03/5/20

DOD Contractor at Pentagon Charged with Espionage

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

(WASHINGTON) — A linguist working for the U.S. military who kept a list of secret informants hidden under her mattress was charged with sharing the names with a romantic interest linked to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, appeared in Washington’s federal court on Wednesday to face charges in an espionage case that investigators said put at risk the lives of American military members and confidential sources and represented a significant breach of classified information.

Traductora del Departamento de Defensa de EE. UU. es ...

The criminal case accuses Thompson, a contract translator, of giving to the unidentified Lebanese man the names of U.S. government sources and the information they provided. That effort, according to the government, accelerated during a six-week period from the end of December, when U.S. airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and exacerbated relations between the two countries, through the middle of last month.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, called the alleged conduct “a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the United States military. This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished.”

Thompson’s court appearance, on charges that could carry life in prison, was brief and ended with her being detained until a hearing next Wednesday. Her attorney did not return a phone message afterward.

Thompson was arrested last week at the military facility in Erbil, Iraq, where prosecutors say she worked as a contract linguist. The Defense Department said it was aware of the arrest and was cooperating with the investigation.

After the arrest, prosecutors say, Thompson acknowledged that she passed secret information to a man she was romantically interested in, but said she did not know that he had any affiliation with Hezbollah. She instead said she thought he might have been tied to the Amal political party in Lebanon, though she later said she considered the groups to be the same.

“No, I don’t know about Hizbollah. I hate Hizbollah,” Thompson told an agent, according to an affidavit unsealed Wednesday. She described members of the group, which the U.S. has designated as a foreign terrorist organization, as “terrorists” and “like the octopus. They can reach anybody.”

Thompson also told the agent that she passed along classified information by memorizing it, writing it down and transmitting it via the video feature of a secure messaging application on her cellphone. One screenshot of a video chat the FBI says it obtained showed Thompson displaying to the Lebanese man an Arabic note describing the technique an informant had used to collect information, according to the affidavit.


The 12-page affidavit is found here.

03/3/20

Dr. Handel Mishandles

By: Tabitha Korol

The defensive wars won by Israel against four invading countries negate the accusation of occupation, but writers on Academia.edu are not required to support their indictments and inaccuracies.

Academia.edu, based in Los Angeles, despite its authoritative name, can publish anything regardless of accuracy. Amid the genuine material, there is to be found pseudo-scientific nonsense, opinion-based articles, and everything else in between. The papers generally project a scholarly impression, and this is the danger, for there is much that is fabricated and unsupported by reliable documentation.

I had often considered refuting some of those formidable essays, particularly those that were also propagandist in nature, each time overwhelmed by the sheer extent of the distortion. But one need not repudiate a writer’s entire concoction to verify that s(he) has engaged in broadcasting a personal opinion as proven fact.

An essay entitled Chronology of the Occupation Regime, 1967–2000, by Dr. Ariel Handel, is such a personally biased presentation. It opens with the heading, “June 5,” followed by, “War breaks out between Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. When it ends, Israel controls the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.” Within these two sentences, there are concepts sufficient to fuel the fires of Islamic frenzy and influence the average reader into assigning victimhood to the aggressor.

War breaks out. Does Handel suggest a case of spontaneous combustion, such as a fire in the dry season? Are we to believe that the peaceful men of the four countries were all suddenly impelled to rise to battle at a given shared border? Yet there is no commonly shared border with Israel. Syria lies to the north of Israel, Jordan to Israel’s east, and Egypt southwest, and all three Arab countries dwarf Israel considerably. How could it be that they broke into war instantaneously and for what purpose?

The operation of the Arab countries was coordinated, and far from “breaking out,” this was a carefully planned “breaking in” – an invasion of Israel’s sovereignty on multiple fronts, for the genocide of the Jews and a grab for their land.

The demographics gave the Arabs confidence. Israel’s landmass is about 1/625 (1/6th of 1 percent) of the Arab world, home to six to seven million Jews compared to the 85-90 million Muslims of Egypt, 10 million Muslims of Jordan, and 16.5 million Muslims of Syria. Why would Israel join in such activity if they were not so programmed or mesmerized? Unless, of course, the one was attacked by the other three, except there was also an unnamed fourth, Iraq, home to 39 million Muslims – Handel’s omission to imply more balance, perhaps.

If there was no common border, there were certainly common incentives and destination – Israel, the stick in the Muslim craw, the thorn in their side, the small sliver of land that caused 250,000 Muslims to erupt in fury and band together to form an army equipped with Soviet-supplied aircraft and tanks. Egypt ominously and illegally blocked Israel’s access to international waters, expelling UN peace-keeping forces. Then-defense minister Hafez al-Assad, who later became President of the Syrian Arab Republic, ordered his troops to “Strike the enemy’s settlements, turn them into dust and pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews. We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea.” This unpleasant quote didn’t suit Handel’s views and, thus, escaped his attention.

Between 1948 and 1967, during Egypt and Jordan’s 19-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank (Judea-Samaria), there was no call for a Palestinian state to include these areas. In fact, the PLO Covenant of 1964 stipulated, “The PLO does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank (Judea-Samaria) in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or the Himmah Area.”

The Arabs adopted the name Palestinians after the 1967 war when Israel won its defensive war and gained land populated with a belligerent people over which it had no desire to govern. Under the Rules of War, this was not occupation, but historically and under any de facto International Law, land for the conqueror to control or relinquish as largesse. Yet each time Israeli governments attempted to negotiate a treaty according to the Land for Peace formula, the generous offer of 98% of what the Arabs demanded, including East Jerusalem, Israel was rebuffed.

Therefore, under International Law, Israel was forced to continue her presence in Gaza and the West Bank until the emergence of a suitable partner with whom they could negotiate an effective peace treaty. To date, there has been nothing but obstinacy and, indeed, additional attacks against the Jewish state. The Gazans continue their deadly violence against Israel, in defiance of the Rules of War, without uniforms, without regard for civilian citizens, and using their own children to ignite rocketry and incendiary balloons to detonate Israeli schools and school buses, and attack private citizens on the streets and in their homes.

Yet Handel, with counsel of professor of political science, Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and Dr. Shir Hever, economic researcher and journalist, now rue the Arabs’ loss of land. The civilized world has Rules of War, effective since the nineteenth century. Had Handel been capable of clear thinking, he would have recognized that it was the Arab aggressors, not the defending Israelis, who were guilty of war crimes.

Aggressors are those who commit crimes against peace, and who wage aggressive wars with disregard to territory or political independence of another state. Those who violate the express terms of a peace settlement may be prosecuted as war criminals under the United Nations Charter. Crimes committed against civilians because of their race, religion, and national origin, including genocide, are considered war crimes. In fact, the only type of war recognized by the United Nations as lawful is one fought in self-defense.

Contrary to Handel’s position, Israel was forced to continue its presence in Gaza and the West Bank from 1967–1993 because no Palestinian had yet emerged as a peace partner to successfully negotiate and administer the Territories. When Egypt and Jordan renounced their claims to the Gaza Strip and West Bank Territories in 1979 and 1988, Israel was left with the task of administration, unable to extricate itself from that duty. Gaza is now an independent entity, ruled entirely by Hamas (a name that means “violence”).

The balance of Handel’s long diatribe was built on desert sand, accusations and arguments on behalf or in defense of a people that never existed, and who, to this day, have no tangible tie to the land they were unable to conquer by war. These Egyptians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Syrians, and other Muslims who came first to work within the nascent state, but bound together in common enmity, called themselves Palestinians to fabricate a tie.

The author blamed the Israel Defense Forces for the manner in which they took “control and responsibility for maintenance of public order and safety,” and proceeded to cite some of the more than 2500 humane proclamations needed to communicate how peace would be restored and maintained by the Arabs who were to live harmoniously with Israelis. Bear in mind that the Arabs were smoldering with resentment at their defeat and had not the slightest intention of living peaceably alongside Jews.

The first proclamation, June 1, was posted on Palestinian houses as the Israeli military forces advanced. It stated: “The Israel Defense Forces have today entered the area and taken control and responsibility for maintenance of public order and safety.” This proclamation and other orders that would be issued subsequently had already been drafted by the Judge Advocate General’s Office in the early 1960s as part of a legal framework for a future military government in the Occupied Territory.

As a counterweight to Handel’s sham analysis of Israel’s past and present, the following facts should be more than sufficient.

The Jewish State of Israel has often brought prosperity and order wherever it has been permitted and so, under Israel’s authority, the West Bank and Gaza became the 4th fastest-growing economy in the world, with an 80 percent increase in income. Israel increased millions of dollars in funding to improve refugee camps, allowed Arabs easier travel to Jerusalem, modernized Palestinian infrastructure, and created thousands of manufacturing plants. It established seven universities, expanded schools, taught modern agriculture, set up medical programs and opened 100+ health clinics. Israel instituted freedom of the press, of association and of religion with the first authentically Palestinian administration they had ever known. Adult illiteracy dropped by 14 percent, unemployment plunged, life expectancy soared, and their population nearly doubled between 1967 and 1993.

These are the facts, Dr. Handel. Were you unaware of them or did they not fit your narrative?

Palestinian life was undeniably improved under Israeli laws, but the Islamic leadership could not relinquish the very thing that brought them centuries of squalor: the rigidity of the Koranic dictates that they must never make peace with Jews and Christians. Once Hamas and Hezbollah retook their charge, it was business as usual: the violence against Israelis, the redirection of international aid into their own pockets, and the subsequent degradation of their people.

The changes of the name of Judea and Samaria to “West Bank” and of Israel to “Palestine” further underscore the ongoing Arab determination to sever the Jewish connection to their historic homeland. These documented and indisputable facts appear to be unknown to some commentators, despite their claims to be serious investigators.

There also exists in the west an inexplicable, mindless ideology, albeit, with good intentions, that supposes that Islam can come to terms with its own toxic 1400-year history and heritage and accept peace with both Israel and the rest of the world. Accordingly, Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Donald J. Trump, proposed an extensive, detailed offer for peace to the Palestinians with Israel. True to form, Muslims/Palestinians have denounced it once again.

Acknowledgment: Israel 101, produced by StandWithUs

02/27/20

DOJ New Unit to Strip US Citizenship of Criminals and Terrorists

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Hoorah… it is a great start.

A new unit staffed with an estimated 30 lawyers will review cases that point to those that fraudulently obtained citizenship by failing to disclose past convictions for serious crimes — including terrorism and war crimes.

The section, which will be within the DOJ’s Office of Immigration Litigation, will be dedicated to denaturalizing those who had failed to disclose they had been involved in criminal activity on their N-400 form for naturalization. It requires the government to show that citizenship was obtained illegally or “procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation.”

Form N-400 | Gastelum Law

That form includes questions asking whether an applicant has been involved in genocide and torture among other serious crimes, if they have ever been part of a terrorist or totalitarian organization, if they had been associated with the Nazi government in Germany, and if they have been charged or convicted with a crime or served prison time. Targets for denaturalization are those who have made material breaches of those questions.

“When a terrorist or sex offender becomes a U.S. citizen under false pretenses, it is an affront to our system — and it is especially offensive to those who fall victim to these criminals,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said. “The new Denaturalization Section will further the Department’s efforts to pursue those who unlawfully obtained citizenship status and ensure that they are held accountable for their fraudulent conduct.”

The department has seen an increase in such cases both because of an increased effort by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to root out fraud, as well as Operation Janus — an operation which began during the Obama administration and that identified hundreds of thousands of cases where paper fingerprint data was not entered into the centralized fingerprint database.

Officials have pointed to recent cases whereby the DOJ has secured the denaturalization of terrorists, war criminals and sex offenders. They include:

  • An individual convicted of terrorism in Egypt who admitted recruiting for Al Qaeda in the U.S. He was denaturalized while in Egypt and had his passport taken away from him.
  • An individual who received military training in an Afghan jihadist camp and coordinated with 9/11 mastermind Usama Bin Laden. He “self-deported” to Somaliland.
  • An individual who was convicted in Bosnia of executing eight unarmed civilians and prisoners of war during the Balkans conflict. He was denaturalized while serving a sentence in Bosnia.
  • One individual who engaged in sexual contact with a 7-year-old family member and another who sexually abused a minor for multiple years.

The department has filed 228 civil denaturalization cases since 2008, and 94 since 2017. Officials say it has increased its filing rate by 200 percent in the past three years and has seen an increase in referrals by over 600 percent.

Such denaturalization proceedings are not targeted at people who commit crimes after they become citizens, only those who have made fraudulent citizenship applications and left out crimes they committed on that form. A number of cases involve those who were initially denied entry to the U.S. or removed from the country, only to re-enter under a false identity.

Citizens cannot be deported, but those who have been stripped of citizenship revert back to permanent residency status, which allows deportation or barring of entry from the U.S. in the case of serious criminal offenses. Source

02/10/20

Another Assassination in France by Russia?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Throat slit and dozens of stab wounds. This happened a week ago… great job media. No suspects yet? No worries, French investigators say this may be politically motivated… really?

Imran Aliev is dead. Caucasian Knot | Imran Aliev's acquaintances report ...

The murder of an unidentified man at the Hôtel Coq Hardi near Lille train station was first reported on 30 January by La Voix du Nord, a local newspaper. According to the paper, the body of the man was found in his room by the cleaning staff after he failed to check out of his room. The body bore multiple stab wounds to the neck by a knife, the suspected murder weapon. It was also found in the room.

Faits Divers : Toute l'actualité des faits divers sur Le ...

Chechens living in exile who have fought or spoken out against Kadyrov – the ruthless Chechen leader appointed by Vladimir Putin – have often been targeted for assassination. Last year, a former Chechen rebel commander was shot twice in the head in a targeted killing in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten. The suspected assassin is Russian.

Imran Aliev, who settled in Belgium after leaving Chechnya, was described as an eccentric and divisive figure who often published YouTube videos critical of the Chechen government under the pseudonym Mansur Stariy, or Old Mansur. He had also sparked conflicts by targeting natives of Ingushetia and Dagestan, regions that neighbour Chechnya, in profanity-laced tirades that had earned threats on his life.

Those who knew Aliev expressed surprise that he had been targeted because he was seen as a marginal figure suffering from debilitating health issues.

“He was murdered especially cruelly,” wrote Musa Taipov, a Chechen opposition journalist based in Strasbourg who said he was in regular contact with Aliev. In a Facebook post, Taipov described Aliev as a “difficult but honest” acquaintance who was managing a difficult illness with painkillers and would sometimes issue “not entirely proper declarations.”

“Some people, they offended. For others, they were ‘funny’,” Taipov wrote. He sometimes urged Aliev to delete the YouTube videos, Taipov said, and “most of the time he agreed.”

Police have not publicly identified any suspects in the case. A lawyer who knew Aliev told the Caucasian Knot website that the blogger had received a visitor from Chechnya several days before his death. The man had asked for Aliev’s help with a health condition and the two traveled from Belgium to Lille together, where Aliev was last seen alive. The man then disappeared. Minkail Malizaev, a Chechen blogger who left Grozny under pressure and now lives in Germany, also claimed in an online post that the man visiting Aliev had also sought a meeting with him.

Thousands of refugees and emigres from Chechnya live in Europe. Many fled the two wars that devastated the region from the 1990s, while others escaped the brutal crackdown against dissent under Kadyrov, who has headed the region since 2007 and runs it as a near-fiefdom. Aliev had political asylum in Belgium, the lawyer said.

‘We can find you anywhere’: the Chechen death squads stalking Europe

The trail of assassinations of prominent Chechens in Europe and the Middle East stretches back more than a decade, and includes former rebel commanders and government critics. Increasingly, the attacks have targeted people who posed no real political danger to Kadyrov, but merely took to Instagram or YouTube accounts to voice their dissatisfaction with Chechnya’s leaders in Grozny.

“I have no doubt that [Aliev] was on a list of people who have been sentenced to death,” said Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a video blogger living in Europe who has received threats from allies of Kadyrov for his criticism on YouTube of Chechnya’s government.

Abdurakhmanov claimed that before Aliev’s murder, he had received information that a hitman from Chechnya had been dispatched to western Europe, and shared the details of the man’s itinerary with German police. Abdurakhmanov said he initially believed that the hitman was targeting him. He declined to reveal the source of that information. More here from The Guardian.

02/3/20

The Detailed Iran Cover-up Of Ukraine Plane Struck By A Missile

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

(AP) — A leaked recording of an exchange between an Iranian air-traffic controller and an Iranian pilot purports to show that authorities immediately knew a missile had downed a Ukrainian jetliner after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, despite days of denials by the Islamic Republic.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged the recording’s authenticity in a report aired by a Ukrainian television channel on Sunday night.

In Tehran on Monday, the head of the Iranian investigation team, Hassan Rezaeifar, acknowledged the recording was legitimate and said that it was handed over to Ukrainian officials. A transcript of the recording, published by the Ukrainian 1+1 TV channel, contains a conversation in Farsi between an air-traffic controller and a pilot reportedly flying a Fokker 100 jet for Iran’s Aseman Airlines from Iran’s southern city of Shiraz to Tehran.

“A series of lights like … yes, it is a missile, is there something?” the pilot calls out to the controller.

“No, how many miles? Where?” the controller asks.

The pilot responds that he saw the light by the Payam airport, near where the Guard’s Tor M-1 anti-aircraft missile was launched from. The controller says nothing has been reported to them, but the pilot remains insistent.

“It is the light of a missile,” the pilot says.

“Don’t you see anything anymore?” the controller asks.

“Dear engineer, it was an explosion. We saw a very big light there, I don’t really know what it was,” the pilot responds.

The controller then tries to contract the Ukrainian jetliner, but unsuccessfully.

Publicly accessible flight-tracking radar information suggests the Aseman Airlines aircraft, flight No. 3768, was close enough to Tehran to see the blast.

Iran’s Guard Accepts Responsibility for Plane Shootdown

In part from the NYT’s: Around midnight on Jan. 7, as Iran was preparing to launch a ballistic-missile attack on American military posts in Iraq, senior members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps deployed mobile antiaircraft defense units around a sensitive military area near Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport.

Iran was about to retaliate for the American drone strike that had killed Iran’s top military commander, Gen. Qassim Suleimani, in Baghdad five days earlier, and the military was bracing for an American counterstrike. The armed forces were on “at war” status, the highest alert level.

But in a tragic miscalculation, the government continued to allow civilian commercial flights to land and take off from the Tehran airport. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Guards’ Aerospace Force, said later that his units had asked officials in Tehran to close Iran’s airspace and ground all flights, to no avail.

Iranian officials feared that shutting down the airport would create a mass panic that war with the United States was imminent, members of the Guards and other officials told The Times. They also hoped that the presence of passenger jets could act as a deterrent against an American attack on the airport or the nearby military base, effectively turning planeloads of unsuspecting travelers into human shields.

After Iran’s missile attack began, the central air defense command issued an alert that American warplanes had taken off from the United Arab Emirates and that cruise missiles were headed toward Iran.

The officer on the missile launcher near the airport heard the warnings but did not hear a later message that the cruise missile alert was a false alarm.

The warning about American warplanes may have also been wrong. United States military officials have said that no American planes were in or near Iranian airspace that night.

When the officer spotted the Ukrainian jet, he sought permission to fire. But he was unable to communicate with his commanders because the network had been disrupted or jammed, General Hajizadeh said later. The officer, who has not been publicly identified, fired two missiles, less than 30 seconds apart.

General Hajizadeh, who was in western Iran supervising the attack on the Americans, received a phone call with the news.

“I called the officials and told them this has happened and it’s highly possible we hit our own plane,” he said later in a televised statement. General Hajizadeh advised the generals not to tell the rank-and-file air defense units for fear that it could hamper their ability to react quickly if the United States did attack.

“It was for the benefit of our national security because then our air defense system would be compromised,” Mr. Hajizadeh said in an interview with Iranian news media this week. “The ranks would be suspicious of everything.”The military leaders created a secret investigative committee drawn from the Guards’ aerospace forces, from the army’s air defense, and from intelligence and cyber experts. The committee and the officers involved in the shooting were sequestered and ordered not to speak to anyone.

The committee examined data from the airport, the flight path, radar networks, and alerts and messages from the missile operator and central command. Witnesses — the officer who had pulled the trigger, his supervisors and everyone involved — were interrogated for hours.

The group also investigated the possibility that the United States or Israel may have hacked Iran’s defense system or jammed the airwaves. Senior commanders discussed keeping the shooting secret until the plane’s black boxes — the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — were examined and formal aviation investigations completed, according to members of the Guards, diplomats, and officials with knowledge of the deliberations. That process could take months, they argued, and it would buy time to manage the domestic and international fallout that would ensue when the truth came out.

The government had violently crushed an anti-government uprising in November. But the American killing of General Suleimani, followed by the strikes against the United States, had turned public opinion around. Iranians were galvanized in a moment of national unity.

The authorities feared that admitting to shooting down the passenger plane would undercut that momentum and prompt a new wave of anti-government protests.

“They advocated covering it up because they thought the country couldn’t handle more crisis,” said a ranking member of the Guards who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “At the end, safeguarding the Islamic Republic is our ultimate goal, at any cost.”

That evening, the spokesman for the Joint Armed Forces, Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, told Iranian news media that suggestions that missiles struck the plane were “an absolute lie.”

Why did Iran lie about shooting down the Ukrainian plane ...

On Thursday, as Ukrainian investigators began to arrive in Tehran, Western officials were saying publicly that they had evidence that Iran had accidentally shot down the plane. A chorus of senior Iranian officials — from the director of civil aviation to the chief government spokesman — issued statement after statement rejecting the allegations, their claims amplified on state media.

The suggestion that Iran would shoot down a passenger plane was a “Western plot,” they said, “psychological warfare” aimed at weakening Iran just as it had exercised its military muscle against the United States.

But in private, government officials were alarmed and questioning whether there was any truth to the Western claims. Mr. Rouhani, a seasoned military strategist himself, and his foreign minister, Javad Zarif, deflected phone calls from world leaders and foreign ministers seeking answers. Ignorant of what their own military had done, they had none to give.

Domestically, public pressure was building for the government to address the allegations.

Among the plane’s passengers were some of Iran’s best and brightest. They included prominent scientists and physicians, dozens of Iran’s top young scholars and graduates of elite universities, and six gold and silver medal winners of international physics and math Olympiads.

There were two newlywed couples who had traveled from Canada to Tehran for their weddings just days earlier. There were families and young children.

Their relatives demanded answers. Iranian social media began to explode with emotional commentary, some accusing Iran of murdering its own citizens and others calling such allegations treason.

Persian-language satellite channels operating from abroad, the main source of news for most Iranians, broadcast blanket coverage of the crash, including reports from Western governments that Iran had shot down the plane.

Mr. Rouhani tried several times to call military commanders, officials said, but they did not return his calls. Members of his government called their contacts in the military and were told the allegations were false. Iran’s civil aviation agency called military officials with similar results.

“Thursday was frantic,” Ali Rabiei, the government spokesman, said later in a news conference. “The government made back-to-back phone calls and contacted the armed forces asking what happened, and the answer to all the questions was that no missile had been fired.”
On Friday morning, Mr. Rabiei issued a statement saying the allegation that Iran had shot down the plane was “a big lie.”

Several hours later, the nation’s top military commanders called a private meeting and told Mr. Rouhani the truth.

Mr. Rouhani was livid, according to officials close to him. He demanded that Iran immediately announce that it had made a tragic mistake and accept the consequences.

The military officials pushed back, arguing that the fallout could destabilize the country.

Mr. Rouhani threatened to resign.

Canada, which had the most foreign citizens on board the plane, and the United States, which as Boeing’s home country was invited to investigate the crash, would eventually reveal their evidence, Mr. Rouhani said. The damage to Iran’s reputation and the public trust in the government would create an enormous crisis at a time when Iran could not bear more pressure.

As the standoff escalated, a member of Ayatollah Khamenei’s inner circle who was in the meeting informed the supreme leader. The ayatollah sent a message back to the group, ordering the government to prepare a public statement acknowledging what had happened.

Mr. Rouhani briefed a few senior members of his government. They were rattled.Mr. Abdi said the government’s actions had gone “far beyond” just a lie.

“There was a systematic cover-up at the highest levels that makes it impossible to get out of this crisis,” he said.

Iran’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting and drafted two statements, the first to be issued by the Joint Armed Forces followed by a second one from Mr. Rouhani.

As they debated the wording, some suggested claiming that the United States or Israel may have contributed to the accident by jamming Iran’s radars or hacking its communications networks.

But the military commanders opposed it. General Hajizadeh said the shame of human error paled compared with admitting his air defense system was vulnerable to hacking by the enemy.

Iran’s Civil Aviation Agency later said that it had found no evidence of jamming or hacking.

02/3/20

Al Qaeda Leader To Be Extradited From Arizona To Iraq

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

He ran an Arizona driving school and was described by friends and acquaintances in Phoenix as an outgoing, friendly member of the city’s Iraqi community and had been in the U.S. for more than a decade and had recently married and had a child. He arrived in the U.S. in January 2008 as a refugee from Iraq.

Ahmed and other members of al Qaeda shot and killed a lieutenant and an officer with the Fallujah Police Directorate in 2006, according to the Department of Justice. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Wednesday.

Jabir Algarawi, a board member of the Phoenix refugee assistance organization Refugees and Immigrants Community for Empowerment, said he met Ahmed in 2010 and knew him well.

Al-Qaeda Leader Wanted by Iraq for Murder Arrested in Arizona - C-VINE Network Ali Ahmed's arrest as suspected al-Qaida terrorist stuns Phoenix friends

PHOENIX – On January 31, 2020, a Phoenix-area resident, who is alleged to have been the leader of a group of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Al-Fallujah, Iraq, appeared today before a federal magistrate judge in Phoenix, Arizona in connection with proceedings to extradite him to the Republic of Iraq. He is wanted to stand trial in Iraq for two charges of premeditated murder committed in 2006 in Al-Fallujah.

The arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey for the District of Arizona.

An Iraqi judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri, 42, on murder charges. The Government of Iraq subsequently requested Ahmed’s extradition from the United States. In accordance with its treaty obligations to Iraq, the United States filed a complaint in Phoenix seeking a warrant for Ahmed’s arrest based on the extradition request. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Z. Boyle issued the warrant on January 29, 2020, and Ahmed was arrested the following day.

According to the information provided by the Government of Iraq in support of its extradition request, Ahmed served as the leader of a group of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Al-Fallujah, Iraq, which planned operations targeting Iraqi police. Ahmed and other members of the Al-Qaeda group allegedly shot and killed a first lieutenant in the Fallujah Police Directorate and a police officer in the Fallujah Police Directorate, on or about June 1, 2006, and October 3, 2006, respectively.

The details contained in the complaint are allegations and have not yet been proven in court. If Ahmed’s extradition is certified by the court, the decision of whether to surrender him to Iraq will be made by the U.S. Secretary of State.

Ahmed’s arrest was executed by the FBI Phoenix Field Office, HSI Phoenix Field Office and the U.S. Marshals Service. The extradition case will be handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

01/16/20

Daily Gas Pump Prices are Based on the Strait of Hormuz

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Experts said Iranian officials are trying to demonstrate to the U.S. and its allies that the Islamic Republic is able to push back and gain leverage against the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy, which intensified after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the landmark nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions, making it difficult for Iran to export oil, the foundation of the country’s economy.

China, Russia and leading Western European countries have sought ways around the U.S. sanctions, but it has been difficult to bypass them.

“The message that Iran is sending is that it is capable of making international waters unsafe not just for the U.S., but for international trade,” said Reza H. Akbari, a program manager and Iran expert at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

These are the reasons for oil tanker seizures and attacks by Iranian limpet mines.

Tensions between the West and Iran bubbled to a historic height in recent days after the assassination of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Tehran bombed two Iraqi bases that housed US troops.

They have sparked fears of wider US-Iran attacks in the greater region, which could take place in and around the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow body of water linking the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, which feeds into the Arabian Sea and the rest of the world.

strait of hormuz jan 2020

A satellite image of marine traffic passing through the Strait of Hormuz as on January 9, 2020. MarineTraffic.com

While Iran’s leaders claim to have “concluded” their revenge for Soleimani’s death — and President Donald Trump appears to believe them — many regional experts and diplomatic sources say Iran could unleash other modes of attack, which include unleashing allied militias to disrupt the Middle East.

One strategy could include Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz, which would stop oil tanker traffic, disrupt global oil supply, and send prices shooting up.

Here’s what you need to know about this valuable strait.

Some 21 million barrels of crude and refined oil pass through the strait every day, the EIA said, citing 2018 statistics.

That’s about one-third of the world’s sea-traded oil, or $1.2 billion worth of oil a day, at current oil prices. The majority of Saudi Arabia’s crude exports pass through the Strait of Hormuz, meaning much of the oil-dependent economy’s wealth is situated there. Saudi state-backed oil tanker Bahri temporarily suspended its shipments through the strait after Iran’s missile strikes in Iran, the Financial Times reported.

Last June Iran shot down a US drone flying near the strait, and a month later a US warship — USS Boxer — also shot down an Iranian drone in the same area.

Shortly after Iran’s drone attack, President Donald Trump questioned the US’ presence in the region, and called on China, Japan, and other countries to protect their own ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump noted that much of China and Japan’s oil flow through the strait, and added: “So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation.”

While a large proportion — 76% — of oil flowing through the chokepoint does end up in Asian countries, the US still imports more than 30 million barrels of oil a month from countries in the Middle East, Business Insider has reported, citing the EIA.

That’s about $1.7 billion worth of oil, and 10% of the US’s total oil imports per month.

Iranian leaders, who have also vowed retaliation for the death of Soleimani, have threatened to close down the strait multiple times in the past.

If Iran followed through with these threats, it would likely cause a huge disruption to the global oil trade. As the strait is so narrow, any sort of interference in tanker traffic could decrease the world’s oil supply, and send prices shooting up.

Global oil prices have proven vulnerable to tensions between Iran and the West before. After the Trump administration said in April 2019 it would stop providing sanctions waivers to countries who purchase Iranian oil, prices rose to their highest level since November the year before, Axios reported.

How likely is Iran to shut down the strait?

Iran is more likely to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz than to engage in an all-out conventional war with the US, which is much stronger militarily.

But doing so comes with high costs to Iran.

To close down the entire strait, Iran would have to place at least 1,000 mines with submarines and surface craft along the chokepoint, security researcher Caitlin Talmadge posited in a 2009 MIT study. Such an effort could take weeks, the study added. (taken in part from here)

01/16/20

U.S. Killed AQ Leader in a Taliban Stronghold

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Asim Umar (1974/1976 – 23 September 2019) was an Indian militant and the leader of alQaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. AlQaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the creation of AQIS and introduced Asim Umar as its leader in a video posted online in September 2014.

Though the Taliban or al-Qaeda has not given an official confirmation of their own, the Afghan government has released pictures and confirmed his death alongside six other AQIS operatives in a joint U.S.-Afghan operation (Al Jazeera, October 8).

Umar was killed in an Afghan Taliban hideout in Musa Qila district, a known Taliban stronghold in Helmand province. The circumstances are indicative of long-running Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda ties and their collaboration in the Afghan insurgency. The idea that the Taliban would deny a safe haven to foreign fighters in Afghanistan after reaching a peace deal with the United States, as was suggested during negotiations, has been proven unlikely following Umar’s discovery in Taliban-held territory. More details here.

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The U.S. Department of Defense suppressed a press release that would have announced the death of Asim Umar, the emir of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, because it “would complicate future negotiations with the Taliban,” military officials have told FDD’s Long War Journal.

The U.S. military killed Umar in the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala in Helmand province, Afghanistan on Sept. 23, 2019. Umar was killed just two weeks after President Donald Trump canceled a possible deal between the U.S. and the Taliban. As part of that accord, the U.S. was willing to accept the Taliban’s supposed counterterrorism assurances.

The Sept. 23 raid exposed the ongoing ties between the Taliban and al Qaeda’s branch in South Asia. Among the 17 people killed was Haji Mahmood, the Taliban’s military commander for the neighboring district of Naw Zad, which is also controlled by the Taliban.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, has claimed throughout “peace” negotiations that the Taliban would sever ties with al Qaeda. But Umar’s presence with the Taliban cast further doubt Khalilzad’s claim that the Taliban is truly willing to split with its longtime battlefield allies.

Umar was not the only al Qaeda operative killed in the raid. Raihan, Umar’s courier to Zawahiri; Faizani, the AQIS chief for Helmand and an ‘explosives expert;’ and Madani, Faizani’s deputy, also perished during the raid, which including intense airstrikes that killed more than a dozen civilians.

Umar’s wife was identified as one of six Pakistani women detained during the operation. Fourteen other “terrorists” were also captured, according to Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security.

The NDS confirmed Umar’s death on Oct. 8, 2019, and released photographs of Umar, both dead and alive. AQIS itself had previously obscured images of Umar, likely due to its concerns over operational security.

Al Qaeda and AQIS have not released a martyrdom statement confirming his death, but have not denied that he was killed. The Taliban, which has a vested interest in hiding its ties with al Qaeda (although it occasionally slips up) called the reports of his death “a part of enemy fabricated propaganda.”

Umar’s presence with the Taliban was “inconvenient”

The U.S. military was aware of Umar’s death and the Department of Defense was prepared to announce it a week after the statement by the NDS, military officials and officers who are familiar with the events told FDD’s Long War Journal on condition of anonymity.

A press release announcing Umar’s death was drafted and currently resides at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, military officials have confirmed. Yet, three months after OSD drafted the press release, it remains hidden from the public.

FDD’s Long War Journal has contacted the OSD several times over the past three months requesting comment on the press release, but has not received a response.

The U.S. military has suppressed the report of Umar’s death as “his presence with the Taliban during the late stage of talks would complicate future negotiations with the Taliban,” one defense official said.

“Asim Umar, his staff, his courier to [Al Qaeda emir Ayman] Zawahiri, and even his wife, were embedded with the Taliban, in the Taliban’s heartland,” a military officer said. “When you want to sell a split between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, these facts become inconvenient.”

12/3/19

Time to Place a Terror Status on Drug Cartels

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

President Trump has long pledged to sign off on declaring drug cartels as terror organizations going back to at least March of 2019.

Mexican security forces on Sunday killed seven more members of a presumed cartel assault force that rolled into a town near the Texas border and staged an hour-long attack, officials said, putting the overall death toll at 20.

The Coahuila state government said in a statement that lawmen aided by helicopters were still chasing remnants of the force that arrived in a convoy of pickup trucks and attacked the city hall of Villa Union on Saturday.

The reason for the military-style attack remained unclear. Cartels have been contending for control of smuggling routes in northern Mexico, but there was no immediate evidence that a rival cartel had been targeted in Villa Union.

Earlier Sunday, the state government had issued a statement saying seven attackers were killed Sunday in addition to seven who died Saturday. It had said three other bodies had not been identified, but its later statement lowered the total deaths to 20.

Death toll put at 20 for Mexico cartel attack near US ...

The governor said the armed group — at least some in military style garb — stormed the town of 3,000 residents in a convoy of trucks, attacking local government offices and prompting state and federal forces to intervene. Bullet-riddled trucks left abandoned in the streets were marked C.D.N. — Spanish initials of the Cartel of the Northeast gang.

Given the recent deaths in two attacks, momentum is building and what is taking so long? Frankly, it comes down to the trade deal(s) between the United States and Mexico which has been approved by Mexico, Canada, and the United States but not ratified yet by our own Congress.

For some context on how easy it is to apply sanctions regarding ‘countering narcotics trafficking,’ there is a law titled the King Pin Act. Recently updated this past June, The Foreign Narcotics King Pin Designation Act has 32 pages, two columns of named individuals or organizations.

Part of this law for reference includes:

THE KINGPIN ACT

On December 3, 1999, the President signed into law the Kingpin Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 1901-1908 and 8 U.S.C § 1182), providing authority for the application of sanctions to significant foreign narcotics traffickers and their organizations operating worldwide. Section 805(b) of the Kingpin Act blocks all property and interests in property within the United States, or within the possession or control of any U.S. person, which are owned or controlled by significant foreign narcotics traffickers, as identified by the President, or foreign persons designated by the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of State, as meeting the criteria as identified in the Kingpin Act.

On July 5, 2000, OFAC issued the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 598, which implement the Kingpin Act and block all property and interests in property within the United States, or within the possession or control of any U.S. person, which are owned or controlled by specially designated narcotics traffickers, as identified by the President, or foreign persons designated by the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State, as meeting the following criteria:

• Materially assists in, or provides financial or technological support for or to, or provides goods or services in support of, the international narcotics trafficking activities of a specially designated narcotics trafficker;

• Owned, controlled, or directed by, or acts for or on behalf of, a specially designated narcotics trafficker; or

• Plays a significant role in international narcotics trafficking.

III. PROHIBITED TRANSACTIONS

E.O. 12978

E.O. 12978 blocks the property and interests in property in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, of the persons listed in the Annex to E.O. 12978, as well as of any foreign person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to be a specially designated narcotics trafficker.

The names of persons and entities listed in the Annex to E.O. 12978 or designated pursuant to E.O. 12978, whose property and interests in property are therefore blocked, are published in the Federal Register and incorporated into OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) with the OFAC program tag “[SDNT].” The SDN List is available through OFAC’s web site: http://www.treasury.gov/sdn.

THE KINGPIN ACT

The Kingpin Act blocks all property and interests in property within the United States, or within the possession or control of any U.S. person, of the persons, identified by the President, or foreign persons designated by the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the previously identified federal agencies.

So, what is the problem? Actually it is likely the top government officials of Mexico would be sanctioned and the government itself would fall. The other suggestion is U.S. domestic banks would be implicated as well as some city officials in the United States including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Newark, and Miami.

The consequences are huge but it is time.

12/2/19

London Terror Attack Outrage

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

In part: Usman Khan, 28, was jailed in 2012 for his role in an al Qaeda-inspired terror group that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and the US Embassy and kill Boris Johnson.

The members of Usman Khan’s Al Qaeda-inspired gang who plotted to blow up the London Stock Exchange and kill Boris Johnson. From left to right: Mohammed Moksudur Chowdhury, Mohammed Shahjahan, Shah Mohammed Rahman. Middle row: Mohibur Rahman, Gurukanth Desai, Abdul Malik Miah. Bottom row: Nazam Hussain, Usman Khan, Omar Sharif Latif

The members of Usman Khan’s Al Qaeda-inspired gang who plotted to blow up the London Stock Exchange and kill Boris Johnson. From left to right: Mohammed Moksudur Chowdhury, Mohammed Shahjahan, Shah Mohammed Rahman. Middle row: Mohibur Rahman, Gurukanth Desai, Abdul Malik Miah. Bottom row: Nazam Hussain, Usman Khan, Omar Sharif Latif

Giving a statement outside Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said Usman Khan was subject to an ‘extensive list of license conditions’ on his release from prison and that ‘to the best of my knowledge he was complying with those conditions’.

A furious political row began today after it was revealed that Khan was released automatically from prison last year – though he was still tagged and monitored.

Khan, born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, originally received an indeterminate sentence for public protection with a minimum of eight years behind bars after his 2012 arrest, meaning he would remain locked up for as long as necessary, to protect the public.

Passing judgment at the time, Mr. Justice Wilkie said: ‘In my judgment, these offenders would remain, even after a lengthy term of imprisonment, of such a significant risk that the public could not be adequately protected by their being managed on license in the community, subject to conditions, by reference to a preordained release date.’

But this sentence was quashed at the Court of Appeal in April 2013 and he was given a determinate 16-year jail term instead, meaning he would be automatically released after eight years.

It has been speculated that the attack may have been revenge for the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It has also emerged today that he was a student and ‘personal friend’ of hate preacher Anjem Choudary. Khan spent years preaching on stalls that were linked to al-Muhajiroun, the banned terror group once led by Choudary.

As part of the plotting which led to his 2012 arrest, Khan’s group planned to set up a training camp in Kashmir, where his family had land.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that it was a ‘mistake’ to release Khan from prison and has vowed to crack down on early releases for inmates. The PM visited the scene of the attack today with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

When first sentenced, yesterday’s attacker Khan was handed an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) with a minimum term of eight years by Mr. Justice Wilkie in February 2012.

This was overturned by the Court of Appeal in April 2013, when the indeterminate sentence was quashed. Instead, he was handed 16 years in jail with an extended license period of five years.

At the time he was jailed, Khan had spent 408 days on remand and this was taken into account when considering his release date.

He was eligible for release after serving half of his 16-year jail term, less the time he had already spent on remand.

Khan was obliged to adhere to the notification provisions of the 2008 Counter-Terrorism Act for a total of 30 years.

He was released from prison after agreeing to wear an electronic tag and be monitored by authorities.

Speaking before chairing a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee Cobra on Friday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had ‘long argued’ that it is a ‘mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early and it is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists, that I think the public will want to see’.

Chris Phillips, a former head of the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said today: ‘The criminal justice system needs to look at itself.

‘We’re letting people out of prison, we’re convicting people for very, very serious offenses and then they are releasing them back into society when they are still radicalized. Much more here.

*** Just for consideration, there are an estimated 74 more cases of those just like Khan walking the streets of Britain. With the numbers of returning ISIS fighters to Europe….well it is easy to predict more attacks. ISIS may no longer have caliphate territory but the Internet is for sure the headquarters for continued and successful militant Islamic fighters. Europe… hear the clarion call.