Congress, on the campaign trail, and in living rooms across the nation will take our progressive response directly to voters on Twitter — talking about how #TrumpSellsOut Americans on every front. We’ll especially make clear Trump wants to sell off our roads and bridges to his rich Wall Street donors under the guise of an infrastructure plan — and that progressives want to create millions of good-paying jobs by investing in our roads, schools, bridges, clean water, and jobs of the future like solar and broadband.”

Trumka explained he gave Trump “every chance possible to deliver on his promises about trade, manufacturing and infrastructure,” including – though he did not say so – a private pre-inauguration meeting at New York’s Trump Tower.

“This angered some of my friends,” he admitted, as several unions are dead set against cooperating with Trump in any way. “But as a labor movement, we practice political independence. That means we always look for opportunities to advance the issues we care about, no matter what political party happens to be in power. And it also means we hold every elected leader accountable to our agenda and our values,” Trumka explained.

“Trump said a lot of the right things as a candidate. But his actions haven’t followed suit. There’s been no effort to label China as a currency manipulator. He’s rejected plans to revitalize our coal communities. And despite calling himself a ‘builder president,’ he’s done nothing to invest in America’s infrastructure.”

“Broken promises are bad enough. But President Trump has also used his office to actively hurt working people. He has joined with corporations and their political allies to undermine the right of workers to bargain collectively. He has taken money out of our pockets and made our workplaces less safe. He has divided our country, abandoned our values and given cover to racism and other forms of bigotry,” Trumka concluded.

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All Defence personnel are required to undertake annual workplace behaviour training, which includes information about expected behaviours and guidance on making and managing complaints.

In 2016–17, 668 complaints of unacceptable behaviour were recorded in the Defence complaints management, tracking and reporting system (Figure 7.5).

via AUSTRALIA DAR 2016-2017

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…………….Cultural reform

The Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture strategy was launched in March 2012, with an initial implementation period of five years. The cultural reform program included 175 key actions and recommendations and advice from seven reviews into aspects of Defence culture and other reform directions. All key actions and review recommendations were finalised as at December 2016.


Results from the Defence 2017 YourSay survey support the organisation’s commitment to cultural reform, with approximately two-thirds of respondents reporting that they, and their supervisors, were committed to Pathway to Change. In addition, over 80 per cent of respondents felt that their supervisor’s leadership and behaviour was in accordance with Defence values.

Although much has been done since 2012 to strengthen the best in Defence culture, workforce and survey data shows that there is more work to be done. The next evolution of cultural reform has been informed by a deliberate and significant Defence-wide consultation effort held in 2016. Staff at all levels agreed on the importance of building on the Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture strategy.

A refreshed statement of cultural intent was seen as important, encompassing the principles of Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture, but also giving weight to the progress made since 2012 and providing a platform to sustain a more positive culture. The 2016 consultation showed that a more positive and inclusive culture is understood by many to be a key part of Defence capability. Across the workforce, leadership accountability for delivering reform was also seen as critical, as was working more collaboratively as One Defence.

Based on feedback from the Defence-wide consultation, a refreshed statement of cultural intent, including six priorities for future cultural reform focus, was developed, and is being incorporated into Defence business planning and reporting frameworks. The priorities being worked on across Defence are:

  • leadership accountability
  • capability through inclusion
  • ethics and workplace behaviours
  • health, wellness and safety
  • workplace agility and flexibility
  • leading and developing integrated teams.

During 2016–17, Defence also completed its third year of collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Commission. This collaboration has included visits by the commission to 18 Defence establishments to examine particular aspects of culture and how effective particular strategies have been, and to provide input into more specific reform initiatives. The findings from these visits informed wider reform efforts and are being implemented by the respective Services, with oversight provided by Defence’s Gender Equality Advisory Board.

Removal of gender restrictions on ADF combat role employment categories

The removal of gender restrictions on ADF combat role employment categories has been instrumental in a significant and ongoing shift in the ADF culture. Defence is creating an environment that supports the aspiration of all members to contribute fully to ADF capability.

Since January 2016, all ADF employment categories have been open to women currently serving in the ADF, as well as those applying to join the ADF for the first time. The decision to remove gender restrictions was about maximising capability by opening up a wider recruitment pool of talent for combat roles. This decision provides equal opportunity for both men and women wanting to apply for these roles and provides an avenue for ability, not gender, to be the deciding factor when determining which roles ADF members can serve in.

In 2017, Defence supported the withdrawal of Australia’s reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the repeal of section 43 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Defence’s support for these actions reflects the removal of gender restrictions on ADF combat roles, which has played an important role in enabling a more diverse and inclusive culture.

Defence continues to assess and refine its training and combat-specific processes, policies and systems to ensure that the environments in which members are trained and undertake combat roles provide the opportunity for all members to contribute fully to ADF capability.

Complaint handling and resolution

Defence personnel have the right to complain if they are aggrieved by matters relating to their employment. ADF members may apply for redress of grievance under the Defence Regulation 2016. APS employees may seek a review of actions under the Public Service Act 1999.

APS review of actions

Section 33 of the Public Service Act 1999 establishes a ‘review of actions’ scheme and allows non-Senior Executive Service APS employees to seek review where they have a complaint about an action or a decision relating to their employment. Defence received 67 applications for review of actions in 2016–17, which is a small reduction from the previous year (Figure 7.4). In 2016–17, 74 applications were finalised, including several received in the previous year. The following areas continue to feature most regularly in the applications for review:

  • performance management, assessment and reporting
  • management of unacceptable behaviour complaints by line management
  • security clearance decisions
  • staff selection and the allocation of duties
  • access to leave or other employment conditions.

Figure 7.4: APS review of actions applications received and finalised, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Figure 7.4: APS review of actions applications received and finalised, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Unacceptable behaviour

Defence personnel can make a complaint about any incident of unacceptable behaviour that they have experienced or witnessed in the workplace. Complaints of unacceptable behaviour are reported and recorded in a central database. Guidance and support is available to ensure that complaints are managed and resolved appropriately.

All Defence personnel are required to undertake annual workplace behaviour training, which includes information about expected behaviours and guidance on making and managing complaints.

In 2016–17, 668 complaints of unacceptable behaviour were recorded in the Defence complaints management, tracking and reporting system (Figure 7.5). This continues a trend of decreasing complaint numbers and reflects ongoing efforts across Defence to reduce the incidence of unacceptable behaviour.

In 2016–17, 714 complaints were finalised, including those received in previous years. While the majority of complaints are expected to be finalised within three months, some complaints remain open for extended periods, such as when the matter is subject to an inquiry or investigation. In the past two years, the higher number of complaints finalised compared to the number received reflects efforts to finalise longstanding open complaints, as well as improvements made to the self-service functionality of the Defence complaints management, tracking and reporting system.

On average, between 80 and 90 per cent of unacceptable behaviour incidents are of a level where local management is the most appropriate course of action. However, between 10 and 20 per cent are of a seriousness that results in a formal disciplinary or administrative outcome. Defence encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution, and the majority of complaints continue to be resolved at the lowest practical level. The number of complaints of alleged unacceptable behaviour represents complaints from less than 1 per cent of the Defence workforce.

Figure 7.5: Unacceptable behaviour complaints received and finalised, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Figure 7.5: Unacceptable behaviour complaints received and finalised, 2012–13 to 2016–17


Reporting on sexual misconduct

Defence’s Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office (SeMPRO) provides personnel with victim support, case management services, including assistance through formal reporting, investigation and legal processes, and educational programs and resources.

Victim services encompass a 24/7 telephone response service for Defence personnel seeking help with their experiences of sexual offences and sexual harassment. The service also offers assistance for commanders, managers and colleagues managing sexual misconduct incidents. In 2016–17, 488 clients were assisted with support and case management; incident management advice and information; debriefing and other mental health support; and information on available services, civilian assaults, and other behaviour management systems in Defence. SeMPRO is also a primary data collection point for sexual misconduct incidents formally reported to Defence.

The Sexual Ethics Education in Defence learning strategy was developed as a primary prevention program that aims to ensure all military personnel have the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to make sound ethical decisions in their sexual relationships. The learning strategy elements are designed to target different audiences to engender a zero tolerance culture towards sexual misconduct and create a Defence workplace that is respectful of the sexual safety of all.

There is increased awareness and understanding of the services of the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office. Education programs have been implemented, including the rollout of bystander awareness training. During 2016–17, SeMPRO provided awareness briefings to over 29,000 Defence personnel.

The SeMPRO Supplementary Report 2016–17 [PDF-307KB] contains detailed information on client service provision and formally reported incidents in Defence during 2016–17.

Diversity in Defence

The Defence Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2012–2017 outlines the commitment to creating an inclusive and progressive organisation that maximises capability through capitalising on a diverse and inclusive workforce. This aim is further supported through the recently endorsed statement of cultural intent and the key priority ‘capability through inclusion’.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce continued to be a key priority for Defence in 2016–17, with achievements made against the five strategic goals within the Defence Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2012–2017, which is available at

Defence implemented a range of initiatives to increase the number of women in both the ADF and the APS workforce. This includes attracting, recruiting and retaining women, removing the barriers to career progression, and facilitating career development through mentoring and leadership opportunities.

Women in the Defence APS workforce

Defence developed an action plan to support implementation of Balancing the Future: The Australian Public Service Gender Equality Strategy 2016–19, which sets out actions for addressing the gender imbalance across the APS.

Initiatives implemented to support women in achieving their full potential included:

  • increased representation of women in Executive Levels 1 and 2 talent management programs
  • partnerships with industry and academia aimed at attracting and retaining women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  • developing an unconscious bias awareness package, which includes specific modules for recruitment and selection, and commanders and managers who have supervisory responsibilities
  • implementing a flexible work education campaign to identify and challenge potential barriers to implementing a mainstream, Defence-wide approach to flexible work
  • developing a range of interventions to address domestic and family violence.

There has been an increase in the representation of women at all levels within the Defence APS workforce. Since 30 June 2016, the representation of women in the Defence APS ongoing workforce increased from 41.2 per cent to 41.8 per cent over the last 12 months (Table 7.15). A particular increase has been seen at the Senior Executive Service level, with women now representing 32.6 per cent of the Defence Senior Executive Service, an increase of 2.8 per cent. While the representation of women at the APS 1 to 6 levels and Executive Levels 1 and 2 showed a slight improvement, there is more to be done. Gender representation recruitment targets have been established for the graduate program and for executive and senior executive levels. This is reinforced through the action plan under the Defence Gender Equality Strategy.

Women in the ADF

Defence is conducting a range of activities to increase the number of women in the ADF, including by setting female workforce participation targets for each Service. The ADF is also implementing options for greater flexibility in the Services’ career models to ensure women’s advancement is supported—and not impacted adversely—when taking career breaks or seeking location stability.

The Women in the ADF report is published as an online supplement to the Defence annual report. The report is a mechanism for the Services to report against achievements that address elements of the recommendations from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Review into the treatment of women in the Australian DefenceForce—Phase 2 report (2012). This includes recommendation 3—women’s participation, women’s experience and access to flexible work; recommendation 6—promotional gateways; recommendation 9—recruitment targets; and recommendation 13—flexible work arrangement targets.

The report presents a range of workforce and attitudinal data and compares the current year’s data with that of the previous year to gain an indication of the progress Defence has achieved. This is the fifth year of the Women in the ADF report and, in addition to comparing the current and previous year, this year’s report also conducts a five-year comparison to 2012–13 to provide an overview of long-term progress. Over the last five years, the scope of the report has evolved and expanded to provide a view of gender inclusion across the Defence people system.

The Women in the ADF Report 2016–17 shows that, since the commencement of the Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture strategy and the implementation of the recommendations from the Phase 2 report, the ADF has put considerable effort into growing and advancing the female ADF workforce. As at 30 June 2017, the participation rate of women in the ADF reached 16.7 per cent, an increase of 1.2 per cent from 15.5 per cent as at 30 June 2016 (Table 7.16). The number of women serving in the ADF is 709 more than at the same time last year. As at 30 June 2017, there were also 79 women in senior officer positions in the ADF, seven more than at the same time last year.

The report also highlights areas that require more comprehensive analysis, allowing Defence to prioritise further research on gender diversity.

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Poland enlists Interpol in hunt for Nazi war criminals

Poland has asked Interpol for help in finding 1,600 former Nazis accused of committing war crimes in German concentration camps. Polish authorities view the investigations as the last chance to bring them to justice.

via Poland enlists Interpol in hunt for Nazi war criminals

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Poland enlists Interpol in hunt for Nazi war criminals

dw–Polish state prosecutors have set an ambitious goal for themselves: to find surviving Nazi SS soldiers who committed war crimes at German concentration camps during the Second World War and to bring them to trial.

“We finally have to deal comprehensively with the mass murder that was committed in German concentration camps,” State Prosecutor Robert Janicki, of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw, told DW. “It is a state prosecutor’s duty to find perpetrators and bring them to justice, and we want to see if it is still possible to find Nazi war criminals today.”

The institute, which studies the history of Poland under German and Soviet rule, has set in motion hundreds of cases against Nazi war criminals. Most have to do with mass executions and the pacification of Polish villages during the German occupation from 1939 to 1945, as well as crimes against the civilian population during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

Looking for specific individuals

The nine most comprehensive investigations have to do with the mass murder of Polish citizens in German concentration camps between the years 1939 and 1945. The cases involve the camps Auschwitz-Birkenau, Ravensbrück, Majdanek-Lublin, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Mittelbau-Dora and Gross-Rosen.

Warsaw Uprising 1944 (Museum Warschauer Aufstand 1944 in Warschau) The IPN’s investigations include crimes committed against civilians during the Warsaw Uprising

“We are not randomly looking for people who may have committed crimes,” said Janicki. “We are looking for specific individuals. We have evidence against them and have exact information as to their names and what their roles were at the camps.”

A working group of state prosecutors and historians has compiled a list of 23,000 SS concentration camp functionaries, from which 1,600 names have been selected. They are men who were in their 20s at the time, who have never been punished for their suspected crimes and whose names and professions before the war are known to authorities. Polish investigators hope that this very specific information will allow them to locate the accused.

Poland’s government has submitted 400 requests for assistance to international law enforcement agency Interpol, with another 1,200 set to follow soon. Ten cases have already been reviewed. Replies from Germany and Austria have come back negative: The wanted persons, they said, were no longer alive or their whereabouts unknown.

No statute of limitations

Janicki believes that most of the former SS men would be living in Germany if they are still alive. Should any be found there, Poland would issue a European arrest warrant and turn to Germany for help in extraditing them. But not all of the accused are Germans, others are from Austria, Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia.

John Demjanjuk (picture-alliance/dpa) Former Treblinka guard Demjanjuk was found guilty of being an accessory to mass murder

Poland has been prosecuting Nazi war crimes for decades. A number of investigations were launched after the end of the Second World War, but most were shut down in the 1960s and 70s due to a lack of willingness to cooperate on the part of West Germany. Only a fraction of Nazi war criminals living in what was then West Germany were ever brought to trial, let alone convicted.

But in 2011, Ivan “John” Demjanjuk, at former guard at the Treblinka Nazi death camp, was found guilty of being an accessory to mass murder. It was the first time that a German court had ever handed down a conviction for accessory to murder in a concentration camp without having to prove an individual crime.

Since then, a number of cases have been reopened in Germany. Some have even resulted in convictions, like that of Oscar Gröning, the 96-year-old “accountant of Auschwitz.”

Polish state prosecutors hope this shift in German jurisprudence will help them in their quest to prosecute war crimes — an offense for which, like crimes against humanity or genocide, the country has no statue of limitations.

In all, the IPN is investigating roughly 350 cases related to German crimes committed during the course of the Second World War. Janicki believes that Interpol’s involvement in the international search for surviving SS men will help to “finally bring these events of war to an end.”

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What is behind the Turkish Operation “Olive Branch” in Northern Syria?

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It has been noted that Erdogan’s movements in Syria have calmed down relatively after Operation Shield of the Euphrates and Erdogan’s abandonment of Aleppo, and allowing the regime to take control over Aleppo, but he resumed the operation in the name of Olive Branch heading towards Afrin since Saturday, 20/01/2018, through artillery and air shelling. According to the statement issued by the Turkish Chief of Staff on Sunday 21/01/2018: The Olive Branch Operation, which started on Saturday according to the plan drawn for it, and the ground operation began on Sunday morning. (Turk Press, 21/01/2018) and it is ongoing, so what is behind this operation “Olive Branch“? May Allah reward you with the good.


1- Before starting to analyze what took place, we must draw attention to a very important matter that forms the basis of the current Turkish policy, that will shed light on the movements of Erdogan and his actions and statements, as Turkey’s Erdogan is clearly pro-American, he does so in exchange for America’s support to stay in power as it brought him into power. The evidence for this is what the pro-Turkish government As-Sabah Newspaper stated on 18/4/2017: “The US president telephoned the Turkish President Erdogan last night to congratulate him on the outcome of the April 16 referendum on constitutional reforms and the presidential system”. Erdogan mentioned to him that “he launched a good campaign for it and that he observed it personally”. He said to Erdogan: “I give attention to our friendship and there are very important things that we will do together.” Hence Erdogan’s policy in Syria was in fact assisting America’s plans to install the regime and pressure the factions to withdraw from vital areas of the regime. The example for that is the recent order to surrender Aleppo, and the empowerment of the regime, he made up issues and pulled out factions to fight instead of fighting in their areas to prevent the regime from entering them under the pretext of the battle of the Euphrates Shield. At a time when the regime went to Aleppo and focused its attack there, knowing that the battle of the Euphrates Shield was originally given the American blessing, Turkey has entered Jarabulus region in 2016 with America’s encouragement when former US Vice President Joseph Biden came to Ankara and announced from there his open support for the entry of the Turkish army on 24/8/2016 and asked the forces of the units of protection of the Kurdish people to withdraw from the Turkish forces under the name of the Euphrates Shield. We mentioned in the Answer to Question on 25/9/2016 that: “In order to make the American plans work, that focused on Aleppo, the Turkish troops had to be re-imposed blockade, and here America worked on two axes to restore the siege on Aleppo:

First: the introduction of the Turkish army to in northern Syria, starting with the area of ​​Jarabulus meanwhile Turkey announced operation “Euphrates Shield” and calling the pro-Turkish rebels from southern Aleppo to fight ISIS, that is, weakening the real points of clashes in Aleppo! And creating new infighting points and pushing away as many opposition from fighting in Aleppo! etc.” This is how Erdogan withdrew the factions loyal to him to fight in the areas of Al-Bab and leave Aleppo almost empty of resistance, except for a few believers who stood firm. Meanwhile most factions responded to Erdogan’s call to the Euphrates Shield and he is repeating this betrayal again.

2- These movements are still in place and the latest is not the last to enable the Syrian regime to control the important areas in Idlib and to remove the loyal fighting factions to the orders of Turkey to focus on Afrin and forget its homeland Idlib; that the criminal regime is advancing towards in coordination with America, but under a guise of tensions between Turkey and America to prevent the preparation of new forces linked to America! Note that America is advancing from Turkey towards Syria and arming its puppet organizations, including the protection units of the Kurdish people, which have a majority within the Syrian Democratic Forces linked to America, where Erdogan opened Incirlik Base … Thus Erdogan repeats the scenario of the Euphrates Shield to facilitate the entry of the regime in Idlib. Operation Olive Branch was devised to facilitate the entry of the regime in Idlib. The Syrian regime while moving towards Idlib and surrounding Abu al-Duhur Airport, Erdogan pushed the fight towards Afrin!

About 25 thousand of the opposition are participating in this operation as confirmed by the military commander in the Sham Legion, Yasser Abdul Rahim, that about 25 thousand armed men from the Free Syrian Army are participating in the Turkish military operation in Afrin (Russia Today, 23/1/2018), known to America along with its approval. The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that he discussed the Syrian crisis and the issue of border security units with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Monday evening (15/1/2018) in Canada. He stated that he met with US Secretary of State Tillerson also on Tuesday evening (16/1/2018) on the sidelines of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver, Canada. Çavuşoğlu said that Mattis said: “We have been asked not to believe the news that is being published about (the formation of a new army in northern Syria),” adding that he was “following up the matter himself and would remain in contact with us.” (Anadolu news agency 17/1/2018)

3- This confirms the American statements in the past two days. They confirm that Olive Branch, the issue of Afrin and the movements of the Turkish army and the Free Syrian Army is with the full approval of America and Russia, which entered Syria in coordination with America, here are some of these statements:

– The Turkish military campaign in Afrin began yesterday on Friday, with the first stages of the bombing of certain areas of Afrin at a high rate since Thursday/Friday night, with the start of the withdrawal of the Russian military police from Afrin and its environs.  Nurettin Canikli  considered it “the beginning of the attack on the ground,” according to Al Jazeera Channel … Al-Araby Al-Jadeed learned from a Turkish source that:

“Another offer was made, to control of the city in exchange for the consensus between Ankara and Moscow on the way of its management. The Turkish government is ensuring by a large proportion the reconstruction similar to the Euphrates Shield, and by pressuring the Syrian opposition to attend the Sochi conference, while the Russians insisted on handing over the city after its control by the Syrian regime and the absence of any opposition forces in it and also allowing the regime to make further progress in the province of Idlib. Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli in a television interview yesterday confirmed, “We know that Russia supports the regime greatly” …” As for the Turkish expectations of the operation, the Turkish source said to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed “The operation is expected to continue for a maximum of five to six months .. The source pointed out “the diplomatic channels did not break with Washington.” (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 20/01/2018)

“On 20 January, Turkey resorted to its armed forces near Afrin in north-west Syria … Moscow is concerned about this information,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, noting that it was “closely following the development of the situation.” “Russia remains committed to its position regarding the search for solutions to the conflict in Syria, based on the preservation of the territorial integrity of this country and respect for its sovereignty,” the ministry said). (Rudaw, 20/01/2018)

The United States wants the Turkish military operation to remain limited in time and scope, and it urged “self-restraint” and to ensure that the rest of the military operations are limited in scope and duration, to minimise the damages to civilian lives.” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties.”  US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday that Turkey informed the United States before the move, noting that Washington is communicating with Ankara on developments in the situation. She said that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, have discussed “measures in order to ensure the preservation of stability north of the country”. The Turkish foreign minister discussed the military operation with his US counterpart, but did not yet reveal what took place between the two parties. (BBC Arabic, 22/01/2018)

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his country hopes to work with Turkey to establish a safe area in northwestern Syria to meet Ankara’s security needs… The head of the US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, confirmed that Turkey briefed his country on its military operation in Afrin, pointing out that the city does not fall within the scope of American military operations. The Department of Defense calls for “not to escalate tension,” noting that it understands Turkey’s security concerns in the region. (Russia Today, 23/01/2018)

– The Central Command of the US army said Turkey briefed them on the military operation in the Syrian city, Afrin, stressing at the same time that the city does not fall within the scope of US military operations. General Joseph Votil, Commander of the Central Command, in a press statement on Sunday said that his country does not pay particular attention to the Turkish operations area. (Quds Press, 21/01/2018)

– US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that his country hopes to work with Turkey to establish a safe area in north-west Syria to meet Turkey’s security needs; this was on the third day of Operation Olive Branch launched by the Turkish armed forces and the Free Syrian Army. The region of the Syrian city of Afrin, the US Secretary of State, “let us see if we can work with you to create the kind of security zone you might need… So we’re in discussions with the Turks and some of the forces on the ground as well as to how we can stabilize this situation and meet Turkey’s legitimate concerns for their security.” (Turk Press, 23/01/2018)

– And the statements of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the announcement of his country’s intention to form an army of 30 thousand fighters, whose task is “guarding the border,” which angered Ankara and made Tillerson comment to reporters on board a US government plane, “The country does not intend to establish any border force in Syria”. Adding that according, to Anatolia, his country is clarifying to Turkey the news agencies’ reports of the United States‘ intention to establish a border security force in Syria, on this, Nauert said, “You take the fight off of ISIS, and that is exactly why we are there, and that’s one of the things that the Secretary and others with the State Department have highlighted to Turkish officials.” (Orient, 19/01/2018)

– Last Tuesday, US Defense Department spokesman Eric Bahon said his country understood Turkey’s concerns about the border security force it plans to build in Syria, citing the issue with Turkish officials.

Bahon pointed out that his country is in regular and close contact with Turkey; its partner in NATO. Bahon used the phrase “supposed border security force” in his answer … Today, Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came out to announce that the United States had no plans to establish any border force in Syria, commenting on news reports on this issue. He added in a press statement: “This issue is perceived and defined in the wrong way, and some people spoke in the wrong way, we are not creating any border force”. (Yenisafak Arabic, 17/01/2018)

It is clear from previous statements that Olive Branch is a branch carried by Turkey in coordination with America and Russia … and that America’s statements at the beginning of establishing a 30 thousand border force are only to give the justification for the Afrin operation,  America then changed the statement to a kind of an open denial after its goal has been achieved!

4- Therefore, the Turkish moves in Syria are to serve American projects by instilling the secular system in Syria. The loud statements from Erdogan are just to deceive the naive of the people with fiery words and statements that do not translate into actions, like the time when he said, we will not allow another Hama; but the regime committed in every city and town more than what took place in Hama … as well as artificial movements that do not produce honest deeds. He deceives people with misleading statements that fool the naive as he said about Trump’s decision to recognize al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of the Jewish entity. Erdogan threatened that he could sever his relationship with the Jewish entity if Jerusalem was recognized as a capital of this entity. But he didn’t cut his ties with America that took this decision, but rather it supports the Jewish entity and provides it with all means to maintain its survival. He also called for a two-state American solution, which includes the transfer of 80% of Palestine to the Jews, and he called for East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, surrendering the west of Jerusalem to the Jews. This is in addition to what he did and still is carrying out in Syria, and even his betrayals, which have reinforced the presence of the Russian and American enemies and the Syrian regime, whether by handing over Aleppo or opening American bases to intervene in Syria or to open the Turkish airspace for Russian aviation or the meetings of Astana, in which he pressured the leaders of the armed factions to accept their decisions and bring calm to the battle fronts and deescalate and withdraw from areas and surrender them to the regime and then surrounded Idlib and many more areas. Then comes this new chapter the “Olive Branch” to facilitate the entry of the regime to Idlib!

Finally, we address all factions and say do not be fooled by Erdogan’s actions, and not to surrender Idlib to the regime … and not to forget what happened to them in Aleppo, but to remember the Hadith narrated by Bukhari from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet ﷺ who said: «لَا يُلْدَغُ الْمُؤْمِنُ مِنْ جُحْرٍ وَاحِدٍ مَرَّتَيْنِ» “A believer is not bitten from the same whole twice”. So how then if he is bitten many times?

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَذِكْرَى لِمَنْ كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ

Indeed in that is a reminder for whoever has a heart or who listens while he is present [in mind].”

(Qaf: 37)

7 Jumada I 1439 AH

24/1/2018 CE

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Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”

Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber
6 January 2017

Read Full Report:  Intelligence_Community_Assessment_-_Assessing_Russian_Activities_and_Intentions_in_Recent_US_Elections


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North Korean authorities concerned about effects of outside information

North Korea’s Party-run publication, the Rodong Sinmun, published an article on November 3 entitled, “Let’s thoroughly crush the scheme to culturally inject imperialist ideology.” The editorial argued that young people are the primary target of these efforts.

“If the youth are thoroughly exposed to these ideological efforts, they can easily become caught up in delinquent trends and become a social problem. The youth are adventurous and sensitive to new things, so we need to show deep concern for these ideological efforts,” the article notes.

via North Korean authorities concerned about effects of outside information

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North Korean authorities concerned about effects of outside information


Kim Ga YoungDNKE_2397_334409_1509947286_i

The introduction of foreign information is seen as an important way to influence North Korean society. Recognizing this, the North Korean regime has launched counter-operations warning young people about the dangers of foreign culture and ideas. Recent government media has warned against both official and unofficial contact with the outside world, discouraging cooperation and exchange.

North Korea’s Party-run publication, the Rodong Sinmun, published an article on November 3 entitled, “Let’s thoroughly crush the scheme to culturally inject imperialist ideology.” The editorial argued that young people are the primary target of these efforts.

“If the youth are thoroughly exposed to these ideological efforts, they can easily become caught up in delinquent trends and become a social problem. The youth are adventurous and sensitive to new things, so we need to show deep concern for these ideological efforts,” the article notes.

Many analysts refer to North Korea’s youth as the “Jangmadang [market economy] Generation,” and share the view that this demographic is minimally loyal to the regime and most interested in capitalist culture. For this reason, outside information is seen as a powerful agent for change in North Korean society.

North Koreans are able to access South Korean and foreign products and DVDs/USBs loaded with outside content through the marketplaces and in northern regions near the Sino-Korean border. In addition, some are able to tune in to radio broadcasts that inform them of events in North Korea and the world.

In response, the authorities are ramping up efforts to actively block such information. Securing the support of the younger generation is seen as essential for the continued stability of the regime.

In relation to this development, top-level North Korean defector Thae Yong Ho recently traveled to the US where he spoke on the topic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), noting that it is “common knowledge that now [the] North Korean population watch[es] South Korean movies and dramas.” This has served to weaken the regime’s power base and the power of national propaganda, thereby “making it possible to think about a civilian uprising in North Korea.”

As the consumption of outside information continues to grow and loyalty declines in North Korea, the authorities are focusing their national consolidation efforts on the Jangmadang Generation.

“If the imperialist ideology and cultural infiltration is allowed to continue, it will spoil the system and bring about our end. The tragic reality is that many socialist states have collapsed, and this is proof [of the danger of outside information],” the Rodong Sinmun article states.

“[The imperialists] make exchanges and cooperation look appealing on the surface, but beneath this, there are open and concealed means being undertaken to circulate reactionary ideology.”

According to testimonies from numerous defectors, the North Korea-Chinese trade relationship, both formal and informal, is said to be a major source of the so-called “capitalist wind,” which introduces foreign products, information, and cultural content into the North.

Analysts say one purpose of the Kaesong Industrial Complex – an industrial park previously jointly operated by North and South Korea – was to show the South Korean way of life to North Korean workers, in the hopes that they would come to believe that the South Korean system was superior. The Moon administration has invited the North to participate in other kinds of exchange programs, but the North has yet to accept.

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Lebanese prime minister says he wants ‘the best relationship with Iran’- DAVOS

Hadley Gamble | Natasha Turak
  • Hariri, a Sunni and dual Lebanese-Saudi national, took office in 2016 in a power-sharing agreement with President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian favored by Hezbollah, following two years during which Lebanon essentially had no government.
  • “Iran is a country that we need to deal with. Each nation must understand how it wants to deal with Iran,” Hariri told the audience.
'Iran has to stop meddling in Yemen,' Lebanese PM says

‘Iran has to stop meddling in Yemen,’ Lebanese PM says  

Lebanon must “deal with” Iran, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told Davos attendees during a panel hosted by CNBC at the World Economic Forum.

Hariri, a Sunni and dual Lebanese-Saudi national, took office in 2016 in a power-sharing agreement with President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian favored by Hezbollah, following two years during which Lebanon essentially had no government.

Shia militant and political group Hezbollah, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the most powerful wing of the Lebanese government. Funded and armed by Iran, it is also the vehicle through which the Islamic Republic extends its influence in Lebanon.

‘My focus is my state,’ Lebanese prime minister says

‘My focus is my state,’ Lebanese prime minister says  

“I as a prime minister I would like the best relationship with Iran, but I would like it to be state to state,” Hariri continued. “Not for somebody to invest in Lebanon without telling me on this issue, like Hezbollah or others.”

“Iran presents a challenge in the region maybe, but dialogue also is a part of resolving this issue.”

The Saudi Arabian government, a supporter of Hariri and a major source of investment for the small country, is archly opposed to Iranian influence in Lebanon and the Middle East.

This escalating conflict of regional interests took center stage in November of 2017 when Hariri announced his resignation from Riyadh, a move many believe was forced by the Saudi Kingdom. The alleged Saudi measures were viewed as a response to a political compromise in which Hariri took up leadership in exchange for allowing Hezbollah military autonomy.

On November 21, Hariri returned to Lebanon and rescinded his resignation, returning to a country far more united in support for their prime minister than ever before.

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Drugs and weapons: what is sold on Russian dark web?

Many darknet shops selling drugs are highly structured, their stuff includes dealers, recruiting specialists, packers, logistics, carriers, “treasure men” and even PR-managers.

via Drugs and weapons: what is sold on Russian dark web?

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Murat Karayilan On Attack against Efrîn: “We have no strategic friends other than the mountains…”

PKK Executive Committee Member Murat Karayilan said that the Turkish state would take a historic defeat in Efrîn and added: “The PKK will not remain silent against the attack. All the Kurdish people must be mobilized for Ephrîn. ”

via Murat Karayilan On Attack against Efrîn: “We have no strategic friends other than the mountains…”

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Murat Karayilan On Attack against Efrîn: “We have no strategic friends other than the mountains…”

PKK Executive Committee Member Murat Karayilan: “Turkish state would take a historic defeat in Efrîn: PKK will not remain silent against the attack. Kurdish people must be prepared, he added”

“We have no strategic friends other than the mountains,” 35 years of fighting enough for us to know it well”

The attack on Efrîn is an attack against the entire Kurd. It is not just a region of Kurdistan, but an attack on all the achievements of the people of Kurdistan. All the Kurdish people must mobilize against this occupation.

PKK Executive Committee Member Murat Karayilan said that the Turkish state would take a historic defeat in Efrîn and added: “The PKK will not remain silent against the attack. All the Kurdish people must be mobilized for Ephrîn. ”

Speaking on Stêrk TV,” PKK Executive Committee Member Murat Karayilan said that the attack against Efrîn was an attack against the entire Kürtlé, “We will all be one against the attack.” Karayılan stated that the Turkish state would never get any results in Efrîn, describing,

“Efrîn home of Arîn Mîrkan. The brave of Ephrín will defend their holy land. The warriors and the people of Ephrín will give the necessary answers with their resistance, the AKP-MHP will take a historical lesson in Ephrín. Faith and hope are like this, how Koban AKP and DAIS’i place, and AKP and MHP in Efrî’nin place, ” he said.

Murat Karayilan on the attack against Efrîn:  ” First of all, our valuable Efrîn people, then all Kurdistan people should know that the Turkish army is not such a tactic. The Turkish army could not hold Nusaybin for 9 months. He suffered Nusaybin syndrome. All of the soldiers who fought there were sick, they took it to the hospital, many of them fled from the front and left their military service. When did he get into Nusaybin? When did he go to Şırnak, Cizre and Sur not just Nusaybin? When he saw that the insurgents inside did not have the ammunition, Biswing rockets and explosive materials were left, then they entered with armored vehicles.

Provocative explanation from America

Just as if all the forces of the world are in Syria, there is no doubt that the resistance in front of the Syrian Democratic Forces is carried out through the communications provided by these forces. Because YPG, YPJ and QSD have not fought for themselves in Rojavas of Kurdistan and in Syria, they have fought for all humanity. They captured the capital of DAISY. This force is a force that strikes the DAIZ’s capital as it falls. This power is a force that has organized itself in the war against El Nusra and the DAIS gangs, and the world powers have also supported it. But something is going on, this power against Turkey’s blackmail are approaching very calculating.

US official statement against the Kurds in Rojava provoked , both Turkey and Syria. Iran. Subsequently ‘we understand Turkey’s concerns’ and’ There is no defense or our presence in Efrîn. ‘So, you can enter Efrîn sayin’. If you do not have anything, if you are doing business against DAIS with QSD, part of QSD is Efrîn! It’s an organic organization, right?

There is an insincerity in the middle. He says that he is provoking both the ruling states over Kurdistan by talking, and later saying ‘we are not defending Ephrín’. “YPG and QSD officials should be able to interpret this situation. He calls himself ‘an international power’, he sees himself so big, he is both provoking and pulling himself back! Indeed, this approach is a very worrying and suspicious approach and there is an incorrect attitude.”

Why was Sochi and Geneva blocked?

How many times Russia is postponing the Sochi meeting. Why? The Kurds are a truth and power in Syria. If the Kurds are not allowed to go to that meeting, that meeting will be wasted. If the Kurds attended the meeting, Turkey opposes it. Both sides are looking for a solution to settle. However, Turkey is a racist state. What is necessary here? What is necessary is to openly discuss the issue. Look, Sochi is an international platform and clogged. Why? For the Kurds. Geneva is not successful. Why? There are no Kurds. Not even one of the forces that control one third of Syria is ready

Genocide politics

All world powers must know that no problem can be solved until the Kurdish problem is solved in the Middle East. The issue of Kurdistan is an important issue. There is no peace in the Middle East until the Kurdistan problem has reached a solution. Until the Kurdish problem is solved in Syria, it is not possible to establish a new Syria in a democratic way. Now get up and tell the truth openly to Turkey and need someone to teach. But they do not dare to tell this truth to Turkey. Why are they afraid? Not that Turkey is so powerful, in fact sell itself in Turkey and draw them himself had given away. Turkey when they say that, they say, because they know they will be deprived of the blessings they received from Turkey. But we say that this is the time now.

Really now power and all public opinion in favor of stability, however, democratic and humanist forces, which cuts Since human rights, all people who want to live freely in this land, now Turkey’s racism ‘enough’ should. Now, Erdogan’s Kürtlere extend the language and rhetoric are enough. This is what is needed. I do not know they will not specify it, but it is the right one. If they want to speak the truth and do not want to fool each other, they should openly debate the Kurdish issue. The Turkish state is carrying out the genocide policy on the Kurds within its borders and wants to carry it out on the other Kurds. This must be openly debated.

For example, the US authorities ‘we understand the concerns of Turkey and we stand by Turkey against terrorism’, they say. But the Turkish state, the whole Kurt is called a ‘terrorist’. So now is HDP a terrorist? All co-presidents of the HDP were arrested, so many Kurdish politicians were arrested, and what terrorist activities did they engage in? They want democracy, they want human rights, and the Turkish state is against them. In fact, the Turkish state itself is terrorizing the Kurds. The Turkish state is terrorizing Kurdistan.

Who could argue that there is no terror in the basements of Cizre, where people are burned with gasoline on them? Now the whole world should see this truth. The AKP has to see and take precedence over the atrocities, fascism and terror that it implements in Kurdistan. This will always remain a contradiction until they are taken away. But this is our view as the PKK and the Kurdish people: We are telling the truth to the whole world. But we do not have to put our backs on anyone. We, as the people, should not put our backs on ourselves. We are ourselves, our friends. A book was written by friends 10 years ago, there was a determination as follows; “The strategic friend of the Kurds is the Kurdish people themselves and the mountains.” I have heard now that the authorities and politicians in South Kurdistan have stated the same thing. This is an extremely correct approach. This is the truth; we are ourselves our friends. We will hold our back our friends are our mountains. We can become such power and will.

Putin’s genocide should not co-exist

But we call it the whole world as well; O the world! O all world powers! Do not be a fascism party on the Kurds, do not share this fascism. For example, we are now talking to Russia, especially Putin, who is saying: The Turkish state is carrying out the politics of genocide on the Kurds. You should not be a partner to this. They are massacres in Kurdistan, they want to slaughter in Ephrín. A million people live in Ephrín and we know very well that until the time of Russia’s disapproval, the Turkish state can not intervene in Ephrín. Already there is a war situation in Efrîn with guns, medium and heavy weapons. No progress from the land. It is not the question of the Turkish army moving on the land now. But the Turkish state also wants to use airways to see from the air and shoot from the land by shooting. Because it can not make such progress from the land. Who controls the airspace? The air field is controlled by Russia. Then, if the Turkish warplanes wander in the air of Efrîn, it may be a Turkish flag over the aircraft, but it will mean that it is the plane that Russia sent. So these are Russian war planes. So if the war planes move on Ephrín, then Russia has done it. The Kurdish people and the public will understand this. Why? Because Efrîn and the Syrian airspace are controlled by Russian technology. Let’s leave the planes on Ephrín, where they can see and intervene if they cross a limit of a hundred meters.

This is a nickname

For this, both the public and our people must know that if an intervention in Efrîn with Turkish warplanes is done, this is done with the approval of Russia. So it does Russia. For this, we are especially calling for the Russian authorities and we hope that the Russian authorities will not share Erdogan’s dirty assets. This is the expectation of the Kurdish people themselves. So if there is an intervention, it will be a stigma for these great states. So right now there are Russian soldiers, helping out there. There he helped YPG and QSD forces. So he says he officially supports them right now. If you get up on this and give way to the Turkish warplanes, this will be a sting. For this we hope that the Russian authorities will not put themselves in such a position. True, the Turkish state has hopes on this issue, Erdogan is working hard for it. Blackmail against America is essentially against Russia, like America, trying to take them back behind them. So if necessary, he can take an attitude towards Russia.

Attack on Hmameim base MIT plan

Turkey mainly contraction in Idlib, began the operation carried out by the Russian and Syrian forces and stationed them Hmeim I had been facing severe and extensive attacks. True, Russian President Putin said, ‘We do not believe that this attack is the finger of Turkish authorities and Turkish troops.’ But it is also a truth is, all the groups involved in İdlib’t, can not go to the toilet, even without the knowledge of Turkey’s intelligence. So bring the outside air, as well as a batch only once it is not without the help of Turkey’s attack twice made of aircraft it is not possible. If not help Turkey, where they brought all of these mini-aircraft, which were put to the customs? How did they come and shoot the bases of Russia? It is clear that this is the plan of MIT. But for their own interests, ‘we do not believe that Turkey’s finger in the’ format, they make a statement. Could be, it’s something they know. But what is it that we want as Kurdish people? There is an enemy of the Kurdish people, this enemy is a racial enemy, extending hand and wanting to attack, no state should share this. If the Russian state wants to protect its interests in the region, it should not share in the aggressiveness of the AKP. The same is true for America.

All Kürtlere Attack

KURDISH people should also know that; “We trust ourselves first in Ephrîn and in Kurdistan. But no one should be common ambitions of Turkey’s dirty. In fact, they have to oppose it as a necessity for humanity. Even if they do not oppose, they should not be partners. Why? Without a common one with Turkey, it does not support Turkey can not cope alone with the Kurdish people.

The attack on Efrîn is an attack against this whole Kürtl. It is an attack not only on a territory of Kurdistan but on all the gains of the people of Kurdistan. Like Kobanê; how the enemy attacked Kobanê, the people of all Kurdistan saw these attacks against themselves, there was mobilization, and everyone supported. The same is true of Ephrén. Efrîn is the same as Kurdistan. When we look at Ephrín, we seem to be seeing Kurdistan. Some of the Kurdish tribes, from Serhat’tan to Botan and Riha, are part of Ephrîn. All the beliefs in Kurdistan, at least the Alevis, there are Yazidis, the majority are already Sunnis. In other words, every color of the Kurds is in Ephrín. In terms of faith, culture and national wealth, Efrîn is indeed the same as Kurdistan. If Kurdistan loses its mirror, it loses everything and can not see itself. In that respect, the attack on Ephrín is an attack on us all.

Will take historical lessons in EphrîN

First of all, Ephrín our people – we know him very well – are at the forefront in sacrifice and heroism. Was not Arin Miran, Efrîn? Rifat was Ephraim in Ereban. In other words, there are many Egidî. Many parts of Kurdistan have martyrs and created heroism. I believe to the last that they will show the same hero in the holy lands of Ephrath. Both the warriors and the people of Ephraim should only trust themselves and strengthen their organization. If the warriors and the people unite, nobody can defeat them.

Our people should know this. The enemy is not so strong, it is noisy, but the truth is not so. In fact, you will not see your enemy small, you must see the enemy with all truth. So you should not see small or big. They are doing psychological warfare, they are making a lot of crowds, but in essence they do not have that power. I believe that the Ehri warriors and their people will give the necessary response to the Turkish state with their resistance; The AKP-MHP will take a historical lesson in Ephrin. It is faith and hope that this is how Koban has settled the AKP and DAIS, and the AKP and the MHP will be in place in Efri.

Efrîn Canton authorities made many statements in this regard. Comrade YPG Commander Sipan Hemo made a statement. We greet all YPG, YPJ and SDG forces. We believe that they will strengthen Efri’s resistance at the greatest level. There is no doubt in this regard. But warriors must be self-reliant, the people and warriors must be unity and the people should organize themselves. If this happens, their victory will become final. So they have to trust themselves.

Guerilla is obliged to defend Kurdistan

But everybody should know that we are behind them and we are not just behind them. Erdogan always says “The PKK will approach the sea there” now the PKK is not there. The people of Ephrin are patriotic and heroic. But if they hand out Efrîn, then of course the PKK will not be a spectator. Just as Kobanê’ye audience did not stay, Efrîn’da no audience. As we said earlier, we are obliged to defend Kurdistan as the Kurdistan Liberation Guild. Where there is an attack on Kurdistan’s achievements and honor of the Kurdish people, we will be there and offer support.

PKK is different, YPG and PYD are different. But we will all be one against the attack. What does the enemy say all the time? Every day he talks about being national and indigenous. If a state of impunity says it for themselves, why not get a national attitude! Of course, we will also take national and national attitudes. All Kurds must approach these feelings. A Kurdish person who does not feel this should doubt himself, he should doubt himself if he does not feel it, not only Kurdistan, but also a person who calls himself “democrat”. However, the nose of the traitors does not burn. Erdogan insults my people every day. Rojava personally insults all Kurdish people every day. We will not remain silent with these tongues. This is a truth.

Mobilization call

I especially call all Kurdish people, young people, everyone should be ready for mobilization. Leader Apo declared mobilization when they attacked the AKP and DAIS Kobanê. We know that your campaign plays a big role. Now the calling of the Leader Apo is valid for Ephrén. Everyone should be ready. Especially North, Rojhilat, Başur Kurdistan, all Kurds must be ready. Ephrin is under attack; all Kurdish people must be mobilized. Especially Kurds who are out of the country. This war is a war between the Kurdish people and the fascist racist Turkish state. It’s not a war between peoples. No. There is a fascist, racist regime and hostility against the Kurdish people. Kurds and Turkey, and Syria will stand against fascism with democratic sectors in all regions. If the AKP and the MHP broken fascism success not only for the Kurds, but also for the people of Turkey, ie for all the peoples of the Arab peoples will have to start a new and important period. So we call it; all democratic, libertarian sections, the Turkish state is standing in the face of these attacks. Our people must be ready. There is an attack and everyone has to go into mobilization

The enemy will renew

In the beginning, Efrîn should act in an organized and conscious manner. We, as a movement and a people, must all be awake. Not everything will happen immediately, it is a struggle, it will be resistance. But we must know that the end of this resistance will be a great victory. We have faith in the success of our people. The future of our people is the resistance of the future Ephrín and the enemy will be renewed. Because there is no other way ahead of them. They insist on being defeated, they want to get ahead of the enemy. But they will not succeed. Success will be our people. ”

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Drugs and weapons: what is sold on Russian dark web?

Teonanacati — How are drugs and weapons sold? How much do they cost? How can you buy a safari to Donetsk People’s Republic (region of Ukraine)? We researched the Russian dark web and talked to its active users in order to answer these questions.



The sale of Drugs is one of the main reasons for dark web popularity. A lot of forums and darknet markets give an opportunity for everyone to buy any drug. The offer is certainly limited and prices are higher compared to Western DNMs. Ordinarily a buyer communicates with a vendor using encryption, pays for purchases in cryptocurrencies (bitcoin in most cases) or e-money (Qiwi is the most common). Russian drug vendors use two methods of delivery: “treasures” – when dope is hidden in a random place, postal or courier service is used for shipping countrywide.

Many darknet shops selling drugs are highly structured, their stuff includes dealers, recruiting specialists, packers, logistics, carriers, “treasure men” and even PR-managers. Employees are also found on the deep web. We spoke to an HR manager of a reputable Internet drug store located in Saint-Petersburg. He said that “treasure men” were wanted urgently with starting salaries of about $2,500. In order to earn that much a treasure man has to work 6 days a week for 2-3 hours. The work is as follows: in the evening you need to receive prepackaged drugs and hide about 20-30 treasures in the morning. Drop points are picked on a case by case basis. This part of the stuff is at the highest risk. In a private talk, a treasure man with 3 years experience admitted: “Everyone will be caught sooner or later. Only elites of drug business can feel safe – they are hard to identify”. An HR manager added: “You can expect a promotion to the position of an operator in three months. Surely, if you prove yourself to be a good worker”. Operators communicate with customers and treasure men, receive payments and solve disputes. In some cases they control functioning and finances of a shop. Depending on an operator’s experience he can get up to 50% of a store profit.


Sale of weapons is not widely spread on the Russian dark web. Only a few dealers can be found on the largest darknet markets and forums, also there are several websites containing weapons catalogues and contact information. We managed to talk to only two vendors. One of them sells “mass-scale models” (non-combat copies of weapons) remade in military arms. Another one claims to be a Ukrainian partisan selling “absolutely clean weapons”. They have almost the same terms of purchase: after 50-100% prepayment in bitcoins a purchase is delivered by a courier or hidden in a drop point. But the range of goods differs: the handicraftsman offers Makarov pistols while the Ukrainian dealer – AK-74 which “acquired a good reputation in Donbass”. Both of them promise to find something more serious by request.


Prices vary greatly – for example an AK-47 can be bought for the price from $700 to $3,500. Dealers did not reveal a supplier of weapons, however they confirmed the fact, that arms originate from Donbass and other regions of Ukraine. One of vendors said “a delivery to Saint-Petersburg takes a week”. Dealers are not interested in the purpose of a customer’s purchase, so they sell “without any questions”. Interviewed sellers complain about a lack of buyers, saying: “Arms trade is a super-profitable idea only in theory. In practice we have a shortage of demand.”

Safari in Donetsk

In October 2017, there was posted an advertisement on the darknet forum RuTor (1). The authors, who call themselves “Donbass volunteers”, offer trips to Donetsk People’s Republic. “During a safari across places where military operations are conducted, you can shoot and feel an adrenaline rush. We do not guarantee your safety, but a group of 6 men (all of them are professionals) will support you”. The trip takes a week.


The authors believe that travels to Donbass will become a new amusement for rich people. He says: “In the past rich competed with each other in pretending to be homeless. When they come back from Donbass, they will brag about real victories”.


1- Seller from Silkkitie, Dream, Abraxas, Alphabay, Nucleus, Middle Earth, Crypto – Selling digital documents to pass verifications such as: driver licenses, utility bills, id’s etc..

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 Lebanon Spyware Uncovered, Steals Data through Fake Messaging Apps

The report describes malware and tactics targeting desktop machines, with references to a possible Android component.

After investigating related infrastructure and connections to Operation Manul, the team concluded that the same infrastructure is likely shared by multiple actors and is being used in a new set of campaigns.

via  Lebanon Spyware Uncovered, Steals Data through Fake Messaging Apps

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 Lebanon Spyware Uncovered, Steals Data through Fake Messaging Apps

Dark Caracal

Researchers from non-profit campaign group ElectronicFrontier Foundation (EFF) and mobile security group Lookout have together uncovered malware that targets individuals such as military personnel, journalists, lawyers, and activists, using fake apps that look like popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal.

The malware, dubbed “Dark Caracal” by the researchers, targets known Android weaknesses and iOS has not been affected by it.

According to their report on Dark Caracal (See BeLow), the malware was traced back to a server in a Lebanese government building — a building belonging to the Lebanese General Security Directorate in Beirut, Lebanon — and seems like the threat could be coming from a nation-state.

“We have identified hundreds of gigabytes of data exfiltrated from thousands of victims, spanning 21+ countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia,” the report read.

“This is a very large, global campaign, focused on mobile devices. Mobile is the future of spying because phones are full of so much data about a person’s day-to-day life,” said EFF Director of Cybersecurity Eva Galperin.

Data stolen through the spyware includes documents, call records, audio recordings, secure messaging client content, contact information, text messages, photos, and account data.

According to EFF, WhatsApp or Signal have not been compromised, and Google has confirmed that the infected apps were not downloaded from its Play Store. Instead, the attackers use “spearphishing” to get these fake apps on targets’ phones, which is a phishing attack that specifically targets an individual using information the attacker has on the victim.

“All Dark Caracal needed was application permissions that users themselves granted when they downloaded the apps, not realizing that they contained malware,” said EFF Staff Technologist Cooper Quintin.

Dark Caracal has reportedly been operating since 2012 but has been unable to track down because of the number of similar attacks happening all over the world that have repeatedly been misattributed to other cybercrime groups. 

This research has shed light on how governments and people are able to spy on individuals all over the world. 

Executive Summary

As the modern threat landscape has evolved, so have the actors. The barrier to entry for cyber-warfare has continued to decrease, which means new nation states — previously without significant offensive capabilities— are now able to build and deploy widespread multi-platform cyber-espionage campaigns.

This report uncovers a prolific actor with nation-state level advanced persistent threat (APT) capabilities, who is exploiting targets globally across multiple platforms. The actor has been observed making use of desktop tooling, but has prioritized mobile devices as the primary attack vector. This is one of the first publicly documented mobile APT actors known to execute espionage on a global scale.

Lookout and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have discovered Dark Caracal, a persistent and prolific actor, who at the time of writing is believed to be administered out of a building belonging to the Lebanese General Security Directorate in Beirut.

At present, we have knowledge of hundreds of gigabytes of exfiltrated data, in 21+ countries, across thousands of victims. Stolen data includes enterprise intellectual property and personally identifiable information. We are releasing more than 90 indicators of compromise (IOC) associated with Dark Caracal including 11 different Android malware IOCs; 26 desktop malware IOCs across Windows, Mac, and Linux; and 60 domain/IP based IOCs.

Dark Caracal targets include individuals and entities that a nation state might typically attack, including governments, military targets, utilities, financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and defense contractors. We specifically uncovered data associated with military personnel, enterprises, medical professionals, activists, journalists, lawyers, and educational institutions during this investigation. Types of data include documents, call records, audio recordings, secure messaging client content, contact information, text messages, photos, and account data.

The joint Lookout-EFF investigation began after EFF released its Operation Manul report, highlighting a multi-platform espionage campaign targeted at journalists, activists, lawyers, and dissidents who were critical of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regimein Kazakhstan.

The report describes malware and tactics targeting desktop machines, with references to a possible Android component.

After investigating related infrastructure and connections to Operation Manul, the team concluded that the same infrastructure is likely shared by multiple actors and is being used in a new set of campaigns.

The diversity of seemingly unrelated campaigns that have been carried out from this infrastructure suggests it is being used simultaneously by multiple groups. Operation Manul clearly targeted persons of interest to Kazakhstan, while Dark Caracal has given no indication of an interest in these targets or their associates. This suggests that Dark Caracal either uses or manages the infrastructure found to be hosting a number of widespread, global cyber-espionage campaigns.

Since 2007, Lookout has investigated and tracked mobile security events across hundreds of millions of devices around the world.

This mobile espionage campaign is one of the most prolific we have seen to date. Additionally, we have reason to believe the activity Lookout and EFF have directly observed represents only a small fraction of the cyber-espionage that has been conducted using this infrastructure.


Key Findings

  • Our research shows that Dark Caracal may be administering its tooling out of the headquarters of the General Directorate of General Security (GDGS) in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • The GDGS gathers intelligence for national security purposes and

for its offensive cyber capabilities according to previous reports.

  • We have identified four Dark Caracal personas with overlapping TTP (tools, techniques, and procedures).
  • Dark Caracal is using the same infrastructure as was previously seen in the Operation Manul campaign, which targeted journalists, lawyers, and dissidents critical of the government of Kazakhstan.
  • Dark Caracal has been conducting a multi-platform, APT-leve surveillance operation targeting individuals and institutions globally.
  • Dark Caracal has successfully run numerous campaigns in parallel and we know that the data we have observed is only a small fraction of the total activity.
  • We have identified hundreds of gigabytes of data exfiltrated from thousands of victims, spanning 21+ countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
  • The mobile component of this APT is one of the first we’ve seen executing espionage on a global scale.
  • Analysis shows Dark Caracal successfully compromised the devices of military personnel, enterprises, medical professionals, activists, journalists, lawyers, and educational institutions.
  • Dark Caracal targets also include governments, militaries, utilities, financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and defense contractors.
  • Types of exfiltrated data include documents, call records, audio recordings, secure messaging client content, contact information, text messages, photos, and account data.
  • Dark Caracal follows the typical attack chain for cyber-espionage.

They rely primarily on social media, phishing, and in some cases physical access to compromise target systems, devices, and accounts.

  • Dark Caracal uses tools across mobile and desktop platforms.
  • Dark Caracal uses mobile as a primary attack platform.
  • Dark Caracal purchases or borrows mobile and desktop tools from actors on the dark web.
  • Lookout discovered Dark Caracal’s custom-developed mobile surveillanceware (that we call Pallas) in May 2017. Pallas is found in trojanized Android apps.
  • Dark Caracal has also used FinFisher, a tool created by a “lawful intercept” company that is regularly abused by other nation-state actors.
  • Dark Caracal makes extensive use of Windows malware called Bandook RAT. Dark Caracal also uses a previously unknown, multi- platform tool that Lookout and EFF have named CrossRAT, which is able to target Windows, OSX, and Linux.
  • Dark Caracal uses a constantly evolving, global infrastructure.
  • Lookout and EFF researchers have identified parts of Dark

Caracal’s infrastructure, providing us with unique insight into its global operations.

  • The infrastructure operators prefer to use Windows and XAMPP software on their C2 servers rather than a traditional LAMP stack, which provides a unique fingerprint when searching for related infrastructure.
  • Lookout and EFF have identified infrastructure shared by Operation Manul and Dark Caracal as well as other actors.
  • Attributing Dark Caracal was difficult as the actor employs multiple types of malware, and our analysis suggests the infrastructure is also being used by other groups.

Lookout and EFF are releasing more than 90 indicators of compromise (IOC):

  • 11 Android malware IOCs
  • 26 desktop malware IOCs
  • 60 domains, IP Addresses, and WHOIS information

Read Full Study Lookout_Dark-Caracal_srr_20180118_us_v.1.0


Beginning in late 2012, a carefully orchestrated attack campaign we call Volatile Cedar
has been targeting individuals, companies and institutions worldwide. This campaign, led by a persistent attacker group, has successfully penetrated a large number of targets
using various attack techniques, and specifically, a custom-made malware implant codenamed.
This report provides an extended technical analysis of Volatile Cedar and the
Explosive malware.
Malware attribution is often tricky and deception-prone. With that in mind, investigation of the evidence leads us to suspect Volatile Cedar originates from Lebanon (hence its nickname). Moreover, the. Volatile Cedar target vertical distribution strongly aligns with
nation-state/political-group interests, eliminating the possibility of financially motivated attackers.There is clear evidence that Volatile Cedar has been active for almost 3 years. While many of the technical aspects of the threat are not considered “cutting edge”, the campaign has been continually and successfully operational throughout this entire timeline, evading detection by the majority of AV products. This success is due to a well planned and carefully managed operation that constantly monitors its victims’ actions and rapidly responds to detection incidents.
Volatile Cedar is heavily based on a custom-made remote access Trojan named Explosives which is implanted within its targets and then used to harvest information. Tracking down these infections was quite a difficult task due to the multiple concealment measures taken by the attackers. The attackers select only a handful of targets to avoid unnecessary exposure.
New and custom versions are developed, compiled and deployed specifically for certain targets, and ”radio silence” periods are configured and embedded specificaly into each targeted implant.
The modus operandi for this attacker group initially targets publicly facing web servers, with both automatic and manual valnurability discovery. Once in control of a server, the attackers further penetrate the targeted internal network via various means, including
manual online hacking as well as an automated USB infection mechanism.
We will discuss the attack vectors and infection techniques used by the attack campaign as well as provide indicators that can be used to detect and remove the infection.
 Evidence shows that the Explosive Trojan leverages its key logging capabilities to gain access to administrator passwords entered on the target servers. Additionally, residues of custom-built port scanners and several other attack tools have been found on the victim
servers, leading us to believe the attackers use the initially infected servers as a pivot to manually spread to the entire network. More recent versions of the Explosive
Trojan contain a configurable option for USB infection. When this option is enabled, Explosive Infects any writable mass storage device connected to the server. This can be used to infect additional servers in environments where operational mass storage devices are shared between servers, as well as infect an administrator’s home or office machines.
Volatile Cedar is a highly targeted and very well-managed campaign. Its targets are carefully chosen, confining the infection spread to the bare minimum required to achieve the attacker’s goal while minimizing the risk of exposure. Our analysis leads us to believe that the attackers conduct a fair amount of intelligence gathering to tailor each infection to its specific target.
The campaign’s initial targets are mostly public web servers, running the Windows operating system. We believe this is because these servers serve as publicly exposed, easily accessible gateways to private and more secure internal networks. As these servers have a common business functionality, their security is often sacrificed for productivity, making them an easy target for attackers.
Once the attacker gains control over these servers, he can use them as a pivot point to explore, identify, and attack additional targets located deeper inside the internal network.
Volatile Cedar 
The typical attack begins with a vulnerability scan of the target server. Once an exploitable vulnerability is located, it is used to inject a web shell code into the server. The web shell is then used by the attacker to control the victim server and is the means
through which the ExplosiveTrojan is implanted into the victim server.
This Trojan allows the attackers to send commands to all targets via an array of C&C servers. The command list contains all the functionality required by the attacker to maintain control and extract information from the servers and includes keylogging, clipboard logging, screenshots, run commands, etc.
Occasionally, mostly in cases where large data extractions are required, the attacker sets up additional SSH tunnels connecting to the attacker-controlled servers.
The first evidence of any Explosiveversion was detected in November 2012. Over the course of the timeline, several versions have been detected. New version release dates appear to be closely related to the occurrence of an AV detection event on the previous version, a fact which emphasizes the efforts taken to conceal the attack.




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MIT staff will be given local gun MPT-76

MİT are Turkey’s leading security and intelligence organisation and the announcement that they will receive the new rifle this year follows the MPT-76’s deployment with the President and the Prime Minister’s protection details.

via MIT staff will be given local gun MPT-76


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MIT staff will be given local gun MPT-76

A Turkish news outlet has reported that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı or MİT) will be the next organisation to receive the country’s new domestically produced infantry rifle, the MPT-76.

A Haber, a Turkish TV news channel, supportive of Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, has reported that MİT units will receive the rifle for operational and protection duties early this year. A report published on 4th January (see below)  stated that (via google translate): “According to the information received, the security forces will be given the speed of deployment of the national infantry rifle MPT-76 in the new year.”

The 7.62x51mm MPT-76, made by MKEK – Turkey’s state-owned small-arms manufacturer, is a select-fire, gas-operated derivative of Heckler & Koch’s HK416/417. It is currently entering service to replace Turkey’s G3A7 and G3A7A1 rifles.

MİT are Turkey’s leading security and intelligence organisation and the announcement that they will receive the new rifle this year follows the MPT-76’s deployment with the President and the Prime Minister’s protection details.

The A Haber article goes on to confirm MKEK’s production target for 2018 and discuss the 5.56x45mm variant, of the MPT-76, the MPT-55:

In this context, MIT, Land Forces Command, General Directorate of Security and other law enforcement agencies will be delivered 38 thousand MPT-76 this year. As for the security forces, until the year 2026, a total of 250 thousand MPT-76s are planned to be purchased.

The MPT-55 rifle, which is considered as the continuation of the national infantry rifle production project, and 90,000 units for other rifles of the same size will be delivered.

Read Full Report:  MIT Turkey Intel Agency Report on local gun MPT-76

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Populational and Racial Policy Speech to the 1st session of the “Expert Advisory Committee” on  28th of June 1933 

The National-Socialist movement can claim credit for having protected the German nation from total political collapse, and the Reich from dissolution. It would be a serious mistake to believe that the main mission has thereby been accomplished. Whoever is able to understand things more deeply knows that the most difficult feat is still to be accomplished, namely to arrest the decline of our culture and folk. Germany not only belongs to those countries that had to bear the chief burden of the World War and enormous losses of the best men and racial elements, but also is the country that both during and after the war had to record an ominous decline in births.

via Populational and Racial Policy Speech to the 1st session of the “Expert Advisory Committee” on  28th of June 1933 

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Populational and Racial Policy Speech to the 1st session of the “Expert Advisory Committee” on  28th of June 1933 

Dr. Wilhelm Frick in uniform


Translated by Hadding Scott, 2014

German men and women! While I thank you for your willingness to collaborate, permit me to give you an overview of the tasks that we have set for ourselves, and to outline the goal that we want to reach. 
The National-Socialist movement can claim credit for having protected the German nation from total political collapse, and the Reich from dissolution. It would be a serious mistake to believe that the main mission has thereby been accomplished. Whoever is able to understand things more deeply knows that the most difficult feat is still to be accomplished, namely to arrest the decline of our culture and folk. Germany not only belongs to those countries that had to bear the chief burden of the World War and enormous losses of the best men and racial elements, but also is the country that both during and after the war had to record an ominous decline in births. While at the turn of the century we still had about 2 million births annually, the annual figure is still only about 975,000 now. From about 36 live births per thousand for the year 1900 the number has declined to about 15 in the year 1932. The number of children is thus declining to an ominous degree; the two-child system of the post-war period has been surpassed; the German folk has transitioned to the one-, indeed to the no-child system.


In spite of the great successes of general hygiene, of the fight against infectious diseases, of social hygiene, and of the medical sciences in general, which have been achieved with regard to combatting mortality and prolonging human life, the rollback of mortality in the total national-biological household of our folk no longer suffices to assure maintenance of our level of population. Today the raw numbers of births and deaths no longer suffice for the assessment; instead we must undertake a reassessment of the balance of life with consideration of the uneven distribution in age-groups, to recognize the true situation for population-policy. According to the calculations of the Reich Office for Statistics, the German folk with its current birth-figures is no longer in a position to maintain itself by its own power, but with 15 births per thousand of population we are short by about 30% of the births that must be accomplished by German women to secure the population for the future. Neither Berlin nor the other big German cities, nor even the medium-sized and small cities, are in a position, given the current birth-figures, to maintain their populations. Only the rural communities still have a slight birth-surplus, which however no longer suffices to offset the loss in the German cities. We thereby face a fundamental turn of the ages. Our people advances obliviously into a stark senescence and graying.
The superior elements of the nation must have more children.
Yet, it is indeed not only the number that gives cause for concern, but to the same degree the quality and composition of our German population. Since we still have no hereditary-biological census, we have been given a mandate to make assessments. While one can assume that cases of serious physical or mental hereditary illesses number roughly 500,000, the figures for the less serious cases are considerably higher. There are authors who regard 20% of the German population as congenitally defective, from whom procreation therefore would no longer be desirable. It must be added that quite often feebleminded and inferior persons exhibit greater than average reproduction. While the healthy German family today supplies the folk with not more than 2 children on the average, one finds precisely among the feebleminded and inferior, however lamentable it may sound, double that on average, often even three times as many. That means however that the more gifted valuable stratum of generations virtually decreases, and in a few generations will have died out completely, but with that also efficiency and German culture.
The bleak picture that I have to reveal to you is however still not complete! While we permanently reduce our options [Behauptungsmöglichkeit] in the area of economy, of social policy, of military fitness through this regression in the number and character of our folk, our neighbors in the east have roughly twice the fertility and number of live births. The migration from the countryside into the cities, from the East to the West, has already led in some districts of the east to a noticeable decrease of population so that in spite of the current unemployment the danger of the immigration of ethnic non-Germans exists in the east. In Berlin alone in 1930 about 4000 immigrants from the east were naturalized, of which most were non-Germans, largely eastern Jews. – Next to the menacingly increasing congenital inferiority we must to the same degree track advancing miscegenation and racial degeneration of our folk, since the German man and the German woman have unlearned consciousness of their blood and race.  
Seen in rough outline, the current government has encountered, apart from the thoroughly miserable domestic and foreign economic situation, also an especially dangerous circumstance of the German folk for population-policy. The earlier governments did not have the courage to bring about a fundamental change and to reverse the course of the entire domestic and economic policy. – 
Before I briefly explain the measures that we have to take on the offensive, we must briefly create clarity for ourselves about the causes of this national decline. 
We see today the great number of unemployed, and our folk is found in the belief that everything will take a turn for the good if they receive work again. Precisely the educated are of the opinion that it is necessary only to get the economy back on track, then all else will automatically follow. Certainly the economy and the basis of the food-supply must be restored! But it is crazy to believe that our German folk in the heart of Europe is to be saved with that alone! If we cast our gaze into German history, we recognize that we have changed from an agrarian state to an industrial state. Hardenberg induced the development into an industrial state after 1807 in Prussia. By the fact that he gave land freely as private property, he cleared the way for the liberal economic system. The consequence of the development of the money-economy was the urbanization and the industrialization of Germany. With that, the natural development of our folk, the peasant’s sense of family, and the effectiveness of the evolutionary pressures of rural life came to an end! Our legal relationships, the money-economy, and insurance-legislation brought with it an inversion of concept about morality, sex, family, and children. Therewith began the development of individualism, of class-struggle, of Marxism and Communism. The mechanization of labor, the economic enslavement of the Marxist economy after the war completed the process of destruction which brought our folk to the brink of the abyss. Hand in hand with that goes the decay of our folk. The liberal mind has poisoned its soul, killed the sense for family-life and the will for children. With this psychic structural transformation the reorganization of domestic family-life became complete. Man and woman go to work and into their career, the both strive on the one hand for intellectual cultivation and on the other hand for work and participation in economic life – thus were man and woman alienated from family-life and believed that they had found an equality in unrestricted gender-freedom. Publicity glorifies the androgyne in sports and career, but has nothing left for the mother who today still calls a sufficient number of children her own. So sees man today only a life-companion in his wife, no longer the mother of his children. Consequently it is no wonder that abortion and contraception are causing our folk to die out. What can be done to bring about a change?
Congenital defectives burden the worker.

With the enormous burdening of our folk with taxes, social insurance payments, and interest-payments, we are not allowed to block out the awareness that the state will have to undertake a reconstruction of all legislation and a reduction of the burdens for inferior and anti-social types. How strongly the tasks for the inferior, anti-social, sick, feebleminded, mentally ill, cripples, and criminals today exceed the measure of what we could expect for our population struggling with difficulty for its survival, we observe from the expenses for their care that must be funded today by the Reich, by the lands, and by municipalities. Just a few examples: the mentally ill person costs about 4 RM per day, the criminal 3.50RM, the cripple and deaf-mute 5-6RM per day, while the unskilled laborer has at his disposal only about 2.50RM per day, the clerk 3.60RM, the low-level executive about 4RM per day. Those are consequences of an excessive assistance for the particular individual, which must kill the will of the healthy to work, and train the folk to become dole-recipients. On the other hand we burden the valuable families in a such a way that abortion and birth-control result. What we have developed so far is thus an excessive personal hygiene and assistance for the particular individual without regard for the findings of the doctrine of heredity, of life-selection, and of racial hygiene. This kind of modern “humanity” and social assistance for the sick, weak, and inferior individual must, in the big picture, have an effect as the greatest cruelty for the folk, and ultimately lead to its ruin. 

To avert the threatening disaster, a reorientation of the entire public health structure, of the thinking of the medical profession, and a change of issues in accord with the perspective of racial hygiene, of populational and racial policy, is necessary. Only when the state and the health system pursue provision for the not yet born as the core of their issues can we speak of a new era and of a constructive populational and racial policy.

For the increase of the number of congenitally healthy progeny, we have the duty in the first place to reduce expenditures for the anti-social, inferior, and hopeless congenitally ill, and to prevent the procreation of seriously hereditarily defective persons.
The scientifically grounded doctrine of heredity, following evolutionin the last century, gives us the possibility of recognizing clearly the relationships of heredity and selection, and their significance for folk and state. It gives us therewith however also the right and the moral duty of excluding seriously congenitally ill persons from procreation. We cannot allow ourselves to be restrained from this duty also through a falsely understood love of one’s neighbor and churchly qualms, which are based on dogmas of bygone centuries; on the contrary, we must regard it as a violation of Christian and social love of one’s neighbor, if we allow it to continue in spite of the knowledge that we have gained, that congenitally ill people produce a progeny that means endless suffering for themselves and their kin in this generation and in those to come. Consequently I have resolved to submit a draft of a law for the prevention of congenitally ill progeny, which I am asking you to examine following your current session.
Yet let us be aware that with deselection and selection, which are introduced through our legislation on racial hygiene and racial policy, still nothing is accomplished if we do not accomplish the establishment of families and sufficient propagation of the valuable hereditarily healthy German people. Article 119 of the Reichsverfassung, according to which the family is recognized as the foundation of the state and compensatory justice is demanded for it, has still not become a reality. With the examination of the given circumstances we must concede that legislation and practice hitherto has led to a preferential treatment of those having few or no children. The legislation has undergone a development that, in the thoroughly miserable economic situation in which we find ourselves, is not going to be changed overnight. While, on the one hand, one permits to the father of a family a part, if insufficient, of the income-tax, families are already penalized several times that much in proportion to the number of children, through indirect consumption-taxes that are based on foodstuffs and daily necessities. Tax-measures so far, which for the today already small number of children of those in any way obliged for income-taxes, now constitute only a fraction, about one-tenth, of the total tax-reductions of any kind. The reduction is at the time only about a third of the sum that is granted to the unmarried through the so-called minimum living wage with a certain self-evidence. One thus treats the child, considered in terms of the tax-code, worse than those that have on themselves to support with their income. Because of this the unmarried people and the childless have several times more disposable income per person than the child-rich family, which raises Germany’s posterity. Only the extreme limitation in the nourishment, recreation, education, personal hygiene, clothing, and shelter can make it possible for the father of a child-rich family to maintain his household. That enormous harms thereby arise however for the still healthy posterity, no one can doubt. School-lunches, alms, and the excessive emphasis on sports cannot bring back the sense of family.


If today still millions of mothers, often precisely mothers with many children, in addition to their domestic duties are in the work-process only because they have to create additional leeway for nourishment, while unmarried unemployed men are supported from public means, it is the highest goal that we approach the solution of this problem with energy, and create change through compensation of family-burdens. There must be success in bringin


“Support the Mother and Child aid-project.”

the wife back to the life of marriage and family, and to domestic duties, and the man out of unemployment and to his vocation. Precisely the increased consumption that would be attained through this compensation would be suited to strengthen the internal economic market, and to stimulate production of values that are domestically produced. There is no doubt that precisely the low number of children under 15 years of age today determines a large part of the joblessness and prostration of the internal economic market. 

If we want therefore seriously to approach population-political organization, we must undertake measures that foster the family in a way always tailored to economic circumstance and income-level. There are the most varied possibilities for that, which I ask you to prepare together with my ministry. Present regulations are to be scrutinized in regard for anti-family effect, and a pro-family legislation is to be undertaken. It must be made possible to create a palpable compensation for those owing income-tax through more strongly graduated tax-reduction in percentages of the tax. In the same way the salary of civil servants would have to be graduated even more effectively according to marital status and number of children, since of course the pay of the civil servant is not only a compensation but is supposed to grant him adequate support for the family. It would have to begin perhaps from the pay that a civil servant needs for the support of 3-4 children in order to graduate downwards and upwards according to the number of children. While the liberal professions and the commercial middle class like all circles of entrepreneurs were able to be captured through an effective tax-reduction, among employees and wage-earners there is only the possibility of creating compensation through compensation-funds, into which all would have to pay contributions according to the size of their income or receive a compensation according to how many children they had. This does not need to signify an additional burden for the state and business, but there must be an attempt to effect a shift of income for the securing of the life-support of healthy families. In order to guarantee the qualitative principle, it will certainly be necessary to grant an amelioration only in percentages of income so as not to give to anti-social people rights equal to those of the working population. With the difficult financial situation of the Reich, the lands, the communities, and the economy, the fulfillment of all these family-fostering measures of course appears possible only if an unburdening occurs in other areas, for example through standardization and appropriate austerity-measures in the social insurance system. 
We know from history that our folk is rooted in the class of small farmers, and that the maintenance of the hereditarily healthy German farm-family is ultimately crucial for the perpetuation of the folk. The German farm has been in all times the place where the German folk has ever again reasserted itself despite war and epidemic and righted itself again after a collapse. The coupling of the best German blood with German ground and soil must therefore be sought with all means. The soil must be set up again as part of family-law and under protection of the state. In return however the National-Socialist state must demand from the lords of this soil that they provide it with a sufficient number of healthy progeny. It is time therefore to organize housing in such a way that a sufficient number of children is ensured through stipulations in taxation and inheritance-law.
In the new Germany, Reich, lands, and communities must re-examine their entire governance from the perspective of population-policy and, to the extent necessary, reorganize. Apart from economic and financial reorientation, the public health system will have to be standardized and freed up for racial-hygienic and constructive measures. Next to the pre-existing sanitary and health-promoting arrangements it will be necessary in recognition of the doctrine of heredity and of racial hygiene to banish the dangers of birth-defects, and thereby again to authenticate the propagation of hereditarily healthy and competent people. 
However much economic reasons and excessive efforts at social climbing may be an essential cause of the decline in births, of abortion and birth-control, we ought in no way fail to recognize that it is at the same time foremost an educational, psychological, and ethical problem. The attitude toward generating life is dependent on the worldview not only of the German wife and mother, but also of the man. The will for the child in a folk and before all else in the wife cannot be awakened through laws and economic measures alone; instead the soul of the woman must find its way back to the child. That is only possible through renovation of the woman’s thinking and through solution of the woman-question. We must liberate the woman from her economic distress and grant adequate schools to her as to the children, but in the same measure train the man for the duty of establishing a family. 
Here a wide field of activity avails itself to the National-Socialist Women’s Association, which must tackle it under the leadership of mothers and in close emulation of child-rich mothers. 


Marry somebody congenitally sound and racially similar.

Enlightenment about congenital health-measures and racial science must be expanded into education of the youth and of the entire folk about racial hygiene, in order to prepare it for marriage. In order to convey this knowledge to broad circles and to convey appropriate instructional material to the positions appropriate for enlightenment and to the educators of youth, I have ordered the reconstruction of the Reich Commission for National Hygienic Instruction [Reichsausschusses für hygienische Volksbelehrung] into such a commission for national health-service. An exaggerated, all-too-long scientific education is just as obstructive to the timely starting of a family as the excessive emphasis on sports. Precisely the educated class is most endangered, since late starting of families is the cause of marriagelessness, disease, and a failed marriage. It must again be regarded as the duty of educated youth to be conscious of the German hereditary constitution, to preserve racial purity, and through appropriate choice of a mate to strive toward a higher development of ones’ own type and family. Mixed marriages with alien races must be recognized as what they are, namely the reason for degeneration of the mind and soul, as well as alienation toward one’s own folk.

  Healthy Parents – Healthy Children!

The studies of family and race must be cultivated in such a way that the flourishing of the family appears as a higher good than wealth and comfort. We must again have the courage to rank the body of the folk according to hereditary value, in order to make appropriate leaders available to the state. 

If other peoples and foreign elements do not want to follow us on this path, that is their affair. I regard it as the greatest mission and duty of the government of the national revolution, to guarantee the upward development and preservation of our German folk in the heart of Europe. Therefore I ask you to support us in this mission. It is also the purpose of today’s conference.

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China built strategic ties with countries across Asia, Europe and Africa,


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As the US took a backseat in global leadership in 2017, China took steps to expand its global influence. It also built strategic ties with countries across Asia, Europe and Africa, and encountered issues such as the Doklam border dispute and the North Korea nuclear crisis.
– Japan
– United Kingdom
– Russia
– Philippines
– Djibouti
– Saudi Arabia
– United States
– Vietnam
– Singapore
– Zimbabwe
– Kazakhstan
– N.Korea
– India
– Australia
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Shin Bet Mole 14/1/18 חפרפרת בשב”כ MK accused of Shin Bet leaks 1/14/18 1:11 PM PDT

Boaz Guttman–During 1990s police probe into Aryeh Deri, ex-head of domestic security agency Yaakov Peri allegedly handed over intel on wiretaps to embattled interior minister–(Times of Israel – 1/14/18)

MK Yaakov Peri, a former Shin Bet agency head, over an investigative TV report alleging the ex-security chief leaked sensitive information to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri about police wiretaps of his associates during a corruption investigation into the Shas leader two decades ago.

The “Uvda” report aired last Wednesday unearthed a report from a covert probe in 1995 that saw two of the three-person panel of investigators conclude that Peri — also a former science minister — was likely the source of the 1991 leaks to Deri, after the then-Shin Bet chief was found to be lying on a series of polygraph tests.

Peri, who conceded to having a “good relationship” with Deri at the time, has firmly denied the allegations.

The “Uvda” report examined confidential information obtained by a Deri aide, Moshe Weinberg, on how police wiretaps were approved by the Shin Bet and put into place by the Bezeq telecommunication company. Weinberg was also able to detail who was being recorded in the investigation into the interior minister, confounding the investigators.

“There is someone in the Shin Bet who tells,” Weinberg was recorded as telling a state witness, who was wearing a hidden mic affixed by police in a bid to incriminate Weinberg.

Recordings aired by the TV show also saw Deri quizzing Weinberg about the tapes and “when they would be ready.”

The TV report quoted investigators on the case saying they were “astounded” by the revelation and also found Weinberg’s information to be accurate.

“He [Weinberg] didn’t lie. He knew exactly who was being listened to,” a former investigator told “Uvda.” “We thought we must be dreaming.”

Fearing the leaks would overshadow the corruption probe into Deri, police ignored the information and locked away the tapes, according to “Uvda.”

But four years later, in 1995, the attorney general appointed three investigators to secretly probe the leaks, after the information came to light during the Deri trial.

As part of the internal investigation, the Shin Bet and police were asked to submit to a polygraph test.

Peri told “Uvda” he was was tested once, with the polygraph proving “inconclusive.”

But documents aired on the TV show indicated that Peri was grilled on a polygraph four times, and while some of the results were inconclusive, the Shin Bet chief found to be lying on numerous occasions.

According to the documents, Peri was found to be telling the truth when asked whether he handed over documents on the wiretaps, but was found to be lying when asked whether he gave over information on the recordings to an unauthorized figure.

In the fourth round of questioning, Peri was asked whether he inquired within the Shin Bet about wiretaps around Deri’s Jerusalem home. The Shin Bet chief denied it and was found to be lying. He was also determined to be lying when again asked whether he handed over information about the wiretaps, according to the TV show’s documents.

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H-1B: Immigrants Make Up Nearly Three-quarters of Silicon Valley Tech Workforce, Report says

Many immigrant tech workers are employed under the controversial H-1B visa — intended for specialty occupations — which has become a flashpoint in the U.S. cage fight over immigration, with opponents claiming it lets foreigners steal American jobs. Several companies and UC San Francisco have been accused of abusing the visa program by using it as a tool to outsource Americans’ jobs to workers from far-away lands.

via H-1B: Immigrants Make Up Nearly Three-quarters of Silicon Valley Tech Workforce, Report says

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H-1B: Immigrants Make Up Nearly Three-quarters of Silicon Valley Tech Workforce, Report says

With the debate over immigration to the U.S. as fiery as ever, a new analysis suggests that Silicon Valley would be lost without foreign-born technology workers.

About 71 percent of tech employees in the Valley are foreign born, compared to around 50 percent in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region, according to a new report based on 2016 census data.

Visa applications. (Courtesy U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service)

Immigrant techies tend to go to “the center of the action,” Seattle venture capitalist S. “Soma” Somasegar told the Seattle Times.

And Silicon Valley remains the “center of the tech universe,” according to the newspaper.

Beyond personal preferences, and the sheer number of companies in areas such as Silicon Valley and fast-growing Seattle, the financial resources of major technology firms also play a role in bringing in immigrants, the Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Many immigrant tech workers are employed under the controversial H-1B visa — intended for specialty occupations — which has become a flashpoint in the U.S. cage fight over immigration, with opponents claiming it lets foreigners steal American jobs. Several companies and UC San Francisco have been accused of abusing the visa program by using it as a tool to outsource Americans’ jobs to workers from far-away lands.

Although 2016 data released by the federal government last year showed that outsourcing companies — mostly from India — raked in the bulk of H-1B visas, Google took more than 2,500 and Apple took nearly 2,000 to hire foreign workers, about 60 percent of them holding master’s degrees.

Large companies, the Seattle Times pointed out, are better equipped to bring in workers under the H-1B.

“The H1-B process is not just complicated — it’s also quite expensive to sponsor an H1-B visa worker, a cost larger companies may be more willing to absorb,” the paper reported.

Legal blog UpCounsel puts the cost of the H-1B process at $10,000 to $11,000 per employee.

The Seattle Times did not include in its report a breakdown for Silicon Valley of how many immigrants are U.S. citizens, versus visa holders. But the paper’s research indicated that 63 percent of Seattle’s foreign-born tech workers were not American citizens.

Backlash against the H-1B visa has been one part of the furor over U.S. immigration policies that has grown since President Donald Trump began campaigning for the presidency on an anti-immigrant platform. Fissures have widened in public opinion over Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, over the admission of refugees, and over the unresolved fate of DACA, the program that has let millions of foreign citizens — brought to the U.S. illegally as children — remain in the country.

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The State of Security:” TOP 17 Security Conferences-2018

via “The State of Security:” TOP 17 Security Conferences-2018

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“The State of Security:” TOP 17 Security Conferences-2018

“The State of Security” assembled a list of the top conferences in information security.


When: 9-10 August, 2018

Where: Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


The Diana Initiative is an organization that’s dedicated to supporting women who are interested in pursuing a career in information security, promoting diverse workplaces, and helping to change workplace cultures so that organizations can be supportive of all employees regardless of gender.

The theme of The Diana Initiative’s 2018 conference is “Hacker Family: Our Diversity Unifies Us.” At the event, attendees will be able to take advantage of numerous networking opportunities. They’ll be able to “meet a mentor” and attend presentations where speakers share their stories, experiences, and insights.


When: 20-23 May, 2018

Where: Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton, Florida, USA


fs-isacEach FS-ISAC Annual Summit is hosted by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a resource which helps members of the global financial industry share and analyze intelligence on digital and physical threats.

Attendees to this annual event have the opportunity to hear a series of sessions and talks on the newest threats facing the global financial services sector. Everyone from CEOs and Heads of Threat Intelligence to Payment Operations Directors and Payment Line of Business Managers are encouraged to attend.


When: 14-16 March, 2018

Where: Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


CanSecWestCanSecWest is a three-day conference that boasts a single-track of enlightening one-hour presentations prepared by a knowledgeable professional and an educator. The event prides itself on bringing attendees together into a relaxed environment so that they can collaborate and network.

This year’s conference will feature Dr. Michael A. VanPutte, Ph.D, who will speak on “Cyberwar and other modern myths.” Attendees will also get to attend presentations on election security and low-cost radio wave attacks.


When: 19-21 January, 2018

Where: Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington District of Columbia, USA


shmooconShmooCon is an annual hacking conference that takes place on the east coast of the United States every January. The first full day of the conference features a single track of speed talks called “One Track Mind.” This is followed by two full days of three event tracks: “Build It,” “Belay It,” and “Bring It On.”

The conference’s major themes include exploiting technology and using hardware and software solutions to address critical issues in information security.

Attendees can also enjoy several events that run concurrent to the conference, including the Lockpick Village, ShmooCon Labs and Hack Fortress.


When: 9-13 April, 2018

Where: NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


security160Hack in the Box Security Conference (HITBSecConf) is an annual event held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This year’s iteration of the event boasts six three-day technical training courses that explore next-gen infosec issues and a two-day triple-track conference featuring well-known industry leaders. Those who regularly attend HITBSecConf value it for all the networking opportunities and the chance to stay current with critical computer security issues.

The first round of accepted speakers to HITBSecConf-Amsterdam will be announced in January.


When: 17-21 June, 2018

Where: TBA, Tel Aviv, Israel


AppSec Europe is an annual conference hosted by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a non-profit organization which strives to raise the visibility of software security worldwide. Each AppSec Europe conference features technical talks, debate panels, training sessions, hands-on learning workshops, and keynote addresses from industry leaders. This year’s conference will feature Amit Klein, who is VP Security Research at SafeBreach.

Every event also includes a recruiting fair, CTF events, and a vendor floor.


When: 24-29 June, 2018

Where: Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Forum of Incident Response and Security TeamsThis five-day annual conference features incident response, management, and technical tracks; keynote presentations; lightning talks; and plenty of networking opportunities. In addition to learning the latest security strategies in incident management, those who attend can earn up to 25 continuing professional education (CPE) credits and gain insight into analyzing network vulnerabilities.

The event is sponsored by the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams(FIRST), an international confederation of more than 350 trusted computer incident response teams from over 80 countries.


When: 5-7 June, 2018

Where: Olympia, London, United Kingdom


infosecurity europeInfoSecurity Europe is an annual conference that’s evolved into one of Europe’s largest and most highly-regarded information security events. Its reputation is bolstered by the conference’s free rate of admission.

In 2014, approximately 11,500 visitors from over 70 countries attended InfoSecurity Europe. Last year, more than 19,500 visitors came out to see hundreds of speakers present on security-related topics and visit over 400 different exhibitors’ booths.


When: 3-7 October, 2018

Where: The Mariott Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky, USA


conference - derbyconDerbyCon is an infosec conference that prides itself on its family feel. Each year’s event begins with a two-day training sequence, which includes sessions in pentesting, reverse engineering, malware analysis, hacking basics, and other topics. These sessions precede a two-day conference that features an impressive lineup of speakers.

Over 2,000 individuals attended DerbyCon 4.0 in 2014. (No statistics are available for DerbyCon 5.0, 6.0, or 7.0.) The conference’s organizers expect to attract even more attendees in 2018.


When: 15-17 August, 2018

Where: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


usenixNow in its 27th year, the annual conference of the USENIX Association (otherwise known as the Advanced Computing Systems Association) brings together researchers, practitioners, sysadmins, and other individuals who are interested in staying abreast of important security and privacy developments with respect to computer systems and networks. The event consists of invited talks, panel discussions, and Birds-of-a-Feather sessions.

All researchers are invited to submit a paper for consideration of presenting at USENIX’s Security Symposium 2018 until 8 February.


When: 19-21 March, 2018

Where: Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA


Every year, InfoSec World attracts attendees with its diverse line-up of speakers and an exhibition hall filled with some of the most impressive information security technologies and solutions in the industry.

MIS Training Institute, a leader in IT auditing and infosec training, organizes the event every year. Each iteration of InfoSec World consists of seminars, conferences, e-learning workshops, in-house training sessions, and executive programs.


When: 4-7 June, 2018

Where: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, USA


gartner-tileEach of Gartner’s Security & Risk Management Summits attracts CISOs and top risk management and security professionals for the purpose of helping them build resilience and hone their security strategy across the enterprise. Attendees gain those insights via end-user case studies, workshops, and even one-on-one meetings with a Gartner analyst.

This year’s conference will consist of five programs: CISO, Security Trends and Capabilities, Technical Insights: Security Architecture, Risk and Business Resilience, and Marketplace for Security.


When: Ongoing

Where: Worldwide


sansThe SANS Series is sponsored by the SANS Institute, a research and education organization which promotes infosec training and certification around the world. Its programs consist of intensive training usually spread out over several days. These sessions now reach more than 165,000 security professionals.

One of the biggest events planned for this year is SANS 2018. It’ll feature more than 45 hands-on information security courses taught by leading experts. This training conference is scheduled for 3-10 April in Orlando, Florida, USA. Learn more here.


When: 16-20 April, 2018

Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA USA


RSA_Conference_Logo,_squareWhen a security event gives rise to multiples conferences that draw more than tens of thousands of attendees a year, it’s hard not to take notice.

Besides its size, RSA, including RSA Conference USA, prides itself on providing a venue where both established and new security professionals can present their research to conference attendees and prepare themselves for future challenges in information security.


When: Ongoing

Where: Worldwide


index1Security BSides is a community-driven framework that builds events for the information security community. Each meeting incorporates discussion, demonstrations, and interaction into most of its technical presentations, thereby promoting collaboration and conversation among security professionals.

As of this writing, approximately 30 events have already been announced for 2018.


When: Variable

Where: Variable


Black-hatThe Black Hat conference series is a favorite among infosec professionals for its technical emphasis. Black Hat USA, for example, has been in operation for the past 19 years; each of its iterations promotes a vendor-neutral environment and offers up top research that’s selected by a board of the industry’s most esteemed infosec professionals. This year’s Black Hat USA will take place on 4-9 August at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Black Hat events are held annually in the United States, Europe, and Asia.


When: 9-12 August, 2018

Where: Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV, USA


dc-logoDEF CON started out in 1993 as a gathering among 10 small hacker networks. It’s expanded over the last 25 years; today, it’s one of the oldest and largest security conferences in the world. DEF CON 22 (2014) attracted 14,500 attendees alone.

Each year, DEFCON offers an exciting roster of speakers who present on computer hacking.


Saudi Money In Syria – Sowing The Seeds Of ISIS 2.0

Al-Sistani is well know for caring for all Iraqis and for speaking out against any form of sectarianism. This was an insult and threat to a very high religious authority with a huge following.

Sabhan’s loose talk did not go down well with the Iraqi population and its political circles. Immediately demands were made to kick him out of Iraq.

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Saudi Money In Syria – Sowing The Seeds Of ISIS 2.0

(Abundant Hope, Oct 19, 2017) –There is dangerous news evolving from Raqqa, Syria. While ISIS is largely defeated seeds get sown for its reappearance.

The Kurdish forces under the label SDF and led by U.S. special forces have defeated ISIS in Raqqa. Cleanup operations continue. The victory came only after the the U.S. and its proxies agreed to give free passage (see below) to the last few hundreds of foreign and Syrian ISIS fighters and their families. Since these boarded buses and were moved out of Raqqa on Saturday night nothing has been heard of them.

On Monday the U.S. coordinator for the fight against ISIS, Brett McGurk, brought an unwelcome visitor to Syria.

Raqqa24 @24Raqqa – 9:49 AM – 17 Oct 2017Brett McGurk visited Ayn Issa today with the Saudi minister Thamer al-Sabhan (former Ambassador to Iraq) & joined 3 different meetings. #R24

First meeting was with the local council of #Raqqa then with reconstruction committee at the least they met with elders of Raqqa

Picture of the visit of Brett McGurk and Thamer al-Sabhan. Source: Unknown

via Raqqa24 – bigger

The visit was confirmed by a (pro Kurd) journalist:

Wladimir‏ @vvanwilgenburg – 5:06 PM – 17 Oct 2017
Wladimir Retweeted Raqqa24I was there. No pictures allowed. Meeting was indeed about reconstruction.

Thamer al-Sabhan is the Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs. He is known to be extremely sectarian and anti-Shia.

In 2015 Thamer al-Sabhan was appointed as the first Saudi ambassador to Iraq since the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait in 1990. He made no friends in Baghdad when he ranted against the Popular Mobilization Units, which had stopped and fought back ISIS. He denigrated the most revered religious scholar in Iraq:

Sabhan asserted that “whoever listens to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s Friday sermons and Muqtada al-Sadr’s statements can feel the threat that Shiite religious authorities pose.

Al-Sistani is well know for caring for all Iraqis and for speaking out against any form of sectarianism. This was an insult and threat to a very high religious authority with a huge following.

Sabhan’s loose talk did not go down well with the Iraqi population and its political circles. Immediately demands were made to kick him out of Iraq. Sabhan then claimed that an Iraqi official had told him that Shia groups directed by Iran were out to kill him. The Iraqi government denied that claim. But Sabhan continued to stir inner-Iraqi strife. The government finally asked Riyadh to call him back. In October 2016 Sabham was recalled from Iraq and appointed minister. He recently demanded “to eliminate the rogue Iranian regime.”

To invite him to Syria, as Brett McGurk (on order from the White House?) did, is a dangerous provocation.

The Trump administration is not willing to spend money on the rebuilding of Raqqa which was largely destroyed (video) by thousands of U.S. air and artillery strikes. The State Department promised to “lead” efforts to restore water and power supplies in Raqqa, but it wants to put the financial burden elsewhere:

“We will assist and take, essentially, the lead in bringing back the water, electricity and all of that,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing. “But eventually the governance of the country of Syria is something that I think all nations remain very interested in.”

It is a complete wrong approach. The U.S. should ask the Syrian government to immediately take responsibility of Raqqa and then leave the country.

Now Thamer al-Sabhan is asked to cough up money for “reconstruction” and “governance”. But Saudi Arabia does not have humanitarian interests. Just witness the slow genocidal war it is waging on Yemen. Saudi Arabia will only support groups and populations that are willing to follow its extreme Wahhabi version of Islam.

ISIS follows largely the same creed as the Saudis do. ISIS used Saudi schoolbooks in its schools. Many of its leading members come from Saudi Arabia. It is generally assumed, with some evidence, that Saudi donors financed ISIS – at least in its early days.

The ISIS members leaving Raqqa under free passage went where? The Syrian forces fighting ISIS along the Euphrates further east report that ISIS fighters have largely vanished from the area. They either melted into the general population or moved north of the Euphrates to hand themselves over to the U.S. proxy forces. What will happen to them? Who pays to feed their families?

ISIS was born out of the Sunni resistance against the U.S, occupation of Iraq. Around 2010/11 the resistance was perceived to be a dead force. But to others it was still a valuable anti-Shia instrument and money from the Sunni gulf regimes continued to flow. The Sunni terror groups in Iraq slowly grew back. The Obama administration saw ISIS develop but intentionally let it grow for its own political purposes. The U.S. military at times supported itin its fights against the Syrian state.

ISIS is not even completely defeated, yet the seeds for its next incarnation already get sown. Thamer al-Sabhan will use the money he spends in Syria to further stir the anti-Shia pot. He will finance those who will promise him to resist the “Shia axis” of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. “Former” ISIS members will be welcome to join the “rehabilitation” work.

One hopes that the “resistance” axis in Syria will finds ways and means to kill these weeds before they grow back to size.

Jan.15, 2018 “Washington Examiner,” reported: “…A stark warning by President Erdogan of Turkey issued to U.S. forces in Syria………”Do not come between us and the terrorists, do not come between these herds of murderers and us. Otherwise we won’t be responsible for the consequences.” This latest threat pertains to a new U.S. sponsored force in northern Syria that Turkey believes is a terrorist formation…………..The issue here is not so much Turkey’s border concerns as it is a broader geopolitical struggle over areas of eastern and northern Syria currently occupied by the SDF. For various reasons, Bashar Assad, Iran, Russian and Turkey are all determined to see U.S. influence, as realized in the SDF, displaced from these areas, and they are taking increasingly aggressive action to effect that desire. Indeed, as I’ve explained, the Russian military might even accidentally bomb U.S. ground forces in Syria.

Trump must take charge and remind his Turkish counterpart that he is prepared to defend U.S. interests. Up until now, the U.S. has been able to deter Russian strikes on SDF forces by launching fighter jet intercepts against Russian jets that cross east and north of the Euphrates river valley. Trump should do the same in relation to any Turkish air force maneuvers that now occur.

But the president should also remain committed to his present strategy. Unless the U.S. can counterbalance Assad, Erdogan, Putin, and Khamenei in Syria, the seeds of ISIS 2.0 will find fertile plains.

End Notes:

Free Passage Deal For ISIS In Raqqa-Video Shows

After free passage negotiations with the U.S. and its Kurdish proxy forces, ISIS is moving its fighters out of Raqqa city. When the Syrian government reached similar agreements the U.S. childishly criticized it. The U.S. coalition claims that it was “not involved in the discussions” that led to the Raqqa free passage agreement. A BBC News report shows that the opposite is true.

Over the last two years the U.S. and its Kurdish proxy force in Syria made several deals with the Islamic State. In 2016, for example, they negotiated a deal with Islamic State fighters to move from Manbij to the Turkish border to avoid further casualties in the fight about the city.

But when in August 2017 Hizbullah and the Lebanese and Syrian government negotiated a deal with some 300 besieged ISIS fighters and their families at the Lebanese-Syria border, the U.S. loudly protested. The U.S. military blocked and threatened to bomb the evacuation convoy over several days and the U.S. envoy McGurk ranted against it:

7:20 AM – 30 Aug 2017 – Brett McGurk @brett_mcgurkIrreconcilable #ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across #Syria to the Iraqi border without #Iraq’s consent 1/2
Our @coalition will help ensure that these terrorists can never enter #Iraq or escape from what remains of their dwindling “caliphate.” 2/2

Over the last months U.S. supported Kurdish proxy fighters besieged the city of Raqqa and fought to take it from ISIS. An immense amount of U.S. bombs was released to lower the casualty numbers of the U.S.proxy forces. The city was literally “destroyed to save it”. Many of its civilian inhabitants were killed. During the last days rumors abounded that a deal was made between the U.S. and ISIS. It would give ISIS fighters free passage when leaving the city. Today these rumors were confirmed:

[SOHR] received information from Knowledgeable and independent sources confirming reaching a deal between the International Coalition and the Syria Democratic Forces in one hand; and the “Islamic State” organization in the other hand, and the deal stated the exit of the remaining members of the “Islamic State” organization out of Al-Raqqah city.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirms that this agreement has happened, and confirms that all the Syrian members were gotten out already, and if some members remained until now it is because they are of the non-Syrian nationalities of whom the French Intelligence objects getting them out of Al-Raqqah city, where the French Intelligence considers that some of those involved in Paris Attack are present inside the city …

Other sources said that buses had arrived to take the leaving ISIS fighters towards the Syrian-Iraqi border area. Local officials say that foreign fighters with ISIS are also leaving. The U.S. coalition generally confirms the evacuation, but it denies any involvement:

A convoy of vehicles is staged to depart Raqqah Oct. 14 under an arrangement brokered by the Raqqah Civil Council and local Arab tribal elders Oct. 12.

The Coalition was not involved in the discussions that led to the arrangement, but believes it will save innocent lives and allow Syrian Democratic Forces and the Coalition to focus on defeating Daesh terrorists in Raqqah with less risk of civilian casualties.

The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. A deal made by Hizbullah with besieged ISIS fighters and their families was condemned. The evacuation convoy was blocked for days in the desert by U.S. drones and air interdiction.

Now the U.S. and its allies make a similar deal and let ISIS leave its besieged position. They bus those fighters towards the Syrian-Iraqi border where Syrian government forces are engaged in heavy battles against ISIS.

What is next? CENTCOM providing ISIS with air transport to the Israeli border? There ISIS is free to openly train new forces. The area is safe from Syrian and Russian attacks. The Israeli airforce keeps anyone away who might be hostile to ISIS.

The U.S. says: “The Coalition was not involved in the discussions”. That is a lie. Only two days ago BBC News reported on the meeting where the deal was discussed and then made.

U.S. General Jim Glynn meeting on October 12 with Raqqa officials to negotiate the deal. While the General claimed at that time that no deal was made, later news and the situation today proves the opposite. ISIS convoys are moving out of Raqqa and the U.S. and its proxy forces are sitting tight and simply watch them leave. No U.S. air asset is blocking the convoy and no Brett .

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Haftar Troops Violations Extended to Graves’ Exhumation— In a move that drew condemnation from various circles, the forces of Khalifa Haftar exhumed of 118 graves in the area of Sirte, Libya, including dead Justce and |Equality Movement (JEM) forces during the clashes in Al-Hilal Oil area last year, which was interpreted as an attempt to cover up by the forces of Haftar on the participation of JEM In fighting with them.
The step of digging the graves comes as an attempt to hide all the evidence for the participation of mercnaries in the battle of Al-Hilal Oil, where Colonel Salem Deryag, commander of operations in the central region, confirmed, in a letter to Haftar, that presence of the bodies of JEM in Sirte may cause problems in the future. He said that he held a meeting with Hilal Baamoud (apparently the coordination officer with the rebel movement) to convince Ali Eshaq Jaber, the field commander of the friendly forces (JEM) to dig these graves and bury them in remote places away from the pastoral areas, asking Hafter orders on the re-burial of the bodies of the dead of the movement in the valleys of Sharif or Zogiat or in Bon in the suburbs of Zellah.
This incident brings to mind the fact that the fighters of Haftar, in March, exhumed the bodies of the dead of the Shura Council of Benghazi rebels when they enter the area of ??Qunfotha, where these bodies were subjected to the deportation, representation and hanging, and the most prominent incident in Benghazi is the exhumation of the grave of the prominent military commander of the Revolutionary Council, Jalal Al-Makhzoum, where the body was placed on a car, roused by the armed forces of Haftar in Benghazi, amid a state of hysteria of joy and shooting and screaming and insulting and cursing and spitting on it, and then hanged the body.
A number of Libyan in social networking sites considered that what happened was barbaric in violation of Islamic law and not suitable for Muslims and against all human rights standards.
Haftar used for harboring and supporting rebel movements in Sudan, focusing on sheltering some of the fleeing of JEM remnants after its collapse and expulsion from Darfur, and attracting them to fight with him, where Haftar rewarded the rebel movements with supplying them with arms and equipment with the help of some countries and entities hostile to the Libyan national accord government.
Haftar has used, since his appearance, to get help of Darfur movements to fight with him, where Sudan has not been spared over the past years from the hostility of the man, who has been striving to turn Darfur into a hotbed of conflict and fighting as he has done in Libyan cities. The negative effects of cooperation between Haftar and mercenary movements have spread to include the Libyan people, who have been suffering from mercenary practices of looting and killing, as well as commanders of Haftar, who have caused corruption in Libya.
It is known that JEM has turned to fighting with Major General Haftar’s forces in accordance with a prior agreement in order to obtain funds and weapons in order to regain its forces after all its military strongholds have lost after military defeats inflicted by the Sudanese Armed Forces in Darfur and have been fighting in Libya despite UN appeals, which has already demanded their exit from Libya.
Darfur movements mercenaries represented a significant presence in the Libyan scene, where they participated with the forces of Hafter in clashes with the guard forces of oil facilities to control the port of Ras Lanuf and the vicinity of the port of Sidra, but the Guard forces recovered, after days, control of AL-Hilal Oil area in the eastern Libyan, where on Al-Hasi, a spokesman for the Petroleum Services Guard, Central Branch, accused the JEM of participating in the attack led by the forces of Haftar, pointing out that the rebel movement launched an attack on the said area to control it.
The cooperation of the Darfur movements with Haftar and their entry into the Libyan conflict is considered suicide by the movements, which are seeking weapons from Libya to continue the war inside Sudan from Darfur.
Observers believe that the Darfur movements will be the biggest loser because they have not been able to read the situation correctly either in Sudan or in Libya and the step of digging graves is confirmed the participation of mercenary forces in fighting with the forces of Haftar.
There is no doubt that the exhumation of graves is a violation of international and humanity law and violation of the sanctity of the dead, since all legal legislation in the world prohibits insulting the human after his death.

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Shake-up at Pentagon intelligence agency sparks concern

JENNA MCLAUGHLIN | Foreign Policy |When Kim Jong Un gears up to launch a ballistic missile, analysts at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency comb through satellite imagery, looking for distinct signs on the the ground in North Korea indicating test preparations are underway.

Now, the U.S. agency is in the midst of a concentrated push – what some have called a reorganization – emphasizing the use of advanced technology to do analysis typically done by humans, five sources with knowledge of the matter told Foreign Policy.

That shift in priorities is worrying some veteran imagery analysts who fear that their jobs might drastically change, and the technology being pushed isn’t mature enough to replace human skill and analytic capability. Those working inside and with the agency say it’s unclear exactly what the changes entail, but it’s scaring some employees, who worry the reorganization is part of a push to move work done by human analysts to artificial intelligence, and to outsource some of NGA’s work.

The agency’s director, Robert Cardillo, appears to be “doing away with imagery analysis, NGA’s bread and butter,” at least the way such analysis has historically been done, one former intelligence official with knowledge of the reorganization told FP.

NGA is an important, albeit low-profile, part of the intelligence community. While the National Reconnaissance Office is responsible for the satellites that collect earth imagery and data, NGA plots the information on maps for use by the military and the intelligence community. In places where it is near-impossible to send in human sources, the military and intelligence community can get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape.

In 2011, for example, analysts at the agency helped locate the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was living in his final years. The agency even helped build the replica of the compound used to train special operations forces for the 2011 raid that led to the killing of al-Qaida’s founder.

In an interview with FP, Cardillo confirmed that there were changes underway that involved advanced technology, but he denied it was pushing people out of jobs or moving too fast with technology.

“It might feel like a really big reorganization to some folks,” Cardillo told FP. “The fact of the matter is, from this office, I’ve done very little reorganization. We’ve closed down a shop or two to realign some efforts. Most recently, I did change my top tier of leadership.. . . I now call it an executive committee.”

About a year and a half ago, Cardillo named a new head of the directorate of analysis within NGA, what he calls the “heart” of the agency. The director, Sue Kalweit, is “trying to create an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “But we start and finish our day with tradecraft.”

But technology, particularly machine learning that can allow computers to scan the massive stockpile of imagery in NGA’s possession, is attractive to the agency.

While some inside the intelligence agency feel these changes are inevitable and will help move NGA into the 21st century, the restructuring is troubling some of its employees, particularly its veteran imagery analysts, who are worried their jobs are at risk and are seeking positions in other government agencies or considering early retirement.

Those inside the agency are also concerned that artificial intelligence is not yet advanced enough to truly replace most aspects of human analysis. Even with advanced technology, “imagery analysis is so vital for all these hard targets we follow,” the former intelligence official said.

Some of those hard targets might include North Korea and Iran, where imagery analysts are critical to identifying nuclear sites, for example. NGA is one of the biggest contributors of intelligence on North Korea and places a premium on providing detailed insight into the country.

NGA’s plan is already sending shock waves throughout the intelligence community, with concerns that traditional imagery analysis is at risk of disappearing, according to the former intelligence official. The CIA’s Directorate of Analysis is working to replace some of the imagery analysis capabilities it fears might be lost under the reorganization, and it is assembling teams to focus on Russia and Iran, the former official said.

Cardillo has in the past publicly advocated for moving toward artificial intelligence, including plans to replace three-quarters of analysts’ tasks with computers. Cardillo is “all in on [artificial intelligence],” a second source, who does business with NGA, told FP, while expressing doubt that the technology is really at the level it needs to be to stand in for trained human professionals.

Cardillo doesn’t deny the emphasis on advanced technology but tells FP he “doesn’t like the term ‘artificial intelligence'” and instead prefers “computer learning and computer vision.”

“The fundamentals of our job are to take images of the planet from all sources, some government and some commercial, and create an understanding of man-made activity around the globe,” he said. “I’m optimistic about the advances in machine learning on that part” to track, for example, “a ship in a port, a plane on a runway.”

Artificial intelligence is booming, attracting talented scientists and researchers around the globe. China has invested billions in developing infrastructure to take advantage of breakthroughs in the field.

However, the technology remains rudimentary in many respects, particularly in imagery analysis. “Imagery analysis is a skill set – you have to be taught,” another former intelligence analyst told FP. “AI is not able to replace analysts in this sense, or any other. The capability is not there.”

In the commercial sector, for example, Google was infamously called out for labeling African-Americans as gorillas via its image recognition software, and the stakes are much higher in the intelligence world for such errors.

“We’re well aware of the impact of us making a mistake: It’s putting troops in danger,” Cardillo said. “We invest heavily . . . on testing and evaluation.” If the United States needs to “employ kinetic force somewhere . . . no target is struck until a human analyst affirms that what was automated was correct. We are not turning over that kind of decision to computers.”

Artificial intelligence is improving over time in pattern recognition and statistical analysis, said Todd Hughes, the chief technology officer at Next Century Corp. “This occurs by giving a system a set of examples or class of objects that makes intuitive sense to an end user . . . like faces, vehicles, weapons, trees, or what have you,” he told FP in an interview. “It’s actually not that sophisticated.”

Hughes, who previously worked as a program manager at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he focused on research into automating imagery analysis, said machines could be well suited to rote tasks such as scanning endless numbers of pictures for specific objects. “Humans are actually not that great at it. Humans have limitations of attention and fatigue much more quickly than you would think,” he said. “Machines can go on forever.”

Machines might provide “tools that will help [analysts] do their jobs more efficiently,” Hughes said, but they wouldn’t be taking the place of humans working in the intelligence agencies anytime soon. “To think that there’s going to be some wholesale replacement . . . is roughly overstating it,” he said.

Regardless, for employees at the agency who believe their jobs are being taken by machines, the concerns about the reorganization are real. “Morale is very low,” said the source who does business with NGA.

Cardillo, however, said attrition rates from NGA are within historical rates. But he acknowledges he could lose analysts, particularly to private industry, where salaries are higher.

Looking into the future, Cardillo acknowledged the limits of using computing to replace humans, but he said it’s a matter of knowing where machine learning can be applied.

“Computers are very good at identifying what is in an image, but not good at identifying what’s not in an image,” he said. “To those who say this isn’t working, or we aren’t making progress, I think we are.”

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Jilin Daily (China’s official media) carried full page article of how to survive a nuclear fallout????????????

On Dec 6, #JilinDaily published a feature on #nuclearweapons and how to protect in case of #nuclearradiation. This led many in northern #China to ask if the newspaper report is an anticipation of a #UnitedStates military action against ‘s missile test.

via Jilin Daily (China’s official media) carried full page article of how to survive a nuclear fallout????????????

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Jilin Daily (China’s official media) carried full page article of how to survive a nuclear fallout????????????

“On Dec 6, #JilinDaily published a feature on #nuclearweapons and how to protect in case of #nuclearradiation. This led many in northern #China to ask if the newspaper report is an anticipation of a #UnitedStates military action against #NorthKorea ‘s missile test.”-Author

Revealing the extreme direness of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, a state-run Chinese media outlet based in a province bordering North Korea and Russia — the Jilin Daily — published a “common sense” guide for surviving a nuclear war, according to Reuters.

A provincial rag like this would get very little funding from SAPPRFT (Guangdian) or the party, it’d get maybe lower rents and taxes, a building and a broadcasting licence if you are a TV station. They are otherwise on their own and have to cater to their audience like any other newspaper.

Some editor gave some sub-editor a page to play with and they think it’s a good idea… probably for the reasons you are insinuating. That’s all. If you think this is out there you should see what Hunan TV or Southern Group are up to. And both of those are FAR higher up the totempole on the ‘state media’ hierarchy than Jilin Daily.

Now, if People’s Daily or the People’s Liberation Army Daily were to carry this… yeah, I might start worrying.

Although the full-page article of guidelines doesn’t specifically mention North Korea, the warning was clearly a result of the increasing tensions between a nuclear-armed DPRK, and the United States.

The influential Chinese state-run Global Times described the article as a public service announcement due to the situation on the Korean peninsula.

“If war breaks out, it is not possible to rule out the Korean peninsula producing nuclear contaminants, and countermeasures must be seriously researched and spoken openly about to let the common folk know. But at the same time, there is absolutely no reason to be alarmed,” the Global Times said.

Tensions with the U.S. have increased dramatically since North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September. Just weeks ago, the DPRK launched a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which demonstrated a theoretical capability to conduct a nuclear strike anywhere across the whole of the U.S. mainland.

Citizens in Jilin have reported feeling tremors when the North tested a nuclear device, according to The Daily Caller.

“It’s natural that Jilin province is more sensitive to the situation on the Korean peninsula, given its special geographic location. It’s necessary for the provincial paper to publish information on nuclear weapons,” the Global Times wrote in a Chinese-language editorial.


[​IMG] when being asked about it, the officials said it’s completely normal public education, but…… yeah, nobody’s buying that.

The published guidelines note that nuclear weapons utilize five means of causing destruction: light radiation, blast waves, early-stage nuclear radiation, nuclear electromagnetic pulses, and radioactive pollution. The article goes on to explain that the first four kill instantaneously.

The Jilin Daily encouraged people caught outside when the bomb goes off to dive into a ditch, river, or lake and cover any exposed skin.

According to a report by Reuters, the Jilin Daily guidelines noted that:

According to a report from Defense One:

And there you have it.

Although officially — “no one is panicking” — simultaneously preparing for a nuclear attack and flood of refugees says otherwise.

The Chinese government has previously said that they reject military intervention, but in the event that the U.S. launches a preemptive strike on North Korea – the Chinese military WILL intervene in defense of the North.

Make no mistake that the world is teetering on the brink of an extreme nuclear catastrophe.

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Flight MH-370…The year is 2018.

JeremyJenki-It wasn’t food or water which ran out first. It was patience.

“Let us out! Let us out!” we chanted, over and over. They had us trapped behind a thick sheet of Plexiglas, running all around the entire body of the aircraft. We had thought nothing of the delay at first, but the pilot’s increasingly frantic updates over the PA, coupled with the burgeoning security forces around the perimeter, soon made it clear that far more sinister was at play.

Two hours in, the crew deployed the emergency landing chutes. We scooted out, desperately drinking in the fresh air. Then, with one mind, we swarmed to the Plexiglas, beating on it with our fists, demanding answers.

“I’ve got family to return to!”

“You can’t do this to us, we’ve got rights!”

“I demand to speak to someone who’s in charge!”

But they remained silent, the ring of guards who surrounded us. They were stoic, I granted them that much. Despite the rising protests, they refused to engage with any of us, speaking only to each other and into their walkie-talkies. Before long, army trucks rolled up onto the tarmac, vomiting out scores of heavily-armed soldiers who bolstered the cordon cutting us off from the world. As the sun began its retreat, helicopters swooped in with beacons of light, slicing through the encroaching darkness.

One of the other passengers noticed it first. “Hey, hey everyone,” he said. “I’ve got family in the Chinese army. Something’s not… right. Their uniforms, they don’t look like that. Their weapons too. Something’s different…”

The inconsistencies began to add up, and the questions bubbled like broth over an unattended stove. Why did the exterior of the airport look different to the frequent travellers? Why wasn’t anyone able to connect to the phone networks? Why were people able to identify the presence of Wi-Fi signals with their devices, but were unable to connect, receiving only vague error messages of ‘Please update your system software’?”

A full-scale riot was building up on our side of the Plexiglas, and we quietened down only when a single figure emerged from behind the security cordon, spotlights trained on him as he approached. The ranks on his uniform gave us little doubt that he was in charge. He cleared his throat, tapped on a little button on his collar, then spoke. His voice, amplified by unseen machines, carried clearly over to us.

“Passengers of Flight MH-370, my name is Lieutenant-General Zheng. Please listen carefully to what I have to say.

“This is the year 2018. This is not 8 March 2014. I wish I were joking, but this is not the case. Your flight disappeared in our world, and years were spent searching for you. We found pieces of your wreckage, and most believed that you had crashed. It was difficult for us, but eventually, mostly, we moved on.

“Yet here you are, against all conceivable logic. As you waited, long-range cameras were used to scan you, and your family members have verified your identities. Well, most of you, at least. I’m sorry to inform that for some of you, your only known family members have passed on in the interim. Again, I’m sorry.

“We will let you out as soon as we can. Right this moment, the world’s top scientists have gathered in our country, and they are studying each and every piece of data we can scrape from this. Options are being conceived and challenged vigorously, and every effort is being taken to return you to a life of normalcy as soon as possible, so that you may to continue with whatever pieces of your lives remain.

“In the meantime, please be patient. Once we have determined what we should do, which one of you should be released, you will have your freedom, that I solemnly promise. Thank you.”

We started shouting again, angry at the non-answers we had received. But we quietened soon enough, as another plane began to land, its exterior marked with the exact same colours as ours. The moment it came to a stop, thick walls of Plexiglas shot up out of the ground, trapping it the same way as ours.

More security personnel spilled out of yet more trucks, encircling that plane as well. I saw Lieutenant-General Zheng shake his head in frustration, as he now made his way over to repeat the same speech.

He made that same speech three more times in the next few hours, as more and more Flight MH-370s landed at the airport.

From a distance, through multiple layers of Plexiglas, wearing the same befuddled expression as I no doubt had…

… I found myself staring at, well, what appeared to be other versions of myself.

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Twitter “shadow banning” exposed

Twitter has been long accused of shadow banning and manipulating various metrics of user accounts. As Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars reported in August, 2016, Twitter was accused of suppressing tweets from then-candidate Trump in the home stretch of the US election, which some have construed as interfering:

via Twitter “shadow banning” exposed

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Twitter “shadow banning” exposed

… blocking opposing views

Tyler Durden —In the latest of a series of undercover operations targeting the mainstream media and now Social Media, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has just dropped a new undercover video which reveals Twitter “shadow banning” and creating algorithms that censor certain ideas.

The first clip features a former Twitter software engineer who explains how/why Twitter “shadow bans” certain users:

Abhinav Vadrevu:  “One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting but no one sees their content.”

“So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it. I don’t know if Twitter does this anymore.”

Meanwhile, Olinda Hassan, a Policy Manager for Twitter’s Trust and Safety team explains on December 15th, 2017 at a Twitter holiday party that the development of a system of “down ranking” “shitty people” is in the works:

“Yeah. That’s something we’re working on. It’s something we’re working on. We’re trying to get the shitty people to not show up. It’s a product thing we’re working on right now.”

In the full video (see below) Twitter Content Review Agent Mo Nora explains that Twitter doesn’t have an official written policy that targets conservative speech, but rather they were following “unwritten rules from the top”:

“A lot of unwritten rules, and being that we’re in San Francisco, we’re in California, very liberal, a very blue state. You had to be… I mean as a company you can’t really say it because it would make you look bad, but behind closed doors are lots of rules.”

“There was, I would say… Twitter was probably about 90% Anti-Trump, maybe 99% Anti-Trump.”

Meanwhile, Pranay Singh reveals again just how creepy Twitter can be by digging into your profile and conversation history to determine whether or not you’re a “redneck” and therefore worthy of being banned:

“Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff.”

When asked if the majority of the algorithms are targeted against conservative or liberal users of Twitter, Singh said, “I would say majority of it are for Republicans.”

Twitter has been long accused of shadow banning and manipulating various metrics of user accounts. As Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars reported in August, 2016, Twitter was accused of suppressing tweets from then-candidate Trump in the home stretch of the US election, which some have construed as interfering:

Twitter is provably censoring Donald Trump in order to prevent him raising money for his presidential campaign.

A tweet sent out by Trump yesterday to promote his #MillionDollarMatch donation drive does not appear on Trump’s profile page nor did it appear on the feed of anyone following him.

You can check for yourself. Here is the tweet sent out by Trump yesterday and here is his main profile page – which doesn’t show the tweet. The tweet has been buried as if it never existed.

Trump tweet in which he declared that “the establishment and special interests are absolutely killing our country” was also shadow banned by Twitter back in April.

While Twitter is censoring Trump, it has repeatedly been accused of gaming its algorithms in support of Hillary. Back in February, users were irate after the social media giant appeared to censor the anti-Hillary hashtag #WhichHillary after it started trending.

Then in October, 2016, Dilbert creator Scott Adams was “shadowbanned” by  Twitter, which he noted on his blog:

This weekend I got “shadowbanned” on Twitter. It lasted until my followers noticed and protested. Shadowbanning prevents my followers from seeing my tweets and replies, but in a way that is not obvious until you do some digging.

Why did I get shadowbanned?

It was probably because I asked people to tweet me examples of Clinton supporters being violent against peaceful Trump supporters in public. I got a lot of them. It was chilling.

Late last week my Twitter feed was invaded by an army of Clinton trolls (it’s a real thing) leaving sarcastic insults and not much else on my feed. There was an obvious similarity to them, meaning it was organized.

At around the same time, a bottom-feeder at Slate wrote a hit piece on me that had nothing to do with anything. Except obviously it was politically motivated. It was so lame that I retweeted it myself. The timing of the hit piece might be a coincidence, but I stopped believing in coincidences this year.

And in March of 2017, Twitter was caught by Ed Dowd – a politically active former BlackRock money manager who noted in early February that Twitter was both “un-retweeting” several of his politically charged posts.

In one instance, Dowd made a decidedly subversive tweet pointing out that the NSA and CIA are “wiretapping” the entire country via continuously archived data collection – a story which Wired magazine broke in 2006 and gained tremendous clarity through the acts of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

When Mr. Dowd checked his twitter feed hours after sending the tweet, he saw that it had accumulated 13 Retweets and 38 Likes. Given the subject matter, he decided to take a screenshot. Lo and behold, upon reloading the tweet five minutes later, Dowd discovered that 11 retweets had mysteriously vanished.

Another phenomenon Dowd noticed was that while he would gain followers throughout the day, there was a reliable “purge” of followers in the dead of night, all around the same time. He began keeping track, and though it wasn’t happening every night, it penciled out to around half a percent of his followers each time it happened, effectively capping his audience. Ed had questions; why was it almost always the same number of people? Who un-follows someone in the middle of the night? Considering most of Dowd’s followers are in North America, the un-followers were likely asleep when it was happening. The logical conclusion was that Twitter had been actively pruning Ed’s audience to limit his growth on the platform.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has throttled, censored, or banned conservatives who speak their mind. Documentarian, author, and noted Trump supporter Mike Cernovich (@cernovich) tweeted about his own fan base evaporating around the same time as Dowd began experiencing the un-follows:

Of course, only time will tell if Twitter will take steps to ban political targeting in light of these new embarrassing revelations from Project Veritas…we have our doubts.

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Iran bans US dollar



via Iran bans US dollar

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