Category Archives: International Relations

US Trained Iranian Terrorist Group in Nevada: Report

Through secret flights into the US, the terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq (also known as The People’s Muhjahedin of Iran) was trained at a US Department of Energy site in Nevada. The M.E.K. has been on the US terrorist watch list for over a decade now, and was implicated in the recent sabotage and bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities as well as the assassination of an Iranian physicist.

Despite the growing ties, and a much-intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations—which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. “We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications—coördinating commo is a big deal.” (A spokesman for J.S.O.C. said that “U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members.”)

Robert Hersh uncovered this story with his piece in The New Yorker.

So it comes to training terrorists to fight the war on terror. Ironic.

Democracy Now! has a great interview with Hersh:

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Bashar al-Assad Resorts to Firebombing Syrians

Being that the rebel stronghold is located in Homs, the Assad regime has dramatically stepped up its use of force over the past few weeks, now using helicopters and military jets to bomb the city.

As Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi & Oskar Svadkovsky report, the military is now using thermobaric bombs (fuel-air bombs) in a tactic similar to that used by Russia in Chechnya. These arms effectively turn the air into fire, and are among the most destructive weapons available:

One YouTube video identifies these as napalm bombs. Well, the balls of fire are certainly not entirely unlike videos of napalm bombing that can be found on YouTube. However, napalm is normally delivered with bombs and these are probably thermobaric or fuel-air bombs of the kind the Russians used in Chechnya. Given the regime’s connections to Russia, it comes rather natural that Mr. Putin would share with Bashar Assad his rich experience in waging counter-insurgency in the Caucuses.

See their article, including a number of video clips, in The American Spectator.

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The Pirate Bay Signs Lease for Greek Airspace

We blogged on The Pirate Bay‘s incursion into the world of drone technology a couple weeks ago, as the  P2P (peer-to-peer) media group announced that it would introduce flying servers to the world. The LOSS (Low Orbit Server Station) program now has a domain of operation in Greece, the “birthplace of democracy”. The drones’ design is to bolster the strength of The Pirate Bay’s anonymous and decentralized networks.

The full release:

Athens, Greece – Political power in Athens, Greece, today signed an agreement with representatives for The Pirate Bay (TPB) about exclusive usage of the greek airspace at 8000-9000ft.

– This might come as a shock for many but we believe that we need to both raise money to pay our debts as well as encourage creativity in new technology. Greece wants to become a leader in LOSS, says Lucas Papadams, the new and crisply elected Prime Minister of Greece.

LOSS that he is referring to is not the state of finances in the country but rather Low Orbit Server Stations, a new technology recently invented by TPB. Being a leader for a long time in other types of LOSS, TPB has been working hard on making LOSS a viable solution for achieving 100% uptime for their services.

– Greece is one of few countries that understands the value of LOSSes. We have been talking to them ever since we came up with the solution seeing that we have equal needs of being able to find financially sustainable solutions for our projects, says Win B. Stones, head of R&D at TPB.

The agreement gives TPB a 5 year license to use and re-distribute usage of the airspace at 8000-9000 ft as well as unlimited usage of the radio space between 2350 to 24150 MHz. Due to the financial situation of both parties TPB will pay the costs with digital goods, sorely needed by the citizens of Greece.

The original page here.

This represents an exciting foray into a new level of communication sophistication, and seems to be evolving in concert with the surveillance industry; as security grows in oversight, so does the ability to evade that security (but only for users that take advantage of it).

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Israel Severs Ties to Human Rights Council as Settlements Investigated

As the UN Human Rights council was attempting to investigate the encroaching Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, they were publicly cut off and denied access to both the West Bank territory and Israel itself.

“We are not working with them anymore,” [spokesman Yigal] Palmor said about the Geneva-based forum. “We had been participating in meetings, discussions, arranging visits to Israel. All that is over.”

The international investigation was launched on Thursday, with the United States isolated in voting against the initiative brought by the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli leaders swiftly condemned the UN body, saying it was hypocritical and biased against Israel.

While all this is not surprising, it marks a new chapter in Israel’s progression to total isolation, as the country transitions from a diplomatic peninsula to an island. Read the article in Aljazeera.

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Kandahar Civilians Corroborate Assertions of U.S. Death Squad

The Afghan military conducted an investigation into the massacre and, upon discovering the complicity of more than a single soldier, has demanded access to the charged soldier in question, who has been extracted and transported back to the U.S.

GlobalPost is among a number of news organizations who have interviewed the residents of the neighborhoods where the attacks took place:

Massouma, who lives in the neighboring village of Najiban, where 12 people were killed, said she heard helicopters fly overhead as a uniformed soldier entered her home. She said he flashed a “big, white light,” and yelled, “Taliban! Taliban! Taliban!”

Massouma said the soldier shouted “walkie-talkie, walkie-talkie.” The rules of engagement in hostile areas in Afghanistan permit US soldiers to shoot Afghans holding walkie-talkies because they could be Taliban spotters.

“He had a radio antenna on his shoulder. He had a walkie-talkie himself, and he was speaking into it,” she said.

After the soldier with the walkie-talkie killed her husband, she said he lingered in the doorway of her home.

“While he stood there, I secretly looked through the curtains and saw at least 20 Americans, with heavy weapons, searching all the rooms in our compound, as well as my bathroom,” she said.

Read more

The image above belongs to GlobalPost. It becomes difficult to believe U.S. statements that all the killings were committed by a single rogue soldier given the distance between the two villages. Would he not have been stopped, acting alone? Would he have encountered no resistance unless he was backed by others?

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Israelis and Iranians Create Viral Love Campaign

Social media for positive change. As organically as the Arab Spring protest movement, an internet-fueled peace campaign has grown massively in its reach:

Ronny Edry and his wife Michal Tamir, together with “Pushpin Mehina”, a small preparatory school for graphic design students, uploaded posters to Facebook depicting images of themselves with their children alongside the words, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you.”

Attached to each poster was the caption, “To the Iranian people, To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters, For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you. I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm.”

“I’m not an official representative of my country. I m [sic] a father and a teacher”, wrote Edry, adding that he wishes to send a message on behalf of his neighbors, family, students and friends. “[W]e love you. We mean you no harm”, he wrote. “On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.”

And then Iranians responded, returning the message of love and speaking of the eventual death of the regime. Haaretz covers the dialogue.

A clip from Ronny Edry:

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Iran To Abandon Pricing Oil In USD In Lieu of EU Sanctions

EU sanctions against the capital Tehran have recently led to a severance from world banking ties. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has decided recently to cut off Iran from the global financial scheme, leaving its banks isolated.

As ABC News reports:

In addition to sanctioning Iranian officials and freezing the assets of certain companies, the European Union plans to institute an embargo on the import of Iranian oil in July — an attempt to choke off funding for Iran’s nuclear program.

Acting ahead of the proposed oil embargo, Iran has announced it will price its oil outside the dollar come March 20 of this year, and has already begun negotiations with India.

The Telegraph writes:

Iran has the third-largest oil reserves in the world and pricing oil in currencies other than dollars is a provocative move aimed at Washington. If Iran switches to the non-dollar terms for its oil payments, there could be a new oil price that would be denominated in euro, yen or even the yuan or rupee.

India is already in talks with Iran over how it can pay for its oil in rupees.

Even more surprisingly, reports have suggested that India is even considering paying for its oil in gold bullion. However, it is more likely that the country will pay in rupees, a currency that is not freely convertible.

No matter the outcome, western nations will feel the crunch this spring as the third largest oil supplier will be cut off, which is also why talk of war is so prevalent these days.

The excuse for war this time seems to be because of Iran’s nuclear program, although that never posed an issue when India, Israel, and Pakistan were concerned.

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Afghan Investigation Claims Kandahar Massacre A Result of US Death Squad

When we first reported on the Kandahar Massacre, it was clear that conflicting accounts were the result of a U.S. coverup. U.S. military officials blocked Afghan military investigators from interrogating the single identified detainee, an army staff sgt. Robert Bales. Meanwhile, neighbors and relatives of the victims reported the murder of 16 civilians was committed not by one man as NATO officials assert, but by a squad of 15-20 soldiers airlifted in by helicopter.

Lt. Gen. Karimi met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and relatives of the victims on Friday in Kabul.

Saying he had personally visited the villages where the slaughter took place, the General stressed he had repeatedly demanded to meet with the suspect Robert Bales but was turned down cold.

President Karzai has also announced that the conclusions of numerous commissions investigating the crime scenes show the murders was carried out by multiple assailants.

He further stressed the American investigation team refused to sufficiently co-operate with the Afghan side.

The Afghan parliamentary investigation team has reported that anywhere from 15 to 20 US troops could have taken part in the massacre.

The relatives of the victims told President Karzai that the counterinsurgency operation had received air support. They also claim the killers were brought in by military helicopters.

International affairs commentator Rick Rozoff told RT if one takes the methodical nature of the killings into account,“one person could hardly have perpetrated this crime.”

Read the quoted article in RT.

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US Drone Strikes Expand, Killing 64 in Yemen

PressTV reports that in a span of 3 days drone strikes have killed 64 people in Yemen, most of whom we can assume were “collateral damage”, also known as “innocent victims”. This all occurred soon after the rigged Yemeni presidential “election”:

The new Yemeni president, who is a UK-trained field marshal, was sworn in on February 25 following a single-candidate presidential election on February 21, which was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Read the article here.

The Washington Post reports:

Unlike in Pakistan, where the CIA has presidential authorization to launch drone strikes at will, each U.S. attack in Yemen — and those being conducted in nearby Somalia, most recently on Thursday near the southern port city of Kismayo — requires White House approval, senior administration officials said.

The administration has said its legal authority to conduct such strikes, whether with fixed-wing planes, cruise missiles or drones, derives from the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing attacks against al-Qaeda and protection of the U.S. homeland, as well as the international law of self-defense.

This goes to explain how U.S. citizen and Al-Qaeda operative Anwar Al-Awlaki was assassinated in Yemen via drone strike only a little more than a year ago in September 2011.

Most Americans find it difficult to keep up with all the countries the US military has been bombing, with drone strikes and surveillance now extending to Somalia (via Ethiopia), Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Syria, and Palestine to name a few.

In retaliation to Colombia’s encroaching drone activity, Venezuela has begun to develop its own drone systems with help from Iran.

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American Soldiers Slay 16 Afghan Civilians, Burn Bodies

UPDATE 3/12/12 11:53: Reuters has reported that multiple gunmen were involved, though mainstream reports stick to the military’s report that only one soldier was involved. It seems the military is attempting to cover up a bigger problem within its ranks by singling out a “rogue” cell.

There were conflicting reports of how many shooters were involved, with U.S. officials asserting that a lone soldier was responsible, in contrast to witnesses’ accounts that several U.S. soldiers were present. [Reuters]

At 2:00am, neighbors were awakened to the sound of crackling gunfire.

“They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” a weeping Samad told Reuters at the scene.

“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said Samad, who had left the home a day earlier.

Neighbors said they awoke to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, whom they described as laughing and drunk.

“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where the incident took place. “Their bodies were riddled with bullets.”

The story from Reuters here.

This is possibly the most grisly, inhumane act recorded since the 2005 Haditha massacre. It is yet another sad example of US misunderstanding of the Afghan culture and people. Soldiers in both instances likely sought revenge for the bombing of their fellow soldiers, which was a result of an American mistargeting that killed innocent civilians. It goes on.

The Guardian has a breakdown of civilian casualties since the US invasion in 2001:

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