#SydneySiege: a personal guide on how to be an idiot.

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How to Be An Idiot;

in Times of Crisis

       

#SydneySiege

Go stand as close as possible to an area threatened with a potential bomb. Make sure it has an ongoing hostage scenario for maximum exposure. Then turn your back on the Swat Team behind you and take a quick #Selfie. Make to sure to post it to as many social media sites as possible. Include the trending #Hashtag so others can retweet your location and all the details where first responders are. Not only have you increased your exposure online, you are also giving away vital intelligence to your supporters and the supporters of the gunmen (terrorist groups, etc), so they can more accurately target you and the police teams working to protect you. Professional media crews are hard at work doing the same thing as you, so be proactive and tweet your photos directly to them too. 

Great Job! You have completed,  “An Idiots Guide; 101″.

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Nothing as famous as spreading Intel to the bad guy. 

Terrorists will Retweet You Too!

(Tweet Below from ISIS)

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Who Is #ShamiWitness?

The Story of Shami Witness

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Those of you reading this post will probably know by now of the latest viral story to hit social media: namely, the revelation of the true identity of the most prominent Islamic State (IS) fanboy on Twitter by the pseudonym of ‘Shami Witness.’ Originally using the name ‘El Saltador’ (Spanish for ‘the jumper': a Western cultural reference that escapes my recall), he emerged on the Twitter scene around the beginning of 2013. At that time, he would often try to engage certain, more prominent Twitter users on issues related to the Islamic world, myself among them. For instance, one of his first tweets to me was to criticise a rather inane tweet I had written on a ‘Bangladesh Spring’ victory over Islamists.

His perspective was clearly that of an Islamist but- undoubtedly through prior tracking of social media- he seemed to have a broad knowledge of Syria’s Sunni insurgency with a particular focus on Salafi and jihadi groups, something that extended to Libya in particular and the wider Muslim world (also in his very early days, he had marketed himself out as an analyst on Libya, and had told a colleague of mine that he was a person of Libyan origin in the UK). Other indications of his Islamist leanings in those earlier times were his support for the Ikhwan-led government in Egypt- his main line of defence being that none of the Ikhwan’s opponents could necessarily do a better job at governance (not an unreasonable argument)- and his cheering on of Erdogan during the Gezi Park protests that erupted in May 2013. It was of course during this same period (i.e. April 2013 onwards) that IS’ predecessor the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) emerged: at that early stage of ISIS’ existence it would not necessarily be fair to characterize him as an ISIS partisan. On the contrary he was more keen on the notion of ‘Islamic rebel/jihadi unity’, so to speak: something that could include ISIS. In short, his worldview was of an Islamist who at least had hope in the gradualist non-violent Islamisation projects of Erdogan and the Ikhwan in Egypt while showing sympathy for jihadis more generally. At this time too (i.e. late spring-early summer 2013), I had given him credit for correctly identifying that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had appointed Omar al-Shishani as ISIS’ ‘northern’ amir in Syria, which was vindicated later in open source material.

Two events mark key points in Shami’s transformation from an apparently rather standard Islamist to the IS fanboy as so many have come to know him. Of course, taking perhaps a more Tacitean cynical view of him, one might argue that he was a hardline IS/ISIS etc. fan all along and merely used a more ‘moderate’ Islamist veneer to gain standing and credibility. Not having met him in real life, I do not wish to speculate along such lines. In any event, presenting his evolution as appeared on his Twitter timeline is worthwhile. The first event was the coup against the Ikhwan-led government, which enraged him considerably. Yet even after this point, he had not yet become a full-blown ISIS partisan, but rather was still willing to give credence to forces like Jabhat al-Nusra (Syria’s al-Qa’ida affiliate) and the Islamic Front coalition, which contrasts him with other prominent hardline ISIS fans at the time (most notably, @zhoof21, about whom more later). Thus, the second main turning point was the outbreak of infighting between ISIS and rebel groups at the start of 2014. This completes his definite public transformation into the ISIS/IS fanboy. It is also this stage, it should be noted, where many of the other pro-jihadi Twitter users take more definite sides in contrast to a previous attempt at jihadi brotherology. For example, Abdullah al-Ansari, who had expressed a personal preference for Jabhat al-Nusra but was willing to advertise ISIS material in 2013, turned strongly against ISIS, as did the user who called himself @troublejee.

Prior to January 2014, I had given Shami two opportunities for guest posts, one on the emergence of ‘Jaysh al-Islam’ (in which post he expressed approval of Jaysh al-Islam as a legitimate Islamic force, even if he believed it was a largely just a new front name for already existing Liwa al-Islam affiliates) and the other for his more general view of where jihadis fitted into the Syrian civil war dynamics. I had also made clear that those views were not indicative of my own, and my own published articles diverged quite sharply from his, something of which he himself was aware. For instance, my own view on the outbreak of infighting in Syria is that ISIS abused the welcome they had received from many rebels particularly those of Salafi leaning who wanted to entertain notions of ISIS as their ‘brothers’, whereas IS fanboys claim it was all part of a Western and Saudi-backed sinister conspiracy.

Nor will the spin of Shami or other IS fans convince me that jizya is anything other than Mafia-style extortion (a view I have always held). Shami’s own recognition of the sharp differences was what prompted him to request me to remove his guest posts from my site, believing it would only cause me trouble. It was his general courteousness towards me that led me to dub him a ‘friend’ despite not knowing him personally. Further, the status he gained meant that if ‘bro Shami’ approved of me, then the other IS fanboys on Twitter had reason not to harangue me: eventually though, in May a number of IS fanboys got on to my double game with some of them and purported to expose me as a‘closet Jew’.

For all this, a mea culpa is the appropriate response. Those who say that Shami’s rise was partly facilitated by analysts giving him space to express his views are right: regardless of agreeing with his views or not, his prominence was increased.

But what of Shami’s wider role? Was the account used to ‘recruit for ISIS’ as CNN claims? Does his account’s deletion mean a ‘victory’ against IS? Here is my assessment:

1. It would not really be accurate to characterize Shami so much an ‘IS source’ as much as a ‘disseminator’, as Peter Neumann of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization puts it. The main scoop I can trace to Shami is the one mentioned above re. Omar al-Shishani’s appointment. The only other instance in which I can perhaps credit him for original information was on Liwa Thuwar Raqqa’s relationship with Jabhat al-Nusra in Raqqa, which, as it turned out, had always been troublesome, culminating in a formal expulsion of Liwa Thuwar Raqqa from Jabhat al-Nusra. If one looks back on Shami’s Twitter feed, as more and more official IS venues of information on Twitter emerged, much of the time he was simply retweeting. Shami’s role can therefore also be described as an ‘aggregator’ of IS content, something he also did in the days before official IS(IS) provincial news feeds and the like.

Aggregation of official material and other IS-related news is a sure way to attract foreign fighters on Twitter to follow you, even if the tone is not necessarily pro-IS. Fighting on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, where Internet access is intermittent at best, other duties occupy your time and the conflict is heavily localized, it can very difficult for a foreign fighter to get an idea of the overall picture unless he turns to an outside disseminator.

2. Shami’s role in a supposed ‘coordinated’ campaign of advancing IS propaganda- as well as his real influence- can be overstated. That is not to say that unofficial pro-IS accounts can’t run coordinated promotion campaigns (as we will see below), but Shami does not appear to have been part of such initiatives. Rather, like @zhoof21, he just came across as a very motivated fan and disseminator. Incidentally, whereas Shami had the public transformation from standard Islamist to hardcore IS supporter, @zhoof21’s subsequent account appears to have gone in the opposite direction, becoming a mere tweeter on ‘tawheed’ (‘monotheism’) and dropping the IS flag from his Twitter profile picture.

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Once a prominent ISIS disseminator in Arabic: @zhoof21, now @zhoof1 following suspension. Still ‘the jihadi spring’ but now completely avoiding IS content and solely tweeting on ‘tawheed’.

Other indications pointing away from the notion of IS somehow coordinating with Shami were Shami’s occasional divergences from IS positions. Most notably, he attempted to downplay the idea that IS had enslaved Yezidis- something IS later proudly admitted to in ‘Dabiq’ magazine (I had never doubted that Yezidis were at least being traded as slaves in a personal capacity). This followed on from a few IS Twitter users already boasting of the notion of Yezidi slaves.

As for Shami and the question of recruitment, no definite case has yet been shown to demonstrate that a foreign fighter/would-be recruit ended up joining/trying to join IS because he had been following Shami’s tweets or had interacted with Shami on direct messaging. Evidence in this regard can only be gleaned from the testimony of foreign fighters or would-be recruits. It will be of interest to see what emerges, if anything.

3. Despite his prominence, towards the end of his Tweeting career Shami had begun to attract reservations and suspicion among some IS supporters. Journalist Aris Roussinos remarked on Twitter recently: “Tbh I assumed @ShamiWitness was being kept alive as a honeypot” (i.e. to lure and trap would-be IS recruits). Not a wholly unreasonable hypothesis. One of the most glaring questions was that amid the Twitter crackdown on IS and pro-IS accounts that saw IS kicked off Twitter in an official capacity and some other prominent IS fanboys deleted multiple times, Shami’s account endured. Why? I had at first thought this was because Shami had perhaps exercised a degree of caution in his tweeting: avoiding to tweet the IS beheadings of Western hostages, perhaps? But in fact, I learnt from the Channel 4 expose that he had tweeted the video featuring Peter Kassig’s beheading multiple times. So what gives?

4. Amid the excitement about the disappearance of one of the most prominent IS-supporting accounts on Twitter, it is easy to become Anglophone-centric and forget that the majority of IS’ foreign fighters are from the Arab world, and that Arabic language recruitment is ultimately of greater importance to IS. In this regard, there is still an active, coordinated campaign by Arabic IS-unofficial media support outlets, regularly retweeting and disseminating IS material while also releasing their own co-produced content in support of IS. An archive of those outlets can be found here. Some of these groups include al-Nusra al-Maqdisia (‘Maqdisi [Palestinian] Support’), ‘The Media Front to Support IS’ and Fresh Air Media.

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A recent joint nasheed production by Maqdisi Support and Fresh Air Media in support of IS: “From Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] we support you/give you victory.’

Speaking of Shami’s own native country in India, a local jihadi outfit- Ansar al-Tawheed, which pledged allegiance to IS in October- has also had its media wing busy in actively disseminating IS material in Indian subcontinent languages.

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Ansar al-Tawheed’s media wing- Isabah Media- recently released Baghdadi’s November speech ‘And even if the disbelievers hate’ in, among other languages, Urdu and Hindi.

These non-English/Western language campaigns for IS, which have generally continued unabated, unsurprisingly attract less attention because the media focus on social media is on recruitment of Westerners. Overlooking the Arabic side of IS’ foreign fighters recruitment base and contingents risks missing out on a big part of the story of IS’ growth.

Ultimately, the fundamental problem we face is that there is simply too much IS material being disseminated too rapidly for Twitter and social media to catch up to crack down comprehensively, for all the ‘degradation’ of IS’ official capacity to propagate on Twitter. This would seem to be the price of the world of open access social media. Hopefully, the Muslim world within in particular can develop counter-narratives.

Note: This is reposted from the Joshua Landis Blog, by permission of the author Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. E

Veteran Suicides: A Terrible Toll



by Jeff Seeber, Director
Military Salute Project
September 25, 2013


Republished by Go Global Media (12DEC2014)

Media reports earlier this year about Veteran suicides typically ran the headline “22 Veterans take their own lives every day”. Because of the way suicides are reported in the United States, the actual number is probably double. Instead of a Veteran committing suicide every 65 minutes, it’s much more likely that a Veteran dies by his or her own hand every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year.

The “22 per day” figure released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in February, 2013 is based on the agency’s own data and statistics reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011. Those 21 states represent about 40% of America’s population. The two largest states, California and Texas, and the fifth-largest state, Illinois, did not make their data available.

There is no uniform reporting system for deaths in America. It’s usually up to a funeral director or a coroner to enter Veteran status and suicide on a death certificate. Veteran status is a single question on the death report, and there is no verification of it from the Department of Defense or the VA.

More than 34,000 suicides from the 21 states that reported data to the VA were discarded because the state death records failed to indicate whether the deceased was a Veteran. That’s 23% of the recorded suicides from those states. Therefore, the study looked at about 77% of the recorded suicides in only 40% of the U.S. population. Only 67% of female Veterans were identified. Younger or unmarried Veterans and those with lower levels of education are also more likely to be missed on a death certificate.

A homeless person who has no one to vouch for his or her Veteran status will not be counted. The families of some Veterans ask coroners to list the cause of death as something other than suicide because of the stigma associated with mental illness. If a Veteran intentionally crashes a car or dies of a drug overdose and leaves no note, that death is not counted as suicide. Also, “suicide by cop” is not counted in suicide data. The most prevalent method of suicide used by Veterans is prescription drug overdose, usually combined with alcohol. These deaths are often classified as accidental and not reported as a suicide.

Nearly 20% of suicides nationwide is a Veteran, even though Veterans make up under 10% of the population. The annual suicide rate among Veterans is about 30 for every 100,000 of the population, compared with the civilian rate of 14 per 100,000. The suicide rate for Veterans increased an average of 2.6% a year from 2005 to 2011, more than double the rate of increase for civilian suicide.

Nearly 70% of Veteran suicides occur among males 50 and older. Mental health professionals think that these men give up on life after their children are out of the house, a longtime marriage falls apart, or the Veteran contracts a serious or chronic illness. They are likely to be Vietnam Veterans who returned from war to a hostile public and an unresponsive VA. Many are diagnosed with one or more cancers related to Agent Orange. During and after the Vietnam War, combat stress was chalked up to being “crazy” and many Vietnam Veterans lived with ghosts in their heads without seeking help.

Even though older Veterans are more likely to commit suicide, the percentage of suicides by Veterans of America’s most recent wars increases annually. Between October, 2006 and June, 2013 the Veterans Crisis Line has received more than 890,000 calls, not including chats and text messages, with the number increasing every year.

More than 349 active-duty servicemembers committed suicide in 2012, or one every 25 hours. The Army sustained 182 suicides, surpassing the 176 soldiers killed in combat while serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. There were 60 suicides among Navy personnel, 59 in the Air Force and 48 in the Marine Corps. Not included were 110 pending reported suicides among active-duty personnel in 2012 that were still being investigated.

Throughout the United States military, suicides increased by nearly 16 percent from 2011 to 2012. A survey conducted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America revealed that 30% of servicemembers have considered taking their own life, and 45% said they know an Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran who has attempted suicide.

Based on 20 years of assisting Veterans to secure VA benefits and spending countless hours exchanging e-mails and messages with active-duty personnel and Veterans who are fighting depression or contemplating suicide, it is my opinion that peer-to-peer contact works best. All of the military branches have launched programs to encourage counseling, yet all of the branches still penalize many of those who seek help, despite the fact that the branches insist it no longer happens.

Very few VA mental health professionals have military experience, much less combat experience. That’s understandable because of the schooling required to attain medical credentials, but it’s less than helpful when dealing with a combat Veteran trying to explain the horrendous experiences of war. In addition, VA staff has a limited amount of time to deal with each patient. The system is designed to fail by its very nature.

Many situations can be gradually defused by LISTENING. Listening takes time. Neither military mental health professionals nor VA mental health professionals have the time that is required to spend with each patient. It’s much easier to prescribe medications and schedule a one-hour appointment for next week or next month. Far too often, those very medications are used to commit suicide.

While on active duty, and especially in combat, military personnel watch out for their buddies. They take care of each other. That’s the same process that can stem the flood of suicides, in my opinion. In fact, I think it is the ONLY way to slow the carnage.

The same applies to Veterans. Veterans need to stay in touch with each other so that they have someone to talk to who knows what they know and have seen what they saw. It is much more likely that a buddy will have the time, or will take the time, to listen to a friend in trouble. A friend will listen while a buddy rambles incoherently, cries, curses or whatever else needs to be done until the buddy reaches the point where he or she can begin to deal with the particular horror causing the immediate problem. If it takes hours, it takes hours. If it takes days, it takes days.

I am by no means suggesting that mental health professionals have no part to play. Of course, they do. Sometimes medications are absolutely necessary. Sometimes trained doctors can draw out problems that might not be service-related but are playing a part in the problem. But, expecting a Veteran to talk to someone who has never served or who has never been in a combat zone defies common sense.

Another major problem is that both the military and the VA are seriously understaffed. A Veteran considering suicide who happens to be ready to reach out for help simply can’t wait a week or a month for an appointment. The demons will consume the Veteran by then.

The overwhelming majority of Americans are obviously unwilling to adequately fund the Department of Veterans Affairs. Backlogged benefits cases, understaffed mental health and medical clinics, combined with waiting periods of weeks or months to gain access to clinics once the Veteran is declared eligible again threaten the medical and mental health of America’s Veterans just as it did from the 1970s into the 1990s. Most Americans enjoy their freedom, but they would rather not take care of those who provide those freedoms. Those of us who have worn a uniform must take care of our own.

If you are serving on active-duty, watch out for your buddies. If you are a Veteran, keep in contact with your buddies, whether by phone, social media, Veterans clubs or Veteran support groups. Check on them from time to time. Watch for signs of hopelessness, depression, sleeplessness, giving things away, sudden changes in drinking habits, secretive behavior and anything else you notice that might be different. When you notice something, say something. Try to get your buddy to talk, and then LISTEN. Just shut up and LISTEN. We must try to help each other because the other “solutions” simply are not working.


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The statistical information included herein was compiled from the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), CNN, NBC News and News21

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#Jihad, A Chronology of Related Events in #SouthAfrica

IMG_20141204_131932 Jihadi (ISIS) Support from South Africa (SA)

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South Africa is known for its great weather, Table Mountain, Nelson Mandela, Oscar Pistorius and Apartheid. The last thing one would ever associate with this beautiful country, is Jihad. Jihad means to strive, and can be related to effort, labour and fatigue. Essentially Jihadi is a struggle to practice religion when faced with oppression or persecution. The struggle may come in fighting the dark within the human soul or in standing up to a government or force which is oppressive, sometimes resulting in an armed struggle.

In the 1980s a man called Achmat Cassiem founded an organization called Qibla, a militant Shia group fueled by the occurrence of the Iranian Revolution. It supports Jihad and the founding of an Islamic State in South Africa. In the 80’s it is a well-known fact that Quibla sent its members to train in Libya, and later on in the 90s members were sent to Pakistan train and to Lebanon to fight Israeli Forces alongside Hezbolla. Qibla has since been labelled terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

South Africa’s stance on terrorism is something that is played down to a point one would think that terrorist oorganizations don’t exist here at all. I believe this is for two possible reasons. One is that the governing party, the ANC was itself for years labelled a terrorist organization. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, as the saying goes. Another is that it has taken a page from the history of our African brothers and sisters in Kenya. Their stance against terrorism has seen Kenya attacked and terrorized by Al-Shabaab.

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Al_Shabaab in Kenya, with Support in SA

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There has been a focus on in terrorist activity due to the corruption at the Department of Home Affairs and a banking system that isn’t investigated as thoroughly as in the USA. South Africa is seen as being a gateway for terrorist in it being easy to give them new identities, to send to Jihad. Alternatively, SA is used to bring Mujahideen home from jihad to give them new identities. A case in point is Samantha Linthwaite (aka “the White Widow”) who met, married and lived with her husband in South Africa, and then entered Kenya on a SA passport.

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Samantha Lewthwaite and Germaine Lindsay

ISIS and Qibla?

Link for information on Qibla (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qibla_%28group%29)

This is where it gets interesting. In conversation I had when writing this, it was pointed out, that groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-shabaab and Al-Qaeda conform to Salafi jihadism. Salafists who drive the jihadist agenda absolutely despise Shiites who they claimed to be kuffar. Qibla is a Shiite organization and therefore is, in the eyes of ISIS kuffar. In actuality Qibla members wouldn’t be joining ISIS. As we speak, ISIS and Hezbolla are having a go at each other. This being said it doesn’t mean that no South Africans are going off to Syria to join ISIS, or even Anti ISIS groups; there just hasn’t been any real evidence to support this.

Recently there have been reports that South African citizens are allegedly going to Syria to fight alongside ISIS. Allegedly 140 South Africans have already done so. State Security spokesman Brian Dube saying the following:

“We are forever vigilant and always working with our partners to try and get information which will assist us in the particular fight, but in this regard we can indicate that we are not aware of this specific report being mentioned.”

 

In a statement from Jamiat KwaZulu Natal’s General Secretary, Rafiek Mohamed, a warning was issued regarding ISIS recruitment in South Africa. “The emergence of ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant) on the world stage with the claim of establishing the Islamic Caliphate in the greater Middle-East region has attracted the interest among some youth, especially in the light of its amazing and rapid, yet mysterious, territorial gains.

Reliable reports have established that attempts are being made by unknown persons to recruit young men in South Africa to join the ISIS/ISIL in Iraq. The ISIS/ ISIL is headed by a person identified as Abu Bakr Bagdadi and who is calling for allegiance as the New Khalifa in the Ummah. As far as we know, Abu Bakr Baghdadi is not known or recognized by any group of Ulama in the Arab world.”

Twitter shows one of two things: there is, in fact, support for ISIS within SA by “fan boys”. Or there really are citizens taking up arms and going over.

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Screenshot_2014-12-04-18-47-18 (1)Twitter Screen Shots Provided by the Author, (06Dec2014)

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A conclusion can be made that there is at least some support for ISIS, with a video during Eid showing a supposed South African in the Islamic state, his accent sounds very un-South African, however the question must be asked. why mention a South African at all? Because there is a market for them to ISIS. Like advertising school stationary outside a high school your target market is right there.

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              Photo: screen grab from a propaganda video shows

Abu Shuaib al-Afriki – purportedly from South Africa – with his fifth daughter, encouraging his compatriots to flock to the cause of the Islamic State.

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How the South African Government deals with this is to remain a mystery. SA does not negotiate with terrorist, but rather leaves and allows the negotiating to NGOs like the Gift Of The Givers, as seen with Pierre Korkie and his wife Yolande, two South African citizens who were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen in May 2013. Yolande was released in January 2014 and Gift of the Givers negotiate her release.

*We have since learned that Pierre Korkie was fatally shot at close range by his AQ captors, during a US SEALs Special forces raid to recover and evacuate UK born US Photographer Luke Somers, Pierre Korkie, a UK Journalist and a Turkish Journalist, on the night of December 6, 2014. Both Somers and Korkie died. The two others remain ‘missing’. 

More extensive research is urgently needed by the South African Government to determine links to extremist activity within the country, as is quietly whispered about. Myself and many others have been watching this increasing trend very closely.

Chronology of Terror Related Events in South Africa

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06-09 Chronolgy of Terror Related Events in SA

03-06 Jihad; A South Africn Perspective

80-03 Chronology of Terror Related Incidents SA

Written By:  Tim Flack
for Go Global Media, Dec 7, 2014

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Bio:  Western Cape Organizer for the South African National Defense Union, the largest military trade union in the SANDF. M&G 2014 0606054562

South Africa

The Wife of the Islamic State: Saja #al-Dulaimi #al-Baghdadi

By Elijah J. Magnier 

Exclusive for Go Global Media

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Saja #al-Dulaimi #al-Baghdadi, Islamic State Wife

images1 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Caliph of Islamic State

 

Who is Saja al-Dulaimi?

6 month-pregnant woman? What would she be doing in Lebanon now that she is held with her 3 children Raja, Omar and Khaled at the Lebanese Ministry of Defense? What is her relationship with the self-declared “Islamic State” group Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

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A Lebanese Army Forces (LAF) General within the MoD told “Go Global Media” that “Saja al-Dulaimi arrived to Lebanon over a month ago under a false ID. Two weeks ago, she was about to leave the country through the northern Lebanese city of Madfoun when she was arrestedby the Lebanese Intelligence Service”. The officer confirmed “his service was tipped off by the US intelligence service after monitoring her communication exchange with Jihadists in Syria and Iraq”. “This kind of collaboration between the Lebanese services and the U.S services is common and ongoing on daily basis. The war against terror concerns us all”, he said.

 

iraq_isis_rebels_460But who is Saja al-Dulaimi? According to the DNA provided by the CIA to the Lebanese intelligence service, Saja wastravelling with the daughter of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Hajar. In fact, the same Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai, aka Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has been arrested by the U.S forces in Iraq in 2005 and held in Camp Bucca to be released in 2009. His DNA was rushed to Beirut and was positive on Rasha but not on the other two children. The officer in charge of the interrogation told Go Global Media Saja “is confrontational, rude and not delivering any information easily. She told us she is married to a Palestinian from Fath al-Islam – another Jihadi group – that she has met via social media and married. She is carrying his child. At this point today, we don’t have an absolute confirmation that she is Baghdadi’s ex-wife as she is claiming. DNA confirmed the girl, Raja, but not the other two boys”. Saja said to the interrogators that she has been married to Baghdadi for 3 months 6 years ago, which means just after his released from prison in Iraq.

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Saja insisted in keeping her three children with her, all together in one cell at the MoD. The 3 children are taken out in the sun to play several times every day. Interrogators are soft with Saja, leaving her alone until she decides to talk. So far, not much has been learned from her. “We don’t know if she was carrying money or meeting someone in Lebanon on behalf of the “Islamic State” group. Her presence is peculiar and we need to find out more about her visit to Lebanon. It must be important since she has been part of a hostages exchange deal last summer when the Maaloula nuns were released. Therefore, it was risky for her to come back in a country where she could be recognized. Obviously the risk could be worth it for the Jihadists since she is a trusted figure”, said the LAF General.

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Abu Baker al Baghdadi heads the self-declared Islamic State (IS), a group that has used brutal tactics, beheading his enemies, kidnapping civilians, selling Yazidi women, to overtake vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. He fashions himself as a spiritual authority as he leads his group to impose extreme form of Salafi Sharia law to any territory it touches punishing “nonbelievers” along the way.

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His two registered wives in Iraq are Asma Fawzi Mohammed al-Dulaimi and Israa Rajab Mahal Al-Qaisi. According to the Iraqi records there is no wife named Saja al-Dulaimi. IS certainly isn’t confirming anything.

 

But Saja has a long record among Jihadists.Her father is Hamid Ibrahim al-Dulaimi, killed in 2013 while fighting as an IS Emir is Syria. Her brothers Omar and Khaled are commanders in various Syrian fronts. Her sister Doa’ was arrested following a fail suicide attack in Erbil (Iraq) when her explosive-belt failed to blow in a residential area. She wanted to avenge her killed Jihadist husband. Saja’s first husband, Falah Ismail Jasem was also a Jihadists killed in 2010 in Iraq. She is after all a good catch.

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Written For Go Global Media By @EjmAlrai

Elijah J. Magnier Bio:

Al Rai Chief International Correspondant

Covering War Zones, ME, Africa & EU.

Russian-Chinese Naval Exercises in the Mediterranean?

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“In spring 2015, we may witness a naval exercise of Russia and China

…in the Mediterranean”.

It is yet a statement. However, if the exercise takes place, it will send relevant messages to Europe and the US. The global naval balance of power is shifting to China’s and Russia’s advance. Time for Europe to do something.

“We plan to conduct a regular joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean next spring,” said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to the Russian TASS news agency. (…) Shoigu did not specify the nature of the exercises but Russia and China completed a bilateral exercise in May. (Source: USNI)

 

Russian announcements have already to be taken with care, even though it came not out of nothing, but rather after meeting in Beijing. However, there have been plenty statements from Moscow, e.g. about naval presences in the South China Sea and the Caribbean or the construction of indigenous aircraft carriers, that never turned into reality. Moreover, there has not yet been an accompanying statement from Beijing.

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Chinese in the Gulf of Aden in October 2014.

It may be just a Russian hoax, nevertheless there is a realistic prospect in it. In spring 2015, China could do what has done with all its counter-piracy task forces. Once the mission in the Gulf of Aden is done and the new task force has arrived, the relieved task force will go for another duty before returning home. Hence, what we may see, is that 2-3 Chinese warships, one supply vessel and probably one submarine will transit Suez to meet with a Russian task force in Mediterranean (Med’).

The Russian task force will not consist out of more than 3-4 surface warships, few suppliers and 1-2 submarines. Do not expect a larger exercise. The Chinese are likely to insist on some kind of parity, because the world’s second largest power does not want be humiliated by looking like Russia’s junior partner.

Concerning the theater, the exercise will take place in the Eastern Med’. Russia and China have both been calling ports in Cyprus. Moreover, going to the Western Med’ will be too much for the Chinese and unnecessarily provoke the Europeans (although Beijing would probably not care). Russia’s interests, as already deployments since 2011 have shown, are also mainly in the Eastern Med’. After a couple of days, the exercise will be over and the Chinese will make their way to further port calls or immediately start their long way home.

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The Exercises’ Messages:

Russia’s naval deployment to Australia (Link)
The Sino-Russian exercise would add another point on the list of Russia’s increasing military assertiveness: Bomber and fighter flights in the Baltic, Black Sea, Caribbean, Pacific and North Atlantic, the show of force in the Eastern Med’, and the recent deployment to the South Pacific for the G20 Summit.

Moreover, the exercise will be a success of Russian lobbying in Beijing. My guess is that, due to the remaining tensions with the West, the initiative to join forces in the Med’ came from Moscow. Why should China ask for an exercise in the Med’ that it does not really need? Instead, with an eye on the continued Sino-Russian exercises in the Pacific, both countries will get what they are looking for. The PLAN gets its the practical training it needs in Asia and more experience in expeditionary deployments, while the Russian get the demonstration of political will in the Med’ they are looking for.

That Russia brings another rising power, hostile to Western values, to the Med’ is a message to Europe. Again, Moscow aims to stress that is back as a great power and that Europe is simply incapable of doing anything about it. Though Beijing intends to send a political message by a Med’ naval deployment, it will be about global reach and dedicated to Washington. There is no need for Beijing to send any naval messages to the Europeans, who are strategically irrelevant to China.

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Russia and China are Rising Naval Powers:

Sino-Russian exercise 2014 (Link)
Should the Sino-Russian exercise in the Med’ ever take place, it will be a remarkable illustration about global naval power shifts. While Europe has given up an effective presence East of Suez, except the counter-piracy task forces and an the UK SSN driving circles, Russia and Chinas start to step up combined on the global stage. That does not mean that Sino-Russian task forces will ever go to places to fight Falklands-Style Wars. However, it shows us, who has global ambitions and political will and who has not.

There is no further need to comment on Europe’s military decline. However, it is worth noting that China has left the rank of a Medium Regional Force Projection Navy, but has not yet arrived on the rank of Medium Global Force Projection (for the ranks see Grove 1990: 236-240). Instead, the PLAN is somewhere in between. The PLAN could be called a Major Regional, Minor Global Force Projection Navy. The same applies for Russia, although, except the sea-based nuclear force, China has already surpassed Russia in terms of naval power. China is building indigenous aircraft carriers, while Russia has to go shopping for helicopter carriers in France.

Perspectively, the key word in the Russian statement is “regular”. Given there would be annual Sino-Russian exercises in the Med’, it would be the ultimate naval humiliation for Europe. It would be an annual statement about Europe having effectively declined to a regional power being subject by global demonstrations of political will by others. However, we are far away from that. While Russia will remain interested in engaging the Chinese in the Med’, Beijing could easily conclude one day that they have learned enough lessons about expeditionary deployments and simply do not need the Russians anymore.

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How Europe Should React:

First of all, the exercise would be a Christmas gift in spring to NATO’s intelligence services. The US and Europeans should spy on the exercises with SIGINT, surveillance aircraft and submarines. Especially for the Europeans, it is a unique opportunity to learn about China’s and Russia’s capabilities, because they are incapable of gaining this information in the Pacific.

In addition, Europe should neither condemn nor ignore the exercise. As long as Russia and China exercise in international waters, there is nothing wrong with that. Instead, Europe should wish the Russians a safe trip home and ask to Chinese to come in for a friendly port visit. Greatness is better than grumbling, having a chat with the Chinese is better than by harsh press releases pushing them into Russia’s arms.

Moreover, Europeans should re-consider their absence from relevant global naval deployments. The political purpose therefore would be to make clear that Europe has still global interests that go beyond trade. Julian Lindley-French has rightly observed Europe’s retreat from power and the failure of Brussels’ wishful thinking. Hence, the geopolitically right reaction for Europe would be to show that Europe still has to offer more than words and that hard power has not been abandoned.

Therefore, the Royal Navy’s Cougar Deployment 2015 could be joined by other European navies. It makes no sense for the Europeans to show their flags at the Spratlys or Senkakus, due to the lack of a political purpose. However, a trip to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea – disaster relief in this region is a very realistic operational scenario for European navies – and Australia may be sufficient to demonstrate the remaining global reach. The way back via French Polynesia and Panama would make the global message clear – really doing this is not that much about capabilities, but rather about political will. The admirals will find solutions for all obstacles, when their political lords and masters tell them that they have to.

Written By: Felix Seidler

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@SeiderlsSiPo

PhD candidate, blogger. Areas of interest:
Strategic Studies, maritime security, geopolitics,
NATO, Transatlantic Relations

The UK Military: Lessons from the Fourth Anglo – Afghan War 2001 – 2014

  BSBBCth As UK troops leave Helmand province and Whitehall’s ‘Eye of Sauron’ flicks to northern Iraq and Syria, this article asks “what has the UK military got better at in the longest and most complex conflict of our generation”? The compelling answer is; not much. This article seeks to explore the UKs’ approaches to military deployment, challenge its dogmas and identify its limitations.
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The UK, and Britain in turn, has enjoyed a spell of power at a time of technological change almost unique. The breadth of it’s empire, it’s far reaching influence and it’s military capability were world class. The British Army has deployed to Afghanistan before. Over a series of three campaigns thousands of British troops fought, killed and died in turn between 1839 and 1919. There is little difference in the minds of Afghan elders between the fourth ‘war’ – despite its status as a peacekeeping intervention. By degrees over the last two decades the national institutions, military technology and will to engage has been on a slow downward trajectory. This decline has occurred during a surge of violence, failing state fragmentation and cultural frictions due to human terrain tectonics.  Some ancient, and some merely old, extremist ideologies have manifested novel threats and entirely new vectors of attack and national vulnerabilities have emerged in this critical twenty years.
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Conceptual Understanding of the Threat
 
Since 2011 and the redefinition of the noun ‘terrorist’ to mean critical direct threat to a homeland, the UK has been finding it progressively harder to match strategic policy with operational and tactical action. Northern Ireland – OP BANNER – was the last time the UK military deployed en masse against a recognisable terrorist threat. Importantly the military was able to delineate between spectacular’ attacks against soft targets (perceived acts of terrorism) and insurgent attacks against military targets (straightforward ‘attacks’). An example of a terrorist act during this period is the Docklands Bomb of 1992. It began life in a small scrapyard in South Armagh during a thirty year counter insurgency (COIN) operation. The Army understood that sniper attacks and culvert IEDs in Crossmaglen were the fabric of an insurgency and was able to bring military force – including deep intelligence work – against them. PIRA attacks on the mainland were acts of terrorism and the Home Office was able to bring security services and policing against active threats on the mainland.
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The British Army experience in NI became a much touted entrance ticket to the small wars of the 90’s and 00’s. Built on a legacy of British COIN in post colonial conflicts, Cyprus, Malaya et al, the British Army was presumed to be an expert in a limited but complex combat situations. This coupled with the historical legacy of British involvement in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan since the 1800s. As the UK government committed troops to Afghanistan and Iraq the military arguably overreached. The military drank it’s own kool aid and volunteered for the heavy lifting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Does the military still perceive and understand this difference between terrorism and insurgency? The enemy combatants in Northern Afghanistan in 2001 were ‘terrorists’. By 2010 the Taliban in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan were ‘insurgents’. In this decade the British military forgot and then brutally relearned the differences between counter terrorism (CT) and COIN the hard way.
 
Doctrine rapidly evolved to aid understanding of complex human terrain, misaligned tribal loyalties, upstream re-development priorities and the difficulties of nation building using an unwieldy paradigm of centralised democracy. From 2008 there was an uptick in the practical application of crude methods of understanding the people and their motivations. As the military withdraws some of the greatest lessons learnt from Afghan are not new. The techniques of CIMIC, Information Operations, PSYOPS et al have certainly been refined but the issues they counter have always existed. For at least the period 2006 – 2008 the Army fought heavily armed gangs in a lawless province with little grasp of the enemies’ motivations.
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Size and Scale Thresholds
 
There is now a comparative scale issue when comparing the UK on the international stage. For comparison the US military is sufficiently large to mount, deploy and sustain major combat operations overseas on an enduring basis. The UK military now struggles to maintain one medium scale operation in a long term operation. With this gradual downsizing came a number of poorly understood issues. The military chain of command became more focussed on the tactical and operational battle space as there was no strategic ‘big picture’. To be expected when the UK formed a small part of a coalition context. The effect of this was to blur the lines between strategic ends and operational means. British joint chiefs reported operational success to Whitehall who pictured strategic gain – but that was never the case.
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Another effect of the downsized military scaling is the ‘localisation’ of the Area of Operations (AOs). Small AOs allow tactical operations only. If a BG is compressed into a ground holding role somewhere in a 10km section of the Helmand river valley it is simply not going to have anything other than a tactical effect on a insurgency mobilised across two countries with a porous desert border. This effect again was poorly understood as the British ‘deepened the hold’ in Helmand from 2008 onwards.
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In terms of force integrity there is a point where the reduction of military capabilities and their enablers reduce the overall effectiveness of a force at an exponential rate. The impact of losing say, a Battle Group level Arty support asset, is felt at Brigade level – and there was only ever one rotational brigade in Helmand at a time. An intangible line in the sand exists – below which military power projection drops off a cliff. If you can’t sustain a force in the field or cope with high manpower attrition through combat casualty rates then an army is wildly ineffective at the operational level.
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The Paradox of Domestic Support
 
If war is the continuation of politics and politicians are susceptible to voters opinion, the business of deploying the military is not a rational one. Whilst the art of military science, the application of just enough violence, is very rational and everything relies on strong reasoned plans that have a logical progression the ability of a government to maintain military operations is the very opposite. Evocative pictures of casualties and compelling human tragedies sway a public. Despite the proportionally small number of fatalities in Afghanistan – 453 – against a force of up to 14000 troops on rotation every six months the impact of each of these deaths was strategic. The US experienced a similar decline in support for operations in Vietnam over time.
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Social media has changed the domestic support. Whilst supportive sites for military activity abounded an equal number of opportunities arose on a number of the key platforms to garner anti-war support – backed with visceral images and realistic perspectives on the futility of military operations against a backdrop of corruption, strong ideology and complex allegiance. Whilst the Army received strong support at the individual level, the lack of public support for the campaign changed the game. Whitehall could not sustain the operation.
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Challenges Ahead
 
The military in the UK is still taking stock. Following cuts, redundancies and the new structure (‘Army of 2020′, or ‘A2020′) there is much to re-learn. With this comes the need to refine military capability, particularly in the technical and cyber disciplines. Added focus must ensure integration of cross Whitehall agencies on single issues. This ‘integrated approach’ is important as through it the UK can continue to achieve strategic effect.
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Future combat operations will likely occur. In contention is the means by which the conflict will be defined; against what enemy, to counter what threat, to what end state? The British House of Commons has already demonstrated a new sensitivity to these questions over intervention in Syria. There will be more healthy deliberation to come.
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Published November 7, 2014
Author Anonymous
(by request)
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