Saturday, October 26, 2013

 An investigative journalist says federal agents raided her home earlier this year and confiscated the notes she used to report on a government cover-up. Now she fears her sources have been compromised.
Audrey Hudson told The Daily Caller that the files were taken during a SWAT raid of her Shady Side, Maryland home this past August conducted as part of an investigation into her husband, Paul Flanagan. Authorities were following up on a lead that Flanagan unlawfully possessed a number of firearms, and reportedly pilfered his wife’s personal documents during an armed raid of the couples’ home.
According to the Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas, authorities had reason to believe that Flanagan was amassing a gun collection despite being legally barred from owning firearms due to a previous conviction. The Daily Caller obtained a search warrant showing that law enforcement was given the go-ahead to conduct a raid because Flanagan had been found guilty of resisting arrest in 1986 and thus prohibited from owning weapons. Authorities believed he had broken that restriction.
One party that was interviewed remembered distinctly about Flanagan advising he had recently purchased a Bersa .380 handgun, and observed pictures of firearms similar to AK-47 semi-automatic rifles which were identified by Flanagan as being his,” court documents obtained by Pappas say.
Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security both participated in the raid because Flanagan is employed by the Coast Guard, which is considered a division of DHS. If the raid was indeed over Flanagan’s alleged gun collection, though, then why was his wife’s papers taken by law enforcement? Hudson believes that the federal agents who entered her home knew she had worked with federal whistleblowers and wanted her sources.
Hudson is currently a freelance writer, but has reported previously for Newsmax, the Colorado Observer and The Washington Times.
After the search began, Hudson said she was asked by an investigator with the Coast Guard Investigative Service if she was the same Audrey Hudson who had written a series of critical stories about air marshals for The Washington Times over the last decade,” Pappas reported.
Hudson told the Daily Caller that during the raid, authorities confiscated file which included notes that “were used to expose how the Federal Air Marshal Service had lied to Congress about the number of airline flights there were actually protecting against another terrorist attack.”
It took an entire month after the raid for Hudson to learn that the files had been taken by authorities. Miguel Bosch, a former air marshal-turned-special agent for the Coast Guard Investigative Service, called Hudson in September and told her that officials had her documents: handwritten and typed notes stemming from a series of interviews with confidential sources she had conducted, as well as other files.
During the course of the search, the CGIS agent discovered government documents labeled FOUO – For Official Use Only (FOUO) – and LES – Law Enforcement Sensitive. The files that contained these documents were cataloged on the search warrant inventory and taken from the premises,” a representative for the Coast Guard told the Daily Caller. “The documents were reviewed with the source agency and determined to be obtained properly through the Freedom of Information Act.”
The documents were returned to Hudson, but she says she doesn’t buy into their explanation. She says their response only explains one of the five files taken during the raid, “but does not explain why they took four other files with my handwritten and typed interview notes with confidential sources, that I staked my reputation as a journalist to protect under the auspices of the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
This guy basically came in here and took my anonymous sources and turned them over — took my whistleblowers — and turned it over to the agency they were blowing the whistle on,” Hudson told The Daily Caller. “And these guys still work there.”
Part of the reason I’m coming forward with this is I’m scared to contact them,” she said. “I’m terrified to contact them…I’ve got to let these guys know somehow.”
A spokesperson for the Maryland State Police told Pappas that an investigation is currently under review regarding Hudson’s husband.

What a Surprise: US-Based Iran “Experts” Promoting Israeli Policy
Flynt Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett, Going to Tehran, Oct 24 2013
As the new round of nuclear diplomacy between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 unfolds, an informal coalition of forces is coalescing in the West to oppose any prospective deal in which the United States would “accept” safeguarded uranium enrichment in Iran. Of course, Israel and the pro-Israel lobby are at the heart of this coalition. Netanyahu’s remarks about the Iran nuclear talks on NBC Meet the Press this past Sunday, see here, are emblematic of the “zero enrichment” camp:
The question is not of hope; the question is of actual result. The test is the result. The result has to be the full dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear program. If that is achieved, that would be very good. If it’s achieved peacefully, it’s even better … I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program, that is, dismantles it. I think that any partial deal could end up in dissolving the sanctions. There are a lot of countries waiting for a signal, just waiting for a signal, to get rid of their sanctions regime. And I think that you don’t want to go through halfway measures … As far as the freezing of assets, as far as I remember, those assets were frozen for three reasons: one, Iran’s terrorist actions; two, its aggressive actions, particularly in the Gulf; and three, its continued refusal to stop the production of WMDs. You know, if you get all three done, and they stop doing it, well, then I suppose you could unfreeze them … Those sanctions weren’t Israeli sanctions. I’ve always advocated them, but the international community adopted very firm UNSCRs, and here’s what those UNSCRs say: they said Iran should basically dismantle its centrifuges for enrichment (that’s one path to get a nuclear weapon) and stop work on its plutonium heavy-water reactor (that’s the other path for a nuclear weapon). It’s very important to stress that it’s for nuclear weapons. Nobody challenges Iran’s or any country’s pursuit of civilian nuclear energy. But seventeen countries in the world, including your neighbors Canada and Mexico, have very robust programs for civilian nuclear energy, and they don’t enrich with centrifuges, and they don’t have heavy water plutonium reactors. Here comes Iran and says, ‘I want civilian nuclear energy.’ I don’t know why, because they have energy, with gas and oil, coming out of their ears for generations. But suppose you believe them. Then you ask, ‘Why do you insist on maintaining a plutonium heavy water reactor, and on maintaining centrifuges that can only be used for making nuclear weapons?’ And the answer is because they want to have residual capability to make nuclear weapons. And you don’t want that, and UNSCRs don’t want that. And I propose sticking by that.
Anyone who has been following the Iranian nuclear issue with any measure of objectivity will note that Netanyahu mixes up US secondary sanctions with UNSCRs. Likewise, he misrepresents what the relevant UNSCRs actually say about Iran’s nuclear activities, and misstates basic facts about fuel-cycle technology. Never mind all that. Notwithstanding his myriad factual errors, Netanyahu gives authoritative voice to the main rhetorical tropes of the “zero enrichment” camp: Iran has to dismantle its current infrastructure for uranium enrichment, and stop work on the heavy-water reactor currently under construction at Arak. Moreover, even if Iran does these things, this is not enough to warrant a lifting of sanctions. The Islamic Republic must also terminate its relations with democratically validated resistance/ religious/ social service/ political movements like Hizballah in Lebanon, and stop suggesting that disenfranchised Shi’a populations in countries like Bahrain actually have political rights. In the wake of Netanyahu’s Meet the Press appearance, we were struck by the similarity between his positions and those espoused in a WaPo op-ed earlier this week titled “The World Must Tell Iran: No More Half Steps”:
Despite its softened rhetoric, the new Iranian regime can be expected to continue asserting its nuclear ‘rights’ and to press its advantages in a contested Middle East. The Islamic Republic plans to remain an important backer of the Assad dynasty in Syria, a benefactor of Hezbollah and a supporter of Palestinian rejectionist groups. It will persist in its repressive tactics at home and continue to deny the people of Iran fundamental human rights. This is a government that will seek to negotiate a settlement of the nuclear issue by testing the limits of the great powers’ prohibitions. Washington need not accede to such Iranian conceptions. The US and its allies are entering this week’s negotiations in a strong position.  Iran’s economy is withering under the combined pressures of sanctions and its own managerial incompetence. The Iranian populace remains disaffected as the bonds between state and society have been largely severed since the Green Revolution of 2009. The EU is still highly skeptical of Iran, a distrust that Rouhani’s charm offensive has mitigated but not eliminated. Allied diplomats can use as leverage in the forthcoming negotiations the threat of additional sanctions and Israeli military force. Given the stark realities, it is time for the great powers to have a maximalist approach to diplomacy with Iran.  It is too late for more Iranian half-steps and half-measures. Tehran must account for all its illicit nuclear activities and be compelled to make irreversible concessions that permanently degrade its ability to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program at a more convenient time.  Anything less would be a lost opportunity.
Who is the author of this Op Ed? An AIPAC spokesperson? One of the many neocon firebrands to whom the WaPo long ago turned over its op-ed page? No and no. The author of the remarkably Netanyahu-like Op Ed cited above is Ray Takeyh, the mainstream media’s long-time “go-to” (if also perennially mistaken) Iran “expert” who advised Dennis Ross’s destructively incompetent handling of the Iran nuclear file during President Obama’s first term and is now back at the CFR. We have no reason to believe that Ray is coordinating his public positions with the Israeli government. But it is remarkable how congruent his views are with those of the most hegemonically-minded Israeli prime minister in living memory.
AQI detainee accused of coercing children to carry out attacks
Al-Shorfa (Iraq), Oct 25 2013
Iraqi security forces in Anbar have arrested a prominent AQI leader accused of involvement in violent attacks in the past four years, police in the province said Friday Oct 25. Anbar police chief Maj-Gen Hadi Kassar Erzaij told al-Shorfa:
A counter-terrorism agency force managed to arrest Abd’al-Issawi, a prominent AQI leader, as he tried to cross a checkpoint south of Fallujah. Issawi was carrying a false ID and was posing as a humanitarian worker, but he is far from humanitarianism because of the crimes he has committed.
Al-Issawi is accused of using car bombs and IEDs to carry out attacks, of strapping explosives to a mentally ill person and of recruiting three children to carry explosives on a motorbike from the southern suburbs of Fallujah to the town centre, he said. Security forces took al-Issawi to a security detention facility pending his referral to court in accordance with article 4 of the anti-terrorism law, Erzaij said.
AQ’s corridor through SyriaVijay Prashad, The Hindu, Oct 25 2013
Vijay Prashad, Counterpunch, Oct 25 2013
On Tuesday night, suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iraqi checkpoints along Highway 11, which runs from Baghdad to Syria via Ramadi. They bombed the checkpoint at Rutba as well as points just west of Ramadi. Thirty-seven people were killed in these attacks, a majority of them security officers. Highway 11 is Iraq’s southern route into Syria. The other road from Baghdad to Syria is Highway 12, which runs from Ramadi northwards to the towns of Anan and Rawah, along the Euphrates River and into the Syrian city of Raqqa. Last week, gunmen of the ISIS/ISIL attacked the towns of Anan and Rawah, destroying a bridge and trying to destroy the electricity transmission towers. The Iraqi army was able to deter the ISIS attack on Rawah, and so held off ISIS’s attempt to take the towns that would give it effective control of Highway 12. Iraq’s Deputy PM Saleh al-Mutlaq said that last week’s attack was a “hopeless attempt by al Qaeda [ISIS] to establish a foothold in Iraq.” It seems likely that ISIS decided to try and take Highway 11 after its attack on Highway 12 was repulsed. Over the past month, ISIS has made remarkable gains. Its operation, named Expunging Filth, has either expelled or absorbed the FSA units along the spine of northern Syria. The Syrian-Turkish border town of A’zaz has been in ISIS hands for a month. Since April, ISIS began to draw in all the smaller Salafi factions, including Jabhat al-Nusra (not always without rivalry) and parts of Ahrar as-Sham (whose commander, Abu Obeida al-Binnishi, ISIS killed in September). A new report from the International Crisis Group from Oct 17 notes that ISIS is now “the most powerful group in northern and eastern Syria and was benefiting from control of oil fields.” Analyst Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi says that ISIS cannot be shaken from its strongholds in the north and east by any combination of FSA and its allies. Indeed, over the past few months, ISIS has severely degraded the capacity of the FSA, having killed one of its important battalion chiefs Kamal Hamami in July and having drawn in many of its local level fighters. The Free Syrian Army is no longer a serious threat to the Syrian government. The main secular voice of this uprising in Syria, Yassin al Haj Saleh, who was underground in Syria during the civil war, fled the country on Oct 12. In an open letter, Farewell to Syria, for a while, he wrote that the city of his birth, Raqqa, had been taken over by “the spectres of horror of our childhood, the ghouls.” He writes:
I had to keep in hiding in my own liberated city, watching strangers oppress it and rule the fates of its people, confiscating public property, destroying a statue of Haroun al-Rashid or desecrating a church; taking people into custody where they disappeared in their prisons. All the prisoners were rebel political activists while none of them was chosen from the regime’s previous loyalists or shabiha. With the exception of this flagrant oppression of the people, their property and symbols, the new rulers have shown no sign of the spirit of public responsibility which is supposed to be the duty of those who are in power.
Saleh’s departure indicates that things are worse there than they were this summer when researcher Yasser Munif travelled in the north and found that in Raqqa “people are more and more critical of ISIS and Nusra.” It appears that the space for that internal criticism of ISIS is now narrower. Billboards promoting the views of ISIS are legion across Raqqa, with intimations that the rivalry between the various Islamist factions is at mute. As el-Tamimi notes, in public rallies flags of both ISIS and Nusra fly side by side. In Jul 2013, ISIS led a mass jailbreak from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib to free 500 prisoners. The group used an array of car bombs, suicide bombers and gunmen in that operation. ISIS directed these fighters toward the Iraqi-Syria border, where they hope to take control of the crossing points as part of their attempt to form a corridor that runs from Ramadi to Tripoli in northern Lebanon. A clash in the city killed a 13-year-old boy on Oct 23. The attacks of the night of Oct 22 are part of this scenario. ISIS and its form of radicalism are a product of Saudi Arabian and Qatari financing of the rebellion. Money from the Gulf Arabs alongside foreign fighters and a motivated group of Syrian fighters have given ISIS the advantage. At the same time, as Saudi and Qatari money has allowed its proxies to have the upper hand against other rebels on the battlefield, Saudi and Qatari influence has prevented unity and an agenda to develop among the political leadership of the rebellion. Over three years, the SNC has been unable to draft a clear programme for Syria. Its absence is not a sign of lack of imagination, but of the subordination of the SNC to the petty fights among its Gulf Arab benefactors. The SNC stumbled when it essentially allowed a palace coup to remove Mo’az al-Khatib from his post. After much infighting, the SNC finally appointed Ahmad Saleh Touma as its prime minister. Ghassan Hitto resigned because he was seen to be too close to the tarnished star of Qatar. The current president is Ahmad Jarba, closely linked to the Saudi government. By late September, the Islamists rejected the SNC. The leader of the Tawhid Brigade from Aleppo, Abd’ul-Qader Saleh, intimated on Twitter that they would consider forming an Islamic alliance (al-tahaluf al-islami). Scholar Aron Lund suggests that the Islamists have not gone beyond this suggestion. The marks of Gulf Arab infighting are all over the Coalition.
Despite the gains in northern Syria by ISIS, Saudi Arabia’s agenda for the country is blocked. In the absence of foreign intervention, ISIS is not going to be able to overthrow the government in Damascus, which is one reason why it has moved to seize Syrian border posts with Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. A dangerous confrontation is likely in the Western Ghouta region near Damascus, but this is not going to lead to any major strategic advance for anyone. It will be a bloodbath with no substantial gain, as so much of this war has become. Unable to move to the centre, ISIS claims the margins of Syria. Saudi Arabia expected the US to bomb Syria in September, weaken the Assad regime and allow its proxies to seize power. Saudi Arabia is also disappointed that the US has accepted the Iranian overtures for talks. With no clear road to Damascus, ISIS has turned more forcefully to nihilistic violence in the regions it controls, not quite the outcome hoped for by Saudi Arabia. That is the reason Saudi Arabia’s liaison to the Syrian rebels, Prince Bandar, made his remarks about reassessing the US-Saudi relationship, and this is why Saudi Arabia refused to take the UNSC seat it had just won. Saudi Arabia backed the Taliban in the 1990s thinking the group would moderate its ideology over time. Nothing like that happened. It seems that the KSA is willing to make the same wager in Syria, despite the adverse historical record. Violence such as what broke out on Oct 22 night has become commonplace in Iraq, with several thousand killed this year, almost 500 this month alone. The Syrian war, blocked into a tragic stalemate, has moved into Iraq, a country already battered by war and devastation in its recent history. Here the “faces that harden behind a mask of gloom” as Syrian poet Adonis put it, watch civilisations crumble for the cheap ambitions of geopolitics. The shadow of AQ settles into Iraq and Syria, hardening the faces of ordinary Syrians and Iraqis further. The entry of a full-blown ISIS assault in Lebanon cannot be far, as the fighting in Tripoli and on the border towns suggest. Talk of ceasefires and negotiations in Geneva is distant from the desolation that has come to envelop the roads that link Beirut to Baghdad, a journey that could have been made in some peace a century ago but is now tormented with guns and frustration.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bomb for Maradykovsky 
Wahhabis planned to organize an explosion at one of Russia’s largest storage and destruction of chemical weapons. Prosecuted, detained two natives of the North Caucasus, who planned to go to “learn terrorism” in Syria. Victims of a crime could be hundreds of people.In the Kirov region opened a criminal case in connection with the preparation of a terrorist act, reported Tuesday in the Russian Investigative Committee.“The air-cache and taken by them in the non-residential building have been removed and the circuit components for the manufacture of explosives”The case was opened against the two natives of the North Caucasus: 19-year and 21-year. They are suspected of committing a crime under Part 1 of Art. 30, paragraph “a” of Part 3. 205 of the Criminal Code (preparation for a terrorist act).Risk of death of hundreds of people
According to the police, “in the period from September to the present, the suspects were preparing to commit a terrorist act on the object storage and destruction of chemical weapons in the village of Peace Maradykovsky Orichevskogo district of the Kirov region.”According to the investigation, the suspects are active supporters of Wahhabism and arrived earlier in the Kirov region of Moscow. Terrorist attack, say in the UK, “could endanger the lives of hundreds of people.”The motives of extremists in the Investigation Committee also called, but without specifics – “preparing for action in order to influence decision-making authorities and international organizations.”“As an instrument of crime attackers planned to use IEDs and components for the manufacture of which were discovered and seized by investigators in a secret compartment, equipped with one of the abandoned houses in the city Kotelnich – added in the UK. – In the course of the search conducted at the residence the suspects were found and seized items relevant to the investigation, including the literature of extremist content, as well as passports in the name of the detainees. “
In addition, it is reported that in respect of one of the defendants in another criminal case – for the crime under Part 1 of Art. 318 of the Criminal Code (violence against a representative of authorities). This is due to the fact that during the arrest he was active resistance to FSB and thus applied the abuse to the authorities.
At the moment, both suspects were detained. The issue of their arrest. Also ongoing investigations.
“Preventing terrorist act was made possible thanks to the coordinated work of the joint Russian Federal Security Service staff and investigators of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Kirov Region” – added to the IC Russia.In turn, the Kirov portal referring to the regional Federal Security Service reported that the detainees in the terrorist attack after the completion of the crime were planning to go abroad in one of the camps of international terrorist organizations, where they were to get skills of sabotage.
“In Kotelnich, very close – about 500 meters – from the object Maradykovsky, in the air-cache and taken by them in the non-residential building have been removed and the circuit components for the manufacture of explosives, a map object diagram HUHO and printed materials with signs of extremism,” – said the secret service .And, as investigators later added, two detainees Wahhabis planned to go to this “learning Terrorism” in Syria.
“The Age of the detainees – 19 and 21. They had come from Moscow. The visit was followed by clearance of the passport check out, presumably to Syria for training terrorist cause, “- said at a press briefing on Tuesday, the head of the regional department of the Investigative Committee of Gregory Zhitenev, reports RIA “Novosti” .Later on, having arrived in the region, friends and conceived to attack on the stock of chemical weapons, “received information on the significance of the object and the possible resonance,” he said.Young men planned to blow up a bomb in the 10 kg of TNT..
Other attacks and attempts to
Of the latter prevented the terrorist attacks in Russia, you can recall the incident in Bashkiria in the middle of September, when law enforcement officers cleared the bomb planted under power lines as early as 2004. According to investigators, Il’nur Akhmetshin, bomb threat, since 2006 the federal wanted list and was detained in Dagestan, passed RIA “Novosti”.July 30 National Anti-Terrorist Committee reported that the FSB has prevented a series of terrorist attacks in Dagestan, where six bombs were neutralized with a total capacity of 50 kg.On 18 July, in Kabardino-Balkaria were killed four militants who were planning a series of terrorist attacks in their country.June 27 bomb was found and defused at a stadium in the capital of Ingushetia, Nazran.May 28 in the Volga Federal District were arrested members of a terrorist organization “Islamic Liberation Party” (“Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami”), who prepared a series of terrorist attacks in the Nizhny Novgorod region.Also, we should mention about the arrest in May of this year, the organizers of the preparation of terrorist attacks in Moscow. Militants neutralized in a rented apartment in Orekhovo-.
“The members of this gang who commit a series of crimes in the territory of the republics of the Volga, in 2010, went to Afghanistan-Pakistan region, where received military training. After three years abroad bandits secretly returned to Russia, “- noted in the National Anti-Terrorism Committee of the Russian Federation.FSB officers arrested the organizers and performers, but customers terrorist attack and remained at large – according to the intelligence services, they are abroad.Last October, it was reported that the destroyed Kazan during the counter-terrorist operation Ruslan Kashapov and Robert VALEEV prepared explosion in crowded places during the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.A 31 August 2011 to celebrate the Eid al-Adha in Grozny explosions, claimed the lives of eight people. Several other people were wounded.
Syria and Our Educational System
A Discussion With Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Lawrence Davidson and Ilan Pappé
By Daniel Falcone and Noam Chomsky and Richard Falk and Lawrence Davidson and Ilan Pappe
 Syria's civil war that started in March 2011 continues to attract Western attention. Although nearly half of the Syrian population does not support US leadership in the world, the United States has shown a "resolve" to make this one of our international priorities. For many citizens outside of the public arena, Syria is an obscure and irrelevant geographic location. Recent events in the diplomatic field have, however, catapulted the country to headlines across the United States. I spoke with four prominent public intellectuals to discuss the context of Syria within our educational system. This is a roundtable format including the eminent linguist and social scientist Noam Chomsky from MIT, Princeton professor emeritus of international law Richard Falk, professor of Middle East studies and author of the Middle East Reader Lawrence Davidson and Israeli historian and author of The Modern Middle East Ilan Pappé.
FALCONE: In The New York Times, recent articles covering Syria keep mentioning the importance of our "resolve." What is meant by American "resolve?"
CHOMSKY: Alternatively, "credibility." What I've called "the Mafia doctrine" in many publications: when the Godfather issues an edict, others must obey, or else. It's too dangerous to allow disobedience. A leading principle of world affairs - though, of course, officials and commentators put it more politely.
FALK: I think "resolve" is a coded way of discussing the willingness to use force in support of what Obama calls America's "core interests." In this sense, a lack of resolve would denote a weakness of political will that would disappoint expectations of the Syrian rebel forces and indirectly others as well, including Israel. In the end, resolve refers to the credibility of American global leadership, which is especially subject to doubt, given the negative outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan - and given Republican obstructionism in Congress and the so-called war fatigue of the citizenry.
DAVIDSON: Within this context, what is meant is a resolve to be the world's policeman. To right the alleged wrongs of those we regard as our enemies (we are not similarly concerned with the wrongs of those we designate our friends) even if we ourselves have carried out similar wrongs.
PAPPÉ: I think what the NYT means by resolve is a stance that does not change easily from day to day on the Syrian crisis. If you ask about what should be the American resolve, then I would say that it cannot be addressed only with regard to the present crisis in Syria. It needs to have a wider conceptual and moral infrastructure. Unless this American administration is willing to diverge from the conventional American policy in the Middle East by changing its basic attitudes on crucial questions, foremost of them Palestine, and support genuinely the rights of people for independence, sovereignty and identity across the board, the only "resolve" one would hope from the USA is to stay out of the Middle East for a while.
FALCONE: Also in conjunction with the articles, there is sort of an insinuation that Iran's "nuclear threat" is being addressed when we address Syria. Doesn't our sabre rattling only force Iran to entertain the idea of advanced weaponry?
CHOMSKY: Definitely. ...
DAVIDSON: ... Absolutely. ... Threatening to attack a principle ally of Iran (Syria) is not the way to encourage cooperation in terms of armaments. However, what if the saber rattling is not designed primarily with Iran in mind, but rather with special interests that want to hear threats to Iran in exchange for their domestic political support? Then it makes sense. 
FALK: It would seem to be the case that pressure on Iran to acquire nuclear weapons is almost totally driven by their need for a deterrent capability to avoid the fate of Iraq, Libya. The use of American military force in Syria thus sends exactly the opposite message as supposedly desired to the leadership in Tehran - and to others. North Korea has been dealt with diplomatically because it has the bomb and might use it if provoked.
PAPPÉ: There was no need for the present charade on Syria to remind the government in Iran that the American dog is wagged by the Israeli tail to be more militant in its policy toward Iran. I am not sure to this very moment that Iran's objective is to obtain "advanced weaponry." The present rulers in Iran do not want to be seen as giving up the idea of "advanced weaponry" due to Israeli and American pressure. The myth, carried out from the end of the Second World War, that only "advanced weaponry" - or even the horrific events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki - can produce unimaginable human catastrophes continues to blur our judgment. The worst crimes against humanity in the last half of the previous century and this century are carried out with conventional advanced weapons, upgraded daily by a greedy arms industry, super power's apathy and criminal ideologies. In the Middle East, Iran lags behind many other military powers in this respect.
FALCONE: When President Obama addresses the nation he keeps repeating the phrase, "the international community." What is meant by the international community? 
FALK: As Gandhi famously responded when asked about "Western civilization," "I wish they had one," the same applies to "international community": "I wish there was one." Of course, its use is a convenient way of invoking the collective actions of the world, as through the actions of the United Nations. The misleading implication, however, is to divert attention from the weakness of central institutions and procedures as compared to the strength of leading states. We live in a state-centric world faced with global-scale problems that cannot be met by the actions of single states, no matter how powerful, if assessed from the perspective of military capabilities.
CHOMSKY: The US and whoever goes along with it, often almost no one, as in this case.
DAVIDSON: This is a bit of verbal sleight of hand. The "international community" implies the world's nations. In fact what the president is actually referring to is the US and its allies. And, as we have seen when the British Parliament backed out of the potential attack on Syria, the number of those allies is shrinking.
PAPPÉ: The president probably means those governments which agree with US policy. We can refer back to the UN charter, which saw the peoples, not the governments, as providing the basis for an international opinion. More often than not, there is inconsistency between the two.
FALCONE: I have noticed a lot of teachers using an article from The Washington Post that has gone viral: "9 Questions About Syria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask" by Max Fisher. The author admits the piece has a limited scope of information. Do Westerners get a cheapened version of Near East affairs in our educational system?
FALK: I think it is less the limited amount of information than the filters that information about the Middle East must pass through before being fairly addressed in the mainstream media. In more intellectual and geopolitical terms, the perceptions of the region are distorted by a combination of Orientalism and the priorities of the state of Israel, including the refusal to discuss the relevance of Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal in the context of addressing Iran on its nuclear program.
CHOMSKY: Hopelessly. ...
DAVIDSON: ... Most of the time, teachers who talk about the Middle East do not know the history, culture or present context of the problems they are discussing. So they go to the media, which quote government or academic "experts" (who often are no such thing) or journalists who, by virtue of working for the media, are supposed to know what they are talking about. In the end they know little or nothing beyond a standard line that reflects the perceptions of the US government and its special-interest supporters. That is what the students get. Indeed, that is what we all get. 
PAPPÉ: While in the American academia the knowledge production on the Middle East in general and Syria in particular has been considerably transformed in recent years, the dissemination of these more updated views fails to reach the conventional educational system. For two main reasons: Politics can still subdue and censor views that are not endorsed ideologically, and academics have still not learned how to write openly, directly and, one should say, courageously about these issues.
FALCONE: Can you recommend articles, authors and book titles that can help teachers break the traditional mold of textbook teaching that tend to conceptualize the Near East narrative incorrectly?
DAVIDSON: Well, the best textbook on the market is the one I co-authored with Arthur Goldschmidt, the Concise History of the Middle East (Westview Press). Students and teachers also now have access to web sources that often give an alternate point of view, such as Al Jazeera English and Electronic Intifada. One can balance the standard line on events if one does a bit of searching.
FALK: The literature on the region is generally not very good. The writing on individual countries is far better. There are some books edited by the Iraqi scholar teaching in Canada Tareq Ismael that give good and balanced overviews of regional issues, and I would suggest Edward Said for the cultural underpinnings of misperceptions relating to the region.
FALCONE: Another observation in US media is the marriage of the word terrorist with Muslim. In other words, after last week's shooting at the D.C Naval Yard, news anchors would say, "We still don't know if the suspected killer is a terrorist." What kind of impact might this habitual commentary have on our educational system?
CHOMSKY: The intended meaning is clear: Demonize Muslims, and deflect attention from the obvious but unutterable fact that the US has been the leading terrorist state in the world for many years.
DAVIDSON: The continual linking of the notions of terrorist and terrorism with Muslims and the Middle East is, essentially, an act of propaganda that cannot help but promote "Islamophobia." Shooting down a dozen innocent people (as happened in Washington, DC, last week) at random is an act of terrorism, no matter who does it. What possible justification can there be to restrict the definition to adherents of a particular religion? If the reply is 9/11, the counter fact is that 99.5 percent of the world's Muslims were as appalled at that event as everyone else.
PAPPÉ: Similar demonization of Muslims was done in Norway in the first hours after the massacre carried out by a white supremacist. The demonization has been in the US, long before 9/11, as Edward Said's Unveiling Islam has shown. Films, media, educational system and arts portray Muslims in a racist and negative way. The more interesting question, for which we have no time right now, is who is behind these images.
FALK: There is no doubt that this fusion of terrorist and Muslim feeds virulent forms of Islamophobia, which is also encouraged by such incidents as the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi and the Anglican Church bombing in Pakistan. 9/11 greatly intensified this tendency toward fusion, but it had also been nurtured by Israeli propaganda that portrayed their Palestinian and Arab adversaries as "terrorists." In fact, the US government approach after 9/11 was modeled in many of its features on Israeli tactics developed during the long occupation of Palestine.
FALCONE: Have you ever been invited to speak at a high school on the Muslim world? Why might this be so unlikely to happen? 
CHOMSKY: I think you know why it's unlikely. I've occasionally been asked to talk on Israel-Palestine. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it elicits hysteria in the community.
DAVIDSON: I have not been invited into a Muslim high school, but I have been invited to speak to college classes in the Muslim world. I think this is simply because I am better-known in college and university circles. There is no inherent reason why I would be unwelcome at the high school level.
FALK: I have been invited a few times over the years, usually at the initiative of student groups, not the school administration or faculty. This seems unlikely to happen both because of bias and fear of controversy. 
PAPPÉ: Yes, but mostly because those who invited me did not know who I was.
FALCONE: Do you read the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs? What are your thoughts on the publication?
CHOMSKY: Not trustworthy in my opinion, though I often agree with their conclusions.
DAVIDSON: Yes, this is a very good source of information. It is one of those sources that people should use to get an alternative view of what is going on in the region and what are the consequences of US foreign policy. 
PAPPÉ: Excellent and informative publication.
FALK: I believe that the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs is a valuable resource, probably the best offset to the mainstream treatment of the region. It consistently publishes insightful commentary on delicate issues of US foreign policy bearing on the Middle East and also interprets developments in the region in a more illuminating way.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Western PR firms bid for Bahrain contract: The ‘acceptable’ face of repression
Seven public relations firms – mostly British or American – are vying to win a contract from Bahrain’s repressive government. Western PR companies have often been criticised in the past for taking up lucrative assignments aimed at polishing the kingdom’s tarnished image. In Bahrain itself, they have also been denounced as “PR mercenaries” that charge hefty fees while failing to deliver positive results. Bidders for the latest contract were named last week by the Bahrain Tender Board. They are:
Gulf Hill & Knowlton
Bell Pottinger Bahrain
Portland PR Ltd
Consulum Bahrain
Media Consult.
Weber Shandwick
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Bahrain’s government has not published details of the contract apart from saying that it involves PR services for the Economic Development Board (EDB). Bahrain Watch, the advocacy group that highlighted the bids in a blog post yesterday, says the EDB is “a governmental body responsible for attracting international investment to Bahrain, and re-branding the country as ‘business-friendly’.”
Three of the bidding companies – Bell PottingerHill & Knowlton and Weber Shandwick – have previously done PR work for Bahrain.
Another of the bidders, Consulum, is a newer company set up by former Bell Pottinger employees based in the Gulf, according to Bahrain Watch. It has offices in London, Bahrain and Dubai anddescribes itself as “an international strategic communications consultancy that uses an in-depth understanding of public, commercial and political drivers to provide insightful strategic counsel and meet complex communications challenges”. It claims to deliver “sophisticated communications programmes that shape awareness, guide opinion and enhance understanding on a national, regional and international basis”.
Citigate Dewe Rogerson is a London-based firm which boasts of providing “seamless communication consultancy across the world’s business centres”. It recently advised the British government on PR for the privatisation of Royal Mail.
Portland PR Ltd is part of Portland Communications, a British firm founded by Tim Allan, a former adviser to Tony Blair. Portland’s website says:
“Our Leadership Team has 40 years experience on Fleet Street and 35 years in Downing Street, as well as experience on The Hill. They know how Government, the media and business influence each other. And they know how successful campaigns work – because they have been there.”
Last year Portland was accused of “improving” the Wikipedia entries for a number of its clients. This included deleting a reference to “Wife Beater” – the popular nickname in Britain for
Stella Artois lager.Finally, there is a bidder listed as “Media Consult“. This may not be its full name and its identity at present is unclear.
Ex-Mossad Chief: “Turkey Drives the Americans Crazy — and Us, Too”
 A former director of the Mossad, retired General Danny Yatom, reacts to David Ignatius’s column in The Washington Post (reporting that Turkey gave Iran the names of 10 Mossad-run Iranian spies) by saying the Turks committed a “despicable” and unprecedented violation of international intelligence etiquette — and that will leave Turkish intelligence with no friends at all.
Danny Yatom — speaking from Israel, in a telephone conference call arranged by The Israel Project — said: “Assuming what’s in the Ignatius column is accurate, then this was a despicable act by the Turks — by the head of the MIT, the intelligence organization which is equivalent to the CIA plus the FBI. The guy who heads MIT, Hakan Fidan, has very strong power in Turkey. “Assuming the column is true, this is something unheard of.  I don’t remember, during the many, many years I served in the Israeli intelligence apparatuses and as a close advisor to three prime ministers and in the Israel Defense Forces… I don’t recall this phenomenon when information was used by so-called friendly intelligence services [in this way].“The Turks probably had this information [the name of Iranian contacts] from the Mossad. Because the modus operandi is — usually in such cases — when there are meetings between handlers and their agents — let’s say Israel doing it on Turkish soil — then usually the Israelis inform the Turkish MIT in order to avoid any misunderstandings. This is to avoid any Turkish claim that Israel is breaching the laws of Turkey.“If this is true, then the fact that those 10 spies were burned by purposely informing the Iranians is not only a despicable act — this is an act that brings the Turkish intelligence organization to a position where I assume no one will trust it. Not only did they get the information from Israel … They breached all the rules of cooperation between intelligence organizations.“If this is true, what was done by the head of the Turkish intelligence organization — no doubt with the knowledge of his prime minister [Recep] Erdogan — is something that I don’t recall from the many years of my experience.“This is highly disturbing. We also receive information from friendly intelligence organizations. And no one here or in the U.S. or elsewhere would dare to use this information — received from, let’s say Israel — in order to harm Israel.“Only one — the head of Turkey’s intelligence and the prime minister of Turkey. … Knowing the Turks and knowing the reporter, David Ignatius, I tend to believe him [and not any Turkish denials].“About two years ago, it was published — when Hakan Fidan was nominated to head the MIT — that Ehud Barak’s view was that Fidan was very close to the Iranians and had transferred sensitive information to Iran.“We never ever thought he would do something unprecedented by exposing Israeli agents to the Iranians — probably knowing them [the names] because he got the information from Israel.[[[[[[“The relations between the two intelligence organizations [the Mossad and Turkey's MIT], during my time as director of the Mossad [in 1996 to 1998] were excellent — and were excellent before and after that.]]]]]  But what happened caused us to distrust the Turks, and this is the main reason why the relations are losing their intimacy and are deteriorating.”Yatom said the Turks were, in a way, shooting themselves in the foot.  ”They badly need cooperation with friendly intelligence apparatuses.  The Turks are highly worried about what’s going on in Syria. They are against the Iranian military nuclear program. Of course they need to cooperate with friendly [services] to fight terror in their own country — Turkey.“Who now will trust them and cooperate with them? Who now will share sensitive information with them?“We will see a deterioration in intelligence relations between Turkey’s MIT and all the parallel organizations in friendly countries to Turkey.  We will find the Turkish intelligence isolated from receiving any sensitive information, probably for the foreseeable future.”Yatom also said: “We share a lot of information with the CIA, [Britain's] MI6, [the German} BND and other friendly intelligence apparatuses -- and we used to do it, until recently, with the Turks. Our nations shared the same goals and aims: to fight terror, and to prevent Iran from becoming a military nuclear state.
"If this is true, then what the intelligence apparatus of Turkey did was ... to threaten the lives of those Iranians.  And I don't what is their fate.  Maybe they were executed or will be executed.
"This is not only transferring the names to a democratic regime, but it is transferering the names to a regime with no mercy. No doubt in my mind. If this is true, they either have been executed or they will be executed."
When asked whether the Syrian civil war has brought Turkey and Israel closer together -- out of shared worries and interests, considering that Syria is sandwiched between them -- Yatom said: "Unfortunately it has not happened."Yatom added, "Erdogan is even annoying the United States by purchasing ground-to-air missiles from a company in China which is blamed [by the U.S.] for breaking an embargo by assisting Iran with its missile and nuclear projects.  I don’t think this is the first time Erdogan makes the Americans crazy… And the same with us, so what can we do?”For mutual benefits, Yatom suggested, efforts to get past the Israeli-Turkish problems are worth pursuing.
 Erdogan exposed Mossad agents in Iran, Really!
 Ignatius is trying to make his readers believe that while Barack Obama is calling Erdogan his best friend, Erdogan is helping USrael’s number one enemy, Iran. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu just confirmed my theory.“This is just a smear campaign. This is not true. It is dirty propaganda,” CNN quoted Davutoglu saying on October 17, 2013.David Ignatius has claimed that Turkey’s top spy, Dr. Hakan Fidan, head of Turkish intelligence MIT played a major part in the exposer of Mossad espionage network in Iran. On June 7, 2010, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the newly appointed head of MIT, Hakan Fidan, has ties with IHH, the group which organized the Gaza flotilla. Hakan Fidan, as Turkish envoy at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2009, had defended Iran’s right to carry on its civilian nuclear program.On Thursday, Turkish officials claimed that the Washington Post allegation was part of a broader effort to discredit Turkey’s top spymaster, Hakan Fidan.Under the smokescreen, Turkey-Israel has secret alliance to use every mean to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region. Only last week, Erdogan told his top government officials to avoid discussing Turkey-Israel secret alliance in public.Mr Erdogan’s Cairo visit took place in the midst of Israel’s eight-day war on Gaza. Notwithstanding his habitual posturing over Israel’s war crimes, the focal point of his speech at the Cairo University was Syria. The fact remains that for the past 20 years, Turkey, Israel and NATO have maintained a high level of military and political cooperation against Iraq, Iran, Syria and the resistance groups in Palestine and Lebanon. Furthermore, since April 2011, Mr Erdogan’s government has been thoroughly complicit in NATO’s war crimes in Syria,” said Cem Ertur, in A Zionist in disguise: Prime Minister Erdogan’s phony anti-Israel rhetoric, November 30, 2012.
Colonial marketing
Inner City Press reports on the latest debates inside the UN’s decolonization committee:
“Friday afternoon in the Fourth Committee, after a week of speeches denouncing the UK for the Malvinas or Falkland Islands, UK Political Coordinator Michael Tatham spoke. He spoke of his country’s ‘modern relationship’ with its territories — if you want to stay, you can.Moments later Bolivia’s Permanent Representative Sacha Llorenti said that the UK’s invocation of self-determination, for which generations fought, was now being used as ‘colonial marketing.’Llorenti also took on the United States, calling Puerto Rico a colony and long-jailed Oscar Lopez Rivera a political prisoner.…Papua New Guinea chided France for not turning over education in New Caledonia.”
Defense Industry Ties to Media Commentators and Think Tanks That Participated in Syria Debate
 The following report documents the industry ties of 22 media commentators, and seven think tanks that participated in the media debate around Syria. These individuals and organizations have strong ties to defense contractors and other defense- and foreign policy-focused firms with a vested interest in the Syria debate, but they were presented to their audiences with a veneer of expertise and independence, as former military officials, retired diplomats, and independent think tanks.This report details these ties, in addition to documenting the industry backing of think tanks that played a prominent role in the Syria debate. It reveals the extent to which the public discourse around Syria was corrupted by the pervasive influence of the defense industry, to the point where many of the so-called experts appearing on American television screens were actually representatives of companies that profit from heightened US military activity abroad. The threat of war with Syria may or may not have passed, but the threat that these conflicts of interest pose to our public discourse – and our democracy – is still very real.

Lebanon Watch- 50 Kilos of Explosives in al-Maamoura Car, Suleiman Lauds Army Efforts 
 A booby-trapped car seized Monday by the army in Dahieh contained around 50 kilograms of explosive material, an army statement said, as President Michel Suleiman hailed the military institution for its achievement.The vehicle turned out to contain “around 50 kilos of explosives: three landmines, six anti-vehicle grenades, a quantity of TNT, and some 20 kilograms of aluminum powder that is mixed with yellow sulfur and electric fuses,” according to the statement.“It turned out that the aforementioned car had been sold several times in the past,” the statement added.The Army Command noted that investigations are ongoing under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities “with the aim of identifying those involved in this criminal act,” urging citizens in all Lebanese regions to immediately report any suspicious activity.Meanwhile, President Suleiman hailed the army for seizing the car and lauded its efforts.“Eid (al-Adha) for the officers and soldiers takes its true meaning from their sacrifices for the sake of the country and civil peace,” Suleiman said, slamming “the plots against the innocent citizens that are aimed at undermining the stability that we are all seeking.”On Monday evening, the army said an explosive-rigged Grand Cherokee was found in the Beirut southern suburb of al-Maamoura and that military experts dismantled the bomb after cordoning off the area.
General Security Arrests Palestinian Member of Terrorist Network 
 The General Security arrested a Palestinian national on charges of belonging to a terrorist network, it announced in a statement on Monday.It said that W.N. was responsible for forging identification papers, with high level of proficiency, for terrorists.He was also in charge of designing and manufacturing electronic devises used in bomb timers.The suspect was charged with firing rockets and taking part in activities that violate the state's internal and external security.The General Security also charged him with sectarian incitement.His case has been referred to State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr.Al-Akhbar newspaper had reported on Saturday that the General Security had arrested a man who forges IDs and is close to an al-Qaida terrorist who resides in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.The daily identified the suspect with his initials as W.N., saying the agency arrested him last week after monitoring his activities for weeks.They confiscated a forged ID with him, it said. The newspaper described him as the most professional identity theft suspect in Lebanon.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

 Israeli Drones Fallin’ from the Skies Like Flies: Third UAV Sabotaged by Hacking
 Israeli media have announced that the IAF has “lost” (Hebrew and English) yet another of its advanced drones, the Hermes-450, one of the most advanced of its fleet.  This marks the third vehicle lost in a similar manner in the past six months.  A fourth drone was “lost” two years ago and reported in a post I published here.  I note my Israeli source reported originally that the drone was operated by Hezbollah and deliberately crashed into the base.  It’s also possible that Hezbollah or Iran took control of an Israeli drone and crashed it into the base; or that its Israeli controllers crashed it purposely because its navigation system had been hacked.  I’ve previously reported (and here) on the various crashes.
Though Israeli security officials invariably call the cause of the failure a “technical malfunction,” it is only that in the sense that the collapse of the World Trade Center was a technical malfunction.  In other words, these crashes were caused by an enemy hacking into the navigation system and taking control of the drone.
Here is how the air force explains its decision to destroy the vehicles in mid-flight:
IDF officials explained at the time that the decision to down the UAV was made due to concerns that control over the drone would be lost, and it might crash into populated areas.
In actuality, they weren’t in control of them and didn’t know what the Iranians or Lebanese would do with them.  They might crash them into a building or air base inside Israel or they might fly it to Lebanon where they could study its components further.Israel’s media itself may not believe the lies offered by the IAF.  This is the Walla! headline:
Drones Falling, and with Them, IDF’s Credibility
The article also notes that the continued failures of the Hermes 450 have harmed the reputation of the IDF.  If I were commander of a drone fleet I wouldn’t allow them to fly again till I had a totally new navigational system that couldn’t be penetrated.  Though Israel did ground portions of its fleet after one of the crashes, it apparently didn’t help.  To me, this indicates either IAF hubris or incompetence.  Of course, Iranian cyber-engineers are no slouches as well. An anonymous Israel source sent me this e mail message which was either written by a terrific bluffer, or by someone who knows what they’re talking about (my bet is on the latter):
The UAV didn’t crash, the UAV control center lost communication due to heavy interference in the COM link. After few very long minutes at which the re establish comm procedure failed, the CCC (control center commander) ordered the self destruction of the UAV. There was lots of drama as it appeared the UAV had a mind of its own or that someone gained positive control.
As I reported in the past, I don’t know for sure whether Iran or Hezbollah is responsible or some combination, but they are the most likely suspects.  Here is what my source says about the latest attack:
The source of the drone hacks was electronically traced to Lebanon, so either Hezbollah did it with Iranian technology or IRG forces there did it themselves.
In addition, Iran announced recently that it had reverse engineered the same Hermes 450 which was downed yesterday.  If it could reverse engineer it, it can figure out how to hack into the controls as well.  This raises another issue: if it’s true Iran succeeded in copying Israel’s most advanced drone it did so in one of two ways; either it captured a drone in the way I suggest above or it gained access to its technical specs through some sort of espionage.  If it captured a drone, that means there was yet another drone failure in which the Iranians actually succeeded in capturing the vehicle as it did a U.S. drone a year ago.  Iran has boasted it has reverse engineered this vehicle too.Ironically, the Israeli defense industry publication, IsraelDefense, will host a conference (Hebrew) on drone technology and cyber-issues related to it in a few hours.  One of the key issues this Hebrew language articles indicates will be at the center of the event will be the issue of security, both how Israelis may penetrate the drones of their enemies and protect their own from such hacking.  Given these failures, conference attendees will have their work cut out for them. The operative phrase here is: what goes around, comes around.  Israel builds these vehicles to spy on its enemies.  It uses them to kill its enemies.  I should add here that my Israeli source renews his claim about the IRG commander Mojtada Ahmadi, who was murdered a few days ago in Iran.  He says the Mossad assassinated him because, among his offenses, was orchestrating the campaign to sabotage Israel’s drone fleet.  I repeat, I haven’t been able to confirm this claim independently and nothing coming out of Iran says anything other than that he was murdered.  So proceed with caution.Israel’s enemies, in turn, will eventually return the favor once they have mastered the technology.  It’s only a question of when and how.  This is yet another part of the cyberwar drama being played out now between Israel and its enemies.  First you had Stuxnet and Flame, then you had Iranian hackers taking down Saudi oil companies and U.S. banks.  Now we have sabotaged drones and possibly assassinated cyberwar chiefs.  This can go a long way and end up in a very ugly place (and likely will)
[ed notes:im currently unable tp copy and paste,and reason is unknown to myself...not sure whats going on..tried reboooting and its still not working...soon as i figure a remedy,then ill continue updating blog..sorry for inconvinience
 The military examining magistrate issued on Thursday an arrest warrant against a dissident Syrian colonel for forming an armed gang to carry out terrorist activities. The warrant was issued after Judge Fadi Sawan interrogated the suspect identified as Ahmed Amer, a Syrian Army colonel who has defected.He referred him to the military prosecution to take the appropriate action. On Wednesday, the State Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Saqr Saqr, charged 12 people, including a Lebanese and 2 Syrians who are in custody, with plotting terrorist activities and planning assassinations. The three suspects were arrested by the General Security Department. But LBCI TV said Amer is not linked with the 12-member network. He was seeking to recruit fighters to send them to Syria, it said.
 Report: Telecom Data Analysis Finds Link between 12-Member Terror Cell and Fatah al-Islam

Twelve suspects charged with planning terrorist activities in Lebanon, including assassinations, have been in contact with members of Fatah al-Islam terror group in Roumieh prison, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday.The newspaper said that analysis of the so-called telecommunications data revealed that the members of the network had contacted several Fatah al-Islam inmates in the prison.The examination of the calls is ongoing to know the connection between the two sides, it said.The State Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Wednesday the 12 suspects, including a Lebanese and 2 Syrians who are in custody, with plotting terrorist activities and forming an armed gang to carry out terrorist operations.The charges include buying arms, rockets and bombs to plant them throughout Lebanese territories, and plotting assassinations against personalities in northern Lebanon who back the Syrian regime.
The suspects were also planning to booby-trap vehicles.Security and judicial sources told al-Joumhouria that two personalities from the Syrian opposition were on the assassination list of the 12-member network, in addition to several Sunni clergymen in the northern city of Tripoli who are supporters of the regime in Syria.The daily identified the clergymen as Bilal Shaaban and his brother, in addition to another Sunni man – Kamal Kheir, who heads a political association and a charity in northern Lebanon.

The General Directorate of General Security on Tuesday announced dismantling a “terrorist cell” that was plotting assassinations and bombings in several Lebanese regions.
“Three people of Lebanese and Syrian nationalities have been arrested on charges of belonging to a terrorist cell that was plotting acts of sabotage across Lebanon through bomb attacks and assassination operations,” a General Security statement said.“The detainees were interrogated and referred to the military judiciary together with the seized material, which include explosives, communication devices and silenced weapons,” it added.The directorate stressed that it “will not hesitate to pursue terrorist groups, subversive gangs and illegal emigration networks -- in coordination with the rest of the security agencies – in order to preserve the safety of citizens and the security and stability of the country.”NNA later said two of those arrested were Syrians and a third was Lebanese.The announcement comes after a wave of arrests by the various security services in the wake of four deadly bombings that rocked Lebanon – two in Beirut's southern suburbs and two in Tripoli.
Turkish human rights activists called on the government to improve conditions for sick inmates and address human rights violations. According to a report by the Human Rights Association (IHD), there were “526 sick political prisoners in Turkish prisons,” and, “154 of them in need of extremely urgent treatment,” as of September 10. Raci Bilici, head of the  Diyarbakir branch of the IHD said, “The history of prisons in Turkey is filled with deaths, torture and violations of rights. The Turkish state has had the same mentality against political prisoners for years.”
Bilic also commented on the recent democratization package proposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said, “No package that has been issued so far has offered a solution for the violations of human rights in prisons. Necessary regulations should be made so that sick inmates could be released.” Bilici is one of many to comment on the reform package. In the International Herald Tribune, Andrew Finkel argues the reforms “lack the quality of real democracy,” but are rather “a slight of hand” because “giving  Kurds or Alevis more rights risked alienating his core supporters among Sunni and Turkish nationalists.” In an op-ed in the New York Post, Amir Tehari asserts Erdogan’s package “seems bent on abolishing that republic in all but name” by re-energizing his Islamist base and giving few concessions to Alevites and Armenians. In contrast, Semih Idiz argues in Al-Monitor that one “glaring aspect of the package that is beyond despite” is that “whatever it may do – or not do – for minorities, it lifts major restrictions on devout Sunnis imposed by previous secular governments. The Islamist section of society, which largely supports Erdogan, is therefore happy– a fact that is reflected in the warm reception the package got from pro-government media.”Meanwhile, Turkish authorities arrested a group of students that visited Iran for 20 days on an exchange program on allegations of espionage against the Turkish state. Turkey also began constructing a wall on its border with Syria in order to “stop people from illegally bypassing its checkpoints and prevent smuggling,” according to Reuters.