Category Archives: War OF terror

Former Bush officials teaching course on Iraq war decision-making…

DJ Blendz Note: #NoShame

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Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, two key players in the George W. Bush administration, are teaching a course this fall on decision-making in the 2003 Iraq War.

The course, titled “The War in Iraq: A Study in Decision-Making”, will examine some “key strategic decisions” during the war, according to a description by the Hertog Foundation in D.C., which will offer the week-long course.

Wolfowitz, who served as deputy defense secretary between 2001 and 2005, and Libby, who served as national security adviser to then-Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush during that time, both advocated for the war.

“History takes on a different aspect when viewed not from years removed and with the consequences of decisions taken known, but from the viewpoints of the actual policymakers as decisions approached and as unexpected events, rivalries, counter-moves, mistakes, and imperfect understandings intervened,” a course description reads…

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The Honduran meltdown: Made in USA

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In May 2005, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick appeared at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington to rally support for CAFTA, a free trade agreement between the US, the Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic.

In his remarks, Zoellick played up the notion that, for Central America and the DR, the agreement would “strengthen democracy through economic growth and open societies based on the rule of law”, while also entailing various perks for the gringos; a T-shirt reading “Made in Honduras”, he enthused, would likely contain over 60 percent US content.

The deputy secretary and future president of the World Bank went as far as to assert that, “In many ways, CAFTA is the logical culmination of 20 years of democratic and social progress in Central America, nurtured and encouraged by the United States.”

Never mind that, 20-some years ago, the United States was nurturing things like Battalion 3-16, described by the Baltimore Sun as a “CIA-trained military unit that terrorised Honduras for much of the 1980s”.

Anything but the communists

To be sure, much of Honduras’ contemporary plight – while perhaps appearing on the surface, like Zoellick’s T-shirt, to be a domestic creation – is in fact Made in USA.

Encouraged by then-US ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, the Battalion 3-16 death squad was responsible for the disappearance of almost 200 suspected Honduran leftists and the torture and kidnapping of many more.

The aim of right-wing terror, of course, was to prevent a Honduran crossover to the communist dark side a la neighbouring Nicaragua – against whose transgressions Honduras had the honour of acting as de facto US military base and staging ground for the Nicaraguan “contra” war.

Aside from the Honduran army and similarly reactionary forces, other Hondurans benefited from the arrangement, as well. Among them was Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, the country’s most famed drug lord and owner of the contra supply airline SETCO, dubbed the “CIA airline”.

In his multitasking heyday, Matta not only assisted in supplying the contras with their logistical needs, but also contributed to the flow of narcotics to the US.

It’s this sort of arrangement that makes a mockery of continuing US drug war rhetoric, which excuses the militarisation of the hemisphere and allows the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to transcend borders at will, while US borders are increasingly fortified.

Caught in the crossfire

In a 2012 incident involving DEA agents in Honduras, four poor Afro-indigenous canoe passengers -including a 14-year-old boy and a pregnant single mother – were mistaken for drug traffickers and killed in a helicopter operation.

In addition to flying in the face of Zoellick’s suggestion that CAFTA would somehow help resolve the drug trafficking mess in Central America, the affair was perhaps a good example of what can happen when US law enforcement agencies prioritise justifying their budgets over safeguarding human rights.

Indeed, when it comes to crime-fighting systems imported from the US, it seems Honduran civilians are forever getting caught in the crossfire – although some would argue that it’s not an issue of crossfire at all.

Maria Luisa Borjas, the former chief of internal affairs for the Honduran police force, herself confirmed to me during a conversation in 2009, that approximately 3,000 young people had been murdered by the state during the presidency of Ricardo Maduro (2002-06).

Inspired by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Maduro acted as the ringleader for Honduras’ very own zero tolerance regime, which was characterised, Borjas said, by a criminalisation of youth and a liberal application of the term “gang member” to validate extrajudicial killings.

American University anthropologist Adrienne Pine has referred to the period as one of “invisible genocide”, primarily against “unemployed young men who were marked as criminals by a society that had no room for them”.

Coup time

According to Zoellick’s menacing calculations in 2005, a voting down of CAFTA would mean that Central American “wages will be lower, and a door to upward mobility for the region’s poor will be slammed in their face”. But in the decade since the agreement’s ratification, there’s no evidence that any more room has been made in Honduran society for the poor.

This could have been predicted from the get-go by anyone who paid scant attention to NAFTA, the 1994 free trade accord that lowered wages in Mexico, raised unemployment, and forced two million Mexican farmers to abandon their land thanks to US export subsidies.

When Maduro’s successor Manuel Zelaya dared to ever-so-slightly challenge the US-sponsored landscape in Honduras – earning a caricature among the fanatical Honduran elite as a die-hard communist puppet of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro – he was overthrown in a military coup on June 28, 2009.

His transgressions had included bringing the urban minimum wage up to $290 a month, demonstrating less than complete obsequiousness to mining and other foreign corporations, and proposing a bit more democratic participation by the Honduran citizenry.

Formally, he was accused of attempting to violate the national constitution by revising Article 239, which prohibited the re-election of presidents. In April of this year, the very same article was conveniently done away with by the current right-wing government of Juan Orlando Hernandez, himself instrumental in the overthrow of Zelaya.

The US, for its part, did its best to legitimise the 2009 coup while pretending not to. After hemming and hawing for months about whether or not a coup perpetrated by the military qualified as a military coup and thus necessitated punitive financial measures, the US recognised the outcome of illegitimate Honduran elections held in November 2009 by the coup-installed regime. And poof, Honduras was restored to the realm of democracy.

Reaping the rewards

But the post-coup era has seen soaring homicide rates, with much of the violence committed by state security forces enjoying near-total impunity. And from the looks of it, these same forces are slated for more handouts from the imperial benefactor to the north.

In a recent op-ed for Al Jazeera America, historian Dana Frank writes that, despite Hernandez’s flagrant violations of the rule of law, his excessive militarisation policies, and his repression of civil liberties, “the White House is aggressively pushing for a billion dollars in aid to Central America, much of which will flow to Honduras, including a tripling of military funding.”

This, Frank contends, is “tantamount to rewarding Hernandez and other Honduran elites for the very crisis they created”.

But seeing as the crisis is far from 100 percent Made in Honduras, it seems there are plenty of rewards to go around.

Photos of secret CIA torture sites released…

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New information confirming the existence of CIA prisons in Romania has been issued in the public space. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. administration has thousands of photos of the places where terrorists, had been detained, including in our country. However, Romanian officials have denied their existence, even if former President Ion Iliescu acknowledged in an interview to a German publication that he provided to the CIA a “headquarters” in Romania.

The U.S. administration holds about 14,000 photos from CIA-operated secret prisons in other countries, including Romania, where terrorist suspects appear, but also CIA and foreign intelligence services staff, said US officials quoted by the Washington Post.

The bulk of the photographs depict black sites in Thailand, Afghanistan and Poland. There are fewer shots of prisons in Romania and Lithuania, which were among the last to be used before they were closed in 2006.

According the Washington Post, the electronic images depict external and internal shots of facilities where the CIA held ­al-Qaeda suspects after 9/11, but they do not show detainee interrogations, including the torture of some suspects who were subjected to waterboarding and other brutal techniques.

They do include images of naked detainees during transport, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the material remains classified.

The pictures also show CIA personnel and members of foreign intelligence services, as well as psychologists Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, among the architects of the interrogation program.

“Among the images are those of cells and bathrooms at the detention sites, including a facility in Afghanistan known as “Salt Pit,” where the waterboard was photographed. A U.S. official described the photographs of the Salt Pit as looking like a dungeon. The official added that many of the pictures appear to have been taken for budgetary reasons to document how money was being spent,” the Washington Post reports.

“The existence of the approximately 14,000 photographs will probably cause yet another delay in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as attorneys for the defendants demand that all the images be turned over and the government wades through the material to decide what it thinks is relevant to the proceedings.Defense attorneys said they have not yet been informed about the photographs and said it is unacceptable that they should come to light now, more than three years after the arraignment of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other defendants accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks”.

“The government will probably resist any attempt to turn over photos of CIA officers and other personnel, arguing that it could endanger their personal security, while the defense will want to identify potential witnesses,” the Washington Post maintains.

“From the terrorist Gladio ‘stay behind’ network of fascists, which carried out terrorist attacks in Europe in the 1970s and 80s that were blamed on leftist irregulars, to the grand alliance of terrorists from Angola’s UNITA, the Afghan mujaheddin, the Nicaraguan contras, Laotian Hmongs who, under American auspices, met in 1985 in Jamba, Angola, the CIA has historically found that terrorist groups make advantageous allies”

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It is becoming more and more apparent that the Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or «Daesh» as it is known in Arabic, or ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham — preferred by Israel supporters because of the uncomforting similarity between «Israel» and «ISIL» – is part of another Central Intelligence Agency operation to artificially create a new «strategy of tensions» for the Eurasian and African land masses.

Yet another example of ISIL’s non-Islamic nature has been witnessed in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra – the blowing up of the tomb of Mohammad Bin Ali, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin Imam Ali, by the brigands and mercenaries of ISIL. ISIL’s true goal is to eradicate the Arab and pre-Arab history of the Middle East with one major exception. There have been virtually no reports of important antiquities sacred to the Zionists having been destroyed by ISIL in either Syria or Iraq. The major targets for the ISIL demolition teams have been Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Roman, Assyrian, Persian, Alawite, Druze, Turkmen, Yazidi, Parthian, Christian, Shi’a, and Sufi (the other major tomb destroyed in Palmyra was the tomb of Nizar Abu Bahaa Eddine, a Sufi scholar who lived 500 years ago). ISIL destroyed the Tomb of Yunus (Jonah) Mosque in Iraq not because it honored the Jewish patriarch Jonah but because it was a mosque.

The alleged tomb of the Jewish prophet Daniel destroyed by ISIL in Mosul is but one of six Daniel tombs located in Iraq, Iran, and Uzbekistan. The Talmud, the Jewish book from which the Zionists obtain most of their geo-political inspiration, strictly prohibits any images of faces, but permits owning images of faces created by non-Jews. Although ISIL and Talmudists are on the same page on destroying sculptures, tiles, and paintings depicting people, the Talmud’s exception that allows Jews to own images created by non-Jews has resulted in a lucrative black market for antiquities stolen by ISIL and sold through brokers in Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, and Geneva.

It is becoming clear that ISIL, from the very beginning, was a construct of the CIA and its pro-Saudi and pro-Israeli director, John Brennan; Israel’s Mossad, which has ensured that Israeli targets are exempt from ISIL attack; and Saudi Arabia, which actually permitted ISIL attacks against two Shi’a mosques, one in the village of al-Qadeeh and the other in Dammam, in the Eastern Province, where Shi’as have a majority over Wahhabist Sunnis. In Iraq and Syria, U.S. and Israeli weapons have been seen by eyewitnesses being transferred to ISIL and forces of its allies, including the Al Nusra Front in Syria. Saudi bank cash receipts have been found in abandoned ISIL headquarters in both Syria and Iraq. The ISIL attacks on the Shi’as of Saudi Arabia are believed by many to be warnings by the unholy alliance of Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh against predominantly Shi’a Iran.

From the terrorist Gladio «stay behind» network of fascists, which carried out terrorist attacks in Europe in the 1970s and 80s that were blamed on leftist irregulars, to the grand alliance of terrorists from Angola’s UNITA, the Afghan mujaheddin, the Nicaraguan contras, Laotian Hmongs who, under American auspices, met in 1985 in Jamba, Angola, the CIA has historically found that terrorist groups make advantageous allies. The CIA clandestinely and illegally violated two U.S. laws, the Clark and Boland Amendments, respectively, to support Angolan and Nicaraguan terrorists.

ISIL now serves as an important CIA, Saudi, and Israeli asset against common foes like Iran. ISIL has made no secret of its desire to bring the death and destruction it has visited upon Syria and Iraq into the heart of Iran. The destabilization of Iran by sponsoring terrorist attacks in Iran and against Iranian targets abroad has long been the modus operandi of the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia, acting mostly through the anti-Tehran Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) and Baluchi separatists based in Pakistan. ISIL refers to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan as «Wilayat Khorasan» or Korasan State. An ISIL affiliate, known as the Khorasan Group, has been fighting in Syria and is believed to be made up of central Asian ISIL recruits and commanders.

It was recently announced that Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, the one-time head of the Tajikistan elite anti-terrorism police force, known as OMON, defected to ISIL and is now one its top field commanders in Syria. Khalimov, who was trained by U.S. Special Operations, Blackwater, and CIA officers during a number of official visits to the United States, has vowed to return to the Tajikistan to «slaughter» Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, recruit Tajiks working in Russia to launch terrorist attacks inside Russia itself and Tajiks in Tajikistan to attack Russian military troops stationed in Tajikistan (which makes Khalimov an ally of NATO top military commander General Philip Breedlove and U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who want to increase military pressure on Russia to Cold War levels). ISIL guerrillas, mostly Chechens, fresh from combat in Syria and Iraq, have been discovered fighting for Ihor Kolomoisky’s Israeli- and neo-Nazi-led mercenary battalions against the pro-Russian forces of Donetsk and Lugansk in Eastern Ukraine.

ISIL has, conveniently for the West, attacked Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The Taliban declared ISIL’s self-declared caliphate as illegitimate, and its caliph leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who may be an artificial product of the CIA’s and Mossad’s psychological warfare units, to be a fraud. The Taliban became alarmed as some of its members broke ranks with the jihadist movement and joined ISIL in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, ISIL declared the Taliban to be «kafirs», or unbelievers of Islam. In April, Al-Baghadi declared the Taliban’s Mullah Omar to be «a fool and illiterate warlord.» It is no coincidence that ISIL’s rhetoric about the enigmatic Taliban leader matches nicely with that issued forth by the U.S. military psy-ops units in Afghanistan at the height of the U.S. military intervention in that country. In mid-June, ISIL released a video tape showing its forces decapitating a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan.

ISIL has, also, in concert with increasing U.S. military pressure on China and North Korea, declared jihad or holy war on the two Asian nations. In May, a North Korean couple, who worked as doctors at the local hospital in Zallah, Libya, were taken captive by ISIL in Libya. No word has been received on the fate of the North Korean husband and wife medical duo. In January, ISIL computer hackers, known as the «Cyber Caliphate», claimed credit for altering the Facebook page of Air Koryo, North Korea’s state-owned airline. ISIL’s black and white flag was pasted on the Facebook page with a statement calling North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un «a crying pig.» The ISIL hackers also had a warning for both North Korea and China: «North Korea, the communist thug nation, and the Chinese communist thugs will pay a price for their collaboration with the enemies of the mujahideen».

ISIL propaganda rhetoric about China and North Korea also coincide with pronouncements emanating from the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii about the military threats posed by Beijing and Pyongyang. North Korea has responded to the ISIL threats by providing the Type 73 machine gun, manufactured by the First Machine Industry Bureau of North Korea to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces fighting against ISIL in Iraq. North Korean military advisers are also believed to be assisting Syrian government and Lebanese Hezbollah forces battling ISIL in Syria. South Korea, which never misses an opportunity to confront North Korea militarily, permitted a South Korean citizen, known only by the very common Korean name «Kim», to join ISIL ranks in Syria in February. It is more likely that «Kim» is a South Korean intelligence agent who is responsible for coordinating ISIL attacks on North Korean assets in the region, including the North Korean medical couple in Libya.

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro, who the CIA is busy trying to overthrow, called ISIL a «Frankenstein, a monster nursed by the West itself» in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. Not coincidentally, as President Barack Obama declared that Venezuela posed a «national security threat» to the United States in March, there were reports of nascent ISIL activity in Venezuela. The U.S. Army War College, including Professor Robert Bunker, began issuing statements that increased ISIL activity in Venezuela would be good for U.S. national security because ISIL is the natural enemy of Hezbollah, which the U.S. neocons are claiming has gained a strategic toehold in Venezuela. The links between ISIL and the West in Latin America have not been lost on the Western Hemisphere’s sage senior statesman, former Cuban president Fidel Castro. In September 2014, Castro accused Israel’s Mossad, in league with Senator McCain, of helping to create ISIL.

The ultimate perpetrators of ISIL’s ravaging of the Middle East are not to be found in the deserts of the Middle East and the mountains of Afghanistan but in the seventh floor director’s suite at CIA headquarters in Langley. In 1985, the same year the CIA sponsored the summit of right-wing terrorist groups in Jamba, Angola, the CIA tried to kill Lebanon’s Shi’a Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadl-Allah with a car bomb in Beirut. The CIA missed the ayatollah but killed 80 innocent people and wounded 256. Today, the CIA allows ISIL to get its fingers dirty in carrying out such terrorist attacks from Iraq and Syria to Yemen and Libya. ISIL cannot be brought to its knees without dealing harshly with Mr. Brennan and his top advisers.

“Under pressure from superiors to show ‘positive’ results and boost body counts in their war against guerrillas, soldiers and officers abducted victims or lured them to remote locations under false pretenses — such as with promises of work — killed them, placed weapons on their lifeless bodies, and then reported them as enemy combatants killed in action”

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In a twisted attempt to show battlefield success against FARC rebels, the Colombian military killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians between 2002 and 2008, falsely depicting them as slain combatants, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

The killings, known as “false positives,” were the source of a huge scandal in 2008, but the new report alleges that the practice was far more extensive and systematic than previously known. Many of Colombia’s highest-ranking military officials either condoned the practice or did nothing to stop it, according to the rights group.

“Under pressure from superiors to show ‘positive’ results and boost body counts in their war against guerrillas, soldiers and officers abducted victims or lured them to remote locations under false pretenses — such as with promises of work — killed them, placed weapons on their lifeless bodies, and then reported them as enemy combatants killed in action,” the report states.

The killings amount to “one of the worst episodes of mass atrocity in the Western Hemisphere in recent decades,” according to the group.

An advance copy of the report was provided to The Washington Post. Human Rights Watch investigators said they would announce their findings Wednesday in Bogota and present them to President Juan Manuel Santos, who is attempting to negotiate a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to end the hemisphere’s longest-running civil conflict.

The report comes at a time of flagging public support for the peace negotiations, now in their third year, taking place in Havana. The talks have made more progress than any previous attempt at armistice, but the two sides have yet to resolve key issues related to troop demobilization and what punishment, if any, the insurgents will face.

False-positive killings allegedly peaked during the period described in the report, when then-President Álvaro Uribe escalated the fight against FARC and took back large swaths of rebel-held territory. Santos served as defense secretary under Uribe between 2006 and 2009, but the two men are now political archrivals.

During that time, commanding officers placed heavy emphasis on “combat kills” as a measure of military success, the report says, in some cases rewarding troops with cash payments and vacation time.

Soldiers abducted rural peasants, drug addicts, the homeless and petty criminals, killing them and dressing them in combat fatigues, then filling out bogus battlefield reports to pad fatality numbers.

“What makes these crimes unique is that they were not about eliminating political opponents or supposed guerrilla sympathizers; they were basically about killing civilians just to boost body count stats in the war on guerrillas,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch.

“What this says about the conflict is that impunity has become so cemented in Colombia that the army believed it could get away with flagrant and systematic murder on a large scale,” he said. “Army officers clearly felt emboldened to kill civilians without any consequences.”

The killings have subsided since 2008, when the false-positives scandal erupted after the abduction and killing of 19 young men from a Bogota slum. The army’s top commander was forced to resign, and three army generals and nearly a dozen officers were fired. Santos, then defense secretary, pledged to investigate.

But the Human Rights Watch report says other military officers have been promoted since, despite evidence of extrajudicial killings under their command. Colombian prosecutors are investigating more than 3,000 allegations of false-positive killings, the report said. Although about 800 soldiers have been charged, most of them are lower-ranking.

The report notes that the current head of Colombia’s armed forces and the top army official formerly led brigades that are alleged to have committed dozens of extrajudicial killings.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a longtime critic of U.S. military aid flowing to Colombia despite evidence of rights violations, said that he was “deeply troubled” by the report and that it should force a new look at U.S. security assistance.

“As we provided billions of dollars in aid to the Colombian army over many years, its troops systematically executed civilians,” Leahy said in a statement to The Post.

“We have supported the Colombian military because the country has been threatened by an insurgency,” he said. “But unless Colombia’s military leaders are people of integrity, it will be difficult to continue to support an institution that engaged with impunity in a pattern of gross violations of human rights.”

The report urges Santos and his government to do more to protect witnesses testifying in false positive cases, assign more prosecutors to investigate them and go after higher-ranking officers who may bear responsibility, among other measures.

South Carolina ground zero for the neo-Confederates…

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Dylann Storm Roof’s massacre of nine African-American congregants of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, including its pastor, Democratic state senator Clementa Pinckney, is not an aberration for a state like South Carolina. Even as South Carolina GOP Governor Nikki Haley shed what can only be termed “crocodile tears” over the terrorist attack on the historical African-American church where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached, the State House’s Confederate flag flew at full staff after the U.S. and South Carolina flags were lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of the massacre. Roof, who sported a novelty license plate with Confederate flags on his car and flags of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia on his jacket, found himself at home in a state where neo-Confederate racist groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the League of the South find no shortage of members.

Not far from the Confederate flag flying at the State House in Columbia is a statue of 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidate and long-time segregationist U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond. South Carolinians also form the core of the neo-Confederate cause in Washington, DC. When President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009, it was Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), a member of the SCV, who shouted “You lie!” twice from the floor of the House of Representatives. Wilson is but one of many unreconstructed confederates who hail from South Carolina and carry out the cause of the Confederacy and all of its modern-day gimmickry, including support for the small arms manufacturing lobby, in the nation’s capital.

One of the chief support mechanisms for the neo-Confederates is the SCV, which just lost a case at the U.S. Supreme Court that sought to overturn a ban by the state of Texas against Texas license plates bearing the SCV logo and the Confederate flag.

On August 17, 206, WMR exposed the links of the SCV to the Washington power structure: “The most recent filing from 2006 also lists some other interesting players in SCV 305 [Sons of Confederate Veterans Jefferson Davis Camp #305]. They include Thomas Moore, a director. Moore, a graduate of The Citadel in South Carolina and a native South Carolinian, is listed as a consultant for American Business Development Group (A-BDG), a defense lobbying group, and the Washington agent for the Belgian company Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FN), described in his A-BDG resume as ‘the world’s leading manufacturer of military small arms.’ Moore previously served as the director for defense studies at the right-wing Heritage Foundation [South Carolina’s Republican Senator Jim DeMint resigned in 2012 to become the president of the Heritage Foundation] and, from 1992 to 1995, worked as a staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee where his portfolio mainly included issues dealing with the anti-ballistic missile defense system, the pet project of Donald Rumsfeld who headed the commission that urged a return to Star Wars defense systems. In fact, from 1988 to 1992, Moore served in the Reagan Defense Department where he acted as the Strategic Defense Initiative liaison to the Congress. FN Manufacturing’s U.S. headquarters is located in Columbia, South Carolina.”

The SCV also reportedly has on its organizational rolls a secretive camp named for John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, at which select members of the camp meet during state and national conventions of the SCV.

Our August 17, 2006 report on violent extremists within the SCV continued: “An examination of SCV 305’s articles of incorporation, filed on July 21, 1993 with the District of Columbia, reveals among its original seven directors were, in addition to [Voice of America’s Charles] Goolsby, was Lewis Doherty, listed with the ‘Western Heritage Fund’ located at 107 S. West Street, Suite 180, Alexandria, Virginia. Doherty is also listed, with Goolsby, as one of the three incorporators. Doherty is now a key player with the neo-Nazi National Alliance, headquartered in Hillsboro, West Virginia. It is ironic that Goolsby, who tracks terrorists for the VOA, consorts with the likes of Doherty who represents a violent and terroristic neo-Nazi organization that served as a magnet for Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bomber Timothy McVeigh.”

Dylann Storm Roof may have been the sole perpetrator of the terrorist attack on the Wednesady night prayer meeting at “Mother Emanuel” Church in Charleston, but from Governor Haley and down through the South Carolina congressional delegation, state legislature, and neo-Confederate groups thriving in the state, he had plenty of psychological aiders and abettors. They also bear a high degree of guilt for the mass murder in Charleston as they stand before the court of public opinion.

The inside story of how ISIL destroyed Al Qaeda from within…

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NERMEEN SHAIKH: A year ago this month fighters from the Islamic State declared they had established a caliphate in the territories they controlled in Iraq and Syria. Since then, the Islamic State has continued to grow, building affiliates from Afghanistan to West Africa, while recruiting new members from across the globe. In response, President Obama has sent thousands of U.S. troops back to Iraq. The deployment of another 450 troops was announced on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the rise of the Islamic State has reshaped the jihadist movement in the region, essentially bringing al-Qaeda to the brink of collapse.

AMY GOODMAN: According to a new investigation by The Guardian, the Islamic State has successfully launched a coup against al-Qaeda to destroy it from within. The Islamic State began as al-Qaeda’s branch in the heart of the Middle East, but was excommunicated in 2014 after disobeying commands from al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. While the Islamic State has since flourished, The Guardian reports al-Zawahiri is now largely cut off from his commanders and keeping the group afloat through little more than appeals to loyalty. The Guardian also reports the United States has been slow to grasp the implications of al-Qaeda’s decline and possible collapse. Joining us now from London is Shiv Malik, lead author on The Guardian investigation headlined, “How Isis Crippled al-Qaeda.” Shiv, if you could talk about, well, just how ISIS crippled al-Qaeda and your meeting in Jordan with the leading al-Qaeda theorists.

SHIV MALIK: This is been going on for a while now, for a couple of years at least. From the outside, we get little pictures. You hear these skirmishes that have been going on. You hear that, sort of, ISIS has killed a few other members of al-Qaeda, the, sort of, Syrian branch of al-Qaeda called Jabhat al-Nusra. There was a big confrontation last year in January 2014 in which thousands died. But the real inside story of this comes from just actually a few players, really. Thankfully, we were able to interview Muhammad al-Maqdisi and another guy called Abu Qatada. To British people, he’s quite famous because he lived here for many years and home secretary here — actually, various home secretaries tried to deport him over a process of almost 10 years to Jordan to face terrorism charges.

He was acquitted of those eventually. But, he’s been described as, kind of, al-Qaeda’s spiritual — or Bin Laden’s spiritual ambassador in Europe. And Maqdisi, who’s actually little known in the west is actually more senior than Qatada in regards to al-Qaeda. What they have been doing is, actually, behind-the-scenes, kind of negotiating between al-Qaeda and ISIS, trying to bring these people back to the table. And they finally gave up about, sort of, six months ago or thereabouts, because they all used to be one family. It used to be, if you want, the al-Qaeda family. So that is the story that we got from them. Which is this process of, about over two years, of how ISIS has sort of risen to take the mantle of the leadership of the global jihad, if you want, from al-Qaeda.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And Shiv Malik, could you explain how you came to research this story and you went to Jordan to speak to these two figures? Could you talk a little about that?

SHIV MALIK: Yeah. So Maqdisi and Qatada are, kind of, for obvious reasons — both have — well Maqdisi also has, sort of, terrorist convictions, but they’re in and out of prison all the time. As you can imagine. Maqdisi without charge. He’s just, sort of, taken by Jordanian security services and, sort of, locked up. But he was released in February again, and so we went to visit him then, sort of soon afterwards. And then we carried on interviewing him. We’ve got — there’s a big team of investigators that were on this piece, and so we continued to interview him and ask him questions. And actually, when you meet him, you don’t really know what you’re going to get. This guy is the spiritual godfather of al-Qaeda and Zawahiri counts him as a personal friend. He’s been mentor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He mentored him, and Zarqawi is the founder of ISIS if you want. He mentored him for five years in prison, and Zarqawi then went on, of course, to create absolute havoc in Iraq in 20013, beheading people, massacring Shia’s by the thousands.

So you don’t know what to expect. But when you meet him, he is a very interesting guy. He is completely energetic, enthusiastic, he’s almost childlike in his enthusiasm for talking about almost anything. His hands flail all over the place. He’s rake thin. And he’s got a real sense of humor, which sort of throws you; you don’t really know what to do. Qatada, on the other hand, is this very large, lumbering man and he’s very tall, and, physically, in that sense, quite intimidating. It’s hard to grasp just how big this guy is from some of the pictures that we have. He speaks very quietly and almost has, like, Marlon Brando in The Godfather but slightly higher pitched. And he pauses a lot. They make an odd pair, if you want. But, we went to speak to them, and they were both very upset. They’ve spent — their life’s work has basically breen bringing to jihadis under one banner. And for that, that was al-Qaeda. So al-Qaeda is not just an organization, which we know has been incredibly ruthless and bloody and plotting away at terrorism events around the globe, they’re also an idea. And the idea is twofold.

First, and we often look at this from the Western perspective, but these guys have their own agency. So the first part of this is that al-Qaeda was created as a kind of failure, a response to the failures of kind of local jihadist issues going back to the 1980’s and 1990’s and Algeria, for example, being a failure and Afghanistan. So the idea is that they would all come together under one banner and they would attack and they would put their focus on America. Because they said, this theory was — look, attack the snakes head, if you want. And so that’s what they did. And they planned against that, obviously, culminating most viscously in September 11.

The scholars then — this was their idea. But the second part of this is there is also a vanguard for a revolutionary idea of setting up the caliphate. Those who are [indiscernible] with, kind of, what happened with the Communist movement will know about vanguardist organizations — but the idea is that they educate the people to accepting the notion of an Islamic state and then they eventually, one day, set it up. So this is what al-Qaeda has meant for these two scholars. Isis had been quietly bubbling away. They have alway been — they have been a branch of — they’ve been al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq. That’s the best way to think of them. And they have been for a very long time. The most troublesome branch as well. They, kind of, don’t listen to orders, don’t take criticism very well, won’t listen to anyone. Bin Laden had problems with them and we know that from the Abadabad documents that have come out, the tranche of documents that were seized when Americans went in and killed bin Laden in 2011 in May. But we also know this from, then, subsequently what’s happened and what Zawahiri has said publicly. So they have been very troublesome.

At one point, the piece was broken, if you want, when when ISIS sent — when the Syrian civil war started, they sent some people into Syria, and they said, we’ll grab some turf, we’ll start a branch there. And the people who then went on to lead that bunch of rebels, fighting against Assad, when on to become incredibly powerful. And ISIS in Iraq say, we’re a bit threatened by this, I’ll tell you what, we’ll just create a merger. It’s that point that — it was basically a bit of a power play over territory and patches of land and who would control what — Zawahiri steps in and says, actually, let’s just put things back to where they were. Baghdadi steps up and says, no way. You know what, we’re not going to do this. We don’t need you, old man in Waziristan, anymore. And if you tell us otherwise, we’re just not going to listen to you.

So that’s what starts a giant civil war, basically, and eventually it gets to the point where, as I said in January 2014, just all hell breaks loose. And jihadis just keep killing jihadis and veterans from al-Qaeda are killed, and people in ISIS are killed, and it’s incredibly messy. It’s almost impossible to keep track of. We spent a very long time trying to piece together bit by bit which villages ISIS were taking over, who was getting killed when, who was saying what. At one point, they even killed —- ISIS ended up killing Zawahiri’s emissary which he’d sent over to make peace; they killed him too. So it was incredibly vicious and incredibly bloody. In step with scholars -—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, very soon —- Shiv Malik -—

SHIV MALIK: Yes.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Very soon after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, there was already a split, a falling out between Maqdisi whom you spoke to and Zarqawi, who was initial leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the so-called — the precursor to ISIS. So could you talk about what the ideological divisions are between these two groups and in particular, focus what their position came to be on the recruitment of former Baath leaders within this movement, the position of ISIS versus the position of al-Qaeda, what it had been and what it became?

SHIV MALIK: In terms of ideological divisions, the big division came when ISIS set up this caliphate. They declared this caliphate, and they said al-Qaeda is supposed to be the vanguardis organization and there they are, ISIS, setting up a caliphate and saying, you know, the revolution is complete. We’ve done it. We have set up the caliphate. We have got there finally. And that has also made, in that sense, al-Qaeda, a bit redundant. They managed, ISIS, to hold onto this caliphate for a whole year now, almost; we’re coming up to the anniversary in a couple of weeks. Which is remarkable. So that is certainly one ideological difference. And with that, they have been able to — ISIS has been able to capture the imagination of young radicals and who had already been susceptible to this, and also the funders. The money and the men, the prestige it all going to ISIS at this point in time. And al-Qaeda then was being drained of all of that; of that pool. So they have been really left on the back foot.

Now, these scholars are saying, Maqdisi and Qatada that we spoke to, have said, look, actually, these guys aren’t the real deal. And that’s why they, sort of, stepped in. They said, we’re the elite scholarship. If you’re more than gangsters, and you’re ideologues, then you’ve got to listen to us because we are the people who wrote the books. So they stepped in and ISIS basically, completely — there was a long period of time when they thought maybe there could be some reconciliation. Baghdadi actually wrote a letter to Maqdisi and said, please, come join us in the caliphate. Come see what it’s like, judge for yourself.

There was some suggestion from these two when we interviewed them that if they went they would never come back; they might get killed. So they’re also, obviously, sort of frightened as well. And there was a situation as well — a security situation in Jordan — where, again, these two might get bumped off because they had been so critical of ISIS. Someone might just appear masked and gunned them down. So there’s been that, as I said, that fact aside — but ultimately, they want the same thing in the end, and these are to Westerners certainly, very petty ideological differences.

AMY GOODMAN: Shiv Malik, this may sound like a far out question, but could you see any scenario in which the U.S. would side with al-Qaeda against ISIS?

SHIV MALIK: Not really. And they shouldn’t. It is not like al-Qaeda are friends of America by any means. In fact, they’re still very much focused on attacking America. And that’s how they — this is where they find their niche now. If their marketplace has been closed down for them by ISIS, some of it anyway, then they, again, they reformulate themselves on doubling what they did before, which is to attack the West and gain, if you want, prestige from that, to appeal to their own base. And that should be very worrying for the West.

Now, that doesn’t mean that America should simply carry on focusing on al-Qaeda and not re-gear its intelligence machine, its military machine towards Isis. If you were wondering what’s a greater threat, ISIS certainly is. And the reason is, is because, as I mentioned before, they have a patch of land. It’s actually a very sizable territory with a massive city of a couple million people in Mosul in Iraq which they are in charge of. And this is very worrying because this idea is now real. They’ve managed to say to the world, actually, we’ve held it for a year. We’ve even expanded it by taking Ramadi, which is another major city in Iraq, and, look, clearly, God’s on our side. These people are, in that sense, people of faith and religion. And if the caliphate carries on existing it must be that we’re on the winning side. So America should re-gear. And what they’ve announced already, what seems to have been reported was, you know, they’re going to send over a few other thousand people over to Iraq, or a couple of hundred over as extra advisors to advise the Iraqi army. I’m not sure if that will be enough but we’ll see.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And before we conclude, Shiv Malik, could you talk about the significance of the civil war in Syria in precipitating the self proclaimed Islamic State’s rise and the collapse or near collapse of al-Qaeda?

SHIV MALIK: The Civil War has allowed for chaos and in that sense — these people are sort of like gangsters or drug dealers. They need turf, and they need turf so they can get money and, as I said, recruits. And it’s like a business in that sense, it has to keep itself going. And Syria provided that field once the revolution broke out, Assad then brutally put people down and killed them and slaughtered them. And then people decided to arm themselves and that created chaos. Then, in stepped, as I said, in stepped ISIS, who were over the border, or ISI, as they were known then, and sent people over to, sort of, take advantage of all of this. So in that sense, they have taken advantage completely of what has been going on, but that is not to say that people shouldn’t want to resist Assad. They should, you know. He’s been using chemical weapons and certainly chlorine bombs on his population. He is a despicable dictator. So the question — it is a complete mess. And someone at some point is going to have to step in, whether it’s European and American forces or something else. And sort that out. But until then, as I said, ISIS will certainly take advantage of it. And they’re doing well out of it financially.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you, Shiv Malik, for joining us, investigative reporter at The Guardian, lead author of their new in-depth report, “How Isis crippled al-Qaeda: The inside story of the coup that has brought the world’s most feared terrorist network to the brink of collapse.” Shiv was speaking to us in London. We’ll link to that piece at democracynow.org