When Tyler Smith visited northern Syria this January, he found himself in a dance-off with Syrian rebels at a training area near al-Bab. “I tried to show them how to do the worm,” the 20-year-old American chuckles. “They taught me how to disassemble and reassemble an AK-47.”
The trip was Smith’s first-ever venture to the Middle East, a five-day jaunt to a war-ravaged village in rebel territory north of Aleppo with his two friends, Joe Alencar and Karar Mousa. The guys all attended different colleges, so they timed the trip to align with a break between semesters.
“Most people on their holiday go out partying, but we decided to do something a little different for once,” says Smith. They had “no contacts or anything like that” in southern Turkey or the northern part of Syria controlled by opposition forces. Nonetheless, they flew to Istanbul, hopped on a bus, and made their way to Kilis, a small, dusty town barely on the Turkish side of the Syrian border, the last safe stop on the road to Aleppo.
Smith is pale and gangly, sporting a flop of dirty blond hair and a strikingly deep voice. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and loves his dog Eddie, who climbs on Smith’s lap and showers him in licks.
Freshly out of his teens, Smith’s bent towards idealism and revolution drew him to follow the sweeping changes of the so-called Arab Spring. He watched horrific video footage of the Syrian war online, and his life began to feel increasingly incongruous.
In late 2012, his friend Mousa—who now lives in Chicago, but who was born in Iraq and lived in Syria for five years—lost a friend to the war in al-Zabadani, a village near the Syrian capital of Damascus. The conflict was now personal. Smith felt compelled to action.
“I wanted to help out in any way I could,” he says, especially in refugee camps and hospitals. Though he lacked medical training, Smith decided to go to Syria himself, without contacting any of the numerous NGOs that operate official and makeshift refugee camps on both sides of the border.
He floated the idea with Alencar, a 24-year-old Brazilian who grew up in Miami and describes himself as “militant.” For Alencar, who “wanted to experience what it would be like in a war,” the notion was appealing, and they agreed to head to Syria. Their objectives were vague, and they had no concrete plans on how to achieve them.
Mousa decided to tag along, for reasons he wouldn’t disclose. “Seventy percent of my whole purpose of being in Syria—even Tyler and Joe themselves know nothing about this,” he told me. “It’s really personal.”
In one photo, Smith is on his knees, hands in the air, while a rebel points a Kalashnikov at his head. The caption reads “I figured this would be a good postcard to send home.”
When the trio got on the bus heading southeast from Istanbul, they began asking random Syrians for help crossing the border into the war zone. When this elicited suspicion and accusations of espionage, they decided instead to seek out war correspondents at the border for advice.
Predictably enough, the three young men spotted a few journalists nursing beers at Kilis’s only bar, where the mustachioed proprietor sometimes raises prices if he thinks a patron might be drunk.
Journalists who cover war grow quickly accustomed to the strange assembly of characters who show up in border towns looking for a battle. In the past six months alone, Kilis has housed a French woman armed with boxes of antidepressants to hand out to refugees; a Japanese man who went to Aleppo several times a week just to do a bit of shooting; an Italian woman whose fixer claims she went searching for alien DNA on the front lines; numerous foreign jihadists; and amateur photographers whose blunders have created extremely dangerous circumstances for locals on the ground.
After a brief exchange to decipher why Smith, Alencar, and Mousa wanted to go to Syria, the journalists told them to go home. “Tyler’s heart was in the right place, but he didn’t know what he was doing,” recalls one of the journalists. “And he really seemed to be under Joe’s influence.”
“I wanted to prove to myself that I can handle this with my own bravado,” said Alencar, “that I can throw myself into the ring and survive.”
Though the three young men recognized that the journos “had been to multiple conflicts,” they “kind of put them to the side” and decided they’d go in anyway, help or no help. “We didn’t come thousands of miles to have some people at the last minute tell us not to do it,” says Smith.
The following day, they encountered a Syrian “fixer” living in Kilis, who said he could make arrangements for them to cross the border, as he had done for many journalists before. “I asked why they wanted to go inside, you know, it’s crazy,” the fixer recollects over a cigarette. “They told me they want to be like Matthew Van Dyke.”
The name Matthew Van Dyke often triggers eye-rolls among journalists covering recent conflicts in the Middle East. Though he no longer identifies himself as a reporter, Van Dyke entered Libya in 2011 as a freelancer (UPDATE: while he was described as a freelancer in media reports at the time, Van Dyke says that “nobody has ever produced any documentation or evidence that I entered or operated in Libya as a freelancer,”) but quickly took up arms and fought alongside Libyan rebels in the revolution. Subsequently, he made a short documentary on the Syrian conflict.
Van Dyke became something of a spectacle, garnering praise from idolizing fans—adulation that he evidently treasures enough to painstakingly aggregate and post on his website in the form of over 700 endorsement tweets and comments along the lines of “u r a true hero.” But Van Dyke has also been the target of blistering criticism from those who see him as less freedom fighter and more war tourist. (UPDATE: Van Dyke has spoken out strongly against war tourism, insisting, “I don’t like war tourists. I don’t like people who go in for a rush.”)
As it turns out, Alencar was a big fan of Van Dyke’s, and also wanted to fight on the front lines of Aleppo for “altruistic reasons.” They even had a brief correspondence over email, in which Van Dyke cautioned “What you are planning to do is a very bad idea and is not what the rebels need at this time… The three of you are going to look like spies for sure… You guys are just walking into a disaster if you go there now.”
Alencar interpreted this as envy or condescension, asserting that “Either [Van Dyke] didn’t want other Westerners stealing his fame” or he “thought we were naïve adventure-seekers with no idea what we were getting ourselves into.” At any rate, the three friends had already made up their minds.
Though Smith insists that the extent of their humanitarian efforts was limited by being “on a dollar and a dime for everything,” they paid the fixer $1000 to bring them into Syria for five days under the supervision of a man who called himself General Abu Hassan. Contrary to his claims and the fixer’s charismatic assertions, Abu Hassan is not in fact a general in the Free Syrian Army, but a driver with a dubious record of punctuality with journalists. The back seats in his banged-up white Mercedes are bloodstained from transporting wounded soldiers to field hospitals away from the frontlines.
Smith, Alencar, and Mousa wanted to go to Aleppo, but instead General Abu Hassan dropped them off at a Free Syrian Army training facility near al-Bab, far from the fighting. The supervising rebel brigade, Liwa al-Tawhid, gave them a tour of the town, showing them bombed-out hospitals and schools, and introducing them to civilians.
A life-long Catholic, Alencar converted to Islam on his second day in Syria. “What better place to do it?” he says with a laugh. He’s now been a practicing Muslim for ten months. “A lot of people convert, but not actually in the struggle.”
But Alencar’s biggest struggle ended up being with the rebels who were, in the words of his Kilis-based fixer, “babysitting him.” He found al-Bab too safe, too boring. All he really wanted to do —all he had paid to do—was go shooting on the frontlines of battle-torn Aleppo. But that never happened because the supervising FSA brigade swiftly took the guns away and told them they couldn’t go.
Alencar had handled guns a few times before, and Mousa had fired occasional celebratory shots at weddings (as is customary in much of the Middle East), but when the rebels handed Smith a Kalashnikov for a few practice shots, his inexperience outed the group.
“Tyler was shitting his pants when he first got the gun,” chuckles Alencar. “He couldn’t even cock it. He was kind of trembling … and then this 10-year-old kid just snatched it from his hands and chk-chk!” No more guns for the three of them, much to Alencar’s chagrin.
Not that the rebels ever intended to let them fight, as the whole trip was arranged by the fixer as an expensive tour. Save for a bit of target practice, they only got to hold guns when posing for pictures with opposition forces, which Smith and Alencar uploaded to Facebook. In one photo, Smith is on his knees, hands in the air, while a rebel points a Kalashnikov at his head. The caption reads “I figured this would be a good postcard to send home.”
Before long, the three claim, they had had a brush with Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group with connections to al-Qaeda, which has reportedly kidnapped Westerners in northern Syria.
Alencar says the Nusra fighters responded well to his recent conversion to Islam, but were “messing with [Tyler] a little bit to see if he flinches.” One fighter allegedly told Smith that Osama bin Laden was his father. Smith believed him, prompting raucous laughter from the Islamists. The guys say another one grilled Smith on whether he wanted to “go to paradise,” to which Smith says he responded “Yeah… but not now.”
Having proved themselves sufficiently entertaining to the Nusra fighters, Smith claims the trio earned an invitation to tea. He says about half of the Islamists were wearing explosive suicide vests, but overall he did not feel threatened. Smith says the Islamists left him with a parting gift of the black flag that marks territory under jihadist control in Syria, which he keeps in his closet at his parents’ house near Chicago.
Around this time, the three young men again asked about going to the frontlines, and again they were belittled by the supervising brigade. No matter, says Smith, “I had fun. [The rebels] were singing and dancing a lot.” He enjoyed their more traditional dance moves, but also tried to show them some moves he’d learned in Chicago, and let the children play war video games on his computer.
General Abu Hassan reappeared in his old white Mercedes on day five to drive them back to Turkey. They say he tried to extort more money from them on the way out of Syria, but Mousa engaged him angrily in Arabic. Within an hour they arrived safely in Turkey, Smith and Alencar crossing legally while Mousa slipped through illegally, since he only had a single-entry visa for Turkey.
Was their trip a failure? Smith says it was because they didn’t end up helping anybody, but then recalls that he led a successful post-trip “public relations campaign” convincing his family and neighbors that the rebels were actually “pretty cool.” Yet undoing all his previous assertions about idealism and revolution, he admits that they picked the Free Syrian Army because “the rebels will take us to war and the regime won’t.” Nine months after the trip, Smith released a short video documentary on Youtube with his footage from Syria.
“I hate to say it, but it [was] almost like war tourism,” Alencar concedes. Having the guns taken away castrated his entire objective. He wanted to “get involved in the fight,” he stresses, “out of humanitarian concern for the Syrians.”
READ THE REST HERE
Pulitzer Prize-winner & Syria’s Electronic Army expose all.
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
The administration’s distortion of the facts surrounding the sarin attack raises an unavoidable question: do we have the whole story of Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb Syria? He had claimed to have an iron-clad case but suddenly agreed to take the issue to Congress, and later to accept Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical weapons. It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans.
In the blue corner, Seymour Hersh, one of America’s most famous and highly paid investigative reporters. In the red corner,
Eliot Higgins, who sits at home in an English provincial town trawling the internet and tweets and blogs about his findings under the screen name Brown Moses.
On Sunday, in a 5,000-word article for the London Review of Books, Hersh suggested Syrian rebels, rather than the regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attacks near Damascus on August 21.
On Monday, Higgins responded on the Foreign Policy website, demolishing the core of Hersh’s argument in a mere 1,700 words.
While seeking to re-ignite the “whodunnit” debate about chemical weapons, Hersh’s article unwittingly revealed a lot about the changing nature of investigative journalism. Hersh is old-school. He operates in a world of hush-hush contacts – often-anonymous well-placed sources passing snippets of information around which he constructs an article that challenges received wisdom.
The Hersh style of journalism certainly has a place, but in the age of the internet it’s a diminishing one – as the web-based work of Higgins and others continually shows.
I asked chemical weapons specialist Dan Kaszeta for his opinion on that. He compared the possibility of Jabhat al-Nusra using chemical weapons to another terrorist attack involving sarin: the 1996 gassing of the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
“The 1994 to 1996 Japanese experience tells us that even a very large and sophisticated effort comprising many millions of dollars, a dedicated large facility, and a lot of skilled labor results only in liters of sarin, not tons,” Kaszeta said. “Even if the Aug. 21 attack is limited to the eight Volcano rockets that we seem to be talking about, we’re looking at an industrial effort two orders of magnitude larger than the Aum Shinrikyo effort. This is a nontrivial and very costly undertaking, and I highly doubt whether any of the possible nonstate actors involved here have the factory to have produced it. Where is this factory? Where is the waste stream? Where are the dozens of skilled people — not just one al Qaeda member — needed to produce this amount of material?”
The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.
The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
READ THE REST HERE
Lynne’s crime was compassion. She was imprisoned for doing the right thing. She did it honestly, admirably and courageously.
She did it defending some of America’s most disadvantaged for 30 years. Previous articles explained.
She’s dying. She has Stage Four cancer. She was given 12 months to live. She qualifies in all respects for compassionate release.
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) authorities denied her. Doing so reflects official Obama administration policy. In Lynne’s words, BOP “stonewall(ed) since August.”
“They know (she’s) fully qualified.” Over 40,000 supporters “signed on to force (BOP) to do the right thing which is to let (her) go home to (her) family and receive the advanced care in New York City, (her) home.”
“Yet they refuse to act. I must say it is entirely within the range of their politics and their cruelty to hold the political prisoners until we have days to live before releasing us,” Lynne stressed.
Indeed so! Longtime political prisoners Herman Wallace and Marilyn Buck were treated this way. On October 1, Wallace was released. On October 3, he died. He was too ill to be saved.
Buck called prisons warehouses to “disappear the unacceptable to deprive their captives of their liberties, their human agency, and to punish (and) stigmatize prisoners through moralistic denunciations and indictment based on bad genes – skin color (ethnicity, or other characteristics) as a crime.”
Many thousands of prisoners aren’t incarcerated because they’re criminals, she said.
They’re locked in cages for their activism and beliefs, she stressed. For advocating peace, not war.
For resisting injustice. For defending freedom, equality and other democratic values. For struggling courageously for beneficial change.
On July 15, 2010, BOP authorities released Buck. On August 3, she died. She served 25 years of an 80 year sentence.
Her crime was opposing racial injustice and US imperialism. In 2009, she was diagnosed with uterine sarcoma.
With proper timely treatment she might have lived. Obama prison authorities wanted her dead.
They kept her imprisoned long enough to kill her. They’re treating Lynne the same way.
She’s one of thousands of wrongfully incarcerated political prisoners. They’re confined in US gulag hell.
It’s bar far the world’s largest. It’s the shame of the nation. It reflects the worst of unconscionable ruthlessness. It’s the American way.
Around 2.4 million prisoners languish in federal and state facilities, local jails, Indian, juvenile, and military ones, US territories, and separate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities.
Many are imprisoned for supporting right over wrong. The Free Dictionary call political prisoners people “imprisoned for holding or advocating dissenting political views for holding, advocating, expressing, or acting in accord with particular political beliefs.”
In the 1960s, Amnesty International (AI) coined the term “prisoner of conscience.”
It denotes anyone incarcerated for their race, religion, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, beliefs, or lifestyle.
Incarceration is an instrument of social control. Prisoners are denied all rights. They languish under cruel and inhumane conditions. Some die. Others fade slowly.
Many endure punishing years of isolation. Proper medical care is denied. Abuse is commonplace. Perfunctory parole hearings are a travesty of justice.
A November ACLU report is titled “A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses.”
“Ever wonder what could land you in prison for the rest of your life,” asked ACLU?
For thousands it was “shoplifting a few cameras from Wal-Mart, stealing a $159 jacket, or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana.”
Children young as 13 get life sentences without parole for nonviolent crimes, invented ones, or dissenting political beliefs.
“People convicted of their first offense will be permanently denied a second chance,” said ACLU.
“Many young Black and low-income men and women will be locked up until they die. And taxpayers will spend billions to keep them behind bars.”
Dissenting advocacy is considered terrorism. ACLU’s report focused on extreme sentences for minor property and drug-related crimes.
America’s criminal injustice system “reached absurd, tragic and costly heights,” it said.
Locking nonviolent people in cages longterm reflects sentencing them to death slowly. Imprisoning children this way is unconscionable.
So is incarcerating people for their political beliefs and advocacy. ACLU calls life imprisonment without parole (LWOP) “the harshest imaginable punishment.”
Any hope for freedom is denied. LWOP is “grotesquely” unconscionable. It “offends the principle that all people have the right to be treated with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity.”
ACLU documented thousands of ruined lives. Families suffer with loved ones behind bars. Wives are separated from husbands, husbands from wives, children from fathers or mothers, extended families from one of their cherished members.
America spends billions of dollars annually keeping people locked in cages. Decades ago, historian Arnold Toynbee said:
“America is today the leader of a world-wide anti-revolutionary movement in the defence of vested interests.”
“She now stands for what Rome stood for: Rome consistently supported the rich against the poor…and since the poor, so far, have always and everywhere been far more numerous than the rich, Rome’s policy made for inequality, for injustice, and for the least happiness of the greatest number.”
Criminal injustice defines US policy. It’s morally and ethically reprehensible.
America spends more on prisons than education. In the last two decades, prison spending increased around 570%. Education funding grew only one-third.
One year in prison costs more than Harvard’s annual tuition. America has 5% of the world’s population. It incarcerates 25% of world prisoners.
Many thousands are held for their political beliefs and advocacy. HL Menchen once said:
“The most dangerous man to any government (is someone) who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.”
“Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”
Attorney/activist Stan Willis said earlier:
“The United States is very, very concerned when its citizens begin to raise (uncomfortable) questions.”
America “prefers to posture itself, including the Obama administration, as the leader of the free world and that they don’t have any human rights violations, and they certainly don’t have any political prisoners, and we have to dispel that notion in the international community.”
US officials want this issue hidden from public view. It preaches democracy at home and abroad.
It practices injustice writ large. It locks thousands in cages unconscionably. It does so for political reasons.
It sentences them to slow death. It violates constitutional law doing so. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.”
The First Amendment guarantees free speech. Democratic principles include equal justice under law.
In Griffin v. Illinois (1956), the Supreme Court said “there can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.” Nor when core constitutional rights are denied.
Everyone is entitled to constitutional protections. Too few get it. Thousands are denied it for their political beliefs and advocacy. They’re imprisoned for doing the right thing.
Judicial unfairness is US official policy. Guilty by accusation is standard practice. Constitutional scholar Thomas Emerson (1908 – 1981) once said:
The FBI is an instrument of repression. It “jeopardizes the whole system of free expression which is the cornerstone of our society (raising) the specter of a police state.”
“In essence, the FBI conceives of itself as an instrument to prevent radical social change in America. The Bureau’s view of its function leads it beyond data collection into political warfare.”
It protects privilege from beneficial social, political and economic change. Criminal injustice in America denies fundamental constitutional rights.
Society’s most vulnerable are harmed most. So is anyone for dissenting political views and advocacy.
Howard Zinn called dissent “the highest form of patriotism. (It) means being true to the principles for which your country is supposed to stand,” he said.
“(T)he right to dissent is one of those principles. And if we’re exercising that right, (it’s) patriotic.”
“One of the greatest mistakes (about) patriotism (is thinking it) means support(ing) your government” right or wrong.
“(W)hen governments become destructive (of life, liberty and equality), it is the right of the people to alter or abolish” it.
Michael Tigar is Washington College of Law Professor Emeritus. He’s a constitutional law expert. He’s one of America’s most respected defense attorneys.
He’s written extensively on litigation, trial practice, criminal law, capital punishment, and the role of criminal defense attorneys. He represented Lynne. He did so at the district court level.
He called it a “great honor” to do it. He represented her struggle for freedom and justice. “The entire legal profession ought to be standing up and shouting about (her) case,” he said.
He called charges against her “an attack on the First Amendment right of free speech, free press and petition.”
Lynne was targeted for “speaking and helping others to speak.” Doing so was fundamentally unconstitutional.
So-called evidence against her “was gathered by wholesale invasion of private conversations, private attorney-client meetings, and private faxes, letters and emails. I have never seen such an abusive use of government power,” said Tigar.
Convicting Lynne was chilling. It warned other defense attorneys. It intimidated them. Representing clients prosecutors want convicted is dangerous. Doing so leaves them vulnerable going forward.
US police state laws are menacing. Anyone can be targeted for supporting right over wrong. America is unfit to live in.
Thousands of political prisoners reflect its harshness. Justice is a four-letter word. It’s systematically denied.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Adviser To Director Of US National Intelligence Was Paid Consultant For Chinese Firm Deemed Espionage Threat
Slight Conflict of Interest? How deep does this really go?
Adviser to the U.S. director of national intelligence Theodore H. Moran resigned after it was learned that he had worked as a paid consultant for Huawei Technologies Ltd., the Associated Press reports.
Theodore H. Moran, a respected expert on China’s international investment and professor at Georgetown University, had served since 2007 as adviser to the intelligence director’s advisory panel on foreign investment in the United States. Moran also was an adviser to the National Intelligence Council, a group of 18 senior analysts and policy experts who provide U.S. spy agencies with judgments on important international issues.
Moran, who had a security clearance granting him access to sensitive materials, was forced to withdraw from those roles after Republican Rep. Frank Wolf complained in September to the intelligence director, James Clapper, that Moran’s work on an international advisory council for Huawei “compromises his ability to advise your office.” […]
The case highlights the ongoing fractious relationship between the U.S. government and Huawei, China’s leading developer of telephone and Internet infrastructure, which has been condemned in the U.S. as a potential national security threat. Huawei has aggressively disputed this, and its chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, has said the company has decided to abandon the U.S. market.
There is a saying that he who has the gold makes the rules. Indeed, throughout the history of mankind it has been shown that wealth is power. Why do you suppose that is? The answer to that question appears to be obvious. If you have money, many people will do what you want them to do simply to obtain that money. This is true whether you own a business and try to provide something costumers will pay for, or you work for a business and provide labor, or you sell sexual favors to lonely people. The answer should be obvious, and yet there exists sinister subtleties that allow for crafty conmen to take control of large swaths of governments and economies in this world. You see, there is evil afoot in this world, and I’m not talking about insignificant evil such as individuals doing drugs or having sex with strangers, I’m talking about industrial sized evil, evil on the scale of the holocaust, evil against all humanity, evil so subtle and pervasive that to many it doesn’t seem like evil at all. Read more
Revolution In Thailand: Thai Police Threaten to “Shoot-to-Kill” Anyone Using Vehicles to Remove Barriers
It is ready to fall! Tony is on the ground witnessing all of this. Compare actions to fake “revolutions” ….
Protesters intend to move slowly, warning police of their actions and ensuring that no body is hurt in the process. Police are adamant that they have the right to kill in order to protect their barriers, but are most likely appealing to laws dealing with the use of a vehicle as a weapon to commit bodily harm. In this case, the protesters have made it clear that is not their intentions.
It is not certain yet what police and protesters will do, but one thing is for certain, the violence used by the regime’s police in Thailand has eclipsed that used in Ukraine, and yet the West has been hypocritically backing the embattled regime as “democratically elected” and within its rights.
Currently, a huge mass of people are poised to flow into both the Police HQ and the Government House, having reach the final barriers. The police have turned on deafeningly loud music to confuse communication amongst protesters and a clash is expected. The number of people amassed outside Government House’s gates have choked the streets and any move by the police at this point could cause injuries or death – solely for the sake of saving the embattled, nepotist Shinawatra regime, already with the blood of Thai people on its hands from this current crisis.
“The perpetrators had committed acts against the Palestinians, with intent to kill, cause serious bodily or mental harms and deliberately inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Palestinians as a whole or in part.”
“The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes Commission to give the widest international publicity to this conviction and grant of reparations, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions.
The Tribunal deplores the failure of international institutions to punish the State of Israel for its crimes and its total lack of respect of International Law and the institutions of the United Nations.”
THE KUALA LUMPUR WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
20 – 25 NOVEMBER 2013
Case No. 3 – CHG – 2013
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission
Case No. 4 – CHG – 2013
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission
The State of Israel
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (Tribunal) reconvened on 20 November 2013 to hear two charges against Amos Yaron (first Defendant) and the State of Israel (second Defendant). The first Defendant was charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, whilst the second Defendant was charged with the crime of genocide and war crimes.
The charge against the first Defendant is as follows –
“The Defendant Amos Yaron perpetrated War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Genocide in his capacity as the Commanding Israeli General in military control of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Israeli occupied Lebanon in September of 1982 when he knowingly facilitated and permitted the large-scale Massacre of the Residents of those two camps in violation of the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare of 1907; the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949; the 1948 Genocide Convention; the Nuremberg Charter (1945), the Nuremberg Judgment (1946), and the Nuremberg Principles (1950); customary international law, jus cogens, the Laws of War, and International Humanitarian Law”
The charge against the second Defendant [State of Israel] is as follows –
“From 1948 and continuing to date the State of Israel (hereafter ‘the Defendant’) carried out against the Palestinian people a series of acts namely killing, causing serious bodily harm and deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction.
The conduct of the Defendant was carried out with the intention of destroying in whole or in part the Palestinian people. These acts were carried out as part of a manifest pattern of similar conduct against the Palestinian people.
These acts were carried out by the Defendant through the instrumentality of its representatives and agents including those listed in Appendices 1 and 2.
Such conduct constitutes the Crime of Genocide under international law including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide 1948 (‘the Genocide Convention’) in particular Article II and punishable under Article III of the said Convention.
It also constitutes the crime of genocide as stipulated in Article 10 of the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.
Such conduct by the Defendant as an occupying power also violates customary international law as embodied in the Hague Convention of 1907 Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
Such conduct also constitutes War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity under international law.”
The charges (together with the particulars of the charges) had been duly served on the Defendants, and were read in open court by the Registrar as these proceedings commenced.
Neither Defendant was present in these proceedings, but both were represented by the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) versus the State of Israel
The proceedings directed against the State of Israel were led by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission.
Members of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) are:
Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (Chairman), Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Dr. Denis Halliday, Mr. Musa Ismail, Dr. Zulaiha Ismail, Dr. Yaacob Merican, Dr. Hans von Sponeck.
Working in liaison with their Malaysian counterparts, commissioners Dr. Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization were present in Kuala Lumpur throughout the proceedings.
This important judicial process has received very little coverage in the Western media. Global Research will be publishing several reports following this historic judgment against the State of Israel.
2 Prosecution’s Case
The Prosecution’s case against the first Defendant is that the first Defendant had committed War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Genocide in his capacity as the Commanding Israeli General in military control of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Israeli-occupied Lebanon in September of 1982 when he knowingly facilitated and permitted the large-scale Massacre of the Residents of those two camps. These crimes were in violation of, inter alia, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the 1948 Genocide Convention, jus cogens, International Humanitarian Law; and Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.
The Prosecution’s case against the second Defendant is that from 1948 and continuing to date the State of Israel had systematically carried out against the Palestinian people a series of acts namely killing, causing serious bodily harm and deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction – with the intention of destroying in whole or in part the Palestinian people.
These acts constitute the Crime of Genocide under international law including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide 1948 (‘the Genocide Convention’) in particular Article II and punishable under Article III of the said Convention. It also constitutes the crime of genocide as stipulated in Article 10 of the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.
In his opening statement, the Chief Prosecutor Prof Gurdial Singh said that the Prosecution will adduce evidence to prove the counts in the indictment through oral and written testimonies of victims, witnesses, historical records, narrative in books and authoritative commentaries, resolutions of the United Nations and reports of international bodies.
6. The Defence case
Mr. Jason Kay Kit Leon of the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team submitted that in the charges against the two Defendants, the Prosecution had listed war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. Apparently the Prosecution had abandoned these charges, concentrating only on genocide.
He said that the offence of genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Genocide Convention 1948, whilst the OED defines it simply as “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group”.
He submitted that the charge of genocide is unique; it means that you don’t like a group, you kill them; you kill them in a grand manner. Genocide means that at the end of the act, you have a lesser number of victims than before the genocide started.
He further submitted that when one talks of “massive killing”, it is many hundreds of thousands to millions of people. To suggest that an isolated event, the unfortunate murder of 3,000 people (Sabra and Shatila) is the same as massive killing is almost disrespectful of the true horror of massive killing (as in Rwanda, where 800,000 people were killed in 100 days).
With regard to the Kahan Report, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team said that it also identified other people as being responsible, with two other names other than Yaron still alive. The question is why only Yaron was charged? Why was Defence Minister Ariel Sharon spared?
He also submitted that the PLO had repeatedly violated the July 1981 cease-fire agreement. By June 1982, when the IDF went into Lebanon, the PLO had made life in northern Israel intolerable through its repeated shelling of Israeli towns.
On Cast Lead, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team submitted that the IDF had come out with two reports. The point is if you are going to kill people nilly willy, you do not report it.
On the issue of the wall, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team submitted that the primary consideration is one of security of the Israeli settlers. The State of Israel has a duty to defend their lives, safety and well-being.
On the issue of checkpoints, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team said countries have a right to immigration laws. With regard to Plan Dalet, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team said that it is subject to divergent opinions, with historians on one side asserting that it was entirely defensive, while other historians assert that the plan aimed at an ethnic cleansing.
4. Prosecution’s closing submission
In his closing submission, the Chief Prosecutor said that he had called 11 witnesses (some of whom had testified through Skype), tendered 15 exhibits and furnished several documents and reports to the Tribunal during the course of the proceedings.
He urged the Tribunal to bear in mind that this is a Tribunal of Conscience and the case before it is an extraordinary case, which Winston Churchill used to call as a “crime without a name”.
He said that the Prosecution had provided evidence of facts which, examined as a whole, will show that the perpetrators had committed acts against the Palestinians, with intent to kill, cause serious bodily or mental harms and deliberately inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Palestinians as a whole or in part.
From the testimony of Prof Pappe (PW8) the Prosecution had shown that before 1948, before UN Resolution 47, there was already a plan in place to take over the Palestinian territory, and this plan would be activated the moment the British relinquished its mandate over the territory.
At that point in time, the Palestinians were on 94% of the land, with the Jewish population settling over a mere 6% of the land. Under the UN partition plan, more than 50% of the land was to be given to the Jews.
Plan Dalet might not legally be genocidal in form at its inception, but as it took shape the ethnic cleansing metamorphised into killing, massacre and creating impossible conditions for life for the Palestinians – either they leave or they die. The Prosecution submits this is genocide within the meaning of Article 2 of the Genocide Convention.
On Sabra and Shatila, prosecution witnesses (PW1 and PW6) had testified that the Palestinian refugees in those camps had been killed by the Phalangists, aided and abetted by the Israelis who were in complete control of the two camps.
According to the Kahan Report, all of Beirut was under Israeli control, and there was clear symbiotic relationship between Israel and the Christian forces (the Lebanese Maronite Christian militia or the Phalangists or Keta’ib).
On Operation Cast Lead in 2008, the Chief Prosecutor said that the Israeli Defence Force had used all kinds of weapons, including white phosphorus – which is an incendiary weapon. The use of incendiary weapons is prohibited under Protocal III on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons.
As a result of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, nowhere in Gaza is safe for civilians. 1.5 million Palestinians are now trapped in despair, their fragile economy ruined. Under the Dahiya Doctrine (October 2008), the complete destruction of Gaza is the ultimate objective, the whole place must be flattened.
The Prosecution submits that the cumulative effect of the actions taken by the Israeli government, as shown by the Prosecution witnesses and the several documents tendered to the Tribunal, have shown beyond reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of the crime of genocide under the Genocide Convention and the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (The Charter).
Co-Prosecutor Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, submitting on the first charge against Amos Yaron, said that Amos Yaron was the commanding officer in charge of the Israeli Defence Force, in charge of the area of Beirut, and camps Sabra and Shatila. He said there were two issues which he has to deal with – first, whether or not there was a large scale massacre of the 10 residents of the two camps, and second, whether or not Amos Yaron facilitated and permitted such massacre, in violation of international law and Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Charter?
On the first issue, he submitted there was a large scale massacre, as testified by PW1. She was there, and she saw the massacre with her own eyes. There was corrobating testimony by PW6, and further acknowledged in the Kahan Report.
On the second issue, Amos Yaron was in charge, to ensure that there would be peace and law and order. The Kahan Report itself concluded that anybody who knew about Lebanon would know that by releasing the Phalangists into Beirut, there would be massacre. Surely, Amos Yaron, the General in charge, must have known that by allowing the Phalangists to go into the two camps, the massacre would take place. But he decided to do nothing.
He received the reports of the killing of women and children, but he did not check the report. He did not pass the report to his superiors. The co-prosecutor submits that by ignoring all this despite knowing the circumstances, he himself had the intention of causing the death of the people in the two camps.
10.3 Commission’s Register of War Criminals
Further, under Article 35 of the same Chapter, this Tribunal recommends to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission that the names of the two convicted parties herein be entered and included in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals and be publicised accordingly.
10.4 The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes Commission to give the widest international publicity to this conviction and grant of reparations, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions.
10.5 The Tribunal deplores the failure of international institutions to punish the State of Israel for its crimes and its total lack of respect of International Law and the institutions of the United Nations. It urges the Commission to use all means to publicise this judgement and in particular with respect to the Parliaments and Legislative Assemblies of the major powers such as members of the G8 and to urge these countries to intervene and put an end to the colonialist and racist policies of the State of Israel and its supporters.
I’ve been seeing a lot on bullying lately in the news and on social networking sites. It seems that no one really seems to like bullying much and everyone loves to see the little guy stand up to the bully. And yet there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to those who stand up to the biggest bullies of all. There seems to be some kind of cognitive dissonance that takes place when someone feels the bully is doing the bullying for your own good, or for the right reasons. I don’t think bullying is ever good, no matter the reasons one might dream up for engaging in the practice. No matter how well intentioned, the ends never justifies the means when the means is immoral, and an immoral means always taints and corrupts a moral intention. Read more
It will a BAD Thanksgiving if someone tries this on me! Gun Grabbers DO need the help I guess… Feel FREE to add your personal responses to the curriculum (below) ~ Happy Thanksgiving from all at the Jack Blood Show
Forget about giving thanks, relaxing while watching football and catching up with loved ones. According to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Thanksgiving is the time to set the record straight on gun control, because who doesn’t want to chat about firearm legislation while enjoying some turkey and cranberry sauce?
The group, backed by notorious former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, released a conversation guide gun control proponents can whip out at the table to educate the misguided gun lovers of the family. A product of the campaign “Demand Action to End Gun Violence,” part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the talking points encourage its supporters to ‘talk turkey’ about guns.
“Everyone has friends and relatives with strong opinions and shaky facts,” the guide states. “You can help set the table straight — all you need is this simple guide to Talking Turkey about guns!”
The conversation guide provides several myths about firearms and gun control legislation.
“This Thanksgiving, when talk around the table turns to politics and current events, you can help set the record straight on some of the most common myths about guns,” the talking points read.
Common myths that need correcting include the “fallacy” that new gun laws are unconstitutional.
“Fact: All rights have reasonable limits — you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” the guide corrects. “A conservative Supreme Court justice ruled that the Second Amendment allows for common-sense public safety laws like prohibiting felons from buying guns.”
Bloomberg must’ve forgotten about that handy little thing called the U.S. Constitution. Maybe someone at the dinner table has one of those on hand.
The conversation guide continues, saying another myth is the fact that gun violence isn’t a gun issue — it’s a mental health issue.
“Fact: The whole world struggles with mental health issues, but the U.S. has a gun murder rate 20 times higher than other developed countries.”
This is sure going to make for an interesting Thanksgiving.
Check out the full guide here.
REPEAL THE DHS!
If past history is any indication, it seems likely that the little convenience shop on the “air side” of most airports is soon going to be told to stop selling certain items. Last week a few sites, including Boing Boing, Gizmodo and Business Insider, all had stories on a guy who showed how to build a small bomb in less than ten minutes with items that could all be purchased after already passing through TSA security in an airport. The bomb may not be that big, but you could see how it could do at least some damage (and, given the situation, it’s not that difficult to imagine ways to make changes to it that would be more damaging).
But, here’s the thing. That video isn’t the only weapon shown. The YouTube account Terminal Cornucopia actually put up ten videos of weapons that can be built on the air side of airport security, including a crossbow, a remote detonator, a slingbow, a “remotely triggered incendiary suitcase,” a shotgun, a spiked club, a pewter slug and a blowgun.
So, who’s behind this? Apparently, it’s a security researcher named Evan Booth who explains that he sent all of these examples to the TSA. He also explains his response to the obvious question: “but what if the terrorists see these videos?”
That’s a great question. An even better question is: What if they already know all this? All of these findings have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security (TSA) to help them better detect these types of threats. Furthermore, the next time you fly, you’ll be flying as a more informed consumer (and taxpayer, possibly) — one who is more equipped to demand better, more appropriate airport security.
Which, of course, is really the point. Pretending that keeping this info secret makes people safer means believing that if you don’t know about a security hole it goes away.