Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just Who ARE These Fellas That Barack Obama Is Letting Out of Gitmo?

Leave it to The Long War Journal to inform the American public just what kind of threat, what kind of stain on humanity that Barack Hussein Obama is releasing from Gitmo.

America's Worst President.


Guantanamo detainee selected for aborted 9/11 hijacking transferred to Oman

The Defense Department has released a list of ten now former Guantanamo detainees who were transferred to Oman earlier this week. One of them is Mohammed Al Ansi, a Yemeni who was captured in northern Pakistan in late 2001 and transferred to the detention facility in Cuba in Jan. 2002.

US authorities repeatedly found that Ansi (seen on the right) may have been selected to take part in an aborted part of the 9/11 hijackings.

Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) concluded in a leaked threat assessment, dated May 17, 2008, that Ansi “swore bayat (oath of allegiance) to” Osama bin Laden “and received specialized close combat training for his role as a suicide operative in an aborted component of the 11 September 2001 al Qaeda attacks.”

Another version of the allegation was included in a summary prepared by the Obama administration for the Periodic Review Board (PRB) process at Guantanamo.

“Judging from other detainee statements and corroborating information,” the Oct. 14, 2015 summary reads, Ansi “participated in advanced combat training and may have met with al Qaeda external operations chief Khalid Shaykh Mohammed … in Karachi and been considered for participation in a suicide attack or deployment in the West.”

Al Qaeda originally considered hijacking US airliners leaving from airports in Southeast Asia as part of the 9/11 plot. But bin Laden reportedly canceled this part of the operation because he thought it would be difficult to coordinate the additional hijackings.

According to the US government’s files, one of the ringleaders for the canceled 9/11 hijackings was Walid Bin Attash, a senior al Qaeda operative who helped plot the Oct. 2000 USS Cole bombing. Bin Attash allegedly performed surveillance on American airliners operating in Southeast Asia. After his part of the plot was called off, Bin Attash turned his attention to other al Qaeda plans.

Bin Attash, who is currently held at Guantanamo, fingered Ansi and three other detainees as would-be participants in the airliner plot. Leaked threat assessments prepared by JTF-GTMO, as well as files prepared for the detainees’ PRB hearings, link all four of them to the initial plan. Two of them were previously transferred by the Obama administration. Abdul Rahman Shalabi, a Saudi, was transferred to his home country on Sept. 22, 2015. Abd al Malik Abd al Wahab, a Yemeni, was transferred to Montenegro on June 22, 2016.

Only the fourth detainee identified by Bin Attash as being part of the plot, a Yemeni named Zuhail Abdo Anam Said al Sharabi, remains in US custody at Guantanamo. A summary prepared for Sharabi’s PRB hearing notes that he traveled to Malaysia, where he stayed with Bin Attash and two of the 9/11 hijackers. Sharabi apparently denied this allegation during questioning, but also described the pair of 9/11 hijackers as “martyrs.” JTF-GTMO’s analysts found that Sharabi’s trip to Malaysia with Bin Attash was ordered by Osama bin Laden himself as “part of the pre-planning for the hijacking plot.” The pair stayed at the home of Hambali, a notorious al Qaeda leader in Southeast Asia who is also still detained at Guantanamo.

Bin Attash told authorities that, just two months prior to 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) took the four (including Ansi), as well as two others, “to Karachi to teach them English language and American culture.”

Bodyguards for Osama bin Laden

Ansi, Shalabi, and Wahab were all captured on Dec. 15, 2001, as they crossed the Afghan border into Pakistan. All three were assessed to be bodyguards for Osama bin Laden. They were captured after allegedly fleeing the Battle of Tora Bora. The group they belonged to was dubbed the “Dirty 30” by US intelligence. Its most infamous member is Mohammed al Qahtani, who was slated to take part in the 9/11 hijackings, but was denied entry into the US in the summer of 2001.

JTF-GTMO found that Sharabi was also a bodyguard for bin Laden, but he was detained separately during a raid in Karachi in Feb. 2002. A senior al Qaeda facilitator and more than one dozen other al Qaeda fighters were captured alongside him.

Deemed “high” risks and denied transfer for years

JTF-GTMO deemed all four of the conspirators, including Ansi, “high” risks to the US, its interests and allies. As of 2008, JTF-GTMO also recommended that they remain in continued detention.

President Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, which finished its work in Jan. 2010, agreed with JTF-GTMO’s recommendations. The task force concluded that Ansi, Shalabi, and Wahab should remain in US custody under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), because they were too dangerous to transfer but prosecution was considered infeasible. Sharabi was referred for prosecution, but he still hasn’t been tried seven years later.

Ansi, Shalabi, and Wahab were eventually approved for transfer during the PRB process, which was established by President Obama in 2011. But the decision to transfer them does not mean that they were suddenly deemed innocent, or that the PRB considered them to be risk-free.

In fact, the PRB even ruled against Ansi less than one year ago.

In its Mar. 23, 2016 decision, the PRB determined that “continued law of war detention of the detainee [Ansi] remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

“In making this determination,” the decision continued, “the Board considered the significant derogatory information regarding the detainee’s past activities in Afghanistan.” The PRB “noted” Ansi’s “lack of candor resulting in an inability to assess the detainee’s credibility and therefore his further intentions.”

The PRB left the door open for Ansi to win approval for transfer just several months later. “The Board looks forward to reviewing the detainee’s file in six months and encourages the detainee to continue to be compliant, continue taking advantage of educational opportunities and continue working with the doctors to maintain his health,” the PRB wrote. “The Board encourages the detainee to be increasingly forthcoming in communications with the Board.”

Less than nine months later, on Dec. 9. 2016, the PRB reversed its previous decision, finding that Ansi’s detention “is no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.” In March, Ansi lacked candor. But by December Ansi had suddenly “demonstrated candor and provided details of his pre-detention activities and mindset.” He also supposedly did “not appear to be driven to reengage by extremist ideology,” the PRB wrote.

The PRB still did not say that Ansi could be outright released. Instead, the board stated that the “threat” Ansi “presents can be adequately mitigated,” as long as he was transferred to a country with a “strong rehabilitation and reintegration program” and “appropriate security assurances” were put in place. The PRB previously issued similar rulings for both Shalabi and Wahab.

Just over one month after the PRB’s revised decision, Ansi was transferred along with nine others to Oman.

Of the four detainees identified by Bin Attash as participants in the aborted 9/11 plot, only Sharabi has been denied transfer by the PRB. The review board cited Sharabi’s “possible participation in KSM’s plot to conduct 9/11-style attacks in Southeast Asia.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Turkey's Government Gets Closer To Making Erdogan Supreme Dictator

Believe me, there aren't many walking the Earth more dangerous than Turkey's Erdogan.

The story comes from DAWN.

Turkey takes key step to expanding Erdogan powers

ISTANBUL: Turkey was a key step closer on Monday to dramatically expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after parliament approved, on first reading, a bill critics fear will lead to one-man rule.

The parliament backed the two final sections of the 18-article new constitution late on Sunday after a marathon week of debating that began on Jan 9 and included sessions that often lasted late into the night.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mustered the necessary 330 or more votes — a three-fifths majority — needed to adopt the constitutional change and send it to a referendum for final approval.

The constitution plan will now go to a second reading in the Ankara parliament expected to start on Wednesday where the 18 articles will again be debated one by one.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus wrote on Twitter that with the changes “God willing, Turkey will reach a more efficient governance model.” He later told A-Haber television in an interview that it was possible the referendum would take place as soon as the start of April.
‘No good news’

The debates have been fractious and last week saw some of the worst fighting in years in the parliament with punches thrown, deputies bloodied and one lawmaker even claiming to have been bitten in the leg.

The proposed changes, which would create an executive presidency for the first time in modern Turkey, are controversial and far-reaching.

The president would have the power to appoint and fire ministers, while the post of prime minister will be abolished for the first time in Turkey’s history. Instead, there would be a vice president, or possibly several.

With Turkey already under a state of emergency for almost six months following the July 15 failed coup, the proposed changes would also widen the scope of conditions in which the president can declare an emergency.

Parliamentary elections and presidential ballots would be held simultaneously, with the draft giving Nov 3, 2019 as the poll date.

The changes are opposed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). The third largest party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is boycotting the vote.

“The constitutional changes pressed by the ruling party are not good news for Turkey,” said Faruk Logoglu, former deputy leader of the CHP.

He claimed the plan would prove problematic on a wide range of issues from democracy to judicial independence.

In a symbolic gesture, CHP MPs piled up copies of the current constitution by the voting boxes in parliament as they cast their ballots. The AKP, which has 317 seats in the 550-MP chamber, lacks the necessary three-fifths super majority. But the changes have won the support of most MPs from the fourth party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The MHP’s enigmatic leader Devlet Bahceli, who took up the reins of the party in 1997, has emerged as the main ally of the AKP in the constitutional change.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Houthi commander admits: Iran training us

The single biggest threat to World War 3 continues to be Iran.  Don't bother telling John Kerry that - he already knows it.

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

Houthi commander admits: Iran training us

A Houthi militia leader has confessed that both Iran and Hezbollah have been heavily involved in training their fighters.

Abu Mohammed, who was in charge of rocket attacks in the al-Nihm district in Yemen, made the confession after surrendering.

He said that there were Iranian experts and Lebanese from Hezbollah militias currently in Saada helping run secret training facilities.

The confession comes a month after a report by independent research group Conflict Armament Research (CAR) suggested that there is an arms “pipeline” that extends from Iran and Yemen.

Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) last year admitted that missiles made in Tehran were recently used in Yemen by Houthi militias in cross border attacks against Saudi Arabia.

The Zelzal-3 rockets are Iranian-made solid propellant missiles that has been known to be used by Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah forces.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Taliban kills dozens in double suicide attack in Kabul

That predictable transfer of power in Afghanistan back to the Taliban is right on schedule.  Another element of the Obama legacy.

The story comes from The Long War Journal.

Taliban kills dozens in double suicide attack in Kabul

A Taliban suicide assault team killed and wounded more than 100 people in a coordinated attack that targeted intelligence officials and government workers today in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The attack included a blast that preyed on first responders who rushed in to help those injured in the initial bombing.

Afghan officials said at least 38 people were killed and 70 more were wounded in the double bombing that took place “as a convoy of parliament staff was leaving the offices in Darulaman Road in PD6,” or Police District 6, according to TOLONews. The first suicide bomber detonated his explosives “at the entrance to parliament’s offices,” then the second bomber struck as first responders arrived at the scene of the attack.

Among those killed was the head of the National Directorate of Security for Police District 6, TOLONews reported. A female member of parliament was also wounded.

The Taliban claimed credit for the deadly blasts in a statement released on Voice of Jihad, its official propaganda website. The jihadist group admitted it deliberately targeted first responders.

According to the Taliban, the first suicide bomber hit “a mini bus ferrying workers of NDS [National Directorate of Security] 5th Directorate,” while the second “targeted the Quick Reaction Force troops and other intelligence personnel gathered at the site.”

Today’s attack is similar to another executed by the Taliban on June 30, 2016. In that attack, a suicide bomber hit a bus transporting police cadets in Kabul. The second suicide bomber then detonated his explosives as emergency personnel rendered aid to the victims of the first blast. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Taliban suicide bombers target police cadets, first responders in Kabul attack.]

The Taliban has launched several high-profile attacks in the capital since last summer. Other targets include the Afghan Ministry of Defense, the home of a member of parliament, and Canadian embassy personnel.

Suicide bombers were from the Taliban’s “Martyr Battalion”

In its statement claiming credit for today’s attack, the Taliban said “both of the attackers were from the Martyr Battalion of Islamic Emirate who successfully reached their targets and handed the enemy a heavy blow.”

In the past, the Taliban has claimed that it has “thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers” at its disposal to conduct attacks inside Afghanistan and has provided some information on the structure of its “martyrdom units.”

The Taliban has identified two key leaders of its “Suicide Groups.” Mullah Taj Mir Jawad has been described as the head of a “martyrdom-seekers battalion.” Jawad swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour, the group’s previous emir, in a video released in Sept. 2015.

Qari Abdul Raouf Zakir, the “commander” of the Taliban’s “suicide groups,” also swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour in the same video. Qari Zakir, who was designated as a terrorist by the State Department in Nov. 2012, has long commanded the Haqqani Network’s suicide operations.

The Haqqani Network is an al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup that operates throughout Afghanistan and is based in Pakistan, where it is supported by Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, serves as one of two deputies to Mullah Habaitullah, the emir of the Taliban, and as the head of the Taliban’s military.

The Taliban has also promoted suicide teams in its propaganda. The Muaskar ul Fida, one of several suicide squads operating in Afghanistan, previously swore allegiance to the Taliban’s last emir in Nov. 2015.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

BREAKING: Russian Ambassador Assassinated In Yemen

The Russians are finding it tough diplomatic sledding in the Muslim countries.

The report comes from Express UK.

UPDATE:  Some are disputing this story.

BREAKING: Russian ambassador 'assassinated after armed gunmen storm embassy in Yemen'

The Russian ambassador to Yemen has been shot and killed in Sanaa, according to reports coming from the Arab kingdom.

Vladimir Dedushkin was reportedly "keeping a close eye" in the war-torn country.

The diplomat was reportedly assassinated in the capital Sanaa.

The assassination was reported by Saudi Arabia's Barq news agency.

The Russian Embassy in the Yemen has reportedly said “no one’s been shot”, telling NBC no one had been attacked.

Mr Dedushkin was appointed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on August 16, 2013 and replace the outgoing Sergei Kozlov.

Mr Dedushkin said in November last year that Saudi Arabia was key to solving the crisis in the Yemen.

He said: "Saudi Arabia, in my view, has a decisive role in resolving this [Yemeni] conflict. The key to its settlement is in the hands of Riyadh.”

Yemen has been engulfed in a military conflict between the government and Shiite Houthi rebels, the country’s main opposition faction that forced the Yemeni government to resign last January.

Muslim Article: "..the world of Islam is in tatters"

A failed ideology. 

The story comes from DAWN.

Muslim discourse

THE wealth and pomp of several Muslim monarchies notwithstanding, the world of Islam is in tatters. Torn by internal strife, lack of focus on starving millions and controlled by greed as well as external powers, Muslim governments are in a state of disarray.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have reached such levels that they are waging proxy wars against each other in Syria and Yemen. Iranian pilgrims were not able to perform Haj last year. The wars have created major humanitarian crises, producing famine, poverty and millions of refugees with nowhere to go.

These political games are aimed at grabbing power and space within the region, and politics and religion are being exploited to the detriment of civilians. Divides have been created amongst an already polarised Muslim world. Sectarian feelings are worked up on social and mainstream media, where pictures of atrocities allegedly committed by one or the other party are posted.

In Pakistan, each year, hundreds of ‘firebrand’ clerics are banned from entering the more ‘sensitive’ areas of the country during Muharram. Members of minority sects are regularly and brutally attacked, ostensibly by the Pakistani Taliban or their splinter groups, but also by others. The pulpit is often used to spread hatred.

Centuries of textualist interpretations of the Quran, belief in questionable ahadith and tribal and patriarchal customs have created a troubling rhetoric, comprised of social and religious demands by self-righteous clerics.

Pakistan’s policies of the 1980s led to the mushrooming of brutal fanatics who have used Islam for wanton killing. Recognition of this fact and the rise of internal terrorism led to Operation Zarb-i-Azb. What is now needed, more than ever, is a ‘zarb-i-fikr’, a term so aptly coined by Javed Ahmed Ghamidi for reversing the narrative used by extremists and their supporters. I am using this term here in its wider sense.

The Muslim world, its scholars and leaders who are seriously concerned about the rapid deterioration of Muslim politics and society, must find alternative routes of thought and create platforms of open discourse and debate. This must happen at local, country, regional and global levels. The objectives would include development of tolerant and pluralistic societies, as Muslim societies should be, but equally to take measures for technological and economic progress through inclusiveness, education and social cohesion.

The approach to this could include analysis of what is going wrong and acceptance of responsibility, without emphasis on Western ‘conspiracies’.

Countries — Pakistan in particular — could begin to accept differences of religious opinion and clamp down on those who oppose freedom of expression, not the other way around. Too many instances in the distant and near past indicate that succeeding governments have either supported or buckled under the pressure exercised by groups that would have Pakistanis live under fear and terror.

A scholar of the calibre of Fazlur Rahman had to leave the country in the 1960s because of his ground-breaking work on the Quran. Many Muslims who would like to hold discussions on religious matters cannot do so for fear of being branded ‘apostates’ or ‘blasphemers’. In contemporary times, laws on domestic violence and patriarchal killing are either resisted or toned down. The recent bill in Sindh on criminalising forced conversions, which follows the Islamic spirit, is being touted as ‘un-Islamic’. Laws have been based on questionable interpretations and implemented for personal gains against unsuspecting innocents.

Today, the message of Islam, which called for rational thought and deliberation, discussion and a free and open mind and freedom of choice, must be reiterated. The individual must be free to follow any religion or sect of her/his choice and the state must turn its attention to the welfare of people, providing health and education and intervening only where the weak and the innocent are oppressed.

Scholars need to come together and discuss exactly what they are bickering about and whether their stances are aligned with Islamic teachings. Muslims should be free to discuss what the Sharia means to their individual and collective lives and which form of it may or may not be relevant.

The thousands of ‘alims’ churned out by madressahs must be monitored for what they learn and subsequently do. Khutbas in mosques need to be carefully assessed and any vitriolic content removed. Institutions such as the Council of Islamic Ideology that have been blamed for promoting misogyny and restricted intellectual growth must be done away with. These measures must have the protection of laws with teeth. Research should be encouraged in matters related to Islam and joint research with other countries should be carried out. An Islamic renaissance is essential.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Suicide attack rocks Syria’s capital

Just when Bashir al-Assad thinks he has it allllll under control.....

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

Suicide attack rocks Syria’s capital

A powerful blast caused by a suicide bomber hit a heavily policed district of the Syrian capital on Thursday with at least seven killed, a police source told state television.

The source was quoted by state television as saying a suicide bomber blew himself in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood where some of Syria's main security installations are located.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which tracks violence across the country said the death toll was expected to rise with several of the wounded in a critical condition.

Footage on state media showed splattered blood and wreckage of several cars with dozens of heavily armed security personnel at the site of the explosion.

Last July, a car bomb also hit Kafr Sousa near an Iranian school in an attack that killed several people in the area, close to the main Umayyad Square that connects the city with several highways.

Insurgents fighting to topple President Bashar al Assad say the district houses many recruits from Iranian-backed militias fighting alongside the army.