Health workers administer a vaccine to a baby in Nairobi’s Mlango Kubwa area. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili | Fredrick Nzwili
NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS / Huffington Post) A row between the Catholic Church and the government over a tetanus vaccine aimed at women in their childbearing years has clergy urging people to shun the injection, saying it’s a stealth population-control ploy.
On Tuesday (Nov.11), the bishops appearing before the parliamentary health committee said they had tested the vaccine privately and were shocked to find it was laced with a birth control hormone called beta human chorionic gonadotropin.
“We are calling on all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign because we are convinced it is indeed a disguised population control program,” said Bishop Paul Kariuki, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ health committee.
The tangle began in March, when bishops became suspicious about the vaccine, which was targeted at women in the reproductive ages of 14 to 49, and excluded boys and men.
An ordinary tetanus shot can protect a person for 10 years, with a booster available for those who have suffered an injury.
The bishops also wondered why the campaign was being rolled out in phases and in secrecy.
“To our surprise, the Ministry of Health confirmed it had not tested the vaccine, having trusted it, since it originated from WHO (World Health Organization), a credible organization in matters of health,” said Kariuki.
The government insists the vaccine is safe. So too does the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The two groups issued a statement saying the vaccine, which has been used by 130 million women in 52 countries, is safe.
“These allegations are not backed up by evidence, and risk negatively impacting national immunizations programs for children and women,” the WHO and UNICEF statement said.
The government began providing the shots in October 2013.
“We have explained the science behind targeting the women,” said James Macharia, health ministry Cabinet secretary. “We have embarked on the campaign to speed up the elimination of the disease among women in the reproductive age.”
According to the bishops, when the ordinary tetanus vaccine is combined with b-HCG and given in five doses every six months, the women develop immunity for both tetanus and HCG, a hormone necessary for pregnancy. Subsequently, the body rejects any pregnancy, causing repeated miscarriages and eventually sterility.
In 1995, the World Health Organization proposed a similar campaign in Kenya, but the bishops protested, demanding that the vaccine be tested independently. Instead of submitting a sample for testing, WHO stopped the campaign, said Kariuki.
WHO carried out similar vaccination campaigns in Mexico in 1993 and in Nicaragua and the Philippines in 1994.
“What is immoral and evil is that the tetanus laced with HCG was given as a fertility regulating vaccine without disclosing its contraceptive effect to the girls and mothers,” said Dr. Wahome Ngare, a member of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association.
An unarmed Russian bomber in April flew over a high-tech U.S. ship. A crew member pressed a button. Poof! No more missile defense system on the ship. No more radar. The ship became a defenseless floating coffin.
Then the plane flew over the blind ship a dozen times. Basically, it was “Nyah, nyah, nyah.”
This story got no play in American media.
On 10 April 2014, the USS Donald Cook entered the waters of the Black Sea and on 12 April a Russian Su-24 tactical bomber flew over the vessel triggering an incident that, according to several media reports, completely demoralized its crew, so much so that the Pentagon issued a protest.
The USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) is a 4th generation guided missile destroyer whose key weapons are Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers, and capable of carrying nuclear explosives. This ship carries 56 Tomahawk missiles in standard mode, and 96 missiles in attack mode.
The US destroyer is equipped with the most recent Aegis Combat System. It is an integrated naval weapons systems which can link together the missile defense systems of all vessels embedded within the same network, so as to ensure the detection, tracking and destruction of hundreds of targets at the same time. In addition, the USS Donald Cook is equipped with 4 large radars, whose power is comparable to that of several stations. For protection, it carries more than fifty anti-aircraft missiles of various types.
Meanwhile, the Russian Su-24 that buzzed the USS Donald Cook carried neither bombs nor missiles but only a basket mounted under the fuselage, which, according to the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, contained a Russian electronic warfare device called Khibiny.
As the Russian jet approached the US vessel, the electronic device disabled all radars, control circuits, systems, information transmission, etc. on board the US destroyer. In other words, the all-powerful Aegis system, now hooked up — or about to be — with the defense systems installed on NATO’s most modern ships was shut down, as turning off the TV set with the remote control.
The Russian Su-24 then simulated a missile attack against the USS Donald Cook, which was left literally deaf and blind. As if carrying out a training exercise, the Russian aircraft — unarmed — repeated the same maneuver 12 times before flying away.
After that, the 4th generation destroyer immediately set sail towards a port in Romania.
Since that incident, which the Atlanticist media have carefully covered up despite the widespread reactions sparked among defense industry experts, no US ship has ever approached Russian territorial waters again.
According to some specialized media, 27 sailors from the USS Donald Cook requested to be relieved from active service.
Vladimir Balybine — director of the research center on electronic warfare and the evaluation of so-called “visibility reduction” techniques attached to the Russian Air Force Academy — made the following comment: “The more a radio-electronic system is complex, the easier it is to disable it through the use of electronic warfare.”
In short, “back to the drawing board!”
Problem: it takes about seven years for the Pentagon to design and deploy a new cybersecurity system. As for missile guidance systems, it takes even longer.
If you want to know how much bang for the taxpayer’s buck the Pentagon gets, begin here.
This is blind man’s bluff. The Pentagon is the blind man.
The Pentagon’s strategy is to play dumb. “Incident? What incident?”
Congressional hearings? Don’t hold your breath.
Now Russia’s defense minister says that Russian bombers will soon start patrolling the Gulf of Mexico.
George H. W. Bush and NATO promised in 1990 that NATO would not be expanded to Russia’s borders. Then NATO broke the promise. It was mission creep by a bloated bureaucracy, whose original mission was to defend Western Europe for a few hours against an invasion by the USSR until the USA launched nuclear missiles on the USSR. That mission officially ended in 1991, when the USSR committed suicide.
Russian bombers in the Gulf? We are now seeing tit-for-tat. It is mission creep from the other side.
All those Pentagon bucks! So little bang!
Continue Reading on www.voltairenet.org
Russia’s bombers to conduct regular patrols, ranging from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico
MOSCOW – In a show of military muscle amid tensions with the West, Russia will send long-range strategic bombers on regular patrol missions across the globe, from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, a top official said Wednesday.
The announcement by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu came as NATO’s chief accused Russia of sending fresh troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine.
“Over the last few days, we have seen multiple reports of large convoys moving into Eastern Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “We assess that this significant military buildup includes Russian artillery, tanks, air defence systems and troops. His statement called the situation a “severe threat to the cease-fire.”
Moscow denied the allegation as unfounded, but Shoigu also said the dispute with the West over Ukraine would require Russia to beef up its forces in the Crimea, the Black Sea Peninsula that Russia annexed in March.
Shoigu said Russian long-range bombers will conduct flights along Russian borders and over the Arctic Ocean. He said, “In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Shoigu would not say how frequent the patrol missions would be or offer any other specifics, but he noted that the increasing pace and duration of flights would require stronger maintenance efforts and that relevant directives have been issued to industries.
He said the Russian air force’s long-range planes also will conduct “reconnaissance missions to monitor foreign powers’ military activities and maritime communications.”
A senior U.S. military official said Russia has not previously flown actual bomber patrols over the Gulf of Mexico, including during the Cold War.
Long-range bombers have been in the area before, but only to participate in various visits to the region when the aircraft stopped over night at locations in South or Central America. During the Cold War, other types of Russian aircraft flew patrols there, including surveillance flights and anti-submarine aircraft.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the flights publicly, also said that the pace of Russian flights around North America, including the Arctic, have largely remained steady, with about five incidents per year.
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to call this a Russian provocation. He said the Russians have a right, like any other nation, to operate in international airspace and in international waters. The important thing, Warren said, is for such exercises to be carried out safely and in accordance with international standards.
Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers were making regular patrols across the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans during Cold War times, reaching areas from which nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be launched at the United States. But that stopped in the post-Soviet economic meltdown.
The bomber patrol flights have resumed under President Vladimir Putin’s tenure, and they have become even more frequent in recent weeks, with NATO reporting a spike in Russian military flights over the Black, Baltic and North seas as well as the Atlantic Ocean.
Earlier this year, Shoigu said that Russia plans to expand its worldwide military presence by seeking permission for navy ships to use ports in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere for replenishing supplies and doing maintenance. He said the military was conducting talks with Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.
Shoigu said Russia also is talking to some of those countries about allowing long-range bombers to use their air bases for refuelling .
Ian Kearns, director of the European Leadership Network, a London-based think-tank , said the bomber patrols are part of Kremlin’s efforts to make the Russian military “more visible and more assertive in its actions.”
The new bomber flights “aren’t necessarily presaging a threat,” Kearns said. “They are just part of a general ramping-up of activities.”
But, he added, “The more instances you have of NATO and Russian forces coming close together, the more chance there is of having something bad happening, even if it’s not intentional.”
On Monday, the European Leadership Network issued a report that found a sharp rise in Russian-NATO military encounters since the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea, including violations of national airspace, narrowly avoided midair collisions, close encounters at sea, harassment of reconnaissance planes, close overflights over warships, and Russian mock bombing raid missions.
Three of the nearly 40 incidents, the think-tank said, carried a “high probability” of causing casualties or triggering a direct military confrontation: a narrowly avoided collision between a civilian airliner and a Russian surveillance plane, the abduction of an Estonian intelligence officer, and a large-scale Swedish hunt for a suspected Russian submarine that yielded no result.
In September, the report said, Russian strategic bombers in the Labrador Sea off Canada practiced cruise missile strikes on the U.S. Earlier this year, in May, the report said, Russian military aircraft approached within 50 miles (80 kilometres) of the California coast, the closest such Russian military flight reported since the end of the Cold War.
Russia-West ties have dipped to their lowest point since Cold War times over the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russia insurgents in Ukraine. The West and Ukraine have continuously accused Moscow of fueling the rebellion in eastern Ukraine with troops and weapons — claims Russia has rejected.
Fighting has continued in the east, despite a cease-fire agreement signed between Ukraine and the rebels signed in Minsk, Belarus, in September.
Stoltenberg, the NATO chief, urged Russia to “pull back its forces and equipment from Ukraine, and to fully respect the Minsk agreements. ”
U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said Wednesday that in the last two days “we have seen columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defence systems and Russian combat troops entering into Ukraine.”
Breedlove, who spoke in Sofia, Bulgaria, wouldn’t say how many new troops and weapons have moved into Ukraine or specify how the alliance obtained the information.
The Russian Defence Ministry quickly rejected Breedlove’s statement as groundless.
Breedlove said the Russia-Ukraine border is “completely wide open,” and “forces, money, support, supplies, weapons are flowing back and forth.”
Turkish protesters attacked U.S. sailors in Istanbul on Wednesday.
“Yankee, go home!” a group of roughly 10 men shouted at three U.S. sailors while they attempted to throw a bag over the head of one of the Americans.
“We want you out of our land!” they added, Stars and Stripes reported.
The attackers are believed to have belonged to the nationalist Youth Association, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The sailors were able to escape serious injury and run back to the warship USS Ross, which was in port following NATO-related exercises.
Liberty has been canceled for other U.S. military personnel until an investigation into the incident is complete, Stars and Stripes reported.
There are roughly 2,000 troops currently stationed in Turkey, the paper reported.
Most of the U.S. military personnel in the region are operating out of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.
The attack was caught on video.
Incompetence Or Design?
Supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been getting U.S. military contracts, and American officials are citing “due process rights” as a reason not to cancel the agreements, according to an independent agency monitoring spending.
The U.S. Army Suspension and Debarment Office has declined to act in 43 such cases, John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said today in a letter accompanying a quarterly report to Congress.
“I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract,” Sopko said.
The 236-page report and Sopko’s summary provide one of the watchdog agency’s most critical appraisals of U.S. performance in helping to build a stable Afghanistan as the Pentagon prepares to withdraw combat troops by the end of next year.
“There appears to be a growing gap between the policy objectives of Washington and the reality of achieving them in Afghanistan, especially when the government must hire and oversee contractors to perform its mission,” said Sopko, whose post was mandated by Congress.
The Pentagon is scheduled to deliver its own Afghanistan status report to Congress today. Its appraisal, which is months late, will outline progress from October 2012 through March and concerns that deal with handing over security operations to the Afghan military.
The U.S. has 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, with plans to reduce the number to 34,000 by February. President Barack Obama hasn’t decided how many to keep in the country after 2014 to train Afghan forces and engage in anti-terrorist missions.
Sopko expressed pessimism that the U.S. can maintain effective oversight of billions of dollars in reconstruction spending as forces are withdrawn. The Obama administration has requested $10.7 billion in such funding for fiscal 2014 to cover projects from improving local government to building roads and schools.
“Unless the U.S. government improves its contract-oversight policies and practices, far too much will be wasted,” Sopko wrote.
According to the report, Sopko’s agency “has found it impossible to confirm” the number of contracts awarded in a $32 million program to install barricades, bars or gratings in culverts at about 2,500 Afghan locations to prevent insurgents from placing roadside bombs. The explosives are the biggest killer of U.S. and Afghan troops.
The policy to create an effective Afghan Army, which has 185,287 troops, “will remain hollow unlessWashington pays equal attention to proper contracting and procurement activities to sustain those forces,” Sopko said.
He said that he is “well aware of the wartime environment in which contractors are operating in Afghanistan, but this can neither explain the disconnect nor excuse the failure.”
As of May 31, the U.S. had committed $30 billion for contracts to build, train and sustain the Afghan army.
Sopko said he has witnessed the failings personally during his first year as inspector general, including 50 meetings he and his staff attended during his last trip to Afghanistan.
As of March, 40,315 of the personnel working under Pentagon contracts in Afghanistan, or about 37 percent, were Afghan locals, according to the report.
Regarding the 43 cases of contractors with militant connections, Sopko said the Army should “enforce the rule of common sense” in its suspension and debarment program. “They may be enemies of the United States but that is not enough to keep them from getting government contracts,” according to the agency’s report.
The Army’s procurement-fraud branch reviewed the 43 cases late last year, Matthew Bourke, a service spokesman, said in a statement. The reviewers “did not include enough supporting evidence to initiate suspension and debarment under federal acquisition regulations,” he said.
George Wright, another Army spokesman, said by e-mail that cutting off the contracts based only on information from Sopko’s office “would fail to meet due-process requirements and would likely be deemed arbitrary if challenged in court.”
Sopko said the Army “appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due-process rights if based on classified information” or on Commerce Department reports.
In a report issued yesterday, Sopko said $47 million that the U.S. Agency for International Development has spent on a program to stabilize Afghanistan hasn’t dealt with the sources of instability.
An audit showed that after 16 months, none of the agency’s essential program objectives have been reached and the money spent has mostly financed workshops and training sessions. The project is aimed at bolstering Afghanistan’s government before troop withdrawals planned for next year.
“It’s troubling that after 16 months, this program has not issued its first community grant,” Sopko said. “Rather, it has spent almost $50 million, about a quarter of the total program budget, on conferences, overhead and workshops.”
The failure of the State Department agency to use the money for grants has left local Afghan communities disappointed and may feed greater instability, according to the audit.
ISIL terrorist leader is CIA agent: Chechen president
22 Oct 2014 – (Legit Gov) Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov says the ISIL terrorist group’s leader, Ibrahim Samarrai, who is known by the alias Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, works for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and is financially supported by western secret services. [*Duh.*] “Baghdadi should take off his mask and declare loudly and clearly that he is a CIA agent, that he has been recruited,” Kadyrov said on Tuesday, adding, “They (the ISIL militants) are Shaitans (devils) and their sole obsession is to grab as much money as they can lay hands on. They are acting on orders from the West and deliberately exterminating Muslims.” The Chechen leader called on Samarrai to confess to committing atrocities including the massacre of Muslims.
U.S. has ALLEGEDLY spent $7.6B on counternarco ops (oops)
Cultivation of the illegal poppy plant in Afghanistan has reached an “all time high” following a $7.6 billion counternarcotics campaign paid for by the United States, according to government oversight investigators.
Despite the spending to combat growth of the poppy plant, which is used to make drugs such as opium and heroin, cultivation has reached an “all time high,” especially in places once declared “poppy free,” according to new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
“After a decade of reconstruction and over $7 billion in counternarcotics efforts, poppy cultivation levels are at an all-time high,” SIGAR concluded in its report released Wednesday.
The findings have caused concern about the effectiveness of the United States’ efforts to stymie poppy production, SIGAR concluded.
Levels of poppy farming have not been this high since 2007, according to SIGAR.
And “with deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases in cultivation are likely in 2014,” SIGAR informed the Defense and Justice Departments in a recent alert.
Afghanistan has experienced a 50 percent increase in poppy-related proceeds from 2012 to 2013 as a result of the farming boon, according to the report.
“Despite the significant financial expenditure, opium poppy cultivation has far exceeded previous records,” according to SIGAR.
The boost in production of the popular drug is primarily the result of new deep-well technology that has allowed the Afghans to turn large portions of the once inhabitable desert into fertile land.
“Due to relatively high opium prices and the rise of an inexpensive, skilled, and mobile labor force, much of this newly-arable land is dedicated to opium cultivation,” the report states. “Poppy-growing provinces that were once declared ‘poppy free’ have seen a resurgence in cultivation.”
Areas once “considered a model for successful counterinsurgency and counternarcotics efforts” have seen poppy production grow fourfold between 2012 and 2013, according to SIGAR.
Profits garnered from the production of opium and other poppy-derived drugs have increased from $2 billion in 2012 to $3 billion in 2013, the report found.
Questions are now being raised about the effectiveness of the United States’ counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan.
“In past years, surges in opium poppy cultivation have been met by a coordinated response from the U.S. government and coalition partners, which has led to a temporary decline in levels of opium production,” according to SIGAR. “However, the recent record-high level of poppy cultivation calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul admitted defeat in the drug arena when approached by the watchdog for comment on its report.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, speaking on behalf of the State Department and USAID, “acknowledged the significance of the poppy cultivation issue in Afghanistan,” according to SIGAR.
It “also acknowledged that, after more than a decade of taxpayer-funded counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan, U.S. government efforts to build Afghan government counternarcotics capability were still ‘in progress,’” according to their comments recounted in SIGAR’s report.
However, the embassy also maintained that some of its counternarcotics efforts “are yielding results.”
“There is no silver bullet to eliminate drug cultivation or production in Afghanistan or to address the epidemic of substance abuse disorder that plagues too many Afghans,” the embassy wrote in a statement to SIGAR.
As the drug problem grows worse, SIGAR is recommending that the DoD and other agencies reassess their game plan.
“I strongly suggest that your departments consider the trends in opium cultivation and the effectiveness of past counternarcotics efforts when planning future initiatives,” SIGAR wrote.
ISIS has also been treated in Tel Aviv (according to inside sources) Women and Children of destitute Palestinians left to suffer and die.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (3rd L) flashes a victory sign as he appears for the first time since the start of a seven-week conflict during a rally by Palestinians celebrating what they said was a victory over Israel, in Gaza City
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A daughter of the leader of Hamas in Gaza was admitted to an Israeli hospital for emergency medical treatment this month after she suffered complications from a routine procedure, two sources familiar with the case said.
Haniyeh, who has 13 children, is the leader of the Islamist group in Gaza and one of its most senior figures overall, serving as a deputy to Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile.
Two sources – one Palestinian and the other a foreign diplomat with knowledge of the case – declined to name the daughter and, out of respect for her privacy, asked that details of her condition not be published.
Like many Hamas officials, Haniyeh spent the seven-week-long war largely in hiding. His home in the northern part of the Gaza Strip was destroyed by an Israeli air strike.
An Israeli official said he could not discuss specific medical admissions from Gaza.
But he said that in most cases a request by a Palestinian doctor to allow a patient across the border for urgent treatment was sufficient – indicating Haniyeh may not have been personally involved in his daughter’s application.
During the war and since it ended in late August, dozens of patients from Gaza have been brought to hospitals in Israel, where the resources and technology for advanced treatment and complicated operations are vastly better.
Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction but has voiced openness to a long-term truce and a measure of cooperation with Israel which, along with neighboring Egypt, controls access to the coastal enclave, home to 1.8 million Palestinians.
Israeli media has reported that one of Haniyeh’s granddaughters was treated in an Israeli hospital last November, while his mother-in-law sought treatment in a Jerusalem hospital in June.
Not only are foodstuffs, medical supplies—even clinics—going to ISIS, the distribution networks are paying ISIS ‘taxes’ and putting ISIS people on their payrolls.
GAZIANTEP, Turkey—While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists, assisting them to build their terror-inspiring “caliphate.”
The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.
The Bible says if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him something to drink—doing so will “heap burning coals” of shame on his head. But there is no evidence that the militants of the Islamic State, widely known as ISIS or ISIL, feel any sense of disgrace or indignity (and certainly not gratitude) receiving charity from their foes.
Quite the reverse, the aid convoys have to pay off ISIS emirs (leaders) for the convoys to enter the eastern Syrian extremist strongholds of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, providing yet another income stream for ISIS militants, who are funding themselves from oil smuggling, extortion, and the sale of whatever they can loot, including rare antiquities from museums and archaeological sites.
“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” says an aid coordinator who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition he not be identified in this article. The kickbacks are either paid by foreign or local nongovernmental organizations tasked with distributing the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it.
“What are we doing here helping their fighters, who we are bombing, to be treated so they can fight again?”
And there are fears the aid itself isn’t carefully monitored enough, with some sold off on the black market or used by ISIS to win hearts and minds by feeding its fighters and its subjects. At a minimum, the aid means ISIS doesn’t have to divert cash from its war budget to help feed the local population or the displaced persons, allowing it to focus its resources exclusively on fighters and war-making, say critics of the aid.
One of the striking differences between ISIS and terror groups of the past is its desire to portray the territory it has conquered as a well-organized and smoothly functioning state. “The soldiers of Allah do not liberate a village, town, or city, only to abandon its residents and ignore their needs,” declares the latest issue of Dabiq, the group’s slick online magazine. Elsewhere in the publication are pictures of slaughtered Kurdish soldiers and a gruesome photograph of American journalist Steven Sotloff’s severed head resting on top of his body. But this article shows ISIS restoring electricity in Raqqah, running a home for the elderly, a cancer-treatment facility in Ninawa, and cleaning streets in other towns.
Last year, a polio outbreak in Deir ez-Zor raised concerns throughout the region about the spread of an epidemic. The World Health Organization worked with the Syrian government and with opposition groups to try to carry out an immunization campaign. This has continued. In response to a query by The Daily Beast, a WHO spokesperson said, “Our information indicates that vaccination campaigns have been successfully carried out by local health workers in IS-controlled territory.”
“I am alarmed that we are providing support for ISIS governance,” says Jonathan Schanzer, a Mideast expert with the Washington D.C.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “By doing so we are indemnifying the militants by satisfying the core demands of local people, who could turn on ISIS if they got frustrated.”
U.S. and Western relief agencies have been caught before in an aid dilemma when it comes to the war on terror. Last December, the Overseas Development Institute, an independent British think tank focusing on international development and humanitarian issues, reported that aid agencies in Somalia had been paying militants from the al Qaeda offshoot al-Shabab for access to areas under their control during the 2011 famine.
Al-Shabab demanded from the agencies what it described as “registration fees” of up to $10,000. And in many cases al-Shabab insisted on distributing the aid, keeping much of it for itself, according to ODI. The think tank cited al-Shabab’s diversion of food aid in the town of Baidoa, where it kept between half and two-thirds of the food for its own fighters. The researchers noted the al Qaeda affiliate developed a highly sophisticated system of monitoring and co-opting the aid agencies, even setting up a “Humanitarian Co-ordination Office.”
Something similar appears to be underway now in the Syrian provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.
Aid coordinators with NGOs partnering USAID and other Western government agencies, including Britain’s Department for International Development, say ISIS insist that the NGOs, foreign and local, employ people ISIS approves on their staffs inside Syria. “There is always at least one ISIS person on the payroll; they force people on us,” says an aid coordinator. “And when a convoy is being prepared, the negotiations go through them about whether the convoy can proceed. They contact their emirs and a price is worked out. We don’t have to wrangle with individual ISIS field commanders once approval is given to get the convoy in, as the militants are highly hierarchical.” He adds: “None of the fighters will dare touch it, if an emir has given permission.”
That isn’t the case with other Syrian rebel groups, where arguments over convoys can erupt at checkpoints at main entry points into Syria, where aid is unloaded from Turkish tractor-trailers and re-loaded into Syrian ones.
Many aid workers are uncomfortable with what’s happening. “A few months ago we delivered a mobile clinic for a USAID-funded NGO,” says one, who declined to be named. “A few of us debated the rights and wrongs of this. The clinic was earmarked for the treatment of civilians, but we all know that wounded ISIS fighters could easily be treated as well. So what are we doing here helping their fighters, who we are bombing, to be treated so they can fight again?”
What becomes even more bizarre is that while aid is still going into ISIS-controlled areas, only a little is going into Kurdish areas in northeast Syria. About every three or four months there is a convoy into the key city of Qamishli. Syrian Kurds, who are now defending Kobani with the support of U.S. warplanes, have long complained about the lack of international aid. Last November, tellingly, Syrian Kurds complained that Syria’s Kurdistan was not included in a U.N. polio-vaccination campaign. U.N. agencies took the position that polio vaccines should go through the Syrian Red Crescent via Damascus when it came to the Kurds.
The origins of the aid programs pre-date President Barack Obama’s decision to “degrade and defeat” ISIS, but they have carried on without major review. The aid push was to reach anyone in need. A senior State Department official with detailed knowledge of current aid programs confirmed to The Daily Beast that U.S. government funded relief is still going into Raqqa and Deir Ez-Zor. He declined to estimate the quantity. But an aid coordinator, when asked, responded: “A lot.”
The State Department official said he, too, was conflicted about the programs. “Is this helping the militants by allowing them to divert money they would have to spend on food? If aid wasn’t going in, would they let people starve? And is it right for us to withhold assistance and punish civilians? Would the militants turn around, as al-Shabab did when many agencies withdrew from Somalia, and blame the West for starvation and hunger? Are we helping indirectly the militants to build their caliphate? I wrestle with this.”
Western NGO partners of USAID and other Western agencies declined to respond to Daily Beast inquiries about international relief going to ISIS areas, citing the complexity of the issue and noting its delicacy.
Mideast analyst Schanzer dismisses the notion that ISIS can use an aid shutdown as leverage in its PR campaign: “I think this is false. In areas they control, everyone understands they are a brutal organization. This is their basic weakness and by pushing in aid we are curtailing the chances of an internal revolt, which is the best chance you have of bringing down ISIS.”
Literally False Flags?
Gardeners in the Israeli city of Nazareth Illit discovered a bag containing about 25 ISIS flags.
Israel Police have opened an investigation into the discovery of the flags on Tuesday in an industrial area of northern Israeli city. The possession of materials from the jihadist group was outlawed in Israel several weeks ago.
“When something like this is discovered in the heart of a Jewish city, it needs to light up many warning signs,” Nazareth Illit Mayor Alex Gadalkin told Ynet.
In late September, a 24-year-old Arab-Israeli from Kfar Kana who was suspected of being associated with ISIS was arrested and questioned.
Earlier in the month, another Arab-Israeli was arrested for allegedly traveling to Syria and training with ISIS. Contact with the group also was made illegal.
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