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Tag Archives: al qaeda

Terrorism – The bottom line

By Richard O’Brien

So what does Daesh (aka ISIS/ISIL/IS) really stand for?

Profit. With assets of around US$2 billion – much of it obtained from looting money from banks, and the sale of near priceless artefacts stolen from museums and archaeological digs throughout Iraq and Syria – and an annual turnover of more than $1.5 billion, Daesh is big business. Putting that in perspective, back when al-Qaeda were top of the terrorism leader board, the CIA estimated their running costs at $30 million a year. According to the most conservative estimates, Daesh makes $30 million a month just from illegal oil sales.

About 60 per cent of Iraq and Syria’s oilfields are held by Daesh. Some of the oil produced is used for domestic consumption, some is sold back to the embargoed Assad regime, most of it is smuggled out through Turkey, Iran and Jordan, using routes established during international sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, and sold on the black market at a heavily discounted price.

The US, NATO and their allies have begun targeting oil trucks and refineries. On a good day they might destroy a few hundred barrels, out of an estimated daily production of 60,000. Daesh’s largest source of income, however, is derived from taxes extorted from the 8,000,000 people who live in the self-proclaimed Caliphate.

When it comes to ideology, Islamic State is about as Islamic as the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea is democratic.

Sharia law is imposed throughout the Caliphate, not as part of some ultra-orthodox, jihadist belief system, but because it generates a lot of money. There are two reasons for this. Firstly its brutality terrifies the populous into submission – allowing Daesh to impose flat-rate taxes on electricity, ‘hygiene services’ and use of telephone networks, paid in cash to Daesh’s established revenue agency, Al Hisba, as well as customs on imported and exported goods. Secondly it is used to generate more revenue by imposing heavy fines on anyone who can (literally) afford to live in the Caliphate found guilty of not adhering to Daesh’s strict interpretation of Salafis doctrine.

That doctrine is not so strictly adhered to by Daesh themselves, who have no qualms about cultivating and trafficking illicit drugs, most of which finds its way to Europe via Turkey. Tens of millions more come from kidnapping and ransoming hostages, Internet cafes run in occupied territories and an estimated $40 million a year from private donations received mainly from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain; our allies in the war against Daesh.

Last, but by no means least, is agriculture. Daesh occupies farmland that is responsible for producing most of Iraq and Syria’s wheat, and almost all of Iraq’s barley. Even heavily discounted on the black market, this brings in another $200 million a year.

Fronting this business is a grotesquely brutal social media campaign, designed by some of the best paid marketing consultants in the business. Daesh’s target is Islam, who it plans to “cleanse” of all who do not adhere to their perverted, yet highly profitable, brand of jihadism. Unwittingly aided by the far-Right, whose hatred bears a striking resemblance to that of Daesh, their aim is to marginalise, radicalise and recruit people. The number of recruits they attract is currently very few, but as estimates of Daesh’s numbers presently ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 suggest, they don’t need very many.

Destroying Daesh won’t come from bombing Syria, a country that has already been ravaged by 4 years of civil war which has killed between 250,000 – 340,000 people and displaced over 4 million more. It won’t come from blaming Muslims – who are by far the biggest casualties of Daesh’s terror.

If the world is going to defeat Daesh it must do so by cutting it off from that which is most important to it – its profits. If we can justify laws that take away the privacy and civil liberties of citizens to protect them from terrorism, then we can do the same to the banks and hedge funds who hold and invest Daesh’s profits, or the companies that enable their black market sales, or the neighbouring countries that turn a blind eye to them.

That’s the bottom line.

 

Zbignew Brezinski and the new world order

By Mike Mizzi

Working in the shadows of US imperial foreign policy is a well-known but still very hidden man, Zbignew Brezinski. This well-known professor’s doctrine has many followers outside of the Democratic Party because it has defined the actual imperative of the empire’s survival and prosperity: the conquest of Eurasia.  The instigator of the Trilateral Commission, a body which encompasses the US, Europe and Japan, Brezinski has been policy adviser to both Democrat and Republican presidents since the time of Jimmy Carter. As president, Carter stated the reduction of the military nuclear arsenal of the two blocks (U.S -USRR) as a priority. However, the Soviet SS-20 missile crisis aimed at Europe forced Carter to deploy the Pershing missiles, an action that ruined his efforts, whether they were sincere or not, and caused the reciprocal distrust of the two countries.

Heeding that development Brezinski eventually made a startling confession. In an interview with he French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur he was quoted as saying:

Le Nouvel Observateur: Former CIA director, Robert Gates, says in his memoirs: the American secret services assisted Afghan mujahedeen six months before the Soviet invasion. By that time, you were President Carter’s adviser and you played a key role on this. Do you confirm it?
Zbigniew Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of the story, the CIA began to assist mujahedeen in the year 1980, that is, after the invasion of the Soviet army against Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the truth that remained secret until today is quite different: it was on July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed his first order on the secret assistance to Kabul’s pro-Soviet regime opponents. That day I wrote a memorandum to the President in which I told him that that assistance would cause the Soviet intervention (…) we did not force the Russian intervention, we just, conscientiously, increase the intervention possibilities.
NO: When the Soviets justified their intervention by affirming they were fighting against a secret American interference nobody believed them, though they were telling the truth. Don’t you regret it?
Z. Brz.: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. Its objective was to lead the Russian to the Afghan trap, and you want me to regret it? The very same day the Soviets crossed the Afghan border I wrote the following to President Carter: «This is our chance to give Russia its Viet Nam» (…).
N.O.: Aren’t you sorry either for favoring Islamic fundamentalism and providing weapons and consultancies to future terrorists?
ZBrz.: What is the most important thing when you look at world history, the Taliban or the fall of the Soviet empire? Some excited Islamists or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?

“When Brzezinski talked about «some excited Islamists» in this interview, he did not underestimate Al Qaeda’s power. He just described the reality of what the neo-conservatives has turned into a myth while justifying their world crusade. It is obvious that none of the members of the Council on Foreign Relations would be so categorical.”

Fast forward to the recent past wherein Brezinski is still lurking in the shadows during both Bush presidencies and is now firmly entrenched in the Obama clique as that president’s foreign policy adviser.

As recently as this week Brezinski has called on Obama to attack Russian military in Syria which destroy “US assets” there. And who are these US assets in Syria? Notably the so called Free Syrian Army which has morphed into an ISIS affiliate alongside Al Nusra and elements of Al Qaeda.

It would be much simpler just calling them “American hired Muslim mercenaries” as that is what they are. Hired guns used to topple regimes all over the Middle East including Saddam, Gaddafi, Mubarak and now Assad. Of course the plus advantage in Syria for the Brezinski doctrine is not just toppling Assad but also the roping in of Russia into an unwinnable ground war a la Afghanistan and Putin has swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker.

The reality is Putin had no choice. It was either get rid of ISIS or have them appear on his borders sooner or later. With NATO breathing down Russia’s neck on its western flank and US military bases peppered all over the Pacific rim and parts of Eurasia, it seems Brezinski’s long-term plan of encircling and invading Russia is in full swing.

But like most chess games the outcome is anything but certain and the world knows that when you invade Russia disaster ensues. Napoleon, and three attempts by Germany over 150 years which included Hitler’s attempt has shown Russia is not an easily invaded and conquered nation. In fact, up until now no one has succeeded. Perhaps Brezinski is a bit mad. Perhaps he is a bit of a genius, perhaps he is both. But one thing is for certain, he has proven himself to be potentially the most dangerous man of the last century and now this one. He could be ‘responsible’ for the deaths of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of civilians in all parts of the world. With the entry of China into the Syrian war theatre it might be that Brezinski is about to be checked if not check mated in his “great game” plan to dominate the planet from the US.

Are we headed for World War three? You betcha!

 

The Maintenance of Madness: How Australia Funded a Warlord in Afghanistan

The Federal Cabinet has approved the deployment of about 300 additional Australian troops to the Middle East to help train Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State. The deployment will be for two years from the middle of may, and the troops join 200 existing special forces troops already in deployment in the region.

The Australian contingent will be joined by more than 100 New Zealand military personnel. They will be based at Taji military complex north of Baghdad, which is considered an “enduring base” by the United States Military, one of 14 such bases in the country.

Prime Minister Abbott made statements regarding the deployment at a press conference on the 3rd of March this year.

“We won’t have a combat role. It’s a training mission, not a combat mission. This is not just about Iraq, this is about our national security.”

A casual glance at the history of conflict in the Middle East will show that military intervention does not, as the government claims, increase national security, in fact it performs the exact opposite function, creating heavily armed and motivated militia groups with the spurious justification of prior Western aggression for their continued aggression.

Defence Department secretary Dennis Richardson has let it slip that highly trained military personnel, likely indirectly trained by US or Coalition forces, make up the leadership of ISIS:

“[ISIS] is led by experienced former Iraqi generals and others with substantial military experience.”

ISIS is, in effect, the current incarnation of AQI, or Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a branch of the central body of Al-Qaeda with links to Osama Bin Laden and notable members of the terrorist organisation. Older readers and the more historically astute will remember that the United States was responsible for training and arming mujahideen forces against the then Soviet Union during its war in Afghanistan, including Bin Laden and his compatriots, who later became instrumental in forming the modern day iteration of Al-Qaeda.

The official reason for deployment is to help the Iraqi government prepare sufficient forces to maintain the momentum of the counter-attack against Islamic State and regain control of its territory.

Abbott noted that Australian personnel will “not be working with irregulars, we don’t work with informal, armed groups.”

It turns out that this statement is entirely false and doesn’t accord with the documentary record.


Around November 2010, under the then Gillard government, six senior militia fighters loyal to Afghan warlord Matiullah Khan were flown to Australia to train with elite special forces as part of a “covert strategy to strengthen military operations against the Taliban.”

Matiullah Khan is known in the press as “Australia’s biggest ally in Afghanistan”. His uncle is former Uruzgan governor Jan Mohammed Khan, who has a reputation for corruption, brutality and double dealing.

In a few short years he went from being a taxi driver to a millionaire running security for NATO convoys in the area. He was appointed chief of police in Uruzgan province, despite numerous allegations of human rights abuses. There are reports that he has dealings with drug smugglers and Taliban insurgents.

We have contracted with his private army, Kandak Amniante Uruzgan, to provide security services to the bases around his compound in the Uruzgan province.

Under an arrangement with the Ministry of the Interior, the Australian Government pays for roughly 600 of Matiullah’s 1,500 fighters, including Matiullah himself, despite the fact that the force is not under government control or oversight.

Matiullah Kahn was killed in Kabul earlier this year in March by a suicide bomber.

From the Pakistani Daily Times:

“Khan’s militia has been involved in mass murder, rape and abductions of men and women.

The New York Times reported that he was earning $ 2.5 million a month through highway robbery, abduction, drug trafficking and extortion. Once, Khan warned his opponents that he could eliminate them by purchasing suicide bombers with the money he received from the Australian army.

WikiLeaks of the US embassy pinned him as a stand-over merchant, a wealthy warlord and drug trafficker.

Australian intelligence knew he was a corrupt war criminal but, despite the US army’s opposition, the Australian army and intelligence corps lobbied to make him an inspector general of the Uruzgan police in 2011.”

From Green Left Weekly, citing a story published in the Dutch Daily, De Pers:

“The extent of Matiullah’s brutality was shown in a massacre reported on by the July 18 Dutch daily De Pers.

The paper said the previous month, Matiullah’s army made a surprise attack on a meeting of 80 people in Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province. Five people were killed in the ensuing shootout.

The remaining 75 were knifed to death.

Mohammed Daoud, the district chief of Chora, told De Pers: “As torture, they were first stabbed in the shoulders and legs. The corpses were treated with chemicals to make them unrecognisable.””

In this interview released several days before his death, the contents of Matiullah’s office suite are described as containing “plaques of appreciation from the Australian Federal Police” and a “boxed boomerang – a gift from Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, formerly head of the Australian Defence Force.

From the same interview, detailing a raid on a nearby village by Jan Mohammed Khan and Matiullah Khan:

“One man told me how his son was made to lie on the ground – and then they drove a truck over his head.”

These accounts are horrifying, and our complicity in them more so. Indirect involvement in these abuses, though despicable, could be rationalised as a product of the idea that we are working towards some greater good, and indeed, it seems this is the justification for our involvement from many of the sources mentioned in the above interview and publications.

Our direct involvement in war crimes in the region however, cannot be rationalised away.

Reports from The Age in 2009 describe cover-ups by the ADF of attacks on civilians by SAS soldiers in Iraq around 2006-7. The attacks in November 2007 resulted in the murders of three men, two women and one child in a house that allegedly belonged to an insurgent.

In the same month, the newspaper reported the use of SAS patrols as death squads, carrying out assassinations in Afghanistan.


One has to ask the question: how exactly does action of this sort confer an increase in our national security? If the Iraqi military is to be trained by the same forces responsible for the financial support of a local warlord and who have engaged in war crimes of their own, I don’t see it as unreasonable to suppose that ethics and adherence to international law will be covered as an afterthought, if at all.

The approach of fighting fire with fire has been an abject failure in stemming the tide of radicalised Islamic extremism in the Middle Eastern theatre, and this new deployment of troops into the region is simply more of the same.

We cannot hope to bring peace to the Middle East with the sword.


This article was originally published on the author’s blog, which you can find here.

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