US Supplies Weapons to Armed Groups in Syria

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On the 3 June 2016, the Pentagon parachuted weapons to armed groups in Marea.

Washington hopes that these armed groups will drive back ISIL in the province of Rakka.

There are three groups could have benefited from this support, which violates international law :

  • Groups affiliated to the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG)
  • Turkmen armed groups under the command of Turkish soldiers
  • Arab soldiers, who once belonged to the Syrian Free Army, now under the command of French soldiers

These last two groups had at first fought against the Syrian Arab Republic alongside the Al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of Al-Qaida) and Ahrar al-Sham, two groups which have committed crimes against humanity.

Translated from French

Source: Réseau Voltaire

http://www.voltairenet.org/article192140.html

 

Washington asks Moscow not to attack Al-Qaida

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, revealed on 4 June 2016 that the United States had asked Russia to not attack Al-Qaida in Syria.

In the Idleb region, armed groups described by Washington as being “moderate rebels” have become involved with Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaida. The cease fire agreement, which came into force on 27 February, planned that armed groups supported by the US would disassociate themselves from armed groups, classified as terrorist groups by the UN.

Officially, Al-Qaida had planned and carried out the 11 September terrorist attacks which killed 2 977 people. The US went to war against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Iraq on the grounds that they had supported Al-Qaida (even though Washington has since admitted that Iraq was in fact not involved).

In recent years, Al-Qaida has financed the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), helped NATO to overthrow the Gaddafi regime (Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), and did “good work” in Syria, to quote Laurent Fabius, the former French foreign minister.

Since the publication of Thierry Meyssan’s book, 9/11: The Big Lie, most NATO member states regard any attempt to contest Al Qaida’s responsibility for the attacks as being “conspiracy theory”.

Translated from French

Source: Réseau Voltaire

http://www.voltairenet.org/article192145.html

SYRIA – Towards an Islamic Emirate in Idlib Province?

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief of Al-Qaida, had previously opposed the creation of a Syrian Islamic emirate in the areas controlled by the Al-Nusra Front and its allies. Today he supports the idea, believing that the conditions on the ground would allow this.

Syrie : Vers un émirat islamique dans la province d’Idlib?

With this in mind, he is reported to have sent a delegation of leaders from his group to the Idlib province in order to assess the feasibility of the project. Among the delegation was Saif al-Adel, a former colonel of both the Egyptian Special Forces and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He was accused by the American government of having participated in the 1988 US embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and in Nairobi (Kenya).

Imprisoned in Iran, Saif al-Adel was apparently released in 2015, along with four other Al-Qaida members, within the framework of an exchange of prisoners with AQAP (Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) and the Taliban.

An Arab Spring which is on the right track…

In a message broadcasted last May, Ayman al-Zawahiri declared: “Syria today represents hope for the faithful….the only Arab Spring revolution which is on the right track”. He also declared that jihadi fighters should unite “to defeat the war machine of the eastern and western crusades” and that this is “a matter of life or death for them”. He added that the West “aims to create a regime in Syria which will appear to be Islamic but which will be based on a corrupted version of Islam”. And he described the members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an organisation which he considers to be illegitimate, as “extremists” and “renegades”

The entire world has risen up against Muslims

The initiative taken by Ayman al-Zawahiri is backed by Hamza ben Laden – the 23 year-old son of Osama – who also urged all jihadi fighters to unify their ranks, stating that “there are no longer any excuses for those who still want to argue and divide, now that entire world has risen up against Muslims…”

Hamza ben Laden reminded jihadi fighters that the purpose of their combat is the “liberation of Al-Qods” and that “the path to the liberation of Palestine is today shorter thanks to the revolution in Syria”.

The Al-Nusra Front, led by Abou Muhammad al-Joulani, has not yet come to a decision because its allies within the Jaish al-Fatah (The Army of Conquest, which comprises several Islamic groups) fear that news of the creation of an Islamic state in the Idlib province will lead to division in its ranks.

Translated from French

The original author was Gilles Munier

Source: France-Irak Actualité

http://www.france-irak-actualite.com/2016/05/syrie-vers-un-emirat-islamique-dans-la-province-d-idlib.html

 

 

YEMEN – Deadly Spiral

The country is divided by a multitude of conflicts and alliances, in which regional powers intervene

It is a war with multiple fronts and many warring parties. It is a religious war, an ethnic war and an ideological war. A war that is fought on the ground, at sea and in the air. Foreign agents intevene in this war in order to test and confront each other. Furthermore, it is a war that serves as a laboratory for all the Islamist schools of thought, leading to a permanent escalation in radicalisation. The result of all this is an extraordinary chaos which, to the great misfortune of the Yemini population caught in the cross-fire, renders any cartography of the conflict extremely difficult . Since the summer, the pro-government forces have regained the advantage thanks to air and ground support, provided by Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf Allies.

The pro-government forces have won the battle for the Port of Aden, the country’s second largest city. Although the situation in Aden remains unclear, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Haid, the only figure recognised by the international community, was recently able to return to the city after six months in exile. The pro-government forces then went on to recapture five southern regions.

But this coalition is, to say the very least, disparate : what unites it, is a shared hostility to the rebellion and the fact that it operates under Saudi command, benefitting from supplies of weapons, subsidies and being managed by the Arab monarchies. Under the name of “popular resistance”, it thus unites those who want to see self-government, members of the southern independence movement (South Yemen was independent until 1990), Islamist fighters, volunteer soldiers and Sunni tribes. Currently, the coalition is attempting to move up to Sanna and advance to the Red Sea – it has captured the famous strategic strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, in the south of the Red Sea – but its advance is proving very slow.

New territories for Al-Qaeda

A new front has also opened near to the ancient city of Maarib, in the east of the country. Here again with the government soldiers we find units from Saudi Arabia, reinforced by other members of the Arab coalition, particularly the United Arab Emirates.

The other side is just as diverse. It brings together the northern Houthi rebels, a radical Zaidi sect (the Zaidis are similar to Shia muslims) who have been in dissent with the government for many years and who last year captured Saana and a large part of the country. They are allied with forces loyal to the ex-president Ali Abdallah Saleh, swept out of office as a result of the popular uprising in 2011.

It was the capture of the capital by the rebels, followed by their rapid advance towards Aden which had provoked Riyad’s reaction and the intervention by the coalition air force, which since March has been bombing the country in general and the capital in particular.

But the two coalitions are not the only ones involved in the conflict. Taking advantage of the weakening of the country’s government and the chaos created by the escalation of the conflict, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been active for some time now in the south-east of the country, has seized new territories. They now control the vast semi-desert Hadhramaut region (where Osama Bin Laden’s family came from), the Al Mukalla port, some districts of Aden, along with various enclaves. For several months, it has imposed the strictest Sharia law, executing anybody accused of witchcraft or homosexuality and amputating the limbs of those accused of theft.

Some months ago, a new force appeared on the scene: the Islamic State. It portrays itself as the enemy of all warring parties, claiming to take them all on alone. In September, it took everybody by surprise when it made its first deadly attacks in Aden, targeting the government and the coalition troops fighting against the Houthi rebels. According to the Soufan Group, a company specialised in security and intelligence, “The war in Yemen is a perfect laboratory for a terrorist group looking to expand regionally. The group is following the strategy deployed in Iraq and Syria, taking advantage of chaos and insecurity”.

The fact is that a “great game” is being played out in Yemen, the players of which are either independant – AQAP and the Islamic State – or linked to one of the regional powers – the Houthis, supported by Iran, the “Popular Resistance”, supported by Ryad and the Arab coalition. As a result, the Arabia Felix of ancient times, along with Syria, has become the battlefield of choice for Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Saudi kingdom has always considered Yemen as its exclusive domaine. Ryad believes that the military action of the Houthis is part of an Iranian strategy to encircle Saudi Arabia, with Shia militants playing a similar role to that of Hezbollah in Lebanon. This explains the violent reaction of the Saudis. A Gulf state foreign minister highlights that it is “the first time that the Saudis have embarked on a large-scale military operation without the support of the US”. It is the Kingdom’s first major foreign military operation.

Though the military intervention is popular in Saudi Arabia, it is a daunting task for the monarchy. If it fails, it will undermine the Sudairi dynasty, which regained control of the country following the death of King Abdallah in January 2015. In his role as defence minister, Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the deputy crown prince, personifies the war in Yemen. If he fails, his place on the throne will pass to Muhammad bin Nayef, the crown prince and deputy prime minister.

For Iran, on the other hand, Yemen is not a domestic political issue. Nor is it an Iranian military priority in the same way as Syria or Iraq. Nevertheless, the Iranian regime has the opportunity to confront the Saudis by supporting the Houthis and using them as a strategic pawn. This explains the supply of arms to the rebels by Theran, as demonstrated by the recent seizure of an Iranian ship by the Saudis.

With the Islamic State’s sudden entry into the conflict, the war has become even more complicated because, like AQAP, this organisation has succeeded in rallying local tribes and dignitaries. As a result, the work of the Arab coalition has become even more complicated. Despite hundreds of air strikes and the dispatch of reinforcements by the thousands, the Arab coalition has not managed to defeat the Houthis and their allies, who still control Saana and the north of the country. The coalition will need to fight on two fronts, especially since the former president and ally of the Houthis, Ali Abdallah Saleh, has renewed his ties with former jihadi networks in order to reduce military pressure on his camp.

Strategc turmoil

Furthermore, rifts are beginning to open up within the coalition; there are differences between southern separatists – often those who were part of or close to the old communist regime of south Yemen – and Sunni Islamists, whether they be members of Al Qaida or not. In these circumstances, it is difficult to imagine the coalition attempting to seize Sanaa or even Taëz, a large city in the centre of the country that is currently under the control of both the Houthis and groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Yemeni conflict reflects the dramatic strategic shifts taking place in the region. Saudi Arabia, estranged from the US, is now emerging as a military power, adopting the role of the leader of the Arab world (Egypt no longer has the means to do so). The war also reveals the kingdom’s strategic and defence priorities. “Its alliance in Yemen with radical Islamist groups shows that difficulties with the Shias and not the jihadis are the key concern for Riyad”, according to one expert. François Hollande, ally and friend to Riyad, must be well aware of this.

15 October 2015

See also: https://geostrategieblog.wordpress.com/youssef-hindi-war-in-yemen/


Translated from French

The original author was Jean-Pierre Perrin, a journalist at Libération

Source: Libération

http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2015/10/15/yemen-l-engrenage-infernal_1404958

Does the FBI create terrorists?

Are all means justified in the fight against terrorism?

This is a question for all democratic countries. Especially the US where, to hunt jihadi apprentices in America, the FBI uses a growing army of undercover operatives, who are accused of sometimes pushing impressionable minds to commit terrorist attacks.

Working under cover and benefitting from legal immunity, these infilitrators can even go so far as to designate a target or provide weapons in order to better deceive terrorist suspects. According to human rights organizations, this amounts to “creating the terrorist” on the pretext of combating terrorism.

This situation is inevitable, according to Mubin Shaikh, a former Canadian undercover agent and author of Undercover Jihadi. He justifies this sort of action by saying:

“We need the suspects to be convinced that you are on their side. You must play the game, do what they tell you. Otherwise, the whole operation is compromised.”

According to him, making suggestions is all part of the “game”. He recalls a conversation he once had with an alleged extremist. “In December we may organize a training camp. Would you like to come along and train a few guys? He understood perfectly well, but refused: ‘No, brother, I’m here to study religion’. From this, I concluded that he was not the type of peson we were looking for, as he did not bite the bait. But, if I say exactly the same thing to someone who says ‘yes’, then it’s not entrapment, he is simply caught.”

Set-ups

According to agreed figures, the FBI has at least 15,000 underground informants, who are often generously paid and involved in a wide range of investigations, from pedophile rings to the drugs trade. But identifying ISIS supporters, the number of which has increased “spectacularly”, is now the focus of all efforts. James Comey, FBI chief, stated on 8 October that:

“This summer, we have tracked dozens and dozens of people, over the whole of the United States. We have disrupted the plans of many terrorists.”

The only thing is that, in some cases, infiltrators apply pressure to encourage suspects to commit terrorist acts that they might not otherwise have committed.

On the 10 April, the FBI announced the arrest of a man, John Booker, who was on the verge of carrying out a suicide attack using a car bomb against a Kansas military base. But according to the investigation report, seen by AFP, Booker was subject to FBI manipulation for six months. It was the undercover agents who helped the jihadi apprentice to make his martyrdom video. They provided a list of the necessary components to make his bomb. Finally, they constructed the device – which in fact was disactivated – and gave it to the suspect along with the car.

In a July 2014 report, the human rights NGO Human Rights Watch accused the FBI of “creating terrorists’ by targeting vulnerable people in its operations. This is the focus of a documentary “(T) ERROR”, which appeared this year at the Sundance festival. Murtaza Hussain co-directed a very informative investigation released in late June on the “Fort Dix Five”, a group of Albanian men involved in planning an attack against a military base in New Jersey. Four were sentenced to life imprisonment, including three brothers.

Before their arrest in 2007, they had been placed under surveillance eighteen months after a holiday video showing them shooting at targets in nature – a popular hobby in the United States – shouting “Allah is the greatest”. They had previously shown no inclination for terrorism. In footage secretly filmed by the FBI, the undercover agent quite clearly pushes the Albanians to stage a terrorist attack, despite their reluctance. The agent rebukes the brothers:

“You live according to the Koran, yet you do not fight for Muslims! Make your minds up!”

Strategic necessity

Murtaza Hussain concludes that the use of infiltrators “is a necessary strategy, but one that we should use in moderation and only for proven plots”.

He regrets that “there is a now a real sense of paranoia, especially in the Muslim community. They can no longer discuss or engage in political campaigns without fear that someone in their entourage is an informant.”

The FBI officially admits that the use of informants “may include an element of deceit, interference in private lives or cooperation with people whose seriousness and motivations are dubious.”

But to justify its actions, the FBI points out that the judiciary acknowledged that this method was”legal and often vital to the success” of an investigation. In addition, the FBI assures that the use of informants “is subject to careful assessment and close supervision in order to ensure that rights of people under investigation are not violated.”

Many think that some “radicalized” Americans are basically young misfits, for whom the internet offers a way of feeling that they exist. This is the case of a young Jewish boy living with his parents in Florida, Ryne Joshua Goldberg, who had created a second life by pretending to live in Australia and inundated social network sites messages advocating jihad. He was caught by the FBI, to whom he sent information on how to make a bomb. Arrested last month, this boy of twenty may spend the next twenty years in prison.

Another example is Ali Amin, a skinny teenager from Virginia, who was sentenced in late August to eleven years in prison for having supported ISIS on his Twitter account, which numbered some 4000 subscribers. For the former undercover agent Mubin Shaikh, this “skinny, weakling” is a “tragic case.”

“This kid went from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’, thanks to 140 characters (a message on Twitter). Suddenly, he becomes important, people consult him for a religious opinion …”

On the other hand, he continues, “when such guys connect to the internet to spread the ideology of ISIS, attempt to indoctrinate and recruit people, are we not forced to take action?”

Yes, but how far and how?


Article Translated from French

Source : Le Point

http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/le-fbi-fabrique-t-il-des-terroristes-21-10-2015-1975418_24.php

 

Abnormal levels of trading just before the 9/11 attacks

Rarely seen, unusual levels of activity could suggest insider trading.

Six years after the attacks on the World Trade Centre, this is the disturbing conclusion of a recent study by Marc Chesney and Loriano Manchini, both professors at the University of Zurich.

The authors – one a derivatives specialist, the other an expert in econometrics – have worked on options, used to speculate on a fall in share price of the 20 major American companies, notably in the aeronautical industry and in the financial sector.

Their research compares transactions made between the 6 and the 10th of September 2001 with average recorded volumes over a long period (a decade for most companies).

The two researchers have, in addition, calculated the probability that several options in the same sector were subject to significant trading within several days.

“We tried to see if the recorded transactions of certain shares just before the attacks were typical. But we show that for certain companies such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citigroup, Marsh & McLehnan, such transactions are statistically extremely rare, especially when compared to the volume of transactions observed for other companies such as Coca-Cola or Hewlett-Packard” explains Marc Chesney, former professor at HEC and the author of “Money laundering and the financing of terrorism” (published by Ellipses).

“For instance, 1,535 sales option contracts with a maturity date of October 2001, at a price of 30 dollars, had been traded for American Airlines on the 10th September, compared to a daily average of about 24 contracts over the previous three weeks. The fact that the market was in decline at the time is not sufficient to explain these surprising volumes.”

Huge gains

The authors also studied the returns for sales-options for an investor having bought options between the 6th and the 10th September.They state:

“For certain shares, the gains were enormous. For example, for investors having bought sales options in Citigroup with a maturity date of October 2001 could have gained more than 15 million dollars”

 

By comparing the data of trading volumes to that of returns, the authors conclude that “the probability of insider trading is high for American Airlines, United Airlines, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citigroup et JP Morgan. This is not legal proof but the result of statistical research which demonstrates signs of irregularity.”

While it is true that this research is not the first report on the possibility of insider-trading linked to the attacks, it is disturbing news for the regulating bodies. Since September 2001, the SEC and other similar authorities, have taken an interest in unusual share trading before the attacks.

Article translated from French

The original author was Marina Alcaraz

Source: Les Echos

http://www.lesechos.fr/11/09/2007/LesEchos/20001-166-ECH_11-septembre-2001—des-volumes-inhabituels-sur-les-options-peu-avant-l-attentat.htm#SxsjF3Epfmfwm6LA.99