US Troops Caught In Libya On Frontline With ISIS


US Troops Caught In Libya On Frontline With ISIS

US military personnel are carrying out patrols and observations in Misrata, according to Libyan soldiers on the ground, amid growing reports of Western special forces engaged in the battle to remove Islamic State from the central city of Sirte.

“There are some US troops on the ground here, near the frontline,” one Misratan soldier, Ibrahim, told MEE. “Everyone here has seen them, but they are not fighting, they are just observing and doing patrols.”

He said there were at least six or seven personnel, who he described as well-armed and well-equipped, with three Japanese vehicles that were noticeably superior to the usual Toyota Hilux trucks favoured by the Libyan armed forces. The US personnel were in occasional communication with one or two very senior Misratan commanders, Ibrahim added.

Mohamed al-Ghossri, the spokesman for the Misrata military operations room, said he was unable to confirm or deny any US military presence, because he had not personally seen them.

He did, however, plead for the international community to support Libya’s fight against IS, which now controls over 300km of central coastline, and numerous towns and villages.

“Until now, we have had only moral support from the international community, but we need logistical support,” he said. “We particularly need night vision equipment because we are fighting a very dangerous and unpredictable enemy, who mobilise mainly at night.”

He said the weapons Misratan troops were using – mainly from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s stockpiles, and often dating back to the 1980s – were inadequate for fighting IS, which appears to have extensive supplies of high-tech weaponry and ammunition.

“We want technical support from the international community so we can defend the Mediterranean basin, as well as our borders against further infiltration of IS fighters,” he explained.

“We are expecting some concrete help from the UK, but we need support from all the international community, especially NATO, because we are fighting against the main enemy of the whole world,” Ghossri said.

“The EU don’t seem to understand what’s happening here. They talk a lot about the IS attacks in Europe, but every single Misrata checkpoint has been attacked by IS, some of them more than once. The IS presence in Libya is a very dangerous and urgent matter for the whole world.”

Middle East Eye has reached out to the US Department of Defense for comment.

COVERT OPERATIONS

The revelation about the involvement of US troops in the fight against IS came as representatives of world powers gathered in Vienna to discuss international support for Libya’s new UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and amid mounting reports of covert operations by Western special forces inside Libya.   ****(THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE US FOREIGN POLICY IS FINANCING ISIS WITH ALL THE LATEST ARMS SOMETHING THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT MENTION)

In March, Middle East Eye revealed that British and Jordanian special forces were working together in covert operations against IS, while in February Reuters reported that elite French troops were advising Libyan troops in the east about how to take on IS.

Last week, the Washington Post quoted unnamed American officials who confirmed two teams of under 25 troops had been deployed to the cities of Misrata and Benghazi to “identify potential ­allies among local armed factions and gather intelligence on threats”.

The reported deployment coincided with Misratan forces launching a strong counter-offensive against IS, after losing their easternmost position at AbuGrain, 100km from Misrata, which IS attacked with a suicide bomb and some 100 vehicles. The surprise attack also saw Misrata lose control of its main route and supply line to southern Libya, where it has had forces stationed for several years.

“Our troops were forced back to Saddadah [80 km from Misrata], but they have now reclaimed the AbuGrain checkpoint,” Ghossri said. “We opened up two frontlines, from the east and the south of AbuGrain and were able to lay siege to the enemy, so that area is now back under our control.”

Despite Misrata’s airpower being limited to small aircraft designed to train pilots, he said a sustained campaign of aerial bombardment and heavy artillery fire had paved the way for a successful ground offensive.

Ghossri said the advanced frontline was now beyond the AbuGrain checkpoint, but said bomb disposal teams were now trying to deal with the mines and IEDs IS had planted across the area, after one soldier was killed and several injured when they detonated a mine. The booby traps included deep-covered pits which were filled with explosives near the AbuGrain checkpoint.

Ghossri said that fighting in the last week had left at least 12 dead and some 40 people injured, 13 of whom were transferred to Italy on Friday for medical treatment. IS losses had been substantially greater, he claimed, although he was not able to give exact figures.

“When our fighters advanced, they found that the bodies of the enemy had been burnt, sometimes in piles under vehicles, so we can’t estimate how many were killed, but they had a lot of losses.”

The Misrata military operations room is now working under the GNA, although Libya’s two other rival governments – based in the east and west respectively – both continue to operate. Misrata has a mandate from the GNA to advance towards Sirte’s district borders, but not to attempt to enter the town itself.

FEARS OVER DIVIDED ANTI-IS FORCES

In a separate operation, Libyan armed forces led by General Khalifa Haftar and working under the government in the east announced the start of an operation to liberate Sirte from IS earlier this month.

Named “Gardabiya 2,” after a Libyan victory over Italian forces that took place in the same area in 1915, the operation is in the preliminary stages and troops have amassed at positions in Libya’s central Saharan Desert, from where they plan to launch their offensive.

Armed forces loyal to these two rival governments have been engaged in civil conflict for over two years. Now they are both starting to fight against IS, but are moving towards Sirte from opposite directions and with fiercely divided loyalties, there are concerns amongst local people that they will end up fighting one another rather than IS.

“Now we have three governments, it’s all about military power as well as political power because whoever has the power on the ground, also holds the political power,” said Mohamed, a Sirte businessman.

“My biggest concern is that the armies from the east and west will end up fighting each other, which would only be good news for IS, which will continue to get stronger.”

Troops from eastern Libya have already clashed in the south with a rogue militia from western Libya, the exact origins and allegiances of which remain unclear.

Ghossri said that there were no communications between Haftar’s troops and the Misrata military operations room, but insisted that any soldiers would be welcome to join its fight, as long as they recognised the GNA, which the powers in the east have yet to do.

“We are all Libyans, we have the same nationality, the same state, the same country and now we have a common enemy so we should fight together,” he explained.

“We are facing a battle for Libya, not just a battle for Misrata as before, so any troops under the new government would be welcomed by us.”

Source/Tom Westcott – Middle East Eye

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Hassan Nasrallah: Battle Against Daesh (ISIS) Begins


Hassan Nasrallah: Battle Against Daesh (ISIS) Begins

Video and Transcript

June 17, 2015  In his last speech, the Secretary General of Hezbollah evoked the latest developments of the war opposing Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army to the takfiri terrorists along the Lebanese-Syrian border, where the successes of the Resistance continues despite the propaganda.

After defeating the Al Nosra Front, Hezbollah fighters repelled a surprise attack from the “Islamic State” and now announce their determination to eliminate any terrorist presence along their border. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah says that the enemy will be routed, and that victory is inevitable.

What I wish to talk about in the few minutes left to me regards the latest developments, namely the situation in the Qalamoun and the jurd of Ersal. Of course, in recent days, major victories have occurred in the Qalamoun, and especially with the victories achieved this morning, I can now say that the high peaks and lofty mountains (some say the dominating mountains) have all fallen under the control of the Syrian Arab Army and the Mujahideen of the Resistance (Hezbollah). [Public: “Salutations be upon the Prophet (saas) and his family.”] They now have the required control – via firepower, sufficient to militarily dominate the rest of jurds of this region. In the jurd of Ersal, during these last days, this great progress was achieved, and a total and humiliating defeat was inflicted on the Al-Nusra Front [affiliated with Al Qaeda].

Now there is some people in Lebanon trying to help the Al-Nusra Front psychologically, morally, in terms of media, they support them, but it’s too late, their defeat is clear and things will continue to move in this direction.

The major development is the beginning of the battle and confrontation against Daesh (Islamic State). And it’s no problem that they were the ones who opened the fight. For in our case (maybe some people give this value from a military perspective), for psychological, moral and religious reasons, a group that attacks us first and is the aggressor is for us preferable to it being we who started the aggression. Religious scholars, especially the clerics and those who follow the law and cultural issues are aware of it.

In any case, yesterday, they attacked with hundreds of fighters and a large number of military vehicles several bases of our brothers in the Jurd Ras Baalbeck along the Lebanese-Syrian border. That is to say, they did not attack the vicinity of Ersal and Qalamoun where the front is open. Perhaps they assumed that this quiet front was asleep, and that they could take advantage of the surprise factor and negligence (of Hezbollah) and get a great moral victory and occupy our positions, take control and therefore control strategic and very sensitive points on the border between Lebanon and Syria, especially the towns of Ras Baalbeck and Qaa. Similarly, they hoped to expand in the region and reunite certain areas under their control.

Yesterday’s attack had several objectives, whether on the psychological, moral, media, or military level, as well as the reality and presence on the ground. The brothers of the Resistance have faced up with courage and heroism, they killed dozens of armed fighters (it’s not my responsibility to give the exact figures, let the media talk of it), dozens of Daesh fighters fell, were killed and wounded, a number of their vehicles were destroyed, and they fled humiliated and defeated, abandoning many of their dead on the battlefield.

Naturally, the resistance (Hezbollah), which fights in the most violent battles, saw a number of its Mujahideen fall as martyrs with honour in this battle we have won, and we ask God, Glorified and Exalted, to accept them and grant their families patience and solace and make for their families and for us honour, pride and glory in this world and in the hereafter.

Here is what I want to say about it: the battle against Daesh in Qalamoun has started, as well as in the Eastern (mountain) range, on the border between Lebanon and Syria. They are the ones who attacked us and initiated the battle, and there is no problem with that, but we will continue this battle. We have the absolute determination to end this evil terrorist takfiri presence at our border, whatever should be the price and sacrifice. As for us, this is an irrevocable decision.

Whatever the violence of the battles, the extent of the sacrifices, propaganda and the collusion of the media, the pressures here and there, all the statements, what I am saying is not new, but as confirmation for each day, and with every martyr who was elevated to the Kingdom of God, Glorified and Exalted be He, we confirm our determination, our determination, our firm and decisive will not to tolerate after that day the presence of any terrorist or takfiri at our borders, in our mountains or in the smallest part of our villages. And I guarantee you, I guarantee with certainty that they will suffer a crushing defeat. They will be vanquished and defeated. It is only a matter of time. And as I have said on more than one occasion, we’re in no hurry. We act with the composure necessary to achieve this goal and purpose.

When one of us (or some of us) have the will, determination and resolution, and the ability, faith and trust, as well as such heroic mujahedeen (Hezbollah fighters), so with certitude, we shall not consider but the inevitable horizon of the next victory.

Congratulations and greetings, and peace and mercy of God be upon you and His blessings.

[Audience: “At Thy service, O Nasrallah!”]

THANK YOU HILLARY CLINTON, OBAMA, CAMERON, SARKOZY AND THE UN FOR YOUR ILLEGAL INVASION IN LIBYA SO THAT WE COULD ARRIVE TO YOUR DEMOCRACY of Child brides’ boom in Derna as record number of girls married off to ISIS/DAESH fighters


THANK YOU HILLARY CLINTON, OBAMA, CAMERON, SARKOZY AND THE UN FOR YOUR ILLEGAL INVASION IN LIBYA SO THAT WE COULD ARRIVE TO YOUR DEMOCRACY of Child brides’ boom in Derna as record number of girls married off to ISIS/DAESH fighters

ISIS/DAESH fighters allied to the Islamic State seized large parts of Derna in October 2014(Reuters)

 

To all of my readers, please sent a thank you letter to Ms. Clinton, Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, Kin Moon of the UN and to all the allied Nations who participated in TOPPLING THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT AND INSTALLING THE WESTERN DEMOCRATIC ISIS/DAESH GOVERNMENT IN LIBYA. We couldn’t have anticipated such freedom! Sending us back in time where there is no law, no freedom, where women are objects and not human beings, where selling children is a MUST and women trafficking is good business. Is this the DEMOCRACY the west was PREACHING? OR the EX-PATRIOTS of Libya were dreaming off? Well CONGRATULATIONS for the new DEMOCRACY INSTALLED I hope all of you who participated in this illegal war in 2011 and have blood on your hands that your children, all your loved ones and in generations to come to SUFFER A THOUSAND DEATHS AND FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES THE WAY THESE YOUNG GIRLS SUFFER EVERYDAY.

Child marriage has increased in the Libyan city of Derna since it was taken over by the Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) group, with girls as young as 12 married off to Daesh fighters, often in exchange of protection and power, local doctors have confirmed.  ****The parents should be hanged on the spot for what they are doing to their children…

The number of under-age girls forced to marry has increased 15 fold since an IS/Daesh local branch seized large part of the coastal city in October last year, local doctors told The Times.

“Just in the clinics that we are able to monitor, we are seeing four to five cases of under-age brides every week and it’s getting worse,” Asmaa Said, a local activist who drew up a report on the practice based on data secretly passed on to her by doctors operating in Derna, told the British newspaper.

“There is also the spread of STDs and the growing prevalence of miscarriages, premature and stillbirths”.

Said brought the account of a 12-year-old schoolgirl who was married off to a jihadist and suffered irreparable damage to her reproductive organs after a miscarriage that followed repeated rapes by her husband. There is no excuse for the parents and the terrorists they should be killed on the spot. This is a slave exchange, so where is the UN? Or UNICEF for that matter? These poor children are sent to their death sentence…. and for what a mere protection? Really? Then Please do not be surprised if the hatred towards Europe and America is unjust…. JUST LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED… CHILD SLAVERY… I know I am talking to DEAF EARS but I am begging you dear readers RAISE YOUR VOICES TO YOUR GOVERNMENTS today it’s the Libyan, Syrian, Palestinian, Yemeni, Iraqi, Afghan, African children TOMORROW IT WILL BE YOUR CHILDREN…. if not tomorrow it will be very soon…

The distressing situation many children are facing in Derna was confirmed by local gynecologists who said they are treating sex-related injuries in an increasing number of girls with no knowledge of sex.

“They come into the clinic playing with their dolls,” the doctor, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Times.

Another Derna activist, named only as Abdel-Rahman, said parents were in many cases giving away their child daughters to fighters, mainly foreigners from Arabic-speaking countries, as marital status is perceived as a form of protection for them and by reflex for the whole family. Is this the DEMOCRACY THAT YOU WANTED?

“Some of them get nice cars and nice houses, too,” he told the newspaper.

Libya has been embroiled in fighting since the overthrow of late  Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Battling for control of the country currently involves HoR together with the Libyan army forces, and The GNC which is Libya Dawn and an umbrella group including radical Islamists, and an IS/Daesh local offshoot that recently infiltrated several coastal cities.

In the areas it controls, IS/Daesh enforces a reign of terror based on its strict interpretation of Sharia law.

Under the jihadi group’s rules, purported un-Islamic activities, such as smoking, drinking alcohol and playing instrumental music, are also banned. While they themselves are allowed to drink, rape, smoke, listen to music and kill at will. THESE ARE THE MODERATE MUSLIMS PLEASE!

 

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.

Bosnia

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.

Afghanistan

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.

Kosovo

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.

Libya

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.

Syria

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.

Turkey

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.

Dehumanisation

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.

 

US denies visa to nun set to testify about ISIS atrocities


US denies visa to nun set to testify about ISIS atrocities

 

Sister Diana Momeka (Image from adriandominicans.org)

Sister Diana Momeka (Image from adriandominicans.org)

 

Conservative commentators are up in arms over the State Department’s decision to deny a visa to a Catholic nun who was part of an Iraqi delegation supposed to testify before Congress about Islamic State (ISIS) atrocities.

The US consulate in Erbil rejected the visitor visa application of Sister Diana Momeka earlier this week, saying she was “not able to demonstrate that [her] intended activities in the United States would be consistent with the classification of the visa.”

However, visas were given to all the other members of the delegation scheduled to speak in Washington about the Islamic State’s persecution of minorities of the region, including Shia Muslims and Yazidis. Meetings have been arranged for the group before the House and Senate foreign relations committees, with State Department and USAID officials, and with various NGOs.

Sister Diana is a member of the Dominican Sisterhood of Saint Catherine of Siena, an order that dates its presence in Iraq back to the 13th century and has been an outspoken advocate for the Christians who have been killed and deported by the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL).

In an op-ed in National Review Online, Nina Shea of the conservative Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom questioned the State Department’s motives for denying Sister Diana a visa. According to Shea, the consular officials denied the application because Sister Diana was an internally displaced person (IDP), and therefore could try seeking asylum in the US.

“Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit,” wrote Shea, from a letter to her prioress attesting “that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with the Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Erbil.” There are also letters from her sponsors, the Institute for Global Engagement and former Congressman Frank Wolf’s (R-Va.) 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.

“For good measure, she also had a letter of endorsement for her visit from Representative Anna Eshoo” (D-Calif.), who co-chairs the congressional Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East, Shea added.

Yet the consular officials “either thought that they were all in on a scheme by the nun or that Sister Diana was plotting to deceive her well-placed friends and supporters, as well as the US government,” Shea wrote.

“We were shocked and disappointed when we found out,” Elyse Anderson of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative told the Washington Times.

Other conservative outlets, such as Breitbart and WND, have picked up on the plight of Sister Diana, pointing out she was the only Christian in the delegation and the only member to be denied a visa. They have questioned the official reasoning of the US consular officials, noting that she was not the only internally displaced person in the delegation and that people who have been displaced by the Islamic State’s terror – such as Yazidis – have been allowed to visit the US before.

“It is beyond ironic,” said Anderson, “that Sister Diana, who we had hoped would come to Washington to speak about the worsening plight of Iraq’s displaced Christians and other beleaguered religious minorities, was apparently prevented from doing so precisely because she is herself a displaced person.”