Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Imperial Ottoman Empire Reborn

"Under challenging conditions, we are protecting our people from barbaric gangs such as ISIS and Al-Nusra. Countless states and media outlets have repeatedly reported about the support Turkey has been providing to these terrorist groups. Apart from the terrorist groups attacking us, we as YPG have engaged in no military activity against the neighboring states or other forces."
"We would like to repeat our message to the people of Turkey and the world: We have no links to this incident... We have never been involved in an attack against Turkey. The Turkish state cannot possibly prove our engagement in any kind of attack on their side because we were never involved in such an action. Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu's remarks 'Ankara attack was conducted by YPG' is a lie and far away from the truth. With this statement, Davutoglu wants to pave the way for an offensive on Syria and Rojava and cover up Turkey's relations with the ISIS which is known to the whole world by now."                                            YPG General Command, Syria
"Thousands of settlers from Anatolia were shipped in by the Turkish government to occupy former Greek villages and to change Cypriot demography -- in the same manner the occupying Ottoman Empire once did in the 16th century. ... The island remains conquered not because the Greeks have given up, but because their resistance is futile against a NATO power of some 70 million people. Greeks know that Turkey worries little about what world thinks of its occupation."                                                                                                           historian Victor Davis Hanson 
If any area of the world can be said in its totality to be in a state of dysfunction it is the Middle East. Political upheavals, state violence, mass murders, enslavement, rape, sexual slavery of women and children, threats, intimidation, sectarian slaughter, drug trafficking, weapons proliferation, the Middle East has it all, and more. The 'more' includes its outreach to other countries of the world in the use of oil wealth to establish thousands of mosques and madrassas, training clerics to preach in them, and exhorting Muslims who escape the violations of their human rights in their home countries, not to integrate into European culture, accept its laws, and reflect its values.

Turkey in particular, along with Saudi Arabia, is involved in describing assimilation into European culture, accepting democracy and pluralism and the equality rendered under the law as offensive to Islam which has its own, superior and religion-specific Sharia law. Germany, which has permitted immigration of millions of Muslims, last year took in another million, bringing its total Muslim demographic to a whopping six million. And to that six million Recep Tayyip Erdogan barks that it is an offence against human rights for them to surrender their culture by integrating into the larger society.

Erdogan: No room for dialogue with Kurds
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. File photo

This is the man who has single-handedly -- backed by his Islamist Justice and Development party, returned Turkey from its post-Ottoman Empire hostility to Europe and the non-Muslim world that Kemal Ataturk overturned --  back to pride in Turkishness, and the proud purity of Islamism, matched with contempt for the West and in particular the European Union which has hesitated for decades to accept Turkey as a member and is now vacillating in the hope that Turkey will stem the tide of Syrian refugees streaming into Europe in exchange for money and favours.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, presenting as acceptably ferociously Islamist and terminally genocidal, has had ample support in the past from the Turkish government turning a blind eye to its presence in Turkey, graciously enabling it to cross the border from Turkey into Syria, expediting foreign jihadists' journeys toward ISIL membership. Denying strenuously and with appropriate outrage that it has ever done any such thing, as a member in somewhat-questionable standing of NATO.

Rumours that Turkey contributed to ISIL's rise to prominent success through the provision of funds, logistics and arms have never been proven, but nor have they been disproven, while there are many in the know who know what they know. Erdogan's flaming temper has turned in wrathful vengeance against Turkey's Kurdish population, traditionally maligned and considered inferior to Turks, denied their language rights, their culture, their state aspirations as a vicious affront against Turkey. Turkey's response has been indiscriminate attacks resulting in civilian deaths, the destruction of Kurdish homes and neighbourhoods.

Greece's uneasy propinquity has been fraught with threat and violence emanating from Turkey. Erdogan's rash decision to have his warplanes shoot down a Russian plane under pretext of a multiple-seconds 'invasion' into Turkey's airspace in his rage over Moscow's entrance in support of the Syrian regime battling Syrian Sunni rebels a case in point of rampant hypocrisy that Turkey excels in. Greek airspace has been violated 2,244 times throughout 2014 by Turkish aircraft, according to Athens News Agency quoting the Greek military.

Turkey has viciously excoriated Israel for its 'occupation' of Palestinian land, and its 'genocidal' onslaught of Gaza and the West Bank, fulminating against the Jewish presence on Arab Muslim land. 
But Turkey's invasion of Cyprus, a Greek Christian island nation cannot be construed as an invasion. Turkey's 1974 military campaign must be considered as Turkey does, a "peace operation", much as Hamas launches rockets into Israel as a peace operation, whose purpose is sadly misinterpreted by the Israeli military and its government.

What Turkey did achieve in occupied northern Cyprus was its success in an ethnic cleansing and colonization campaign, achieved through mass murder, wholesale and repeated rapes, torture and generally inhumane treatment of the Greek community historically established there. Its mission happily completed by going on to plunder the Cypriot cultural heritage, and in the process destroying churches to achieve the end it triumphantly describes as a peace operation.

Turkey's first Minister of Justice, in 1930, described the rationale behind Turkey's view of itself: "The master in this country is the Turk. Those who are not genuine Turks can have only one right in the Turkish fatherland, and that is to be a servant, to be a slave. We are in the most free country of the world. They call this Turkey." 

Comedian Jan Böhmermann is being prosecuted in Germany for reading a disparaging poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Labels: , , ,

Sliding Into The Nuclear future

"[There is a potential for] ramping up new and more deadly and more effective [weapons] systems that end up leading to a whole new escalation of the arms race."
U.S. President Barack Obama, Nuclear Security Summit, Washington
Peace, man: Surrounded by world leaders, President Barack Obama appeared to give the peace sign at the end of a nuclear security summit today
"I'm confident they're [Russian arms designers] working on a new bomb."
"And I'm confident they're asking for testing."
William J. Perry, former Clinton era defense secretary

From the Union of Concerned Scientists earlier this year, comprised of a private group in Cambridge, Massachusetts came a published report on the launch-on-warning debate, claiming that the Obama administration's arms modernizations "are the most prominent external factor influencing Chinese advocates."

This is a group advocating for arms control, who see their own nation as the leading provocateur in the arms race simply by dint of their more advanced scientific, technological production in the ongoing manufacturing of leading armaments. As far as they are concerned, counting warheads and delivery vehicles is no longer suitable as a mechanism to halt development of new weapons.

As a nuclear weapons expert at the University of North Carolina, Mark Gubrud has lobbied for the advancement of a global flight ban on hypersonic arms testing. Should work continue, the maneuverable warheads will  undoubtedly become a global reality within the next decade. "The world has failed to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle. And new genies are now getting loose", he warned.

Nuclear weapons continue to be stockpiled, only the new generation aggressively being pursued is smaller and somewhat less destructive. The race itself among the three principals of nuclear buildups, the United States, Russia and China, are growing a new arms race and in the process threatening to unsettle the nuclear peace that descended when with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moscow and Washington agreed to begin diminishing their stockpiles.

And while American officials place the blame on the new direction that has taken hold on Vladimir Putin, pointing to his intransigence on efforts to build on a 2010 arms control treaty and continued shrinkage of nuclear arsenals, others place the blame on Beijing searching for that technological edge, fearful of being eclipsed by the United States. Others yet find blame rests with the U.S. for its nuclear 'modernization' that puts pressure on other countries to match their goal.

Famously, President Obama ran for office promising to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Yet the current administration, rather than reducing atomic arms' centrality, is upgrading them leading its adversaries to give witness to American nuclear revitalization at an estimated cost of $1-trillion over three decades, and using that reality to escalate their own weaponry to a more sophisticated base.

Moscow is triumphant in its larger missiles tipped by miniaturized warheads. Leaving the global test ban violated through the development of new, advanced weapons. The Russian Navy is in the process of developing an undersea drone capable of lofting a cloud of radioactive contamination from an underwater explosion, whose result would render cities targeted uninhabitable.
A Russian intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry four miniaturized nuclear warheads was paraded through Red Square in Moscow last May. Credit Kirill Kudryavsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
While warning that Moscow is busy seeing that its scientists are working on new weaponry, the White House has backed development of an advanced cruise missile to be dropped from a bomber, the flying weapon hugging the ground for long distances, zipping through enemy air defenses to smash targets. A hypersonic warhead is also being developed to produce a non-nuclear weapon so fast and precise the raw force of impact will destroy a fixed target.

Courtesy photo, U.S. Army     Advanced Hypersonic Weapon Concept Launch Test 

While that one weapon sidesteps nuclear, its efficacy and difficulty in repeating in less technologically advanced laboratories may just lead to adversaries' greater dependence on nuclear arms. China's re-engineered long-range missiles meant to carry multiple warheads for example, in emulating Moscow's response to that same hypersonic warhead. Beijing is quite capable of miniaturizing warheads to place two or more on a single missile.

The Chinese military last year declared its intention to "improve strategic early warning" for its nuclear forces. This appear to be a step aside from Washington and Moscow high alert protocol so military authorities can fire missiles if networks of radars, satellites and computers detect an incoming strike, meant to sidestep a poentially crippling blow to curb or eliminate a nation's ability to retaliate.

This "launch on warning" protocol is viewed by its critics as increasing the risk of accidental war occurring and taking everyone by surprise. There are surprises that are universally held in abhorrence and this one would win a prize for its devastating world upheaval.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Little Jerk From Molenbeek

"He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray, he has a profound vacuity."
"I asked him if he had read the Qur'an, which I did, and he said he had read his interpretation on the Internet."
"[Abdeslam is a] little jerk [or asshole], more a follower than a leader [among] Molenbeek's little delinquents."
"[Abdeslam] is the perfect example of the GTA [Grand Theft Auto video game] generation who thinks he lives in a video game."
Sven Mary, Belgian defence lawyer
TVbrussels via AP
TVbrussels via AP   This file image taken from video and first released on Wednesday April 13, 2016 shows Salah Abdeslam, left, the fugitive from the Nov. 13 Paris attacks whose capture appears to have precipitated the March 22 bombing in Brussels. 
"Injustice was often a starting point with their predecessors' journey toward extremism and terrorism. This has now largely been overshadowed by personal estrangement and motives as the primary engines of their journey."
"[The distinction is between an earlier generation of] radical Islamists [and the current crop of] Islamized radicals."
"[Abdeslam and his peers'] acquaintance with religious thought is undoubtedly more shallow and superficial than their predecessors', as is their acquaintance with international politics."
Brussels think tank report
If authorities are looking for a rational explanation from this young thug of Moroccan heritage and Belgian citizenship they are hoping for too much. This is a young man who like most of those with whom he and his kind associate, are reactive to opportunistic situations. They look for excitement, for some means of proving to themselves and to others that they are tough and capable of sending the world into a tailspin of horror, of creating reputations for themselves.

They dream of committing atrocities and becoming the admired heroes of the world of jihad.

Some among them don't much mind sacrificing themselves in the greater interests of martyrdom while dispatching innocent people to hell, as they ascend to Paradise, and others like Abdeslam prefer to take part in the excitement of intrigue and conspiracy, venture out on the field of battle, create the conditions for actively murdering as many surprised people as possible, then preferably make good their escape, to live to tell another tale, and plan another escapade, and escape again, endlessly.

Like all such young men who view themselves as adventuresome and fearless, they cannot imagine themselves dead; this is where the imagination of youth stops dead cold. For how can the world go on without their presence? They and their actions animate the world, their contempt for the world and those inhabiting it requires their response. Gauge how over-represented Arab and Muslim youth are in Western societies, particularly those that empower them to be equal in opportunity to all others, when they choose to be one with gangs and crime and violence.

They seem to naturally gravitate to the world of crime, to meting out violence, to extracting all the adrenalin-producing adventures available to the bold and the venturesome, which lands them in prison where the volatile venom of criminality and entitlement finds free expression and the admiration of others vulnerable to the allure of violent action, imagining that there will be no consequences to do harm to their own longevity.

Now transferred to France to stand trial in a number of years for his crimes against the people of the Republic, he will be housed in a high-security prison, his every actions under scrutiny. But he is unlikely to be a further violent threat to anyone. His hopes of escape have been dashed, his outlook is bleak, and he feels defeated by circumstances clearly not of his own making, but of the consequences that his actions created. He cannot find it in himself to cast blame on himself, after all.

It is the world that is responsible for the manner in which he reacted. Others deserved to die. Others sought to die, but not he. And to be placed in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time is not his vision of reward for the exciting risks he took in pursuing the role of righteous jihadist. His role in the death of 130 people in Paris, his clash with police in Molenbeek leading to his later arrest precipitating the Brussels bombings were celebratory exploits for which he is being punished by an unfair world.

Video games never ended up in such a sordid finality.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Terrorist Agenda of Islamist Jihad

"There will be no let-up in the operation."
"There are ongoing operations as we speak. Our troops are still on the ground. Jolo is surrounded by the sea, with many trees, bushes and forested areas. There are pockets in the jungle where civilians live. One of the big reasons that we cannot get right information from those people is because they are their relatives. Abu Sayyaf has a lot of sympathizers there."
"As a young lieutenant and captain, I experienced running around after bandits like Abu Sayyaf in central Mindanao. We could never get information from locals on the ground. The other problem we have right now is that because of information technology they can easily communicate with each other, using cellphones and VHF radios."
"We are saddened by the fact that we have been unable to achieve our objective of saving his life [abducted Canadian John Ridsdel]. We had intended to. Their safety [the other three captives of Abu Sayyaf] is the concern in our planning and execution of operations."
Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, Mindanao province armed forces chief spokesman

"The situation for civilians there will deteriorate for a while and there will be some internally displaced people. We will provide them with some psychological support and some temporary tents. But most will go to their relatives or sleep on the ground with blankets that they will be given."
"People have been trying to reach us for help but we have not yet been allowed in there."
"Many people are given money after a kidnapping. Besides that, there is a lot of resentment of the government when they are being shelled and used as human shields. So, it is a difficult situation."
Dick Gordon, chairman, Philippine Red Cross
The RCMP are investigating the beheading of Canadian John Ridsdel (middle), shown here in a still image from a Abu Sayyaf hostage video. Canadian Robert Hall, left, remains in captivity with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad right.
The RCMP are investigating the beheading of Canadian John Ridsdel (middle), shown here in a still image from a Abu Sayyaf hostage video. Canadian Robert Hall, left, remains in captivity with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad right. (Site Intelligence Group/YouTube)

Canadian John Ridsdel was among four hostages abducted in September from an isolated marina and taken to Jolo Island, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf jihadist group in the Philippines. The kidnappings were meant for one purpose only; to extort money from governments to secure the release of their nationals. American and British prisoners of such groups know that their government will not pay ransom to secure their lives.

The infamous Islamic State videos of the beheadings of American and British journalists and aid workers made the situation clear.

French abductees, on the other hand, know that their government will not spare tens of millions to secure the release of their nationals, and other European countries respond in a similar way to the extortion demands. There are, of course, means other than active government interventions, when other actors can be called upon to negotiate, sometimes with the involvement of the families of the abducted, sometimes relying on the diplomatic efforts of other states.

And the money that changes hands is never openly credited to those countries but it is generally considered they are the source.

France was found to have paid out about $58 million in ransoms over a six year period, an investigation by the New York Times revealed. Switzerland and Spain were discovered to have paid over $10 million each to have their abducted nationals released unharmed. "It is difficult to level criticism on countries like Mali or Burkina Faso for facilitating negotiations when the countries that pay ransom, like Austria and Canada are given a pass", read a cable dated February 19, 2010 from the U.S. embassy in Mali.

John Ridsdel, a former journalist, oil and mining executive, 68 years of age, who was a restless, wandering spirit often entering areas of danger, was the selected Abu Sayyaf victim to prove that they mean business when they give a deadline for hostage release on payment of the demanded sum of money; in this instance $8-million, which the negotiators evidently attempted to whittle down to a more manageable sum and which the jihadis refused. His head was the price of the spurned demand.

The Philippine military has helicopter gunships and artillery on standby, but bad weather conditions kept them inactive. Government troops were ordered not to endanger the remaining hostages, 50 year old Calgary native Robert Hall, marina manager Norwegian  Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Marites Flor. And nor, presumably, does the government particularly want to have any civilians on the island harmed in the search for and effort to destroy the Abu Sayyaf jihadis.

But, then, that's a specialty of Islamist terrorists, making a secure place for themselves among people whom they know support their agenda. And because they are trusted by those who see them as one of themselves, they also use the civilian population as shields among whom they operate to launch attacks against the enemy so when responses to their attacks fall in the form of return assaults while they shelter among civilians, the deaths of civilians convince them that it is the fault of the military not the jihadis that blame must fall to.

Abu Sayyaf rebels are seen in the Philippines in this video grab. Photo: Reuters

There are no overwhelming numbers of armed terrorists to concern the Philippine military. An estimated 200 to 400 extremists are held to be operating on Solo Island, the stronghold of Abu Sayyaf. But it is the jungle terrain, the forested mountains, the vulnerability of the population among whom the jihadists mingle that creates the problem in response.  And the group has carried out its bloody attacks for years.

When John Ridsdel was decapitated, his head was shoved into a plastic bag and taken by motorcycle to be dumped in Jolo Town near the city centre, in front of a group of schoolchildren. When blood was seen on the bag holding the head, police were called in. The Canadian embassy in Manila was sent a photograph of the head and they identified Mr. Ridsdel.

"More and more they will threaten to kill [the hostages] if the military does not keep a reasonable distance", warned Mr. Gordon. "But the hostages are always the most protected because it is money for them ..." Mr. Gordon is well aware that Canadian authorities were negotiating to have their nationals released. A situation that the government of the Philippines advises against, that submitting to the demands of the kidnappers plays into their hands, guaranteeing further future kidnappings for profit.

"I think they [Canada] can negotiate more imaginatively. They need somebody who understands these people. [Abu Sayyaf] are trying to get as much [money] as they can. The more you give them, the more they will ask you." His recommendation is that it would be more useful to support the civilians who back Abu Sayyaf by providing them with funding monthly to enable the young in impoverished Muslim areas of the country to attend school.

The trouble with that is the thinking of normal people given to democracy and pluralism, that it is poverty and lack of education that drives the impulses of Islamists who engage in violent jihad. When the truth is anything but; for the reality is that highly educated Muslims have no trouble at all joining Islamist fundamentalist groups, along with scions of wealthy Muslim families who see in jihad simply their obligation as the faithful to respond to Islam's most basic demand: jihad.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Sacred Islamist Ideology of Jihad

"I'm not even sure they have a political agenda. They like to think they do but, I mean, they don't have a very clear stated political goal."
"I don't think they would know a Koran if it fell from the sky and hit them in the head. I really do think that they are a very opportunistic kidnap-for-ransom gang that is constantly able to forge connections with other groups."
"I certainly think it's done [exploiting the ISIL brand] to increase the psychological pressure on the captives, their families and their government. They've only pulled out the IS imagery when they've kidnapped Westerners, never any of the Asians or Filipinos."
"They've done this many times before [beheading of unransomed captives], this is not the first time."
Zachary Abuza, terrorism scholar in Southeast Asia, professor, Naval War College, Washington
Canadian Robert Hall, left, is still being held captive. Here he is seen in a still from a Abu Sayyaf militant video alongside John Ridsdel.
Canadian Robert Hall, left, is still being held captive. Here he is seen in a still from a Abu Sayyaf militant video alongside John Ridsdel.

At no time is the expression of faith more fitting to the mouth and ear of the jihadist of, "Allahu Akbar!" than when they are executing their obligation to Islam through jihad. The world of the Islamist terrorists is awash with Kalashnikovs, but it is the symbolic sword that is reserved for use when dispatching enemies of Islam. And since any living human who has not exclaimed "There is no god but Allah and Mohamed is his messenger", is ipso facto an enemy, there are plenty of heads to roll.

The latest of which was a 68-year-old Canadian journalist and oil executive who had retired to the Philippines and who had the misfortune to come to the aid of others who were in the throes of being abducted by the Islamist jihadist group in the Philippines who have named themselves "Bearers of the Sword", Abu Sayyaf. This group specializes in kidnapping foreigners in particular, then placing a hefty price on their heads before release.

Their spokespeople warn Western governments that if a stated deadline is not honoured by an offer to pay the demanded ransom heads will roll. And in the city of Jolo one head did roll when John Ridsdel, 68, heard the fateful cry of "Allahu Akbar!" before he was decapitated and could no longer ever again hear or see anything.

Founded in 1991 by a Filipino by the name of Abdurajak Janjalani who had been involved with the international Islamist brigade fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, the group agitates for an Islamic state in the Muslim-majority southern Philippines. The group is held to be comprised of between 200 and 400 fighters, formerly stating allegiance to al-Qaeda, but more latterly to Islamic State.

Financed by a Saudi businessman, kidnapping for ransom became their preferred modus operandi.

"Ostensibly, the group's goal is the establishment of an Islamic state government by sharia law. In practice, however, the ASG primarily uses terrorism for profit", states the website of Public Safety Canada. A Canadian intermediary had been in contact with the group to negotiate for the release of the four hostages taken from the Holiday Ocean View marina; two Canadian men, a Filipino woman, and the Norwegian operator of the marina.

But it seems a disagreement over the required $8-million ransom scuppered negotiations because Abu Sayyaf refused to reduce the amount they planned to extract for the release of John Ridsdel, Robert Hall, Marites Flor and Kjartan Sekkingstad. And John Ridsdel's life became immediately redundant. Whether the other three have somehow survived the lethal wrath of the jihadists whose price-mongering had been spurned is not yet clear.

As for Mr. Abuza's take on whether the group is motivated by fanatical Islam, is that really relevant as a perception? After all, they are Islamists, and they are fanatical, whether or not they are minutely familiar with all the passages of the Koran. There are the key and most important passages and the duties of the faithful associated with them, and they are clear enough; that jihad is integral to belief and that every Muslim has a mission to fulfill.

Abu sayyaf is simply fulfilling their mission on behalf of Islam.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Transforming Turkey

"Solving ethnic and religious strife through demographic engineering is a policy of the Turkish government that goes back well over a century."
"The latest developments in Sur need to be viewed through this framework."
Taner Akcam, Turkish historian

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. © Adem Altan

Members of Turkey's Justice and Development party are busy doing the bidding of Recep Tayyip Erdogan; agitating to change the constitution of the country. There is a divide between religion and government; a Muslim country and a secular government; the legacy of Kemal Ataturk which brought Turkey closer to its European neighbours in outlook if not in practise. Since Erdogan's Islamist party took power a dozen years ago, much has changed in Turkey.

There is a decided divide between the Islamist Turks and the more secular-oriented, socialist, temperate Turks who decry the growing autocracy of their President, formerly Prime Minister, but planning to alter the constitution to empower the presidency to a greater degree and enable Mr. Erdogan to rule in perpetuity.

This man's popularity is on the wane, but not among Turkish Islamists. Turkey's human rights record with its Kurdish population, its Cyprus adventure, its Armenian past, the silencing of journalists and critics of the government all mitigate against membership in the European Union.
Activists hold portraits of victims during a silent demonstration to commemorate the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Istanbul, Turkey April 24, 2016. © Osman Orsal
But the crisis that Europe is facing with the ongoing brutalization of Syria's Sunni population by the Shiite Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad's killing machine creating millions of Syrian refugees has given Erdogan an opportunity to sweep aside the EU's lack of enthusiasm to welcome Turkey as a new member. Even while Turkish warplanes are pounding the hell out of Kurdish villages in the country's southeast, scarring the lives of Turkish Kurds once again.

The robust Turkish economy has taken a direct hit in the last few years with the influx of millions of Syrian refugees fleeing the combustible civil war and the presence if Islamic State in a now-truncated nation of interminable battles. Russian tourists no longer flock to the holiday spots in Turkey famous for hosting them, and nor do Israelis leave behind any longer their own tourist dollars, thanks to the estrangement that Erdogan's volatile temper and malevolent views cause, exposing his credentials.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has alienated relations between the countries most influential in aiding his own country's economy. And his projects have angered ordinary Turks, from plans to transform a popular urban park into a mega-shopping mall, to more latterly 'restoring' an area of the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in the heart of Turkey's southeast to encourage Turks to crowd out the traditional Kurds and Armenians have caused additional palpitations in the hearts of Turkish minorities.

The historical Armenian Surp Giragos Church and a number of others along with large areas of property are being targeted for Erdogan's transformation of ruined neighbourhoods that his own bombing by his military has occasioned, in conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party. Armenians and Kurds fear the government's plans are to replace the neighbourhoods shared with minorities, and put in place luxury rentals and condominiums for wealthy non-minority residents.

"The government wants to seize the heart of Diyarbakir and singularize it, ridding it of its rich multifaith and multicultural structure", said Abdullah Demirbas, a former Diyarbakir mayor. The Diyarbakir Bar Association is suing the government, viewing the project of reconstruction as a work of "military and security reconstruction". And the Surp Giragos Church, one of the largest Armenian churches in the Mideast, is preparing legal action.

A video produced for the office of the prime minister reflecting the government's project vision for the area focuses on mosques and residential areas, superseding other prominent religious establishments. One narrated expression in particular drew the focus of religious minorities, that said: "The call to prayer that rises from Diyarbakir's minarets will not be quieted down".

Labels: , , , , ,

ISIL : The Beginning of Its End?

"Defeating the formal military presence of a terrorist group will not significantly mitigate the threat of lone wolf or small independent cells that are based in the West."
"You can defeat ISIS in ISIS-controlled territories, but you're not going to defeat ISIS itself. The ideology of jihadism continues to evolve and continues to exist."
Jonathan Schanzer, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Washington

Various intelligence sources and authorities have come out with definitive statements that in their opinion the threat of Islamic State has been vastly diminished, that they are simply at this point hanging in, still successful in recruiting jihadis from foreign parts, but reeling from the combined assaults that have hammered their forces in the past year. Alternately, other sources express the opinion that there is no real indication that they are losing critical ground, and they will prevail.

U.S. Defense Department officials have revealed that U.S. airstrikes have killed 24,000 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. Millions of dollars plundered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and placed in storage areas have been incinerated in those airstrikes, striking a blow for the financial support of Islamic State purchasing power of new weapons, and salaries paid to their fighters. Of the territory that ISIL has captured in Iraq, 40 percent has been lost to them, along with a similar geography in Syria.

Those are the setbacks that Islamic State has suffered, but it's hard to tell how meaningful they are to its determination to continue advancing its viral agenda of jihad. For one thing the allure of Islamic State has continued to spread in Europe, in North Africa and in Afghanistan. Attacks in Brussels, Istanbul and France have stamped "approved" by ISIL to its loyal cells abroad who have struck out on their own with direction from ISIL which takes credit for all the bold attacks its followers engage in.

And while ISIL may have lost a veritable fortune in the destroyed treasury it had set aside, not all that much funding is required to advance strikes in the West by ISIL cells. The cost of the materials, as an example, used in the Brussels attack and the laboratory that produced the explosives are estimated to have been between $10,000 and $15,000 to fund. And while police and the military in the West may realize success in shutting down some of the cells, the idea that propels them cannot be shut down.

The Islamic State is viewed as one of the wealthiest violently militant groups ever to have surfaced, given its looting of $1-billion from Syrian and Iraqi banks. That looted treasury has given it leeway to mount spectacular assaults, such as the early April abduction of some 170 workers from a cement factory near Damascus.

isis-vehicles islamic state

According to authorities the efforts to both militarily shrink ISIL's influence and dominion in Iraq and Syria and at the same time slash its finances to deprive them of resources needed to continue to wage conflict have each aided the goal to diminish ISIL's presence and capabilities. The retaking of oil fields and cities from ISIL have struck a blow to its prestige and its finances. The U.S. air campaign Operation Tidal Wave II has struck oil fields, refineries and tanker trucks, slicing oil revenue for ISIL by a third.

A series of cities and towns have also been lost to Islamic State, finally taken by Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. airstrikes enabling for example, the retaking of Ramadi, a significant loss for ISIL, an impressive gain for Iraq. The oil refinery and northern city of Baiji is yet another loss for ISIL, as is their having been driven from the northern city of Sinjar by Kurdish and Yazidi forces.

Important ISIL leaders have been killed recently; its minister of war, Omar al-Shishani, and commander Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, as well as a chemical weapons specialist having  been captured by American Special Operations forces. That seems on the surface like a series of losses, but at the same time there is the official acknowledgement that it represents but a pause for ISIL; it has since replaced those leaders.

As for cutting the cash flow to ISIL: "There is no simple tool to separate ISIL from its vast wealth", noted Daniel Glaser, U.S. assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing. Iraq has been persuaded to prohibit bank branches in cities and towns held by the Islamic State from making international transfers, however, and that can be effective, coupled with the U.S. and European countries and the UN adding people or companies associated with the Islamic State to financial blacklists.

The proof of some measure of effectiveness of these initiatives can be determined by salaries for fighters in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria having been cut by half since last year. "These days, the situation has changed, and there is a shortage of money in Mosul", reports Ayham Ali, a Mosul resident who sells prepared street food in Mosul. A retired engineer in Mosul is also of the opinion that Islamic State's influence is waning: "The corruption that ISIS is committing is the beginning of its end."

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Facsimile of Reasonableness

If we continue on this path of confrontation, this will lead to very catastrophic results, not only for the two countries but for the whole entire world as well."
"It is really crucial for the United States government to withdraw its hostile policy against the DPRK and as an expression of this stop the military exercises, war exercises, in the Korean Peninsula. Then we will respond likewise."
"Stop the nuclear war exercises in the Korean Peninsula, then we should also cease our nuclear tests."
"If the exercises are halted 'for some period, for some years', new opportunities may arise for the two countries and for the whole entire world as well."
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong
North Korea conducts a submarine-fired ballistic missile test
Rodong Sinmun -- North Korean launch of submarine ballistic missile

A bit of sophisticated logic from a North Korean government leader, now that's refreshing. But no less suspicious than when a psychopath uses his intelligence to shield from view his incapacity to feel compassion or interest in anyone's welfare but his own, speaking rationally and normally as a ruse to convince an outsider that the person who is speaking is of sound mind and to be trusted. The North Korean leadership is decidedly not, collectively, of sound mind.

This is a regime headed by a self-proclaimed demi-divine whose every whim is to be obeyed however harmful it may be to the society he represents, a man whose overweening entitlement is never to be denied, a man whose volatile and sinister temperament translates into a death sentence even for close family members who fall under suspicion. A man who prefers to use his country's scarce resources not to feed an indigent population, but to feed a military technology industry.

A regime that bridles with feigned outrage at presumed humiliations and threatens its neighbours, and occasionally attacks them, exacting revenge for purported 'indignities' imposed upon their perceived dignity, by killing hapless crew members of a bombed vessel, for example. A Dear Leader who enjoys the notoriety he has earned for incendiary threats and for surprise nuclear tests and ballistic missile firing to alert his neighbours of his presence, as though they could overlook it.

According to Foreign Minister Ri, Pyongyang has every right to maintain a nuclear deterrent program that toothless international sanctions cannot halt, because the United States' activities in his region drives North Korea to develop those nuclear weapons in a self-defence response. This would represent a credible argument if it came from almost any country other than North Korea. But it emanates from a country that refuses to be self-accountable and responsible for its own welfare.

One that gloats and threatens its neighbours who shudder at the potential of a neurotic little man with the destructive power of harming peoples' lives in prison farms and starvation, and who looks outward to destabilizing the peninsula with impunity because what can rational people do to react forcefully with irrational actors who will let nothing stop their need to be noticed and feared?

Threats of a thermonuclear war are not child's play, particularly when the regime posing the threat has some of the means to make good its threats. Pyongyang insists that the joint training sessions between its major enemies, South Korea and the United States are prodding the North to a fifth nuclear test in response to the threat North Korea sees as one of "decapitation", a strike on its leadership.

The boasting threats of Kim Jong-un referring to long-range ballistic missiles able to reach the U.S. West coast with nuclear warheads may overstate the North's capabilities at present, but it is steadily moving toward its aspired endgame. The submarine-launched ballistic missile episode of several days ago in response to the U.S.-South Korean exercises represents a show of strength and the potential to wreak havoc, which cannot be swept aside with impunity.

Kim Jong-un reportedly oversaw a submarine-launched ballistic missile test
Kim Jong-un states that North Korea has the ability to strike Seoul and the United States

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Vacuums Inviting Chaos

"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."
The Atlantic
The confidence of representing the Almighty himself who has instructed his faithful how they must act, and in so doing there is no action they will engage in that will not reflect his divine message of ultimate conquest to capture the world in the tentacle of obedience and submission to Islam, motivates and emboldens and entitles the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to their enterprise. In the process horrifying the civilized world by their fearsome lack of moral inhibitions of humane constraints.

Intelligence experts point to the vacuum created when Middle East and North African states fell into disarray with the brief and aborted advent of secular, socialist and moderate Muslims attempting to bring some civil accountability to the governments that ruled them and misruled them, oppressing and disentitling them. The reaction to these mass appeals was uniform, immediate and violent, leading to the breakdown of any agreement between oppressed and oppressor.

Resentment, anger and violence created greater divisions between Islamic sects. What was left was tribal and clan imperatives. Endemic poverty gave opportunity to Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic State to make inroads in popular Muslim opinion when they delivered basic civic necessities of life, giving them a springboard to authority and a support from the base. The dysfunction of non-state militias creating their own legitimacy followed.

What the civilized world tends to forget, to overlook, to purposefully not notice is that actual states, totalitarian in nature and expressing their full dedication to the same kind of Islamist ideals formally enact very similar acts of grotesque punishment toward those who dare to question their authority. If there is one positive aspect in the upheaval within Islam of factions and sects and tribal wretchedness it is that while Islam is at war with the world, it is also at war within itself, seeing apostates and assaults to its legitimacy as the voice of Islam on the part of deviants and heretics.

ISIL came to vibrant, malign life in the swamp of the Middle East's corrupt, tyranny-laden nations ruled by uncompromising tyrants. It has branded itself as the new Islam, the Islam reborn in the image of the original introduced by the Prophet Mohammad whose battlefield exploits, conquests, mass slaughters and sermons to the faithful through direct command from Allah, give legitimacy to the Caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is not that ISIL came into being as an antidote to the desolation of oppressed and debased Muslims.

ISIL exists to force its own reflection of the purity of Islam upon an unprepared world. The dissolution of Syria, a quasi-functioning dictatorship that oppressed the majority of its population and when that majority implored they be viewed more favourably, spurring the regime to favour arrests, torture, rape, and slaughter represented a full demonstration of Muslim dysfunction, the sects raging in hatred toward one another, each declaring the other invalid, assaulting Islam's principles.

If Islam ever did truly exist as a civilization in its golden glory years of European occupation when the arts and sciences were explored and Muslims were capable of creative leaps into the future, they collided with the reality of the immutability of a religion whose rigid immobility resisted enlightened mutations in step with the future. That Islam was and remains hostile to the very concept of human rights since only Allah is entitled to any rights; mere mortals must serve unquestioningly at the whim of a 7th Century progenitor.

It is that Islam that Islamic State exemplifies and glories, and attracts to its side honour- and martyrdom-seeking Muslims bored with life as a convention reflected by the normalcy of civilizational ideals.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, April 22, 2016

Iran, Forgive Us 

"Iran is blessed. At a time when bombs go off in public places throughout the Middle East and war is at our doorstep, we have a stable, safe and healthy environment for our citizens and for those visiting and doing business with us. This is due to both the vigilance of our government and the character of our people. We take pride in using our resources for universal health care and education and advanced science and technology rather than wasteful military spending."
"Our people want nothing more than peace and cooperation with our neighbors and the world at large. We have not launched a war in more than two centuries and continue to make an unequivocal commitment of never commencing such foolishness. We challenge all our detractors — large and small — to commit likewise."

This transformed Iran which only violates the human rights of the Baha'i by imprisonment and torture, and its other citizens for collusion with the West against Iranian interests by capital punishment to cure them of their deviant ways, is now open for business, coyly reminding the world that the fabled Silk Road of ancient commerce ran through Iran, and inviting the world to return and see for themselves.
"I urge my counterparts around the world to reflect on what has been achieved through diplomacy rather than threats, sanctions and demonization. Today, Iran, for millennia a vital bridge between East and West, remains the most stable, safe and inviting stop along our stretch of the Silk Road. My government remains committed to constructive engagement and my initiative for a regional dialogue forum. A window has opened, and we hope our counterparts will seize on the opportunity it brings so that we may all return our focus to shared objectives and challenges."
Wonderful, peace-loving, misunderstood, but patient and forgiving Iran!

Labels: , , ,

Baha'i, Religion of Peace, Tranquility, Equality

"The [Iranian] regime has done more to kill religion in the hearts of people in the Iranian diaspora than anything else."
"There is a sense of shame and honour in Iranian culture, so that's helpful. The government doesn't like attracting attention to their treatment of the Baha'i, and the Iranian government's mission to the UN does a lot of lobbying against any human rights focus."
"They put up a big fight at the UN Human Rights council in Geneva [not to focus on the Islamic Republic of Iran's human rights abuses] too."
Gerald Filson, public affairs director, Baha'i Community of Canada
The Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel, newly unveiled after more than two years of extensive restoration and conservation work.
Photo credit: Baha’i World Centre
The 'moderate' Hassan Rouhani, president of the Republic of Iran has overseen an acceleration in the persecution of minorities living in Iran. The Baha'i continue to suffer state oppression and violent discrimination in particular. Members of the Iranian Baha'i leadership council were imprisoned and charged with heresy and conspiracy. The Baha'i faith emerged in Iran in the early 1800s, a product of a schism in the Shiite faction of Islam. Although emanating from Islam, Baha'i faith diverges substantially from Islam.

The newly-restored dome of the Shrine of the Bab is unveiled in the early morning of Tuesday 12 April, 2011. Almost 12,000 gilded tiles in 120 different shapes and sizes were created for the dome.
Photo credit: Baha’i World Centre
Its major tenet is the oneness of humankind and that peace prevail throughout the world. Baha'i emphasizes equality and the unity of humanity. The faithful are led to respect all religious traditions. Religious duties of the Baha'i revolve around quiet prayer, meditation, education and service to humanity. And they are  under grave duress in Iran, threatened, held in contempt, imprisoned and subjected to torture.

The Khomeinist regime excludes the Baha'i from specific employment categories, and they are spoken of as "unclean", not legally "persons". Denied pensions and government services, their marriages are considered illegal, their children held to be "illegitimate". They are banned from attending universities and colleges, and have no recourse to the courts of law, since they are non-persons.

Several dozen Baha'i were sentenced in January to 193 years in prison collectively for criminally practising their faith. Over 200 Baha'i businesses have been put out of business by the Iranian regime. Iran continues to refuse to renew business licenses for them. Some 350,000 Baha'i remain in Iran. Globally five million Baha'i followers practise their faith of peace and equality.

India is  host to about two million Baha'i, while an equal number is distributed in Africa, South America, Europe and North America. In Iran the Baha'i are considered blasphemers for departing from the faith concept that Muhammad represented the final ultimate prophet for the only true faith. And while the Baha'i continue to be oppressed and threatened in Iran, their headquarters is in Israel, a country that Iran threatens to destroy.

Their founder, Baha'u'llah (the Bab), had been imprisoned by the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century, in Haifa, when the Ottomans ruled the Middle East. The Bab was executed in 1850 in Iran. The Baha'i World Centre, a pilgrimage site in his memory, was historically built in Haifa and the Baha'i Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the religion, was located on Mount Carmel.

This is, of course, 'apartheid' Israel, where Christians, Palestinian Arabs, Kurds and Druze, Baha'i and Jews live together in peace, and where under democratic rule, citizenship benefits everyone under the law and equality of status is enforced under the law, admittedly under trying circumstances. Baha'i, needless to say, have no argument with any culture, ethnic group or religion.

The Shrine of the Bab (built in 1850) as seen from its western gardens, early in the morning of Tuesday 12 April 2011, shortly after its unveiling after restoration.
Photo credit: Baha’i World Centre

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Saudi Arabia's Glowering Displeasure

"In highly unusual testimony inside the federal supermax prison, a former operative for Al Qaeda has described prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family as major donors to the terrorist network in the late 1990s and claimed that he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington."
The New York Times, February 2016
"[I am] fully satisfied that Mr. Moussaoui is completely competent, [that he is in fact] an extremely intelligent man."
"He has actually a better understanding of the legal system than some lawyers I’ve seen in court."
Presiding lawsuit Judge Leonie M. Brinkema
The Twin Towers on fire during the September 11, 2001 terror attack in New York City. (Photo: © Reuters)
The Twin Towers on fire during the September 11, 2001 terror attack in New York City. (Photo: © Reuters)
Let us then count the ways in which Saudi Arabia has been responsible for the emergence of the Sunni wing of Islamist terror. The vast oil resources that nature endows the desert kingdom with earned it immense treasury, which it has used liberally to build a network of madrassas around the world teaching their Wahhabist Salafist style of Islam for which jihad is a monumentally important scaffold in the spread of Islam among the uninitiated.

Groups that the West has learned under great duress to identify as terrorist in nature -- who boast their love of death, both meeting it personally and introducing it to others who have no wish to surrender their lives either to Islam or to the Angel of Death -- have been lavishly funded by that same oil wealth. The importation of Saudi oil to the West comes at a steep price. The price paid to the Saudi Kingdom for their energy source is used to threaten that very same West with utter and complete destabilization through terror.

The ironies pile up, one atop the other. The geography and religion claiming to be one of peaceful relations and tolerance calls itself the "House of Islam", and the place of peace. The Koran quite explicitly describes the non-Muslim world as the "House of War". And it is the duty of Islam's faithful to prosecute the war of jihad against the house of war, while identifying themselves as the house of peace ... Allahu Akbar!

Saudi Arabia and the other oil sheikdoms, kingdoms and theocracies devote themselves to the proliferation of their faith. The West has faith in democracy. And never the twain shall meet in a blended affirmation that one can be tolerant of the other; decidedly the West does tolerate Islam; unfortunately Islam by its very nature is incapable of and resistant against returning the compliment, for its sacred mandate is to do otherwise.

Of the infamous 19 hijackers of the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania through death flights, fifteen were Saudi nationals schooled in that Wahhabist Islamist purity. Documented phone calls between Saudi handlers in San Diego of the hijackers and the Saudi Embassy, along with the transfer of funding from the then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar's family to one of the hijacker's handlers provides a measure of accounting for the kingdom's involvement in the attacks.

And then there is Zacarias Moussaoui who volunteered his inner knowledge of the plot, as one of those meant to be among the hijackers but whom fate had a different direction for. He was convicted in the U.S. and imprisoned for his role in the attacks, and he later implicated members of the Saudi royal family of having donated funds to al-Qaeda to enable their mission. A Saudi diplomat, he claimed, discussed with him in Washington a plot meant to assassinate the president with the use of a surface-to-air missile.

The controversial lawsuit brought by survivors and family members of those killed in the 9/11 attacks is presided over by Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Zacarias Moussaoui contacted Justice Daniels prepared to testify and he did so in the wake of negotiations with Justice Department officials and the federal Bureau of Prisons. As events developed Mr. Moussaoui had been detained on immigration charges weeks before the attacks.

He had taken flying lessons in early 2001, and had been wired funding by an al-Qaeda cell in Germany. He testified that several years earlier he had been tasked with the creation of a digital donor database for al-Qaeda. Listed were Prince Turki al-Faisal, at the time the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the then-long-serving Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, billionaire Saudi investor, along with many Saudi clerics.

"We talk about the feasibility of shooting Air Force One." He had met, he said, an official of the Islamic Affairs Department of the Saudi Embassy in Washington when the Saudi official was visiting Kandahar. "I was supposed to go to Washington and go with him [to] find a location where it may be suitable to launch a Stinger attack and then, after, be able to escape", he explained, but the plan was interrupted when he was arrested.

Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have been roiled of late. The G.W. Bush administration lost no time in spiriting members of the Saudi royal family out of the United States and back to Saudi Arabia for their own safety in the immediate wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The United States still wishes to maintain cordial, un-intrusive-investigative relations with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia resents the U.S. no longer being in thrall to their oil and would dearly love to see environmental science prove that fracking is dangerous.

Another resentment is the Obama administration's move to embrace Iran's Shiite theocracy in a relaxation of tensions between the Obama administration and the Islamic Republic. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not amused. And nor is it anything but furious that the U.S. administration has been unable to halt the lawsuit lodged by 9/11 victims' relatives to hold the Saudis responsible for the unspeakable carnage and wholesale deaths.

Saudi Arabia is warning of costly retaliation should Congress pas the bipartisan bill permitting the Kingdom to be sued. It warns it is prepared to sell off billions in American assets. Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir issued the warning to U.S. lawmakers last month during a visit to Washington, two senior State Department officials have revealed.

The blackmail of desperation. Guilty of nothing, they claim, but good wishes for all.

Labels: , , , ,

The Myth of Disadvantaged Muslims Turning to Jihad

"According to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, 'Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy [within their environment]."
"Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds. Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population."
Darcy Noricks, Rand report

"The largest takeaway from these documents is the massive diversity of the population. We are talking an average age of around 26, 27 years old but we’re talking about everywhere from teenagers up until men in their 60s. We’re talking about very diverse backgrounds from an education perspective — individuals who list their education as none up to those who listed their educations as Ph.D's, Masters degrees, MBAs … Everything from laborers to doctors and lawyers."
"They were from all over the world and the individuals had traveled all over the world. I wouldn’t say a majority of them, but a good number of them were heavily traveled. One individual said he had been to 38 countries around the world. So some of them certainly have international experience and significant experience moving throughout the region and throughout the world."
Brian Dodwell, deputy director, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point
From a virtual treasure trove of data released to NBC News and a British media outlet, fascinating revelations have stamped the lie to those on the left who relish offering their opinion that under-privilege and the domination of the West over the poor trembling masses of believers in Islam have reduced them to the plight of having to live trampled lives or to choose to self-recruit into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

That trove of documents represented a coup of data, ISIS documents in the possession of a Syrian  claiming he had taken the initiative to abscond with the data which he stored on a flash drive, after he had surreptitiously taken possession of it from a senior ISIS commander while the man was in a position of trust within the Islamic State as an administrative functionary. From that data a picture emerged of typical candidates for ISIL jihadi membership. And it is now abundantly clear there is no "typical".

Every one of those who had been recruited or who had voluntarily offered their jihadist services to ISIL was given a form to fill out, asking whether he was interested in being a jihadi fighter or becoming a suicide bomber or suicide fighter -- fine distinction that -- where it was ascertained that from the faithful jihadis twelve percent only chose to tick off the martyrdom-selection box. Whereas it was known that those who had joined al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, it was fully half who volunteered to blast themselves into Paradise.

"While they do need some suicide bombers, if all of their troops selected into the suicide category who would be left to fill that conventional army? Who would be left to serve as the Sharia officials, the police or the administrative?" asked analysts examining the data and extrapolating from what they weighed would be the consequences of a wholesale leap to martyrdom in the name of blessed jihad. Simply the reality of a practical view of achieving ultimate success; some chose life, the life of a violent militant, while others chose the heroic celebratory martyrdom.

Islamic State27

Of those whose records were probed in this wholesale investigation into the value of the records, a third attended high school while a quarter of the recruits achieved a college education. Leaving a mere 17 percent whose academic investment was halted after elementary or middle school. The entire level of education achieved was in contrast to the far lower average representing many of the countries those recruits hailed from.

The realization was that there was no "typical" in the typical recruit. Nothing unified them, not their backgrounds, their achievements in the social sphere, their education level, their occupations, their age, nor their family status. All job sectors were represented from beekeeper, perfume salesman, airline steward, Saudi intelligence worker, soldier in the Tunisian army. One recruit indicated he was involved in "counter-narcotics" and another that he was a hashish dealer.

Represented were 700 laborers, approximately ten times the number of teachers among them, IT employees, or those in the military or police. The vast majority of the recruits filling out those forms had employment before they travelled to join ISIL. Only 255 said they were jobless. Another group representing 656 students had yet to enter the labor force. Saudi Arabia represented 797 of those fighter-recruits, Tunisia 640, and Morocco 260. They emerged from everywhere in the world; China, Australia, Belgium, France.

Fully ten percent of the international recruits came from Western nations, where the United Kingdom involuntarily sent 57 of their citizens, the United States 14. While France was responsible for 128 and Germany 80 new recruits for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. What the parsing of the data did reveal, however, is the varied nature of those recruits responding to ISIL's appeal for new blood. And that poverty and claims to having been victims of Islamophobia played no part in the self-selection process.

Oh yes, of course, there was none unifying feature; they were all typical in the sense that they subscribed to the major tenets of Islam, of which jihad is the feature standout.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 18, 2016

Feeling The Earth Move

"There is a 98 percent chance that an earthquake of similar or greater force than the Great Kanto Earthquake will hit Tokyo in the next 30 years, according to scientists at Tokyo University, while seismologists with the Japan Meteorological Agency reckon the odds are about seven in ten that this will happen."
"In fact, Japan is earthquake central. One in five quakes worldwide strikes the Japanese archipelago. One of the hottest potential quake zones has been identified directly below Tokyo."
Matthew Fisher, Canadian journalist, Tokyo

Damage left by Japan's earthquakes.
Damage left by Japan's earthquakes. (Reuters)

"One major landslide tore open a mountainside in Minamiaso village in Kumamoto prefecture, destroying a key bridge that could cut off food and other relief transport to the worst-hit area.
Another landslide hit a road, collapsing a house that fell down a ravine. In another part of the village, houses were left hanging precariously at the edge of a huge hole."
The Guardian
People living in Japan are accustomed -- but never comfortable with their expectations -- to suddenly feeling the earth quaking under their feet. They might be in a high rise or an office tower and become aware that everything is moving that shouldn't be moving, they might be in the out-of-doors and suddenly it is the earth itself and everything on it that is swaying vertiginously. They might be at home and then without warning pictures on the walls slant, porcelain sitting in cabinets tip over and smash, and they look at one another, transfixed with apprehension.

But there are just so many of these quakes, minor and swiftly done with, although at the time they're occurring, and that strange sound of a large, noisy engine roaring its presence, which isn't a tractor-trailer driving down the street but something at first undefinable and frightening, and becoming no less frightening with the realization that it is a temblor, alerts one to yet another massive disturbance of the tectonic plates under Japan's three islands.

The urge is to stay, not to exit one's house. The urge is not to open the cupboard door that holds that backpack with its emergency supplies -- to enable one to survive for a few days until things settle down and government emergency groups swing into action -- and head outside. The urge is to sit there, to wait until it's over, hoping that it will soon be over, but the problem is that time becomes elongated, endless, and the fear remains because the sound and the movement  don't seem to be stopping, they seem to be going on forever...

The latest two earthquakes measuring 6.5 and 7.3 magnitude on the Richter scale that struck Kyushu, Japan's southernmost island on Thursday and Saturday have left grim suspense in its wake, as aftershocks continued to strike terror into area residents. Authorities continue to look for survivors in the wreckage of the buildings that succumbed to the shocks leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. Not the level of the 9.0 shock of five years ago, but substantial nevertheless.
Emergency workers trying to rescue people from a collapsed house in Mimamiaso.
Emergency workers in Minimiaso trying to extricate victims from collapsed house - AP

Scientists have advised that a fault 50 kilometres long and 20 kilometres wide had sifted in the second temblor. People generally are being held in a suspense of waiting for what may come next. The densely populated main island of Honshu could be next. Tokyo, where close to 40-million people live, is particularly vulnerable. An estimated 142,800 people were killed in 1923 in the Great Kanto Earthquake. The Kobe deathtoll of 1995 was 6,400 dead.

Five years ago a massive quake triggered a colossal tsunami causing the technical breakdown through flooding and a radiation leak of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. One natural disaster causing another, causing a catastrophe and the displacement and deaths of 22,000. Along with an ongoing headache in attempting to stem the leaks from the Fukushima nuclear reactors. Japanese are warned through television networks when a quake will hit moments before it does.

Japan, vulnerable like no other nation on Earth, has changed its traditional building techniques in an effort to make construction protocols attuned to resistance to earth movement. Flexibility of movement and not rigidity is what is required for maximum safety in such an earthquake-prone geology.  Ecuador's Sunday earthquake that killed hundreds happened in a country much less capable of predicting and coping with the aftermath of such monumental natural events.

Labels: , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet