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Story 2: The Ukraine Ceasefire Is A Failure — Will NATO Be Forced To Intervene? — Videos
BBC News Ukraine crisis BBC meets last few Donetsk residents
Kerry says arming Ukrainian forces has not been ruled out
Conversation: Arming Ukraine with Lethal Weapons has Risks
Former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz discusses Ukraine ceasefire
Ceasefire appears to be failing in Ukraine
Ceasefire appears to be failing in Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels now control key town
Shaky ceasefire in Ukraine
East Ukraine Opinion: Soldiers and residents in Artemivsk doubt ceasefire will last
Ukraine: Fighting continues despite truce
Fierce fighting is said to be continuing in the key Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, as the new ceasefire appears to be failing.
Rebels say they have taken most of the town, but the government says it is still in its control.
Gas Pipeline Blast Caught On Video, Hit By Shell In Eastern Ukraine
Ukraine and Natural Gas
Ukraine promised not to steal Russian gas from Europe
Russia halts plans for natural gas pipleine to Europe
Russia Expands Its Natural Gas Infrastructure (Agenda)
Caspian pipeline politics of Europe, Russia and China
Russia supplies more then 25 percent of Europe’s hydrocarbon needs. Ever since the natural gas cutoffs in 2006 and 2009, the European countries have been searched for ways to reduce their dependency on Russian oil and natural gas. In this context, the crisis in Ukraine has sparked a new drive for the search for alternative sources of energy. One project that is of particular interest, but underappreciated in the media, is the Trans-Caspian pipeline. If realized it would significantly change the energy map of Europe in the long term.
Fulcrium – Like it or not, Russian natural gas is here to stay – panel on European Energy Security
The LBS GES Energy Security panel addressed geo-political issues and challenges decision-makers face in the pursuit of European energy supply security in the wake of the Ukraine Crisis. Bottom line: The EU will remain dependent on Russian natural gas for decades to come irrespective of sanctions, source of supply diversification, and renewables agendas ! Likewise Moscow is dependent on the EU for 60% of Gazprom’s revenues. Like it or not, the EU and Russia are highly co-dependent as far as Russian natural gas is concerned.
Days after this debate took place, Russian President Vladimir Putin shelved the $40bn South Stream project designed to bypass Ukraine as the key transit state for Russian gas to Europe. And in a further twist, on 16 December 2014, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Bulgaria to enter into dialogue with Moscow to revive the South Stream project. Perhaps this is a signal of a softening EU stance in order to rebuild economic ties with Russia, more out of a necessity to safeguard Germany’s and Bulgaria’s interests. Other countries which stood to gain from South Stream, including Serbia and Hungary, also want to rescue the project. Russia supplies about 25 percent of EU gas needs; half of that flows via Ukrainian transit pipelines. The EU’s most powerful economy, Germany, is still highly dependent on Russian natural gas, importing 30% of it’s annual gas consumption from Russia.
Panel Chair: Raju Patel, Chief Executive, Fulcrium
Vladimir Drebentsov, Vice President, BP Russia / Head of Russia & CIS Economics, BP Plc
Dr Tatiana Mitrova, Head of Oil and Gas Department in the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (ERI RAS), Board Director – E.ON Russia
Andrew Risk, Senior Associate – Political Risk, GPW + Co
David Buchan, Senior Research Fellow, The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
Impact on world energy markets of Ukraine Crisis
The Effect of the Ukrainian Crisis on the Economy | Made in Germany
Psaki. Minsk Ceasefire. 19 Feb 2015 (Ukraine)
Ukraine: EU says ceasefire agreement not a failure
Military Forces Pull Out Of Besieged Ukrainian Town – Feb 19, 2015
Putin Tells Kiev to Let Troops Surrender as Ukraine Ceasefire Unravels
NATO Slams Russian Role in Ukraine Conflict: Stoltenberg says Kremlin must end insurgent support
Will the Ukraine-Russia deal stick?
WW3 NEWS UPDATE: The Strategic Role of UKRAINE in WW3
The Road to World War 3: Oil Prices, Ukraine, Russia, America, Collapse U.S. Dollar
Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum
The Role of Russia and NATO in Ukraine’s Civil War
Paul Craig Roberts: The Real Story Behind Oil Prices
The Road to World War 3: Ukraine, Russia and American Imperialism
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Story 1: The American People’s Grievance: Barack Obama Is An Islamic Terrorist Denier — Evil or Stupid? — Stupid Is As Stupid Does — Yes, Both –Videos
“Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
~President Barack Obama, February 18, 2015
Forrest Gump (1/10) Best Movie Quote – Life is Like a Box of Chocolates (1994)
Obama schools Right Wing It is not Islamic Terrorism!
Afterburner w/Bill Whittle — Showtime: Evil or Stupid?
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
“To say that IS is outside of the interpretive parameters of Islam is factually incorecct. […] There is no question that these people are drawign inspiration from Islamic texts. And they know these texts better than most Muslims”, Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies responds to an open rejection letter of the IS movement signed by 126 Sunni scholars.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel also shared insights on the strand of Islamic tradition IS draws on and the reasons why these Sunni critics have been hesistant to condemn IS members as heretics.
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
“Bin Laden was very proud that he had only spent 500.000 dollars on the 9/11 attacks. The US in response to those attacks has probably spent 3 trillion dollars. So as a return on investment, Bin Laden has done really well”.
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the current US-led airstrike-campaign against the Islamic State. He explores how that will be framed by the jihadist Sunni movements Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and argues that these strikes will confirm their narrative of a conspiracy between the West, the Jews and the Shia Muslims. He stresses that “IS is not a Western problem, it is a Middle Eastern problem”. He also argues very strongly against foreign intervention, saying that: “Every time the West has intervened in the Middle East for the last 200 years it has led to a much worse situation both for the people of the region and for the West.”
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
Is a Fractured Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s Future?
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Who are the Muslim Brotherhood? – Truthloader
U.S. Policy and Islamism after the Arab Spring – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
The History of the Muslim Brotherhood in 3 minutes
Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Overview
The American Muslim Brotherhood President – Barack Hussein Obama
The Great Deception New World Order & Muslim Brotherhood
An Alternative for U.S. Policy – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Islamism and Intervention against ISIS — Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Reflections on Islamism: From the Muslim Brotherhood to the Islamic State
Obama Behind Muslim Brotherhood Caliphate Conspiracy
Former Muslim Brotherhood member: “Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim Terrorist”
Barack Obama is a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood
Treason Exposed! Obama Used Benghazi Attack to Cover Up Arms Shipments to Muslim Brotherhood
Why doesn’t Obama say “Islamic” terrorism?
While Obama Appeases Islamic Terrorists, Egyptian President Condemns Them! • Kelly File • 1/9/15 •
President Obama Islam Speech Summit Extremism (Full Speech) – We aren’t at war with Islam
Forrest Gump (1/9) Movie CLIP – Peas and Carrots (1994) HD
Remarks by the President in Closing of the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism
South Court Auditorium
4:20 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat.
Well, thank you, Lisa, for the introduction. Lisa is an example of the countless dedicated public servants across our government, a number of who are here today, who are working tirelessly every single day on behalf of the security and safety of the American people. So we very much appreciate her. And thanks to all of you for your attendance and participation in this important summit.
For more than 238 years, the United States of America has not just endured, but we have thrived and surmounted challenges that might have broken a lesser nation. After a terrible civil war, we repaired our union. We weathered a Great Depression, became the world’s most dynamic economy. We fought fascism, liberated Europe. We faced down communism — and won. American communities have been destroyed by earthquakes and tornadoes and fires and floods — and each time we rebuild.
The bombing that killed 168 people could not break Oklahoma City. On 9/11, terrorists tried to bring us to our knees; today a new tower soars above New York City, and America continues to lead throughout the world. After Americans were killed at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon, it didn’t divide us; we came together as one American family.
In the face of horrific acts of violence — at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, or at a Jewish community center outside Kansas City — we reaffirmed our commitment to pluralism and to freedom, repulsed by the notion that anyone should ever be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, or how they worship.
Most recently, with the brutal murders in Chapel Hill of three young Muslim Americans, many Muslim Americans are worried and afraid. And I want to be as clear as I can be: As Americans, all faiths and backgrounds, we stand with you in your grief and we offer our love and we offer our support.
My point is this: As Americans, we are strong and we are resilient. And when tragedy strikes, when we take a hit, we pull together, and we draw on what’s best in our character — our optimism, our commitment to each other, our commitment to our values, our respect for one another. We stand up, and we rebuild, and we recover, and we emerge stronger than before. That’s who we are. (Applause.)
And I say all this because we face genuine challenges to our security today, just as we have throughout our history. Challenges to our security are not new. They didn’t happen yesterday or a week ago or a year ago. We’ve always faced challenges. One of those challenges is the terrorist threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. But this isn’t our challenge alone. It’s a challenge for the world. ISIL is terrorizing the people of Syria and Iraq, beheads and burns human beings in unfathomable acts of cruelty. We’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa and Sydney and, Paris, and now Copenhagen.
So, in the face of this challenge, we have marshalled the full force of the United States government, and we’re working with allies and partners to dismantle terrorist organizations and protect the American people. Given the complexities of the challenge and the nature of the enemy — which is not a traditional army — this work takes time, and will require vigilance and resilience and perspective. But I’m confident that, just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail.
And part of what gives me that confidence is the overwhelming response of the world community to the savagery of these terrorists — not just revulsion, but a concrete commitment to work together to vanquish these organizations.
At the United Nations in September, I called on the international community to come together and eradicate this scourge of violent extremism. And I want to thank all of you — from across America and around the world — for answering this call. Tomorrow at the State Department, governments and civil society groups from more than 60 countries will focus on the steps that we can take as governments. And I’ll also speak about how our nations have to remain relentless in our fight — our counterterrorism efforts — against groups that are plotting against our counties.
But we are here today because of a very specific challenge — and that’s countering violent extremism, something that is not just a matter of military affairs. By “violent extremism,” we don’t just mean the terrorists who are killing innocent people. We also mean the ideologies, the infrastructure of extremists –the propagandists, the recruiters, the funders who radicalize and recruit or incite people to violence. We all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist, so there’s no way to predict who will become radicalized. Around the world, and here in the United States, inexcusable acts of violence have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths — which is, of course, a betrayal of all our faiths. It’s not unique to one group, or to one geography, or one period of time.
But we are here at this summit because of the urgent threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. And this week we are focused on prevention — preventing these groups from radicalizing, recruiting or inspiring others to violence in the first place. I’ve called upon governments to come to the United Nations this fall with concrete steps that we can take together. And today, what I want to do is suggest several areas where I believe we can concentrate our efforts.
First, we have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies that these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence. Leading up to this summit, there’s been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge. So I want to be very clear about how I see it.
Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam. (Applause.)
Now, just as those of us outside Muslim communities need to reject the terrorist narrative that the West and Islam are in conflict, or modern life and Islam are in conflict, I also believe that Muslim communities have a responsibility as well. Al Qaeda and ISIL do draw, selectively, from the Islamic texts. They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith, that Islam is somehow inherently violent, that there is some sort of clash of civilizations.
Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism. (Applause.)
And to their credit, there are respected Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith. They want to make very clear what Islam stands for. And we’re joined by some of these leaders today. These religious leaders and scholars preach that Islam calls for peace and for justice, and tolerance toward others; that terrorism is prohibited; that the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind. Those are the voices that represent over a billion people around the world.
But if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people, if we’re going to lift up the voices of tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim community, then we’ve got to acknowledge that their job is made harder by a broader narrative that does exist in many Muslim communities around the world that suggests the West is at odds with Islam in some fashion.
The reality — which, again, many Muslim leaders have spoken to — is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances — sometimes that’s accurate — does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy; does buy into the idea that Islam is incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it’s been polluted by Western values.
So those beliefs exist. In some communities around the world they are widespread. And so it makes individuals — especially young people who already may be disaffected or alienated — more ripe for radicalization. And so we’ve got to be able to talk honestly about those issues. We’ve got to be much more clear about how we’re rejecting certain ideas.
So just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam, that there’s an inherent clash in civilizations. Everybody has to speak up very clearly that no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents doesn’t defend Islam or Muslims, it damages Islam and Muslims. (Applause.)
And when all of us, together, are doing our part to reject the narratives of violent extremists, when all of us are doing our part to be very clear about the fact that there are certain universal precepts and values that need to be respected in this interconnected world, that’s the beginnings of a partnership.
As we go forward, we need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion — and we especially need to do it online. We also need to lift up the voices of those who know the hypocrisy of groups like ISIL firsthand, including former extremists. Their words speak to us today. And I know in some of the discussions these voices have been raised: “I witnessed horrible crimes committed by ISIS.” “It’s not a revolution or jihad…it’s a slaughter…I was shocked by what I did.” “This isn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.” “I’m 28 — is this the only future I’m able to imagine?” That’s the voice of so many who were temporarily radicalized and then saw the truth. And they’ve warned other young people not to make the same mistakes as they did. “Do not run after illusions.” “Do not be deceived.” “Do not give up your life for nothing.” We need to lift up those voices.
And in all this work, the greatest resource are communities themselves, especially like those young people who are here today. We are joined by talented young men and women who are pioneering new innovations, and new social media tools, and new ways to reach young people. We’re joined by leaders from the private sector, including high-tech companies, who want to support your efforts. And I want to challenge all of us to build new partnerships that unleash the talents and creativity of young people — young Muslims — not just to expose the lies of extremists but to empower youth to service, and to lift up people’s lives here in America and around the world. And that can be a calling for your generation.
So that’s the first challenge — we’ve got to discredit these ideologies. We have to tackle them head on. And we can’t shy away from these discussions. And too often, folks are, understandably, sensitive about addressing some of these root issues, but we have to talk about them, honestly and clearly. (Applause.) And the reason I believe we have to do so is because I’m so confident that when the truth is out we’ll be successful. Now, a second challenge is we do have to address the grievances that terrorists exploit, including economic grievances. Poverty alone does not cause a person to become a terrorist, any more than poverty alone causes somebody to become a criminal. There are millions of people — billions of people — in the world who live in abject poverty and are focused on what they can do to build up their own lives, and never embrace violent ideologies.
Conversely, there are terrorists who’ve come from extraordinarily wealthy backgrounds, like Osama bin Laden. What’s true, though, is that when millions of people — especially youth — are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas, because it’s not tested against anything else, they’ve got nothing to weigh. And we’ve seen this across the Middle East and North Africa.
And terrorist groups are all too happy to step into a void. They offer salaries to their foot soldiers so they can support their families. Sometimes they offer social services — schools, health clinics — to do what local governments cannot or will not do. They try to justify their violence in the name of fighting the injustice of corruption that steals from the people — even while those terrorist groups end up committing even worse abuses, like kidnapping and human trafficking.
So if we’re going to prevent people from being susceptible to the false promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something better. And the United States intends to do its part. We will keep promoting development and growth that is broadly shared, so more people can provide for their families. We’ll keep leading a global effort against corruption, because the culture of the bribe has to be replaced by good governance that doesn’t favor certain groups over others.
Countries have to truly invest in the education and skills and job training that our extraordinary young people need. And by the way, that’s boys and girls, and men and women, because countries will not be truly successful if half their populations — if their girls and their women are denied opportunity. (Applause.) And America will continue to forge new partnerships in entrepreneurship and innovation, and science and technology, so young people from Morocco to Malaysia can start new businesses and create more prosperity.
Just as we address economic grievances, we need to face a third challenge — and that’s addressing the political grievances that are exploited by terrorists. When governments oppress their people, deny human rights, stifle dissent, or marginalize ethnic and religious groups, or favor certain religious groups over others, it sows the seeds of extremism and violence. It makes those communities more vulnerable to recruitment. Terrorist groups claim that change can only come through violence. And if peaceful change is impossible, that plays into extremist propaganda.
So the essential ingredient to real and lasting stability and progress is not less democracy; it’s more democracy. (Applause.) It’s institutions that uphold the rule of law and apply justice equally. It’s security forces and police that respect human rights and treat people with dignity. It’s free speech and strong civil societies where people can organize and assemble and advocate for peaceful change. It’s freedom of religion where all people can practice their faith without fear and intimidation. (Applause.) All of this is part of countering violent extremism.
Fourth, we have to recognize that our best partners in all these efforts, the best people to help protect individuals from falling victim to extremist ideologies are their own communities, their own family members. We have to be honest with ourselves. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL deliberately target their propaganda in the hopes of reaching and brainwashing young Muslims, especially those who may be disillusioned or wrestling with their identity. That’s the truth. The high-quality videos, the online magazines, the use of social media, terrorist Twitter accounts — it’s all designed to target today’s young people online, in cyberspace.
And by the way, the older people here, as wise and respected as you may be, your stuff is often boring — (laughter) — compared to what they’re doing. (Applause.) You’re not connected. And as a consequence, you are not connecting.
So these terrorists are a threat, first and foremost, to the communities that they target, which means communities have to take the lead in protecting themselves. And that is true here in America, as it’s true anywhere else. When someone starts getting radicalized, family and friends are often the first to see that something has changed in their personality. Teachers may notice a student becoming withdrawn or struggling with his or her identity, and if they intervene at that moment and offer support, that may make a difference.
Faith leaders may notice that someone is beginning to espouse violent interpretations of religion, and that’s a moment for possible intervention that allows them to think about their actions and reflect on the meaning of their faith in a way that’s more consistent with peace and justice. Families and friends, coworkers, neighbors, faith leaders — they want to reach out; they want to help save their loved ones and friends, and prevent them from taking a wrong turn.
But communities don’t always know the signs to look for, or have the tools to intervene, or know what works best. And that’s where government can play a role — if government is serving as a trusted partner. And that’s where we also need to be honest. I know some Muslim Americans have concerns about working with government, particularly law enforcement. And their reluctance is rooted in the objection to certain practices where Muslim Americans feel they’ve been unfairly targeted.
So, in our work, we have to make sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we do not stigmatize entire communities. Nobody should be profiled or put under a cloud of suspicion simply because of their faith. (Applause.) Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance. We can’t “securitize” our relationship with Muslim Americans — (applause) — dealing with them solely through the prism of law enforcement. Because when we do, that only reinforces suspicions, makes it harder for us to build the trust that we need to work together.
As part of this summit, we’re announcing that we’re going to increase our outreach to communities, including Muslim Americans. We’re going to step up our efforts to engage with partners and raise awareness so more communities understand how to protect their loved ones from becoming radicalized. We’ve got to devote more resources to these efforts. (Applause.)
And as government does more, communities are going to have to step up as well. We need to build on the pilot programs that have been discussed at this summit already — in Los Angeles, in Minneapolis, in Boston. These are partnerships that bring people together in a spirit of mutual respect and create more dialogue and more trust and more cooperation. If we’re going to solve these issues, then the people who are most targeted and potentially most affected — Muslim Americans — have to have a seat at the table where they can help shape and strengthen these partnerships so that we’re all working together to help communities stay safe and strong and resilient. (Applause.)
And finally, we need to do what extremists and terrorists hope we will not do, and that is stay true to the values that define us as free and diverse societies. If extremists are peddling the notion that Western countries are hostile to Muslims, then we need to show that we welcome people of all faiths.
Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding. (Applause.) Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America. The first Islamic center in New York City was founded in the 1890s. America’s first mosque — this was an interesting fact — was in North Dakota. (Laughter.)
Muslim Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders, and protect our nation by serving in uniform, and in our intelligence communities, and in homeland security. And in cemeteries across our country, including at Arlington, Muslim American heroes rest in peace having given their lives in defense of all of us. (Applause.)
And of course that’s the story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know — Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known, it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is. It’s also a story that every American must never forget, because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It’s not just counterproductive; it doesn’t just aid terrorists; it’s wrong. It’s contrary to who we are.
I’m thinking of a little girl named Sabrina who last month sent me a Valentine’s Day card in the shape of a heart. It was the first Valentine I got. (Laughter.) I got it from Sabrina before Malia and Sasha and Michelle gave me one. (Laughter.) So she’s 11 years old. She’s in the 5th grade. She’s a young Muslim American. And she said in her Valentine, “I enjoy being an American.” And when she grows up, she wants to be an engineer — or a basketball player. (Laughter.) Which are good choices. (Laughter.) But she wrote, “I am worried about people hating Muslims…If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn’t mean all of them do.” And she asked, “Please tell everyone that we are good people and we’re just like everyone else.” (Applause.) Now, those are the words — and the wisdom — of a little girl growing up here in America, just like my daughters are growing up here in America. “We’re just like everybody else.” And everybody needs to remember that during the course of this debate.
As we move forward with these challenges, we all have responsibilities, we all have hard work ahead of us on this issue. We can’t paper over problems, and we’re not going to solve this if we’re always just trying to be politically correct. But we do have to remember that 11-year-old girl. That’s our hope. That’s our future. That’s how we discredit violent ideologies, by making sure her voice is lifted up; making sure she’s nurtured; making sure that she’s supported — and then, recognizing there are little girls and boys like that all around the world, and us helping to address economic and political grievances that can be exploited by extremists, and empowering local communities, and us staying true to our values as a diverse and tolerant society even when we’re threatened — especially when we’re threatened.
There will be a military component to this. There are savage cruelties going on out there that have to be stopped. ISIL is killing Muslims at a rate that is many multiples the rate that they’re killing non-Muslims. Everybody has a stake in stopping them, and there will be an element of us just stopping them in their tracks with force. But to eliminate the soil out of which they grew, to make sure that we are giving a brighter future to everyone and a lasting sense of security, then we’re going to have to make it clear to all of our children — including that little girl in 5th grade — that you have a place. You have a place here in America. You have a place in those countries where you live. You have a future.
Ultimately, those are the antidotes to violent extremism. And that’s work that we’re going to have to do together. It will take time. This is a generational challenge. But after 238 years, it should be obvious — America has overcome much bigger challenges, and we’ll overcome the ones that we face today. We will stay united and committed to the ideals that have shaped us for more than two centuries, including the opportunity and justice and dignity of every single human being.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
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Story 2: Memo To Obama Administration: Read Graeme Wood’s Atlantic Monthly Article: What ISIS Really Wants? — Videos
Journalist Graeme Wood on the Islamic State: VICE Meets
Islamic State militants ‘burn to death 45 in Iraq
Islamic State: The New Terror
The Battle for Iraq: Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State
The Islamic State (Full Length)
The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.
The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it’s not just the group’s military victories that have garnered attention — it’s also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.
Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.
VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.
Embedded with Al-Qaeda in Syria: ISIS and al-Nusra
Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra — becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.
One VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al-Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, despite the risk of journalists being kidnapped. This is a remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.
Ghosts of Aleppo (Full Length)
A City Left in Ruins: The Battle for Aleppo
Should ISIS Be Burning Captives? (David Wood)
Who Are The Salafis and Wahhabies Yusuf Estes Islam
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
IS is a symptom of a deep feeling amongst Sunni Arabs of being disenfranchised. […] It is the same sentiment that led to the emergence of Al-Qaeda.”
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the root causes for the rise of the Islamic State, as a movement responding to the systemic disenfranchisement of Sunnis in the region.
Professor Haykel also explains why IS surpassed Al Qaeda in popularity and why the Arabian Peninsula has so vigorously supported U.S.- led airstrikes against IS.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel responded to questions such as:
Why do people from the West join the Islamic State?
Why do the recruits burn their passports?
Should Western governments withdraw citizenship from jihadis?
What should be done about returning jihadis?
Can they be de-radicalized?
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
Killing Al-Baghdadi: the end of the Caliphate or part of the narrative?
SIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power – H. van Lynden lecture
The Henriette van Lynden lecture ‘ISIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power’, organised by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was held on Friday, 14 November 2014 in de Rode Hoed, Amsterdam.
The rise of ISIS as a failure of governance & the need for a broader response than CT-policy, by Ms. Mina al-Oraibi [0:6:36]
Links of ISIS ideology to Saudi Arabia’s wahabism and policy options by Prof. Bernard Haykel [0:19:52]
Iran’s interests and vision in the fight against ISIS by Dr. Ali Vaez [0:35:44]
Panel discussion moderated by Ernesto Braam [0:50:20]
Audience Q&A [1:05:25]
Ms. Mina al-Oraibi
Born in Iraq, she is the deputy editor-in-chief of prominent Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. She is an expert on transitions in the Arab region and American military doctrine. She regularly speaks with heads of state in the Middle East.
Prof. Bernard Haykel
Professor of Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University, specialised in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region. In addition, he is an Islam expert who focuses on Salafi movements and the roots of ISIS ideology. Particularly noteworthy is his contribution to the leading bestseller ‘Global Salafism’.
Dr. Ali Vaez
As an expert on Iran at the International Crisis Group in Washington D.C., he is a sought-after speaker on Iran’s influence in the region. He regularly appears on BBC and CNN, and publishes in Foreign Policy and the International Herald Tribune, among others.
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Rising Sunni-Shiite violence threatens security in Iraq
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 1
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 2
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 3
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 4
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 5
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 6
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 7
Christiane Amanpour interviews Princeton Professor Bernard Haykel on Yemen
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family and the State
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Relationship with the U.S.
What ISIS Really Wants
By Graeme Wood
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
Nearly all the Islamic State’s decisions adhere to what it calls, on its billboards, license plates, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology.”
There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)
But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Control of territory is an essential precondition for the Islamic State’s authority in the eyes of its supporters. This map, adapted from the work of the Institute for the Study of War, shows the territory under the caliphate’s control as of January 15, along with areas it has attacked. Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications.
In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. It acknowledged Abu Musa’b al Zarqawi, the brutal head of al‑Qaeda in Iraq from roughly 2003 until his killing in 2006, as a more immediate progenitor, followed sequentially by two other guerrilla leaders before Baghdadi, the caliph. Notably unmentioned: bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, the owlish Egyptian eye surgeon who currently heads al‑Qaeda. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, and he is increasingly hated by his fellow jihadists. His isolation is not helped by his lack of charisma; in videos he comes across as squinty and annoyed. But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.
Zawahiri’s companion in isolation is a Jordanian cleric named Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, 55, who has a fair claim to being al-Qaeda’s intellectual architect and the most important jihadist unknown to the average American newspaper reader. On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.
The Islamic State awaits the army of “Rome,” whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse.
Maqdisi taught Zarqawi, who went to war in Iraq with the older man’s advice in mind. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. At issue was Zarqawi’s penchant for bloody spectacle—and, as a matter of doctrine, his hatred of other Muslims, to the point of excommunicating and killing them. In Islam, the practice of takfir, or excommunication, is theologically perilous. “If a man says to his brother, ‘You are an infidel,’ ” the Prophet said, “then one of them is right.” If the accuser is wrong, he himself has committed apostasy by making a false accusation. The punishment for apostasy is death. And yet Zarqawi heedlessly expanded the range of behavior that could make Muslims infidels.
Maqdisi wrote to his former pupil that he needed to exercise caution and “not issue sweeping proclamations of takfir” or “proclaim people to be apostates because of their sins.” The distinction between apostate and sinner may appear subtle, but it is a key point of contention between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.
Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.
Musa Cerantonio, an Australian preacher reported to be one of the Islamic State’s most influential recruiters, believes it is foretold that the caliphate will sack Istanbul before it is beaten back by an army led by the anti-Messiah, whose eventual death— when just a few thousand jihadists remain—will usher in the apocalypse. (Paul Jeffers/Fairfax Media)
Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.
Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.
Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Our failure to appreciate the essential differences between ISIS and al-Qaeda has led to dangerous decisions.
The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
Before the rise of the Islamic State, no group in the past few centuries had attempted more-radical fidelity to the Prophetic model than the Wahhabis of 18th‑century Arabia. They conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, and their strict practices survive in a diluted version of Sharia there. Haykel sees an important distinction between the groups, though: “The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence.” They were surrounded by Muslims, and they conquered lands that were already Islamic; this stayed their hand. “ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period.” Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation.
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,
Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.
Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.
Peter R. Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, told me that online voices have been essential to spreading propaganda and ensuring that newcomers know what to believe. Online recruitment has also widened the demographics of the jihadist community, by allowing conservative Muslim women—physically isolated in their homes—to reach out to recruiters, radicalize, and arrange passage to Syria. Through its appeals to both genders, the Islamic State hopes to build a complete society.
In November, I traveled to Australia to meet Musa Cerantonio, a 30-year-old man whom Neumann and other researchers had identified as one of the two most important “new spiritual authorities” guiding foreigners to join the Islamic State. For three years he was a televangelist on Iqraa TV in Cairo, but he left after the station objected to his frequent calls to establish a caliphate. Now he preaches on Facebook and Twitter.
Cerantonio—a big, friendly man with a bookish demeanor—told me he blanches at beheading videos. He hates seeing the violence, even though supporters of the Islamic State are required to endorse it. (He speaks out, controversially among jihadists, against suicide bombing, on the grounds that God forbids suicide; he differs from the Islamic State on a few other points as well.) He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings, and his obsession with Islamic apocalypticism felt familiar. He seemed to be living out a drama that looks, from an outsider’s perspective, like a medieval fantasy novel, only with real blood.
Last June, Cerantonio and his wife tried to emigrate—he wouldn’t say to where (“It’s illegal to go to Syria,” he said cagily)—but they were caught en route, in the Philippines, and he was deported back to Australia for overstaying his visa. Australia has criminalized attempts to join or travel to the Islamic State, and has confiscated Cerantonio’s passport. He is stuck in Melbourne, where he is well known to the local constabulary. If Cerantonio were caught facilitating the movement of individuals to the Islamic State, he would be imprisoned. So far, though, he is free—a technically unaffiliated ideologue who nonetheless speaks with what other jihadists have taken to be a reliable voice on matters of the Islamic State’s doctrine.
We met for lunch in Footscray, a dense, multicultural Melbourne suburb that’s home to Lonely Planet, the travel-guide publisher. Cerantonio grew up there in a half-Irish, half-Calabrian family. On a typical street one can find African restaurants, Vietnamese shops, and young Arabs walking around in the Salafi uniform of scraggly beard, long shirt, and trousers ending halfway down the calves.
Cerantonio explained the joy he felt when Baghdadi was declared the caliph on June 29—and the sudden, magnetic attraction that Mesopotamia began to exert on him and his friends. “I was in a hotel [in the Philippines], and I saw the declaration on television,” he told me. “And I was just amazed, and I’m like, Why am I stuck here in this bloody room?”
The last caliphate was the Ottoman empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century and then experienced a long decline, until the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, euthanized it in 1924. But Cerantonio, like many supporters of the Islamic State, doesn’t acknowledge that caliphate as legitimate, because it didn’t fully enforce Islamic law, which requires stonings and slavery and amputations, and because its caliphs were not descended from the tribe of the Prophet, the Quraysh.
Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi.
The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. Cerantonio quoted a Prophetic saying, that to die without pledging allegiance is to die jahil (ignorant) and therefore die a “death of disbelief.” Consider how Muslims (or, for that matter, Christians) imagine God deals with the souls of people who die without learning about the one true religion. They are neither obviously saved nor definitively condemned. Similarly, Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between 1924 and 2014, died a death of disbelief. Cerantonio nodded gravely. “I would go so far as to say that Islam has been reestablished” by the caliphate.
I asked him about his own baya’a, and he quickly corrected me: “I didn’t say that I’d pledged allegiance.” Under Australian law, he reminded me, giving baya’a to the Islamic State was illegal. “But I agree that [Baghdadi] fulfills the requirements,” he continued. “I’m just going to wink at you, and you take that to mean whatever you want.”
To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law. Baghdadi’s Islamic State achieved that long before June 29, Cerantonio said, and as soon as it did, a Western convert within the group’s ranks—Cerantonio described him as “something of a leader”—began murmuring about the religious obligation to declare a caliphate. He and others spoke quietly to those in power and told them that further delay would be sinful.
Social-media posts from the Islamic State suggest that executions happen more or less continually.
Cerantonio said a faction arose that was prepared to make war on Baghdadi’s group if it delayed any further. They prepared a letter to various powerful members of ISIS, airing their displeasure at the failure to appoint a caliph, but were pacified by Adnani, the spokesman, who let them in on a secret—that a caliphate had already been declared, long before the public announcement. They had their legitimate caliph, and at that point there was only one option. “If he’s legitimate,” Cerantonio said, “you must give him the baya’a.”
After Baghdadi’s July sermon, a stream of jihadists began flowing daily into Syria with renewed motivation. Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author and former politician who visited the Islamic State in December, reported the arrival of 100 fighters at one Turkish-border recruitment station in just two days. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth.
Bernard Haykel, the foremost secular authority on the Islamic State’s ideology, believes the group is trying to re-create the earliest days of Islam and is faithfully reproducing its norms of war. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness” about the group’s dedication to the text of the Koran, he says. (Peter Murphy)
In London, a week before my meal with Cerantonio, I met with three ex-members of a banned Islamist group called Al Muhajiroun (The Emigrants): Anjem Choudary, Abu Baraa, and Abdul Muhid. They all expressed desire to emigrate to the Islamic State, as many of their colleagues already had, but the authorities had confiscated their passports. Like Cerantonio, they regarded the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. Their principal goal in meeting me was to explain what the Islamic State stands for, and how its policies reflect God’s law.
Choudary, 48, is the group’s former leader. He frequently appears on cable news, as one of the few people producers can book who will defend the Islamic State vociferously, until his mike is cut. He has a reputation in the United Kingdom as a loathsome blowhard, but he and his disciples sincerely believe in the Islamic State and, on matters of doctrine, speak in its voice. Choudary and the others feature prominently in the Twitter feeds of Islamic State residents, and Abu Baraa maintains a YouTube channel to answer questions about Sharia.
Since September, authorities have been investigating the three men on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Because of this investigation, they had to meet me separately: communication among them would have violated the terms of their bail. But speaking with them felt like speaking with the same person wearing different masks. Choudary met me in a candy shop in the East London suburb of Ilford. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp blue tunic reaching nearly to his ankles, and sipped a Red Bull while we talked.
Before the caliphate, “maybe 85 percent of the Sharia was absent from our lives,” Choudary told me. “These laws are in abeyance until we have khilafa”—a caliphate—“and now we have one.” Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. One of Choudary’s prize students, a convert from Hinduism named Abu Rumaysah, evaded police to bring his family of five from London to Syria in November. On the day I met Choudary, Abu Rumaysah tweeted out a picture of himself with a Kalashnikov in one arm and his newborn son in the other. Hashtag: #GenerationKhilafah.
The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (“I have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,” Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.
Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.
Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law.
Anjem Choudary, London’s most notorious defender of the Islamic State, says crucifixion and beheading are sacred requirements. (Tal Cohen/Reuters)
III. The Apocalypse
All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.
In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived. “Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in,” says Will McCants of the Brookings Institution, who is writing a book about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic thought.
During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”
For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” said a masked executioner in a November video, showing the severed head of Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, the aid worker who’d been held captive for more than a year. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After mujahideen reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
“Only God knows” whether the Islamic State’s armies are the ones foretold, Cerantonio said. But he is hopeful. “The Prophet said that one sign of the imminent arrival of the End of Days is that people will for a long while stop talking about the End of Days,” he said. “If you go to the mosques now, you’ll find the preachers are silent about this subject.” On this theory, even setbacks dealt to the Islamic State mean nothing, since God has preordained the near-destruction of his people anyway. The Islamic State has its best and worst days ahead of it.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was declared caliph by his followers last summer. The establishment of a caliphate awakened large sections of Koranic law that had lain dormant, and required those Muslims who recognized the caliphate to immigrate. (Associated Press)
IV. The Fight
The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue: it allows us to predict some of the group’s actions. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. He ended his first television interview cryptically. CNN’s Peter Arnett asked him, “What are your future plans?” Bin Laden replied, “You’ll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.” By contrast, the Islamic State boasts openly about its plans—not all of them, but enough so that by listening carefully, we can deduce how it intends to govern and expand.
In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Choudary’s colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.
One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations. “This is not permitted,” Abu Baraa said. “To send an ambassador to the UN is to recognize an authority other than God’s.” This form of diplomacy is shirk, or polytheism, he argued, and would be immediate cause to hereticize and replace Baghdadi. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means—for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate—is shirk.
It’s hard to overstate how hamstrung the Islamic State will be by its radicalism. The modern international system, born of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, relies on each state’s willingness to recognize borders, however grudgingly. For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Negotiation and accommodation have worked, at times, for the Taliban as well. (Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan exchanged ambassadors with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, an act that invalidated the Taliban’s authority in the Islamic State’s eyes.) To the Islamic State these are not options, but acts of apostasy.
The United States and its allies have reacted to the Islamic State belatedly and in an apparent daze. The group’s ambitions and rough strategic blueprints were evident in its pronouncements and in social-media chatter as far back as 2011, when it was just one of many terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and hadn’t yet committed mass atrocities. Adnani, the spokesman, told followers then that the group’s ambition was to “restore the Islamic caliphate,” and he evoked the apocalypse, saying, “There are but a few days left.” Baghdadi had already styled himself “commander of the faithful,” a title ordinarily reserved for caliphs, in 2011. In April 2013, Adnani declared the movement “ready to redraw the world upon the Prophetic methodology of the caliphate.” In August 2013, he said, “Our goal is to establish an Islamic state that doesn’t recognize borders, on the Prophetic methodology.” By then, the group had taken Raqqa, a Syrian provincial capital of perhaps 500,000 people, and was drawing in substantial numbers of foreign fighters who’d heard its message.
If we had identified the Islamic State’s intentions early, and realized that the vacuum in Syria and Iraq would give it ample space to carry them out, we might, at a minimum, have pushed Iraq to harden its border with Syria and preemptively make deals with its Sunnis. That would at least have avoided the electrifying propaganda effect created by the declaration of a caliphate just after the conquest of Iraq’s third-largest city. Yet, just over a year ago, Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the president said.
Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions. Last fall, to take one example, the U.S. government consented to a desperate plan to save Peter Kassig’s life. The plan facilitated—indeed, required—the interaction of some of the founding figures of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and could hardly have looked more hastily improvised.
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it appears the best of bad military options.
It entailed the enlistment of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the Zarqawi mentor and al-Qaeda grandee, to approach Turki al-Binali, the Islamic State’s chief ideologue and a former student of Maqdisi’s, even though the two men had fallen out due to Maqdisi’s criticism of the Islamic State. Maqdisi had already called for the state to extend mercy to Alan Henning, the British cabbie who had entered Syria to deliver aid to children. In December, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government, through an intermediary, had asked Maqdisi to intercede with the Islamic State on Kassig’s behalf.
Maqdisi was living freely in Jordan, but had been banned from communicating with terrorists abroad, and was being monitored closely. After Jordan granted the United States permission to reintroduce Maqdisi to Binali, Maqdisi bought a phone with American money and was allowed to correspond merrily with his former student for a few days, before the Jordanian government stopped the chats and used them as a pretext to jail Maqdisi. Kassig’s severed head appeared in the Dabiq video a few days later.
Maqdisi gets mocked roundly on Twitter by the Islamic State’s fans, and al‑Qaeda is held in great contempt for refusing to acknowledge the caliphate. Cole Bunzel, a scholar who studies Islamic State ideology, read Maqdisi’s opinion on Henning’s status and thought it would hasten his and other captives’ death. “If I were held captive by the Islamic State and Maqdisi said I shouldn’t be killed,” he told me, “I’d kiss my ass goodbye.”
Kassig’s death was a tragedy, but the plan’s success would have been a bigger one. A reconciliation between Maqdisi and Binali would have begun to heal the main rift between the world’s two largest jihadist organizations. It’s possible that the government wanted only to draw out Binali for intelligence purposes or assassination. (Multiple attempts to elicit comment from the FBI were unsuccessful.) Regardless, the decision to play matchmaker for America’s two main terrorist antagonists reveals astonishingly poor judgment.
Chastened by our earlier indifference, we are now meeting the Islamic State via Kurdish and Iraqi proxy on the battlefield, and with regular air assaults. Those strategies haven’t dislodged the Islamic State from any of its major territorial possessions, although they’ve kept it from directly assaulting Baghdad and Erbil and slaughtering Shia and Kurds there.
Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
Abu Baraa, who maintains a YouTube channel about Islamic law, says the caliph, Baghdadi, cannot negotiate or recognize borders, and must continually make war, or he will remove himself from Islam.
And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
The humanitarian cost of the Islamic State’s existence is high. But its threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda’s core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the “far enemy” (the West); most jihadist groups’ main concerns lie closer to home. That’s especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount. Baghdadi has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to “deal with the rafida [Shia] first … then al-Sulul [Sunni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] … before the crusaders and their bases.”
Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee, with apparent delight in each.
The foreign fighters (and their wives and children) have been traveling to the caliphate on one-way tickets: they want to live under true Sharia, and many want martyrdom. Doctrine, recall, requires believers to reside in the caliphate if it is at all possible for them to do so. One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British, and Australian passports. This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre or to hold another chocolate shop hostage in Sydney.
A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) During his visit to Mosul in December, Jürgen Todenhöfer interviewed a portly German jihadist and asked whether any of his comrades had returned to Europe to carry out attacks. The jihadist seemed to regard returnees not as soldiers but as dropouts. “The fact is that the returnees from the Islamic State should repent from their return,” he said. “I hope they review their religion.”
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.
Even so, the death of the Islamic State is unlikely to be quick, and things could still go badly wrong: if the Islamic State obtained the allegiance of al‑Qaeda—increasing, in one swoop, the unity of its base—it could wax into a worse foe than we’ve yet seen. The rift between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has, if anything, grown in the past few months; the December issue of Dabiq featured a long account of an al‑Qaeda defector who described his old group as corrupt and ineffectual, and Zawahiri as a distant and unfit leader. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.
Without a catastrophe such as this, however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State’s storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse.
It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.
The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.
Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. “You have to have standards,” Anjem Choudary told me. “Somebody could claim to be a Muslim, but if he believes in homosexuality or drinking alcohol, then he is not a Muslim. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian.”
There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam. Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat.
Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State. They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam, the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point. Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden.
They live among us. Last fall, I visited the Philadelphia mosque of Breton Pocius, 28, a Salafi imam who goes by the name Abdullah. His mosque is on the border between the crime-ridden Northern Liberties neighborhood and a gentrifying area that one might call Dar al-Hipster; his beard allows him to pass in the latter zone almost unnoticed.
A theological alternative to the Islamic State exists—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions.
Pocius converted 15 years ago after a Polish Catholic upbringing in Chicago. Like Cerantonio, he talks like an old soul, exhibiting deep familiarity with ancient texts, and a commitment to them motivated by curiosity and scholarship, and by a conviction that they are the only way to escape hellfire. When I met him at a local coffee shop, he carried a work of Koranic scholarship in Arabic and a book for teaching himself Japanese. He was preparing a sermon on the obligations of fatherhood for the 150 or so worshipers in his Friday congregation.
Pocius said his main goal is to encourage a halal life for worshipers in his mosque. But the rise of the Islamic State has forced him to consider political questions that are usually very far from the minds of Salafis. “Most of what they’ll say about how to pray and how to dress is exactly what I’ll say in my masjid [mosque]. But when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara.”
When Baghdadi showed up, Pocius adopted the slogan “Not my khalifa.” “The times of the Prophet were a time of great bloodshed,” he told me, “and he knew that the worst possible condition for all people was chaos, especially within the umma [Muslim community].” Accordingly, Pocius said, the correct attitude for Salafis is not to sow discord by factionalizing and declaring fellow Muslims apostates.
Instead, Pocius—like a majority of Salafis—believes that Muslims should remove themselves from politics. These quietist Salafis, as they are known, agree with the Islamic State that God’s law is the only law, and they eschew practices like voting and the creation of political parties. But they interpret the Koran’s hatred of discord and chaos as requiring them to fall into line with just about any leader, including some manifestly sinful ones. “The Prophet said: as long as the ruler does not enter into clear kufr [disbelief], give him general obedience,” Pocius told me, and the classic “books of creed” all warn against causing social upheaval. Quietist Salafis are strictly forbidden from dividing Muslims from one another—for example, by mass excommunication. Living without baya’a, Pocius said, does indeed make one ignorant, or benighted. But baya’a need not mean direct allegiance to a caliph, and certainly not to Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi. It can mean, more broadly, allegiance to a religious social contract and commitment to a society of Muslims, whether ruled by a caliph or not.
Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene. Much in the same way ultra-Orthodox Jews debate whether it’s kosher to tear off squares of toilet paper on the Sabbath (does that count as “rending cloth”?), they spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that their trousers are not too long, that their beards are trimmed in some areas and shaggy in others. Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise. At that moment, Muslims will take vengeance and, yes, achieve glorious victory at Dabiq. But Pocius cites a slew of modern Salafi theologians who argue that a caliphate cannot come into being in a righteous way except through the unmistakable will of God.
The Islamic State, of course, would agree, and say that God has anointed Baghdadi. Pocius’s retort amounts to a call to humility. He cites Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s companions, who sat down with dissenters and asked them how they had the gall, as a minority, to tell the majority that it was wrong. Dissent itself, to the point of bloodshed or splitting the umma, was forbidden. Even the manner of the establishment of Baghdadi’s caliphate runs contrary to expectation, he said. “The khilafa is something that Allah is going to establish,” he told me, “and it will involve a consensus of scholars from Mecca and Medina. That is not what happened. ISIS came out of nowhere.”
The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. They mock them as “Salafis of menstruation,” for their obscure judgments about when women are and aren’t clean, and other low-priority aspects of life. “What we need now is fatwa about how it’s haram [forbidden] to ride a bike on Jupiter,” one tweeted drily. “That’s what scholars should focus on. More pressing than state of Ummah.” Anjem Choudary, for his part, says that no sin merits more vigorous opposition than the usurpation of God’s law, and that extremism in defense of monotheism is no vice.
Pocius doesn’t court any kind of official support from the United States, as a counterweight to jihadism. Indeed, official support would tend to discredit him, and in any case he is bitter toward America for treating him, in his words, as “less than a citizen.” (He alleges that the government paid spies to infiltrate his mosque and harassed his mother at work with questions about his being a potential terrorist.)
Still, his quietist Salafism offers an Islamic antidote to Baghdadi-style jihadism. The people who arrive at the faith spoiling for a fight cannot all be stopped from jihadism, but those whose main motivation is to find an ultraconservative, uncompromising version of Islam have an alternative here. It is not moderate Islam; most Muslims would consider it extreme. It is, however, a form of Islam that the literal-minded would not instantly find hypocritical, or blasphemously purged of its inconveniences. Hypocrisy is not a sin that ideologically minded young men tolerate well.
Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).
I suspect that most Muslims appreciated Obama’s sentiment: the president was standing with them against both Baghdadi and non-Muslim chauvinists trying to implicate them in crimes. But most Muslims aren’t susceptible to joining jihad. The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes.
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.
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Russia vs Ukraine – War & Peace 2015
The European Union may impose further sanctions if a ceasefire deal sealed in Minsk between Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels is not fully implemented, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said after an EU summit in Brussels tonight.
Fresh from brokering a deal in Minsk between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ms Merkel told a news conference that EU leaders had asked the European Commission to prepare further sanctions in case the ceasefire did not hold.
“We hold open the possibility, if these new agreements are not implemented, that we must take further measures,” she said, adding that existing sanctions could only be lifted when the grounds that led to them are removed.The leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia had committed to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a joint declaration distributed by the Kremlin.
“The main thing which has been achieved is that from Saturday into Sunday there should be declared without any conditions at all, a general ceasefire,” Mr Poroshenko told journalists.
Ms Merkel and Mr Hollande had joined Mr Poroshenko and Mr Putin for a marathon negotiating session that began early on yesterday evening and continued into this morning. As the fighting escalated, the US began openly talking of arming Ukraine to defend itself from “Russian aggression”, raising the prospect of a proxy war in the heart of Europe between Cold War foes.
US President Barack Obama said he has yet to make up his mind on the question of sending weapons.
He spoke by phone to Mr Putin on Tuesday, and the White House said he warned the Russian leader that the costs would rise if Russia kept aiding the separatists.
The White House released a statement today welcoming the ceasefire, saying that the move represents a “potentially significant step toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict and the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty”.
As the French and German leaders’ peace initiative was announced, pro-Russian rebels appeared determined to drive home their advantage ahead of a deal.
Armoured columns of Russian-speaking soldiers with no insignia have been advancing for days around Debaltseve, which has seen heavy fighting in recent days.
On the Russian side of the border, Russia has begun military exercises in 12 regions involving more than 30 missile regiments, RIA news agency reported this morning, citing a Defence Ministry official.
World War 3 : The Beast to arm Ukraine as the Russian Bear mobilizes 100,000 troops (Feb 02, 2015)
US ‘should send Ukraine arms’
Ukraine Conflict Reignites U.S. Considers Sending Arms | NBC Nightly News
The Ukraine Crisis: Withstand and Deter Russian Aggression
Obama on Ukraine: A diplomatic path for now
Last Hope for Minsk Peace Talks: Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France leaders to meet in Belarus
Russia cuts off gas supply via Ukraine
Published on Jan 19, 2015
Europe plunged into energy crisis as Russia cuts off gas supply via Ukraine Gas prices rise in London Bulgaria reaches ‘crisis’ point
Russia cut gas exports to Europe by 60 per cent today, plunging the continent into an energy crisis ‘within hours’ as a dispute with Ukraine escalated.
This morning, gas companies in Ukraine said that Russia had completely cut off their supply.
Six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas shipped via Ukraine today, in a sharp escalation of a struggle over energy that threatens Europe as winter sets in.
Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments from Russia through Ukraine.
Gas Battle: Ukraine Vs Russia – An Animated History
WW3 RUSSIA Set To CUT OFF All GAS SUPPLIES to UKRAINE
‘Ukraine gas poker with Russia not over’
Published on Oct 31, 2014
Moscow and Kiev have sealed a gas agreement after several hours of tense talks in Brussels. Previous rounds in recent weeks had failed. The deal on supplies and transit to Europe has allayed EU fears of staying in the cold this winter. Geopolitical analyst William Enghdal says the deal won’t solve anything in the longterm.
Marathon talks produce Ukraine peace deal; cease-fire Sunday
The peace deal reached Thursday for Ukraine, if it holds, would be a partial win for both Moscow and Kiev: Ukraine retains the separatist eastern regions and regains control of its border with Russia, while Russia holds strong leverage to keep Ukraine from ever becoming part of NATO.
But neither side came away from the marathon talks unscathed.
There’s no sign Russia will soon escape the Western sanctions that have driven its economy down sharply, and Kiev’s price for regaining control of the border with Russia is to grant significant new power to the east.
But the complicated calculus of whether any side came out truly ahead can’t be determined unless a single, straightforward term is fulfilled: halting the shooting and artillery salvos that have killed more than 5,300 people since April. That is supposed to happen on Sunday, at one minute after midnight.
A cease-fire called in September never fully took hold and fighting escalated sharply in the past month. Questions remain about whether either side possesses the will or discipline to ensure a truce this time.
The cease-fire is to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s observer mission in Ukraine.
But that “will probably go nowhere if there isn’t a huge political will to beef up the OSCE, pull in many more monitors, give them clear support,” said analyst Judy Dempsey, an associate of the Carnegie Europe think-tank.
The OSCE mission head, Ertugrul Apakan, said Thursday that he expected it would expand by the end of the month to about 500 observers, up from about 310 currently, the Interfax news agency reported.
Under the terms of the deal reached after 16 hours of talks between the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, the next step is to form a sizeable buffer zone between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels. Each side is to pull heavy weaponry back from the front line, creating a zone roughly 30-85 miles (50-140 kilometers) wide, depending on the weapon caliber.
Then come the knotty and volatile political questions.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters the deal envisages special status for Ukraine’s separatist regions, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, maintained there was no consensus on any sort of autonomy or federalization for eastern Ukraine.
In addition, the agreement foresees the regions being able to form their own police forces and to trade freely with Russia, both of which would bring a degree of division and uncertainty within Ukraine that could be leverage to keep the country out of NATO.
Those measures would require constitutional reform, certain to be a highly fraught process.
“Anything that has to go through the Ukrainian parliament has a huge question mark attached to it,” said Eugene Rumer of the Carnegie center. “It is going to be the subject of a huge and very fierce debate in Kiev.”
Only after such reform is passed would Ukraine’s full control over its border with Russia be restored, according to the pact.
Aside from the political resolution of the east’s status, Ukraine also faces severe challenges with its troubled economy, which is close to bankruptcy. On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund agreed to give Ukraine a new bailout deal worth $17.5 billion (15.5 billion euros). The World Bank, meanwhile, announced it was ready to commit up to $2 billion to help Ukraine with reforms, to fight corruption and for other purposes.
Despite the uncertainties, the agreement’s initiators saw it as a step forward.
“We now have a glimmer of hope,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who brokered the talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk together with French President Francois Hollande.
“But the concrete steps, of course, have to be taken. And we will still face major obstacles. But, on balance, I can say what we have achieved gives significantly more hope than if we had achieved nothing.”
As for Putin, he told reporters: “It was not the best night of my life.”
“But the morning, I think, is good, because we have managed to agree on the main things despite all the difficulties of the negotiations,” the Russian leader said.
Battles continued Thursday even as the talks went on, and Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Russia sent 50 tanks and a dozen heavy weapons overnight into Ukraine.
In the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, residents who have seen their city pounded daily by artillery since late May were skeptical of the deal.
“We will see whether there will be a cease-fire or not,” said resident Tatyana Griedzheva. “You have seen it with your own eyes, the kind of cease-fire that we have already had.”
A previous cease-fire in September was violated repeatedly as Ukrainian forces and the rebels both tried to gain more ground.
Poroshenko stressed that the pact contains “a clear commitment to withdraw all foreign troops, all mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine,” a reference to the Russian soldiers and weapons that Ukraine and the West say Russia has sent into eastern Ukraine to back the rebels.
Moscow has denied the accusations, saying any Russian fighters were volunteers, but the sheer number of sophisticated heavy weapons in the rebels’ possession belies that.
Still, Merkel said, in the end, Putin exerted pressure on the separatists to get them to agree to the cease-fire.
“I have no illusions. We have no illusions. A great, great deal of work is still necessary. But there is a real chance to make things better,” she said.
In Brussels, European Union President Donald Tusk said the test of the Minsk agreement will be whether the weekend cease-fire holds in eastern Ukraine.
The French-German diplomatic offensive came as President Barack Obama considered sending U.S. lethal weapons to Ukraine, a move that European nations feared would only widen the hostilities.
“The true test of today’s accord will be in its full and unambiguous implementation, including the durable end of hostilities and the restoration of Ukrainian control over its border with Russia,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
The urgency felt by all sides was underlined by the extraordinary length of the talks, which began Wednesday evening and continued uninterrupted through the night as crowds of reporters waited anxiously in a marble-floored, chandeliered convention hall in Minsk.
While the four leaders hailed the agreement, Russia and Ukraine still disagreed on how to end the fighting around Debaltseve, a key transport hub between the rebels’ two main cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Putin said the rebels consider the Ukrainian forces there surrounded and expect them to surrender, while Ukraine says its troops have not been blocked.
Russia–Ukraine gas disputes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
||Parts of this article (those related to the 31 Oct 2014 settlement) are outdated. (October 2014)
Natural gas pipelines from Russia to Europe
The Russia–Ukraine gas disputes refer to a number of disputes between Ukrainian oil and gas company Naftohaz Ukrayiny and Russian gas supplier Gazprom over natural gas supplies, prices, and debts. These disputes have grown beyond simple business disputes into transnational political issues—involving political leaders from several countries—that threaten natural gas supplies in numerous European countries dependent on natural gas imports from Russian suppliers, which are transported through Ukraine. Russia provides approximately a quarter of the natural gas consumed in the European Union; approximately 80% of those exports travel through pipelines across Ukrainian soil prior to arriving in the EU.
A serious dispute began in March 2005 over the price of natural gas supplied and the cost of transit. During this conflict, Russia claimed Ukraine was not paying for gas, but diverting that which was intended to be exported to the EU from the pipelines. Ukrainian officials at first denied the accusation, but later Naftohaz admitted that natural gas intended for other European countries was retained and used for domestic needs. The dispute reached a crescendo on 1 January 2006, when Russia cut off all gas supplies passing through Ukrainian territory. On 4 January 2006, a preliminary agreement between Russia and Ukraine was achieved, and the supply was restored. The situation calmed until October 2007 when new disputes began over Ukrainian gas debts. This led to reduction of gas supplies in March 2008. During the last months of 2008, relations once again became tense when Ukraine and Russia could not agree on the debts owed by Ukraine.
In January 2009, this disagreement resulted in supply disruptions in many European nations, with eighteen European countries reporting major drops in or complete cut-offs of their gas supplies transported through Ukraine from Russia. In September 2009 officials from both countries stated they felt the situation was under control and that there would be no more conflicts over the topic, at least until the Ukrainian 2010 presidential elections. However, in October 2009, another disagreement arose about the amount of gas Ukraine would import from Russia in 2010. Ukraine intended to import less gas in 2010 as a result of reduced industry needs because of its economic recession; however, Gazprom insisted that Ukraine fulfill its contractual obligations and purchase the previously agreed upon quantities of gas.
On June 8, 2010, a Stockholm court of arbitration ruled Naftohaz of Ukraine must return 12.1 billion cubic metres (430 billion cubic feet) of gas to RosUkrEnergo, aSwiss-based company in which Gazprom controls a 50% stake. Russia accused Ukrainian side of siphoning gas from pipelines passing through Ukraine in 2009. Several high-ranking Ukrainian officials stated the return “would not be quick”.
Russia plans to completely abandon gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine after 2018.
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2010)
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, oil import prices to Ukraine reached world market levels in 1993. However, gas import prices and transit fees remained below European levels for Russian exports to Europe through pipelines in Ukraine; these were set in bilateral negotiations. At the same time Ukraine remained the main transit corridor for Russia’s gas export. In 2004–2005, 80% of Russian gas exports to the European Union were made through Ukrainian Territory.Two-thirds of Gazprom’s revenue comes from the sale of gas that crosses Ukraine.
Ukraine’s own annual gas consumption in 2004–2005 was around 80 billion cubic metres (2.8 trillion cubic feet), of which around 20 billion cubic metres (710 billion cubic feet) were produced domestically, 36 billion cubic metres (1.3 trillion cubic feet) were bought from Turkmenistan, and 17 billion cubic metres (600 billion cubic feet) were received from Russia in exchange for transport of Russian natural gas. The remaining 8 billion cubic metres (280 billion cubic feet) were purchased from Russia. The gas trading system differed substantially from the gas sale to the European Union and caused problems in the form of large-scale deliveries of relatively cheap Russian gas causing an increase of energy-intensive industries and supporting Ukraine’s status as one of the world’s least energy-efficientcountries and largest gas importers, the accumulation of Ukrainian debts and non-payment of same, unsanctioned diversion of gas and alleged theft from the transit system, and Russian pressure on Ukraine to hand over infrastructure in return for relief of debts accumulated over natural gas transactions.
Gas trading was conducted under a framework of bilateral intergovernmental agreements which provided for sales, transit volumes, gas prices, gas storage, and other issues such as the establishment of production joint ventures. Commercial agreements and trade relations have been non-transparent and trade has been conducted via intermediaries such as Itera, EuralTransGaz, and RosUkrEnergo. RosUkrEnergo’s involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian gas trade has been controversial. There are allegations that the company is controlled by Semion Mogilevich and its beneficiaries include strategically placed officials in the Russian and Ukrainian gas industries and governmental structures related to the energy sector. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made accusations that RosUkrEnergo is owned by a business ally of Ukraine’s ex-president, Viktor Yushchenko. The Ukrainian investigation into RosUkrEnergo, during Yulia Tymoshenko‘s first term as Prime Minister, was closed after she was fired by Yushchenko in September 2005.
Commercial agreements were negotiated between the relevant companies within the guidelines and dictates of that framework and supplemented by annual agreements specifying exact prices and volumes for the following year. Gas sales prices and transit tariffs were determined in relationship to each other.
According to a contract between Gazprom and Naftohaz signed on 21 June 2002, payment for the transfer of Russian natural gas through the Ukrainian pipelinesystem had been made in exchange for no more than 15% of the gas pumped through Ukrainian territory to be taken in lieu of cash. This contract was supposed to be valid until the end of 2013. On 9 August 2004, the two companies signed an addendum to the contract, according to which the amount of gas given as a payment was calculated based on a tariff of US$1.09 for the transportation of 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas over a distance of 100 kilometres (62 mi); the addendum further stated the price of the natural gas supplied to Ukraine was to be $50 per 1,000 cubic meters (approximately $1.40 per million Btu).This price was constant notwithstanding the gas prices in the European markets. According to the addendum the price was not subject to change until the end of 2009. Gazprom argued that this addendum was only applicable provided that the two countries sign an annual intergovernmental protocol that has higher legal status for specifying the terms of gas transit. According to Gazprom, the addendum becomes void as the annual protocol had not been signed for 2006 under the required terms. Russia claimed that Gazprom’s subsidies to the Ukrainian economy amounted to billions of dollars.
According to the agreement of 2006, RosUkrEnergo was to receive no more than 20 percent of the total delivered gas, which in 2007 was 15 billion cubic metres (530 billion cubic feet) of 73 billion cubic metres (2.6 trillion cubic feet).
Disputes of the 1990s
Initial disputes concerning gas debts and non-payment appeared immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In September 1993, at a summit conference in Massandra, Crimea, Russian President Boris Yeltsin offered to Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk to forgive Ukrainian debts in return for control of the Black Sea Fleet and Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal.After a strong negative reaction from politicians in Kiev, the idea was abandoned. An intergovernmental agreement was drafted on gas issues, including a clause stating Ukraine would permit Gazprom to participate in the privatization of Ukrainian enterprises in gas and other sectors. In March 1994, a Ukrainian deputy prime minister agreed with Russia that Gazprom could acquire a 51% stake in the pipeline system. In early 1995, Russia and Ukraine agreed to create a joint company, Gaztransit, to operate Ukraine’s natural gas transit infrastructure in exchange for the cancellation of a substantial portion of Ukraine’s debts to Russia. These agreements were never implemented, and in November 1995, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, adopted a law prohibiting the privatization of oil and gas assets.
As a result of disputes over non-payments by Ukraine, Russia suspended natural gas exports several times between 1992 and 1994. This led to the illicit diversion of Russian natural gas exports from transit pipelines by Ukrainian companies and institutions in September 1993 and November 1994. The siphoning of gas was acknowledged by Ukraine, while accusations of other diversions were disputed.
In 1998, Gazprom and Naftohaz made a contract under which Gazprom would pay for the transit of volumes of gas, which established a link between gas prices and transit tariffs, In 1998, Gazprom alleged that Ukraine had illegally diverted gas meant for export to other European countries and suspended exports of oil and electricity to Ukraine in 1999. Gazprom also claimed that Ukraine’s gas debt had reached $2.8 billion. In 2001, Deputy Prime Minister Oleh Dubyna acknowledged that in 2000 alone 8–7 billion cubic metres (280–250 billion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas had been siphoned off from export pipelines. The debt issue was settled on 4 October 2001, by the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on Additional Measures Regarding the Provision of Transit of Russian Natural Gas on the Territory of Ukraine (the 2001 Transit Agreement).
but this contract did not resolve the issue of already incurred gas debts.
Dispute of 2005–2006
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2010)
In 2005, negotiations over gas prices for 2006 started. Gazprom insisted on a new price of $160 per 1,000 cubic meters.Government of Ukraine agreed, with the stipulation that price increases were to be gradual, in return for increased gas transit fees and changing the method of payment for transit from payment in kind to cash. In May 2005, it was revealed that 7.8 billion cubic metres (280 billion cubic feet) of gas which Gazprom had deposited in Ukrainian storage reservoirs during the previous winter had not been made available to the company. It remained unclear if the gas was missing, had disappeared due to technical problems, or had been stolen. This issue was resolved in July 2005 by agreement between Gazprom, Naftohaz and RosUkrEnergo, according to which Naftohaz received 2.55 billion cubic metres (90 billion cubic feet) of gas as partial settlement of the Russian gas transit over 2005 services and 5.25 billion cubic metres (185 billion cubic feet) was sold by Gazprom to RosUkrEnergo who has to receive it from Naftohaz. However, the negotiations between Gazprom and Naftohaz over gas prices and a new gas supply agreement failed. On 1 January 2006, Gazprom started reducing the pressure in the pipelines from Russia to Ukraine.
Although Russia cut off supplies only to Ukraine, a number of European countries saw a drop in their supplies as well. TheEuropean Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs and several affected member states warned that blocking of gas deliveries was unacceptable. Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organisation, expressed the opinion that all Post-Soviet states should pay market prices for their energy needs in order to improve the efficiency of their economies.
The supply was restored on 4 January 2006, after the preliminary agreement between Ukraine and Gazprom was settled. The five-year contract was signed, although with prices set for only six months. According to the contract, the gas was sold not directly to Naftohaz, but to the intermediary Russian-Swiss company RosUkrEnergo. The price of natural gas sold by Gazprom to RosUkrEnergo rose to $230 per 1,000 cubic metres, which, after mixing it in a proportion of one-third Russian gas to two-thirds cheaper supplies from Central Asia, was resold to Ukraine at a price of $95 per 1,000 cubic metres. The parties also agreed to raise the tariff for transit from US$1.09 to US$1.60 per 1,000 cubic meters per 100 km; this applied not only to the transit of Russian gas to Europe, but also Turkmen gas through Russia to Ukraine. On 11 January 2006, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yushchenko confirmed that the conflict had been concluded.
One possible reason for this conflict is the more pro-NATO and European Union-style approach of the new “orange” government of Ukraine. Russia disagreed, stating they did not want to subsidize former Soviet republics.
Dispute of 2007–2008
On 2 October 2007, Gazprom threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine because of unpaid debt of $1.3 billion. This dispute appeared to be settled on 8 October 2007. On 5 January 2008, Gazprom warned Ukraine that it would reduce its gas supplies on 11 January if $1.5 billion in gas debts were not paid. Presidents Putin and Yushchenko announced on 12 February 2008, an agreement on the gas issue. Ukraine would begin paying off its debts for natural gas consumed in November–December 2007 and the price of $179.5 would be preserved in 2008. The presidents also decided to replace RosUkrEnergo and UkrGazEnergo with two new intermediaries, creating them as joint ventures of Gazprom and Naftohaz.
At the end of February 2008, Gazprom threatened to reduce the supply of natural gas to Ukraine beginning on 3 March 2008, unless the pre-payment for 2008 was paid. The Ukrainian government said it paid for the natural gas which was consumed in 2007, but refused to pay the bill for 2008. A Gazprom spokesman claimed that the bill for 1.9 billion cubic metres (67 billion cubic feet) of gas deliveries to Ukraine valued around $600 million remained unpaid. Ukraine disagreed as that debt accumulated in recent months when Russia used its own gas to make up for a shortfall in less expensive Central Asian gas. On 3 March, Gazprom cut its shipments to Ukraine by 25% and an additional 25% the next day, claiming that the $1.5 billion debt still was not paid, although Ukrainian officials stated it had indeed been paid. Gas supplies were restored on 5 March after Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Naftohaz CEO Oleh Dubyna agreed during negotiations by phone on a settlement. On 6 March, the Ukrainian cabinet refused to execute the gas agreements made by presidents Yushchenko and Putin. The Ukrainian cabinet did not want to pay in advance for 2008, and it opposed the creation of a Naftohaz–Gazprom venture that would sell gas in Ukraine. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko stated that Ukraine did not need any additional joint ventures, and as of 1 March 2008, UkrGazEnergo is no longer operating in Ukraine’s domestic gas market.
Dispute of 2008–2009
Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yushchenko (12 February 2008)
The gas crisis of 2009 began with a failure to reach an agreement on gas prices and supplies for 2009. Ukraine owed a debt of $2.4 billion to Gazprom for gas already consumed, and Gazprom requested payment before the commencement of a new supply contract. In December 2008, despite Ukraine’s repayment of more than $1 billion of its debt, Gazprom maintained its position, intending to cut the supply of natural gas to Ukraine on 1 January 2009, if Ukraine did not fully repay the remainder of $1.67 billion debt in natural gas supplies and an additional $450 million in fines levied by Gazprom. On 30 December, Naftohaz paid $1.522 billion, of the outstanding debt, but the two parties were not able to agree on the price for 2009. Ukraine proposed a price of $201, and later increased their proposed price to $235, while Gazprom demanded $250 per 1,000 cubic meters. Negotiations between Gazprom and Naftohaz were interrupted on 31 December.
On 1 January 2009, exports to Ukraine of 90 million cubic meters of natural gas per day were halted completely at 10:00 MSK. Exports intended for transhipment to the EU continued at a volume of 300 million cubic meters per day. President Yushchenko requested that the European Union become involved in the settlement of this dispute in a letter to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso. A Ukrainian delegation including Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan, Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Yeliseyev, the President’s Representative for Energy Issues Bohdan Sokolovsky, and Deputy Head of Naftohaz Vadym Chuprun visited the Czech Republic as the first stop on a tour of a number EU member states to hold consultations on the gas crisis.
On 2 January 2009, Hungary, Romania, and Poland reported that pressure in their pipelines had dropped. Bulgaria also reported that their natural gas supply was dropping, affecting the shipment of natural gas to Turkey, Greece, andMacedonia. Furthermore, the United Kingdom Government announced that it was preparing to enter its gas reserves after gas pressure had dropped from the continent. On 4 January 2009, both RosUkrEnergo and Gazprom filed lawsuits against Ukraine and Naftohaz respectively with the Stockholm Tribunal of the Arbitration Institute. Ukraine also filed lawsuits with the tribunal. According to Naftohaz, RosUkrEnergo owes the company $40 million for services in transportation of natural gas. On 5 January 2009, Kiev’s economic court banned Naftohaz from transshipping Russian natural gas in 2009 at the price of $1.60 per 1,600 cubic meters per 100 kilometers. The court declared contracts made by Naftohaz for the transit of natural gas through Ukraine void because the contracts were signed by Naftohaz without authorization from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. On 30 March 2010, the Stockholm tribunal ordered Naftohaz to pay RosUkrEnergo around $200 million as a penalty for various breaches of supply, transit, and storage contracts. On 8 June 2010, the tribunal ordered Naftohaz to return 11 billion cubic metres (390 billion cubic feet) of natural gas to RosUkrEnergo. The tribunal further ordered that RosUkrEnergo would receive from Naftohaz a further 1.1 billion cubic metres (39 billion cubic feet) of natural gas in lieu of RosUkrEnergo’s damages for breach of contract.
On 5 January 2009 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin instructed Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller to reduce natural gas exports to Europe via transshipment through Ukraine by quantities equivalent to the amounts of gas which Ukraine had allegedly siphoned from the pipelines since deliveries ended on 1 January 2009. On 7 January, all Russian natural gas exports via Ukraine were halted amid accusations between the two parties. Several countries reported a major fall in supplies of Russian gas starting on 7 January; Bulgaria, Moldova, and Slovakia were among the most affected by these supply drops.
Talks between Naftohaz and Gazprom resumed overnight on 8 January 2009. Ukraine agreed to guarantee the unfettered transport of natural gas on the condition that Gazprom would guarantee and supply technical gas for Ukraine’s gas transit system to function; this was denied by Russia. The supplies to Europe were not restored although the European Union, Ukraine, and Russia agreed to the deployment of an international monitoring group to the gas metering stations between Russia and Ukraine. Naftohaz blocked the transit of gas, blaming a lack of pressure in the pipeline system and saying the design of the Soviet-built pipeline meant it could not ship gas entering through the Sudzha metering station governing gas leaving through the Orlivka metering station without cutting off the Donetsk region, Luhansk region, and portions of the Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine. Naftohaz suggested a technically more feasible alternative through the Valuyki and Pisarevka metering stations but was refused.
On 17 January 2009, Russia held an international gas conference in Moscow. The EU was represented by the Presidency, the Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Říman, and the EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, so that the European Union could speak with one voice. Ukraine was represented by the Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The conference did not achieve any solution to the crisis, and the negotiations continued bilaterally between Prime Ministers Putin and Tymoshenko. Early on 18 January 2009, after five hours of talks, Putin and Tymoshenko reached a deal to restore gas supplies to Europe and Ukraine. Both parties agreed that Ukraine would start paying European prices for its natural gas, less a 20% discount for 2009, and that Ukraine would pay the full European market price starting in 2010. In return for the discounts for 2009, Ukraine agreed to keep its transit fee for Russian gas unchanged in 2009. The two sides also agreed not to use intermediaries. On 19 January 2009,Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and the head of Naftohaz Oleh Dubyna signed an agreement on natural gas supply to Ukraine for the period of 2009-2019. Gas supplies restarted on 20 January 2009, and were fully restored on 21 January.
According to the EU Commission and Presidency, the Russia–Ukraine gas disputes caused irreparable and irreversible damage to customers’ confidence in Russia and Ukraine, causing Russia and Ukraine to no longer be regarded as reliable partners. According to reports, due to the gas crisis Gazprom lost more than $1.1 billion in revenue for the unsupplied gas. Ukraine also incurred losses as a result of the temporary closure of its steel and chemical industries due to the lack of gas. Ukraine also lost $100 million of potential revenue in transit fees from natural gas.
There were also accusations of illegal siphoning of natural gas by Ukraine; however, these accusations were not confirmed. The issue of technical gas used to fuel compressor stations and to maintain gas pressure in the pipeline network remained unclear. Some sources asserted that the responsibility for providing the technical gas falls to Ukraine, while others say that this is the responsibility of Gazprom.
There were several theories as to alleged political motives behind the gas disputes, including Russia exerting pressure on Ukrainian politicians or attempting to subvert EU and NATO expansions to include Ukraine. Others suggested that Ukraine’s actions were being orchestrated by the United States. Both sides tried to win sympathy for their arguments fighting a PR war.
In August 2009, it was agreed that loans worth $1.7 billion would be given to Ukraine to help it provide stable supplies of Russian gas to Europe by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in return for reforms in Ukraine’s gas sector.
On 28 December 2009, the Slovakian government announced that Russia warned it would stop oil supplies to Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic over a transit price dispute with Ukraine. However, the next day, Ukraine’s Naftohaz issued a statement confirming that Russia agreed to a 30% increase in the transit fees through Ukraine. The alleged rise in the tariff would be from $7.8 to $9.50 (or €6.6) per tonne of oil going through Ukraine in 2010. Additionally, unlike previous payments, new payments would be made in Euros as this was one of Ukraine’s demands. Russia and Ukraine also agreed on the volume of oil to be transported through Ukraine. The overall amount of oil to be transported to Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Hungary through Ukraine in 2010 will be 15 million tonnes—a decrease from 17.1 million tonnes in 2008.
2010 natural gas agreement
After meeting her Russian counterpart Putin, Ukrainian Prime Minister Tymoshenko declared on 3 September 2009, “Both sides, Russia and Ukraine, have agreed that at Christmas, there won’t be [any halt in gas supplies], as usually happens when there are crises in the gas sector. Everything will be quite calm on the basis of the current agreements”. Tymoshenko also said that the Ukrainian and Russian premiers had agreed that sanctions would not be imposed on Ukraine for the country buying less gas than expected and that the price of Russian gas transit across Ukraine may grow 65% till 70% in 2010. A week before Gazprom had said it expected gas transit fees via Ukraine to rise by up to 59% in 2010.
On 8 October 2009 Tymoshenko announced that Ukrainian 2010 natural gas imports will be significantly less than in previous years “because we have less need for natural gas”. Because of its economic recession the industries require far less gas. In response to Tymoshenko Gazprom Chief Executive Alexey Miller stated that Ukraine should stick to the January (2009) contract for 2010.
On 16 November 2009 Commissioner for Energy at the European Commission Andris Piebalgs stated that Russia and the European Union do not expect another gas conflict with Ukraine. According to him there were no gas price negotiations or questions other than that of gas payments.
On 20 November 2009, the gas deal of 18 January 2009, was altered after a meeting between Tymoshenko and Putin in Yalta; meaning Ukraine would not be fined for buying less gas then the old contract stipulated, this was done in view of the 2008–2009 Ukrainian financial crisis. On 24 November 2009 Gazprom and Naftohaz signed these supplements to the contract of 19 January 2009 on the purchase and sale of natural gas; according to the supplements, the annual contracted amount of gas to be supplied to Ukraine in 2010 has been set at 33.75 billion cubic metres (1.192 trillion cubic feet), instead of the 52 billion cubic metres (1.8 trillion cubic feet) contracted earlier. The documents signed by the sides also stipulated that there will be no fines related to the amount of gas consumed by Naftohaz in 2009. Over the first ten months of 2009 Naftohaz has purchased 18.85 billion cubic metres (666 billion cubic feet) of gas with the contracted volume being 31.7 billion cubic metres (1.12 trillion cubic feet).
On 15 December 2009, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko stated he expects no problems with Ukraine over gas supplies at New Year.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko were in Moscow late March 2010 to negotiate lower gas prices; neither clearly explained what Ukraine was prepared to offer in return. Following these talks Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated that Russia was prepared to discuss the revision of the price for natural gas it sells to Ukraine.
On 21 April 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed an agreement in which Russia agreed to a 30 percent drop in the price of natural gas sold to Ukraine. Russia agreed to this in exchange for permission to extend Russia’s lease of a major naval base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port ofSevastopol for an additional 25 years with an additional five-year renewal option (to 2042-47). As of June 2010 Ukraine pays Gazprom around $234/mcm (thousand cubic meter).
This agreement was subject to approval by both the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments. They did ratify the agreement on 27 April 2010. The Ukrainian parliament ratified it after several eggs were thrown towards thespeaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn, by deputies and other incidents. Opposition members in Ukraine and Russia expressed doubts the agreement would be fulfilled by the Ukrainian side.
Yanukovych has defended the agreement as a tool to help stabilise the state budget. Opposition members in Ukraine described the agreement as a sell out of national interests.
Dispute of 2013–2014
In February 2014, Ukraine’s state-owned oil and gas company Naftogaz sued Chornomornaftogaz for delayed debt payments of 11.614 billion UAH (almost €1 billion) in the Economic Court of the Crimean Autonomous Republic.
In March 2014, Crimean authorities announced that they would nationalize the company. Crimean deputy prime minister Rustam Temirgaliev said that Russia’sGazprom would be its new owner. A group of Gazprom representatives, including its head of business development, has been working at the Chornomornaftogaz head office since mid-March 2014. On April 1, Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novak said that Gazprom would finance an undersea gas pipeline to Crimea.
On 11 April 2014 the U.S. Treasury‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it had added Chornomornaftagaz to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List as part of the third round of U.S. sanctions. Reuters quoted an anonymous U.S. official who explained that the United States wanted to make it impossible for Gazprom to “have dealings with Chornomorneftegaz”, and if that were to happen, Gazprom itself could face sanctions.
The European Union followed suit on May 13, 2014, the first time its sanctions list has included a company (in addition to Chornomorneftegaz, a Crimean oil supplier called Feodosia was also included).
June 2014 gas supplies to Ukraine cut off
In an attempt at energy independence, Naftogaz signed a pipeline access deal with Slovakia‘s Eustream on April 28, 2014. Eustream and its Ukrainian counterpart Ukrtransgaz, owned by Naftogaz, agreed to allow Ukraine to use a never used (but aging, at 20 years old) pipeline on Slovakia’s eastern border with Uzhhorod inwestern Ukraine. The deal would provide Ukraine with 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas beginning in autumn of 2014 with the aim of increasing that amount to 10 billion cubic meters in 2015.
On 1 April 2014 Gazprom cancelled Ukraine’s natural gas discount as agreed in the 17 December 2013 Ukrainian–Russian action plan because its debt to the company had risen to $1.7 billion since 2013. Later that month the price “automatically” jumped to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters because the Russian government annulled an export-duty exemption for Gazprom in place since the 2010 Kharkiv Pact (this agreement was denounced by Russia on 31 March 2014). On 16 June 2014 Gazprom stated that Ukraine’s debt to the company was $4.5 billion. On 30 May 2014 Ukraine paid $786 million to Gazprom.
After intermediary (that had started in May 2014) trilateral talks between EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, Ukraine and Russia failed on 15 June 2014 the latter halted (after a deadline of 10 a.m. Moscow time passed without it receiving payment) its natural gas supplies to Ukraine the next day.Unilaterally Gazprom decided that Ukraine had to pay upfront for its natural gas. The company assured that its supplies to other European countries would continue. Ukraine vowed to “provide reliable supply of gas to consumers in Ukraine and we will provide reliable transit to the European Union”. At the time about 15 percent of European Union’s demand depended on Russian natural gas piped through Ukraine.
After trilateral months of talks between the European Union, Ukraine and Russia a deal was reached on 30 October 2014 in which Ukraine agreed to pay (in advance) $378 per 1,000 cubic metres to the end of 2014, and $365 in the first quarter (ending on 31 March) of 2015. Of its debts to Gazprom Ukraine agreed to pay of $1.45bn immediately, and $1.65bn by the end of 2014. It was agreed that the European Union will be acting as guarantor for Ukraine’s gas purchases from Russia and would help to meet outstanding debts (using funds from existing accords with the European Union and IMF). The total package was worth $4.6bn. According to European Union officials the deal secured that there would be no natural gas supply disruptions in other European countries.
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Story 1: Hillary Clinton Lied About Libya By Providing A False Narrative of Impending Genocide and A False Pretext For U.S. Intervention And For Shipping Arms To Rebels In Libya and Syria Including Al-Qaede Terrorists — Americans Died In Benghazi — While Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Barack Obama Lied — Secret Leaked Libya Tapes To Be Reviewed By House Select Committee on Benghazi! — Videos
What the secret tapes on Libya say about Hillary
Benghazi committee to review secret tapes on Clinton’s role in Libya war
WHAT THE secret tapes on Libya say about Hillary
CNN: Hillary Clinton ‘Libya conflict completely unacceptable’
Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died
Hillary Clinton defends “We Came, We Saw, he Died” – FoxNews 111023
Pinkerton: Hillary Clinton, Obama Have Fingerprints All Over Libya – Happening Now
Secretary Clinton Speaks on Libya
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #1 – Pentagon’s plans for Saif Gadhafi
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #2 – Pentagon source telling Gadhafi regime about mistrust of State Dep.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #3 – Gadhafi Advisor describing conversation with U.S. Int. Off.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #4 – Dennis Kucinich
The intelligence community gathered no specific evidence of an Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D, OH) speaking with Saif al-Islam Gadhafi regarding the grounds for NATO intervention in Libya.
impending genocide in Libya in spring 2011, undercutting then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s primary argument for using the U.S. military to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power, which cast his country into chaos.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #5 – Dennis Kucinich and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi – NATO
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #6 – Pentagon intelligence asset – Benghazi rebels
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #7 – Dennis Kucinich and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi – Terrorists
Roméo Dallaire: Intervention in Libya
Watch excerpts about intervention in Libya from our interview yesterday with retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, force commander of the UN Assistance Mission to Rwanda in 1993-1994 and author of “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.”
CNN: None Of Our Sources Corroborate Obama Admin’s False Libya Story
BENGHAZI HILLARY CLINTON AND OBAMA LET 4 AMERICANS DIE
[FLASHBACK] On CNN Susan Rice blames the internet video for Benghazi
The Truth About Muammar Gaddafi ( The ELITE Exposed )
House Benghazi committee to review secret Hillary tapes on Libya
The chairman of a special House committee created to investigate the 2012 Benghazi tragedy on Monday instructed his staff to review secretly recorded tapes and intelligence reports that detail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in advocating and executing the war in Libya, opening the door for a possible expansion of his probe.
Rep. Trey Gowdy’s decision to seek a review of the materials, first highlighted in a series of Washington Times stories last week, carries consequences for the 2016 election in which Mrs. Clinton is expected to seek the presidency. It could also move the committee to examine the strained relationship between the State Department and Pentagon, which sharply disagreed over the 2011 war in Libya and the response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi a year later.
The Times reported last week that U.S. intelligence did not support Mrs. Clinton’s story of an impending genocide in Libya that she used to sell the war against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The newspaper also unveiled secretly recorded tapes from Libya that showed that the Pentagon and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich so distrusted her stewardship of the war that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime.
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The tapes included candid conversations and allegations that Mrs. Clinton took the U.S. to war on false pretenses and was not listening to the advice of military commanders or career intelligence officers.
“Chairman Gowdy and the committee are aware of the details reported by The Washington Times, and we are reviewing them as part of the committee’s inquiry into Benghazi,” Benghazi Committee spokesman Jamal Ware announced Monday.
The emergence of the tapes and a new line of inquiry immediately had repercussions, especially on the political front where the 2016 president race has heated up.
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Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a 2016 GOP hopeful who has been intensely critical of Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the 2011 Libya intervention, said the stories demonstrate she is not the right person to lead the country or the nation’s military.
“Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned – her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next Commander in Chief,” said Sen. Paul, who opposed the Libyan intervention at the onset.
“We want someone in that office with wisdom and better judgment… We created chaos in Libya – as a result many arms have gone to Syria which are now aiding jihadi terrorists. I couldn’t fathom how Hillary Clinton could become Commander and Chief after this,” he added.
Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman have declined any comment about the tapes.
The Times reported that on one of the tapes, a Pentagon liaison told a Gadhafi aide that Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, a top aide to Adm. Mullen, “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it,” the Pentagon liaison said, offering a candid assessment of tensions within the Obama administration.
“I can tell you that the President is not getting accurate information so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him… I think about a way through former Secretary Gates or maybe to Admiral Mullen to get him information.”
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, said the Pentagon’s actions were “highly unusual,” but said that it would make sense for the Pentagon to want to make sure their Commander in Chief was getting accurate information.
“I think it’s unusual to have the military say wait a minute, that’s not true,” Mr. Poe said in a telephone interview with the Times. “You have a false report from the Secretary of State, and then the military holding a completely different view of what’s taking place.
“They wanted [the president] to have facts – facts as opposed to what Secretary Clinton was hoping the facts would be; that Moammar Gadhafi was killing innocent women and children. That was was a false narrative. So, it would make sense that they would want to get that information straight to the president and not go through the Secretary of State,” he added
In reaction to the Times final installment of the series on Monday, which revealed secret Libyan intelligence reports that linked NATO supported rebels to al-Qaeda, Rep. Louie Gohmert said the news was not a complete surprise.
“During the Obama-Clinton hunger to enter a bombing war in Libya, some of us knew the rebels included al-Qaeda but we did not know the full extent of their involvement,” he said. “So we pleaded for U.S. restraint. With bombing in their heart and radical Islamists whispering in their ears, the Obama-Clinton team would not even entertain offers of a ceasefire and peaceful transition of power. While acting under U.N. approval to prevent atrocities, it appears the Obama-Clinton bombing barrages caused atrocities that sent a country into chaos which is continuing today.”
The Times series about the Libyan intervention was also picked up across the Atlantic.
Britain’s Daily Mail described the story as “stunning” declaring that, “[Sec.] Clinton will face tough questions about her march to war against Moammar Gadhafi if she runs for president.”
Mr. Poe said that he believes the series will prompt new questions, especially with the current state of military and political affairs in Libya.
“As far as I’m concerned Benghazi is not going away,” Mr. Poe said. “That the U.S. would give in and arm rebels and criminals to overthrow Col. Gadhafi, and then mislead the world on that is shameful. We now have chaos in Libya… it’s the U.S.’ undoing of a country. Gadhafi was no saint, but what we have now are gangsters and jihadists running the country. We have chaos because the US intervened in a deceitful way.
“Unfortunately, the administration is making more of an effort to protect Hillary Clinton’s involvement than they are in finding out the truth about what was really behind the overthrow of Gaddafi by the U.S.”
Exclusive: Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war
Joint Chiefs, key lawmaker held own talks with Moammar Gadhafi regime
Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.
The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns.
SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton’s ‘WMD’ moment: U.S. intelligence saw false narrative in Libya
“You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts,” an American intermediary specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Gadhafi regime in July 2011, saying the State Department was controlling what intelligence would be reported to U.S. officials.
At the time, the Gadhafi regime was fighting a civil war that grew out of the Arab Spring, battling Islamist-backed rebels who wanted to dethrone the longtime dictator. Mrs. Clinton argued that Gadhafi might engage in genocide and create a humanitarian crisis and ultimately persuaded President Obama,NATO allies and the United Nations to authorize military intervention.
Gadhafi’s son and heir apparent, Seif Gadhafi, told American officials in the secret conversations that he was worried Mrs. Clinton was using false pretenses to justify unseating his father and insisted that the regime had no intention of harming a mass of civilians. He compared Mrs. Clinton’s campaign for war to that of the George W. Bush administration’s now debunked weapons of mass destruction accusations, which were used to lobby Congress to invade Iraq, the tapes show.
SEE ALSO: Listen to the tapes: Intel undercuts Hillary Clinton’s primary argument for Libya military action
“It was like the WMDs in Iraq. It was based on a false report,” Gadhafi said in a May 2011 phone call to Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat serving at the time. “Libyan airplanes bombing demonstrators, Libyan airplanes bombing districts in Tripoli, Libyan army killed thousands, etc., etc., and now the whole world found there is no single evidence that such things happened in Libya.”
Seif Gadhafi also warned that many of the U.S.-supported armed rebels were “not freedom fighters” but rather jihadists whom he described as “gangsters and terrorists.”
“And now you have NATO supporting them with ships, with airplanes, helicopters, arms, training, communication,” he said in one recorded conversation with U.S. officials. “We ask the American government send a fact-finding mission to Libya. I want you to see everything with your own eyes.”
The surreptitiously taped conversations reveal an extraordinary departure from traditional policy, in which the U.S. government speaks to foreign governments with one voice coordinated by the State Department.
Instead, the tapes show that the Pentagon’s senior uniformed leadership and a congressman from Mrs. Clinton’s own party conveyed sentiments to the Libyan regime that undercut or conflicted with the secretary of state’s own message at the time.
“If this story is true, it would be highly unusual for the Pentagon to conduct a separate set of diplomatic negotiations, given the way we operated when I was secretary of state,” James A. Baker III, who served under President George H.W. Bush, told The Times. “In our administration, the president made sure that we all sang from the same hymnal.”
Mr. Kucinich, who challenged Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, acknowledged that he undertook his own conversations with the Gadhafi regime. He said he feared Mrs. Clinton was using emotion to sell a war against Libya that wasn’t warranted, and he wanted to get all the information he could to share with his congressional colleagues.
“I had facts that indicated America was headed once again into an intervention that was going to be disastrous,” Mr. Kucinich told The Times. “What was being said at the State Department — if you look at the charge at the time — it wasn’t so much about what happened as it was about what would happen. So there was a distortion of events that were occurring in Libya to justify an intervention which was essentially wrong and illegal.”
Mr. Kucinich wrote a letter to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in August explaining his communications in a last-ditch effort to stop the war.
“I have been contacted by an intermediary in Libya who has indicated that President Muammar Gadhafi is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict under conditions which would seem to favor Administration policy,” Mr. Kucinich wrote on Aug. 24.
Neither the White House nor the State Department responded to his letter, he said.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton declined to provide any comment about the recordings.
The State Department also declined to answer questions about separate contacts from the Pentagon and Mr. Kucinich with the Gadhafi regime, but said the goal of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama was regime change in Libya.
“U.S. policy during the revolution supported regime change through peaceful means, in line with UNSCR 1973 policy and NATO mission goals,” the State Department said. “We consistently emphasized at the time that Moammar Gadhafi had to step down and leave Libya as an essential component of the transition.”
‘President is not getting accurate information’
Both inside and outside the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton was among the most vocal early proponents of using U.S. military force to unseat Gadhafi. Joining her in making the case were French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and her successor as secretary of state, John F. Kerry.
Mrs. Clinton’s main argument was that Gadhafi was about to engage in a genocide against civilians in Benghazi, where the rebels held their center of power. But defense intelligence officials could not corroborate those concerns and in fact assessed that Gadhafi was unlikely to risk world outrage by inflicting mass casualties, officials told The Times. As a result, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly opposed Mrs. Clinton’s recommendation to use force.
If Mrs. Clinton runs for president next year, her style of leadership as it relates to foreign policy will be viewed through the one war that she personally championed as secretary of state. Among the key questions every candidate faces is how they will assess U.S. intelligence and solicit the advice of the military leadership.
Numerous U.S. officials interviewed by The Times confirmed that Mrs. Clinton, and not Mr. Obama, led the charge to use NATO military force to unseat Gadhafi as Libya’s leader and that she repeatedly dismissed the warnings offered by career military and intelligence officials.
In the recovered recordings, a U.S. intelligence liaison working for the Pentagon told a Gadhafi aide that Mr. Obama privately informed members of Congress that Libya “is all Secretary Clinton’s matter” and that the nation’s highest-ranking generals were concerned that the president was being misinformed.
The Pentagon liaison indicated on the tapes that Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., a top aide to Adm. Mullen, “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it.”
In one conversation to the Libyans, the American intelligence asset said, “I can tell you that the president is not getting accurate information, so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him. I think about a way through former Secretary Gates or maybe to Adm. Mullen to get him information”
The recordings are consistent with what many high-ranking intelligence, military and academic sources told The Times:
Mrs. Clinton was headstrong to enter the Libyan crisis, ignoring the Pentagon’s warnings that no U.S. interests were at stake and regional stability could be threatened. Instead, she relied heavily on the assurances of the Libyan rebels and her own memory of Rwanda, where U.S. inaction may have led to the genocide of at least 500,000 people.
“Neither the intervention decision nor the regime change decision was an intelligence-heavy decision,” said one senior intelligence official directly involved with the administration’s decision-making, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “People weren’t on the edge of their seats, intelligence wasn’t driving the decision one way or another.”
Instead of relying on the Defense Department or the intelligence community for analysis, officials told The Times, the White House trusted Mrs. Clinton’s charge, which was then supported by Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice and National Security Council member Samantha Power, as reason enough for war.
“Susan Rice was involved in the Rwanda crisis in 1994, Samantha Power wrote very moving books about what happened in Rwanda, and Hillary Clinton was also in the background of that crisis as well,” said Allen Lynch, a professor of international relations at the University of Virginia. “I think they have all carried this with them as a kind of guilt complex.”
Humanitarian crisis was not imminent
In 2003, Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction and denounce terrorism to re-establish relations with the West. He later made reparations to the families of those who died in the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
News media frequently described the apparent transformation as Libya “coming in from the cold.”
Still, he ruled Libya with an iron grip, and by February 2011 civil war raged throughout the country. Loyalist forces mobilized tanks and troops toward Benghazi, creating a panicked mass exodus of civilians toward Egypt.
Mrs. Clinton met with Libyan rebel spokesman Mahmoud Jibril in the Paris Westin hotel in mid-March so she could vet the rebel cause to unseat Gadhafi. Forty-five minutes after speaking with Mr. Jibril, Mrs. Clinton was convinced that a military intervention was needed.
“I talked extensively about the dreams of a democratic civil state where all Libyans are equal a political participatory system with no exclusions of any Libyans, even the followers of Gadhafi who did not commit crimes against the Libyan people, and how the international community should protect civilians from a possible genocide like the one [that] took place in Rwanda,” Mr. Jibril told The Times. “I felt by the end of the meeting, I passed the test. Benghazi was saved.”
So on March 17, 2011, the U.S. supported U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 for military intervention in Libya to help protect its people from Gadhafi’s forthcoming march on Benghazi, where he threatened he would “show no mercy” to resisters.
“In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale,” Mr. Obama declared in an address to the nation on March 28. “We had a unique ability to stop that violence: An international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.”
Yet Human Rights Watch did not see the humanitarian crisis as imminent.
“At that point, we did not see the imminence of massacres that would rise to genocidelike levels,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Rights Watch. “Gadhafi’s forces killed hundreds of overwhelmingly unarmed protesters. There were threats of Libyan forces approaching Benghazi, but we didn’t feel that rose to the level of imminent genocidelike atrocities.”
Instead, she said, the U.S. government was trying to be at the forefront of the Arab Spring, when many dictator-led countries were turning to democracy.
“I think the dynamic for the U.S. government was: Things are changing fast, Tunisia has fallen, Egypt has fallen, and we’d better be on the front of this, supporting a new government and not being seen as supporting the old government,” Ms. Whitson said.
Clinton blocks Gadhafi outreach
On the day the U.N. resolution was passed, Mrs. Clinton ordered a general within the Pentagon to refuse to take a call with Gadhafi’s son Seif and other high-level members within the regime, to help negotiate a resolution, the secret recordings reveal.
A day later, on March 18, Gadhafi called for a cease-fire, another action the administration dismissed.
Soon, a call was set up between the former U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, and Gadhafi confidant Mohammed Ismael during which Mr. Ismael confirmed that the regime’s highest-ranking generals were under orders not to fire upon protesters.
“I told him we were not targeting civilians and Seif told him that,” Mr. Ismael told The Times in an telephone interview this month, recounting the fateful conversation.
While Mrs. Clinton urged the Pentagon to cease its communications with the Gadhafi regime, the intelligence asset working with the Joint Chiefs remained in contact for months afterward.
“Everything I am getting from the State Department is that they do not care about being part of this. Secretary Clinton does not want to negotiate at all,” the Pentagon intelligence asset told Seif Gadhafi and his adviser on the recordings.
Communication was so torn between the Libyan regime and the State Department that they had no point of contact within the department to even communicate whether they were willing to accept the U.N.’s mandates, former Libyan officials said.
Mrs. Clinton eventually named Mr. Cretz as the official U.S. point of contact for the Gadhafi regime. Mr. Cretz, the former ambassador to Libya, was removed from the country in 2010 amid Libyan anger over derogatory comments he made regarding Gadhafi released by Wikileaks. As a result, Mr. Cretz was not trusted or liked by the family.
Shutting the Gadhafis out of the conversation allowed Mrs. Clinton to pursue a solitary point of view, said a senior Pentagon official directly involved with the intervention.
“The decision to invade [Libya] had already been made, so everything coming out of the State Department at that time was to reinforce that decision,” the official explained, speaking only on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
As a result, the Pentagon went its own way and established communications with Seif Gadhafi through one of his friends, a U.S. businessman, who acted as an intermediary. The goal was to identify a clear path and strategy forward in Libya — something that wasn’t articulated by the White House or State Department at the time, officials said.
“Our big thing was: ‘What’s a good way out of this, what’s a bridge to post-Gadhafi conflict once the military stops and the civilians take over, what’s it going to look like?’” said a senior military official involved in the planning, who requested anonymity. “We had a hard time coming up with that because once again nobody knew what the lay of the clans and stuff was going to be.
“The impression we got from both the businessman and from Seif was that the situation is bad, but this [NATO intervention] is even worse,” the official said, confirming the sentiments expressed on the audio recordings. “All of these things don’t have to happen this way, and it will be better for Libya in the long run both economically and politically if they didn’t.”
Pentagon looks for a way out
The Pentagon wasn’t alone in questioning the intervention.
The week the U.N. resolution authorizing military force was passed, Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, expressed his own concerns.
“We have a military operation that’s been put to play, but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or clear statement of foreign policy. We know we don’t like the Gadhafi regime, but we do not have a picture of who the opposition movement really is. We got a vote from the Security Council but we had five key abstentions in that vote.”
Five of the 15 countries on the U.N. Security Council abstained from voting on the decision in Libya because they had concerns that the NATO intervention would make things worse. Mrs. Clinton worked to avoid having them exercise their veto by personally calling representatives from Security Council member states.
Germany and Brazil published statements on March 18, 2011, explaining their reasons for abstention.
“We weighed the risks of a military operation as a whole, not just for Libya but, of course, also with respect to the consequences for the entire region and that is why we abstained,” Germany said.
Brazil wrote, “We are not convinced that the use of force as contemplated in the present resolution will lead to the realization of our most important objective — the immediate end of violence and the protection of civilians.
We are also concerned that such measures may have the unintended effect of exacerbating tensions on the ground and causing more harm than good to the very same civilians we are committed to protecting.”
Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., told The Times that history has proved those concerns correct.
“The U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya was meant to create a no-fly zone to prevent bombing of civilians,” said Mr. Kislyak. “NATO countries that participated in this intervention were supposed to patrol the area. However, in a short amount of time the NATO flights — initially meant to stop violence on the ground — went far beyond the scope of the Security Council-mandated task and created even more violence in Libya.”
On March 19, the U.S. military, supported by France and Britain, fired off more than 110 Tomahawk missiles, hitting about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets. Within weeks, a NATO airstrike killed one of Gaddafi’s sons and three grandsons at their the family’s Tripoli compound, sparking debate about whether the colonel and his family were legitimate targets under the U.N. resolution.
Mr. Gates, the defense secretary, said the compound was targeted because it included command-and-control facilities.
Even after the conflict began, U.S. military leaders kept looking for a way out and a way to avoid the power vacuum that would be left in the region if Gadhafi fell.
As the intelligence asset working with the Joint Chiefs kept his contacts going, one U.S. general made an attempt to negotiate directly with his Libyan military counterparts, according to interviews conducted by The Times with officials directly familiar with the overture.
Army Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the U.S. African Command, sought to set up a 72-hour truce with the regime, according to an intermediary called in to help.
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, who was acting as a business consultant in Libya at the time, said he was approached by senior Libyan military leaders to propose the truce. He took the plan to Lt. Col. Brian Linvill, the U.S. AFRICOM point of contact for Libya. Col. Linvill passed the proposal to Gen. Ham, who agreed to participate.
“The Libyans would stop all combat operations and withdraw all military forces to the outskirts of the cities and assume a defensive posture. Then to insure the credibility with the international community, the Libyans would accept recipients from the African Union to make sure the truce was honored,” Mr. Kubic said, describing the offers.
“[Gadhafi] came back and said he was willing to step down and permit a transition government, but he had two conditions,” Mr. Kubic said. “First was to insure there was a military force left over after he left Libya capable to go after al Qaeda. Secondly, he wanted to have the sanctions against him and his family and those loyal to him lifted and free passage. At that point in time, everybody thought that was reasonable.”
But not the State Department.
Gen. Ham was ordered to stand down two days after the negotiation began, Mr. Kubic said. The orders were given at the behest of the State Department, according to those familiar with the plan in the Pentagon. Gen. Ham declined to comment when questioned by The Times.
“If their goal was to get Gadhafi out of power, then why not give a 72-hour truce a try?” Mr. Kubic asked. “It wasn’t enough to get him out of power; they wanted him dead.”
Libyan officials were willing to negotiate a departure from power but felt the continued NATO bombings were forcing the regime into combat to defend itself, the recordings indicated.
“If they put us in a corner, we have no choice but to fight until the end,” Mr. Ismael said on one of the recordings. “What more can they do? Bomb us with a nuclear bomb? They have done everything.”
Under immense foreign firepower, the Gadhafi regime’s grip on Libya began to slip in early April and the rebels’ resolve was strengthened. Gadhafi pleaded with the U.S. to stop the NATO airstrikes.
Regime change real agenda
Indeed, the U.S. position in Libya had changed. First, it was presented to the public as way to stop an impending humanitarian crisis but evolved into expelling the Gadhafis.
CIA Director Leon E. Panetta says in his book “Worthy Fights” that the goal of the Libyan conflict was for regime change. Mr. Panetta wrote that at the end of his first week as secretary of defense in July 2011, he visited Iraq and Afghanistan “for both substance and symbolism.”
“In Afghanistan I misstated our position on how fast we’d be bringing troops home, and I said what everyone in Washington knew, but we couldn’t officially acknowledge: That our goal in Libya was regime change.”
But that wasn’t the official war cry.
Instead: “It was ‘We’re worried a humanitarian crisis might occur,’” said a senior military official, reflecting on the conflict. “Once you’ve got everybody nodding up and down on that, watch out because you can justify almost anything under the auspices of working to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Gadhafihad enough craziness about him, the rest of the world nodded on.”
But they might not be so quick to approve again, officials say.
“It may be impossible to get the same kind of resolution in similar circumstances, and we already saw that in Syria where the Russians were very suspicious when Western powers went to the U.N.,” said Richard Northern, who served as the British ambassador to Libya during part of the conflict. “Anything the Western powers did in the Middle East is now viewed by the Russians with suspicion, and it will probably reduce the level of authority they’re willing to give in connection to humanitarian crises.”
Mr. Kucinich, who took several steps to end the war in Libya, said he is sickened about what transpired.
He sponsored a June 3 resolution in the House of Representatives to end the Libyan war, but Republican support for the bill was diluted after Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, proposed a softer alternative resolution demanding that the president justify his case for war within 14 days.
“There was a distortion of events that were occurring in Libya to justify an intervention which was essentially wrong and illegal because [the administration] gained the support of the U.N. Security Council through misrepresentation,” said Mr. Kucinich. “The die was cast there for the overthrow of the Gadhafi government. The die was cast. They weren’t looking for any information.
“What’s interesting about all this is, if you listen to Seif Gaddafi’s account, even as they were being bombed they still trusted America, which really says a lot,” said Mr. Kucinich. “It says a lot about how people who are being bombed through the covert involvement or backdoor involvement of the U.S. will still trust the U.S. It’s heart-breaking, really. It really breaks your heart when you see trust that is so cynically manipulated.”
In August, Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli was overrun, signaling the end of his 42-year reign and forcing him into hiding. Two months later, Gadhafi, 69, was killed in his hometown of Sirte. His son Seif was captured by the Zintan tribe and remains in solitary confinement in a Zintan prison cell.
Since Gadhafi was removed from power, Libya has been in a constant state of chaos, with factional infighting and no uniting leader. On Tuesday, an attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli killed nine people, including one American. A group calling itself the Islamic State-Tripoli Province took responsibility for the attack, indicating a growing presence of anti-American terrorist groups within the country.
Hillary Clinton’s ‘WMD’ moment: U.S. intelligence saw false narrative in Libya
The intelligence community gathered no specific evidence of an impending genocide in Libya in spring 2011, undercutting Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s primary argument for using the U.S. military to remove Col. Moammar Gadhafi from power, an event that has left his country in chaos, according to officials with direct knowledge of the dispute.
Defense officials, speaking in detail for the first time about their assessments of the Libyan civil war four years ago, told The Washington Times that Mrs. Clinton’s strong advocacy for intervention against the Libyan regime rested more on speculative arguments of what might happen to civilians than on facts reported from the ground.
SEE ALSO: Exclusive: Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war
The Defense Intelligence Agency ran the Libya intelligence operation.
“It was an intelligence-light decision,” said one senior U.S. intelligence official directly familiar with the Libyan matter, who spoke to The Washington Times only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
The official’s sentiments were echoed by nearly a dozen other key players inside the intelligence and military communities who described to The Times a frustrating period during which the concerns of senior military leaders, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, were repeatedly cast aside.
SEE ALSO: Listen to the tapes: Intel undercuts Hillary Clinton’s primary argument for Libya military action
Speculative arguments often trumped reporting from the ground, the officials added.
The intelligence community wasn’t the only one concerned that Mrs. Clinton was selling the war on exaggerated pretenses.
In secretly tape-recorded conversations, an emissary sent by the Pentagon and Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich openly discussed with Gadhafi regime officials in 2011 concerns that there was a false narrative being used to sell the war, The Washington Times reported Thursday.
In one pointed conversation, the officials suggested Mrs. Clinton was engaging in the same misleading tactics as the George W. Bush administration when it went to war with Iraq in 2003 claiming the country had large stocks weapons of mass destruction, a claim that proved to be inaccurate.
“It was like the WMDs in Iraq. It was based on a false report,” Seif Gadhafi, the son of the Libyan leader, said in a May 2011 phone call with Mr. Kucinich. “Libyan airplanes bombing demonstrators, Libyan airplanes bombing districts in Tripoli, Libyan army killed thousands, etc., etc., and now the whole world found there is no single evidence that such things happened in Libya.”
The gap between Mrs. Clinton’s rhetoric warning of a Rwanda-like slaughter of civilians in Libya and the facts gathered by career intelligence staff is taking on significance as the former secretary of state prepares another bid for the White House and her national security credentials are re-examined.
Predictions of genocide
When the Arab Spring fervor touched off a civil war in Libya in early 2011, U.S. officials were caught off guard. The CIA had little information about the rebels leading the fight, the Libyans who set up an interim government or Gadhafi’s own intentions in repressing the rebellion, officials said.
In fact, intelligence agencies didn’t even have a good estimate of how many civilians were living in Benghazi, which was expected to be the conflict’s flashpoint, officials told The Times.
The DIA was put into the lead role for assessing the situation, and a separate working group within the Pentagon’s joint chiefs quickly gathered valuable insights from an American asset who was in direct contact with the Gadhafi regime, including the leader’s son Seif and Mohammad Ismael, Seif Gadhafi’s chief of staff.
Soon, however, the information being gathered by the intelligence community was at loggerheads with claims of the main supporters for war with Libya, which included French President Nicolas Sarkozy; Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat; and three powerful women close to President Obama: Mrs. Clinton; Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and adviser Samantha Powers.
Mrs. Clinton ultimately became the most powerful advocate for using U.S. military force to dethrone Gadhafi, both in her closed-door meetings with Mr. Obama, who ultimately made the decision, and in public with allies and the news media
Her argument was best summed up in comments she made in March 2011, when she warned that Gadhafi was on the cusp of a genocide against civilians in Benghazi on par with those in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s when her husband, Bill, was president.
“Imagine we were sitting here and Benghazi had been overrun, a city of 700,000 people, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, hundreds of thousands had fled either with nowhere to go, or overwhelming Egypt while it’s in its own difficult transition,” Mrs. Clinton told ABC News on March 27 after the U.S. signed off on a U.N. resolution granting military intervention.
If “we were sitting here, the cries would be, ‘Why did the United States not do anything?’” she predicted.
Few objective indicators
The intelligence community had few facts to back up Mrs. Clinton’s audacious predictions, officials told The Times.
In fact, the Pentagon’s judgment was that Gadhafi was unlikely to risk world outrage by inflicting large civilian casualties as he cracked down on the rebels based in Benghazi, the officials said.
The specific intelligence was that Gadhafi had sent a relatively small — by Western standards — cadre of about 2,000 troops armed with 12 tanks to target armed rebels in Benghazi. Ground intelligence indicated that the Gadhafi forces were defeating the rebels, killing about 400 and wounding many more.
In comparison, 10,000 people have been killed at the hands of Boko Haram in Nigeria in the past year alone. Estimates of the number of people killed in Rwanda, mostly Tutsi civilians, range from 500,000 to 1 million over a 100-day period. The Bosnia war lasted, at varying levels of intensity, for three years and claimed at least 100,000 lives, with some estimates reaching 200,000.
Some accounts said the Libyan forces were attacking unarmed protesters, but no genocide was reported, the officials said. There was strong evidence that most civilians fled Benghazi ahead of the expected battle, officials said.
Furthermore, defense officials had direct information from their intelligence asset in contact with the regime that Gadhafi gave specific orders not to attack civilians and to narrowly focus the war on the armed rebels, according to the asset, who survived the war.
All spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity but confirmed Col. Gadhafi’s order.
Defense officials said the Gadhafi forces were serious about routing the uprising and that some collateral damage to civilians remained possible, though they were unable to give the White House specifics. No intelligence suggested that a genocide was imminent, the officials said.
“Gadhafi was serious, but I wouldn’t classify it as Rwanda,” said an unidentified defense official close to the intelligence available at the time.
Mrs. Clinton is keeping mum these days about Libya as she mulls a run for president, in part because the subsequent assault on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi by an Islamist militia and her reaction to the incident have come under harsh criticism.
Along with other administration officials, Mrs. Clinton falsely blamed that attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, on an anti-Islam video. She also famously asked, “What difference does it make” whether the attack was planned terrorism or a spontaneous protest as she had claimed.
Her official representative declined to comment for this report.
The State Department confirmed that its primary goal in 2011 was regime change, meaning ousting Gadhafi from power. But it deferred comment to Mrs. Clinton about the specifics on intelligence and her own public statements.
Mr. Kerry, who succeeded Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state, backed the Libya intervention with similar language. He told The New York Times that “the memory of Rwanda, alongside Iraq in ‘91, made it clear that the United States needed to act but needed international support.”
With the benefit of hindsight, diplomatic analysts frown on such comparisons to Rwanda and say the rhetoric in 2011 was simply overstated.
“We are prone to think in terms of analogies, and the analogy in Rwanda was one that administration officials like Hillary Clinton and others used, and I think it was an inappropriate analogy because you cannot say Libya was Rwanda,” said Paul Miller, who served as an adviser on security matters for Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush.
“[Libya] was a war between an autocratic government and a bunch of tribes, and amidst that kind of war there will be a humanitarian crisis, there will be innocent people killed. But that is very different than a straight genocide against a group,” Mr. Miller said.
The notion that a genocide was imminent was rooted in Gadhafi’s Feb. 22, 2011, speech in which he pledged to “sanitize Libya an inch at a time” and “clear them of these rats.”
Civilian deaths vs. genocide
Supporters of the intervention argued that Gadhafi’s use of the words “rats” and “cleans” resembled the genocidal language used by Hutu leaders and militias in Rwanda in 1994. Rwandan radio was calling on Hutus to “cut down the tall trees” and “crush the cockroaches.”
A month later, Gadhafi delivered another speech in which he made it clear that only those standing against him with arms would face reprisal.
“If you read [Gadhafi’s comments] closely, they were clearly directed only at the rebels who were going to stand and fight,” said Alan Kuperman, a public policy professor at the University of Texas who composed an exhaustive study on the Libyan civil war.
“If you threw down your weapons, you were considered harmless. If you ran away, you were considered harmless. And if you were just a civilian, you were considered harmless,” Mr. Kuperman said. “Rebels were going to be targeted, and those were the ‘rats’ he was talking about.”
Human rights groups offered a similar assessment. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, both of which were tracking the crisis before the U.S. intervention, said there was no way to determine that spring whether Benghazi would develop into a Rwanda-type crisis.
“We can’t definitively predict whether the State Department’s claims of an impending crisis on the scale of the Rwanda genocide would have come to pass,” Robyn Shepherd, a spokeswoman at Amnesty International, said in an email statement. “What we can confirm is that Libyan forces were committing serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
Amnesty recorded acts in which Gadhafi’s regime “deliberately killed and injured scores of unarmed protesters” and “launched indiscriminate attacks and attacks targeting civilians in their efforts to regain control of Misrata and territory in the east.”
But academics argued that such acts were not unusual coming from a dictator trying to defend his throne in the midst of a civil war.
“I never came across any evidence that indicated intention or actions consistent with an imminent bloodbath,” said Mr. Kuperman. “I found nothing in terms of reports on troop movements, nothing in terms of threats from his regime or actions anywhere else.”
Mrs. Clinton’s defenders could argue that Americans will never know whether a genocide would have occurred because the U.S. did the right thing and intervened before it could happen. They also are certain to note that the final decision rested not with Mrs. Clinton but with Mr. Obama.
Paul: ‘Hillary’s War’
What is not in dispute is that the intelligence community’s assessment and the military leadership’s concerns were not given full credence, and that almost certainly will provide fodder to Mrs. Clinton’s critics to attack her leadership style.
“I think there was a rush headlong toward war in Libya and [the State Department and the administration] weren’t listening to anyone saying anything otherwise, including the Defense Department and intelligence communities, who were saying, ‘Hold on a minute. This may not be a good idea,’” said Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican and a presidential contender himself.
“Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned. Her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next commander in chief,” he said.
Mr. Paul, who has a libertarian flair, has begun calling Libya “Hillary’s War.” What remains to be seen in the months ahead is whether Mrs. Clinton embraces the moniker as she begins her campaign.
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Richard Clarke, Former Counterterrorism Chief, Apologizes for 9/11
Ex-Counterterrorism Czar Richard Clarke: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld Committed War Crimes
Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror 1/2
Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror 2/2
Richard Clarke on Foreign Oil, Saudi Arabia, and Iran – The Scorpion’s Gate (2005)
Richard A. Clarke
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Richard Alan Clarke (born October 27, 1950) is the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism for the United States.
Clarke worked for the State Department during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to chair the Counter-terrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to be the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council. Under President George W. Bush, Clarke initially continued in the same position, but the position was no longer given cabinet-level access. He later became the Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity. Clarke left the Bush administration in 2003.
Clarke came to widespread public attention for his role as counter-terrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations in March 2004, when he appeared on the 60 Minutes television news magazine, released his memoir about his service in government, Against All Enemies, and testified before the 9/11 Commission. In all three instances, Clarke was sharply critical of the Bush administration’s attitude toward counter-terrorism before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and of the decision to go to war with Iraq.
Richard Clarke was born in 1950, the son of a Boston chocolate factory worker and a nurse. He studied at the Boston Latin School (graduated in 1968), received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 where he was selected to serve in the Sphinx Senior Society. After working for the Department of Defense as an analyst on European security issues, Clarke earned a master’s degree in management in 1978 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1973, he began work in the federal government as a management intern in the U.S. Department of Defense. Beginning in 1985, Clarke served in the Reagan administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. During the Presidential administration of George H.W. Bush, as the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, he coordinated diplomatic efforts to support the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the subsequent security arrangements. During the Clinton administration, Clarke became the counter-terrorism coordinator for the National Security Council. He remained counter-terrorism coordinator during the first year of the George W. Bush administration, and later was the Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity and cyberterrorism. He resigned from the Bush administration in 2003.
Clarke’s positions inside the government have included:
Clarke advised Madeleine Albright during the Genocide in Rwanda, to request the UN to withdraw all UN troops from Rwanda. She refused, but permitted Gen. Dallaire to keep a few hundred troops who managed to save thousands from the genocide. Later Clarke told Samantha Power “It wasn’t in American’s national interest. If we had to do the same thing today and I was advising the President, I would advise the same thing.” He directed the authoring of PDD-25 which outlined a reduced military and economic role for the United States in Rwanda as well as future peacekeeping operations.
Islamists took control in Sudan in a 1989 coup d’état and the United States adopted a policy of disengagement with the authoritarian regime throughout the 1990s. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, however, some critics charged that the U.S. should have moderated its policy toward Sudan earlier, since the influence of Islamists there waned in the second half of 1990s and Sudanese officials began to indicate an interest in accommodating U.S. concerns with respect to 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, who had been living in Sudan until he was expelled in May 1996. Timothy M. Carney, U.S. ambassador to Sudan between September 1995 and November 1997, co-authored an op-ed in 2002 claiming that in 1997 Sudan offered to turn over its intelligence on bin Laden but that Susan Rice, as NSC Africa specialist, together with the then NSC terrorism specialist Richard A. Clarke, successfully lobbied for continuing to bar U.S. officials, including the CIA and FBI, from engaging with the Khartoum government. Similar allegations (that Susan Rice joined others in missing an opportunity to cooperate with Sudan on counterterrorism) were made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose and Richard Miniter, author of Losing Bin Laden.
Clarke was also involved in investigating Ramzi Yousef, one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who traveled to the United States on an Iraqi passport. Yousef is the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior al-Qaeda member. Many in the Clinton administration and the intelligence community believed this was evidence linking al-Qaeda’s activities and the government of Iraq.
In February 1999 Clarke wrote the Deputy National Security Advisor that one reliable source reported Iraqi officials had met with Bin Ladin and may have offered him asylum. Therefore, Clarke advised against surveillance flights to track bin Laden in Afghanistan: Anticipating an attack, “old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad”, where he would be impossible to find. Clarke also made statements that year to the press linking “Iraqi nerve gas experts” and al-Qaeda to an alleged joint-chemical-weapons-development effort at the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.
Michael Scheuer is the former chief of the bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA. Matthew Continetti writes: “Scheuer believes that Clarke’s risk aversion and politicking negatively impacted the hunt for bin Laden prior to September 11, 2001. Scheuer stated that his unit, codename ‘Alec,’ had provided information that could have led to the capture and or killing of Osama bin Laden on ten different occasions during the Clinton administration, only to have his recommendations for action turned down by senior intelligence officials, including Clarke.”
Clarke and his communications with the Bush administration regarding bin Laden and associated terrorist plots targeting the United States were mentioned frequently in Condoleezza Rice‘s public interview by the 9/11 investigatory commission on April 8, 2004. Of particular significance was a memo from January 25, 2001, that Clarke had authored and sent to Condoleezza Rice. Along with making an urgent request for a meeting of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee to discuss the growing al-Qaeda threat in the greater Middle East, the memo also suggests strategies for combating al-Qaeda that might be adopted by the new Bush administration.
In his memoir, “Against All Enemies”, Clarke wrote that Condoleezza Rice made a decision that the position of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism should be downgraded. By demoting the office, the Administration sent a signal through the national security bureaucracy about the salience they assigned to terrorism. No longer would Clarke’s memos go to the President; instead they had to pass through a chain of command of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley, who bounced every one of them back.
Within a week of the inauguration, I wrote to Rice and Hadley asking ‘urgently’ for a Principals, or Cabinet-level, meeting to review the imminent Al-Qaeda threat. Rice told me that the Principals Committee, which had been the first venue for terrorism policy discussions in the Clinton administration, would not address the issue until it had been ‘framed’ by the Deputies.
At the first Deputies Committee meeting on Terrorism held in April 2001, Clarke strongly suggested that the U.S. put pressure on both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by arming the Northern Alliance and other groups in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, that they target bin Laden and his leadership by reinitiating flights of the MQ-1 Predators. To which Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz responded, “Well, I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden.” Clarke replied that he was talking about bin Laden and his network because it posed “an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” According to Clarke, Wolfowitz turned to him and said, “You give bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1993 attack on New York, not without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don’t exist.”
Clarke wrote in Against All Enemies that in the summer of 2001, the intelligence community was convinced of an imminent attack by al Qaeda, but could not get the attention of the highest levels of the Bush administration, most famously writing that Director of theCentral Intelligence Agency George Tenet was running around with his “hair on fire”.
At a July 5, 2001, White House gathering of the FAA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, Secret Service and INS, Clarke stated that “something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon.”
On March 24, 2004, Clarke testified at the public 9/11 Commission hearings. At the outset of his testimony Clarke offered an apology to the families of 9/11 victims and an acknowledgment that the government had failed: “I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11…To the loved ones of the victims of 9/11, to them who are here in this room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn’t matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness.”
Many of the events Clarke recounted during the hearings were also published in his memoir. Clarke charged that before and during the 9/11 crisis, many in the Administration were distracted from efforts against Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organization by a pre-occupation with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Clarke had written that on September 12, 2001, President Bush pulled him and a couple of aides aside and “testily” asked him to try to find evidence that Saddam was connected to the terrorist attacks. In response he wrote a report stating there was no evidence of Iraqi involvement and got it signed by all relevant agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA. The paper was quickly returned by a deputy with a note saying “Please update and resubmit.” After initially denying that such a meeting between the President and Clarke took place, the White House later reversed its denial when others present backed Clarke’s version of the events.
Before and after Clarke appeared before the 9/11 Commission, some critics tried to attack his credibility, launching a full-scale offensive against him: impugning his personal motives, claiming he was a disappointed job-hunter, that he sought publicity, and that he was a political partisan. They charged that he exaggerated perceived failures in the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies while exculpating the former Clinton administration from its perceived shortcomings.
According to some reports, the White House tried to discredit Clarke in a move described as “shooting the messenger.” New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman was more blunt, calling the attacks on Clarke “a campaign of character assassination.”
Some Republicans inside and outside the Bush administration questioned both Clarke’s testimony and his tenure during the hearings. Senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist took to the Senate floor to make a speech alleging Clarke told “two entirely different stories under oath”, pointing to congressional hearing testimony Clarke gave in 2002 and his 9/11 Commission testimony. Frist later speculated to reporters Clarke was trading on his former service as a government insider with access to the nation’s most valuable intelligence to sell a book.
During Clarke’s earlier testimony, he stated that Bill Clinton did not have a comprehensive plan on dealing with terrorism. During later testimony, he stated that President Clinton did have a comprehensive plan on dealing with terrorism. As summarized by the Toledo Blade, “In his August 2002 briefing, Mr. Clarke told reporters (1) that the Clinton administration had no overall plan on al-Qaeda to pass on to the Bush Administration; (2) that just days after his inauguration, Mr. Bush said he wanted a new, more comprehensive anti-terror strategy; (3) that Mr. Bush ordered implementation of anti-terror measures that had been kicking around since 1998, and (4) that before Sept. 11, Mr. Bush had increased fivefold the funding for CIA covert action programs against al-Qaeda. … It’s reasonable enough to argue that Mr. Bush could have done more to guard against terror, though it isn’t clear what. What is incredible is to argue – as Mr. Clarke did before the 9/11 Commission – that President Clinton was more concerned about al-Qaeda than Mr. Bush was.”
Clarke was criticized for his suggestions in 1999 of intelligence indicating a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, despite the fact Clarke and others concluded after investigations by 2001 that no link had been established. In Against All Enemies he writes, “It is certainly possible that Iraqi agents dangled the possibility of asylum in Iraq before bin Laden at some point when everyone knew that the U.S. was pressuring the Taliban to arrest him. If that dangle happened, bin Laden’s accepting asylum clearly did not,” (p. 270). In an interview on March 21, 2004, Clarke claimed that “there’s absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al-Qaeda, ever.” Clarke claimed in his book that this conclusion was understood by the intelligence community at the time of 9/11 and the ensuing months, but top Bush administration officials were pre-occupied with finding a link between Iraq and 9/11 in the months that followed the attack, and thus, Clarke argued, the Iraq war distracted attention and resources from the war in Afghanistan and hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Fox News, allegedly with the Administration’s consent, identified and released a background briefing that Clarke gave in August 2002, at the Administration’s request, to minimize the fallout from a Time magazine story about the President’s failure to take certain actions before 9/11. In that briefing on behalf of the White House, Clarke stated “there was no plan on Al-Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration,” and that after taking office President Bush decided to “add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, fivefold, to go after Al-Qaeda.” At the next day’s hearing, 9/11 Commission member James Thompson challenged Clarke with the 2002 account, and Clarke explained: “I was asked to make that case to the press. I was a special assistant to the President, and I made the case I was asked to make… I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the Administration had done and to minimize the negative aspects of what the Administration had done. And as a special assistant to the President, one is frequently asked to do that kind of thing. I’ve done it for several Presidents.”
Another point of attack was Clarke’s role in allowing members of the bin Laden family to fly to Saudi Arabia on September 20, 2001. According to Clarke’s statements to the 9/11 Commission, a request was relayed to Clarke from the Saudi embassy to allow the members of the bin Laden family living in the U.S. to fly home. Clarke testified to the commission that he passed this decision in turn to the FBI via Dale Watson, and that the FBI at length sent its approval of the flight to the Interagency Crisis Management Group.However, FBI spokesman John Iannarelli denied that the FBI had a role in approving the flight: “I can say unequivocally that the FBI had no role in facilitating these flights.”
Clarke has also exchanged criticism with Michael Scheuer, former chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station at the CIA. When asked to respond to Clarke’s claim that Scheuer was “a hothead, a middle manager who really didn’t go to any of the cabinet meetings,” Scheuer returned the criticism as follows: “I certainly agree with the fact that I didn’t go to the cabinet meetings. But I’m certainly also aware that I’m much better informed than Mr. Clarke ever was about the nature of the intelligence that was available against Osama bin Laden and which was consistently denigrated by himself and Mr. Tenet.”
On March 28, 2004, at the height of the controversy during the 9/11 Commission Hearings, Clarke went on NBC’s Sunday morning news show, Meet the Press and was interviewed by journalist Tim Russert. In responding to and rebutting the criticism, Clarke challenged the Bush administration to declassify the whole record, including closed testimony by Bush administration officials before the Commission.
Cyberterrorism and cybersecurity
Clarke, as Special Advisor to the President on Cybersecurity, spent his last year in the Bush administration focusing on cybersecurity and the threat of terrorism against the critical infrastructure of the United States. At a security conference in 2002, after citing statistics that indicate that less than 0.0025 percent of corporate revenue on average is spent on information-technology security, Clarke was famously heard to say, “If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, then you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.”
In June 2012 Clarke discussed issues of cybersecurity in depth in an interview on The Colbert Report in which he was seemingly misled into thinking that they were discussing cyber-security threats from the Chinese through the use of mobile devices such as iPads. Instead, Stephen Colbert was doing a humorous piece on the threats of Orangutans learning to use iPads. Indeed, when confronted on the issue directly, Clarke himself clarified that he was not discussing non-human primate based cyberterrorism threats. “Orangutans? You mean like apes?” said Clarke, “Are you sh**tin’ me? I’m talking about the Chinese.”
Post government career
Clarke is currently Chairman of Good Harbor Consulting and Good Harbour International, two strategic planning and corporate risk management firms; an on-air consultant for ABC News, and a contributor to the Good Harbor Report, an online community discussing homeland security, defense, and politics. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School and a faculty affiliate of its Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He has also become an author of fiction, publishing his first novel, The Scorpion’s Gate, in 2005, and a second, Breakpoint, in 2007.
Clarke wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on May 31, 2009 harshly critical of other Bush administration officials, entitled “The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse”. Clarke wrote that he had little sympathy for his fellow officials who seemed to want to use the excuse of being traumatized, and caught unaware by Al-Qaeda‘s attacks on the USA, because their being caught unaware was due to their ignoring clear reports a major attack on U.S. soil was imminent. Clarke particularly singled out former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
In April 2010 Clarke released his book on Cyber War. In April 2012, Clarke wrote a New York Times op-ed addressing cyber attacks. In stemming cyber attacks carried out by foreign governments and foreign hackers, particularly from China, Clarke opined that the U.S. government should be authorized to “create a major program to grab stolen data leaving the country” in a fashion similar to how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security currently searches for child pornography that crosses America’s “virtual borders.” Moreover, he suggested that the US president could authorize agencies to scan Internet traffic outside the US and seize sensitive files stolen from within the United States. Clarke then stated that such a policy would not endanger privacy rights through the institution of a privacy advocate, who could stop abuses or any activity that went beyond halting the theft of important files. The op-ed did not offer evidence that finding and blocking files while they are being transmitted is technically feasible.
In September 2012, Clarke stated that Middle Eastern governments were likely behind hacking incidents against several banks. During the same year, he also endorsed Barack Obama‘s reelection for President of the United States.
Following the 2013 high-speed fatal car crash of journalist Michael Hastings, a vocal critic of the surveillance state and restrictions on the press freedom under the Obama Administration tenure, Clarke was quoted as saying “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”
In 2013, Clarke served on an advisory group for the Obama administration, as it sought to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward Snowden. The report mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30′ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks, that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Clarke told Reuters on 11 April 2014 that the NSA had not known of Heartbleed.
On March 22, 2004, Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror—What Really Happened (ISBN 0-7432-6024-4), was published. The book was critical of past and present Presidential administrations for the way they handled the war on terrorboth before and after September 11, 2001 but focused much of its criticism on Bush for failing to take sufficient action to protect the country in the elevated-threat period before the September 11, 2001 attacks and for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Clarke feels greatly hampered the war on terror, and was a distraction from the real terrorists.
- Chairman, Good Harbor Consulting, LLC, a strategic planning and corporate risk management firm.
- Contributor, Good Harbor Index, an online resource for homeland security, defense and political issues, operated by Good Harbor Consulting, LLC.
- Faculty Affiliate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
- Advisory Board Member, Civitas Group, LLC
- Cyber Security Consultant, SRA International, Inc.
- On-air consultant, ABC News.
- Jump up^ Dobbs, Michael. “An Obscure Chief in U.S. War on Terror”. The Washington Post, April 2, 2000.
- Jump up^ “Profile: Richard Clarke”. BBC News. March 22, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ “Richard Clarke Biography”. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
- Jump up^ Senior Society, Sphinx. “Class of 1972″. Sphinx Senior Society. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
- Jump up^ Bio.Richard Clarke, “NNDB.com”
- Jump up^ Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006, p.206.
- Jump up^ “Text of Presidential Decision Directive 25″. Federation of American Scientists. May 6, 1994. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ Carney, Timothy; Mansoor Ijaz (June 30, 2002). “Intelligence Failure? Let’s Go Back to Sudan”. The Washington Post. RetrievedDecember 1, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.mafhoum.com/ Jan. 2015.
- Jump up^ Rose, David (January 2002). “The Osama Files”. Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
- Jump up^ Belz, Mindy (November 1, 2003). “Clinton did not have the will to respond”. World. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
- Jump up^ The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 134.
- Jump up^ Vernon Loeb (January 23, 1999). “Embassy Attacks Thwarted, U.S. Says; Official Cites Gains Against Bin Laden; Clinton Seeks $10 Billion To Fight Terrorism”. The Washington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- Jump up^ Continetti, Matthew (November 22, 2004). “Scheuer v. Clarke”. Weekly Standard. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB147/clarke%20memo.pdf
- Jump up^ “Bush Administration’s First Memo on al-Qaeda Declassified”. Gwu.edu. January 25, 2001. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- ^ Jump up to:a b c Richard Clarke: “Against All Enemies, Inside America’s War on Terror” by Free Press, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster
- ^ Jump up to:a b c “Transcript: Wednesday’s 9/11 Commission Hearings”. Washington Post. March 24, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror–What Really Happened (ISBN 0-7432-6024-4)
- Jump up^ Dean, John W (April 9, 2004). “Bush’s attack on Richard Clarke”. CNN. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ Marshall, Josh (September 11, 2001). “Talking Points Memo” (Press release). Talking Points Memo. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ Ratnesar, Romesh (March 25, 2004). “Richard Clarke, at War With Himself”. TIME. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ “White House Tries to Discredit Counterterrorism Coordinator”. Common Dreams. March 22, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ “Talking Points Memo”. Retrieved from Internet Archive Wayback Machine, 20 January 2015.
- Jump up^ http://www.toledoblade.com/Opinion/2004/03/27/The-Blame-Bush-approach.html
- Jump up^ CBS: Clarke’s Take On Terror. March 19, 2004.
- Jump up^ Kaplan, Fred (March 24, 2004). “Richard Clarke KOs the Bushies”. Slate Magazine. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ “Transcript: Clarke Praises Bush Team in ’02”. FoxNews.com. March 24, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ “Richard Clarke Testifies Before 9/11 Commission”. CNN Transcripts. March 24, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ Craig Unger: Letter To the Editor NYT March 30, 2005
- Jump up^ Leung, Rebecca (November 12, 2004). “Bin Laden Expert Steps Forward, Ex-CIA Agent Assesses Terror War In 60 Minutes Interview”.60 Minutes (CBS News). Retrieved January 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ “Clarke Would Welcome Open Testimony”. MSNBC.com. March 28, 2004. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- Jump up^ Lemos, Robert (February 20, 2002). “Security Guru: Let’s Secure the Net”. ZDNet
- Jump up^ Colbert, Stephen (June 13, 2012). “The Enemy Within: Apes Armed with iPads”. Viacom. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- Jump up^ “Richard Clarke’s bio at Harvard Kennedy School”. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. May 29, 2008. RetrievedJanuary 9, 2009.
- Jump up^ Richard A. Clarke (May 31, 2009). “The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse”. Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 22, 2009.
- ^ Jump up to:a b Clarke, Richard A. (April 3, 2012). “How China Steals Our Secrets”. The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
- Jump up^ “Rhode Islanders react to cyber attacks on banking websites”. ABC6 Rhode Island. October 1, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- Jump up^ Hogan, Michael (June 24, 2013). “Was Hastings’ Car Hacked?”. Huffington Post.
- Jump up^ The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (12 December 2013). “Liberty and Security in a Changing World – Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies”. The White House.
- Jump up^ Mark Hosenball; Will Dunham (11 April 2014). “White House, spy agencies deny NSA exploited ‘Heartbleed’ bug”. Reuters. Retrieved16 April 2014.
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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts
Story 1: The Man Who Could Bring Obama Down By Telling What The Central Intelligence Agency Was Doing in Benghazi, Libya, Shipping Arms To Syrian Al-Qaida Islamic Jihadist Terrorists, General David H. Petraeus? — Videos
U.S. prosecutors recommend criminal charges against Petraeus – N.Y. Times
Former CIA Chief David Petraeus may face criminal charges
FBI, D.O.J. Want To File Charges Against Former Gen. Petraeus
Benghazi Gate Blackmail? – FBI Investigation Hanging Over Fmr CIA Dir David Petraeus – Happening Now
Benghazi Gate Blackmail? – FBI Investigation Hanging Over Former CIA Dir David Petraeus – Happening Now
Is Obama Admin Trying To Silence Petraeus On Benghazi?
Evidence Obama Allowed Americans In Libya To Die To Cover Up Arms Shipment To Syrian Islamist Groups
Published on Oct 28, 2012
Evidence points to Obama alowing Americans in Libya to die to coverup arms shipment through Turkey to Syrian Islamist groups!
Benghazi – TheBlazeTV – The Glenn Beck Program – 2013.05.06
Benghazi-Gate: Connection between CIA and al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria, with Turkey’s Help
Rand Paul asks Hillary Clinton if the US is Shipping Arms from Libya to Turkey
Benghazi Gate – Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton – Question & Answer
Glenn Greenwald: With Calls to Spare Petraeus, Feinstein Plea Shows that Not All Leaks are Equal
US lawmakers react to Petraeus’testimony on Benghazi
Petraeus Affair – FBI Case – FBI Involvement – CIA Director
SYRIA Retired General Suspects A US Covert Operation For Running Libya Arms To Syria
Benghazi Gate – “You Need To Wait” – Ops Say CIA Officer Told Them To Stand Down -North – F&F
Benghazi Whistleblowers Threatened by Obama Administration
LIBYA No US Consulate In Benghazi But CIA Operation, Hired Militia Linked To Extremist
Treason: Benghazi Revelations Could Sink Obama
The Real Reason Petraeus Resigned
The Media Syria Al Nusra John McCain
White House relations with CBS, ABC, NBC – #Benghazi Gun Running
Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
Benghazi Attack Cover Up! Obama Armed Al Qaeda?
Stefan Molyneux speaks with Roger Aronoff on the recent findings of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, White House lies, the United States selling weapons to Libyan rebels, Muammar Gaddafi’s desire to surrender, the possibility of Obama’s impeachment, Hillary Clinton’s involvement and the impact this could have on the next presidential election.
Wayne Madsen: Benghazi Bombshell Insiders Confirm CIA Sent Missiles to FSA Rebels
Benghazi Attack Was Cover For Al Qaeda Arms Deal
Rooney Questions CIA on Benghazi: How Did They Know When Attack Would End?
During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the Benghazi terrorist attacks, Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17) questioned the former CIA Acting Director on why a decision was made not to send a military response, since the Administration could not have known how long the attack would continue. Rooney also focused on how future attacks could be prevented.
Charges eyed for Petraeus in classified leaks to mistress
FBI and Justice prosecutors recommend felony charges against Petraeus
Benghazi Gate Blackmail? – FBI Investigation Hanging Over Fmr CIA Dir David Petraeus – Happening Now
White House ‘Held Affair Over Petraeus’s Head’ For Favorable Testimony On Benghazi
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Tuesday said the White House used David Petraeus’s affair to get the CIA director to give testimony about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that was in line with the administration’s position on the matter.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I think the really shocking news today was that General Petraeus thought and hoped he could keep his job. He thought that it might and it would be kept secret, and that he could stay in his position. I think what that tells us is really important. It meant that he understood that the FBI obviously knew what was going on. He was hoping that those administration officials would not disclose what had happened, and therefore hoping that he would keep his job. And that meant that he understood that his job, his reputation, his legacy, his whole celebrated life was in the hands of the administration, and he expected they would protect him by keeping it quiet.
Peter King, Carl Levin `This Week` Interview: David Petraeus Scandal, Benghazi investigation
Gen. Petraeus knew all about running guns in Bengazi, U.S. in bed with Al Qaeda there (Glenn Beck)
Official: Harassing Emails Led to FBI Probe
CNBC: Benghazi is not about Libya! “It’s An NSC Operation Moving Arms & Fighters Into Syria”
The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus is not about an extramarital affair with his biographer, reserve Army officer Paula Broadwell. It’s about U.S. policy in the Middle East, the ongoing “color revolutions,” and specifically the operation underway to arm al-Qaeda, the FSA in Syria, and overthrow the al-Assad regime.
Radio talk show host John Baxter told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow the step-down may be part of a deal made by Petraeus to avoid testifying before a closed-door session of the Senate Intelligence Committee next week about the CIA’s role in the September 11 assault on the diplomatic facility and a CIA annex in Benghazi.
The House Intelligence Committee has also scheduled a hearing to grill Petraeus and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.
The chairman of the House committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, has vehemently criticized the Obama administration for its role in the attack that left ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.
“Benghazi is not about Libya, Benghazi is about the policy of the Obama administrtion to involve the United States without clarity to the Americvan people, not only in Libya but throughout the whole of the Arab world now in turmoil,” Baxter told Kudlow. “Benghazi is about the NSC directing an operation that is perhaps shadowy, perhaps a presidential finding, perhaps doesn’t, that takes arms and men and puts them into Syria in the guise of the Free Syria Army (FSA).”
Obama LIED About Benghazi Attack!!! (Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer Interview)
Petraeus affair snares another top General
David Petraeus Scandal: Truth Behind Resignation, Paula Broadwell
Paula Broadwell spilling secret CIA information
David Petraeus Resigns Over Affair With Biographer Paula Broadwell
Alumni Symposium 2012: Paula Broadwell
IRAQ HEARINGS: Sen. Obama Questions Gen. Petraeus
Interesting Benghazi Conspiracy angle – Was there possible involvement with CIA Director Petraeus?
Treason Exposed! Obama Used Benghazi Attack to Cover Up Arms Shipments to Muslim Brotherhood
Patriot Act Used To Spy on CIA Director
OBAMA CONFRONTED ON BENGHAZI – Stutters Through Response
Petraeus is Key Witness to Benghazi Scandal
Prosecutors weigh charges against David Petraeus involving classified information
By Sari Horwitz and Adam Goldman January 9
Federal prosecutors have recommended that David H. Petraeus face charges for providing classified documents to his biographer, raising the prospect of criminal proceedings against the retired four-star general and former CIA director.
The recommendation follows a federal probe into how the biographer, Paula Broadwell, apparently obtained classified records several years ago while working on a book about Petraeus. Broadwell was also his mistress, and the documents were discovered by investigators during the scandal that forced Petraeus’s resignation as CIA director in 2012.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. must decide whether to pursue charges against Petraeus, the former top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment, as did Robert B. Barnett, a lawyer for Petraeus.
Both Petraeus and Broadwell have denied in the past that he provided her with classified information. Investigators have previously focused on whether his staff gave her sensitive documents at his instruction.
Prosecutors recommend charges against Petraeus(0:44)
The U.S. federal prosecutors have recommended bringing charges against former CIA chief David Petraeus, raising the prospect of criminal proceedings against him.
The prosecutors’ recommendation was first reported Friday evening on the Web site of the New York Times, which said Petraeus has rejected the possibility of a plea deal.
The FBI has been pushing to resolve several high-profile counterespionage investigations that have lingered for months and in some cases years. In addition to the case involving Petraeus and Broadwell, the bureau wants the Justice Department to decide whether to pursue charges against veteran State Department diplomat Robin Raphel and retired Marine Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright, who until 2011 was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Cartwright was the target of a Justice Department investigation into the leak of information about the Stuxnet cyberattack against Iran’s nuclear program. The details of Raphel’s case remain murky, but officials have said classified information was found at her home.
FBI agents believe they have strong cases against all four of them, said another U.S. official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. Each of the cases is considered sensitive given the involvement of high-ranking officials in the U.S. government.
The Justice Department has also faced political pressure to resolve the Petraeus matter. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), now the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote Holder last month expressing concern the case has continued to linger.
“At this critical moment in our nation’s security, Congress and the American people cannot afford to have this voice silenced or curtailed by the shadow of a long-running, unresolved investigation marked by leaks from anonymous sources,” said McCain, adding that he wasn’t seeking action “on behalf of any particular interest — and don’t presume to judge the outcome of any investigation.”
Federal investigators first searched Broadwell’s home in Charlotte in November 2012 and seized dozens of boxes of records as well as computer equipment. Aides to Petraeus have said they were often tasked to provide military records or other documents to Broadwell for her work on her book about him. That book, “All In,” was published in January 2012.
Any classified information investigators discovered could expose both her and Petraeus to charges. It is a crime to remove classified information from secure, government locations as well as to provide that information to others not authorized to receive it.
Petraeus now spends his time teaching and giving speeches; he also serves as chairman of the KKR Global Institute, a part of the private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
The 2012 investigation into Petraeus was triggered when Broadwell allegedly sent threatening e-mails to another woman who was a friend of Petraeus, Jill Kelley of Tampa. Kelley alerted an FBI agent she knew to seek protection and to help track down whoever had sent the e-mails.
The FBI traced the messages to Broadwell, a married Army reservist, and in the course of its investigation, uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus.
Investigators said they were at first concerned about the possibility that Petraeus, then the director of the CIA, had had his e-mail hacked. Further investigation led to the discovery of the affair with Broadwell.
Petraeus had become CIA director a short time earlier, in September 2011. His resignation cut short his time at the agency and also seemed to scuttle long-rumored presidential aspirations.
REPORT: David Petraeus May Be Charged With Leaking Classified Information To His Former Mistress
Former General David Petraeus’s 2012 adultery scandal may end up costing him more than just his job as CIA director.
Citing anonymous government officials, the New York Times is reporting that federal prosecutors with the FBI and the Department of Justice have recommended that Petraeus be charged with a felony for providing classified information to his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, who was also an Army Reserve officer.
Petraeus has been under investigation for unauthorized leaks related to the affair and Broadwell’s book since the scandal broke. Holder was supposed to decide on charging Petraeus by the end of last year. But the legal process has unfolded slowly, with the retired general showing “no interest in a plea deal that would spare him an embarrassing trial,” according to the Times.
The charges would represent a stunning turnabout for the celebrated former US commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and one of the military’s major proponents of counter-insurgency doctrine. As the Times puts it, Attorney General Eric Holder now has to decide “whether to seek an indictment that could send the pre-eminent military officer of his generation to prison.”
Petraeus abruptly resigned as CIA director on Nov. 10, 2012 after admitting that he had carried on an extra-marital affair with Broadwell the year before. For someone in a less sensitive position in government, such marital indiscretions aren’t necessarily a career-ender.
But for the director of the US’s top intelligence agency it’s nothing less than a national security risk. The affair could have provided potential blackmail fodder to foreign intelligence agencies while raising the possibility of just the kind of security breach Petraeus may now be charged with. After all, once classified information is in the hands of a single unauthorized individual, it can leak even further, the people beyond the intended recipient. And as CIA director, Petraeus security clearance was virtually limitless.
The Petraeus scandal quickly took on a tawdry aspect as news of the affair broke in the days after President Barack Obama’s re-election. It turns out the adultery was exposed because Jill Kelley, a friend of Petraeus who lived near US Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida and was active in local military support circles, had allegedly received threatening emails from a jealous Broadwell that she later reported to the FBI. The resulting investigation uncovered Petraeus’s affair with Broadwell and ended the retired general’s career in government.
But the possible charges shows that there’s a deeply serious side to this soap opera, with a sitting CIA director possibly violating his security clearance, thus proving that the affair had the potential to endanger US national security.
Business Insider reached out to Robert Barnett, the lawyer Petraeus hired in the aftermath of his resignation, for comment. He declined to comment.
Citizen’s Commission on Benghazi Reveals Damning New Report
Editor’s Note – The following is the latest interim report from the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. The commission is part of Accuracy in Media(AIM) of which MG Paul E. Vallely, CEO of Stand Up America US is a charter member. The following are also members of the commission:
Roger Aronoff (Editor, Accuracy in Media), Capt. Larry Bailey, (SEAL), USN (Ret.), Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Benway, U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired), Col. Dick Brauer Jr., USAF (Ret.), Lt. Col. Dennis B. Haney, USAF (Ret.), B/Gen. Charles Jones, USAF (Ret.), Clare Lopez, former CIA officer, Admiral James Lyons (Ret.), General Thomas McInerney (Ret.), Col. Wayne Morris USMC (Ret.), Chet Nagle, John A. Shaw, Kevin Shipp, former CIA officer, Wayne Simmons, former CIA officer, Former Congressman and Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Allen West.
The following story was published in the UK in the Daily Mail. Roger Aronoff also posted a letter to the press that you can read here. Roger Cover Letter Interim Report 4-22-14 (2).
Here is the full 30-page Interim Report published by the commission.
Benghazi attack could have been prevented if US hadn’t ‘switched sides in the War on Terror’ and allowed $500 MILLION of weapons to reach al-Qaeda militants, reveals damning report
- Citizens Committee on Benghazi claims the US government allowed arms to flow to al-Qaeda-linked militants who opposed Muammar Gaddafi
- Their rise to power, the group says, led to the Benghazi attack in 2012
- The group claims the strongman Gaddafi offered to abdicate his presidency, but the US refused to broker his peaceful exit
- The commission, part of the center-right Accuracy In Media group, concluded that the Benghazi attack was a failed kidnapping plot
- US Ambassador Chris Stevens was to be captured and traded for ‘blind sheikh’ Omar Abdel-Rahman, who hatched the 1993 WTC bombing plot
By DAVID MARTOSKO, U.S. POLITICAL EDITOR
Published at the Citizens’s Commission on Benghazi and cross-posted at the UK’s Daily Mail
The Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented – if the U.S. hadn’t been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier.
‘The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,’ Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.
She blamed the Obama administration for failing to stop half of a $1 billion United Arab Emirates arms shipment from reaching al-Qaeda-linked militants.
‘Remember, these weapons that came into Benghazi were permitted to enter by our armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea,’ Lopez claimed. ‘They were permitted to come in. … [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed..
‘The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.’
The weapons were intended for Gaddafi but allowed by the U.S. to flow to his Islamist opposition. (See Video Below)
‘The White House and senior Congressional members,’ the group wrote in an interim report released Tuesday, ‘deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler [Muammar Gaddafi] who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qaeda.’
‘Some look at it as treason,’ said Wayne Simmons, a former CIA officer who participated in the commission’s research.
Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic, another commission member, told reporters Tuesday that those weapons are now ‘all in Syria.’
‘Gaddafi wasn’t a good guy, but he was being marginalized,’ Kubic recalled. ‘Gaddafi actually offered to abdicate’ shortly after the beginning of a 2011 rebellion.
‘But the U.S. ignored his calls for a truce,’ the commission wrote, ultimately backing the horse that would later help kill a U.S. ambassador.
Kubic said that the effort at truce talks fell apart when the White House declined to let the Pentagon pursue it seriously.
‘We had a leader who had won the Nobel Peace Prize,’ Kubic said, ‘but who was unwilling to give peace a chance for 72 hours.’
In March 2011, Kubic said, U.S. Army Africa Commander General Carter told NBC News that the U.S. military was not actively targeting Muammar Gaddafi. That, Kubic revealed, was a signal to the Libyan dictator that there was a chance for a deal.
Gaddafi responded by ‘verifiably … pull[ing] his forces back from key rebel-held cities such as Benghazi and Misrata.’
Gaddafi wanted only two conditions to step down: permission to keeo fighting al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the lifting of sactions against him, his family, and those loyal to him.
The Obama administration’s unwillingness to help broker a peaceful exit for the Libyan strongman, ‘led to extensive loss of life (including four Americans)’ when al-Qaeda-linked militants attacked U.S. diplomatic facilities in the city of Benghazi,’ the commission told reporters.
The White House and the National Security Staff did not immediately respond to questions about the group’s findings.
‘We don’t claim to have all the answers here,’ said Roger Aronoff, whose center-right group Accuracy in Media sponsored the group and its work.
‘We hope you will, please, pursue this,’ he told reporters. ‘Check it out. Challenge us.’
The commission and AIM filed 85 document requests under the Freedom Of Information Act, hitting the Department of Defense, State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency with demand after demand.
But most of its information has come from insiders with deep knowledge of the flow of weapons in Libya and elsewhere in the African Maghreb.
Admiral James ‘Ace’ Lyons told the group that he believes the raid on the Benghazi compound was intended as a kidnapping exercise, aimed at snatching U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and demanding a prisoner swap for the ‘blind sheikh’ Omar Abdel-Rahman.
Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence in federal prison for planning the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center garage in New York City. He also masterminded a plan, later foiled, to blow up the United Nations, both the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and a federal building where the FBI had a base of operations.
A senior FBI source, Lyons said Tuesday, ‘told me that was the plan.’
The attack, history shows, grew in intensity and resulted in the deaths of Stevens and three other U.S. personnel.
Lyons also said U.S. claims that it lacked the resources to mount a counterattack in time to save lives is false.
‘I’m going to tell you that’s not true,’ he said. ‘We had a 130-man unit of forces at Sigonella [AFB in Italy]. They were ready to go.’
‘The flight time from Sigonella to Benghazi is roughly an hour.’
Some of the group’s claims strain credibility, including the assertion that the Obama administration’s early effort to blame the Benghazi attack on a protest against a crude anti-Muslim YouTube video ‘appears to have been well-coordinated with U.S.Muslim Brotherhood organizations as well as Islamic state members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).’
Those groups, the commission noted, ‘all joined in condemnation of the video, and, even more troubling, issued calls for restrictions on Americans’ free speech rights.’
But Simmons, the former CIA officer, criticized the Obama administration on the familiar refrain of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exclaiming in a Senate hearing that it mattered little why the Benghazi facilities were struck.
‘They believed they were going to be saved, that they were going to be rescued, but they weren’t,’ Simmons said of the four Americans who died.
‘I know who made the decision, in my heart of hearts, to leave our war fighters there and be blown up. And then to have one of the most powerful politicians in our country sit there and say, “What difference does it make?” – should be an alarm bell for all Americans.
‘It haunts me,’ Simmons said. ‘I play that line over, and over, and over, and over in my mind.’
The group has called for a Select Congressional Committee to investigate the Benghazi episode. A total of 189 House members have signed on to a bill that would create the committee, which would be bipartisan and have sweeping powers to subpoena the executive branch.
House Speaker John Boehner, Lopez said Tuesday, ‘he blocked it. One has to wonder if he and Congress have had some sort of briefing on what happened.’
Kubic insisted that Congress is unable to break logjams in the Obama administration and find out what happened in the days leading up to and following the Benghazi attack without a new committee.
‘If they don’t have strong subpoena power, if they don’t have the ability to do long-term cross examination, it won’t work,’ he said.
The Benghazi Scandal Is “Obama’s Watergate” But Worse
This article was first published by Global Research on May 2, 2014.
A trail of emails released Tuesday appears to shed yet more light on the Benghazi cover-up story that continues to nag President Obama and then Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. The latest exposure indicates that both Obama and Clinton knew that UN Secretary Susan Rice’s claim to the press that the attack on the Benghazi compound killing Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was due to an anti-Muslim youtube video was a complete lie. This latest piece of incriminating evidence is what Republicans are now calling their “smoking gun” despite months that have stretched into years of the Congressional investigation led by Representative Darrel Issa (R-CA). His so called investigation that was supposed to uncover the truth behind that fateful day of September 11th, 2012 has often been labeled “a witch hunt” by Democrats and supporters of Obama and Hillary Clinton.
This week’s news may be the needed breakthrough that will ultimately lead to the unveiling of what many critics of the Obama administration have been claiming all along. And that is Obama and Hillary purposely withheld the truth from the American public for fear that it would derail Obama’s reelection less than two months after the death of the four Americans in Benghazi. In retrospect now Obama’s rush to war in Syria last September is far better understood when taking a hard look at the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack.
The so called Arab spring uprising revolts in Middle Eastern and North African nations in fact have been the result of covert manipulation by the CIA. After getting rid of our one time allies in Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, next on the US regime-change hit list came Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. In 2007 retired General Wesley Clark revealed a neocon plan he became privy to a couple weeks after 9/11 of the ambitious Bush administration agenda to take down seven sovereign governments in the next five years that included Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Iran.
With gusto President Obama inherited this same agenda and proceeded to finish the job in removing Libya’s longtime dictator Gaddafi. And so began the NATO air bombardment of Libya killing many innocent victims that softened the resistance to an all out assault on Gaddafi’s military forces largely spearheaded by al Qaeda mercenaries from all over the Middle East as well as native Libyan al Qaeda affiliated militia groups, some from Benghazi.
In the spring of 2011 even prior to Gaddafi’s capture and killing, as an envoy to the rebel coalition the future Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens was sent to Benghazi, a city in eastern Libya that has long been a hotbed of Islamic extremism that includes various Al Qaeda affiliated groups and militias. Stevens spoke Arabic and had twenty years of foreign diplomatic service experience when he was selected to become the Ambassador after the fall of the Gaddafi government. The State Department resent him to work back in Benghazi rather than the Libyan capitol Tripoli to assist the area’s transition to the new puppet government the US had installed. But because Benghazi and eastern Libya had a history of resisting national governance, Stevens faced an uphill struggle and near impossible task. Beginning in June of 2012, a full three months prior to the Benghazi embassy compound attack that killed the Ambassador and three other Americans, Stevens’ requests for increased security began falling on deaf ears in Washington. Stevens’ boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, failed to heed any of his increasingly urgent calls. Just days prior to the embassy onslaught, the British consulate had been attacked and all its diplomatic staff were safely evacuated away.
Last year efforts to blame Stevens for irresponsibly turning down security offered in Benghazi were anonymously leaked, insisting that the ambassador twice had turned down offers of increased military security from AFRICOM commander General Ham.
For obvious reasons the now retired general refuses to discuss what he knew or did not know of the events leading up to the Benghazi attack. However, throughout the aftermath of the Americans’ deaths, Stevens’ own deputy ambassador Gregory Hicks in Tripoli has maintained that he never knew of any such alleged offers made to Stevens for more security.
Since the strategy targeting Ambassador Stevens as the sole reason for the lack of security at his embassy compound clearly backfired, a whitewashed report was released last year by the Accountability Review Board. The two men behind this report are Hillary’s buddies Ambassador Pickering and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullens. Thus no surprise that they decided from the outset that it would not be necessary to even bother to interview Hillary, satisfied to blame it on lower level State Department bureaucrats’ error in judgment not to supply adequate security. The alleged failure to authorize proper military security was because the Benghazi compound was relegated to being a temporary outpost. Of course this is just another feeble attempt to shield Queen Hillary who sent Stevens herself to Benghazi fully aware of it being an al Qaeda trouble spot.
But Benghazi under the cover of the State Department was ideal for the covert CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) needed to coordinate arms smuggling that Obama, Hillary and then CIA Director Petraeus were knee deep in. Stevens ultimately may have felt he was being used as the convenient decoy for the clandestine activity he wanted no part of.
Years earlier as a former Peace Corps volunteer and a seasoned career diplomat, becoming a lookout for an immoral criminal gun running operation may not have been what he had signed on for as the Libyan Ambassador. Thus, he very likely voiced his objection to what his bosses in Washington were misusing him for, and as vindictive and petty as Obama and Hillary are, Stevens was likely punished for not going along with their program. Hence, all his urgent pleas that began as early as June 2012, a full three months prior to the September attack, requesting increased security were ignored, including his desperate cry for help moments before his murder on the night of the 11th. Meanwhile, as he and three other Americans lay dying, back in the States Obama was flying out West to another high brow fundraiser so he could self-servingly get reelected.
What is most certain is that this trouble spot region was the hub of activity for special ops units comprised of special forces and a large number of CIA operatives in conjunction with British MI6. The CIA safely defended annex in Benghazi a mere mile and a half from the embassy compound was the largest CIA station in North Africa. The annex housed 35 CIA personnel responsible for coordinating the large arms smuggling operation to Syria, circumventing Congress by calling the CIA mission a liaison operation.
Two former special ops operatives Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy, authors of ‘Benghazi: The Definitive Report,’ have since claimed that a bureaucratic breakdown in communication between CIA and JSOC caused local Benghazi radicals to attack and kill Americans on 9/11/12. They believe that just days before an assassination carried out by Special Operations of a popular Libyan CIA informant had angered an al Qaeda affiliated militia called Ansar al-Sharia to launch the attack as retribution. The former Special Ops boys, one of whom was friends with one of the killed Americans Glen Doherty, speculated that the root cause of the American embassy deaths was the result of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing in the over-compartmentalized, ultra-guarded secrecy of competing clandestine intelligence operations and that this problem commonly serves as a major barrier and significant dysfunction of American foreign policy in general. They believe the Ambassador was probably only peripherally aware of the high presence of CIA and JSOC operations in the area but was never directly involved or looped in.
This claim appears to be a disinformation ploy to again absolve the higher ups Obama and Clinton of any responsibility. It did little to quiet the conjecture surrounding the attack that Stevens knew too much and had become a thorn in the side of the hierarchical status quo.
Though the former special ops authors may have offered small minor details on the Benghazi story, obviously far more was going down than they alluded to. On October 26th, 2012 a mere two weeks prior to the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell affair broke as the scandalous headlines, Broadwell hyping her ‘All In’ biography of the general spoke at the University of Denver divulging her inside scoop on the Benghazi attack that had taken place a month and a half earlier. She claimed the attack on the compound was probable payback for CIA detaining local members from the same Libyan militia responsible for the assault. Or that the attackers may have been attempting to free their prisoners. Though only one news reporter from Fox paid any attention to Paula at the time, once their tryst was exposed a short time afterwards, much speculation raised the issue that Broadwell unwittingly revealed classified information that could well have been leaked through her intimacy with the then CIA Director. That the mistress was privy to such insider lowdown compromising sensitive US intelligence operations headquartered at the CIA Benghazi annex is a very real possibility, especially since classified documents were later uncovered at her North Carolina home.
In view of the CIA’s fervent denial that any prisoners were detained in Benghazi and Obama’s January 2009 executive order outlawing the CIA business of holding prisoners, Paula shooting her mouth off as an insider know-it-all implicated her lover Petraeus and his CIA as criminals engaging in an unlawful operation. But then that illegal activity amounts to small peanuts in comparison to the much bigger crime being committed by her lover CIA boss Petraeus and his crime bosses Obama and Hillary for using the same Libyan al Qaeda militants who murdered the four Americans on 9/11/12 to smuggle guns from Benghazi across international borders to be used against Assad in Syria.
Despite Ambassador Stevens’ repeated requests for more security, it was never given. So when about 150 members of the local militia Ansar al-Sharia stormed the gates of the compound carrying machine guns and rocket propelled grenades (RPG’s), the handful of unarmed Libyan security contractors instantly fled and soon enough the building was engulfed in flames. The nearby annex in Benghazi where thirty-five CIA operatives worked was called during the crisis to assist those Americans at the embassy. CIA security officer Tyrone Woods convinced his supervisor at the annex with five other security personnel to rush to the embassy’s aid. Both Woods and Glen Doherty were former Navy Seals commandos who died from bullet wounds at the second attack at the annex killed by a mortar after Sean Smith, an information officer, and Ambassador Stevens had already died from smoke inhalation. According to authors Webb and Murphy, due to Woods and Doherty’s heroics along with four other CIA analysts, the remaining embassy staff were apparently able to safely escape the burning compound. An overhead surveillance drone had been dispatched above the compound prior to that second attack that occurred at the annex. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and CIA Director Petraeus were all informed of the crisis unfolding during the afternoon local Washington time. Yet they chose to not even bother contacting the Marines stationed in the capital Tripoli, allegedly figuring they would take too long to arrive on the scene in Benghazi. So after ignoring the Ambassador’s pleas urging for more security for three straight months, they coldly refused to order any further military assistance at the time the four Americans lost their lives.
Instead they ordered UN Ambassador Susan Rice to later lie to the American public claiming that the attack was instigated by that anti-Moslem youtube video. Under the increasing pressure of Benghazi questions, suddenly Hillary keeled over with a brain clot to conveniently dodge any more heat. And of course Petraeus was soon engulfed in scandal with his mistress Broadwell, retiring from the CIA and out of sight for months thereafter, conveniently ducking from his hot seat. And then soon enough Clinton was resigning as Secretary of State, evading any further scrutiny as the Ambassador’s boss most responsible for the deaths of the four Americans.
Another piece of incriminating evidence is that the FBI team sent in to investigate the Benghazi murders never even arrived at the crime scene until three weeks after the attack, making sure that vital forensic evidence could be conveniently lost, confiscated or destroyed. Despite having videotape that allowed individual attackers to be identified by name, they all still remain free to this day. Eleven months after the attack the US Justice Department last August in a hollow gesture officially charged the alleged suspects in a sealed indictment. But without them in custody, it means nothing.
Clinton strategically figured she would lay low long enough out of the public spotlight to effectively distance herself from Benghazi to make another run for President in 2016. But while briefly still back on the job and those nagging Benghazi questions weren’t going away fast enough, she completely lost it, screaming, “What difference at this point does it make?” – obviously all the difference in the world to her and her buddy Barrack. On 9/11 the year before last, Obama, Clinton and Petraeus sacrificed four American lives that day to preserve their own careers as powerful evil despots who with blind ambition would stop at nothing to remain in power.
President Obama and Hillary Clinton have both gone to great lengths to make sure that their cover-up concealing the truth never gets exposed. With the attack taking place less than two months prior to Obama’s reelection, they are determined that the truth never sees the light of day. However, big cracks are looming in their wall of defense and their lies are falling like a house of cards. Mounting evidence indicates both Obama and Clinton were engaged in a highly covert and illicit arms smuggling operation moving weapons from Libya through Turkey to the anti-Assad rebels in Syria. And at stake for Obama and Clinton was their future plans to win the presidential election in 2012 and 2016.
On August 2nd, 2013 three full weeks prior to the sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburb killing scores of Syrian civilians including children, UK’s Telegraph reporter Damien McElroy wrote an article asserting that Obama and Hillary are guilty as charged, engaging in a gun-running operation that included surface to air missiles and even chemical weapons speculating that a “false flag operation” might occur as a deceptive ploy to make false accusations against Assad. Again, this article came out three weeks PRIOR to Obama accusing Assad of using chemical weapons. No coincidence in the timing. Since then renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh who broke the My Lai massacre story and cover-up during the Vietnam War and a host of other journalists have since provided convincing evidence that the chemical attack last August was committed by US backed al Qaeda rebels.
And those 35 CIA agents stationed at the nearby Benghazi annex, word came out that every month since the event they have been required to undergo polygraph tests just to ensure they keep quiet. One insider even told CNN last year, “You jeopardize your family as well if you talk to anyone about what happened.”
Aside from Obama, Hillary and Petraeus evading accountability at all cost, what is most incriminating is that the very same Al Qaeda jihadists armed, financed and supported with American taxpayer dollars during the Libyan regime-change are the exact same individuals who have gotten away with murdering those four Americans in Benghazi. For more than three years now America and Saudi Arabia have been sponsoring and funding al Qaeda affiliated militia groups from all over the Middle East and North Africa fighting Assad forces in Syria in the latest regime-change war. When the murders went down on 9/11/12, Hillary’s State Department had been acting as a cover supporting al Qaeda elements smuggling arms to Syria to fight in that so called civil war. Much of Gaddafi’s huge stash of arms had been looted, falling into the hands of American-backed rebel forces in Libya, including chemical weapons that were never accounted for. By pure accident, the Benghazi tragedy reveals the ongoing war by proxy that the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been waging against Syria and its strongest allies Iran and Russia.
As a side note, ex-CIA Director Petraeus was allowed to retain his full status as a retired four star general at full pay despite committing adultery while still serving as Afghanistan War commander when military personnel of lower rank are customarily demoted and forced to retire at a lower pension rate for the exact same offense of adultery. Mistress Paula Broadwell also suffered no formal consequence regarding her retention rank as major in the US Army Reserves. It seems obvious that Petraeus has been rewarded for his loyal silence on the Benghazi incident. Additionally, several days after Petraeus ducked out of sight in disgrace after resigning as CIA Director, Petraeus’ wife as the victim of his adulterous affair was suddenly being promoted by Obama to a new cushy position made especially for her earning near Petraeus’ retirement pension of $200,000 per year.
Then just over a week after his CIA resignation Petraeus was called in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee but given a free pass in his not having to testify under a sworn oath to disclose the full truth of what he knew. So he proceeded to lie before Congress claiming that he consistently said that an al Qaeda affiliated militia group was behind the attack. In fact Petraeus secretly flew to Libya immediately after the attack and upon his return to the US a couple days later Petraeus held the official administration line they knew to be false that the Benghazi attack was due to the bogus anti-Moslem video. Of course with the scandal causing his own presidential ambitions to be thoroughly shattered, Petraeus more recently has gone on public record stating that Hillary Clinton would make “an excellent president.” Clearly he is towing the line as a good little boy for keeping his mouth shut for Hillary and Barrack.
Obama lied when he promised to ensure that those guilty of the attack would be brought to justice. Now going on two years later not one of the attackers has even been apprehended or arrested. With the murderers in the Benghazi assault still at large, many of the attackers afterwards moved on with the arms they were helping to smuggle to join US-supported rebel forces fighting the Assad government in Syria. They may have been silenced by now, secretly killed by judge, jury and executioner President Obama in his lust to kill his enemies with drone missile attacks. In any event, rest assure none of the perpetrators behind the Benghazi attack will ever be captured alive or prosecuted. They simply know too much. Last 9/11/13 barely a peep was heard from the mainstream media on the very first anniversary of the Benghazi tragedy. The reason is all too obvious.
Many of the family members of the murdered Americans felt that Obama and his administration were responsible for their loved ones deaths. Some complained about Obama’s condolences as brusk, insincere and insensitive. They were disturbed further with Obama’s response on a 60 Minutes segment in late January 2013. Obama and Hillary were answering questions about Benghazi when Obama quoted Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “At this moment somewhere, somehow, somebody in the federal government’s screwing up” as he turned to Hillary laughing at his joke about their Benghazi screw-up that killed four Americans. They also had to be upset hearing the president on another occasion callously dismissing the Benghazi tragedy as “a sideshow.”
Not surprisingly, the US installed puppet government in Libya has been of no assistance in its lack of cooperation with revealing any further details of the attack. Last June the chaos, lawlessness and terror in Benghazi only continued as thirty-one Libyans protesting their grievances against an al Qaeda militia group were brutally massacred outside the al Qaeda headquarters. The entire eastern region of Libya today is still not under control of the national government, which has largely been taken over by US backed al Qaeda affiliates. Libya today is in complete shambles steeped in corruption, instability and violence.
Meanwhile, the two American criminals most responsible for the attack, President Obama and presidential heir-apparent Hilary Clinton need to be held accountable for their crimes along with their other partner-in-crime General Petraeus. With the belated truth behind Benghazi slowly coming out, Obama should be impeached and Hillary must never become president. Ironically the crime of Nixon’s Watergate cover-up that brought down the first and only president in US history forced to resign in disgrace pales in comparison to the crimes committed by the likes of the Obama administration.
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.
Jihadism (jihadist movement, jihadi movement and variants) is used to refer to contemporary armed jihad in Islamic fundamentalism. The term “jihadism” is coined in the 2000s and mostly used to cover Islamic insurgency and terrorism since that time, but it has also been extended to cover both Mujahideen guerilla warfare and Islamic terrorism with an international scope since it arose in the 1980s, since the 1990s substantially represented by the al-Qaeda network.
Contemporary jihadism ultimately has its roots in the late 19th and early 20th century ideological developments of Islamic revivalism, developed intoQutbism and related ideologies during the mid 20th century. Its rise was re-enforced by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and has been propagated in various armed conflicts throughout the 1990s and 2000s. A specifically Salafist jihadism has been diagnosed within the Salafi movement of the 1990s by Gilles Kepel.
Jihadism with an international, Pan-Islamist scope in this sense is also known as Global Jihadism. Generally the term jihadism denotes SunniIslamist armed struggle. Sectarian tensions led to numerous forms of (Salafist and other Islamist) jihadism in opposition of Shia Islam, Sufi Islamand Ahmadi Islam.
||Look up jihadism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Further information: Jihad
The term “jihadism” has been in use since about 2000, reportedly at first in the form “jihadist-Salafism“, and soon reduced to “jihadism”, according to Martin Kramer (2003) first in the Indian and Pakistani media. “At present, jihadism is used to refer to the most violent persons and movements in contemporary Islam, including al-Qaeda.” Gilles Kepel is associated with early usage of the term (French djihadisme), and the term has seen wider use in French media since about 2004. Brachman in his Global jihadism (2008) maintains that the term is “clumsy and controversial”.
The term “Jihadist Globalism” is also often used in relation to Jihadism; Steger (2009) maintains that the concept is “globalist” in nature, stating that “‘jihadist Islamism’ — represented by such groups as Al Qaeda, Jemaa Islamiya, Hamas and Hezbollah — is today’s most spectacular manifestation of religious globalism.” 
Jihad Cool is a term used by Western security experts concerning the re-branding of militant Jihadism into something fashionable, or “cool”, to younger people through social media, magazines, rap videos, clothing, toys, propaganda videos, and other means. It is a sub-culture mainly applied to individuals in developed nations who are recruited to travel to conflict zones on Jihad. For example Jihadi rap videos make participants look “more MTV than Mosque”, according to NPR, which was the first to report on the phenomenon in 2010.
When jihadism is specifically motivated by Pan-Islamism, i.e. the ultimate aim of spreading Islam worldwide under a restored Caliphate, it is often called “Global Jihadism”. But jihadism can also be motivated regionally, in an attempt to establish an Islamic state in a specific homeland. Global Jihadism is usually involved with international Islamic terrorism, while regional jihadism takes the form of guerrilla warfare, possibly also paired with terrorist attacks.
While the western term of “jihadism” was coined only in the early 2000s, and in retrospect applied to developments since the end of the Cold War era, this type of Islamist armed uprising against a secular government goes back to the early 19th century. The transition of this form ofguerilla warfare was the decline of the great Muslim empires of the Early Modern period which could wage war on the scale of a great power and did not need to rely on asymmetric warfare (see Ottoman wars in Europe, Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire). Early jihadist conflicts include:
Modern Islamism developed in the 1920s, and there have been a number of armed “jihads” informed by this movement since then.
While the “jihads” waged in the 19th and early-to-mid 20th century occasionally did involve western colonial powers, the phenomenon did remain mostly limited to the Middle East and the wider Muslim World. This changed significantly with the foundation of the state of Israel and the beginning of the Arab–Israeli conflict after the end of World War II. (Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine 1981–present, Islamic Jihad Organization 1982-1993,Hamas 1987–present). This sparked the beginning of international Islamic terrorism and put “jihadism” on the global agenda.
Islamic revivalism and Salafism (1990s to present)
The term jihadism (earlier Salafi jihadism) has arisen in the 2000s to refer to the contemporary jihadi movements, the development of which was in retrospect traced to developments of Salafism paired with the origins of Al-Qaeda in the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1990s.
Jihadism has been called an “offshoot” of Islamic revivalism of the 1960s and 1970s. The writings of Sayyid Qutb and Muhammad abd-al-Salam Farajprovide inspiration. The Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989) is said to have “amplified the jihadist tendency from a fringe phenomenon to a major force in the Muslim world. It served to produce foot soldiers, leadership and organization. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam provided propaganda for the Afghan cause. After the war veteran jihadists returned to their home countries and dispersed to other sites of Muslim insurgency such as Algeria,Bosnia and Chechnya creating a “transnational jihadist stream.”
Jihad fi sabilillah
According to scholar of Islam and Islamic history Rudoph Peters, Traditionalist Muslims “copy phrases of the classical works on fiqh” in their writings on jihad; Islamic Modernists “emphasize the defensive aspect of jihad, regarding it as tantamount to bellum justum in modern international law; and the fundamentalists (Abul Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, etc.) view it as a struggle for the expansion of Islam and the realization of Islamic ideals.”
Jihad has been propagated in modern fundamentalism beginning in the late 19th century, an ideology that arose in context of struggles against colonial powers in North Africa in the late 19th century, as in the Mahdist War in Sudan, and notably in the mid-20th century by Islamic revivalistauthors such as Sayyid Qutb and Abul Ala Maududi.
Based on this, the phrase is re-used in modern jihadism. Thus, “Fi Sabilillah” armbands were worn by rebels in Xinjiang when battling Soviet forces,and the phrase has been spotted on flags used by jihadists in Caucasia in the 2000s.
A rebel camp was set up in the early 19th century by Sayyid Ahmed Barelvi after leaving India for Afghanistan. There he set up a rebel camp to launch attacks against the Sikh power which was centered in the Punjab before focusing his attention of the British. Waliullah’s teachings directly inspired jihad against Sikhs between 1826 and 1831.
The Hindu Kush refers to a region in Northwest India and translates as the slaughter of the Hindus. It refers to an incident when Hindus were transported to Muslim courts. Aurangzebsupervised a book called Fatawa al-Hindiyya which dealth with the subject of Jihad. Jihad was also considered by oSIMI in response to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
In 1532, Sultan Said Khan launched a jihad against Tibetan Buddhists. He thought that Lhasa was a direction of prayer for all the Chinese and therefore sought to destroy its main temple. The jihadist expedition was led by Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat.
There are references in some hadiths to jihad being launched against Jews. Ayman al-Zawahiri declared a fatwa of jihad against Jews in 1998. One of the earliest Jihads against Jews occurred in 627 AD against the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe.
During the Muslim conquest of Persia, Jihadists caused the fall of the largely Zoroastrian Sasanian Empire. Major battles included the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah and Battle of Nahāvand.
During Muhammad’s lifetime, there were many battles fought between Muslims and pagans. Examples of these include the Battle of Badr and Battle of the Trench. however after conquest of Makkah in Hijri 8, Muhammad forgave all the pagan enemies which resulted in most of them converting to Islam.
During the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, many Muslims received calls for a jihad against atheists. Mujahideen were recruited from various countries including Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. The conflict gradually turned from one against occupation to one seen as a jihad.
The European crusaders re-conquered much of the territory seized by the Islamic state, dividing it into four kingdoms, the most important being the state of Jerusalem. The Crusades originally had the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy Land (former Christian territory) from Muslim rule and were originally launched in response to a call from the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire for help against the expansion of the Muslim Seljuk Turks into Anatolia. There was little drive to retake the lands from the crusaders, save the few attacks made by the Egyptian Fatimids. This changed, however, with the coming of Zangi, ruler of what is today northern Iraq. He took Edessa, which triggered the Second Crusade, which was little more than a 47-year stalemate. The stalemate was ended with the victory of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, known in the west as Saladin, over the forces of Jerusalem at the Horns of Hattin in 1187. It was during the course of the stalemate that a great deal of literature regarding Jihad was written. While amassing his armies in Syria, Saladin had to create a doctrine which would unite his forces and make them fight until the bitter end, which would be the only way they could re-conquer the lands taken in the First Crusade. He did this through the creation of Jihad propaganda. It stated that any one who would abandon the Jihad would be committing a sin that could not be washed away by any means. It also put his amirs at the center of power, just under his rule. While this propaganda was successful in uniting his forces for a time, the fervor burned out quickly. Much of Saladin’s teachings were rejected after his death.
The Syrian Civil War became a focus for Sunni fighters waging jihad on Shia. The al-Nusra Front is the largest jihadist group in Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has called for jihad against the Syrian government and against that government’s Shi’ite allies. Saudi Arabia backs the jihad against the Shia in Syria using proxies. Sunni jihadi converge in Syria from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Bosnia, other Arab states, Chechnya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Western countries.
- Jump up^ Martin Kramer (Spring 2003). “Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists?”. Middle East Quarterly X (2): 65–77. “French academics have put the term into academic circulation as ‘jihadist-Salafism.’ The qualifier of Salafism—an historical reference to the precursor of these movements—will inevitably be stripped away in popular usage. “Jihadist-Salafism” is defined by Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 219-22; and Guilain Deneoux, “The Forgotten Swamp: Navigating Political Islam,” Middle East Policy, June 2002, pp. 69-71.”
- Jump up^ DJIHADISME Une déclaration de guerre contre Moubarak, Courrier International, 14 October 2004;Islamisme radical et djihadisme en ligne Le Monde 28 September 2005.
- Jump up^ Steger, Manfred B. Globalization: A Short Introduction. 2009. Oxford University Publishing, p. 127.
- ^ Jump up to:a b Laura Italiano (June 20, 2014). “American Muslims flocking to jihadist group”. New York Post. RetrievedAugust 22, 2014.
- Jump up^ Steve Emerson (April 15, 2013). “Jihad is Cool: Jihadist Magazines Recruit Young Terrorists”. Family Security Matters. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- Jump up^ J. Dana Stuster (April 29, 2013). “9 Disturbingly Good Jihadi Raps”. Foreign Policy. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- Jump up^ Robert Spencer (August 7, 2014). “India: Imam arrested for distributing Islamic State t-shirts”. Jihad Watch. RetrievedAugust 22, 2014.
- Jump up^ Jytte Klausen (2012). “The YouTube Jihadists: A Social Network Analysis of Al-Muhajiroun’s Propaganda Campaign”. Perspectives on Terrorism 6 (1). RetrievedAugust 22, 2014.
- Jump up^ Cheryl K. Chumley (June 27, 2014). “Terrorists go ‘Jihad Cool,’ use rap to entice young Americans”. Washington Times. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- Jump up^ Dina Temple-Raston (March 6, 2010). “Jihadi Cool: Terrorist Recruiters’ Latest Weapon”. National Public Radio. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- Jump up^ Commins, David (2009). The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. I.B.Tauris. p. 174.
- Jump up^ Commins, David (2009). The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. I.B.Tauris. pp. 156, 7.
- Jump up^ Peters, Rudolph (1996). Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam: A Reader. Princeton: Marcus Wiener. p. 150.
- Jump up^ Rudolph Peters, Jihad in modern terms: a reader 2005, p. 107 and note p. 197. John Ralph Willis, “Jihad Fi Sabil Allah”, in: In the path of Allah: the passion of al-Hajj ʻUmar : an essay into the nature of charisma in Islam, Routledge, 1989,ISBN 978-0-7146-3252-0, 29-57. “Gibb [Mohammedanism, 2nd ed. 1953] rightly could conclude that one effect of the renewed emphasis in the nineteenth century on the Qur’an and Sunna in Muslim fundamentalism was to restore to jihad fi sabilillah much of the prominence it held in the early days of Islam. Yet Gibb, for all his perception, did not consider jihad within the context of its alliance to ascetic and revivalist sentiments, nor from the perspectives which left it open to diverse interpretations.” (p. 31)
- Jump up^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 144. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Jump up^ Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity – Page 36
- Jump up^ Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia – Page 57, Ayesha Jalal – 2009
- Jump up^ Islamic Economics and the Final Jihad David J. Jonsson – 2006 – Page 87
- Jump up^ Understanding Jihad, David Cook – 2005, r 49
- Jump up^ Islamism and Democracy in India, p 147, Irfan Ahmad – 2009
- Jump up^ Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road – Page 174, Johan Elverskog – 2011 -
- Jump up^ Sahih Muslim 41:6985, Sahih Muslim 41:6981, Sahih Muslim 41:6982
- Jump up^ Guillaume, Alfred, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah. Oxford University Press, 1955
- Jump up^ Iranian History and Politics: The Dialectic of State and Society By Homa Katouzian, pg. 25
- Jump up^ The Expansion of the Saracens-The East, C.H. Becker, The Cambridge Medieval History:The Rise of the Saracens and the Foundation of the Western Empire, Vol. 2, ed. John Bagnell Bury, (MacMillan Company, 1913), 348.
- Jump up^ The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global – Page 68, Fawaz A. Gerges – 2009 -
- Jump up^ Aging Early: Collapse of the Oasis of Liberties – Page 47, Mirza Aman – 2009
- Jump up^ Withdrawing Under Fire, Joshua L. Gleis – 2011
- Jump up^ “Inside Jabhat al Nusra – the most extreme wing of Syria’s struggle”. 2 December 2012.
- Jump up^ Maggie Fick (June 14, 2013). “Egypt Brothers backs Syria jihad, slams Shi’ites”. Reuters.
- Jump up^ Robert F. Worth (Jan 7, 2014). “Saudis Back Syrian Rebels Despite Risks”. New York Times.
- Jump up^ Mark Hosenball (May 1, 2014). “In Iraq and Syria, a resurgence of foreign suicide bombers”. The Economist.
- Jump up^ Darion Rhodes, Salafist-Takfiri Jihadism: the Ideology of the Caucasus Emirate, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, March 2014
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The al-Nusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra, (JN, Arabic: جبهة النصرة لأهل الشام Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahli ash-Shām, “The Support Front for the People of Al-Sham“), sometimes called Tanzim Qa’edat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Sham or al-Qaeda in Syria, is a branch of al-Qaedaoperating in Syria and Lebanon.
The group announced its formation on 23 January 2012, during the Syrian Civil War. Since then, it has been described as both “the most aggressive and successful” and “one of the most effective rebel forces” in Syria. The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Turkey.
al-Nusra aims to overthrow the Assad regime and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state. Although the group is affiliated with al-Qaeda, al-Nusra does not emphasize Western targets or global jihad, focusing instead on the “near enemy” of the Syrian state.
This resistance group is generally made up of native Syrian mujahideen who adhere to Sunni Islam. Its goal is to overthrow Bashar al-Assad‘s regime in Syria and create an Islamic Emirate under Sharia law.
In early 2014, Dr. Sami Al Oraidi, a top Sharia official in the group, acknowledged that his group is influenced by the teachings of Abu Musab al-Suri. The strategies derived from Abu Musab’s guidelines include: providing services to people, avoid being seen as extremists, maintaining strong relationships with communities and other fighting groups, and putting the focus on fighting the regime.
Members of the group are accused of attacking the religious beliefs of non-Sunnis in Syria, including the Alawis. New York Timesjournalist C. J. Chivers cites “some analysts and diplomats” as noting that al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant“can appear less focused on toppling” the al-Assad government than on “establishing a zone of influence spanning Iraq’s Anbar Province and the desert eastern areas of Syria, and eventually establishing an Islamic territory under their administration.”
Members of the group have referred to the United States and Israel as enemies of Islam and warned against Western intervention in Syria. Syrian members of the group claim they are only fighting the Assad government and would not attack Western states. The United States accused it of being affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq; in April 2013, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq released an audio statement affirming this connection.
The leader, a self-proclaimed Emir, of al-Nusra goes by the name of Abu Mohammad al-Julani (also transliterated as: Mohammed and al-Jawlani, or: al-Golani), which implies that he is from the Golan Heights (al-Jawlan, in Arabic). Very little is known about him, with even his nationality unclear. However, in an interview with Al Jazeera, he spoke Classical Arabic with a Syrian accent.
On 18 December 2013, he gave his first television interview, to Tayseer Allouni, a journalist originally from Syria, for Al Jazeera.
The structure of the group varies across Syria. In Damascus the organisation operates in an underground clandestine cell system, while in Aleppo, the group is organized along semi-conventional military lines, with units divided into brigades, regiments, and platoons. All potential recruits must undertake a 10-day religious-training course, followed by a 15-to-20-day military-training program.
Al-Nusra contains a hierarchy of religious bodies, with a small Majlis-ash-Shura (Consultative Council) at the top, making national decisions on behalf of the group. Religious personnel also play an important role in the regional JN leadership, with each region having a commander and a sheikh. The sheikh supervises the commander from a religious perspective and is known as dabet al-shar’i (religious commissioner).
An increasing number of Americans have been attempting to join the fighting in Syria, As MD Ahmad Zarkali and Thayer al-atheim and fifty of friends specifically with al-Nusra. Most recently, Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, was arrested in California on 11 October 2013, on charges of attempting to travel to join Al Qaeda after reportedly having fought in Syria.As of November 2013 there had also been five additional publicly disclosed cases of Americans fighting in Syria, three of which were linked to al-Nusrah.
All statements and videos by the al-Nusra Front have been released by its media outlet, al-Manarah al-Bayda (The White Minaret), via the leading jihadist webforum Shamoukh al-Islam.
The Quilliam Foundation, in a briefing paper, reports that many of the group’s members are Syrians who were part of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi‘s Islamist network fighting the American forces in Iraq. Many of these Syrians remained in Iraq after the withdrawal of American forces, but upon the outbreak of Syrian civil war in 2011, the Islamic State of Iraq sent the Syrian mujahideen and individual Iraqi experts in guerrilla warfare into Syria. A number of meetings were held between October 2011 and January 2012 in Rif Dimashq and Homs where the objectives of the group were determined.
The al-Nusra Front released its first public statement on January 24, 2012, in which they called for armed struggle against the Syrian government. The group claimed responsibility for the2012 Aleppo bombings, the January 2012 al-Midan bombing, the March 2012 Damascus bombings, the murder of journalist Mohammed al-Saeed, and possibly the 10 May 2012 Damascus bombings.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has said that al-Qaeda in Iraq members have gone to Syria, where the militants previously received support and weapons, in order to join the al-Nusra Front. They are considered to be the best trained and most experienced fighters among the Syrian rebels. The group has refused calls for a ceasefire in Syria.
US intelligence agencies had originally suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq for the bombings in Aleppo and Damascus. Iraq’s deputy interior minister said early February that weapons and Islamist militants were entering Syria from its country. The Front claimed credit for suicide attacks in the Syrian capital of Damascus al-Zahra al-Zubaydi. A defected diplomat named Nawaf al-Fares stated in an interview with the The Daily Telegraph that jihadis were used by the Syrian government in attacks against civilians so that the government could blame the deaths on Syrian rebels.
Role in the Syrian Civil War
The al-Nusra Front has been a great help to Syrian rebels in the Battle of Aleppo. One rebel said that members of the group “rush to the rescue of rebel lines that come under pressure and hold them […] They know what they are doing and are very disciplined. They are like the special forces of Aleppo.” After the US designated the al-Nusra Front as an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, several rebel groups defied the US classification and rallied behind the al-Nusra Front, declaring, “We are all Jabhat Al Nusra.” A Free Syrian Army (FSA) leader in Aleppo berated the move, and a FSA spokesman in Aleppo said, “We might not share the same beliefs as Jabhat al-Nusra, but we are fighting the same enemy.” Some FSA fighters defected to the al-Nusra Front.
While some FSA leaders are worried by the al-Nusra Front’s theocratic ideology and plans for Syria’s future, they see foreign extremists as a welcomed boost to the fight against the Assad regime, bringing experience from Iraq and Afghanistan. While FSA has consistently stated their disapproval of al-Nusra Front’s use of suicide bombs, they have also thanked them for some suicide operations with strategic benefit, such as the attack on the Menagh Airbase. Some disgruntled voices within the FSA accused the al-Nusra Front and others of “hijacking a revolution that began as an uprising to demand a democratic system.” The leader of a rebel group in Idlib Province said “We are not fighting Bashar al-Assad to go from living in an autocratic to a religious prison”. A “senior political official” of the FSA said “Their presence is reducing the popular support that we desperately need in areas where we operate […] I appreciate their motives for coming to Syria. We cannot deny Muslims their right to jihad, but we want them to leave”. In some parts of Syria, “Jihadist and secular rebel groups watch each other’s military bases warily, unclasping the safety catches on their guns as they pass.” Some members of the FSA believe that, after the Assad government has been overthrown, the next war will be between the FSA and the Islamists.
The leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Moaz al-Khatib, called on the US to reconsider its decision to list the al-Nusra Front as a foreign terrorist organization; al-Khatib has stated that all rebel forces whose main goal is “the fall of the regime” should be left alone. After the listing of al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation by the US in December 2012, a group of 29 opposition groups, including both fighting units and civilian organizations signed an online petition calling for demonstrations in its support. On 14 December 2012, thousands of Syrians protested against the US move, under the slogan of “There is no terrorism in Syria except that of Assad.”
Split with Islamic State of Iraq
In April 2013, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released a recorded audio message on the Internet, in which he announced that Jabhat al-Nusra was an extension of al-Qaeda in Iraq in Syria. Al-Baghdadi said that Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, had been dispatched by the group along with a group of men to Syria to meet with pre-existing cells in the country. Al-Baghdadi said that the ISI had provided Jabhat al-Nusra with the plans and strategy needed for the Syrian Civil War and had been providing them funding on a monthly basis. Al-Baghdadi then declared that the two groups were officially merging under the name, Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham/the Levant (ISIS/ISIL). The next day al-Julani rejected the merger and affirmed the group’s allegiance to Al-Qaeda and its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. al-Julani was quoted as saying “We inform you that neither the al-Nusra command nor its consultative council, nor its general manager were aware of this announcement. It reached them via the media and if the speech is authentic, we were not consulted.”
In May 2013, Reuters reported that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the ISI, had traveled from Iraq to Syria’s Aleppo Governorate province and began recruiting members of al-Nusra. There were media reports that many of al-Nusra’s foreign fighters had left to join al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), while many Syrian fighters left the group to join other Islamist brigades. Sometime in May 2013, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the leader of al-Nusra, was injured by an airstrike conducted by the Syrian Regime. In June 2013, Al Jazeera reported that it had obtained a letter written by al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, addressed to both Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abu Mohammad al-Julani, in which he ruled against the merger of the two organisations and appointed an emissary to oversee relations between them and put an end to tensions. Later in the same month, an audio message from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was released in which he rejected al-Zawahiri’s ruling and declared that the merger of the two organizations into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was going ahead. This sequence of events is said to have caused much confusion and division amongst members of al-Nusra.
Some units of al-Nusra began taking part in clashes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and in February 2014, after continued tensions, al-Qaeda publicly disavowed any relations with ISIS. In the same month, al-Julani threatened to go to war with ISIS over their suspected role in the killing of senior Ahrar ash-Sham commander Abu Khaled al-Souri. al-Julani gave ISIS five days to submit evidence that they were innocent in the attack to three imprisoned Jihadist clerics, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Abu Qatada al-Falastini, and Suleiman al-Alwan. On 16 April 2014, ISIS killed al-Nusra’s Idlib chief Abu Mohammad al-Ansari together with his family, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. In May 2014, open fighting soon broke out between ISIS and al-Nusra in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, leaving hundreds dead on both sides. By July 2014, al-Nusra had largely been expelled from the province.
In July 2014, an audio recording attributed to al-Julani appeared online, in which he said that al-Nusra planned to establish an Islamic emirate in the areas of Syria that they have a presence. A statement issued on 12 July 2014 by al-Nusra’s media channel affirmed the authenticity of the recording, but stated that they had not yet declared the establishment of an emirate.
During the Syrian Civil War, the group launched many attacks, mostly against targets affiliated with or supportive of the Syrian government. As of June 2013, al-Nusra Front had claimed responsibility for 57 of the 70 suicide attacks in Syria during the conflict.
One of the first bombings which al-Nusra was suspected of and the first suicide attack of the war came on 23 December 2011, when two seemingly coordinated bombings occurred in the Syrian capital of Damascus, killing 44 people and wounding 166.
The al-Midan bombings of January 2012 were allegedly carried out by a fighter named Abu al-Baraa al-Shami. Footage of the destruction caused by the blast was released on a jihadist forum. The video asserts that the “martyrdom-seeking operation” was executed “in revenge for our mother Umm Abdullah—from the city of Homs—against whom the criminals of the regime violated her dignity and threatened to slaughter her son,” SITE reported. The video shows “an excerpt of allegiances, operations, and training of the al-Nusra Front” as well as a fighter “amongst the masses in a public demonstration, advising them to do their prayers and adhere to the rituals of Islam.”
The al-Nusra Front announced the formation of the “Free Ones of the Levant Brigades”, in a YouTube video statement that was released on January 23. In the statement, the group claimed that it attacked the headquarters of security in Idlib province. “To all the free people of Syria, we announce the formation of the Free Ones of the Levant Brigades,” the statement said, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. “We promise Allah, and then we promise you, that we will be a firm shield and a striking hand to repel the attacks of this criminal Al Assad army with all the might we can muster. We promise to protect the lives of civilians and their possessions from security and the Shabiha [pro-government] militia. We are a people who will either gain victory or die.”
The 10 May 2012 Damascus bombings were allegedly claimed by al-Nusra Front in an Internet video, however, on 15 May 2012, someone claiming to be a spokesman for the group denied that the organization was responsible for the attack, saying that it would only release information through jihadist forums.
On 29 May 2012, a mass execution was discovered near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. The unidentified corpses of 13 men had been discovered shot to death execution-style. On 5 June 2012, the al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the killings, stating that they had captured and interrogated the soldiers in Deir ez-Zor and “justly” punished them with death, after they confessed to crimes.
On 17 June 2012, Walid Ahmad al-Ayesh, described by Syrian authorities as the “right hand” of the al-Nusra Front, was killed when Syrian authorities discovered his hiding place. He was reportedly responsible for the making of car bombs that were used to attack Damascus in the previous months. The Syrian authorities reported the killing of another prominent member of the group, Wael Mohammad al-Majdalawi, killed on 12 August 2012 in an operation conducted in Damascus.
On 27 June 2012, a group of Syrian rebels attacked a pro-government TV station in the town of Drousha, just south of the capital Damascus. The station’s studios were destroyed with explosives. Seven people were killed in the attack on Al-Ikhbariya TV, including four guards and three journalists. Al-Nusra claimed responsibility for the attack and published photos of 11 station employees they kidnapped following the raid.
In mid-July 2012, Mohammed al-Saeed, a well-known government TV news presenter, was kidnapped by the group. On 3 August 2012, al-Nusra published a statement saying that al-Saeed had been executed.
On 3 October, three suicide car bombs exploded at the eastern corner of the central Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square killing 48 people, as it was announced by the Ministry of interior. More than 122 people were reported to be heavily injured. Al-Nusra claimed responsibility for the attack.The bombs targeted the Officers’ club and the nearby buildings of the Touristic Hotel and the historic “Jouha Café”. The hotel received major damage while the café was entirely destroyed. A small building within the Officers’ club was ruined as well.
The al-Nusra Front also claimed responsibility for attacking numerous Syrian military bases, including:
- Aleppo district: an air defense base, on: 12 October 2012
- Aleppo city: the Hanano barracks
- Raqqah: the Suluq barracks
In the air defense base assault they reportedly destroyed buildings and sabotaged radar and rockets after overrunning the base in cooperation with the al-Fajr Islamic Movement and a group of Chechen fighters. During the storming of the Hanano barracks 11 soldiers were killed and they held the complex for six hours before retreating. They also claimed killing 32 soldiers during the raid on the Raqqah base.
In October 2012, they joined other rebels in an attack on the Wadi Deif base around Maraat al Numan, in a prolonged fighting that turned into a siege of the base. They also led an attack on the Taftanaz Air Base in November 2012, an important and strategic base for the Syrian army, containing up to 48 helicopters.
The group seized three army checkpoints around Saraqeb at the end of October 2012, forcing the Syrian Army to withdraw from the area the next day. In the battle, 28 Syrian soldiers were killed as well as five Nusra fighters. Some of the captured soldiers were summarily executed after being called “Assad dogs”. The video of these executions was widely condemned, with the United Nations referring to them as probable war crimes.
Members of the al-Nusra Front carried out two suicide attacks in early November 2012. One occurred in a rural development center in Sahl al-Ghab in Hama province, where a car bomb killed two people; while the other occurred in the Mezzeh neighbourhood of Damascus, where a suicide bomber killed 11 people. The SOHR claimed a total of 50 soldiers were killed in the Sahl al-Ghab attack.
Al Jazeera reported on 23 December 2012 that the al-Nusra Front had declared a “no-fly-zone” over Aleppo, using 23 mm and 57 mm anti-aircraft guns to down planes. This would include commercial flights which al-Nusra believed transported military equipment and troops. In a video sent to Al Jazeera, they warned civilians against boarding commercial flights.
In February 2013, Al Nusra fighters were involved in fighting in Safira with regime reinforcements, preventing these forces from reaching their destination of the city of Aleppo. A monitoring group claims this resulted in more than two hundred casualties over a period of two weeks.
Though it was initially reported that Syrian Catholic priest François Murad was beheaded at a church in Gassanieh, he was actually shot dead.
The group has taken part in military operations with the Free Syrian Army. Abu Haidar, a Syrian FSA co-ordinator in Aleppo‘s Saif al-Dawla district said that al-Nusra Front “have experienced fighters who are like the revolution’s elite commando troops.”
In December 2013, al-Nusra abducted 13 nuns from a Christian monastery in Maaloula. They were held in the town of Yabroud until 9 March 2014, The nuns reported they had not been harassed and could keep religious symbols.
As of July 2013, al-Nusra controls Ash-Shaddadeh, a town of roughly 16,000.
On 28 August 2014, militants from the group kidnapped 45 UN peacekeepers from Fiji from Golan Heights in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone. The group demanded that it be removed from the UN’s list of terrorist organizations in exchange for the lives of the peacekeepers. In addition to UN personnel, the group routinely captures UN vehicles to use as car bombs. At the same time, two groups of UN peacekeepers from Philippines were trapped under fire in nearby Rwihinah. On 31 August, one group of 32 Filipinos soldiers was rescued and the other group of 40 soldiers escaped. The rescue operation was carried out by Irish peacekeepers. Colonel Ezra Enriquez of the Philippines, who over-saw the operations, resigned over disagreements with Indian Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha. Singha had allegedly ordered the Filipinos peacekeepers to surrender arms to ensure the safe release of the Fijian soldiers. On 8 September, Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor of Davao City, called for Singha’s death after he allegedly called the Filipinos soldiers cowards.On 11 September, the kidnapped Fijian soldiers were released.
In late October 2014, al-Nusra began attacking the Free Syrian Army and other moderate Islamist groups that it was formerly allied with, in a bid to establish its own Islamic state in the cities it controlled in the Idlib Governorate and other neighboring Governorates.
At least one Arab governmentQatar of helping al-Nusra. The US Government has been sending weapons to rebels in Syria since at least late 2013, and perhaps as early as 2011, during the begininning phases of the conflict. These weapons have been reportedly falling into hands of extremists, such as al-Nusra and ISIL.
al-Nusra has also been materially supported by multiple foreign fighters. Most of these fighters are from Europe and the Middle East, as pipelines to Syria from those locations are better established and navigable. However, as of November 2013, there were also 6 publicly disclosed cases of American citizens and permanent residents who joined or attempted to join al-Nusrah in 2013 alone.
Khorasan, also known as the Khorasan Group, refers to a group of senior al-Qaeda members who operate in Syria. The group is reported to consist of a small number of fighters who are all on terrorist watchlists, and coordinate with the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. At an intelligence gathering in Washington, D.C. on 18 September 2014, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that “in terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as ISIS.” The term first appeared in news media in September 2014, although the United States had reportedly been keeping track of the group for two years previously.
Weaponry and tactics
The organisation is believed to have used, at various times and in various places, the following tactics: car-bombs, suicide-attacks, targeting of checkpoints, conventional assault of military bases, assassination of political and military figures and members of the shabiha, targeting (destruction/killing) of pro-government media stations and personnel.
By June 2013, there had been apparently 70 suicide-attacks in Syria. Of these, the group denied responsibility for 13 but claimed responsibility for the other 57. In June 2012, the group attacked the pro-government TV station at Drousha, near Damascus. The following month the government-TV presenter Mohammed al-Saeed disappeared; the group later declared him dead.
In June 2014 Human Rights Watch reported that several rebel groups including al-Nusra have enlisted child soldiers into their ranks.
A report surfaced in June 2013 of former Iraqi Ba’ath officials supplying the chemical weapon Sarin to the al-Nusra Front through former Iraqi Brig. Gen. Adnan al-Dulaimi. The report detailed how “several former Iraqi military engineers trained the al-Nusra Front on how to use these chemical weapons” adding that all plans in this connection were prepared by al-Dulaimi and staged after Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri’s approval. The sourcing of this report is said to be an aide to al-Douri.
On 30 May, Turkish newspapers reported that Turkish security forces had arrested al-Nusra fighters in the southern provinces of Mersin and Adana near the Syrian border and confiscated 2 kg of sarin gas. The governor of Adana claimed that the security forces had not found sarin gas but unknown chemicals, without offering further elaboration. The Turkish Ambassador to Moscow later said that tests showed the chemical seized was anti-freeze, not sarin. In September six of those arrested in May were charged with attempting to acquire chemicals which could be used to produce sarin; the indictment said that it was “possible to produce sarin gas by combining the materials in proper conditions.” The indictment said that “The suspects have pleaded not guilty saying that they had not been aware the materials they had tried to obtain could have been used to make sarin gas. Suspects have been consistently providing conflicting and incoherent facts on this matter.” The suspects were said to be linked to al-Nusra and to Ahrar ash-Sham.
Designation as a terrorist organization
Countries and organizations below have officially listed the al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization.
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