Beyond the Horizon O’er the Treacherous Sea

SINCE the atrocities in Paris on Friday evening I have been surprised just how many of my friends have believed without question the explanation of events as described by our own Government.

This is the same Government which covered up the Hillsborough disaster, lied over MI6 dirty tricks during the miners’ strike, lied over MPs’ expenses and shifted Heaven and Earth to blanket a 50 year VIP paedophile network, involving at least one former PM.

It is a truism that “all you believe are your eyes, but your eyes they just tell you lies”.

For me, as a so-called investigative journalist for more than 20 years of my working life, I am naturally more sceptical, having many times seen, at first hand, the depths to which our own British Establishment will stoop to distort the truth, cover-up malpractice and quite simply lie.

Within half an hour of the tragic events of Friday night being relayed to our TV screens I was informed by former journalist friends that the official spin was the attack was the work of ISIS.

And within 12 hours the official press office lines from Paris, London and Washington corroborated that, with the sound knowledge that the terror group numbered eight – including suicide bombers – and they were of Syrian and Egyptian origin.

But sixty hours later, their hall of smoke and mirrors is starting to crumble.

Eyewitnesses now say they saw white professional killers at the Bataclan Concert Hall and at one of the restaurant shootings in Paris.

And by my own reckoning (it is quite easy to count between the official reports) there were at least 10 and possibly 12 people involved in the terror attacks.

French police have now confirmed that at least three separate teams perpetrated the attacks which left 129 people dead and hundreds injured in the capital city.

One survivor told Sky News that he was in the Bataclan Concert Hall and saw the attackers who murdered hostages.

He said that one of the gunmen had white skin and blonde hair.

Elsewhere an eyewitness has told how 20 people were executed in a calculated attack on a busy restaurant in the heart of the French capital as they ate at tables on the pavement.

Mahoud Admo said: “The gunman showed no emotion at all as he began spraying bullets into the diners. He just kept reloading his machine gun and firing, without saying a thing.”

Mr Admo, 26, who was staying at the Salvation Army hostel in Rue de Charonne opposite the Le Belle Equipe, recalled how the massacre unfolded, he said: “I was just in my room and had the window open on to the street below.

“I could see lots people sat outside the bar eating dinner and enjoying a drink. The place was full of people just enjoying themselves.

“At about 9.30pm a new looking black Mercedes pulled up outside with dark tinted windows at the back and the passenger and driver windows down. I could clearly see the passenger’s face as he was not wearing a hat or mask.

“As soon as the car stopped he quietly opened the door and got out in front of the restaurant.

“That is when I saw he was holding a machine gun that was resting on his hip.

“People outside spotted the shooter approaching with his gun and tried to run inside but he shot them down in the doorway.

“Then people inside moved forward to see what was happening and he sprayed more bullets into them. I was trying to catch them on my camera phone but the gunman saw the light on my mobile and I ducked down behind the wall as they fired at my hotel.

“The gunman calmly reloaded his weapon several times. He then shot up at the windows in the street to make sure nobody was filming anything or taking photographs. It lasted over six minutes.

“He fired lots of bullets. He was white, clean shaven and had dark hair neatly trimmed. He was dressed all in black accept for a red scarf.

“The shooter was aged about 35 and had an extremely muscular build, which you could tell from the size of his arms. He looked like a weightlifter.

“He was not wearing gloves and his face was expressionless as he walked towards the bar.

“The driver had opened his door shortly before the shooting began and stood up with his arm and a machine gun rested on the roof of the car. He stood there with his foot up in the door acting as a lookout.

“I would describe him as tall, with dark hair and also quite muscular.

“They looked like soldiers and carried the whole thing out like a military operation. It was clear that they were both very heavily armed and the gunman was carrying several magazines on him.”

These killers, like the ones in the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, are professionals for all intents and purposes.

The true facts are buried in a murkiness few can possibly imagine.

The West’s endless War on Terror, launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions.

In June this year, the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services.

The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.

That didn’t only include the “non-lethal assistance” boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of “arms on a massive scale”. Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a “rat line” of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much.

But it’s only the latest of a string of such cases.

Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar, who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in 2007 in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Armed opposition to illegal invasion and occupation clearly doesn’t constitute terrorism or murder on most definitions, including the Geneva Convention.

But terrorism is now in the eye of the beholder.

And nowhere is that more so than in the Middle East, where today’s terrorists are tomorrow’s fighters against tyranny, a place where allies suddenly become enemies.

For the past year, US, British and other Western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying ISIS. This was after ISIS overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate.

The campaign isn’t going well. Last month, ISIS rolled into the Iraqi city of Ramadi, while on the other side of the now non-existent border its forces conquered the Syrian town of Palmyra.

Al-Qaida’s official Nusra Front, has also been making gains in Syria.

Some Iraqis complain that the US sat on its hands while all this was going on. The Americans insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties, and claim significant successes.

Privately, officials say they don’t want to be seen hammering Sunni strongholds in a sectarian war and risk upsetting their Wahhabi Sunni Muslim allies in the Gulf – particularly Saudi Arabia.

A revealing light on how we got into this crazy mess has been shone by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which predicts – and effectively welcomes – the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq.

In stark contrast to Western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq (which became ISIS) and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria.

Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”, the Pentagon report goes on, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion.”

So American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria

Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later.

A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” – despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.

That doesn’t mean the US created ISIS, though some of its Gulf allies certainly played a role in it – as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, acknowledged last year.

In August 2014, The Times of Israel reported that a Free Syrian Army commander, arrested by the Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support.

Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms.

Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, in the summer of 2014.

“The opposition factions would receive support and send the injured in to Israel on condition that the Israeli fence area is secured.” Safouri said.

“No person was allowed to come near the fence without prior coordination with Israel authorities.”

Safouri says that at first he met with an Israeli officer named Ashraf at the border and was given an Israeli cellular phone. He later met with another officer named Younis and with the two men’s commander, Abu Daoud.

In total, Safouri said he entered Israel five times for meetings that took place in Tiberias.

Following the meetings, Israel began providing Safouri and his men with “basic medical support and clothes” as well as weapons, which included 30 Russian rifles, 10 RPG launchers with 47 rockets, and 48,000 5.56mm bullets.

Late last year the Jewish Telegraphic Agency – a 97-year old Jewish wire service – reported: A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry said ISIS was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation.

Yasmina Haifi, a project leader at the ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, stated: “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name.”

In March, Haaretz reported: “The Syrian opposition is willing to give up claims to the Golan Heights in return for cash and Israeli military aid against President Bashar Assad.”

And to add a further twist, a former high-level al Qaida commander has repeatedly alleged that ISIS works for the CIA. Investment adviser Jim Willie alleged: “The ISIS troops that are working there in Syria and Iraq are Langley (CIA) troops. They’re trained, funded, and armed by Langley.

While we don’t know which of the above-described allegations are true, two things are certain:

  • The US armed Islamic jihadis in Syria, and their weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS

  • Close allies of the US have supported and trained the ISIS terrorists

And the US has certainly exploited the existence of ISIS against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.

The calculus changed when ISIS started beheading westerners and posting atrocities online, and the Gulf States are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front.

But this is a US and western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them.

In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule.

American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against ISIS in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen.

However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria fit such an approach perfectly.

What’s clear is that ISIS and its monstrosities won’t be defeated by the same powers that brought it to Iraq and Syria in the first place, or whose open and covert war-making has fostered it in the years since.

Endless western military interventions in the Middle East have brought only destruction and division.

Unless we want to see more atrocities like Paris on Friday we must force our governments to leave the Middle East alone.

Stop creating more failed states.

Stop throwing away our freedoms at home on falsehoods.

Stop disenfranchising the Muslims who live with us.

Start with those things and see, even if you won’t give it 14 years to succeed, if things improve. Other than the death tolls scaling up further, I can’t imagine we could be doing anything worse.

I will finish with some words by a journalist hero of mine, John Pilger (his book Distant Voices is a must read): “By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of some 700,000 people – in a country that had no history of jihadism.

“The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common.

“Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

“Bush and Blair blew all this to bits.

“Iraq is now a nest of jihadism.

“Al-Qaeda – like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” – seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed.

“Rebel Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable.”

A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote recently: “The Cameron Government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism.”

Acknowledgment: Saumas Milne

I Cried for You – Now it’s Your Turn to Cry Awhile

THE eyes of the world focus on Paris and the atrocity which unfolded on Friday evening.

The civilian death toll from the ruthless killings now stands at 129, with 352 others wounded, 99 of them critically.

It is a carnage of almost unimaginable proportions in our so-called “civilised” Western society.

And it has stirred emotions of sorrow, sadness, love, anger and prejudice rarely seen on such a scale.

But while everyone’s talking about Paris, hardly anyone’s talking about Lebanon.

On Thursday, two ISIS suicide bombers attacked a Beirut shopping district at rush hour, killing at least 43 people and wounding at least 239. However, this atrocity was more or less ignored by the Western media and social media.

Earlier this year in Kenya, 148 students were murdered by four armed terrorists of al-Shaabab.

The clothes of their families are no less soaked in tears than those of the Paris victims. The screams of their sorrows echo around the streets, churches, mosques, homes and fields of their country with no less anguish.

Yet, the world does what to combat, acknowledge, condole or seek retribution for their murders?

There were no foreign leaders’ photo opportunity or Je suis… hashtag. Most newspapers didn’t even run their tragic deaths on any front page.

Meanwhile, in a country dear to my heart, 86 innocent Palestinian civilians (the majority children and teenagers) have been murdered by the Israeli military since 1 October.

Where are the tears for them?

As I look around me I can understand why many of my Facebook friends have draped their profile pictures with the French flag, but did they do the same with the Palestine flag, the Lebanese flag, the Afghan flag or even the Iraqi flag for all the wanton murders carried out there by ISIS, the USA, Israel, Assad and even Britain?

The air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has killed more than 450 innocent civilians, according to a new report, even though the US-led coalition has so far acknowledged just two non-combatant deaths.

More than 5,700 air strikes have been launched in the campaign, which nears its first anniversary this Saturday, with its impact on civilians largely unknown.

Now Airwars, a project by a team of independent journalists, is publishing details of 52 strikes with what it believes are credible reports of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including those of more than 100 children.

One of the attacks investigated was on Fadhiliya, Iraq, on 4 April where witnesses and local politicians said a family of five had died, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old girl.

My heart goes out to all those people who are shaken by violence and grieving their lost loved ones. And it goes out too, to those who are embattled and just getting by from one day to the next, and that includes those who have fled from violence and now have to confront biting chill of winter of northern Europe.

With Paris in mind, it is natural that people emote and relate to something terrible happening close to home. This is close to our home, this is what we see.

But, what we are witnessing at first hand – led by our governments and national media – is racism, where a Western life is more important than any other.

And it exists because our collective media does nothing to challenge it.

In 2001, I was working as chief investigative reporter on The Chronicle – a daily tabloid newspaper in Newcastle upon Tyne. On 11 September, I returned from a routine job in the town to watch in horror – on the newsroom TV – the atrocities of 9/11 unfold in front of our eyes, some 3,000 miles away in New York and Virginia.

The next day, the newspaper’s senior management determined that all employees should stand and observe two minutes silence for the innocent victims of the terror attack.

I refused.

Not because I did not feel pain or sympathy for those victims, but because my company had never observed even one minute’s silence for the hundreds of thousands killed by Allied military action in Iraq in 1991, the one million murdered in Rwanda, or the thousands killed in Bosnia, just a few years earlier.

Instead I went to the newsroom toilet, sat in a cubicle and cried.

The newspaper’s reaction to 9/11 – and the wall to wall media coverage over the ensuing months – typified everything I had witnessed in my previous 16 years in journalism.

Now, 14 years later, nothing has changed.

If I take Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda out of the equation, a few other examples may clarify what I mean:

  • Three French skiers are lost in an avalanche in the Alps. The next day there are lengthy reports in most UK national newspapers. Each of the victims is named and in-depth family stories are written.
  • A lone gunman goes berserk and kills children in a US high school. The next day it is front page news in almost every newspaper in the UK and Europe. In depth analysis of the gunman and tributes to each of the victims and their families ensues.
  • A mad man kills hostages in an Australian restaurant. It is front pages news in every newspaper in the UK, USA and Europe. Extensive coverage about the killer and each of his victims finds itself across western media.
  • An earthquake in Northern Pakistan kills thousands of inhabitants. Over the ensuing weeks there is barely a mention in any UK or western newspapers.
  • Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are murdered by US and UK bombing in Afghanistan. But there are few reports of these atrocities in UK and western newspapers.
  • Flooding in Bangladesh kills thousands of people. Over the following weeks there are just a few lines in UK broadsheet newspapers.

You don’t need a microscope to see the differences in the reaction and news reporting. It has nothing to do with distance from our shores. It is all to do with white Western values.

So our news media – even enlightened newspapers like the Independent and The Guardian – value the life and story of a suited, white, Western person quite differently to that of an African black or Urdu speaking Asian person.

We give ‘ours’ names, identities and lives, but the ‘others’ just nationality, religion and race. It is so much easier to avoid reporting the lives and deaths of these people if we don’t identify them as human beings the same as us.

This racism runs deep and has been entrenched more deeply with the Islamophobia which has perpetuated within Western society since 2001.

The white mass murderer, Norwegian, Anders Brevik is reported simply as a ‘madman killer’ – despite the fact he was a zealot Christian with a white supremacist agenda.

In contrast any killing carried out by a person of even dubious Muslim faith is reported as the act of an Islamist Extremist!

Sorry for the pun, but it is as clear as black and white.

But we have 800 years to overcome.

Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Portugal have been colonialists since the so-called Holy Crusades to Jerusalem in the 13th century, the colonial exploitation of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the dissection of Africa, South America and Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Our imperialist ancestors conquered peaceful countries, imposed western values and Christianity upon them, murdered millions and took millions more into slavery.

Now we have been joined by our ‘allies’ the USA, which since the end of World War 2 has:

  • Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.

  • Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.

  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

  • Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.

  • Interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.

Our nations have sown war and hatred all over the world – now tragically there is a heavy harvest as we are seeing in Paris.

People around the world all belong to the same human race; they share the same tendencies to fear, domination, and subjugation.

We need to let everyone know, we are the same, no matter what language we speak, whatever the colour of our skin or the religion we follow.

Well, I cried for you – now it’s your turn to cry awhile.

Roll On John

SO, the West has eliminated its Bete Noir at last!

Unlike recent targets, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi, this man is much more ordinary: Mohammed Emwazi, or Jihadi John as our tabloid press insist on calling him.

The British and US military worked “hand in glove” to launch an airstrike against the “notorious” Islamic State (ISIS) extremist Mohammed Emwazi, the UK Government confirmed today, with sources adding that there was a “high degree of certainty” he was killed in the attack.

The Pentagon confirmed late on Thursday night that US forces carried out an airstrike in Syria targeting Emwazi, the British-born Isis terrorist known as “Jihadi John” after appearing in gruesome propaganda videos depicting the apparent beheadings of eight hostages.

Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement from Downing Street on Friday morning confirming the attack amid reports that US officials were “99% certain” that Emwazi had been killed in a drone strike.

He said Emwazi was a threat to innocent people around the world, adding: “This was an act of self-defence. It was the right thing to do.”

Emwazi, a British citizen, participated in videos seemingly showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, American aid worker Abdul-Rahman [Peter] Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said it would have been preferable for Mr Emwazi to have faced justice in a court of law. “It appears Mohammed Emwazi has been held to account for his callous and brutal crimes. However, it would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law.

“These events only underline the necessity of accelerating international efforts, under the auspices of the UN, to bring an end to the Syrian conflict as part of a comprehensive regional settlement.”

Is “Jihadi John” dead! And did he ever really exist?

One thing is certain, the US and UK Governments needed Mr Emwazi dead.

For if he had been brought in front of the International Court of Justice a can of worms may have opened, which Cameron, Obama, Bush and Blair combined would have had difficulty closing.

Last month I published a piece called Jerusalem to Riyadh: an Axis of Evil which looked at some of the dirty tricks used by MI5, CIA, Mossad and Saudi Arabia to maintain organised instability in the Middle East for their own capitalist ends.

And between them create and sustain ISIS as a vehicle for that instability.

Israel and its unregulated Intelligence agency Mossad carries out the dirtiest of deeds, including many False Flag attacks: 7/7 in the UK, the Bulgarian bus bombing of 2014, and the Charlie Hebdo outrage in Paris.

From the very start after the formation of its own nation state Israel’s secret services ran rogue operations, stealing money from the Swiss accounts of Hitler’s victims, bombing a synagogue in Baghdad during prayers in 1951 to scare Jewish Iraqis into moving into tent villages in Israel, and bombing British and American offices in Cairo in 1954 (the Lavon affair) to discredit Egypt’s Nasser regime.

Using American funds provided for other purposes, Mossad bribed its way across Africa and Latin America. The late dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceaucescu—who edged Sadat toward Jerusalem and Camp David—received about $30 million from the agency.

Elsewhere, Mossad spies threw in their lot with established power, however autocratic: Iran (where they trained the SAVAK secret police in interrogation methods), Zaire, Chad and other African countries, Singapore, Sri Lanka (where they helped the Sinhalese go after Tamils), South Korea, South Africa (where Israel aided the birth of nuclear weapons), and Argentina (supplying arms during the Falklands War).

They helped Morocco capture and kill an opposition leader, Mehdi Ben Barka, in Paris. While in Beirut, they murdered Palestinians and blew up MEA Caravelles at the airport.

During the 1967 war, they protected the disinformation communications which brought Jordan into the conflict by directing the attack on the US spy ship Liberty, an action in which 34 Americans were killed and 171 wounded.

Misinformation has always been a Mossad trademark.

Many theorists and experts now believe that a Mossad / Saudi axis was behind the 9/11 atrocity.

Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain: planners to financiers, cadres to foot soldiers, ideologists to cheerleaders.

The dictatorship of Saudi Arabia which systematically transmits its sick form of Islam across the globe, instigates and funds hatreds, while crushing human freedoms and aspiration.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are honoured by the West in a sickening open display of back slapping support as “our great allies”.

Even more seriously, the pernicious Saudi influence is spreading fast and freely. King Salman has offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for recently arrived refugees, many of whom are Muslims.

He offered no money for resettlement or basic needs, but Wahhabi mosques, the Trojan horses of the secret Saudi crusade. Several Islamic schools are also sites of Wahhabism, now a global brand. It makes hearts and minds small and suspicious, turns Muslim against Muslim, and undermines modernists.

The late Laurent Murawiec wrote in 2002: “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadres to foot soldiers, from ideologists to cheerleaders.”

Remember that most of the 9/11 killers were Saudi; so was the al-Qaeda hierarchy.

The deadly ongoing role of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Britain in the Middle East is truly frightening.

These countries, along with France, Turkey, Qatar and the Gulf monarchies of the UAE have all in the recent past supported al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State (ISIS) with arms, money, and/or manpower.

The United States has already overthrown the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and now is trying to do the same with Syria, thus giving great impetus to the rise of ISIS.

More than a million refugees from these wars of US and British making are currently over-running Europe and North Africa.

The United States has bombed ISIS in Syria, but has used the same occasions to damage Syria’s infrastructure and oil-producing capacity.

The mainstream Western media never mentions the proposed Qatar natural-gas pipelines – whose path to Europe, Syria has stood in the way of for years – as a reason for much of the hostility toward Syria. The pipelines could dethrone Russia as Europe’s dominant source of energy.

US policy in Syria in the years leading up to the 2011 uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which began the whole current mess, was designed to promote sectarianism, which in turn led to civil war with the goal of regime change.

So why does the government of the United States hate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad with such passion?

Is it because, as we’re told, he’s a brutal dictator? But how can that be the reason for the hatred? It would be difficult indeed to name a brutal dictatorship of last 70 years that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population; at present the list would include Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

The United States is hostile to the Syrian government for the same reason it has been hostile to Cuba for more than half a century; and hostile to Venezuela for the past 15 years; and earlier to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; and to Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Chile.

What these governments have had in common is independence from American foreign policy; the refusal to be a client state of Washington; the refusal to be continuously hostile to Washington’s Officially Designated Enemies; insufficient respect and zeal for the capitalist way of life.

So if countries of the Middle East don’t convert to democracy and capitalism, you can bet the USA will bomb them into conversion.

Since the end of World War 2 the USA has:

  • Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.

  • Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.

  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

  • Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.

  • Interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.

During that time the USA has bombed: China 1945-46, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-60, Guatemala 1960, Belgian Congo 1964, Guatemala 1964, Dominican Republic 1965-66, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-69, Lebanon 1982-84, Grenada 1983-84, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1981-92, Nicaragua 1981-90, Iran 1987-88, Libya 1989, Panama 1989-90, Iraq 1991, Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1992-94, Bosnia 1995, Iran 1998, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011 and Syria 2014.

All in the name of Apple Pie and Freedom!

So Jihadi John and ISIS are all part of the latest instalment.

Watch out it could be your country next!

Exploding the ISIS myth

“I married ISIS on the fifth day of May

But I could not hold on to her very long

So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away

For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong.”  

(Bob Dylan)

IT is not often I agree with former Thatcher aide and privileged Tory MP Matthew Parris, but his column in Saturday’s The Times rang resonant chords.

Under a heading ‘We’ve become the Isis Propaganda Machine’, Mr Parris writes at some length why “British jihadists pose little threat to us and are no different to adventurers who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War.”

On the back of last week’s reports about three Muslim women from Bradford fleeing to Syria with their children – supposedly to join the insurgency – the columnist takes apart the ISIS bogeyman ideal and analyses the figures citing: “You can’t stop people going. It’s absurd blaming the airlines – 41 million people visited Turkey last year: the world’s sixth most popular tourist destination.

“And on any scale, the numbers are small. The government thinks that in the past four years maybe about 700 ISIS sympathisers have gone to Syria and Iraq. Many of these have been killed. Others will doubtless have come home disenchanted, sheepish, keeping their heads down.

“I’ve heard no evidence that a flyblown stint with murderous bigots in Syria has radicalised young British Muslims, who return: these are human beings like us, many of whom will have reacted to the reality of that dirty war in the same way you or I would have done – with shock and disillusion.

“Nor have I seen evidence that recruitment is growing, despite the media’s and the government’s unwitting efforts to drum up interest among young British Muslims.”

Later he writes: “It would be hard to argue that the Spanish Civil War was any less barbarous than what is happening in Syria or Iraq, yet it proved impossible to stop young (Christian and Atheist) idealists from Britain piling in.”

Indeed, in the 1930s here in Britain we applauded people who went off to fight in the Spanish Civil War. In the 1940s we turned a blind eye to those that fought on either side in Palestine and Egypt. In the 1950s we encouraged those who joined the resistance in Cuba. In the 1960s and 70s we didn’t stop people fighting in various African conflicts. In the 1980s we allowed people to fight in central America. In the 1990s we again allowed people to join the fight on either side in the Middle East.

Yet, since 2001 our government has determined which side our people should fight on. And those that fight on the wrong side are deemed terrorists.

And if they dare return to Britain they are immediately regarded as a threat to our own country, have their passports withdrawn and are criminalised.

This is particularly alarming with regard to Syria, where our government, and the USA, armed and trained the same rebels which they now regard as “international terrorists”.

I hate ISIS and what its stands for. But who are we to tell British people who to fight for?

The logic is baffling.

So I catch a plane to Tel Aviv to help the IDF murder Palestinians. I would guess that as far as the British government is concerned a blind eye would be turned. The same blind eye that is turned constantly to the terrorism perpetrated in the name of Israel. Or the state terrorism of the Syrian government against its own people.

ISIS remains top of the news because it underscores all the demonization of Islam which this government wants to perpetuate to keep us living in fear and to smokescreen 9/11 and the West’s real intention in the Middle East.

And from a practical point of view this knee jerk so-called counter terrorism won’t stop this latest Jihadist threat.

The roots for this dangerous political stupidity run dep.

After 9/11, many within the US national security establishment worried that, following decades of preparation for confronting conventional enemies such as the Soviet Union, Washington was unready for the challenge posed by an unconventional adversary such as al Qaeda.

So over the next decade, the United States – with the UK hanging on its coat tails – built an elaborate structure to fight the jihadist organization, adapting its military and its intelligence and law enforcement agencies to the tasks of counterterrorism and counter-insurgency.

Now, however, a different group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has supplanted al Qaeda as the jihadist threat of greatest concern to the West and our “civilised Christian way of life”.

But ISIS is not al Qaeda.

Although al Qaeda remains dangerous, especially its affiliates in North Africa and Yemen.  ISIS represents the post–al Qaeda jihadist threat.

In a nationally televised speech last September explaining his plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, US President Barack Obama drew a straight line between the group and al Qaeda and claimed that ISIS is “a terrorist organization, pure and simple.”

The same line that is regularly drawn by Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

But ISIS hardly fits that description, and indeed, although it uses terrorism as a tactic, it is not really a terrorist organization at all.

Terrorist networks, such as al Qaeda, generally have only dozens or hundreds of members, attack civilians, do not hold territory, and cannot directly confront military forces.

ISIS, on the other hand, boasts some 30,000 fighters – many trained by the US and CIA operatives – holds territory in both Iraq and Syria, maintains extensive military capabilities, controls lines of communication, commands infrastructure, funds itself, and engages in sophisticated military operations.

If ISIS is purely and simply anything, it is a pseudo-state led by a conventional army.

And that is why the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategies that greatly diminished the threat from al Qaeda will not work against ISIS.

And attempts by the Western media and governments to demonise them as terrorists who might arrive on our own doorstep as suicide bombers diverts us from the truth and act as recruiting sergeants for their cause.

Al Qaeda came into being in the aftermath of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Its leaders’ world views and strategic thinking were shaped by the 10-year war against Soviet occupation, when thousands of Muslim militants, including Osama bin Laden, converged on the country.

As the organization coalesced, it took the form of a global network focused on carrying out spectacular attacks against Western or Western-allied targets, with the goal of rallying Muslims to join a global confrontation with secular powers near and far.

But ISIS came into being thanks to the 2003 US and UK invasion of Iraq. In its earliest incarnation, it was just one of a number of Sunni extremist groups fighting Allied forces and attacking Shiite civilians in an attempt to foment a sectarian civil war.

At that time, it was called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had pledged allegiance to bin Laden. Zarqawi was killed by a US air strike in 2006, and soon after, AQI was nearly wiped out when Sunni tribes decided to partner with the Americans to confront the jihadists.

But the defeat was temporary; AQI renewed itself inside US-run prisons in Iraq, where insurgents and terrorist operatives connected and formed networks—and where the group’s current chief and self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, first distinguished himself as a leader.

In 2011, as a revolt against the Assad regime in Syria expanded into a full-blown civil war, the group took advantage of the chaos, seizing territory in Syria’s northeast, establishing a base of operations, and rebranding itself as ISIS.

In Iraq, the group continued to capitalize on the weakness of the central state and to exploit the country’s sectarian strife, which intensified after US forces withdrew.

With the Allied troops gone, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pursued a hard-line pro-Shiite agenda, further alienating Sunni Arabs throughout the country.

ISIS now counts among its members Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders, former anti-US insurgents, and even secular former Iraqi military officers who seek to regain the power and security they enjoyed during the Saddam Hussein era.

The group’s territorial conquest in Iraq came as a shock. When ISIS captured Fallujah and Ramadi in January 2014, most analysts predicted that the US-trained Iraqi security forces would contain the threat.

But last June, amid mass desertions from the Iraqi army, ISIS moved toward Baghdad, capturing Mosul, Tikrit, al-Qaim, and numerous other Iraqi towns.

By the end of last summer, ISIS had renamed itself the Islamic State and had proclaimed the territory under its control to be a new caliphate. Meanwhile, according to US intelligence estimates, some 15,000 foreign fighters from 80 countries flocked to the region to join ISIS, at the rate of around 1,000 per month.

Although most of these recruits came from Muslim-majority countries, such as Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, some also hailed from Australia, China, Russia, and western European countries (700 from Britain over four years).

As ISIS has grown, its goals and intentions have become clearer.

It seeks to control territory and create a “pure” Sunni Islamist state governed by a brutal interpretation of Sharia; to immediately obliterate the political borders of the Middle East that were created by Western powers in the 20th century; and to position itself as the sole political, religious, and military authority over all of the world’s Muslims.

Holding territory has allowed the group to build a self-sustaining financial model unthinkable for most terrorist groups.

Beginning in 2012, ISIS gradually took over key oil assets in eastern Syria; it now controls an estimated 60 percent of the country’s oil production capacity. Meanwhile, during its push into Iraq last summer, ISIS also seized seven oil-producing operations in that country.

The group manages to sell some of this oil on the black market in Iraq and Syria – including, according to some reports, to the Assad regime itself. ISIS also smuggles oil out of Iraq and Syria into Jordan and Turkey, where it finds plenty of buyers happy to pay below-market prices for illicit crude. All told, ISIS’ revenue from oil is estimated to be between $1 million and $3 million per day.

The group also controls major transportation arteries in western Iraq, allowing it to tax the movement of goods and charge tolls. It even earns revenue from cotton and wheat grown in Raqqa, the breadbasket of Syria.

Of course, like terrorist groups, ISIS also takes hostages, demanding tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments. But more important to the group’s finances is a wide-ranging extortion racket that targets owners and producers in ISIS territory, taxing everything from small family farms to large enterprises such as cell-phone service providers, water delivery companies, and electric utilities.

And ISIS continues to grow helped by anti-Islamic rhetoric pursued by much of the Western media and its political leaders.

That rhetoric is littered with hate against all Muslims and hateful towards those of us who don’t share the antipathy against them.

We are immediately damned as sympathising with extremists, despising our country, ‘living in a bubble’, not understanding how ‘most people’ feel, and being ignorant of what’s happening.

I live in Wolverhampton, in a locality favoured by Muslims and Sikhs, who live and work happily side by side with ethnic white Christians and non believers.

Muslims come in all shapes and sizes and with a very wide range of opinions of matters religious and secular, and that millions of British Muslims are worried about extremism, some of them worried sick.

We collectively realise that under the skin and religion, we are all the same… we are all human beings struggling to make a living and make sense of our lives.

And what is happening regarding our Establishment view of ISIS makes no sense at all.

Return of the Pale Rider

Kobane it falls to ISIS

Murder’s irony is not so sweet

The West it turns its shoulders

Watches the news and tries to sleep

 

On Gaza’s shattered pasture

They grieve for their own kin

In the dark Israeli kitchens

They can’t wash away their sin

 

Many millions gaze in anger

A million more cry tears of shame

When they see what they have done

What’s been done in their own name

 

The Kurdish sky now turns red

As the women are raped below

They cry in the name of Allah

Their black flag is just a show

 

Back in bloody Palestine

They struggle to rebuild

The world it looks away

Their compassion has been filled

 

Many millions gaze in anger

A million more cry tears of shame

When they see what they have done

What’s been done in their own name

 

On Turkey’s frozen border

The generals stand and stare

The USA’s dirty dollars

Makes it easier to bare

 

Behold a pale rider

The oil baron he just stands

60 years still with the desert dust

Slipping slowly through his hands

 

Many millions gaze in anger

A million more cry tears of shame

When they see what they have done

What’s been done in their own name

 

Back home in middle England

And in the mid-west towns

The voters are manipulated

As false manikins and clowns

 

They say there is no money

For hospitals and schools

But billions left for weapons

We are treated worse than fools

 

Many millions gaze in anger

A million more cry tears of shame

When they see what they have done

What’s been done in their own name