Avaaz Ignores Libya Lessons in Advocating for Syria No-Fly Zone

Avaaz Ignores Libya Lessons in Advocating for Syria No-Fly Zone
By John Hanrahan | ExposeFacts | April 13, 2016

(Second of two articles)

A recent two-part series in The New York Times laid out in detail the pivotal role that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played in President Obama’s decision to join in France and Britain’s 2011 military campaign against long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Times articles make the case that Clinton bears a heavy part of the responsibility for the tragic, increasingly chaotic aftermath of that campaign in which Gaddafi was ousted and killed.

As the Times summaries of the articles put it, Gaddafi’s fall “seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton. Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge,” leaving Libya “a failed state and a terrorist haven.”

While neocons, right-wingers and humanitarian interventionists back in 2011 were seeking regime change in Libya, there was one non-governmental organization that was alone among progressive groups in mobilizing public opinion around the world in support of military action in Libya in the form of a no-fly zone.

And this wasn’t just any organization, but the fast-growing, on-line advocacy giant Avaaz.org, which in 2011 had 7 million members and today boasts 43.1-million members in 194 countries. As such, the New York City-based Avaaz is, as we noted in a previous article, the largest and most influential Internet-based, international advocacy organization on the planet.

Through its members’ petitions and a full-page ad last June in The New York Times, Avaaz has for the last few years been pushing for a no-fly zone in Syria, as have assorted neocons and war-hawks in congress and think-tanks who favor military operations to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. Hillary Clinton (but not other presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) is a staunch advocate for a no-fly zone and regime change in Syria.

Like Clinton and other interventionists, Avaaz — in advocating for a no-fly zone in Syria — has not been chastened by what its advocacy wrought in Libya. Some of the same arguments for a no-fly zone that Avaaz made for Libya, it has made again over the last few years for Syria. This, despite as we noted in that earlier article, that top U.S. generals have warned that a no-fly zone in Syria is a “high-risk operation..a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties,” civilian and military.

It’s instructive to examine Avaaz’s no-fly zone advocacy for Libya in 2011 to get a handle on the organization’s continued thinking that — barring a diplomatic settlement growing out of a current tentative ceasefire in Syria — more war, under the cover of humanitarian intervention, would somehow save more civilians’ lives.

Call for No-Fly Zone in Libya Did Not Turn Out Well for Libyans in Aftermath of U.S./NATO Attacks

In its call for a no-fly zone in Libya in 2011, Avaaz submitted to the United Nations a petition containing 1,202,940 signatures gathered on-line. Demonstrating Avaaz’s impact, 90% of those were collected in just a two-day period between March 15 and 17 of that year, when its reported membership was a more modest, but still impressive, seven million.

And we now know what a sage piece of advocacy that was — as Libya experienced not only a no-fly zone, but U.S./NATO forces’ bombardments, the ousting and killing of Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffy, the rise of ISIS, the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the flood of refugees from the chaotic, failed country that Libya is today.

Even at the time Avaaz was gathering all those signatures back in 2011 in support of a no-fly zone in Libya, there were critics who wondered why a U.S.-based non-governmental organization felt it had to stand up with neocons and war-hawks in advocating for an action that violated Libya’s sovereignty and was likely to lead to more violence against the Libyan people.

As John Hilary writing in The Guardian presciently warned in March 2011: “Little do most of these generally well-meaning activists know, they are strengthening the hands of those western governments desperate to reassert their interests in north Africa…A no-fly zone would almost certainly draw NATO countries into further military involvement in Libya, replacing the agency of the Libyan people with the control of those governments who have shown scant regard for their welfare…”

Hilary, executive director of War on Want, the U.K.-based charity that fights poverty and economic injustice, further noted, again presciently: “Clearly a no-fly zone makes foreign intervention sound rather humanitarian — putting the emphasis on stopping bombing, even though it could well lead to an escalation of violence.”

Noting that support for a no-fly zone in Libya was at that time “rapidly becoming a key call of hawks on both sides of the Atlantic,” (just as has been the case in more recent years regarding Syria) Hilary commented: “The military hierarchy, with their budgets threatened by government cuts, surely cannot believe their luck — those who usually oppose wars” [such as Avaaz] “are openly campaigning for more military involvement.”

On-line progressive organizations constantly seek signatures on petitions calling on the U.S. or other governments to adopt or change or reject certain policies. But Hilary pointed out that calling for a no-fly zone crosses a line into dangerous territory. As he wrote:

“The issue exposes the core of the problem with internet activism: instead of changing the world through a lifetime of education, it aims to change the world through a single click of the mouse. The impacts might be benign, when lobbying a government to stop causing harm. But a positive plan of action in a situation such as Libya requires more thought. Calling for military intervention is a huge step — the life and death of hundreds of thousands of people might hang in the balance. The difference between the ease of the action and impact of the consequence is great.”

Avaaz’s Justification for No-Fly Zone in Libya

It’s worth examining the Libya experience to get some idea of how Avaaz sees using military action to achieve what it contended would be civilian-saving humanitarian results.

Looking back, in calling for a no-fly zone Avaaz appeared to fully accept and spread the Gaddafi-will-systematically-murder-all-opponents line that western governments were trumpeting as the justification for intervention, stating in its March 15, 2011 message to members: “Right now Gaddafi’s forces are crushing the rebellion town by town” and noted that “brutal retribution awaits Libyans who challenged the regime. If we don’t persuade the U.N. to act now, we could witness a bloodbath.”

Avaaz went on to say that while it “is deeply committed to non-violence… enforcing a no-fly zone to ground Gaddafi’s gunships is one case where UN-backed military actions seems necessary.”

On March 17, 2011, just two days into flooding the U.N. Security Council with petitions containing 1,172,000 signatures, Avaaz enthusiastically reported (exclamation point and all) that the United Nations had agreed to take “‘all necessary measures’ short of an invasion to protect the people of Libya under threat of attack, including a no-fly zone!” It seems Avaaz’s expressed deep commitment to nonviolence had expanded beyond a no-fly zone to encompass “all necessary measures” — and Libya was soon on the receiving end of all those necessary measures.

When it was promoting a no-fly zone for Libya, Avaaz — as with its current Syria campaign — did receive pushback from some members. The organization felt it necessary to respond at some length on-line to the criticism before the no-fly zone was put into effect and the onslaught against Libya began.

Avaaz’s then-campaign director Ben Wikler (who is now with MoveOn.org), in an on-line posting responding to John Hilary’s Guardian article quoted above, outlined a number of reasons and procedures Avaaz used in taking up the cause of a no-fly zone for Libya. Among his points:

“The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organisations…Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.”(***THAT IS NOT TRUE!)
“In some ways,” Wikler wrote, “we work a lot like journalists… talking to people and weighing the facts before we form conclusions. However, our staff’s personal conclusions also have to pass the test of our membership being strongly supportive of any position we take.”
In the Libya case, though, it would seem that Avaaz scarcely considered the potential negative aspects of military action — such as, when you “win,” what happens afterwards.

According to Wikler, a random-sample poll taken before the petition was promulgated on-line, showed that “84% of [Avaaz] members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.” (*** YES MOSTLY CIA/MOSSAD/MI6 AGENTS & EX PATRIOTS) Avaaz says that petition ideas such as a no-fly zone campaign “are polled and tested weekly to 10,000-member random samples—and only initiatives that find a strong response are taken” to the wider membership. (***PERSONALLY I DO NOT REMEMBER SUCH A POLE) The organisation has not disclosed who within Avaaz was the main instigator of the petitions for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria. Generally speaking, Avaaz says here’s how its petitions develop: “… Avaaz staff don’t set an agenda and try to convince members to go along with it. It’s closer to the opposite: staff listen to members and suggest actions they can take in order to affect the broader world. Small wonder, then, that many of our most successful campaigns are suggested first by Avaaz members themselves. And leadership is a critical part of member service: it takes vision and skill to find and communicate a way to build a better world.” Although this doesn’t say so, certainly on a matter of such import and controversy as a no-fly zone the final call would logically come from executive director Ricken Patel.
Avaaz staff played “a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.” This begs the question: Who were these experts, and did Avaaz seek out critics of such an action?
On the question of whether imposing a no-fly zone would lead to a full-blown international war in Libya, Wikler downplayed the possibility at the time: “No-fly zones can mean a range of different things. Some analysts and military figures [none named by Wikler] have argued that it would require a pre-emptive attack on Libya’s anti-aircraft weapons. Others [again, none named], however, contend that merely flying fighter planes over the rebel-controlled areas would ensure that Qaddafi wouldn’t use his jets to attack eastern Libya, because he knows his air force is weaker than that of Egypt or NATO states. The best solution is the one that reduces civilian deaths the most with the least violence. Things might not turn out as expected, but while there are potential dangers to an international war, there are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.” [Emphasis added.]
Calling for military action seems a very risky calculation for an advocacy group to make, given even its own nodding recognition that the action it supports might bring on an international war or other “things… not expected.” And to discuss such an issue in a mere one sentence and conclude that the risk is worth it — and after the petition is already out there — is not indicative of a transparent, all-cards-on-the-table process that make for well-informed potential petition signers.

At the very least, now with the benefit of hindsight, you would think that the Libya experience would give Avaaz some second thoughts about supporting a no-fly zone in what top U.S. generals quoted in our previous article have described as the even riskier environment of Syria. But no such soul-searching is evident in Avaaz’s campaign for a Syrian no-fly zone.

For this and the previous article, we submitted a series of questions to Avaaz media personnel and campaign directors, with an emphasis on obtaining specifics as to the organization’s rationale for supporting no-fly zones in Libya and Syria — including whether the tragic outcome in Libya had figured at all in Avaaz’s consideration of whether to call for a no-fly zone in Syria. After requests (and reminders) on five occasions in November, December and January, we finally received a response on February 11 from campaign director Nell Greenberg, but that addressed only a few of our specific questions. Our follow-up questions, submitted on February 12, have gone unanswered.

As with the other questions we submitted to Avaaz personnel, the organization did not answer whether the Libya experience made the organization’s leaders think twice about taking up the Syria no-fly zone issue. It was possibly obscurely referencing the Libya no-fly zone when Greenberg stated to us: “Much of what you’re asking for are reflections on past campaigns given the geopolitical landscape today. But based on the way we work, I cannot tell you how any Avaaz member would feel today about a past campaign without going back and asking them.”

Our follow-up question made it clear that we were not asking how any individual Avaaz member might feel about the Libya campaign today, but rather how Avaaz’s leaders felt about proposing a no-fly zone for Syria when the Libya military action had turned out so disastrously. To date, Avaaz has not responded to any of our follow-up questions.

Regarding whether a no-fly zone would violate Libya’s national sovereignty, Wikler in March 2011 stated: “National sovereignty should not be a legitimate barrier to international action when crimes against humanity are being committed.” Then in perhaps a foreshadowing of the organization’s call for a similar action in Syria, Wikler added: “If you strongly disagree, then you may find yourself at odds with other Avaaz campaigns as well.”
Wikler concluded his defense of the call for a Libyan no-fly zone by saying: “All told, this was a difficult judgment call. Calling for any sort of military response always is. Avaaz members have been advocating for weeks for a full set of non-military options as well, including an asset freeze, targeted sanctions, and prosecutions of officials involved in the violent crackdown on demonstrators.

“But although those measures are moving forward, the death toll is rising. Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position [84% approved] – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflicts in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.”

The figure of 84% approval from a sampling of Avaaz members seem astounding — and raises the issue of whether the questions were worded in the most emotional ways that would produce such an overwhelming result (along the lines of — Gaddafi is slaughtering, and will slaughter, everyone in his path and we must act now to avert a bloodbath). It also raises the question of whether Avaaz offered any counterpoints that a no-fly zone could lead to a wider war and end up killing, maiming and displacing thousands of civilians.

Regardless of the numbers, relying on partisan civilian sources in embattled areas for tactics or military solutions of any sort is both a dubious and frightening proposition and hardly seems the role for an advocacy organization to undertake.

Avaaz’s Origins: Founders and Funders

Even in the U.S. progressive community, Avaaz is far less well-known than its sister advocacy organization MoveOn.org. To put Avaaz in perspective, a little background is in order.

Avaaz was created in 2006 and officially launched in 2007 by MoveOn.org Civic Action and the little known and closely affiliated global advocacy group Res Publica, Inc. Its initial significant financial backing came from liberal philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations (then called Open Society Institute).

Avaaz’s individual founders included three of its current officers/directors — Ricken Patel, Eli Pariser and Thomas Pravda — as well as Thomas Perriello, Andrea Woodhouse, Jeremy Heimans, and David Madden. (More about them later.) (****MOST OF THEM ARE ZIONISTS/JEWS just saying)

If you don’t know much about Avaaz, or think about it as I long did as a non-U.S. entity (actually, its headquarters is in New York City), that is not so surprising since many of its campaigns are targeted to specific countries other than the United States, and only a little over 5 percent of its 43.1 million members are U.S.-based. (A member being anyone who has ever signed an Avaaz petition — and that includes me.) Still, even that small U.S. percentage equates to 2.3 million people — a number that would be the envy of most U.S. activist organizations. (By way of comparison, Avaaz’s affiliated member organization MoveOn.org claims more than 8-million members.)

The U.S. membership in Avaaz is about the same as the German membership (2.2 million), and far less than France with 4.3 million and Brazil with a whopping 8.8 million members. Other nations with more than one million Avaaz members include Italy (2.1 million), Spain (1.8 million), the United Kingdom (1.6 million), Mexico (1.4 million), Canada (1.2 million). India has 991,000 members and Russia 901,000. Overall, Avaaz claims members in 194 countries, with its smallest membership — 81 — in the British overseas territory of Montserrat, population 5,100.

Avaaz is organized under the name the Avaaz Foundation, a 501(c)(4) non-profit lobbying organization, with its headquarters in Manhattan. It describes itself as having “a simple democratic mission: To close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.”

In its most recent Form 990 filing with the Internal Revenue Service, signed in September 2015 for tax year 2014, Avaaz reported contributions totaling $20.1 million and net assets of $7.6 million. Avaaz, which says that it is entirely member funded, had previously stated that it accepts no single contribution of more than $5,000, but that was not the case in 2014 as the organization reported that 18 individuals had contributed amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,383. The contributors were not identified by name in the filing. Since around 2010, the organization is on record as not accepting corporate or foundation donations — although it did receive grants totaling $1.1 million from George Soros-connected foundations in the three years before that.

In response to our inquiry about Avaaz funding and the organization’s early link to Soros, campaign director Nell Greenberg responded:

“With regards to Avaaz funding, this movement was founded with the ideal of being completely self sustaining and democratic. 100% of the Avaaz budget comes from small online donations…Avaaz has never taken a contribution from a government or a corporation, and since 2009 has not solicited any contributions from charitable foundations.”

She continued: “We did receive seed funding from George Soros and the Open Society Foundation, but not after 2009. No corporation, foundation or board member has influence on the organization’s campaign directions or positions. This is hugely important to ensuring that our voice is exclusively determined by the values of our members, and not by any large funder or agenda.”

Of Avaaz’s four current officers/directors, only executive director Ricken Patel was listed as full-time, with annual pay of $177,666 for 2014. Chairman Eli Pariser; treasurer Thomas Pravda, and secretary Ben Brandzel are not day-to-day employees and all received no compensation in 2014. Of Avaaz’s 77 employees, the five highest-compensated staff members after Patel received salaries ranging between $111,000 and $153,000.

For its various domestic and overseas campaigns, Avaaz reported providing $3.2 million in grants to U.S. organizations and $932,000 to foreign organizations in 2014. Reported grants of more than $5,000 came in five categories, with the largest recipients being the U.S. Fund for UNICEF ($1 million for education for Syrian refugees), and the Rain Forest Trust ($1 million for “conservation of land and species”).

To help combat the Ebola virus, Avaaz provided $500,000 to the International Medical Corps, $350,000 to Save the Children and $300,000 to Partners in Health. For organizing for the September 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City, Avaaz provided $27,500 to Align and $10,000 to New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Rounding out the list, a $10,000 grant went to Amazon Watch for “protection of the Amazon.”

For activities outside the United States, Avaaz spent most heavily in Europe on campaigns, advertising and consulting — $6.2 million, with South America a distant second at $685,000 for consulting services, followed by East Asia and the Pacific with $553,000 for campaigns and consulting services. Expenditures in five other regions ranged from $45,000 to $270,000.

Avaaz reported that the foundation is still comprised of the same two member organizations — MoveOn.org Civic Action and Res Publica, Inc. (U.S.) — which were the original founding groups.

Res Publica, a 501(c)(3), lists the same Manhattan address as the 501(c)(4) Avaaz and presumably provides unspecified assistance to Avaaz. Back at Avaaz’s beginning, the three principals in Res Publica were the aforementioned Patel, Pravda and Perriello. The three men had all served with the International Center for Transitional Justice, which “assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse.” Also in those early days, according to some accounts, Avaaz listed the Service Employees International Union and Australia-based GetUp.org.au as co-founding organizations, but they seem to have long since been out of the picture.

In Res Publica’s most recent Form 990 filing with the IRS for 2013, Patel is listed as executive director, Pravda as treasurer, and Vivek Maru as secretary. All received no compensation. Contributions for 2013 totaled $963,895, of which $846,165 was from “Government grants” for unspecified purposes. The organization reported that it “provides strategic advice to other non-profit organizations… [and] also provides educational and action-based e-mail campaigns to citizens in every country via its website.” It also reported supporting projects “through fiscal sponsorship, that focused on online security and Internet freedom for repressed communities globally…”

Here are profiles of Avaaz co-founders and past and current officers:

Eli Pariser: Avaaz Chairman and Co-founder

Eli Pariser was executive director of MoveOn.org from 2004 through 2009 when the organization experienced explosive growth, and has been its board president since then. MoveOn, in the words of an on-line Pariser biography, “revolutionized grassroots political organizing by introducing a small-donor-funded and email-driven model that has since been widely used across the political spectrum.”

In addition to being a founder of Avaaz and currently serving as its chairman, the Brooklyn-based Pariser has been a member of the boards of Access and the New Organizing Institute. A best-selling author and former fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, Pariser is co-founder and executive of the on-line media company Upworthy. He is also currently a member of the advisory board of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs.

We would note that Pariser appears to be one of the few Avaaz founders and officers whose background is almost entirely in on-line activism, while some others have governmental or otherwise overseas experience working in programs in high poverty and/or war-torn countries.

We submitted several questions to Pariser on March 9, but he has not responded as of this writing.

Ricken Patel: Avaaz Executive Director and Co-founder

Prior to the founding of Avaaz in 2007, the Canadian-born Ricken Patel consulted for a number of international and well-established non-profit organizations — the International Crisis Group, the United Nations, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Harvard University, CARE International, and the International Center for Transitional Justice. He worked in several countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan. He also was the founding executive director of Avaaz-affiliated Res Publica, which among its past projects “worked to end genocide in Darfur.” As executive director of Avaaz since its begining, Patel is the face of the organization and has been termed “the global leader of online protest” by The Guardian.

Thomas Pravda: Avaaz Treasurer and Co-founder

Through two of its co-founders — Tom Perriello and Thomas Pravda — Avaaz has connections to government officialdom in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Perriello (discussed below) is now with the State Department as U.S. special envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa.

Pravda is currently serving as the (unpaid) treasurer and a director for Avaaz, while at the same time holding down a post as a diplomat with the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly known as the Foreign Office. He is also co-founder and officer in Res Publica.

As the Foreign Office is “responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide,” this could raise conflict-of-interest possibilities regarding U.K. and U.S. foreign relations and military issues that might be taken up by Avaaz. This would include the organization’s advocacy for a no-fly zone in Syria, in which both the U.S. and U.K. would be expected to participate. Our research, though, found no example of anyone raising a specific issue about Pravda’s dual role as U.K. diplomat and Avaaz officer, but this relationship looks problematic on the face of it.

Pravda’s self-provided biography shows he has been with the Foreign Office since October 2003, and with Avaaz since 2006, and that he was also an advisor to the U.S. State Department in 2009-2010 regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In his diplomatic assignments Pravda has worked on E.U. trade and development policy; as an advisor to the Special Representative for Climate Change, and as the U.K. Representative in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has also consulted extensively on political, security, research and advocacy issues for such institutions as the U.S. State Department, the United Nations Development Program, the International Center for Transitional Justice and Oxford Analytica.

Ben Brandzel: Avaaz Secretary and Co-founder

In addition to currently serving as the (unpaid) secretary for Avaaz, Ben Brandzel is the founder and director of OPEN (Online Progressive Engagement Network), described as an alliance of the world’s leading national digital campaigning organizations. Besides being a founding board member and former senior campaigner at Avaaz, Brandzel is the chief founding advisor for OPEN member groups in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. He also served as the original advocacy director for MoveOn.org and in 2009-2010 directed new media campaigns and fundraising for President Obama during the health reform campaign. He writes frequently on digital organizing and transnational movement building.

Tom Perriello: Avaaz Co-founder

If I were going to name one chief suspect among Avaaz’s founders as the architect of its no-fly zone advocacy in Libya and Syria, it would be Tom Perriello. More than anyone else connected with Avaaz from its earliest days, Perriello, since leaving the organization — first for Congress and then for the think-tank world before going to the U.S. State Department — has shown himself to be a reliable advocate for war: For continuing the war in Afghanistan, for bombing Libya and ousting Gaddafi, and for taking military action to support Syrian rebels and remove Assad from power.

Perriello champions “humanitarian intervention” and lauded the NATO bombing campaign in Libya — before the U.S./NATO “victory” there and before the country subsequently went all to hell — as a prime example of how this approach can succeed .

We asked Avaaz whether Perriello’s thinking had influenced the organization’s campaigns for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria, and received a stern denial from Avaaz’s Greenberg: “Tom Perriello, specifically, was an Avaaz board member at the founding of the organization but has not been on the board since December 2009, and has had no role in Avaaz’s Syria campaigns.”

Perriello’s career, like some others with Avaaz, has been more one of public service through established organizations than of activism. According to an on-line biography, in 2002-2003 Perriello was special advisor to the international prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, and then served as a consultant to the International Center for Transitional Justice in Kosovo (2003), Darfur (2005) and Afghanistan (2007). In 2004, he co-founded Res Publica with Patel and Pravda. Perriello has also been a fellow at The Century Foundation and is a co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org. He said in his on-line bio that he had “spent much of his career working in West Africa and the Middle East to create strategies for sustainable peace, and he was involved in the peace processes that helped end the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia.”

A Democrat, Perriello was elected to Congress from Virginia’s 5th District in 2008. (It would appear from the statement we received from Avaaz that if Perriello left the organization in December 2009 then he was still on the Avaaz board during his first year in Congress.)

In his one term, Perriello was a staunch supporter of the global war on terror, the military appropriations to continue U.S. wars, and keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Defeated in his 2010 bid for reelection, Perriello went on to serve as president and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and counselor for policy also at Center for American Progress, a Democratic party-supporting think tank. From 2014 to the present he has been with the State Department, first as the Special Representative to the Secretary of State for the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and since last summer as the U.S. special envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa. Although said not to be involved with Avaaz currently, his humanitarian intervention philosophy seems alive and well at Avaaz with its calls for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria.

In this excerpt from his 2012 article on humanitarian intervention, Perriello sounds absolutely eager to send in the bombs wherever “egregious atrocities” are occurring and human beings are suffering. And this, as Perriello writes, would give “progressives” the “opportunity… to expand the use of force to advance key values.” Following are two paragraphs from Perriello’s article that give the flavor of the “humanitarian intervention” philosophy he advocates. It would certainly be helpful if Avaaz would tell us if it subscribes to its co-founder’s rather bloodless and creepy prescription for advancing progressives’ “key values.”

“Operational developments since the end of the Cold War have substantially improved our capacity to wage smart military operations that are limited in time and scope and employ precise and overwhelming force,” Perriello wrote. “This presents progressives with an opportunity—one that is too often seen as a curse—to expand the use of force to advance key values. Our technical capacities, ranging from accuracy of systems intelligence to smart weaponry, now allow for previously impossible operations. Today, we have the ability to conduct missions from the air that historically would have required ground troops. And we possess an admittedly imperfect but highly improved ability to limit collateral damage, including civilian casualties. Among other things, this means fewer bombs can accomplish the same objectives, with early estimates suggesting that the Libyan air campaign required one-third the number of sorties as earlier air wars…

“We must realize that force is only one element of a coherent national security strategy and foreign policy. We must accept the reality—whether or not one accepts its merits—that other nations are more likely to perceive our motives to be self-interested than values-based. But in a world where egregious atrocities and grave threats exist, and where Kosovo and Libya have changed our sense of what’s now possible, the development of this next generation of power can be seen as a historically unique opportunity to reduce human suffering.”

Imagine the nerve of those other nations Perriello refers to — failing to see that the United States selflessly engages in “values-based” bombing: Bombs for a better world.

Andrea Woodhouse: Avaaz Co-founder

Another Avaaz co-founder, Andrea Woodhouse, describes herself as a development professional, social entrepreneur and writer. She has worked in many countries experiencing conflict and political transition, including Indonesia, Timor Leste, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Burma/Myanmar. In Indonesia, she reported working on one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the world, which she said became the model for a national program of post-conflict reconstruction and state-building in Afghanistan. She has worked for the World Bank and the United Nations and was a founder of the World Bank’s Justice for the Poor program.

Jeremy Heimans: Avaaz Co-founder

According to an on-line biography, Jeremy Heimans in 2005 co-founded GetUp, an Australian political organization and one of that country’s largest campaigning communities. It has campaigned for same-sex marriage and in support of Julian Assange of Wikileaks. In addition to being an Avaaz co-founder, Heimans in 2009 co-founded Purpose, an activist group that launched several major new organizations including All Out, a two-million member LGBT rights group.

David Madden: Avaaz Co-founder

David Madden, another Avaaz co-founder, is a former Australian Army officer and World Bank and United Nations employee. With Jeremy Heimans, he co-founded GetUp. Madden has worked for the World Bank in Timor Leste, and for the United Nations in Indonesia. In 2004, Madden was one of the founders of Win Back Respect, a web-based campaign against the foreign policy of U.S. President George W. Bush.

George Soros’s Role in Avaaz Early Years

For the last few years, various on-line bloggers have questioned whether Avaaz is somehow doing the bidding of philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, or of the U.S. government (or portions thereof). (See an example here.)

There is no question that there was a close connection between Avaaz and Soros and his organizations dating back to Avaaz’s early days, but what — if anything — does that translate into today?

As noted earlier, in one of the few of my questions that Avaaz answered directly, there was an acknowledgement of early Soros “seed money” to Avaaz, but a denial of any continuing involvement with the organization.

Of all individuals or organizations outside the Avaaz structure, though, Soros’s foundations played the most significant role in helping get Avaaz off the ground with generous grants. Additionally, the Open Society Institute (the previous name of the Open Society Foundations) served as Avaaz’s “foundation partner” on campaigns of joint interest, most notably in connection with the Burmese Democracy Movement.

Avaaz still has a Soros connection — notably, as indicated above, Eli Pariser serving on an Open Society advisory board. And both Avaaz and Soros seem to share an antipathy to what they characterize as Russian aggression as exemplified by Avaaz’s sometimes over-the-top statements about Russia in Syria. (For example, as noted in our previous article, Ricken Patel holding Putin’s government responsible for being complicit with the Assad government in “coordinating atrocities” and “targeting the assassinations of journalists” in early 2012. Also, see this September 30, 2015 Avaaz posting using flimsy evidence to accuse Russian planes of deliberately bombing civilian neighborhoods.)

Donations by Soros’s Foundations

Over a three-year period beginning in 2007, Soros’s foundations — either directly or passed through Res Publica — gave Avaaz a total of $1.2 million.

In 2007, the Open Society Institute gave $150,000 to Res Publica for general support for Avaaz, and $100,000 for Avaaz’s work on climate change.

In 2008, Open Society Institute again gave a total of $250,000 to Res Publica — with $150,000 of that again for general support for Avaaz and the remaining $100,000 for Avaaz’s climate change work.

The following year, Soros was even more generous to Avaaz. His Foundation to Promote Open Society in its Form 990 filing for 2009 (page 87) reported giving a total of $600,000 to Res Publica for Avaaz’s use — $300,000 for general support and $300,000 for climate campaigning.

Avaaz increased its ties to the Soros organization in 2008 by selecting the then-named Open Society Institute (OSI) as its “foundation partner” to oversee some $325,000 in donations that Avaaz had received from its members — in just four days — to support the Burmese Democracy Movement.

Avaaz said it was linking up with OSI — “one of the largest and most respected foundations in the world” — for the purpose of OSI monitoring Avaaz’s grant awards and expenditures. OSI was “taking no overhead on the funds we are granting to Burmese groups” for technology, organizing, support for the regime’s victims and victims’ families, and international advocacy.

In June 2009, OSI reported that its Burma Project grantees — including Avaaz — had rallied global support around democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On that occasion, Avaaz partnered with the Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now! Campaign to collect more than 670,000 signatures asking for UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s support for Aung San Suu Kyi and some 2,000 other political prisoners.

From available information, it does not appear Soros or his foundations have contributed financially to Avaaz or directly engaged in projects with the organization in the last five to six years. And Avaaz itself says the Soros financial connection ended in 2009. Whether the substantial assistance Soros’s foundations gave Avaaz in its first three years of existence carries any lasting influence, though, is certainly hard to show.

Avaaz’s Impressive Record of Advocacy

As noted in our previous article, even allowing for organizational self-hype, Avaaz has an impressive record of advocacy — a record that mostly seems off-kilter with its no-fly zone advocacy in Libya and Syria. For example, here are some other Avaaz campaigns not previously mentioned:

Avaaz has played a prominent role in a number of actions directed at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Avaaz was a key player in a successful campaign (including a petition with more than 1.7 million signatures, coupled with occupations and protests at some 15 Barclays bank branches across the United Kingdom) to pressure Barclays to divest its $2.9 million holdings in an Israeli defense contractor, Elbit Systems.
Avaaz received plaudits from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for its role in that campaign. Elbit Systems is the major Israeli-based arms and security company that manufactures drones used in surveillance and attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. It also provides electronics for the “apartheid wall” being constructed on the West Bank.

A petition directed to the government of Israel and to the U.S. Congress netted 185,000 signatures in support of the portion of President Obama’s Cairo speech in June 2009 in which he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”
In 2011, some 1.6 million people — more than 300,000 of them in just the first two days — signed an Avaaz petition to European leaders and U.N. member states, urging them “to endorse the legitimate bid for recognition of the state of Palestine and the reaffirmation of the rights of the Palestinian people. It is time to turn the tide on decades of failed peace talks, end the occupation and move towards peace based on two states.”
In March 2013, at the time of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC’s) annual conference and congressional lobbying days in Washington, D.C., Avaaz joined with Jewish Voice for Peace to erect hundreds of anti-AIPAC posters across Metro stations in central D.C. The signs read: “AIPAC does not speak for me. Most Jewish Americans are pro-peace. AIPAC is not.”
Through its petitions, Avaaz has strongly opposed governmental surveillance of U.S. citizens, and has defended Wikileaks and national security whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.
In April 2011, amid news reports of Manning’s brutal treatment while imprisoned at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia before facing a court martial for providing classified documents to Wikileaks, almost 550,000 people signed an Avaaz petition to President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The petition, headlined “Stop Wikileaks Torture,” called on those officials “to immediately end the torture, isolation and public humiliation of Bradley Manning. This is a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed human rights, and a chilling deterrent to other whistleblowers committed to public integrity.”
A December 2010 Avaaz petition, calling “the vicious intimidation campaign against Wikileaks” by the U.S. and other governments and corporations “a dangerous attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” produced 654,000 signatures — more than 300,000 of those in the first 24 hours the petition was circulated on-line.
In June 2013, just days after the first reports of the National Security Agency’s illegal worldwide spying appeared, some 1.38 million people signed a petition, headlined “Stand with Edward Snowden,” to President Obama. The petition read: “We call on you to ensure that whistleblower Edward Snowden is treated fairly, humanely and given due process. The PRISM program is one of the greatest violations of privacy ever committed by a government. We demand that you terminate it immediately, and that Edward Snowden be recognized as a whistleblower acting in the public interest — not as a dangerous criminal.”
In April 2012, some 780,000 people signed an Avaaz petition to members of Congress, and another to Facebook, Microsoft and IBM (with 626,000 signers), to drop their support for the Internet surveillance bill known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The bill, the petition stated, would place “Our democracy and civil liberties… under threat from the excessive and unnecessary Internet surveillance powers” that it would grant to the U.S. government without requirement of a warrant.
In the face of widespread hunger strikes at the Guantanamo Bay prison in 2013, Avaaz gathered 690,000 signatures on a petition to transfer the 86 men who had already been cleared for release, and to appoint a White House official whose responsibility it would be to close down the prison. Said the petition: “This shameful complex is a scourge on humanity, is destroying lives, and fuels hate across the world. Close it down!”
Avaaz is also in the front ranks on various other issues — fighting global warming, seeking an end to U.S. and European arms sales to Saudi Arabia, protecting rain forests, saving endangered species, promoting clean energy, challenging Rupert Murdoch’s bid for a greater media monopoly in the United Kingdom, defending human rights in a number of countries, etc.
In none of those other campaigns do we see Avaaz proposing military action of any sort. Why this anomaly when it came to Libya and now Syria? Especially, when military action’s aftermath turned out so badly in Libya, and when even the nation’s leading generals say a Syria no-fly zone would escalate the war and endanger the very civilians Avaaz has the stated goal of protecting?

Washington’s Al Qaeda Ally Now Leading ISIS in Libya

Washington’s Al Qaeda (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group LIFG) Ally Now Leading ISIS in Libya

Although its an old article dated in March 2015 by Eric Draitser you should read it so you can understand what game FUKUS IS playing on the Libyan people.

The revelations that US ally Abdelhakim Belhadj is now leading ISIS in Libya should come as no surprise to those who have followed US policy in that country, and throughout the region. It illustrates for the umpteenth time that Washington has provided aid and comfort to precisely those forces it claims to be fighting around the world.



According to recent reports, Abdelhakim Belhadj has now firmly ensconced himself as the organizational commander of the ISIS presence inside Libya. The information comes from an unnamed US intelligence official who has confirmed that Belhadj is supporting and coordinating the efforts of the ISIS training centers in eastern Libya around the city of Derna, an area long known as a hotbed of jihadi militancy.



While it may not seem to be a major story – Al Qaeda terrorist turns ISIS commander – the reality is that since 2011 the US and its NATO allies have held up Belhadj as a “freedom fighter.” They portrayed him as a man who courageously led his fellow freedom-lovers against the “tyrannical despot” Gaddafi whose security forces at one time captured and imprisoned many members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), including Belhadj. ****(But Belhaj being an MI5 agent knew how to survive and betrayed all of his comrades to avoid prison he stayed in-house arrest for one year and then was free to go where ever he pleased. He was never tortured by the Libyan Jamahiryia and he was never deprived of anything he demanded. He swore allegiance to the Jamahiryia by orders of MI5 or 6 so that the foreign intelligence could get a foot hold in Libya, now he is a Multi-billionaire while he stole Libyan assets: he has his own private army, airport and planes. He is being groomed by UN/USA/UK to become the new DICTATOR IN LIBYA)



Belhadj served the US cause in Libya so well that he can be seen receiving accolades from Sen. John McCain who referred to Belhadj and his followers as heroes. He was initially rewarded after the fall of Gaddafi with the post of military commander of Tripoli, though he was forced to give way to a more politically palatable “transitional government” which has since evaporated in that chaotic, war-ravaged country.



Belhadj’s history of terrorist activity includes such “achievements” as collaboration with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq, and of course his convenient servitude to the US-NATO sponsored rampage across Libya that, among other things, caused mass killings of black Libyans and anyone suspected of being part of the Green Resistance (those loyal to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya led by Gaddafi). Although the corporate media tried to make a martyr of Belhadj for his alleged torture via the CIA rendition program, the inescapable fact is that wherever he goes he leaves a violent and bloody wake.

While much of this information is known, what is of paramount importance is placing this news in a proper political context, one that illustrates clearly the fact that the US has been, and continues to be, the major patron of extremist militants from Libya to Syria and beyond, and that all talk of “moderate rebels” is merely rhetoric designed to fool an unthinking public.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend…Until He Isn’t

There is ample documented evidence of Belhadj’s association with Al Qaeda and his terrorist exploits the world over. Various reports have highlighted his experiences fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and he himself has boasted of killing US troops in Iraq. However, it was in Libya in 2011 where Belhadj became the face of the “rebels” seeking to topple Gaddafi and the legal government of Libya.

As the New York Times reported:

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group was formed in 1995 with the goal of ousting Colonel Qaddafi. Driven into the mountains or exile by Libyan security forces, the group’s members were among the first to join the fight against Qaddafi security forces… Officially the fighting group does not exist any longer, but the former members are fighting largely under the leadership of Abu Abdullah Sadik [aka Abdelhakim Belhadj].

So, not only was Belhadj a participant in the US-NATO war on Libya, he was one of its most powerful leaders, heading a battle-hardened jihadist faction that constituted the leading edge of the war against Gaddafi. Nowhere was this more clearly demonstrated than when the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) took the lead in the attack on Gaddafi’s compound at Bab al-Aziziya. In this regard, LIFG was provided intelligence, and likely also tactical support, from US intelligence and the US military.

This new information about Belhadj’s association with the suddenly globally relevant ISIS certainly bolsters the argument that this writer, among many others, has made since 2011 – that the US-NATO war on Libya was waged by terrorist groups overtly and tacitly supported by US intelligence and the US military. Moreover, it dovetails with other information that has surfaced in recent years, information that shines a light on how the US exploited for its own geopolitical purposes one of the most active terrorist hotbeds anywhere in the world.

According to the recent reports, Belhadj is directly involved with supporting the ISIS training centers in Derna. Of course Derna should be well known to anyone who has followed Libya since 2011, because that city, along with Tobruk and Benghazi, were the centers of anti-Gaddafi terrorist recruitment in the early days of the “uprising” all through the fateful year of 2011. But Derna was known long before that as a locus of militant extremism.

In a major 2007 study entitled “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records” conducted by the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point, the authors noted that:

Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia… The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al-Qa’ida which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al-Qa’ida on November 3, 2007…The most common cities that the fighters called home were Darnah [Derna], Libya and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with 52 and 51 fighters respectively. Darnah [Derna] with a population just over 80,000 compared to Riyadh’s 4.3 million, has far and away the largest per capita number of fighters in the Sinjar records.

And so, the US military and intelligence community has known for nearly a decade (perhaps longer) that Derna has long been directly or indirectly controlled by jihadis of the LIFG variety, and that that city had acted as a primary recruiting ground for terrorism throughout the region. Naturally, such information is vital if we are to understand the geopolitical and strategic significance of the notion of ISIS training camps associated with the infamous Belhadj on the ground in Derna.

This leads us to three interrelated, and equally important, conclusions. First, Derna is once again going to provide foot soldiers for a terror war to be waged both in Libya, and in the region more broadly, with the obvious target being Syria. Second is the fact that the training sites at Derna will be supported and coordinated by a known US asset. And third, that the US policy of supporting “moderate rebels” is merely a public relations campaign designed to convince average Americans (and those in the West generally) that it is not supporting terrorism, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

The Myth of ‘Moderate Rebels’

The news about Belhadj and ISIS must not be seen in a vacuum. Rather, it should be still further proof that the notion of “moderates” being supported by the US is an insult to the intelligence of political observers and the public at large.

For more than three years now, Washington has trumpeted its stated policy of support to so-called moderate rebels in Syria – a policy which has at various times folded such diverse terror groups as the Al Farooq Brigades (of cannibalism fame) and Hazm (“Determination”) into one large “moderate” tent. Unfortunately for US propagandists and assorted warmongers however, these groups along with many others have since voluntarily or forcibly been incorporated into Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/ISIL.

Recently, there have been many reports of mass defections of formerly Free Syrian Army factions to ISIS, bringing along with them their advanced US-supplied weaponry. Couple that with the “poster boys” for Washington policy, the aforementioned Hazm group, now having become part of Jabhat al Nusra, the Al Qaeda linked group in Syria. Of course these are only a few of the many examples of groups that have become affiliated with either the ISIS or Al Qaeda brand in Syria, including Liwaa Al-Farouq, Liwaa Al-Qusayr, and Liwaa Al-Turkomen to name just a few.

What has become clear is that the US and its allies, in their unending quest for regime change in Syria, have been overtly supporting extremist elements that have now coalesced to form a global terror threat in ISIS, Nusra, and Al Qaeda.

But of course, this is nothing new, as the Belhadj episode in Libya demonstrates unequivocally. The man who was once Al Qaeda, then became a “moderate” and “our man in Tripoli,” has now become the leader of the ISIS threat in Libya. So too have “our friends” become our enemies in Syria. None of this should surprise anyone.

But perhaps John McCain would like to answer some questions about his long-standing connections with Belhadj and the “moderates” in Syria. Would Obama like to explain why his “humanitarian intervention” in Libya has become a humanitarian nightmare for that country, and indeed the whole region? Would the CIA, which has been extensively involved in all of these operations, like to come clean about just who they’ve been supporting and what role they’ve played in fomenting this chaos?

I doubt any such questions will ever be asked by anyone in the corporate media. Just as I doubt any answers will ever be furnished by those in Washington whose decisions have created this catastrophe. So, it is for us outside the corporate propaganda matrix to demand answers, and to never let the establishment suppress our voices…or the truth.



Put Britain on the List of States Sponsoring Terrorism

Put Britain on the List of States Sponsoring Terrorism

The following memorandum, dated Jan. 11, 2000, was prepared for delivery to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. It is a request to launch an investigation, pursuant to placing Great Britain on the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

To:  Hon. Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State
From:  The Editors, Executive Intelligence Review
Hon. William Cohen,
Secretary of Defense
Hon. Janet Reno,
Attorney General
Hon. George Tenet,
Director of Central Intelligence
Hon. Louis Freeh,
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Hon. Jesse Helms,
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Hon. Joseph Biden,
Ranking Democrat, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Hon. Benjamin Gilman,
Chairman, House International Relations Committee
Hon. Sam Gejdenson,
Ranking Democrat, House International Relations Committee

This is a formal request for you to initiate a review of the role of the government of Great Britain in supporting international terrorism, to determine whether Britain should be added to the list of nations sanctioned by the United States government for lending support to international terrorist organizations.

This issue has been recently highlighted, as the result of the December 1999 Indian Airlines hijacking, and the response of the British government to the request of one of the freed Kashmiri terrorists, Ahmed Omar Sheikh, to be given safe passage to England. Mr. Sheikh, a British national, was tried and convicted in India, for his role in the kidnapping of four British nationals and an American in 1995. He was sentenced to five years in prison in November 1998. Initially, the British government announced that it would provide Mr. Sheikh with safe passage to Britain, and would not prosecute him or make any effort to extradite him back to India.

However, long before the Sheikh case, Executive Intelligence Review has documented a pattern of British involvement in harboring international terrorists, dating back to 1995. As of this writing, no fewer than a dozen governments—many of them leading allies of the United States—have filed formal diplomatic protests with the British Foreign Office, over specific instances of British official support for terrorist groups, targetting those nations.

Criteria for evaluating whether Britain should be sanctioned

U.S. Government policy on sanctions against states sponsoring terrorism has been set by a series of Congressional acts, including, but not limited to: the Export Administration Act of 1979 (EAAA), the Anti-Terrorism and Arms Export Amendments Act of 1989 (ATAEAA), the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2780), the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1996, and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) of 1996.

It is our understanding that, while the Congress has given the Secretary of State broad discretion in designating a country as a state sponsor of terrorism, the legislative history of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has specified seven criteria which should guide the Secretary’s action.

These criteria are:

  1. Does the state provide terrorists sanctuary from extradition or prosecution?


  2. Does the state provide terrorists with weapons and other means of conducting violence?


  3. Does the state provide logistical support to terrorists?


  4. Does the state permit terrorists to maintain safehouses and headquarters on its territory?


  5. Does the state provide training and other material assistance to terrorists?


  6. Does the state provide financial backing to terrorist organizations?


  7. Does the state provide diplomatic services, including travel documents, that could aid in the commission of terrorist acts?

As of this writing, the State Department currently designates seven countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea. In the case of Syria, which is presently engaged in peace negotiations with Israel, the primary reason the regime remains on the list is that several designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are headquartered in Damascus.

In the State Department Authorization Act of October 1991, specific procedures were spelled out for the President to remove a country from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Congress has a 45-day period to pass a joint resolution overriding such a Presidential decision to remove a state from the list, which carries with it a number of significant sanctions.

The case against Great Britain

The following documentary time line is intended to provide an outline of the evidence that we wish the appropriate officials at the U.S. State Department to review, to make a determination whether Great Britain should be added to the list of states sponsoring terrorism, according to the criteria outlined above.

  • In July 1998, a former British MI5 officer, David Shayler, revealed that, in February 1996, British security services financed and supported a London-based Islamic terrorist group, in an attempted assassination against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. The action, Shayler charged, in an interview with the British Daily Mail, was sanctioned by then-Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind. The incident described by Shayler did, in fact, occur. Although Qaddafi escaped without injury, the bomb, planted along a road where the Libyan leader was travelling, killed several innocent bystanders. In an Aug. 5, 1998 interview with BBC, Shayler charged, “We paid £100,000 to carry out the murder of a foreign head of state. That is apart from the fact that the money was used to kill innocent people, because the bomb exploded at the wrong time. In fact, this is hideous funding of international terrorism.” According to Shayler’s BBC interview, MI6 provided the funds to an Arab agent inside Libya, with instructions to carry out the attack.In fact, in 1996, a previously unknown Libyan “Islamist” group appeared in London to claim responsibility for the attempted assassination of Qaddafi.

  • On June 25, 1996, a bomb blew up the U.S. military barracks in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers. The next day, Saudi expatriate Mohammed al-Massari, the head of the London-based Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights, was interviewed on BBC. He warned the United States to expect more terror attacks, which he described as “intellectually justified.” The U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia “is obviously not welcomed by a substantial fraction of the population there,” he warned, “and they are ready to go to the execution stand for it.” He concluded, “There are so many underground parties—so many splinter groups, many of them made up of people who fought in Afghanistan. . . . I expect more of the same.”Despite the fact that al-Massari has repeatedly called for the overthrow of the House of Saud and the creation of an Islamic revolutionary state, he has been given “exceptional leave” to remain in Britain. In April 1996, the British Home Office granted al-Massari a four-year refugee permit to remain on British soil.

    Al-Massari is allied with the well-known Saudi expatriate Osama bin Laden, who, to this day, maintains a residence in the wealthy London suburb of Wembly. And London is the headquarters of bin Laden’s Advise and Reform Commission, run by the London-based Khalid al-Fawwaz.

    Bin Laden has been given regular access to BBC and a variety of major British newspapers, to spread his calls for jihad against the United States. Thus, in July 1996, bin Laden told the London Independent, “What happened in Khobar [the U.S. Army barracks that was bombed on June 25] is a clear proof of the enormous rage of the Saudi population against them. Resistance against America will spread in many places through Muslim lands.”

  • On Jan. 25, 1997, Tory Member of Parliament Nigel Waterson introduced legislation to ban foreign terrorists from operating on British soil. His “Conspiracy and Incitement Bill,” according to his press release, would have for the first time banned British residents from plotting and conducting terrorist operations overseas. Waterson proposed the bill in the aftermath of a scandal over Britain providing safe haven for Saudi terrorist Mohammed al-Massari, who claimed credit for the bombing of U.S. military sites in Saudi Arabia in June 1996. On Feb. 14, 1997, Labour MP George Galloway succeeded in blocking Waterson’s bill from getting out of committee. Galloway, in a speech before the committee that was printed in the House of Commons official proceedings, stated, “The Bill will change political asylum in this country in a profound and dangerous way. It will change a state of affairs that has existed since Napoleon’s time. . . . We are all in favor of controlling terrorism in Britain. Surely not a single honorable Member has any truck with terrorism here, but we are talking about terrorism in other countries. . . . The legislation is rushed in response to a specific, and, for the government, highly embarrassing refugee case—that of Professor al-Massari, who was a thorn in the side of the government of Saudi Arabia. . . . By definition, a tyranny can be removed only by extraordinary measures. Inevitably, in conditions of extreme repression, the leadership of such movements will gravitate to countries such as ours where freedom and liberty prevail. The bill will criminalize such people, even though they have not broken any law in Britain or caused any harm to the Queen’s peace in her realm. They will fall open to prosecution in this country under the Bill because they are inciting, supporting, or organizing events in distant tyrannies, which are clearly offenses under the laws of such tyrants.”

  • On Nov. 17, 1997, the Gamaa al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) carried out a massacre of tourists in Luxor, Egypt, in which 62 people were killed. Since 1992, terrorist attacks by the Islamic Group have claimed at least 92 lives. Yet, the leaders of the organization have been provided with political asylum in Britain, and repeated efforts by the Egyptian government to have them extradited back to Egypt have met with stern rebuffs by Tory and Labour governments alike.On Dec. 14, 1997, British Ambassador to Egypt David Baltherwick was summoned by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and handed an official note, demanding that Britain “stop providing a safe haven to terrorists, and cooperate with Egypt to counter terrorism.” In an interview with the London Times the same day, the Foreign Minister “called on Britain to stop the flow of money from Islamic radicals in London to terrorist groups in Egypt, and to ban preachers in British mosques calling for the assassination of foreign leaders.” The Times added that Moussa “was outraged by reports that £2.5 million had come from exiles in Britain to the outlawed Gamaa al-Islamiya,” and noted that the Egyptian government “has blamed the Luxor massacre on terrorists funded and encouraged from abroad, and identified Britain as the main center for radicals plotting assassinations.”

    To substantiate the charges against Britain, the Egyptian State Information Service posted a “Call to Combat Terrorism” on its official web site. The document read, in part, “Hereunder, is a list of some of the wanted masterminds of terrorism, who are currently enjoying secure and convenient asylum in some world capitals.” The “wanted list” consisted of photographs and biographical data on 14 men, linked to the Luxor massacre and other earlier incidents of terrorism. The first seven individuals listed were all, at the time, residing in London. They are:

    • Yasser al Sirri: “Sentenced to death in the assassination attempt on the life of former Prime Minister Dr. Atef Sidqi; founded the Media Observatory in London as mouthpiece for the New Vanguards of Conquest.”

    • Adel Abdel Bari: “At present, heads Egyptian Human Rights Defense Office, affiliated to Media Observatory in London, the mouthpiece for the outlawed Jihad Organization.”

    • Mustafa Hamzah: “Commander of the military branch of the outlawed `Islamic Group.’ “

    • Tharwat Shehata: “Sentenced to death in the assassination attempt on Dr. Atef Sidqi, former Prime Minister; associated with, and in charge of financing extremist elements abroad; involved in reactivating the outlawed `Jihad Organization’ abroad.”

    • Osama Khalifa: “Accused no. 1 in the case involving domestic and foreign activities of the outlawed Islamic Group.”

    • Refa Mousa.

    • Mohamed el Islambouli: “One of the principal leaders of the Islamic Group; sentenced to death in the case of the outlawed organization of `Returnees from Afghanistan.’ “

Groups banned by United States
are headquartered in London

Shortly before the Luxor massacre, on Oct. 8, 1997, the U.S. State Department, in compliance with the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996, released a list of 30 Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), banned from operating on U.S. soil.

Of the 30 groups named, six maintain headquarters in Britain. They are: the Islamic Group (Egypt), Al-Jihad (Egypt), Hamas (Israel, Palestinian Authority), Armed Islamic Group (Algeria, France), Kurdish Workers Party (Turkey), and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Sri Lanka).

The Islamic Group, and its subsidiary arm, Islamic Jihad, are headquartered in London. In February 1997, the British government formally granted permission to Abel Abdel Majid and Adel Tawfiq al Sirri to establish Islamic Group fundraising and media offices in London, under the names International Bureau for the Defense of the Egyptian People and the Islamic Observatory. Abdel Majid was implicated in the October 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and he subsequently masterminded the escape of two prisoners jailed for the assassination. In 1991, he fled to Britain and immediately was granted political asylum. He has coordinated the Islamic Group’s overseas operations ever since. In fact, he was sentenced to death in absentia for the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan in November 1995, in which 15 diplomats were killed.

Abdel Tawfiq al Sirri, the co-director of the movement, has also been granted political asylum in Britain, despite the fact that he was also sentenced to death in absentia for his part in the 1993 attempted assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Atif Sidqi.

In September 1997, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is in jail in the United States for his role in the Feb. 28, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, issued an order, as the spiritual leader of the Islamic Group, calling for an immediate cease-fire. The six members of the ruling council of Islamic Group residing in Egypt endorsed the Sheikh’s order, but the remaining six council member, living in London, rejected the order. Two months later, the massacre at Luxor took place.

Similarly, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which was responsible for the assassination of Algerian President Mohamed Boudiaf on June 29, 1992, has its international headquarters in London. Sheikh Abu Qatabda and Abu Musab communicate military orders to GIA terrorists operating in Algeria and France via the London-based party organ, Al Ansar. Sheikh Abu Qatabda was granted political asylum in Britain in 1992, after spending years working in Peshawar, Pakistan with various Afghani mujahideen groups. A third London-based GIA leader, Abou Farres, oversees operations targetted against France. He was granted asylum in Britain in 1992, after he was condemned to death in Algeria for acknowledging responsibility for a bombing at Algiers airport, which killed nine people and wounded 125. Farres was believed responsible, from his base in London, for the July-September 1995 string of blind terrorist acts in France, including bombings of three Paris train and subway stations and an open-air market.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), known as the “Tamil Tigers,” have carried out a decade-long terror campaign against the government of Sri Lanka, in which they have killed an estimated 130,000 people. In addition, LTTE was responsible for the suicide-bomber murder of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, and the similar assassination of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa on May 1, 1993.

Since 1984, the LTTE International Secretariat has been located in London. The official spokesman for the Secretariat is Anton Balsingham, an Oxford University graduate and former British Foreign Office employee. The group’s suicide-bomber division, the Black Tigers, which killed Rajiv Gandhi, is run by Pampan Ajith, out of LTTE London headquarters; another elite suicide-bomber cell, the Sky Tigers, which employs light aircraft, is coordinated by Dr. Maheswaran, also based in London.

Most of the marching orders for terrorist operations in the Indian subcontinent are delivered from London, via a string of LTTE publications, including Tamil Nation and Hot Spring, published in London, and Network and Kalathil, published in Surrey. The organization’s chief fundraiser and banker, Lawrence Tilagar, is also based in London.

Similarly, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, maintains its publishing operations in London, including its monthly organ, Filisteen al-Muslima. In 1996, this publication issued a fatwa (religious ruling), calling for terrorist attacks against Israel. On Feb. 25 and March 3, shortly after the fatwa was published, Hamas suicide bombers blew up two Jerusalem buses and a Tel Aviv market, killing 55 people. Funding of these terrorists, who are part of the military wing, Izeddin al Kassam, comes from London, where Interpal is the chief money arm of the group.

In the case of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), the British government played an even more direct role in supporting the 17-year war against the Turkish government by the Kurdish separatists. An estimated 19,000 people have been killed in Southeast Turkey since the PKK launched its terror war in 1983. In May 1995, after the PKK was expelled from Germany, for seizing control of Turkish diplomatic buildings in 18 European cities, the British government licensed MED-TV in London, through which the PKK broadcasts four hours a day into its enclaves inside Turkey, and all over Europe. In a March 1996 broadcast, PKK leader Apo Ocalan called for the execution of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel. And when the PKK held its founding “parliament in exile” in Belgium in 1995, three members of the British House of Lords either attended or sent personal telegrams of endorsement. The three were Lord Hylton, Lord Avebury, and Baroness Gould.

The same Lord Avebury has been an active backer of the Peru Support Group in London, which has served as a major international fundraising front for the Peruvian narco-terrorist group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). When Adolfo Héctor Olaechea was dispatched by Shining Path to London in July 1992, to establish the “foreign affairs bureau,” he received a letter of recognition from Buckingham Palace, which he circulated widely. The letter read in part, “The private secretary is commanded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to acknowledge receipt of the letter from Mr. Olaechea, and to say that it has been passed on to the Home Office.”

In addition to the six FTOs who have their headquarters in Britain, an additional 16 groups on the State Department’s 1997 list either receive funding from groups based in Britain, or receive military training and logistical support from groups operating freely from British soil. Those groups are: the Abu Nidal Organization (Palestinian Authority), Harkat ul-Ansar (India), Mujahideen e Khalq (Iran), Kach (Israel, Palestinian Authority), Kahane Chai (Israel, Palestinian Authority), Abu Sayyaf (Philippines), Hezbollah (Israel, Lebanon), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia), ELN (Colombia), FARC (Colombia), Shining Path (Peru), MRTA (Peru), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Israel, Palestinian Authority), Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi (Israel, Palestinian Authority), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Israel, Palestinian Authority), PFLP-General Command (Israel, Palestinian Authority).

The `fatwa’ against American targets

On Feb. 10, 1998, a group of well-known London-based “Islamists” and Islamic organizations issued a fatwa, calling for terrorist attacks against American targets. It was signed by Saudi terrorist supporter Mohammed Al-Massari and Omar Bakri, head of the Al-Muhajiroon, and was endorsed by 60 organizations that are based in the United Kingdom. It instructed Muslims living in the United States: “You have first to renounce the residency or acquire citizenship, then start military activities if physically capable. You are then at liberty to fight them everywhere in the world or re-enter the realm clandestinely and wreak havoc, obviously facing charges as spy, terrorist, etc.”

On Feb. 23, 1998, a second fatwa was issued, entitled “World Islamic Front’s Statement Urging Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders.” It called for killing Americans because of their “occupation of the holy Arab Peninsula and Jerusalem” and their “oppressing the Muslim nations,” and concluded, “in compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilian and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy Mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of the lands of Islam, defeated, and unable to threaten any Muslims. We—with God’s help—call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans.”

The fatwa, which was widely reported in the London-based Arabic daily Al Quds al Arabi, was signed by Sheikh Osama bin Laden, who, despite his current residence in Afghanistan, continues to maintain a lavish mansion in London; Ayman al Zawahiri, head of the Islamic Group behind the November 1997 massacre at Luxor, Egypt; Abu Yasser Rifai Ahmad Taha, another leader of the Islamic Group, residing in London; and Sheikh Mir Hamza, secretary of the Jamiat ul Ulema e, of Pakistan.

The two fatwas were the subject of testimony by an official of the Central Intelligence Agency on Feb. 23, 1998, before the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, chaired by Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.). At Senator Kyl’s request, the CIA Counterterrorism Center provided the subcommittee with a declassified memorandum, titled “Fatwas or Religious Rulings by Militant Islamic Groups Against the United States.” The memorandum stated that “a coalition of Islamic groups in London, and terrorist financier Osama bin Laden, have issued separate fatwas, or religious rulings, calling for attacks on U.S. persons and interests worldwide, and on those of U.S. allies. . . . Both fatwas call for attacks to continue until U.S. forces retreat from Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. The fatwa from the groups in London also calls for attacks until sanctions on Iraq are lifted. These fatwas are the first from these groups that explicitly justify attacks on American civilians anywhere in the world. Both groups have hinted in the past that civilians are legitimate targets, but this is the first religious ruling sanctifying such attacks.”

Two days before the Aug. 7, 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, the Islamic Jihad issued a declaration, targetting American interests all over the world. The communiqué accused the CIA of cooperating with Egyptian officials to capture three members of the group in Albania, and extradite them to Egypt where they faced prosecution on capital offenses.

Within hours of the two bombings, a number of London-based groups issued endorsements of the bombings. Supporters of Sharia, headed by Abu Hamza Al-Misri, an Egyptian who was convicted of a capital offense in Egypt, but who enjoys political asylum in London, issued one of the most virulent “endorsements.” Omar Bakri, the head of Al-Muhajiroon, as well as the Islamic Observation Center, the Islamic Jihad organization’s official propaganda and fundraising organization in London, also endorsed the bombings. The Islamic Observation Center was officially licensed by the British government in 1996 to carry out activities in Britain.

Attacks on Yemen

In the third week of December 1998, a London-based terrorist group was planning to launch operations to destabilize the Republic of Yemen. Members of the Ansar Al-Sharia, directed from London by Mustafa Kamel (a.k.a. Abu Hamza Al-Masri, a British citizen and former Afghansi “mujahid,” who trains groups of young people for terrorist activities at his Finsbury Mosque in north London, were arrested on Dec. 23, 1998 in Yemen, as they were planning armed terrorist operations. These terrorists were in contact with the Islamic Army of Abeen-Aden (affiliated with the London-based Egyptian Islamic Jihad), which had kidnapped 16 British and Australian tourists a few days earlier.

A rescue operation on Dec. 29 by the Yemeni security forces resulted in the kidnappers killing three British hostages and one Australian; 12 tourists were freed. British press and, later, government officials, accused the Yemeni security forces of “provoking the murders,” because they refused to negotiate with the terrorists.

In response, the Yemeni authorities did not mince words. In one day, Yemen kicked out the British Scotland Yard officers who had been invited to observe the investigations, withdrew its application to join the British Commonwealth, and announced that a group of British citizens had been arrested while attempting a massive terror-bombing campaign in Aden.

On Jan. 25, Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh demanded from British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Abu Hamza Al-Masri be handed over for trial in Yemen on charges of carrying out terrorist acts in Yemen and several other Arab states. This was expressed in an official message Saleh sent to Blair, conveyed by the British Ambassador to Yemen, Victor Henderson. The London-based daily Al-Hayat reported that, according to government sources in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, the message from President Saleh stressed that the Yemeni government has the right to demand that the British government hand over Abu Hamza, and evidence and documents which prove its description of Abu Hamza as a “terrorist” and “extremist.”

However, British law does not consider it a crime for individuals and groups based in Britain to plan, incite, or conduct terrorist operations outside Her Majesty’s domains.

Abu Hamza’s case is even more complicated, because he is not only an asylum seeker, but has British citizenship. The Yemeni request came in the context of investigations conducted by the Yemeni security authorities into the group whose members were arrested on Dec. 23, including five British citizens (one of them the son of Abu Hamza) and one French citizen, who were in possession of weapons and explosives and were said to be involved in carrying out “terrorist and destructive plans which undermine Yemen’s security and stability.”

The Yemeni investigations found that Abu Hamza has relations with this group, in addition to his “firm links to the Islamic Army of Aden,” led by Abu Hassan al-Muhdar, who is in custody. Al-Muhdar’s group carried out the kidnapping of the tourists in December 1998. The Yemeni government sources added that the message of the Yemeni President to the British Prime Minister expressed Yemen’s great regret over the “terrorist activities carried out by Abu Hamza al-Masri” and others from the British territories, acts which it said undermine Yemen’s security and stability, as well as similar terrorist acts in several Arab states.

Eight days earlier, Abu Hamza called for killing Yemeni officials if the Yemeni authorities sentenced the kidnappers to death. Replying to a question from the Qatari al-Jazira satellite TV network on Jan. 14, he said: “If Zein al-Abidin al-Muhdar were to be executed, there will be revenge acts and massacres.”

Abu Hamza stated in a televised debate on Jan. 18 that he had been contacted by the leader of the group that carried out the kidnapping before the rescue operation, “and asked me for advice.” Abu Hamza accordingly issued a communiqué and threatened the Yemeni authorities.

The target of these operations has been the government of the Republic of Yemen itself. Abu Hamza made this clear in the televised debate, in which he said that the ultimate goal is to overthrow the secular regime in Sanaa, and that there are supporters in Yemen who are ready to fight for establishing an Islamic state. Al-Muhdar, during his trial in Yemen, confirmed that the objective of his group is to overthrow every secular government in the region.

Formal diplomatic protests to London

This British harboring of international terrorist groups has not gone unnoticed by the nations that have been the targets of this brutality. To date, the British Foreign Office has received formal diplomatic protests from at least ten victimized countries. These include:

Egypt: British asylum for the Islamic Group and Islamic Jihad has been a persistent reason for Egyptian complaints to the British government. In April 1996, Egyptian Interior Minister Hasan al-Alfi told the British Arabic weekly Al-Wasat, “All terrorists come from London. They exist in other European countries, but they start from London.” On Aug. 29, the government daily Al-Ahram reported that the British chargé d’affaires in Cairo was summoned by the Deputy Foreign Minister, and given a letter for Foreign Minister Malcolm Rifkind, protesting Britain’s “double standard policy” and “support for international terrorism.” An official of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry was quoted in the paper, saying, “The asylum law in Britain has provided a safe-haven for terrorists.”

Egypt has been particularly incensed that the British have allowed the Islamic Group/Islamic Jihad to use London as their home-base. Continual demands that Britain extradite Islamic Group leaders Adel Abdul Majid and Adel Tawfiq al Sirri back to Cairo, where they have been sentenced to death in absentia for terrorist crimes, have been rejected.

On Feb. 13, 1997, Egyptian officials told Al-Hayat, that the Egyptian government remains “troubled” and “astonished” by Britain’s decision to allow Abdul Majid to establish officially recognized centers in London, especially after the Egyptian Supreme Court released admissions from several members of the group, at the beginning of 1997, that they had received money and marching orders from Abdul Majid, to carry out bombings and assassinations throughout 1996.

These same officials told the paper that “this only further supports Egypt’s belief that London has become the most prominent center for anti-Egypt Islamic extremist groups,” and that there will continue to be talks on the highest levels “to know the reasons that made the British government allow the establishment of that [Islamic Group] office.”

Following the Luxor massacre, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak launched a personal international crusade to spotlight the role of the British government in harboring and sponsoring the terrorists who have targetted Egypt.

Israel: On March 3, 1996, after a Hamas bomb exploded in a Jerusalem market, killing a dozen people, and a second bomb exploded in Tel Aviv, Israel’s ambassador to London met with Foreign Minister Rifkind to demand that Britain stop protecting the group. In an account of that confrontation, the London Express reported the next day, “Israeli security sources say the fanatics behind the bombings are funded and controlled through secret cells operating here. Only days before the latest terror campaign began, military chiefs in Jerusalem detailed how Islamic groups raised £7 million in donations from British organizations. The ambassador, Moshe Raviv, yesterday shared Israel’s latest information about the Hamas operations. A source at the Israeli embassy said last night, `It is not the first time we have pointed out that Islamic terrorists are in Britain.’ “

The British Foreign Office officially responded to the Israeli ambassador: “We have seen no proof to support allegations that funds raised by the Hamas in the U.K. are used directly in support of terrorist acts elsewhere.”

In early September 1997, Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon travelled to Britain, according to the Sunday Telegraph, after investigations determined that the two Hamas suicide bombers who killed 15 people in a Jerusalem market on July 30, arrived in Israel on British passports: “Israeli officials are said to have become increasingly frustrated by what they see as British foot-dragging in curbing the activities of Palestinian hard-liners. The Israeli government has made repeated calls for action to be taken against militants, said to be operating freely in the British capital.”

France: In late 1995, the GIA’s London headquarters ordered a terror war against France, leading France to loudly protest to the British government, according to the Nov. 6, 1995 London Daily Telegraph, in an article entitled “Britain Harbours Paris Bomber.” On Nov. 3, 1995, the French daily Le Figaro wrote, under the headline “The Providential Fog of London,” of the GIA’s bombing spree: “The trail of Boualem Bensaid, GIA leader in Paris, leads to Great Britain. The British capital has served as logistical and financial base for the terrorists.”

The next day, Le Parisien reported that the author of the GIA terror attack inside France was former Afghan mujahideen leader Abou Farres, who was given a residence visa in London, despite the fact that he was already wanted in connection with the bombing of the Algiers Airport. Farres’s London-based organization, according to Le Parisien, recruits Islamic youth from the poor suburbs of Paris, and sends them to Afghanistan, where they are trained as terrorists.

Algeria also filed strong protests to the British Foreign Office over the harboring of the GIA in London.

Peru: The Peruvian government has made repeated requests to the British government, since 1992, demanding the extradition of Adolfo Héctor Olaechea, the London-based head of overseas operations for Shining Path, as well as the shutdown of its fundraising and support operations there. Both requests have been refused to this day. Moreover, in 1992, during the worst of the Shining Path offensive in Peru, Channel 4, of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, a dependency of the British Home Office, coordinated with Olaechea to send two journalists to Peru, where they contacted Shining Path units, and filmed a highly favorable report. The film was broadcast throughout Britain by Channel 4 on July 10, 1992, despite an official protest from the Peruvian government.

Turkey: On Aug. 20, 1996, the Turkish government formally protested to the British government for allowing the Kurdish Workers Party to continue its London-based MED TV broadcasts into Turkey, despite documentation that the broadcasts were being used to convey marching orders to PKK terrorists there.

Germany: The Bonn government issued a diplomatic note to London, too, following a March 1996 MED TV broadcast in which PKK leader Apo Ocalan called for murdering German Chancellor Kohl and Foreign Minister Kinkel. According to the German press, the Interior Ministry stated concerning the London station: “We have requested our colleagues in neighboring countries in Europe to put measures into effect in order to not compromise internal security in our own country.”

Libya: On Feb. 7, 1997, the Libyan Foreign Ministry submitted an official protest to the British government, over Britain’s permitting of the Militant Islamic Group to operate on British soil. The letter cited the recent assassination attempt against Colonel Qaddafi by members of the London-headquartered group, and read, in part, “The decision by Britain, which is a permanent member state of the [UN] Security Council, to shelter elements of that terrorist group who are wanted to stand trial in Libya and to enable them to openly announce their destructive intentions against a UN member state, namely Libya, . . . contravenes international charges and treaties.”

Nigeria: On Feb. 28, 1997, the British government issued a denial that it had refused to extradite three Nigerians suspected of a series of bombings in the major city of Lagos in January 1997. The three men were leaders of the National Democratic Coalition (Nadeco).

Yemen: In January 1999, the government of Yemen filed formal diplomatic protests with Britain for the harboring of the terrorists who carried out bombings and kidnappings.

Russia: On Nov. 14, 1999, the Russian Foreign Ministry filed a formal protest to Andrew Wood, Britain’s Ambassador in Moscow, after two Russian television journalists were brutally beaten as they attempted to film a London conference, where bin Laden’s International Islamic Front, Ansar as-Shariah, Al-Muhajiroon, and other Islamist groups called for a jihad against Russia, in retaliation for the Russian military actions in Chechnya.

One of the victims of the beating, ORT cameraman Alexandr Panov, told Kommersant daily that he was “very surprised at the indifference of the British government. Some of the participants at the `charity’ event were people wanted by Interpol, but Scotland Yard, although evidently aware of their residence [in Britain], does not react.”

On Nov. 10, 1999, the Russian government had already filed a formal diplomatic démarche via the Russian Embassy in London, protesting the attacks on the Russian journalists, and also the admissions by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the head of the “political wing” of the bin Laden organization, Al Muhajiroon, that the group was recruiting Muslims in England to go to Chechnya to fight the Russian Army. Bakri’s organization operates freely from offices in the London suburb of Lee Valley, where they occupy two rooms at a local computer center, and maintain their own Internet company. Bakri has admitted that “retired” British military officers are training new recruits in Lee Valley, before they are sent off to camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or are smuggled directly into Chechnya.

On Nov. 20, 1999, the Daily Telegraph admitted, following the release of the U.S. State Department’s updated list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, that “Britain is now an international center for Islamic militancy on a huge scale . . . and the capital is the home to a bewildering variety of radical Islamic fundamentalist movements, many of which make no secret of their commitment to violence and terrorism to achieve their goals.”

India: In December 1999, following the conclusion of the Indian Airlines hijacking, the Indian government protested the fact that British officials publicly stated that they would allow one of the freed Kashmiri terrorists, Ahmed Omar Sheikh, to return to London, because there “were no charges filed against him in Britain.” The British government, facing growing international pressure, apparently has backed down from this decision.

Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, claimed David Cameron backed a French plot to create a break away zone eastern Libya

Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, claimed David Cameron backed a French plot to create a break away zone eastern Libya

Britain hid secret MI6 plan to break up Libya from US, Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton received several warnings from a friend that Britain was acting deceitfully in Libya Photo: Reuters

By Raf Sanchez, Washington

Britain acted deceitfully in Libya and David Cameron authorised an MI6 plan to “break up” the country, a close confidante of Hillary Clinton claimed in a series of secret reports sent to the then-secretary of state.

Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, emailed Mrs Clinton on her personal account to warn her that Britain was “game playing” in Libya.

Mr Blumenthal had no formal role in the US State Department and his memos to Mrs Clinton were sourced to his own personal contacts in the Middle East and Europe.

Nevertheless, Mrs Clinton seems to have taken some of his reports seriously and forwarded them on to senior diplomats working at the highest levels of American foreign policy.

The first of Mr Blumenthal’s Libya memos – which were leaked to the New York Times – was sent on April 8, 2011, as rebel forces struggled to make gains against Gaddafi’s troops, and had “UK game playing” in the subject line.

The memo warned that British diplomats and MI6 officers were maintaining secret back channels with the Gaddafi regime “in an effort to protect the British position in the event that the rebellion settles into a stalemate”.

Muammar Gaddafi / Photo: REUTERS



Mr Blumenthal claimed that MI6 spies were in discussions with Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son, “regarding future relations between the two countries if he takes over power from his father and implements reforms”.

The memo also claims that the Libyan rebels were deeply suspicious of Britain and suspected that the UK would be “satisfied with a stalemate” in which Gaddafi or his family stayed in power in part of the country.

Their suspicions were stoked when Gaddafi’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, defected to Britain in March 2011, Mr Blumenthal claimed. The rebels apparently saw the defection as evidence that Britain had secret lines of communication with the highest ranks of the Gaddafi regime.

Extract from the email:

Eight minutes after receiving Mr Blumenthal’s email, Mrs Clinton forwarded it on to one of her most senior aides. She did not comment on the allegations about Britain. A week later, she met with William Hague, the then-foreign secretary at a Nato summit in Berlin.

Perhaps unbeknownst to Mr Blumenthal, who was working for Bill Clinton’s global charity at the time and not privy to classified information, the CIA was maintaining its own back channels to Gaddafi.

Michael Morell, the CIA’s deputy director, spoke regularly to Abdullah Senussi, the head of Gaddafi’s internal intelligence service, even as US aircraft were bombing regime forces on the battlefield.

Mr Blumenthal emailed Mrs Clinton about Britain again on March 8, 2012 with the subject: “France & UK behind Libya breakup”.

By this time Gaddafi was dead and his regime had collapsed and a provisional government, the Libyan National Transitional Council, was trying to assert its authority across the country.

Mr Blumenthal told Mrs Clinton that MI6 and its French counterpart, the DGSE, were secretly encouraging rebels in eastern Libya to establish “a semi-autonomous zone” outside the control of the new government.

The plot was allegedly instigated by advisors to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who believed that the new Libyan government was not “rewarding” French businesses for France’s role in overthrowing Gaddafi.

He alleged that MI6 joined in the plan “at the instruction of the office of Prime Minister David Cameron“.

“The French and British intelligence officials believe that the semi-autonomous regime in the eastern city of Benghazi will be able to organise business opportunities in that region,” he wrote.

Extract from the email:














Mrs Clinton seems to have been sceptical about the report and forwarded it on to her aide Jake Sullivan with the comment: “This one strains credulity. What do you think?”

Mrs Clinton’s aides appear unimpressed with the stream of emails coming from Mr Blumenthal and Mr Sullivan replied that the MI6 allegations sounded like “like a thin conspiracy theory”.

Mrs Clinton was asked about the emails during a campaign appearance in Iowa and said Mr Blumenthal had been “a friend of mine for a very long time”.

“He sent unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances. That’s just part of the give and take,” she said.

The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Blumenthal memos have aroused interest in the US because they appear to show a blurring of the lines between Mrs Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation set up by her husband.

Although he had no role in the State Department, he was working for the Clinton Foundation and various political groups allied with Mrs Clinton, according to the New York Times.

Mr Blumenthal worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and was known for fierce loyalty to both the Clintons and for aggressively confronting their critics.

Aides to Barack Obama prevented Mrs Clinton from bringing him into the State Department in 2009, believing that he would only stir up trouble after the bitterly-fought election battle between Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton.

Islamic State is the Cancer of Modern Capitalism

Islamic State is the Cancer of Modern Capitalism

By Nafeez Ahmed
Islamic State is the Cancer of Modern Capitalism

The brutal ‘Islamic State’ is a symptom of a deepening crisis of civilisation premised on fossil fuel addiction, which is undermining Western hegemony and unravelling state power across the Muslim world

Debate about the origins of the Islamic State (IS) has largely oscillated between two extreme perspectives. One blames the West. IS is nothing more than a predictable reaction to the occupation of Iraq, yet another result of Western foreign policy blowback. The other attributes IS’s emergence purely to the historic or cultural barbarism of the Muslim world, whose backward medieval beliefs and values are a natural incubator for such violent extremism.

The biggest elephant in the room as this banal debate drones on is material infrastructure. Anyone can have bad, horrific, disgusting ideas. But they can only be fantasies unless we find a way to manifest them materially in the world around us.

So to understand how the ideology that animates IS has managed to garner the material resources to conquer an area bigger than the United Kingdom, we need to inspect its material context more closely.

Follow the money

The foundations for al-Qaeda’s ideology were born in the 1970s. Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden‘s Palestinian mentor, formulated a new theory justifying continuous, low-intensity war by dispersed mujahideen cells for a pan-Islamist state. Azzam’s violent Islamist doctrines were popularised in the context of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

As is well-known, the Afghan mujahideen networks were trained and financed under the supervision of the CIA, MI6 and the Pentagon. The Gulf states provided huge sums of money, while Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) liaised on the ground with the militant networks being coordinated by Azzam, bin Laden, and others.

The Reagan administration, for instance, provided $2 billion to the Afghan mujahideen, which was matched by another $2 billion from Saudi Arabia.

In Afghanistan, USAID invested millions of dollars to supply schoolchildren with “textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings”, according to the Washington Post. Theology justifying violent jihad was interspersed with “drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines”. The textbooks even extolled the heavenly rewards if children were to “pluck out the eyes of the Soviet enemy and cut off his legs”.

The conventional wisdom is that this disastrous configuration of Western-Muslim world collaboration in financing Islamist extremists ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. As I said in Congressional testimony a year after the release of the 9/11 Commission Report, the conventional wisdom is false.

Protection racket

A classified US intelligence report revealed by journalist Gerald Posner confirmed that the US was fully aware of a secret deal struck in April 1991 between Saudi Arabia and bin Laden, then under house arrest. Under the deal, bin Laden could leave the kingdom with his funding and supporters, and continue to receive financial support from the Saudi royal family, on one condition: that he refrain from targeting and destabilising the Saudi kingdom itself.

Far from being a distant observer of this covert agreement, the US and Britain were active participants.

Saudi Arabia’s massive oil supply underpins the health and growth of the global economy. We could not afford it to be destabilised. It was pro quid pro: to protect the kingdom, allow it to fund bin Laden outside the kingdom.

As British historian Mark Curtis documents meticulously in his sensational book, Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, the US and UK government continued to covertly support al-Qaeda-affiliated networks in Central Asia and the Balkans after the Cold War, for much the same reasons as before – countering Russian, and now Chinese, influence to extend US hegemony over the global capitalist economy. Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil hub, remained the conduit for this short-sighted Anglo-American strategy.


A year after the 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) bombing, Curtis reports, Osama bin Laden opened an office in Wembley, London, under the name of the Advice and Reformation Committee, from which he coordinated worldwide extremist activity.

Around the same time, the Pentagon was airlifting thousands of al-Qaeda mujahideen from Central Asia into Bosnia, in violation of the UN’s arms embargo, according to Dutch intelligence files. They were accompanied by US special forces. The “Blind Sheikh”, convicted of the WTC bombing, had been deeply involved in recruiting and dispatching al-Qaeda fighters into Bosnia.


From around 1994, all the way until 9/11, US military intelligence along with Britain, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, covertly supplied arms and funds to the al-Qaeda-harbouring Taliban.

In 1997, Amnesty International complained about “close political links” between the incumbent Taliban militia, who had recently conquered Kabul, and the US. The human rights group referred to credible “accounts of the madrasas (religious schools) which the Taleban attended in Pakistan,” indicating that “these links may have been established at the very inception of the Taleban movement.”

One such account, reported Amnesty, came from the late Benazir Bhutto – then Pakistan’s Prime Minister – who “affirmed that the madrasas had been set up by Britain, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan during the Jihad, the Islamic resistance against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan”. Under US tutelage, Saudi Arabia was still funding those madrasas.

US government-drafted textbooks designed to indoctrinate Afghan children into violent jihad during the Cold War, now approved by the Taliban, became part of the Afghan school system’s core curriculum, and were used extensively in militant madrasas in Pakistan being funded by Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani ISI with US support.

Both the Clinton and Bush administrations were hoping to use the Taliban to establish a proxy client regime in the country similar to its Saudi benefactor. The vain hope, clearly ill-conceived, was that a Taliban government would provide the stability necessary to install a Trans-Afghan pipeline (TAPI) supplying Central Asian gas to South Asia, while side-lining Russia, China and Iran.

Those hopes were dashed three months before 9/11 when the Taliban rejected US proposals. The TAPI project was subsequently stalled due to the Taliban’s intransigent control of Kandahar and Quetta, but has been shepherded along by the Obama administration and is now being finalised.


NATO continued to sponsor al-Qaeda-affiliated networks in Kosovo by the late 1990s, reports Mark Curtis, when US and British special forces supplied arms and training to Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rebels who included mujahideen recruits. Among them was a rebel cell headed by Muhammad al-Zawahiri, the brother of bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman, who now leads al-Qaeda.

In the same period, Osama and Ayman coordinated the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania from bin Laden’s office in London.

There was some good news, though: NATO’s interventions in the Balkans, accompanied by the disintegration of socialist Yugoslavia, paved the way to integrate the region into Western Europe, privatise local markets, and establish new regimes supportive of the Trans-Balkan pipeline to transport oil and gas from Central Asia to the West.

The Middle East redirection

Even after 9/11 and 7/7, US and British addiction to cheap fossil fuels to sustain global capitalist expansion led us to deepen our alliance with extremists.

Around the middle of the last decade, Anglo-American military intelligence began supervising Gulf state financing, once again led by Saudi Arabia, to Islamist extremist networks across the Middle East and Central Asia, to counter Iranian Shiite influence in the region. Beneficiaries of this enterprise included al-Qaeda-affiliated militant and extremist groups from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon – a veritable arc of Islamist terror.

Once again, Islamist militants would be unwittingly fostered as an agent of US hegemony in the face of rising geopolitical rivals.

As Seymour Hersh revealed in the New Yorker in 2007, this “redirection” of policy was about weakening not just Iran, but also Syria – where US and Saudi largess went to support the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, among other opposition groups. Both Iran and Syria, of course, were closely aligned with Russia and China.


In 2011, NATO’s military intervention to topple the Gaddafi regime followed hot on the heels of extensive support to Libyan mercenaries who were, in fact, members of al-Qaeda’s official branch in Libya. France had been reportedly offered 35 percent control of Libya’s oil in exchange for French support to insurgents.

After the intervention, European, British and American oil giants were “perfectly poised to take advantage” of “commercial opportunities”, according to Professor David Anderson of Oxford University. Lucrative deals with NATO members could “release Western Europe from the stranglehold of high-pricing Russia producers who currently dominate their gas supply”.

Secret intelligence reports showed that NATO-backed rebels had strong ties to al-Qaeda. The CIA also used Libya’s Islamists militants to funnel heavy weapons to rebels in Syria.

A Canadian intelligence report from 2009 described the rebel stronghold of eastern Libya as an “epicentre of Islamist extremism”, from which “extremist cells” operated in the region – the same region, according to David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen, that was being “defended by a Canadian-led NATO coalition”. Pugliese reported that the intelligence report confirmed “several Islamist insurgent groups” were based in eastern Libya, many of whom were also “urging followers to fight in Iraq”. Canadian pilots even joked privately that they were part of al-Qaeda’s air force, “since their bombing runs helped to pave the way for rebels aligned with the terrorist group”.

According to Pugliese, Canadian intelligence specialists sent a prescient briefing report dated 15 March 2011 to NATO senior officers just days before the intervention began. “There is the increasing possibility that the situation in Libya will transform into a long-term tribal/civil war,” they wrote. “This is particularly probable if opposition forces receive military assistance from foreign militaries.”

As we know, the intervention went ahead regardless.


For nearly the last half-decade at least, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan and Turkey have all provided extensive financial and military support primarily to al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant networks that spawned today’s “Islamic State”. This support has been provided in the context of an accelerating anti-Assad strategy led by the United States.

Competition to dominate potential regional pipeline routes involving Syria, as well as untapped fossil fuel resources in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean – at the expense of Russia and China – have played a central role in motivating this strategy.

Former French foreign minister Roland Dumas revealed that in 2009, British Foreign Office officials told him that UK forces were already active in Syria attempting to foment rebellion.

The ongoing operation has been closely supervised under an on-going covert programme coordinated jointly by American, British, French and Israeli military intelligence. Evidence in the public record confirms that US support alone to anti-Assad fighters totalled about $2 billion as of the end of 2014.

While the conventional wisdom insists that this support to Islamist extremists was mistaken, the facts speak for themselves. Classified CIA assessments showed that US intelligence knew how US-led support to anti-Assad rebels through its Middle East allies consistently ended up in the hands of the most virulent extremists. But it continued.

Pentagon officials were also aware in the year before IS launched its campaign of conquest inside Iraq, that the vast majority of “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels were, in fact, Islamist militants. It was, officials admitted, increasingly impossible to draw fixed lines between “moderate” rebels and extremists linked to al-Qaeda or IS, due to the fluid interactions between them.

Increasingly, frustrated FSA fighters have joined the ranks of Islamist militants in Syria, not for ideological reasons, but simply due to their superior military capabilities. So far, almost all “moderate” rebel groups recently trained and armed by the US are disbanding and continuously defecting to al-Qaeda and IS to fight Assad.


The US is now coordinating the continued supply of military aid to “moderate” rebels to fight IS, through a new arrangement with Turkey. Yet it is an open secret that Turkey, throughout this entire period, has been directly sponsoring al-Qaeda and IS as part of a geopolitical gambit to crush Kurdish opposition groups and bring down Assad.

Much has been made of Turkey’s “lax” efforts to curb foreign fighters crossing its territory to join IS in Syria. Turkey has recently responded by announcing that it has stopped thousands.

Both claims are mythical: Turkey has deliberately harboured and funnelled support to IS and al-Qaeda in Syria.

Last summer, Turkish journalist Denis Kahraman interviewed an IS fighter receiving medical treatment in Turkey, who told him: “Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large number of our mujahedeen [jihadis] received medical treatment in Turkey.”

Earlier this year, authenticated official documents of the Turkish military (the Gendarmerie General Command) were leaked online, showing that Turkey’s intelligence services (MIT) had been caught in Adana by military officers transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition via truck “to the al-Qaeda terror organisation” in Syria.

“Moderate” FSA rebels are involved in the MIT-sponsored Turkish-Islamist support network. One told the Telegraph that he “now runs safe houses in Turkey for foreign fighters looking to join Jabhat al-Nusra and Isil [Islamic State].”

Some officials have spoken up about this, but to no avail. Last year, Claudia Roth, deputy speaker of the German parliament, expressed shock that NATO is allowing Turkey to harbour an IS camp in Istanbul, facilitate weapons transfers to Islamist militants through its borders, and tacitly support IS oil sales. Nothing happened.

The US-led anti-IS coalition is funding IS 

The US and Britain have not only remained strangely silent about the complicity of their coalition partner in sponsoring the enemy. They have tightened up the partnership with Turkey, and are working avidly with the same state-sponsor of IS to train “moderate” rebels to fight IS.

It is not just Turkey. Last year, US Vice President Joe Biden told a White House press conference that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey among others, were pouring “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons, of weapons” into “al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis” as part of a “proxy Sunni-Shia war”. He added that, for all intents and purposes, it is not possible to identify “moderate” rebels in Syria.

There is no indication that this funding has dried up. As late as September 2014, even as the US began coordinating airstrikes against IS, Pentagon officials revealed that they knew their own coalition allies were still funding IS.

That month, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by Senator Lindsay Graham during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces Isil [IS]?” He said: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”

Despite this knowledge, the US government has not merely refused to sanction these allies, but rewarded them by including them in the coalition that is supposed to fight the very extremist entity they are funding. Worse, the same allies continue to be granted ample leeway to select fighters to receive training.

Key members of our anti-IS coalition are bombing IS from the air while sponsoring them behind the scenes – with the knowledge of the Pentagon.

The arc of Muslim state-failure

In Iraq and Syria, where IS was born, the devastation of society due to prolonged conflict cannot be underestimated. Western military invasion and occupation of Iraq, replete with torture and indiscriminate violence, played an undeniable role in paving the way for the emergence of extreme reactionary politics. Before Western intervention, al-Qaeda was nowhere to be seen in the country.

The continual input of vast quantities of money to Islamist extremist networks, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of material resources that no one has yet been able to quantify in its totality – coordinated by the same nexus of Western and Muslim governments – has over the last half century had a deeply destabilising impact. IS is the surreal, post-modern culmination of this sordid history.

The West’s anti-IS coalition in the Muslim world consists of repressive regimes whose domestic policies have widened inequalities, crushed legitimate dissent, tortured peaceful political activists, and stoked deep-seated resentments. They are the same allies that have, and are continuing to fund IS, with the knowledge of Western intelligence agencies.

Yet they are doing so in regional circumstances that can only be described as undergoing, in the last decade, escalating converging crises. As Princeton’s Professor Bernard Haykel said: “I see ISIS as a symptom of a much deeper structural set of problems in the Sunni Arab world… [It has] to do with politics. With education, and the lack thereof. With authoritarianism. With foreign intervention. With the curse of oil … I think that even if ISIS were to disappear, the underlying causes that produce ISIS would not disappear. And those would have to be addressed with decades of policy and reforms and changes – not just by the West, but also by Arab societies as well.”

Yet as we saw with the Arab Spring, these structural problems have been exacerbated by a perfect storm of interlinked political, economic, energy and environmental crises, all of which are being incubated by a deepening crisis of global capitalism.

With the region suffering from prolonged droughts, failing agriculture, decline in oil revenues due to domestic peak oil, economic corruption and mismanagement compounded by neoliberal austerity, and so on, local states have begun to collapse. From Iraq to Syria, from Egypt to Yemen, the same nexus of climate, energy and economic crises are unravelling incumbent governments.

Alienation in the West

Although the West is far more resilient to these interconnected global crises, entrenched inequalities in the US, Britain and Western Europe – which have a disproportionate effect on ethnic minorities, women and children – are worsening.

In Britain, nearly 70 percent of ethnically South Asian Muslims, and two-thirds of their children, live in poverty. Just under 30 percent of British Muslim young people aged from 16-24 years are unemployed. According to Minority Rights Group International, conditions for British Muslims in terms of “access to education, employment and housing” have deteriorated in recent years, rather than improving. This has been accompanied by a “worrying rise in open hostility” from non-Muslim communities, and a growing propensity for police and security services to target Muslims disproportionately under anti-terror powers. Consistently negative reporting on Muslims by the media, coupled with grievances over justifiable perceptions of an aggressive and deceptive foreign policy in the Muslim world, compound the latter to create a prevailing sense of social exclusion associated with British Muslim identity.

It is the toxic contribution of these factors to general identity formation that is the issue – not each of the factors by themselves. Poverty alone, or discrimination alone, or anti-Muslim reporting alone, and so on, do not necessarily make a person vulnerable to radicalisation. But together these can forge an attachment to an identity that sees itself as alienated, frustrated and locked in a cycle of failure.

The prolongation and interaction of these problems can contribute to the way Muslims in Britain from various walks of life begin to view themselves as a whole. In some cases, it can generate an entrenched sense of separation and alienation from, and disillusionment with wider society. This exclusionary identity, and where it takes a person, will depend on that person’s specific environment, experiences and choices.
Prolonged social crises can lay the groundwork for the rise of toxic, xenophobic ideologies on all sides. Such crises undermine conventional mores of certainty and stability rooted in established notions of identity and belonging.

While vulnerable Muslims might turn to gang culture, or worse, Islamist extremism, vulnerable non-Muslims might adopt their own exclusionary identities linked with extremist groups like the English Defence League, or other far-right extremist networks.

For more powerful elite groups, their sense of crisis may inflame militaristic neoconservative ideologies that sanitise incumbent power structures, justify the status quo, whitewash the broken system that sustains their power, and demonise progressive and minority movements.

In this maelstrom, the supply of countless billions of dollars to Islamist extremist networks in the Middle East with a penchant for violence, empowers groups that previously lacked any local constituency.

As multiple crises converge and intensify, undermining state stability and inflaming grievances, this massive input of resources to Islamist ideologues can pull angry, alienated, vulnerable individuals into their vortex of xenophobic extremism. The end-point of that process is the creation of monsters.


While these factors escalated regional vulnerability to crisis levels, the US and Britain’s lead role after 9/11 in coordinating covert Gulf state financing of extremist Islamist militants across the region has poured gasoline on the flames.

The links these Islamist networks have in the West meant that domestic intelligence agencies have periodically turned blind eyes to their followers and infiltrators at home, allowing them to fester, recruit and send would-be fighters abroad.

This is why the Western component of IS, though much smaller than the number of fighters joining from neighbouring countries, remains largely impervious to meaningful theological debate. They are not driven by theology, but by the insecurity of a fractured identity and psychology.

It is here, in the meticulously calibrated recruitment methods used by IS and its supporting networks in the West, that we can see the role of psychological indoctrination processes fine-tuned through years of training under Western intelligence agencies. These agencies have always been intimately involved in the crafting of violent Islamist indoctrination tools.

In most cases, recruitment into IS is achieved by being exposed to carefully crafted propaganda videos, developed using advanced production methods, the most effective of which are replete with real images of bloodshed inflicted on Iraqi, Afghan and Palestinian civilians by Western firepower, or on Syrian civilians by Assad.

The constant exposure to such horrifying scenes of Western and Syrian atrocities can often have an effect similar to what might happen if these scenes had been experienced directly: that is, a form of psychological trauma that can even result in post-traumatic stress.

Such cult-like propaganda techniques help to invoke overwhelming emotions of shock and anger, which in turn serve to shut down reason and dehumanise the “Other”. The dehumanisation process is brought to fruition using twisted Islamist theology. What matters with this theology is not its authenticity, but its simplicity. This can work wonders on a psyche traumatised by visions of mass death, whose capacity for reason is immobilised with rage.

This is why the reliance on extreme literalism and complete decontextualisation is such a common feature of Islamist extremist teachings: because it seems, to someone credulous and unfamiliar with Islamic scholarship, to be literally true at first glance.

Building on decades of selective misinterpretation of Islamic texts by militant ideologues, sources are carefully mined and cherry-picked to justify the political agenda of the movement: tyrannical rule, arbitrary mass murder, subjugation and enslavement of women, and so on, all of which become integral to the very survival and expansion of the “state”.

As the main function of introducing extreme Islamist theological reasoning is to legitimise violence and sanction war, it is combined with propaganda videos that promise what the vulnerable recruit appears to be missing: glory, brotherhood, honour, and the promise of eternal salvation – no matter what crimes or misdemeanours one may have committed in the past.

Couple this with the promise of power – power over one’s enemies, power over Western institutions that have purportedly suppressed one’s Muslim brothers and sisters, power over women – and the appeal of IS, if its religious garb and claims of Godliness can be made convincing enough, can be irresistible.

What this means is that IS’s ideology, while important to understand and refute, is not the driving factor in its origins, existence and expansion. It is merely the opium of the people that it feeds to itself, and its prospective followers.

Ultimately, IS is a cancer of modern industrial capitalism in meltdown, a fatal by-product of our unwavering addiction to black gold, a parasitical symptom of escalating civilisational crises across both the Muslim and Western worlds. Until the roots of these crises are addressed, IS and its ilk are here to stay.