Saturday, May 18, 2013
Why was a Sunday Times report on US government ties to al-Qaeda chief spiked?
FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds was described as "the most gagged person in the history of the United States" by the American Civil Liberties Union. Was the Sunday Times pressured to drop its investigation into her revelations?
A whistleblower has revealed extraordinary information on the U.S. government’s support for international terrorist networks and organised crime. The government has denied the allegations yet gone to extraordinary lengths to silence her. Her critics have derided her as a fabulist and fabricator. But now comes word that some of her most serious allegations were confirmed by a major European newspaper only to be squashed at the request of the U.S. government.
In a recent book Classified Woman, Sibel Edmonds, a former translator for the FBI, describes how the Pentagon, CIA and State Department maintained intimate ties to al-Qaeda militants as late as 2001. Her memoir, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, published last year, charged senior government officials with negligence, corruption and collaboration with al Qaeda in illegal arms smuggling and drugs trafficking in Central Asia.
In interviews with this author in early March, Edmonds claimed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, current head of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s deputy at the time, had innumerable, regular meetings at the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, with U.S. military and intelligence officials between 1997 and 2001, as part of an operation known as ‘Gladio B’. Al-Zawahiri, she charged, as well as various members of the bin Laden family and other mujahideen, were transported on NATO planes to various parts of Central Asia and the Balkans to participate in Pentagon-backed destabilisation operations.
According to two Sunday Times journalists speaking on condition of anonymity, this and related revelations had been confirmed by senior Pentagon and MI6 officials as part of a four-part investigative series that were supposed to run in 2008. The Sunday Times journalists described how the story was inexplicably dropped under the pressure of undisclosed “interest groups”, which, they suggest, were associated with the U.S. State Department.
Shooting the Messenger
Described by the American Civil Liberties Union as the “most gagged person in the history of the United States of America,” Edmonds studied criminal justice, psychology and public policy at George Washington and George Mason universities. Two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her fluency in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani earned her an FBI contract at the Washington DC field office. She was tasked with translating highly classified intelligence from operations against terrorism suspects in and outside the U.S..
In the course of her work, Edmonds became privy to evidence that U.S. military and intelligence agencies were collaborating with Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda, the very forces blamed for the 9/11 attacks – and that officials in the FBI were covering up the evidence. When Edmonds complained to her superiors, her family was threatened by one of the subjects of her complaint, and she was fired. Her accusations of espionage against her FBI colleagues were eventually investigated by theJustice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, which did not give details about the allegations as they remained classified.
Although no final conclusions about the espionage allegations were reached, the Justice Departmentconcluded that many of Edmonds’ accusations “were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.”
When she attempted to go public with her story in 2002, and again in 2004, the U.S. government silenced Edmonds by invoking a legal precedent known as “state secrets privilege” – a near limitless power to quash a lawsuit based solely on the government’s claim that evidence or testimony could divulge information that might undermine “national security.” Under this doctrine, the government sought to retroactively classify basic information concerning Edmonds’s case already in the public record, including, according to the New York Times, “what languages Ms. Edmonds translated, what types of cases she handled, and what employees she worked with, officials said. Even routine and widely disseminated information — like where she worked — is now classified.”
Although certainly not the first invocation of “state secrets privilege”, since the Edmonds case the precedent has been used repeatedly in the post-9/11 era under both the Bush and Obama administrations to shield the U.S. government from court scrutiny of rendition, torture, warrantless wiretapping, as well as the President’s claimed war powers.
Other intelligence experts agree that Edmonds had stumbled upon a criminal conspiracy at the heart of the American judicial system. In her memoirs, she recounts that FBI Special Agent Gilbert Graham, who also worked in the Washington field office on counter-intelligence operations, told her over a coffee how he “ran background checks on federal judges” in the “early nineties for the bureau… If we came up with shit – skeletons in their closets – the Justice Department kept it in their pantry to be used against them in the future or to get them to do what they want in certain cases – cases like yours.”A redacted version of Graham’s classified protected disclosure to the Justice Department regarding these allegations, released in 2007, refers to the FBI’s “abuse of authority” by conducting illegal wiretapping to obtain information on U.S. public officials.
Five years ago, Edmonds revealed to the Sunday Times that an unidentified senior U.S. State Department official was on the payroll of Turkish agents in Washington, passing on nuclear and military secrets. “He was aiding foreign operatives against U.S. interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives”, Edmonds told the paper. She reported coming across this informationwhen listening to suppressed phone calls recorded by FBI surveillance, marked by her colleague Melek Can Dickerson as “not pertinent”.
In the Sunday Times exposé, Edmonds described a parallel organisation in Israel cooperating with the Turks on illegal weapons sales and technology transfers. Between them, Israel and Turkey operated a range of front companies incorporated in the U.S. with active “moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions”, supported by U.S. officials, in order to sell secrets to the highest bidder. One of the buyers was Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) – which often used its Turkish allies, according to the Times, “as a conduit… because they were less likely to attract suspicion.”
The Pakistani operation was, the paper reported, “led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief” from 1999 to 2001, when the agency helped train, supply and coordinate the Afghan Taliban and gave sanctuary to their Arab allies brought together in the coalition named al-Qaeda. Ahmad, as the Timesnoted, “was accused [by the FBI] of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks.”
According to Indian intelligence officials, they had assisted the FBI in “tracing and establishing” the financial trail between the General and the chief hijacker. The discovery was, they allege, the real reason behind the General’s sudden retirement in October 2001. The Pakistani daily, The News, reported on 10th September 2001 that the ISI chief held several “mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council” that week, including with CIA director George Tenet.
In an interview with this author in March, Edmonds raised the question of whether U.S. officials’ liaisons with an espionage network overseen by Ahmad, and the FBI’s suppression of related intelligence, played a role in facilitating the attacks.
“Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided the attacks”, reported the Sunday Times. The paper related that according to Edmonds, the senior State Department official received a call from a foreign agent under FBI surveillance asking for help to “get them out of the U.S. because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans.” The official promised “he would ‘take care of it’.”
Edmonds told this author that high-level corruption compromised the ability of the U.S. intelligence community to pursue ongoing investigations of those planning the 9/11 attacks. “It was precisely those militants that were incubated by some of America’s key allies”, she said. Corruption helped guarantee Congressional silence when that incubation strategy backfired in the form of 9/11. “Both Republican and Democratic representatives in the House and Senate came up in FBI counterintelligence investigations for taking bribes from foreign agents”, she said.
Al-Qaeda: Enemy or Asset?
In her interview, Edmonds insisted that after its initial exposé, the Times‘ investigation had gone beyond such previous revelations, and was preparing to disclose her most startling accusations. Among these, Edmonds described how the CIA and the Pentagon had been running a series of covert operations supporting Islamist militant networks linked to Osama bin Laden right up to 9/11, in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus.
While it is widely recognised that the CIA sponsored bin Laden’s networks in Afghanistan during the Cold War, U.S. government officials deny any such ties existed. Others claim these ties were real, but were severed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.
But according to Edmonds, this narrative is false. “Not just bin Laden, but several senior ‘bin Ladens’ were transported by U.S. intelligence back and forth to the region in the late 1990s through to 2001″, she told this author, “including Ayman al-Zawahiri” – Osama bin Laden’s right-hand-man who has taken over as al-Qaeda’s top leader.
“In the late 1990s, all the way up to 9/11, al-Zawahiri and other mujahideen operatives were meeting regularly with senior U.S. officials in the U.S. embassy in Baku to plan the Pentagon’s Balkan operations with the mujahideen,” said Edmonds. “We had support for these operations from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. oversaw and directed them. They were being run from a secret section of the Pentagon with its own office”.
Edmonds clarified, “the FBI counterintelligence investigation which was tracking these targets, along with their links to U.S. officials, was known as ‘Gladio B’, and was kickstarted in 1997. It so happens that Major Douglas Dickerson” – the husband of her FBI co-worker Melek whom she accused of espionage – “specifically directed the Pentagon’s ‘Gladio’ operations in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan at this time.”
In testimony under oath, Edmonds has previously confirmed that Major Doug Dickerson worked for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the weapons procurementlogistics division on Turkey and Central Asia, and with the Office of Special Plans (OSP) overseeing policy in Central Asia.
Edmonds said that the Pentagon operations with Islamists were an “extension” of an original ‘Gladio’ programme uncovered in the 1970s in Italy, part of an EU-wide NATO covert operation that began as early as the 1940s. As Swiss historian Dr. Daniele Ganser records in his seminal book, NATO’s Secret Armies, an official Italian parliamentary inquiry confirmed that British MI6 and the CIA had established a network of secret “stay-behind” paramilitary armies, staffed by fascist and Nazi collaborators. The covert armies carried out terrorist attacks throughout Western Europe, officially blamed on Communists in what Italian military intelligence called the ‘strategy of tension’.
“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game” explained Gladio operative Vincenzo Vinciguerra during his trial in 1984. “The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people… to turn to the State to ask for greater security.”
While the reality of Gladio’s existence in Europe is a matter of historical record, Edmonds contended the same strategy was adopted by the Pentagon in the 1990s in a new theatre of operations, namely, Asia. “Instead of using neo-Nazis, they used mujahideen working under various bin Ladens, as well as al-Zawahiri”, she said.
The last publicly known Gladio meeting occurred in NATO’s Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) in Brussels in 1990. While Italy was a focal point for the older European operations, Edmonds said that Turkey and Azerbaijan served as the main conduits for a completely new, different set of operations in Asia using veterans of the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, the so-called “Afghan Arabs” that had been trained by al-Qaeda.
These new Pentagon-led operations were codenamed ‘Gladio B’ by FBI counterintelligence: “In 1997, NATO asked [Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak to release from prison Islamist militants affiliated to Ayman al-Zawahiri [whose role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat led to Mubarak’s ascension]. They were flown under U.S. orders to Turkey for [training and use in] operations by the Pentagon”, she said.
Edmonds’ allegations find some independent corroboration in the public record. The Wall Street Journal refers to a nebulous agreement between Mubarak and “the operational wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was then headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri… Many of that group’s fighters embraced a cease-fire with the government of former President Hosni Mubarak in 1997.”
Youssef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, cited U.S. intelligence sources in an article for Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, confirming “discussions between the Egyptian terrorist leader Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and an Arab-American known to have been both an emissary of the CIA and the U.S. Government.” He referred to an “offer” made to al-Zawahiri in November 1997 on behalf of U.S. intelligence, granting his Islamists a free hand in Egypt as long as they lent support to U.S. forces in the Balkans. In 1998, Al Zawahiri’s brother, Muhammed, led an elite unit of the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbs during the Kosovo conflict – he reportedly had direct contact with NATO leadership.
“This is why”, Edmonds continued in her interview, “even though the FBI routinely monitored the communications of the diplomatic arms of all countries, only four countries were exempt from this protocol – the UK, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Belgium – the seat of NATO. No other country – not even allies like Israel or Saudi Arabia, were exempt. This is because these four countries were integral to the Pentagon’s so-called Gladio B operations.”
Edmonds did not speculate on the objectives of the Pentagon’s ‘Gladio B’ operations, but highlighted the following possibilities: projecting U.S. power in the former Soviet sphere of influence to access previously untapped strategic energy and mineral reserves for U.S. and European companies; pushing back Russian and Chinese power; and expanding the scope of lucrative criminal activities, particularly illegal arms and drugs trafficking.
Terrorism finance expert Loretta Napoleoni estimates the total value of this criminal economy to be about $1.5 trillion annually, the bulk of which “flows into Western economies, where it gets recycled in the U.S. and in Europe” as a “vital element of the cash flow of these economies.”
It is no coincidence then that the opium trade, Edmonds told this author, has grown rapidly under the tutelage of NATO in Afghanistan: “I know for a fact that NATO planes routinely shipped heroin to Belgium, where they then made their way into Europe and to the UK. They also shipped heroin to distribution centres in Chicago and New Jersey. FBI counterintelligence and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) operations had acquired evidence of this drug trafficking in its surveillance of a wide range of targets, including senior officials in the Pentagon, CIA and State Department. As part of this surveillance, the role of the Dickersons – with the support of these senior U.S. officials – in facilitating drug-trafficking, came up. It was clear from this evidence that the whole funnel of drugs, money and terror in Central Asia was directed by these officials.”
The evidence for this funnel, according to Edmonds, remains classified in the form of FBI counterintelligence surveillance records she was asked to translate. Although this alleged evidence has never made it to court due to the U.S. government’s exertion of ‘state secret privilege’, she was able to testify in detail concerning her allegations, including naming names, in 2009.
In recent interviews, two Sunday Times journalists confirmed to this author that the newspaper’s investigation based on Sibel Edmonds’ revelations was to break much of the details into the open.
“We’d spoken to several current and active Pentagon officials confirming the existence of U.S. operations sponsoring mujahideen networks in Central Asia from the 1990s to 2001,” said oneSunday Times source. “Those mujahideen networks were intertwined with a whole range of criminal enterprises, including drugs and guns. The Pentagon officials corroborated Edmonds’ allegations against specific U.S. officials, and I’d also interviewed an MI6 officer who confirmed that the U.S. was running these operations sponsoring mujahideen in that period.”
But according to Edmonds, citing the investigative team at the paper, the last two articles in the series were spiked under U.S. State Department pressure. She recalled being told at the time by journalists leading the Sunday Times investigation that the newspaper’s editor had decided to squash the story after receiving calls from officials at the U.S. embassy in London.
A journalist with the Sunday Times‘ investigative unit told this author he had interviewed former Special Agent in Charge, Dennis Saccher, who had moved to the FBI’s Colorado office. Saccher reportedly confirmed the veracity of Edmonds’ allegations of espionage, telling him that Edmonds’ story “should have been front page news” because it was “a scandal bigger than Watergate.” The same journalist confirmed that after interviewing Saccher at his home, the newspaper was contacted by the U.S. State Department. “The U.S. embassy in London called the editor and tried to ward him off. We were told that we weren’t permitted to approach Saccher or any other active FBI agents directly, but could only go through the FBI’s press office – that if we tried to speak to Saccher or anyone else employed by the FBI directly, that would be illegal. Of course, it isn’t, but that’s what we were told. I think this was a veiled threat.”
Saccher’s comments to the journalist never made it to press.
A lead reporter on the series at the Sunday Times told this author that the investigation based on Edmonds’ information was supposed to have four parts, but was inexplicably dropped. “The story was pulled half-way, suddenly, without any warning”, the journalist said. “I wasn’t party to the editorial decision to drop the story, but there was a belief in the office amongst several journalists who were part of the Insight investigative unit that the decision was made under pressure from the U.S. State Department, because the story might cause a diplomatic incident.”
Although the journalist was unaware of where this belief came from – and was not informed of the U.S. embassy’s contact with the paper’s editor which the other journalist was privy to – he acknowledged that self-censorship influenced by unspecified “interest groups” was a possible explanation. “The way the story was dropped was unusual, but the belief amongst my colleagues this happened under political pressure is plausible.” He cryptically described an “editorial mechanism, linked to the paper but not formally part of it, which could however exert control on stories when necessary, linked to certain interests.” When asked which interests, the journalist said, “I can’t say. I can’t talk about that.”
Edmonds described how, due to the U.S. government’s efforts to silence her, she had no option left except to write her story down. The resultant book, Classified Woman, had to be submitted to an FBI panel for review. By law, the bureau was required to make a decision on what could be disclosed or redacted within 30 days.
Instead, about a year later, Edmonds’ lawyer received a letter from the FBI informing them that the agency was still reviewing the book, and prohibiting her from publishing it: “The matters Ms. Edmonds writes about involve many equities, some of which may implicate information that is classified… Approval of the manuscripts by the FBI will include incorporation of all changes required by the FBI. Until then, Ms. Edmonds does not have approval to publish her manuscripts which includes showing them to editors, literary agents, publishers, reviewers, or anyone else. At this point, Ms. Edmonds remains obligated not to disclose or publish the manuscript in any manner.”
The block was another example, Edmonds said, “of the abuse of ‘national security’ to conceal evidence of criminality.” She said that this forced her to release the book herself in March 2012, as no publisher would risk taking it on.
Sibel Edmonds memoirs, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, is available from all good online booksellers.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Israel's Act of War
The Roadmap to the Destruction of Syria
by PEPE ESCOBAR
Just when the red line charade was reaching fever pitch – but still buried in the sand – and he had to choose between the US “exercising restraint” or “directly involving itself” in the Syrian war, (see The Syria-Iran red line show, Asia Times Online, May 2, 2013) President Obama was saved by Bibi Netanyahu’s Israeli government.
The temptation was oh so great for Obama to replay Ronald Reagan and gloriously wear the mantle of Obama The Syrian Mujahid, just as Reagan did in the 1980s with his beloved freedom fighters of the Afghan jihad. That will have to wait – perhaps not too long.
Let’s cut to the chase. Israel’s bombing of Syrian army installations at Jamraya near Damascus is a provocation and an act of war. Israel acted as a Washington proxy – which may have even provided the list of targets. And Washington – not to mention those useless puppets in Brussels – won’t condemn the bombing, which for the umpteenth time makes a mockery of international law.
Israel insists the targets were ground-to-ground Iranian Fateh-110 missiles bound for Hezbollah. Damascus says the targets were a military technology institute as well as troop training grounds; there are a lot of apartments nearby, whose tenants the CIA always wanted to recruit as assets. There are no chemical weapons at Jamraya. According to Syrian medical sources, 42 soldiers may have been killed.
Israel’s Hezbollah angle is murky. There’s no confirmation anywhere that Hezbollah bought Fateh-110s. Since 2009, Hezbollah has Syrian versions of the Fateh-110 – the M600, with a range of about 250 kilometers and a decent guiding system.
The usual gaggle of anonymous Washington “sources” insists that the Syrian Army itself needs those missiles against the armed mercenary strands of the self-described Free Syrian Army (FSA). So it would make no sense dispatching them to Lebanon.
But for Israel it makes sense smashing a supply of Fateh 110s – or even M600s. Israel thus directly helps the FSA; one of its spokesmen, by the way, real or fake, went on Israeli TV to praise the bombers. And Israel at least for now prevents more missiles from reaching Hezbollah.
Cutting through the fog is the fact that Israel has a bunch of serious motives to once again go rogue.
It craves a weak, chaotic Syria – deprived of advanced military technology. It craves most of all an all-out Somalization of Syria – a sectarian dystopia. What better justification for Israel to be up in arms 24/7 than hardcore Wahhabi terrorism right across its (non-delimitated) borders? On top of it, Israel wants to drag Syria, Hezbollah and ultimately Iran into all out war. It wants the whole package – and the sooner and better.
Damascus for its part can play chess – and not respond. At least for now. Or let Hezbollah respond – in the near future.
It’s not by accident that the bombing happened after 1) Pentagon head Chuck Hagel’s tour of Israel and the Gulf petro-monarchies; 2) the Syrian Army’s advances during the past few weeks in the Homs corridor against the foreign-
sponsored mercenaries/jihadis; 3) Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah’s “secret” trip to Tehran; afterwards Nasrallah, a fine geopolitical mind, stressed that what “they” really want is the destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria – to “destroy Syria as a people, an army, a whole nation”.
sponsored mercenaries/jihadis; 3) Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah’s “secret” trip to Tehran; afterwards Nasrallah, a fine geopolitical mind, stressed that what “they” really want is the destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria – to “destroy Syria as a people, an army, a whole nation”.
If there are further attacks – and there may well be – to deplete the arsenals of the Syrian army, it will be a gift of providence for the mercenaries/jihadis. Nasrallah is absolutely correct that the key objective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf Cooperation Council-Israel coalition of the willing is to try to drag Syria into a total war. After an eventual Syrian response, the “solution” would be to carpet-bomb it to Iraqi levels.
Obama the Mujahid’s options
Whether the US/Israeli gambit will be successful is an open question. What it did was to postpone the crowning of Obama The Mujahid.
The netherworlds of US Think Tankland were oh so excited with the prospect of Obama bypassing the UN Security Council (as in Russia and China) a la Bush and unilaterally impose a no-fly zone over Syria – so the US could engage in the requisite “suppression of the enemy air defense campaign”.
Nonsense, although the Brits and France have not given up within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in fact even trying to bypass NATO in imposing a no-fly zone.
The no-fly zone was being spun in Washington as a means to secure Syria’s chemical weapons. The problem is that Washington has lousy intel on where these chemical weapons are actually stockpiled. And to top it off, chemical weapons were probably used not by the government but by the “rebels” – according to widely respected UN investigatorCarla del Ponte.
The Obama administration was also flirting with “direct lethal aid” to the rebels – as in anti-tank guided missiles and surface-to-air missiles.
Washington believes its own myth that it is “indirectly” involved in vetting and arming opposition groups in Syria. Since 2011, the weaponizing of Syrian mercenary/jihadi gangs has been sourced through the black market, stockpiles in Libya, and in Croatia. The CIA has been up to its neck all along. Many of these weapons are now in the hands of hardcore jihadis of the Jabhat al-Nusra kind.
The notion that the CIA is capable of vetting and weaponizing those gangs/mercenaries/jihadis to Washington’s benefit after the Bashar al-Assad government collapses is THE joke of the early 21st century. Just take a trip down memory lane to Afghanistan.
Or imagine these Syrian McJihadis, or You Tube mujahideen, equipped with some fine shoulder-held heat-seeking missiles wreaking havoc all across Southwest Asia.
So after much huff and puff, Obama ended up with something way more comfortable than a no-fly zone: targeted strikes – with jets and/or missiles, conducted by the Israelis. The blueprint could be Operation Desert Fox (the Bill Clinton-ordered bombing of Iraq in 1998.) The objective, to “send a clear message” to Syria.
The next bombings may target airfields, concentrations of aircraft, more weapons depots, tanks and artillery. Collateral damage, inevitably, will soar, proportionately to the level of provocation.
Former US ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, very close to the Clinton clan, has already gamed on ABC News that Obama is “leaning towards aerial strikes”. Yes; this is just the beginning. Mini-Shock and Awes await.
Just follow the roadmap
The question is why did it take so long. The destruction of Syria – as conceptualized by Sheikh Nasrallah – with the West once more collaborating with jihadi gangs, has been in the cards for years. See how Seymour Hersh outlined it in 2007. And see how badly the bipartisan Washington establishment craves regime change.
And Damascus, of course, is just a stop towards Tehran. The proverbial anonymous sources have leaked to the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times in London that a “Defense Crescent” is becoming a reality.
It’s the same GCC-Israel element in the coalition of the willing in Syria, in this case ganging up to “counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions”. Turkey, the House of Saud, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Israel merrily partying in joint command-and-control centers to detect evil Iranian ballistic missiles.
Don’t know much about history. But what a wonderful world this would be. Presided by Obama The Mujahid.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column originally appeared on Asia Times.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
THE ROVING EYE
Orwell does America
By Pepe Escobar
Welcome to the sweet abyss of an Orwellian vortex. 2013 increasingly looks like 1984.
In two previous articles, for RT RT and for Asia Times Online I have looked into the superimposed levels of blowback implied by the Boston bombing.
With still so many unanswered questions regarding what took place on the ground in Boston after the bombing, it's time to look at an extra, possible Top Ten list of lingering absurdities. And this without sidestepping other unanswered crucial questions, such as why a bomb drill - organized by Craft - was going on during the marathon at which the bombing took place; and why it was vehemently denied that a bomb drill was going on. For this current set of questions, I'm grateful for the help of Asia Times Online's Bostonian readers.
Pick your Mercedes
1. Will the FBI come clean and admit they knew everything there is to know about Tamerlan Tsarnaev - after five years of monitoring/controlling him - and still lied to public opinion by swearing they knew nothing about his and his brother's identity, posting their photos and asking for the public to act ''as eyes and ears'' to identify those ''suspects''?
2. Since 9/11, the preferred FBI modus operandi is to use informants to lure ''potential'' terra-rists to act. See for example the Fast and Furious Iran cum Mexican cartel plot. There's a strong possibility the Tsarnaev brothers were set up. In this case, is there anyone anywhere among the vast US intel apparatus investigating the FBI investigators?
3. Will the FBI explain a tsunami of false reports by the usual, anonymous ''US officials'' of explosions or ''unexploded bombs'' - at two Boston hotels, a court house, and at the JFK library?
4. A Saudi student, injured at the bombing, who was in the US via a legal student visa, is suddenly deported on ''national security grounds'', even as investigators found ''unusual burns'' on his hand inconsistent with the injuries of other victims. He may have been a member of a Saudi clan notorious for its al-Qaeda connections. The FBI ''investigation'' is suddenly dropped shortly after the Saudi ambassador in the US held an unscheduled meeting with President Barack Obama. Add to it that even before the smoke had cleared, the Israel Lobby and the notorious disinformation website DEBKA were pointing their fingers at ''domestic terrorists with Middle East connections''.
5. The description of the car hijacked by the brothers, a Mercedes E350 SUV, matches the description of their car left at a service station in Cambridge for two weeks prior to the bombing. A mechanic in Cambridge said Dzhokhar, Tamerlan's brother, picked up his "black Mercedes SUV" on Tuesday, the day after the marathon. The two cars may be one and the same; that blows up the whole official ''carjacking'' narrative.
6. Additionally, there's a media blackout on the owner of the allegedly hijacked Mercedes, who in theory managed to escape and call the police, who maintains that the brothers went to three ATMs and withdrew US$800 from his account - not before telling him they were the ''marathon bombers and had killed an MIT police''. The driver said he was let off at a gas station on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. But some witnesses saw Dzhokhar at the station's convenience store - without any driver. Then the narrative of the brothers robbing a convenience store was revealed to be false. Police scanners referred to a "black top" person. Still, the official narrative is that the Tsarnaev brothers were at the same place and the same time of the robbery.
7. The slain MIT police. The initial police scanner report mentions the suspect in singular as ''a Hispanic with a hat on''. This happened on the MIT campus, at a side street, after the officer had responded to the report of ''a disturbance''. Now the whole US law enforcement apparatus takes for granted that the MIT cop was killed by the brothers - with no investigation whatsoever.
8. There's a whole murky story about a ''stolen police SUV with long guns and explosive'' - without any details. It is assumed by everyone the brothers stole it, but nobody can tell when, where and how. The official narrative sustains it to justify the guns that the brothers allegedly used in a firefight with the police in Watertown. Moreover, the chief of Watertown police maintains that the brothers drove into town in ''two separate cars''. The FBI and the Boston District Attorney say the brothers were in the hijacked Mercedes.
9. The whole law enforcement apparatus insisted that there was a heavy exchange of gunfire with Dzokhar while he was hiding in a boat, before his arrest. That is false. He was unarmed, barely moving and the hail of bullets towards the boat came from the police.
10. How come legions of police and mega-weaponized SWAT teams searching a ''20 block'' crime scene perimeter in Watertown simply could not locate Dzhokhar hiding in a street less than two blocks from where he had abandoned his car? Even a simple Google Maps search contradicts the claim that police did not find him for a whole day because the street he was hiding - Franklin - ''was slightly beyond the perimeter''. A number of residents in Franklin street even complained that they were not searched until after the lifting of the curfew and the discovery of Dzhokhar by the boat's owner, who is now a national hero.
Do the martial dance
What the day-long delay in Dzhokhar's arrest indeed made possible was to turn Watertown into a monster dry run for urban martial law - euphemized as ''lockdown'' - in a very near future.
As total militarization of civilian life goes - featuring, for instance, Homeland Security running amok with hundreds of armored vehicles - this was a major success. Meanwhile, on the ''legal'' front, the White House and the Justice Department are firmly on track to finally suppress the Miranda warning; that went into effect already two years ago, when an Obama secret executive order ruled the Miranda warning would not apply to suspected terrorists.
Dzhokhar is a ''suspected'' terrorist - now charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, yet already convicted by corporate media. Welcome to Police State USA - where at least everyone still has the right to go out shopping. For now.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at email@example.com.
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Saturday, April 13, 2013
THE ROVING EYE
The Islamic Emirate of Syriastan
By Pepe Escobar
PARIS - And now some breaking news coming from the Islamic Emirate of Syriastan. This program is brought to you by the NATOGCC corporation. Please also tune in for a word from our individual sponsors, the United States government, Britain, France, Turkey, the House of Saud and the Emir of Qatar.
It all started early this week, with a proclamation by the elusive leader of al-Qaeda Central, Ayman "The Doctor" al-Zawahiri, hidden somewhere in the Pakistani tribal areas; how come Double O Bama with his license to kill (list) and prime drone fleet cannot find him?
Al-Zawahiri called for all the Islamist brigades in the Jihad Inc business fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to found an Islamic emirate, the passport du jour leading to an Islamic caliphate.
Two days later, the Islamic State of Iraq - for all practical purposes al-Qaeda in Iraq - announced, via a video starring its leader Abu Bakr al-Husseini al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi, a mergers and acquisition spectacular; from now on, it would be united with the Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra, and be referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
But then, the next day, the head of Jabhat al-Nusra, the shady Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, said that yes, we do pledge our allegiance to al-Qaeda Sheikh, Doctor al-Zawahiri; but there has been no M&A business whatsoever with al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Puzzled infidels from Washington to Beijing may be entitled to believe this is straight from Monty Python - but it's actually deadly serious; especially as the House of Saud, the Emir of Qatar, the neo-Ottoman Erdogan in Turkey and King Playstation from Jordan - vastly supported by Washington - continue to weaponize the Syrian "rebels" to Kingdom Come. And one of the top beneficiaries of this weaponizing orgy has been - who else - the M&A gang now known as the Islamic State of the Iraq and Levant.
Let's hit them with our option
Every grain of sand in the Syrian-Iraqi desert knows that the "rebels" who really matter in fighting terms in Syria are from Jabhat al-Nusra - hundreds of transnationals fond of beheading and suicide bombings.
They control, for instance, a few important suburbs of Aleppo. They've perpetrated scores of kidnappings, torture and summary executions. Crucially, they killed a lot of civilians. And they want to impose no-compromise, hardcore Sharia law. No wonder middle-class, educated Syrians fear them more than anything lethal the government might resort to.
Al-Baghdadi admitted the obvious: Syrian jihadis are an annex to Iraqi jihadis, from whom, crucially, they have been receiving on-the-ground battle experience. After all, it was these hardcore Iraqis who fought the Americans, especially from 2004 to 2007. The plum tomato in the kebab is that al-Nusra itself was founded by Sunni Syrians fighting alongside Sunni Iraqis in Iraq.
Then there's what the House of Saud is up to. The Saudis are competing in a regional marathon against al-Qaeda to see who enrolls more Sunni fanatics to fight those apostate Iranians, both in Iraq and the northern Levant. The House of Saud loves any jihadi, local or transnational, as long as he does not raise hell inside Saudi Arabia.
The alphabet soup of US intel agencies should know all that by now; otherwise suspicion that they spent all this time watching Monty Python reruns will be proven correct. Reason seemed to have prevailed when a puzzled State Department, via Secretary John Kerry, reversed Hillary Clinton's Artemis syndrome and last month called for the Assad regime and the "rebels" to negotiate - anything - although he also had the temerity to proclaim there are "moderates" among the jihadis.
But then, earlier this week in Jerusalem, just as the jihadi merger and acquisition was about to be announced in Syria/Iraq, Kerry insisted that for the Obama administration "no option is off the table" in terms of a US attack on - Iran.
Abandon all hope all you geopolitical dwellers in this valley of tears. The State Department does remain as puzzled as ever, as no rational adults seem to be able to distinguish between hardcore Sunni jihadis - of the 9/11 kind - and "axis of evil" Iranians.
The Europeans at least seem to be having second thoughts. The French announced this week they want to convince the European Union and the UN Security Council to brand Jabhat al-Nusra as a "terrorist organization". Yet everybody runs for cover when the question of what happens to the weaponizing of the Syrian "rebels" arises; it's obvious that Jabhat al-Nusra is having a ball with the status quo.
And still, next week, they will meet again - the main producers of this ghastly Z-movie, Regime Change Special Ops, plus some marginal players. It will be the US, the Brits and the French, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They will agree to keep the weaponizing going - and actually turbo-charge it.
So what is the CIA doing in all this mess? Well, hoping it gets messier, by supporting Baghdad-approved Shi'ite Iraqi militias to go after the jihadi superstars of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki even asked for CIA drones to bomb them to paradise. No luck - for now.
Baghdad has seen the writing on the wall - a direct consequence of the divide and rule, Sunni-against-Shi'ite games the Americans have been encouraging for 10 years now; the next stage is set for a civil war, Syria-style, in Iraq. Iraqi intelligence is seriously infiltrated by Islamic State of Iraq jihadis. There are no desert borders to speak of; Anbar province is watching what's unfolding in Syria as a dress rehearsal for what will happen in Iraq.
It's as if the brand new Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant cannot wait for Iraq to be back to that sinister, gruesome period between 2004 and 2008, when the body count could make Bruce Willis cringe. So what's a Pentagon in retreat to do? Shock and awe them all over again? Oh, no; this option is not for Iraq or the Islamic Emirate of Syriastan; it's only on the table for Iran.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.