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    Rules governing the use of national security letters allow the FBI to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the targeted news organization.

    President Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.

    This story was originally published on June 30, 2016. We are republishing it along with new reporting on other FBI documents.

    SECRET FBI RULES allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

    The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

    Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

    The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is “relevant” to a national security investigation.

    There is an extra step under the rules if the NSL targets a journalist in order “to identify confidential news media sources.” In that case, the general counsel and the executive assistant director must first consult with the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

    But if the NSL is trying to identify a leaker by targeting the records of the potential source, and not the journalist, the Justice Department doesn’t need to be involved.

    The guidelines also specify that the extra oversight layers do not apply if the journalist is believed to be a spy or is part of a news organization “associated with a foreign intelligence service” or “otherwise acting on behalf of a foreign power.” Unless, again, the purpose is to identify a leak, in which case the general counsel and executive assistant director must approve the request.

    “These supposed rules are incredibly weak and almost nonexistent — as long as they have that second signoff, they’re basically good to go,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has sued the Justice Department for the release of these rules. “The FBI is entirely able to go after journalists and with only one extra hoop they have to jump through.”

    4 pages
    A spokesperson for the FBI, Christopher Allen, declined to comment on the rules or say if they had been changed since 2013, except to say that they are “very clear” that “the FBI cannot predicate investigative activity solely on the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

    The Obama administration has come under criticism for bringing a record number of leak prosecutions and aggressively targeting journalists in the process. In 2013, after it came out that the Justice Department had secretly seized records from phone lines at the Associated Press and surveilled Fox News reporter James Rosen, then-Attorney General Eric Holder tightened the rules for when prosecutors could go after journalists. The new policies emphasized that reporters would not be prosecuted for “newsgathering activities,” and that the government would “seek evidence from or involving the news media” as a “last resort” and an “extraordinary measure.” The FBI could not label reporters as co-conspirators in order to try to identify their sources — as had happened with Rosen — and it became more difficult to get journalists’ phone records without notifying the news organization first.

    Yet these changes did not apply to NSLs. Those are governed by a separate set of rules, laid out in a classified annex to the FBI’s operating manual, known as the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG. The full version of that guide, including the classified annex, was last made public in redacted form in 2011.

    The section of the annex on NSLs obtained by The Intercept dates from October 2013 and is marked “last updated October 2011.” It is classified as secret with an additional restriction against distribution to any non-U.S. citizens.

    Emails from FBI lawyers in 2015, which were released earlier this year to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, reference an update to this portion of the DIOG, but it is not clear from the heavily redacted emails what changes were actually made.

    In a January 2015 email to a number of FBI employee lists, James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI, attached the new attorney general’s policy and wrote that “with the increased focus on media issues,” the FBI and Justice Department would “continue to review the DIOG and other internal policy guides to determine if additional changes or requirements are necessary.”

    “Please be mindful of these media issues,” he continued, and advised consulting with the general counsel’s office “prior to implementing any techniques targeting the media.” But the email also explicitly notes that the new guidelines do not apply to “national security tools.”

    Allen, the FBI spokesperson, told The Intercept in an emailed statement that “the FBI periodically reviews and updates the DIOG as needed” and that “certainly the FBI’s DIOG remains consistent with all [attorney general] guidelines.”

    Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said that the “use of NSLs as a way around the protections in the guidelines is a serious concern for news organizations.”

    Last week, the Reporters Committee filed a brief in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s lawsuit for the FBI’s NSL rules and other documents on behalf of 37 news organizations, including The Intercept’s publisher, First Look Media. (First Look also provides funding to both the Reporters Committee and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and several Intercept staffers serve on the foundation’s board.)

    Seeing the rules in their uncensored form, Timm, of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said that the FBI should not have kept them classified.

    “Redacting the fact that they need a little extra signoff from supervisors doesn’t come close to protecting state secrets,” he said.

    The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year, including nearly 13,000 in 2015. Over the years, a series of inspector general reports found significant problems with their use, yet the FBI is currently pushing to expand the types of information it can demand with an NSL. The scope of NSLs has long been limited to basic subscriber information and toll billing information — which number called which, when, and for how long — as well as some financial and banking records. But the FBI had made a habit of asking companies to hand over more revealing data on internet usage, which could include email header information (though not the subject lines or content of emails) and browsing history. The 2013 NSL rules for the media only mention telephone toll records.

    Another controversial aspect of NSLs is that they come with a gag order preventing companies from disclosing even the fact that they’ve received one. Court challenges and legislative changes have loosened that restriction a bit, allowing companies to disclose how many NSLs they receive, in broad ranges, and in a few cases, to describe the materials the FBI had demanded of them in more detail. Earlier this month, Yahoo became the first company to release three NSLs it had received in recent years.

    It’s unclear how often the FBI has used NSLs to get journalists’ records. Barton Gellman, of the Washington Post, has said that he was told his phone records had been obtained via an NSL.

    The FBI could also potentially demand journalists’ information through an application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court), which, like NSLs, would also not be covered by the Justice Department policy. The rules for that process are still obscure. The emails about revisions to the FBI guidelines reference a “FISA portion,” but most of the discussion is redacted.

    For Brown, of the Reporters Committee, the disclosure of the rules “only confirms that we need information about the actual frequency and context of NSL practice relating to newsgathering and journalists’ records to assess the effectiveness of the new guidelines.”

    Top photo: Jerry Delakas, 63, a longtime newspaper vendor in Manhattan’s Cooper Square, stands by his newsstand on April 3, 2012, in New York City.

    Cora Currier
    January 31 2017, 12:37 p.m.

    Find this story at 31 January 2017
    Copyright https://theintercept.com/

    Attentats de Paris : les messages du commanditaire au tueur de l’Hyper Cacher

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    image: http://s2.lemde.fr/image/2015/11/07/534×0/4805097_6_dc91_une-video-d-amedy-coulibaly-dans-laquelle-il_1e40cfd5515a5931c0c9dd14ee771631.jpg
    Une vidéo d’Amedy Coulibaly dans laquelle il revendique les attentats de Paris en janvier.
    L’enquête colossale sur les attentats de Paris en janvier s’oriente aujourd’hui, notamment, sur la piste d’un donneur d’ordre. Une personne susceptible d’avoir coordonné à distance les attaques des frères Kouachi contre Charlie Hebdo, le 7 janvier, et d’Amedy Coulibaly à l’Hyper Cacher de la porte de Vincennes, le 9 janvier. C’est la découverte de quelques-uns des échanges de ce commanditaire avec ce dernier qui ont trahi son existence. En l’état, impossible d’identifier son nom ou sa localisation exacte. Les éléments qui attestent de sa présence ne sont que des morceaux de mails et des adresses IP disparates repérés dans l’immensité du Web.
    Lire aussi (abonnés) : Attentats de Paris : la justice sur les traces des commanditaires

    Mais dix mois jour pour jour après les attentats, l’étau se resserre progressivement, d’après les éléments que Le Monde a pu consulter, autour d’un individu se trouvant à l’étranger. Un homme qui, à l’évidence, avait une vision d’ensemble des tueries qui ont coûté la vie à 17 personnes et qui a piloté en partie les opérations.
    Rédigés dans le langage lapidaire des SMS, mais toujours précis dans leurs instructions, les messages de ce mystérieux commanditaire s’apparentent chaque fois à de véritables ordres guerriers. « Ok, fé ske ta a fair aujourdhui ms simple com ça tu rentr dormir ensuit tu plank et verifi adress 1 ts les jrs : indications bientot pr recup amis aider toi. debarasse toi puce, maintenant passe sur adress 1, fini adress 2 », écrit-il ainsi à Amedy Coulibaly le 7 janvier, à 14 heures. Soit seulement deux heures après la tuerie de Charlie Hebdo…
    Le renfort de plusieurs compagnons d’armes
    Un peu plus tôt, à 12 h 48 exactement, le coordinateur inconnu a consulté un message du futur tueur de l’Hyper Cacher contenant plusieurs fichiers intitulés « inventaires ». Un seul d’entre eux n’était pas chiffré et donne une idée du contenu des autres. « J’ai un AK74 avec 275 cartouches. Six tokarev avec 69 cartouche. Trois gillet par balle militaire trois gillet tactique deux bombe a gel et a gaz deux gros couteaux un choqueur ». Un mail à l’orthographe hasardeuse sans doute rédigé par Amedy Coulibaly lui-même.
    Lire aussi : L’explosion de Villejuif et les tirs de Fontenay-aux-Roses attribués à Coulibaly

    En plus d’établir qu’il y avait donc bien une personne, en coulisse, tirant les ficelles du drame, ces échanges laissent entrevoir le fait que, au-delà des frères Kouachi, Amedy Coulibaly devait, semble-t-il, recevoir le renfort de plusieurs compagnons d’armes pour son épopée macabre. Un scénario dont atteste, en filigrane, un dernier mail du commanditaire présumé, dévoilé par BFM TV, le 13 octobre. Le message date cette fois du 8 janvier à 17h21. « 1) pas possible amis, travailler tt seul », écrit notamment l’insaisissable correspondant, avant d’ajouter « 2) si possible trouver et travailler avec zigotos bien. 3) si possible expliker ds video ke toi donner zigoto les outils au nom de d, préciser leskels. » Les « zigotos » désigneraient les frères Kouachi, alors en pleine cavale. « D » signifierait « Daech ».
    Officiellement, seuls les frères Kouachi ont revendiqué l’attaque du journal satirique au nom d’Al-Qaida dans la péninsule Arabique (AQPA). Revendication appuyée, dès le 9 janvier, par un message vidéo sur YouTube du porte-parole d’AQPA au Yémen, Nasser Ben Ali Al-Anassi. Dans une autre vidéo posthume, Amedy Coulibaly, lui, s’est réclamé de l’Etat islamique (EI). Mais en exhumant ces échanges, le travail minutieux des enquêteurs spécialisés en cybercriminalité montre que les frontières peuvent être poreuses entre les deux organisations.
    Les prescriptions testamentaires de Coulibaly
    Quel individu, francophone, a pu avoir l’expérience, le parcours et le réseau, pour se retrouver informé à la fois du projet des frères Kouachi contre Charlie Hebdo au nom d’AQPA et de celui d’Amedy Coulibaly au nom de l’EI ? Quel itinéraire derrière ce soin inattendu à ne pas laisser AQPA « bénéficier » seule des retombées médiatiques de l’attentat du journal satirique ?
    Sans qu’aucun lien soit fait directement avec les attentats, deux noms de djihadistes français apparaissent avec insistance dans l’instruction colossale de la juge Nathalie Poux : ceux de Peter Cherif et de Salim Benghalem. Tous les deux ont la particularité d’avoir été plus ou moins proches des frères Kouachi et d’Amedy Coulibaly, tout en étant passés par le Yémen, où se trouve AQPA.
    Lire aussi : Le djihadiste français Salim Benghalem aurait été le geôlier des ex-otages en Syrie

    A son mystérieux tuteur opérationnel, Amedy Coulibaly avait en tout cas confié jusqu’à ses prescriptions testamentaires. Dans un ultime message non daté intitulé « salam », il demande à ce que l’on prenne soin de son épouse religieuse, Hayat Boumedienne : « Je voudrais que le frère s’occupe de ma femme dans les règles de l’Islam, réclame-t-il notamment. Je voudrais pour elle qu’elle ne se retrouve pas seule qu’elle est une bonne situation financiere qu’elle ne soit pas dellaiser. Surtout qu’elle apprenne l’arabe, le Coran et la science religieuse. Veillez a se quel aye bien religieusement. Le plus important c’est le dine [la religion en arabe] et la foi et pour sa elle a besoin d’etre accompagné. Qu’Allah vous assiste. »

    Le Monde.fr | 07.11.2015 à 10h46 • Mis à jour le 08.11.2015 à 11h05 | Par Elise Vincent
    Find this story at 7 November 2015

    © Le Monde.fr

    Charlie Hebdo: Wat rest is schaamte en vragen…

    De wijze waarop de internationale media over de aanslagen op de burelen van Charlie Hebdo en in de joodse supermarkt hebben bericht, is niet alleen ronduit verbijsterend te noemen maar roept tevens vele vragen op.

    De definitie van vrijheid van meningsuiting is in 2015 erg eenvoudig geworden. Als je iets niet doet dan pleeg je censuur, als je iets wel doet dan ben je het goede voorbeeld voor de vrijheid en de vrijheid van meningsuiting. Dit simplisme tekent de nieuwe wereld orde sinds 2001. Beledigen moet kunnen, helemaal als mediabedrijf, anders pleeg je zelfcensuur. Het te kijk zetten van Mohammed is trending topic. Vragen of dit beledigen iets bijdraagt aan een maatschappelijk debat, of het wel zin heeft in een rechtsorde, noodzakelijk is voor het blootleggen van misstanden of in andere zin belangrijk is, worden niet gesteld.

    Hetzelfde mechanisme herhaalt zich bij een aanslag die gelabeld wordt als zijnde terroristisch. Kritische vragen, analyse en beschouwing is niet langer noodzakelijk. De verdachten zijn terroristen, in het geval van moslims worden ze gelabeld als zijnde jihadisten, uitwassen, barbaren of andere demonen. De rol van de overheid, het functioneren van politie- en inlichtingendiensten, twijfel over het verloop van de gebeurtenissen, niets is meer nodig. Het draaiboek ligt klaar.

    Charlie Hebdo

    Een aanslag vraagt om chocoladeletters, vingerwijzingen en insinuaties. Als er dan ook nog een persoon is die het claimt uit naam van Allah zijn we klaar. Ook dit keer is het gelukkig AQAS, een zijtak van Al-Qaeda, die een schuldbekentenis de wereld heeft in geslingerd met betrekking tot de aanslag op de redactie van Charlie Hebdo en een joodse winkel van begin dit jaar in Parijs en het hoofdstuk kan worden afgesloten.

    Als de aanslag van deze ‘barbaren’ wordt gepleegd op een redactie van een mediabedrijf dan is de vrijheid van meningsuiting, de vrijheid, onze waarden, de westerse vrije mentaliteit en andere superlatieven in gevaar en moeten wij het ‘kwaad’ uitroeien, van de aarde vegen en andere grote daden verrichten. Zie hier het Charlie Hebdo scenario in herhaling op alle voorgaande aanslagen.

    De Amerikaanse president G.W. Bush vatte dit scenario in 2001 simpelweg als volgt samen: ‘If you are not with us you are with the terrorists.’ Vandaar dat Bush niet vervolgd wordt voor de vele Amerikaanse oorlogsmisdaden, maar de Franse komiek Dieudonné wel voor verheerlijking van terrorisme omdat hij ‘Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly’ twitterde. En ook Maurice Sinet die vervolgd werd voor antisemitisme en aanzetten tot rassenhaat in verband met een zin in een column over joden, en vervolgens werd ontslagen door de directie van Charlie Hebdo.

    Want dáár zit het onderscheid. Grappen over de Holocaust, jodenvervolging, etc. zouden aanzetten tot haat, grappige tweets over aanslagen zouden terrorisme verheerlijken, maar grappen over de islam zijn vrijheid van meningsuiting en daar zou je vanaf moeten blijven. Cartoons, tekeningen, foto’s, verhalen, opinies, meningen; alles heeft natuurlijk uiteindelijk te maken met de geprefereerde schoonheid van beeld en tekst. Iets kan je bevallen of niet.

    Charlie Hebdo zou iedereen op de hak nemen, maar dat lijkt niet echt het geval. Er was een periode dat het blad het gemunt had op vrouwen, want die reageerden zo lekker en sinds de Mohammed tekeningen van de Deen Kurt Westergaard is de profeet kop van jut. De moslims reageren namelijk zo leuk. Niet-blanke Franse ministers, zoals van Justitie Christiane Taubira-Delannon werden als apen afgebeeld, maar het blad ging niet zover om dat met Barack Obama te doen.

    In de periode van ‘bring back our girls’ werden de ontvoerde meiden in Nigeria afgebeeld als zwangere bijstandsmoeders die hun uitkering niet kwijt wilden. De tekeningen zouden allemaal een diepere betekenis hebben, een dubbele bodem, maar welke diepere betekenis dan of onderbroekenlol of verhuld racisme wordt niet duidelijk. Het adagium lijkt te zijn dat alles moet kunnen, of eigenlijk toch niet.

    Vrijheid van meningsuiting

    De essentie van de vrijheid van meningsuiting is echter niet zozeer dat je alles mag zeggen, dan zou ontkenning van de Holocaust en het beledigen van joden ook een recht zijn, maar heeft meer te maken met het tarten van de macht. En daar wringt de schoen, want zijn de moslims aan de macht in de wereld, Europa, Frankrijk, Denemarken, Nederland? Is er een moslimpartij die de absolute meerderheid heeft in enig parlement in Europa? En vanwaar een grap eindeloos herhalen als kleine kinderen op een speelplaats om het jongetje met het keppeltje elke dag te pesten. Is dat allemaal vrijheid van meningsuiting?

    Mediabedrijven hebben niet meer recht op vrijheid van meningsuiting dan een willekeurige burger. Elke aanslag of bombardement is er een te veel, elk mensenleven telt. En als er dan getreurd wordt om een aanslag op de vrijheid van meningsuiting zodra de redactie van Charlie Hebdo wordt geraakt, waarom dan geen voorpagina’s met verzet wegens de Amerikaanse aanslagen op de burelen van het mediabedrijf Al Jazeera in Afghanistan (2001) en Irak (2003). Waar waren toen alle zogenoemde voorvechters van de ‘vrijheid van meningsuiting’ en de ‘hoeders van de democratie’? Of gaat het alleen maar om het recht om Allah door het slijk te halen? Dan moet dat gezegd worden, dat heeft namelijk niets met enige vrijheid te maken.

    Uiteindelijk heeft vrijheid van meningsuiting en de zogenoemde claim van de journalistiek dat zij de hoeders van de democratie zouden zijn, eerder te maken met de berichtgeving over de aanslag op de burelen van Charlie Hebdo dan met berichtgeving over de vermeende aanslag op ‘onze waarden’.

    De berichtgeving over de aanslag zelf is verbijsterend, want als er iets aan de hand is bij elke aanslag waar dan ook in de wereld is dat er vragen moeten worden gesteld bij het optreden van overheden, helemaal als die overheden zelf de straat op gaan om te demonstreren. Als president Kadyrov van Tsjetsjenië honderdduizenden demonstranten tegen de cartoons van Charlie Hebdo op de been krijgt, is dat georkestreerd, maar als in Parijs honderdduizenden de straat op gaan achter een virtuele rij regeringsleiders, ook met een even twijfelachtige staat van dienst als Kadyrov, is dat een spontane uiting van steun aan de ‘westerse waarden’.

    De media falen

    In de zee van artikelen die na de aanslagen door de media werd geproduceerd, lijkt het alsof je niet kunt zeggen dat je geen Charlie bent of wilt zijn, of dat Charlie eigenlijk een racist is. De berichtgeving was er een van een journalist die bibberend naar de machthebbers rent en vraagt om bescherming, niet van een hoeder van de democratie die meteen vragen opdreunt over een aanslag waar alleen maar vragen over te stellen zijn. Zelfs parallellen met het verleden zouden die vragen moeten oproepen.

    De aanslagen in 1995/1996 in Frankrijk op onder andere een gematigde imam, twee metrostations, een joodse school bijvoorbeeld van de zogenoemde Algerijnse groep GIA, Groupe Islamique Armé. De Franse GIA was een product van de Algerijnse geheime dienst, waarbij de rol van de Franse geheime dienst nooit is opgehelderd. Politiek kwam het zowel Frankrijk als Algerije goed uit. De democratisch gekozen Algerijnse moslimpartij FIS werd afgezet, net als in 2013 de moslimbroeders in Egypte en het westen omarmde de Algerijnse dictatuur, net als nu de Egyptische dictatuur.

    De aanslagen in Madrid zijn de enige aanslagen die ooit onder een vergrootglas van een parlementaire enquêtecommissie zijn gelegd, met de ene onthulling na de ander tot gevolg. Over een falend beveiligingsapparaat dat explosieven verkoopt aan de toekomstige daders en de andere kant opkijkt als zij hun aanslagen voorbereiden en uiteindelijk uitvoeren.

    De meeste aanslagen echter worden niet echt onderzocht. Het komt de politiek goed uit dat het zogenoemde ‘jihadisten’ zijn en de hoeders van de democratie hebben te veel te verliezen om kritische vragen te stellen. Zie ook de moord op Theo van Gogh, waar nu opnieuw een onderzoek naar loopt en waarvan de uitkomst bij voorbaat als vaststaat. Niemand trekt het veiligheidsapparaat in twijfel.

    Eigenlijk kun je spreken van eenzelfde Pavlov-reactie als bij het optreden van het Nederlandse leger in het buitenland. Hoeveel burgers zijn er omgekomen tijdens bombardementen of gevechten in Syrië, Irak en Mali van ‘onze jongens’ die samen optrekken met de Amerikanen of de Fransen? Interesseert ons dat soms niet in deze oorlog tegen de terreur? En de Nederlandse jongeren die nu omkomen bij bombardementen, waar zijn zij schuldig aan? Aan het lidmaatschap van een terroristische organisatie en staat daar dan de doodstraf op? Hebben zij een eerlijk proces gehad? En worden mensen die meevechten met de Koerden, de Israëli en elders in de wereld op dezelfde wijze langs de terroristische meetlat gelegd?

    Tegen het simplisme met betrekking tot terrorisme en vrijheid van meningsuiting is niet op te boksen, wij capituleren. Want als dat de waarden zijn waar wij voor zouden moeten staan, is schaamte wat er overblijft, schaamte voor zoveel gebrek aan beschaving, voor de teloorgang van waarheidsvinding, voor het gebrek aan kritiek op al die zogenoemde verlichte waarden, schaamte voor zoveel simplisme, iets dat alleen maar tot meer geweld en meer bloedvergieten zal leiden.

    Wij hebben slechts vragen over de aanslag op Charlie Hebdo en de joodse winkel, de daders en de handelwijze van het politieapparaat:

    1. Waarom is besloten de aanslagplegers niet langer in de gaten te houden? En geldt dat voor allen, ook voor de schoolgaande neef? Werd die surveillance van de twee broers in juni 2014 afgebroken? Waarom is besloten die twee broers en die neef in eerste instantie wel in de gaten te houden? Zijn er ook andere maatregelen geweest tegen of rondom deze personen?

    2. Het groepje dat in eerste instantie in de gaten werd gehouden door de inlichtingendiensten, bestond dat uit alleen uit deze drie of vier personen? Of waren er meer? Wie waren de anderen? Waarom hebben anderen uit die groep niets gedaan?

    3. Waarom was het de Amerikaanse inlichtingendiensten wel bekend dat de twee broers die de aanslagen hebben gepleegd in Jemen waren geweest en de Franse diensten niet? Of wisten de Franse diensten dit ook? Kunnen de aanslagen vanuit Jemen zijn gepland? Of kan het ook zijn dat de docenten in Jemen hebben gezegd dat ze maar moesten doen wat ze wilden? Is er contact geweest vanuit Frankrijk met Jemen door de aanslagplegers of vanuit Jemen met de broers in Frankrijk? Zijn er naast een videoboodschap bewijzen voor betrokkenheid van de groep in Jemen aan de aanslagen? ISIS/IS/ISIL is verschillende keren genoemd? Was er een link met IS, en zo ja welke? Zijn de broers daar geweest of hebben daar contact mee gehad? Bij of met welke organisatie? Welke training hebben de broers in Jemen of Syrië gehad, hoe lang, met welke wapens? Hoe goed waren ze, gezien de inslagen op de voorruit van de politieauto konden ze goed met hun wapens overweg? Hebben ze daar ook gevochten?

    4. Kwam de politieauto die in de Allee Verte onder vuur werd genomen door de aanslagplegers af op een melding van schoten van het eerste verkeerde adres waar de aanslag plegers binnendrongen?

    5. Wat was de response tijd van de politie nadat de aanslag plegers op de redactie van het blad Charlie Hebdo enkele mensen hadden doodgeschoten? De aanslagplegers verlieten lopend het pand en liepen naar hun auto in de Allee Verte. Een en ander is gefilmd, hoe lang duurde het voordat de politie aanwezig was? De daders lijken alle tijd te nemen. Hoe is de alarmmelding bij de politie binnengekomen? Wat gebeurde er toen precies?

    6. Is er een draaiboek voor dit soort aanslagen? Er moet een draaiboek zijn geweest voor Charlie Hebdo vanwege eerdere aanslagen/bedreigingen. Heeft men zich gehouden aan dat draaiboek?

    7. Welke eenheden zijn er gealarmeerd na het alarm bij de politie? Zijn er explosievenexperts geweest? Ligt namelijk voor de hand. Waren ze er niet, waarom dan niet?

    8. Waarom loopt de wijkagent op de daders toe? Wat was zijn opdracht? Was hij degene die op de melding binnenkwam? Was hij buurtagent of beveiliger van Charlie Hebdo?

    9. Hoe was de standaard beveiliging van Charlie H. door de Parijse politie geregeld? Was Franck Brinsolaro de enige politieman/beveiliger op de redactie? Waren er geen inlichtingen met betrekking tot bedreigingen van het blad en haar medewerkers?

    10. Klopt het dat de Algerijnse inlichtingendiensten de Franse diensten voor een aanslag waarschuwden? Als dit klopt, betekent het dat de broers of de neef contact hebben gehad met mensen die contact hadden met de Algerijnse inlichtingendienst. Was dat contact vanuit Frankrijk of vanuit Algerije? Het lijkt voor de hand te liggen dat Algerijnse diensten zich zeer interesseren voor de Algerijnse gemeenschap in Frankrijk. Hoever zitten zij daarin? Wat doen ze precies? Hoe zijn de contacten met Franse diensten? Hoeveel en wat voor mensen runt de Algerijnse dienst in Frankrijk en met welk doel? Werden de broers in dit verband gerund door een inlichtingendienst als informant/infiltrant? Zijn zij voor informatie betaald, en zo ja hoeveel?

    11. Zijn de broers door een Franse inlichtingendienst benaderd om voor ze te werken als informant/infiltrant? Zo ja, door welke dienst? Hoe werden ze gerund? Zijn zij betaald voor hun werk voor de diensten? Hoeveel?

    12. Welke organisaties van het Syrisch verzet worden gesteund door het Westen en op welke manier? Door wie precies? Amerikanen? Fransen? Welke rol spelen de Fransen en welke organisaties steunen zij? Leiden de Fransen ook mensen op in trainingskampen zoals de Amerikanen in Jordanië? Hebben Franse instructeurs in Syrië ook contacten met Franse jihadisten en wat voor contacten zijn dat dan? Hoe zit dat met Jemen of met Algerije?

    13. Hoe bekent was het dat Charlie Hebdo elke woensdag vergaderde? Waarom waren de aanslagplegers in eerste instantie op het verkeerde adres?

    14. Waarom verloor de politie de aanslagplegers uit het oog in Parijs na het verlaten van hun auto? Wat zijn de stappen geweest die inlichtingendiensten en politie in Parijs hebben uitgevoerd? Hoe hebben de aanslagplegers de stad kunnen verlaten?

    15. Komen de DNA sporen in de zwarte Citroën overeen met die van de broers? Hoe echt is het identiteitsbewijs en waar is het precies gevonden?

    16 Wat heeft Hamyd Mourad, de zwager van de broers die aangemerkt zijn als daders, met de aanslag te maken? Tot nu toe waren er steeds twee mannen in beeld. Was er een derde verdachte en waar bevond die zich dan? Waarom kwam Hamyd Mourad in een vroeg stadium in beeld als zogenaamde derde dader? Van wie zijn de gymschoenen die uit de zwarte Citroën is gevallen?

    17. Maakt een van de aanslagplegers een militair gebaar als hij de auto in stapt?

    18. Rijden ze uit de straat van Charlie Hebdo en gaan op de hoek opnieuw stilstaan? Waarom hebben ze zoveel tijd?

    19. Zijn er beelden van de overval op het pompstation? Wat gebeurde daar precies? Waarom hebben de aanslagplegers zich niet verschanst in het station?

    20. Kan het zijn dat de twee daders van Charlie Hebdo een auto nodig hadden omdat er nog een ander aanslagdoel was dat verder weg lag? Ligt er iets in de buurt van de plek waar ze werden neergeschoten?

    21. Wat zijn exact de bevelen geweest of instructies voor de bestorming van de drukkerij? is er een bevel geweest om de daders te doden? Of is er erg aangedrongen op gevangen nemen?

    22. Wat klopt er van het verhaal van de wapenhandelaar in Brussel die de wapens aan de aanslagplegers zou hebben verkocht? Zijn alle in Brussel gekochte wapens teruggevonden, als dat de wapens zijn?

    23. Was de supermarkt een hoofddoel? Het lijkt er op dat dat niet zo was. Is er enig materiaal (kaart, plattegrond, aantekeningen) dat kan wijzen op een ander doel?

    24. Toen Coulibaly op de agente schoot, was dat omdat hij werd gestoord bij het uitvoeren van een aanslag bij een ander doel dan de supermarkt? Ligt er iets in de buurt van die schietpartij wat een geschikt doel zou kunnen zijn? Bijvoorbeeld woonde daar iemand die een verband heeft met de daders of met Charlie Hebdo?

    25. Waarom heeft de zelfmoord van een politie-commissaris niets met het onderzoek te maken? Hoe is het mogelijk dat iemand die depressief is en een burn-out heeft zelfmoord kan
    plegen? Wordt er onderzoek gedaan naar de zelfmoord van de man? Waarom pleegde de mand zelfmoord op zijn kantoor?

    26. Is er een relatie tussen familieleden van de vermoordde redactieleden en de mogelijke daders? Wat voor relatie is dat dan?

    27. En nog veel meer vragen.

    Buro Jansen & Janssen

    Find this story at 25 March 2015 in pdf

    or at 25 March 2015

    Manuel Valls a-t-il bloqué des écoutes sur le “clan” Kouachi ?

    EXCLUSIF. Avant le 7 janvier, des interceptions antiterroristes demandées par la DGSE et la DGSI auraient été bloquées. Explications.

    Depuis plusieurs semaines, l’affaire empoisonnait les relations entre le sommet de l’exécutif et les deux principaux services de renseignements français, la DGSI (Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure) et la DGSE (Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure). Bien avant les attentats contre Charlie Hebdo et le supermarché casher de la porte de Vincennes, les chefs de ces deux services – Patrick Calvar (DGSI) et Bernard Bajolet (DGSE) – avaient fait connaître leur mécontentement.

    En cause, selon des sources concordantes : les interdictions de procéder à des interceptions de communications à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur du territoire français, édictées par une proche collaboratrice du Premier ministre Manuel Valls, chargée de les autoriser ou de les interdire, après avis consultatif de la CNCIS (Commission nationale consultative des interceptions de sécurité). Selon les cas qui nous ont été rapportés, ces interdictions préalables ont frappé des écoutes sur au moins une ambassade étrangère en France et sur des “cibles” de nationalité française se trouvant en territoire étranger.

    403 ou BMW ?

    Dimanche 11 janvier, l’ancien directeur de la DCRI (Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur), avant d’être transformée en DGSI, le préfet Bernard Squarcini, a lâché le morceau lors de son passage dans l’émission Le Grand Rendez-vous Europe 1-i>Télé-Le Monde. Selon ses propos, confirmés au Point par d’autres sources, les services avaient bien écouté l’un des frères Kouachi, “mais ça ne donnait rien, et ensuite intervient le gros dispositif juridique qui existe en France : le président de la Commission nationale de contrôle des interceptions de sécurité (CNCIS) vous dit de vous arrêter parce que l’objectif que vous avez demandé dans cette écoute n’apparaît pas ou n’est pas actif”.

    Aux yeux de Squarcini, il s’agit bel et bien d'”une faille du dispositif dans son ensemble”. “Le service de renseignements ne peut travailler qu’avec la boîte à outils qu’on lui fournit. Si vous devez réparer une 403, ça va, si vous devez réparer une BMW, il faut peut-être changer de boîte à outils.”

    “Ils sont stricts, limite obtus”

    En clair, les services auraient demandé à ce que les écoutes qui leur avaient été accordées sur la “cible” Kouachi soient étendues à son entourage. Cette mesure aurait été refusée. Une source connaissant cette affaire explique : “Ils sont extrêmement stricts, limite obtus. Ils autorisent la cible stricto sensu en appliquant les textes à la lettre : pour eux, c’est l’individu qui peut être écouté, pas le clan. Alors qu’on est en guerre !” Pourtant, les exégètes avaient remarqué que, dans ses rapports d’activité, la CNCIS avait fait évoluer ses textes.

    En évoquant ces dernières années des “cibles” et non plus des “lignes” téléphoniques, elle indiquait implicitement que, justement, une écoute pouvait concerner tous les téléphones d’une personne, ses ordinateurs, le tout pouvant être étendu à son entourage. Sauf que ça, c’était avant que le précédent président de la CNCIS Hervé Pelletier, désigné par Nicolas Sarkozy et “démissionnaire”, ne soit remplacé en juin 2014 par Jean-Marie Delarue. Le décret signé du président de la République François Hollande nomme Jean-Marie Delarue pour six ans, jusqu’en juin 2020.

    “Des gars madrés”

    Fils d’Émile Pelletier, ancien ministre de l’Intérieur du général de Gaulle, Hervé Pelletier fut président de la chambre criminelle de la Cour de cassation. À la CNCIS, il fut un interlocuteur comme les apprécient les services de renseignements, n’aimant rien tant que les “gars madrés, qui connaissent la vie”. Jean-Marie Delarue, conseiller d’État honoraire et ancien contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté, est quant à lui un “vrai juriste, engagé dans un rapport de force avec le gouvernement”.

    Cet expert connaissant l’affaire estime que Jean-Marie Delarue “veut poser la question de la place de la CNCIS et transformer cette autorité administrative qui fournit des avis consultatifs au gouvernement en véritable organisme de contrôle des interceptions techniques”. Combat de titans pour le contrôle des services…

    Guerre souterraine

    Dans la technostructure du renseignement français, on évoque une guerre souterraine, très secrète et qui aurait dû le rester, qui opposerait actuellement deux tendances lourdes : d’une part, celle des services qui souhaitent qu’au nom du “pragmatisme” on leur lâche un peu la bride en ces temps troublés ; d’autre part, celle de juristes représentés par le président de la commission des Lois de l’Assemblée et président de la délégation parlementaire au renseignement, le député socialiste Jean-Jacques Urvoas, membre de la CNCIS, en phase avec Jean-Marie Delarue.

    Les récriminations des premiers sont fortes à l’égard des seconds. À tel point que les services estiment qu’ils font l’objet de la part de la CNCIS de mesures de pure “rétorsion”. Alors que la pratique du contrôle des écoutes consistait auparavant en un contrôle de conformité a posteriori, elle est passée progressivement à un contrôle a priori. Concrètement, la CNCIS remet son avis avant que l’interception ne soit mise en place. Et, à tout le moins jusqu’à l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo, ses avis positifs ou négatifs ont toujours été suivis à la lettre par Matignon. Qui n’y a pourtant jamais été tenu…

    Des écoutes jamais commencées

    Ce point est d’ailleurs rappelé dans un communiqué très inhabituel diffusé le 12 janvier, lendemain de l’intervention de Bernard Squarcini, par la CNCIS. Signé par les trois membres de la commission, à savoir le sénateur UMP François-Noël Buffet, le député PS Jean-Jacques Urvoas et le président Delarue, ce texte, ciselé au millimètre, dément les accusations de Squarcini, mais de façon curieuse. Il souligne que les accusations porteraient sur le fait que des écoutes sur les auteurs des attentats “avaient cessé”, alors même que les services jurent qu’elles n’ont jamais pu avoir lieu. “À aucun moment, la CNCIS n’a manifesté d’opposition dans ces affaires sur des demandes présentées”, affirme-t-elle dans le communiqué.

    Des sources bien informées ne citent d’ailleurs pas seulement des affaires de terrorisme, mais aussi d’autres, également récentes et tout aussi étonnantes. La CNCIS s’est repliée aux abris en précisant dans son texte qu’elle n’évoquera ces affaires qu’avec “des autorités publiques, quelles qu’elles soient, dès lors qu’elles sont habilitées au secret de la défense nationale”. Ce qui exclut la presse ! Circulez, y a rien à voir !

    Le Point – Publié le 14/01/2015 à 09:29 – Modifié le 14/01/2015 à 11:20

    Find this story at 14 January 2015

    © Le Point.fr

    Gaps in France’s Surveillance Are Clear; Solutions Aren’t

    PARIS — Last June, Patrick Calvar, the head of France’s domestic intelligence service, faced a decision: continue surveillance on a French Islamist who had been viewed as a potential threat for a decade, or shift limited resources to help monitor a swelling new generation of fighters returning from Syria.

    The surveillance on the Islamist, Saïd Kouachi, had turned up nothing for over two years, and monitoring of his younger brother, Chérif Kouachi, had been abandoned the previous year, French officials say. Earlier in 2014, the intelligence service had transferred Saïd Kouachi’s case for several months to the Paris police, a sign that it was no longer considered a priority.

    Continue reading the main story

    The Paris newsroom of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, after two brothers walked in with military precision and killed 12 people in the name of Allah.Chérif and Saïd Kouachi’s Path to Paris Attack at Charlie HebdoJAN. 17, 2015 Continue reading the main story

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    The three-member commission scrutinizing requests for cellphone monitoring by the intelligence agency had signaled that its recommendation would be against further surveillance. And the prime minister, Manuel Valls, was under intense pressure to focus on what seemed to be the more immediate threat emanating from Syria; the previous month, Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman who had fought in Syria, had gunned down four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels.


    From left: Mohammed Merah, who shot seven in Toulouse; Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman who killed four in Brussels Credit From left: France 2, via Associated Press; Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    The counterterrorism team reporting to Mr. Calvar, a longtime intelligence official, allowed the surveillance order on Saïd Kouachi to expire. Less than seven months later, the Kouachi brothers burst through the doors at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and fatally shot 12 people, setting off a two-day manhunt that involved a third gunman and ended with another five victims and the deaths of all three gunmen.

    The decision to drop surveillance of the Kouachis was one in a series of developments that, in the aftermath of the deadliest acts of terrorism in France since Algeria’s struggle for independence in the 1960s, suggests substantial failures or weaknesses in French intelligence and law enforcement.

    It also highlights security challenges facing other Western governments, as Denmark was reminded this weekend when a native-born Muslim gunman in Copenhagen killed two people in an attack that had numerous similarities to the rampage in and around Paris last month.

    Largely caught off guard by the proliferation of potential threats, they now confront wrenching trade-offs in deciding how and whether to monitor hundreds or thousands of their citizens who are traveling in and out of conflict zones, otherwise making contact with radicals or being inspired by assaults like the one on Charlie Hebdo.

    The French government is still in the early stages of reviewing what went wrong in the case of the Kouachis and the third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, who also fell off the radar of the French authorities after being released from prison last spring.

    Current and former officials say the surveillance on the Kouachis had turned up nothing to indicate that they were an imminent threat. They point to the lack of resources to conduct physical surveillance on large numbers of targets, estimating that 25 agents, working in shifts, are required to watch over a single person day and night.


    From left: Salim Oman Benghalem, who traveled to Yemen; Peter Cherif, who also traveled there. Credit From left: LeMonde; Benoit Peyrucq/Agence France-Presse
    “You can’t follow everyone,” said Bernard Squarcini, who was Mr. Calvar’s predecessor as head of the domestic intelligence agency and was in charge when the Kouachis were placed under surveillance after a tipoff from the United States in 2011. “These were two inactive targets that had been quiet for a long time. They were giving nothing away.”

    Others were less forgiving. “Even if you give France a bit of a break,” said one former senior United States counterterrorism official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing an ally, “given what we know, and what the French knew then, these guys should have been high on any list. Especially since they seemed to have all the warning signs: travel to the region, a prison record, a social media profile. What more did they need?”

    At the very least, the Charlie Hebdo attack has provoked a fundamental debate about the quality of intelligence gathering in France. Long considered among the best in the world, French intelligence has been troubled by three high-profile failures in four years: Before the Kouachis and the Nemmouche case, there was Mohammed Merah, a French-Algerian whose surveillance had been dropped shortly before he shot seven people in Toulouse in March 2012.

    At a time when budget cuts and debates over the balance between national security and personal liberty are making the trade-offs for security forces even more complex, the case of the Kouachis stands out. They were well known to the authorities in the United States as well as France before the radical group known as the Islamic State came on the scene — and they struck just when the authorities had turned their attention to the threat posed by the new generation of jihadists inspired by the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    Interviews with current and former French and American officials and other experts provided new details about key moments and the lapses, misunderstandings and turf issues that characterized the case.

    The intelligence agencies in France, the United States and elsewhere proved limited in their ability to track potential radicals in countries where they went to fight, train or meet other Islamists.

    Continue reading the main story

    Graphic: The Links Among the Paris Terror Suspects and Their Connections to Jihad
    Although Yemeni officials had tracked a Frenchman they believed to be Saïd Kouachi on a visit to Yemen in 2011 and eventually informed the United States, who passed word along to the French authorities, it was only after the Charlie Hebdo shootings that it became clear that it was actually Chérif Kouachi who had been to Yemen, traveling on his brother’s passport. And the authorities only learned after the shootings, when Chérif spoke by phone to a television station shortly before he was killed in a shootout, that he had met there with the radical American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior Qaeda commander promoting jihad against the West.

    As intelligence cooperation has largely dried up in Syria, and has been imperiled in Yemen by the factional fighting there, the challenge of tracking suspects has become even harder.

    The intelligence agencies also failed to appreciate how fully radicalized Chérif Kouachi had become, in particular by missing or not recognizing the importance of his association with two other French fighters who were in Yemen in 2011.

    As early as 2011, American and French officials had identified at least one other hardened French jihadist traveling in Yemen at the same time as Mr. Kouachi: Peter Cherif, known for his links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Qaeda leader in Iraq, and for the time he spent in Abu Ghraib prison before returning to France. Mr. Cherif — who, like Chérif Kouachi, had links to the so-called Buttes-Chaumont group of radicalized young French Muslims in northeastern Paris after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 — is believed to be in Yemen today.

    A second Frenchman in Yemen in 2011, Salim Oman Benghalem, who also had ties to members of the Buttes-Chaumont group, was added to at least one United States counterterrorism list last summer, a few weeks after the French government ended surveillance on Saïd Kouachi. Mr. Benghalem is believed by the United States to be fighting in Syria with the Islamic State.

    In addition, the authorities failed to update their surveillance methods as their targets grew more sophisticated, raising questions about whether governments have put too much faith in electronic eavesdropping.


    From left: Saîd and Chérif Kouachi, Charlie Hebdo assailants. Credit From left: French Police via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; Getty Images
    The electronic surveillance employed in France was limited largely to listening in on cellphone conversations. But Chérif Kouachi, who had previously been arrested based on intercepted phone conversations, was almost certainly aware of the likelihood that his phone was being monitored, reducing if not eliminating the possibility that he would have discussed planning for an attack on it. The agencies handling the cases of the Kouachis had few other legal options for surveillance.

    “The phone tapping yielded nothing,” Marc Trévidic, the chief terrorism investigator for the French judicial system, said in an interview. “If we had continued, I’m convinced it wouldn’t have changed anything. No one talks on the phone anymore.”

    Finally, France’s counterterrorism efforts are spread among a variety of agencies operating under different authorities that do not always appear to cooperate and coordinate. At least 13 bodies have some intelligence-gathering responsibility — including the main domestic intelligence agency, known by its French abbreviation, D.G.S.I., and its better-resourced foreign counterpart, the D.G.S.E., but also smaller units attached to the Paris police, the national police, the paramilitary gendarmerie, the judicial police and even the customs office.

    The Kouachi case was handled primarily by the predecessor of the D.G.S.I., which was only created last May and whose internal reorganization and staff expansion is expected to take five years. A year ago, the agency, then known as the D.C.R.I. and still an adjunct to the national police instead of directly reporting to the interior minister, handed the Saïd Kouachi case over to the intelligence arm of the Paris police. But when the police realized that Saïd had moved to Reims, 90 miles northeast of Paris, his file was returned to the newly created D.G.S.I., which subsequently failed to put its Reims station in charge of the case.

    Since the Charlie Hebdo shootings, there have been questions about whether the case might have been better handled by the prosecutorial system that falls under the judiciary, an entirely separate bureaucracy that has broader powers than the intelligence agencies to monitor terrorism suspects.

    “Ideally, this should have become a judicial affair,” Mr. Trévidic said. “We can bug homes and track cars and confiscate computers. When we’re worried about someone, we get a warrant and go into their flat. We take what we need and analyze their computers, which is something the intelligence services can’t do.”

    Continue reading the main story

    The Men Behind the Cartoons at Charlie Hebdo
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    France’s Ideals, Forged in Revolution, Face a Modern Test
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    The surveillance on Saïd Kouachi did alert the security services to an apparent counterfeiting operation he was involved in, selling fake brand clothes and sports shoes. This followed an episode two years ago, when he was fined for importing fake Nike shoes by postal delivery from China.

    A few months before the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January, the intelligence unit of the customs police filed a report to the domestic intelligence service, requesting its support, according to a senior official with knowledge of the case. “But they don’t seem to have done anything with that information,” the official said, a lapse that some experts cited in questions about whether the counterfeiting operation might have been used to raise money to buy weapons for the attack.

    Mr. Calvar did not respond to questions about the decision not to extend surveillance on the Kouachis. Jean-Marie Delarue, president of the three-member National Commission for the Control of Security Interceptions, which scrutinizes all demands for phone taps, said in an interview that Mr. Calvar and his deputy, Thierry Matta, were the only ones at the D.G.S.I. authorized to sign such requests.

    The Kouachi brothers had been known to the authorities since 2004, when Syrian and American officials separately alerted their French counterparts to a Paris-based cell channeling French-born fighters through Syria to Iraq. A year later, Chérif Kouachi was arrested as he prepared to leave on a one-way ticket to become a suicide bomber in Iraq.

    He spent 20 months in prison, where he met his future associate, Mr. Coulibaly, and mixed with convicted militants like Djamel Beghal, a jihadist who trained in one of Osama bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and was dispatched to France by the No. 3 of Al Qaeda, French prosecutors say, to set up a cell dedicated to targeting American interests.

    For years, the Kouachi brothers drifted in and out of different forms of surveillance and, in Chérif’s case, detention. But in November 2011, when American officials informed their French counterparts that Saïd Kouachi had flown to Oman and traveled in Yemen “for a couple of months” that summer, the alert level rose. (One senior European intelligence official said the trip lasted from July 25 to Aug. 10.)


    “You can’t follow everyone,” said Bernard Squarcini, left, the domestic intelligence chief when the Kouachis were put under surveillance. They slipped down the priority list under his successor. Patrick Calvar, right. Credit From left: Martin Bureau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; Silvere Gerard/Reservoir Photo
    The information the Americans passed along had come from Yemeni intelligence and law enforcement agencies, which suspected that Mr. Kouachi had met with local Qaeda handlers, according to two senior American officials briefed on confidential reports, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

    It was possible, the Yemenis told the Americans, that Mr. Kouachi had received training. The information was enough for Washington to place the older Kouachi on a no-fly list and other counterterrorism lists around November 2011. The French were informed and placed both Kouachis under surveillance, Mr. Squarcini said.

    At the time, neither American nor Yemeni officials knew that it was actually Chérif Kouachi who had been in Yemen, traveling on his older brother’s passport because he remained under judicial supervision and was not allowed to leave France.

    The officials also did not know that in Yemen, Chérif had been in contact with Mr. Awlaki, who that September became the first American citizen to be killed by a drone.

    But early on, the French authorities were aware that Peter Cherif was in Yemen at the same time as Mr. Kouachi. Anyone like Mr. Cherif with past links to Mr. Zarqawi, even indirectly, was considered a serious concern, said Louis Caprioli, the deputy head of France’s domestic antiterrorism unit from 1998 to 2004.

    In early 2012, after United States counterterrorism officials had done more analysis on Saïd Kouachi and discovered Chérif’s record in France, Chérif was added to the same American no-fly and counterterrorism lists. Again, the French were informed.

    But both Kouachis gradually slipped down the priority list as the authorities scrambled to deal with the largely unforeseen effects of the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State. The number of French fighters returning from Syria was climbing rapidly: Some 1,400 people in France are believed to have either joined the jihadist cause in Syria and Iraq or sought to do so.

    By law, the domestic surveillance powers of French intelligence agencies are limited. Wiretaps are still governed by rules drafted in 1991, long before cellphones and the Internet became ubiquitous. French intelligence agencies cannot legally track cars or bug apartments in their own country. Since 2006, they have had some access to the metadata of electronic communications, but they cannot spy on the content of emails.

    But all along, there had been an alternative means of tracking the Kouachis. The judicial system has long been active in counterterrorism and has considerable flexibility to open investigations into anyone suspected of potentially carrying out a terrorist act.

    Mr. Trévidic, the chief terrorism investigator in the judicial system, said if the domestic intelligence agency had wanted to turn the case of the Kouachis over to him, it probably could have. Since the Merah case in 2012, twice as many terrorism cases have been transferred from the intelligence services to become judicial investigations, he said.

    “The tools are there,” said François Heisbourg, a former defense official and counterterrorism expert. “But the authorities did not bring all their tools to bear on people who had exactly the profile they said they were worried about.”

    Katrin Bennhold reported from Paris, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Aurelien Breeden and Laure Fourquet contributed reporting from Paris.


    Find this story at 17 February 2015

    © 2015 The New York Times Company

    Videos show Paris gunmen were calm as they executed police officer, fled scene

    IRBIL, IRAQ — The gunmen who attacked the Paris editorial offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday appeared to be focused professionals who’d carefully prepared the assault.

    Video showing two of the assailants suggests they were well trained, striking their target during its weekly editorial meeting, when most of the publication’s journalists would be gathered in one place.

    Other evidence suggests they could be linked to a top French al Qaida operative, David Drugeon, who’s been the target at least twice of U.S. airstrikes in Syria over the last four months.

    Witnesses inside the magazine’s offices told the French newspaper L’Humanité that both attackers spoke perfect French and claimed to be members of al Qaida.

    Drugeon, who many experts believe was a French intelligence asset before defecting to al Qaida, is alleged to have masterminded a 2012 “lone wolf” attack on French soldiers and Jewish targets in the southern French city of Toulouse. That attack killed seven people before the perpetrator, a French citizen named Mohammed Merah, who French intelligence believes had been trained by Drugeon, was killed by a police sniper after a long, violent standoff with security forces.

    Wednesday’s attack killed at least 10 journalists and two policemen, who’d apparently been assigned to guard the magazine because of previous threats made against the publication, including a firebombing in 2011.

    The gunmen escaped and were still at large hours after the attack. French authorities said they were seeking three people in the attack.

    Witnesses speaking to French television reporters described the attackers as calmly entering the editorial offices of the magazine during its weekly editorial meeting, shooting the victims before declaring “Allahu Akbar” and “We have avenged the prophet,” before quickly and calmly departing the scene before police could respond.

    In three videos of the aftermath posted on the Internet by witnesses, two masked gunmen can be seen exiting the building with military efficiency, making coordinated and precise movements indicative of extensive experience and training. Commonly referred to by military professionals as “muscle memory,” the movements reflect the kind of repetitive training that allows someone to efficiently execute tactical movements and maintain fire discipline and accurate marksmanship under the stress of combat.

    In one series of photographs, a French police vehicle can be seen with its windshield riddled with bullets in a fairly tight cluster, a pattern that would be nearly impossible for a casually trained beginner to produce with the assault rifles the gunmen were carrying. Though simple to use, the rifles, a variant of the Russian AK-47, tend to be difficult to control when fired on full automatic. But the impact pattern on the police vehicle indicates not just a familiarity with the weapon, but at least a competent degree of marksmanship.

    Another video underscores the likelihood that the two were experienced fighters. In it, two gunmen exit the building to board a waiting hatchback sedan when they notice a policeman down the block attempting to engage them as they escape. Without hesitation, the two gunmen shoot the officer, then calmly close on the wounded man as he lies in the street before one of the shooters fires a round into his head from pointblank range.

    Again, the calm manner in which the wounded man is murdered before the pair return to the car suggests combat experience or at least extensive training. Both men move quickly but in a very controlled manner. At one point, the lead gunman appears to use a common infantry hand signal to summon his accomplice to his side.

    The pair then drive away from the scene, but not before one of the gunmen picks up an object – possibly a shoe – that had fallen from the car as the door opened.

    Prothero is a McClatchy special correspondent based in Irbil, Iraq. Email: mprothero@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @mitchprothero

    McClatchy Foreign StaffJanuary 7, 2015

    Find this story at 7 January 2015

    Copyright mcclatchydc.com

    Trafic d’armes : la police judiciaire va-t-elle remonter de l’ultra-droite jusqu’à Coulibaly ?

    La garde à vue de Claude Hermant, figure de l’ultra-droite régionale, s’est poursuivie ce jeudi. Selon différentes sources, les enquêteurs s’intéressent à un éventuel lien entre le trafic d’armes présumé et les attentats commis en région parisienne. Pour le moment, rien n’est confirmé officiellement.

    L’affaire de trafic d’armes dans laquelle Claude Hermant est en garde à vue depuis mardi a-t-elle une ampleur supplémentaire ? Selon plusieurs sources concordantes, les enquêteurs de la PJ de Lille vérifient si des armes utilisées lors des attentats sanglants en région parisienne peuvent provenir de la filière présumée de cette figure de la mouvance identitaire. Ces éléments sont pour l’instant à prendre avec prudence. Interrogés, le parquet de Lille, celui de Paris, tout comme la PJ et l’avocat de Claude Hermant se refusent au moindre commentaire. Ni confirmation, ni démenti. Un black-out total, de part et d’autre de la frontière, rare et troublant.
    Si rien n’est donc encore avéré, un proche du dossier concède que des « rebonds » ne sont pas à exclure dans les investigations, dirigées par un juge d’instruction lillois depuis décembre.
    Des armes saisies
    Ce qui est sûr, c’est que Claude Hermant et sa compagne sont en garde à vue pour trafic d’armes en bande organisée. Leurs auditions peuvent durer 96heures. Des armes ont été saisies. Mais on ignore leur nature et là où elles ont été trouvées. Plusieurs lieux ont été perquisitionnés. À commencer par la Frite Rit, à Lille, où tous deux travaillent.
    Le terrain de paintball, rue de la Vallée à Ennetières-en-Weppes, géré notamment par Claude Hermant, a été perquisitionné mercredi, aux alentours de 10 h. « Il y avait une dizaine de policiers », indique une voisine. Y ont-ils trouvé des armes ? La question reste en suspens. Quant aux propriétaires du terrain, les riverains décrivent « des gens discrets, qui gèrent tout par Internet ». Et le maire avoue ne pas les connaître. Le son de cloche est identique à Comines (B) où la police belge avait déployé les grands moyens, mardi soir. Selon le parquet de Tournai, aucune arme ni explosif n’ont été découverts. Mais des éléments « intéressants pour l’enquête » ont été saisis.
    Depuis l’Europe de l’Est
    Selon nos informations, la PJ lilloise travaille sur un trafic d’armes remilitarisées en provenance d’Europe de l’Est, notamment de la République tchèque. « Nous sommes dans le cadre d’un trafic d’armes, explique une source judiciaire. Pas dans la sphère terroriste. Rien n’indique que les têtes d’un tel réseau s’intéressent à la destination finale de ces armes, marchandises comme une autre. »
    Si cette piste est avérée, elle ne serait cependant pas une surprise. Depuis les attentats, policiers belges et français sont persuadés que certaines armes proviennent d’outre-Quiévrain. Ils s’intéressent à celles utilisées par Amédy Coulibaly, notamment un Skorpio tchèque. Le Français aurait d’ailleurs cherché à s’approvisionner auprès d’un fournisseur belge. Aux enquêteurs de déterminer si le clan Hermant est l’un des maillons, même indirect, de la chaîne.

    PUBLIÉ LE 23/01/2015 – MIS À JOUR LE 23/01/2015 À 18:05

    Find this story at 23 January 2015

    Copyright lavoixdunord.fr

    What weapons were used in the Paris terror attacks?

    The details of what we do, and do not know, about the weapons used in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris are still far from determined.

    We do know that Amedy Coulibaly and the brothers Said and Chérif Kouachi had between them three assault rifles, Soviet-made pistols and a Skorpion submachine gun. It has also been reported that a Tokarev semi-automatic pistol was used by Amedy Coulibaly in his attack on a kosher supermarket. The same weapon was used to shoot and injure a jogger two days earlier on January 7th.

    Many media outlets have said that the Kouachi brothers used the AKS-74 Kalashnikov, a weapon produced only by Bulgaria and Romania since 1989. Recent seizures of illicit AKS-74s, both fully functioning and parts thereof, have been reported in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, India and Ukraine.

    Yves Cresson, a journalist who works in the same building as Charlie Hebdo, tweeted: ‘We have just found a cartridge in our offices.’However, the Telegraph claims that the bullets found at the Charlie Hebdo office were 7.62 x 39 mm and purchased in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Telegraph quotes Zivko Marjanac, Bosnia’s deputy defence minister, as confirming the fact that ‘the ammunition used by the terrorists was manufactured in 1986 by Igman Company, a state-owned factory in the town of Konjic south of Sarajevo.’ Mr Marjanac was reported to emphasise the fact that ‘the bullets were manufactured 30 years ago’, and so it would be impossible to explain how they reached France.

    The provenance of the bullets might be accurate. However the claimed caliber of the bullets is a curious one, as AKS-74s take the 5.45mm round, not the 7.62mm.

    In which case, it might be suspected, as initially claimed by some reports, that the weapons used in the Charlie Hebron attack were actually AK103s – a rifle manufactured in Russia by Izhmash.

    The AK103 is not a common weapon. It is used by forces in Pakistan, India and Venezuela – but reportedly mainly by their special forces units. Hugo Chavez was photographed posing with one in 2006.

    The AK103 has also been seen across North Africa, notably in Libya and Yemen, possibly coming there via post-Soviet trafficking routes. The AK103 has even been sold openly online on Yemeni Facebook Arms markets.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 14.04.36This Yemeni observation might be insignificant, but Cedric Le Bechec, a witness who encountered the escaping gunmen, quoted Said and Chérif Kouachi as saying: ‘You can tell the media that it’s al-Qaeda in Yemen.’
    What is interesting is that the AK103 is not a commonly found assault rifle, even less so in the illegal market. Few media reports cite incidents where it has been seized in illicit transfers.

    As for the weapons origins, it has been reported that a Belgian arms dealer sold the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly their arms – but what precise weapons he sold has not been confirmed.

    This could mean that he did, indeed, sell the terrorists AK103s. Or, far worse, that he sold them other AK rifles and that there is still a cache of arms somewhere in France, waiting to be used.

    By Iain Overton on 20 Jan 2015

    Find this story at 20 January 2015

    © Copyright AOAV 2004-2015

    Charlie Hebdo: Paris attack brothers’ campaign of terror can be traced back to Algeria in 1954

    Algeria is the post-colonial wound that still bleeds in France

    Algeria. Long before the identity of the murder suspects was revealed by the French police – even before I heard the names of Cherif and Said Kouachi – I muttered the word “Algeria” to myself. As soon as I heard the names and saw the faces, I said the word “Algeria” again. And then the French police said the two men were of “Algerian origin”.
    For Algeria remains the most painful wound within the body politic of the Republic – save, perhaps, for its continuing self-examination of Nazi occupation – and provides a fearful context for every act of Arab violence against France. The six-year Algerian war for independence, in which perhaps a million and a half Arab Muslims and many thousands of French men and women died, remains an unending and unresolved agony for both peoples. Just over half a century ago, it almost started a French civil war.


    Maybe all newspaper and television reports should carry a “history corner”, a little reminder that nothing – absolutely zilch – happens without a past. Massacres, bloodletting, fury, sorrow, police hunts (“widening” or “narrowing” as sub-editors wish) take the headlines. Always it’s the “who” and the “how” – but rarely the “why”. Take the crime against humanity in Paris this week – the words “atrocity” and “barbarity” somehow diminish the savagery of this act – and its immediate aftermath.

    We know the victims: journalists, cartoonists, cops. And how they were killed. Masked gunmen, Kalashnikov automatic rifles, ruthless, almost professional nonchalance. And the answer to “why” was helpfully supplied by the murderers. They wanted to avenge “the Prophet” for Charlie Hebdo’s irreverent and (for Muslims) highly offensive cartoons. And of course, we must all repeat the rubric: nothing – nothing ever – could justify these cruel acts of mass murder. And no, the killers cannot call on history to justify their crimes.

    In pictures: Charlie Hebdo suspects siege
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    But there’s an important context that somehow got left out of the story this week, the “history corner” that many Frenchmen as well as Algerians prefer to ignore: the bloody 1954-62 struggle of an entire people for freedom against a brutal imperial regime, a prolonged war which remains the foundational quarrel of Arabs and French to this day.

    The desperate and permanent crisis in Algerian-French relations, like the refusal of a divorced couple to accept an agreed narrative of their sorrow, poisons the cohabitation of these two peoples in France. However Cherif and Said Kouachi excused their actions, they were born at a time when Algeria had been invisibly mutilated by 132 years of occupation. Perhaps five million of France’s six and a half million Muslims are Algerian. Most are poor, many regard themselves as second-class citizens in the land of equality.


    Like all tragedies, Algeria’s eludes the one-paragraph explanation of news agency dispatches, even the shorter histories written by both sides after the French abandoned Algeria in 1962.

    For unlike other important French dependencies or colonies, Algeria was regarded as an integral part of metropolitan France, sending representatives to the French parliament in Paris, even providing Charles de Gaulle and the Allies with a French “capital” from which to invade Nazi-occupied north Africa and Sicily.

    More than 100 years earlier, France had invaded Algeria itself, subjugating its native Muslim population, building small French towns and chateaux across the countryside, even – in an early 19th-century Catholic renaissance which was supposed to “re-Christianise” northern Africa – converting mosques into churches.

    The Algerian response to what today appears to be a monstrous historical anachronism varied over the decades between lassitude, collaboration and insurrection. A demonstration for independence in the Muslim-majority and nationalist town of Sétif on VE Day – when the Allies had liberated the captive countries of Europe – resulted in the killing of 103 European civilians. French government revenge was ruthless; up to 700 Muslim civilians – perhaps far more – were killed by infuriated French “colons” and in bombardment of surrounding villages by French aircraft and a naval cruiser. The world paid little attention.

    But when a full-scale insurrection broke out in 1954 – at first, of course, ambushes with few French lives lost and then attacks on the French army – the sombre war of Algerian liberation was almost preordained. Beaten in that classic post-war anti-colonial battle at Dien Bien Phu, the French army, after its debacle in 1940, seemed vulnerable to the more romantic Algerian nationalists who noted France’s further humiliation at Suez in 1956.

    French military police drive through Algiers during the insurrection (Keystone/Getty Images) French military police drive through Algiers during the insurrection (Keystone/Getty Images)
    What the historian Alistair Horne rightly described in his magnificent history of the Algerian struggle as “a savage war of peace” took the lives of hundreds of thousands. Bombs, booby traps, massacres by government forces and National Liberation Front guerrillas in the “bled” – the countryside south of the Mediterranean – led to the brutal suppression of Muslim sectors of Algiers, the assassination, torture and execution of guerrilla leaders by French paratroopers, soldiers, Foreign Legion operatives – including German ex-Nazis – and paramilitary police. Even white French sympathisers of the Algerians were “disappeared”. Albert Camus spoke out against torture and French civil servants were sickened by the brutality employed to keep Algeria French.

    De Gaulle appeared to support the white population and said as much in Algiers – “Je vous ai compris,” he told them – and then proceeded to negotiate with FLN representatives in France. Algerians had long provided the majority of France’s Muslim population and in October 1961 up to 30,000 of them staged a banned independence rally in Paris – in fact, scarcely a mile from the scene of last week’s slaughter – which was attacked by French police units who murdered, it is now acknowledged, up to 600 of the protesters.

    A crowd of Algerian demonstrators outside Government House, carrying Charles de Gaulle posters during the Algerian war of independence in 1985 (Getty Images) A crowd of Algerian demonstrators outside Government House, carrying Charles de Gaulle posters during the Algerian war of independence in 1985 (Getty Images) Algerians were beaten to death in police barracks or thrown into the Seine. The police chief who supervised security operations and who apparently directed the 1961 massacre was none other than Maurice Papon – who was, almost 40 years later, convicted for crimes against humanity under Petain’s Vichy regime during the Nazi occupation.

    The Algerian conflict finished in a bloodbath. White “pied noir” French colonists refused to accept France’s withdrawal, supported the secret OAS in attacking Algerian Muslims and encouraged French military units to mutiny. At one point, De Gaulle feared that French paratroopers would try to take over Paris.

    When the end came, despite FLN promises to protect French citizens who chose to stay in Algeria, there were mass killings in Oran. Up to a million and a half white French men, women and children – faced with a choice of “the coffin or the suitcase” – left for France, along with thousands of loyal Algerian “harki” fighters who fought with the army but were then largely abandoned to their terrible fate by De Gaulle. Some were forced to swallow their own French military medals and thrown into mass graves.

    Algerian rebels training to use weapons in 1958 (Getty Images) Algerian rebels training to use weapons in 1958 (Getty Images)
    But the former French colonists, who still regarded Algeria as French – along with an exhausted FLN dictatorship which took over the independent country – instituted a cold peace in which Algeria’s residual anger, in France as well as in the homeland, settled into long-standing resentment. In Algeria, the new nationalist elite embarked on a hopeless Soviet-style industrialisation of their country. Former French citizens demanded massive reparations; indeed, for decades, the French kept all the drainage maps of major Algerian cities so that the new owners of Algeria had to dig up square miles of city streets every time a water main burst.

    And when the Algerian civil war of the 1980s commenced – after the Algerian army cancelled a second round of elections which Islamists were sure to win – the corrupt FLN “pouvoir” and the Muslim rebels embarked on a conflict every bit as gruesome as the Franco-Algerian war of the 1950s and 1960s. Torture, disappearances, village massacres all resumed. France discreetly supported a dictatorship whose military leaders salted away millions of dollars in Swiss banks.

    Algerian Muslims returning from the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan joined the Islamists in the mountains, killing some of the few remaining French citizens in Algeria. And many subsequently left to fight in the Islamist wars, in Iraq and later Syria.

    Enter here the Kouachi brothers, especially Chérif, who was imprisoned for taking Frenchmen to fight against the Americans in Iraq. And the United States, with French support, now backs the FLN regime in its continuing battle against Islamists in Algeria’s deserts and mountain forests, arming a military which tortured and murdered thousands of men in the 1990s.

    As an American diplomat said just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States “has much to learn” from the Algerian authorities. You can see why some Algerians went to fight for the Iraqi resistance. And found a new cause…

    Friday 9 January 2015

    Find this story at 9 January 2015

    © independent.co.uk

    Kouachi-Coulibaly, le réseau terroriste oublié par les services de renseignement

    L’apparition d’Amedy Coulibaly dans les attaques de Montrouge et de la porte de Vincennes, après le massacre de Charlie Hebdo, prouve l’implication d’un groupe structuré qui va au-delà des frères Kouachi. Selon les documents obtenus par Mediapart, une enquête antiterroriste de 2010 sur une tentative d’évasion de l’artificier des attentats de 1995 laissait déjà entrevoir de sanglantes « opérations martyres ». Kouachi et Coulibaly étaient au cœur du dossier.
    Les archives ont parlé. Dans les heures qui ont suivi l’attentat contre la rédaction deCharlie Hebdo, la police a compris qu’elle avait un dossier pour remonter très vite aux assassins. L’oubli – délibéré ou non – de la carte d’identité de Saïd Kouachi, l’un des deux auteurs du massacre avec son frère Chérif, dans une voiture pendant leur fuite, le 7 janvier, a suffi. Le nom des Kouachi a aussitôt fait émerger le dossier de l’enquête antiterroriste ouverte en 2010 sur l’opération visant à faire évader de prison plusieurs chefs islamistes, parmi lesquels Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, l’artificier des attentats parisiens de 1995. La police a ainsi rapidement multiplié les perquisitions en région parisienne.
    Déjà condamné en 2008 dans le dossier de la filière de recrutement djihadiste dite “des Buttes-Chaumont”, Chérif Kouachi avait été soupçonné, en 2010, d’avoir rejoint ce nouveau réseau chargé de l’évasion de Belkacem. Tout comme Amedy Coulibaly, mis en cause dans les assassinats de Montrouge et de la porte de Vincennes, ces 8 et 9 janvier. Actuellement recherchée pour son implication présumée dans les dernières actions, Hayat Boumeddienne, la compagne de Coulibaly, avait elle aussi été arrêtée, entendue et perquisitionnée dans cette même affaire.
    Les frères Kouachi, Chérif et Saïd.
    Les frères Kouachi, Chérif et Saïd.
    Alors que Kouachi a bénéficié d’un non-lieu à l’issue de l’instruction, Coulibaly a été condamné à cinq ans de prison, le 20 décembre 2013. Le ministre de l’intérieur Bernard Cazeneuve a donc induit l’opinion publique en erreur en déclarant, vendredi, que « rien ne témoignait du fait » que les frères Kouachi et Amedy Coulibaly « pouvaient s’engager dans un acte de ce type. Leur situation n’avait pas été judiciarisée ».
    En décembre 2013, huit autres membres du groupe de Kouachi et Coulibaly avaient écopé de peines allant de un à douze ans de prison. Un seul a fait appel : la figure centrale du réseau, Djamel Beghal, condamné en 2005 pour avoir nourri quatre ans plus tôt un projet d’attentat contre l’ambassade américaine à Paris. Il a été écroué puis assigné à résidence dans le Cantal. En décembre dernier, la peine de Beghal dans l’affaire des projets d’évasion a été confirmée par la cour d’appel de Paris. C’était il y a à peine plus d’un mois.
    « Pas de preuves, et seules les convictions religieuses sont condamnées », s’est alors plaint Beghal sur son blog. Le dossier d’enquête auquel Mediapart a eu accès dans son intégralité laisse pourtant entrevoir l’existence d’un groupe armé, déjà prêt à envisager, outre des tentatives d’évasion, des « opérations martyres ». Six membres de ce groupe – dont quatre avaient purgé leurs peines – étaient en liberté à la veille de l’attentat contreCharlie Hebdo.

    Dès le printemps 2010, les policiers antiterroristes mesurent très vite la dangerosité de ce réseau. Le 18 mai, ils découvrent lors d’une perquisition chez Coulibaly, alias « Doly », à Bagneux (Hauts-de-Seine), un lot de 240 cartouches de calibre 7.62 caché dans un seau de peinture, ainsi qu’un étui de revolver dans un placard.« Elles m’appartiennent, explique le suspect au sujet des balles. Il s’agit de cartouches pour kalach’. Je cherche à les vendre dans la rue. »
    Amedy Coulibaly, mort vendredi lors de l’assaut du magasin HyperCacher porte de Vincennes, où quatre otages ont également péri, n’est pas un inconnu des services de police. Alors qu’il est employé chez Manpower, il a déjà été impliqué dans seize affaires de vols à main armée, violences et trafic de stupéfiants. Présenté comme un « islamiste rigoriste » en mai 2010 par la sous-direction antiterroriste (SDAT) de la police judiciaire, il minimise pourtant sa radicalité religieuse devant les enquêteurs lorsqu’il est entendu. « J’essaie d’avancer avec la religion mais je vais doucement », concède-t-il. Amedy Coulibaly présente alors Chérif Kouachi comme « un ami rencontré en prison », poissonnier en intérim.
    Questionné sur ses liens avec « des vétérans du djihad », il admet en connaître un, Djamel Beghal. Coulibaly et Kouachi seront d’ailleurs présentés tous deux en juillet 2013 par le parquet antiterroriste comme des « élèves » de ce dernier. « Si vous voulez que je vous dise tous les terroristes que je connais, vous n’avez pas fini, je les connais tous : ceux des filières tchétchènes, des filières afghanes…, se plaît à fanfaronner Coulibaly devant les policiers, sur procès-verbal. Mais ce n’est pas parce que je les connais que ça fait de moi un terroriste. » Il se prétend même « pas d’accord avec les attentats (…) ne serait-ce que parce que je pourrais en être victime ». « Jamais de la vie je ne participerais à un attentat ou à quelque chose de si grave que ça », insiste-t-il devant le juge, quelques jours plus tard.
    La réalité de l’enquête, pourtant, est tout autre. Des écoutes téléphoniques effectuées en mars et avril 2010 sur le portable de « Doly » montrent « sans ambiguïté », selon les enquêteurs, « sa foi radicale » et « l’emprise idéologique » exercée sur lui par Djamel Beghal. L’artificier des attentats de 1995, Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, le considère pour sa part comme un militant « fiable et déterminé ». « En plus, il est bien dans la religion, il est en dedans. Il est sérieux dans la religion », jugeait le terroriste islamiste durant une conversation téléphonique interceptée sur un portable utilisé clandestinement en prison.
    Amedy Coulibaly
    Amedy Coulibaly © DR
    Avec une arbalète.
    Avec une arbalète.
    L’analyse de l’ordinateur portable de Coulibaly fait par ailleurs apparaître des photos de lui posant devant un drapeau noir islamiste ; sur d’autres, on le voit en forêt, armé d’une arbalète, aux côtés de sa femme intégralement voilée. Au milieu de multiples témoignages de foi, les enquêteurs sont également tombés en arrêt devant différents clichés pédopornographiques, qu’ils retrouveront aussi en nombre dans l’ordinateur de Chérif Kouachi.
    À cette époque, Kouachi et Coulibaly sont déjà les rouages d’un réseau bien rodé.« Djamel Beghal est le chef d’une cellule opérationnelle d’obédience “takfir” (nom d’une secte salafiste – ndlr) », résume ainsi un commandant de la SDAT dans un rapport de synthèse du 21 mai 2010. « Fédérés autour de donneurs d’ordres appartenant au mouvement takfir, les membres du réseau terroriste mis au jour par les investigations sont, pour la plupart d’entre eux, des malfaiteurs chevronnés, convertis à l’islam lors de séjours en prison », poursuit le policier, qui évoque « l’élaboration d’un projet terroriste dont le but était de procéder à l’évasion des frères incarcérés et dont la finalité était la commission d’une action de plus grande ampleur ».
    « Je suis venu vous apporter le carnage »
    La première étape consiste à fomenter l’évasion de Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, « la tête de réseau », et d’un autre militant islamiste, de la prison de Clairvaux (Aube), ainsi qu’à organiser la fuite de Djamel Beghal, alias “Abou Hamza”, alors assigné à résidence à Murat (Cantal). L’objectif final vise, selon la SDAT, « la réalisation d’une action terroriste de grande ampleur ». Cela ressort très clairement d’une conversation téléphonique entre Belkacem et Beghal, interceptée par la police le 22 avril 2010, à 12 h 22. « Moi, j’ai deux choses auxquelles je pense depuis longtemps. Une chose que je prépare pierre par pierre depuis des années pour pouvoir donner un bon coup après, comme on dit “parce qu’un coup avec une pioche vaut mieux que dix coups avec une binette”. Ça demande du temps car ce n’est pas une plaisanterie. Ce n’est pas un jeu », confiait Beghal.
    Photo de surveillance policière de 2010 de Chérif Kouachi avec Djamel Beghal
    Photo de surveillance policière de 2010 de Chérif Kouachi avec Djamel Beghal © DR
    Dans un courrier saisi, un autre membre du réseau, Fouad Bassim, écrit à un complice :« Fais ce qu’il faut pour m’aider à sortir et cette fois-ci, ce sera sans pitié dehors. »Condamné à huit ans de prison fin 2013, Bassim est actuellement en fuite, sous le coup d’un mandat d’arrêt.
    Le mystère de ce dossier de 2010 reste la découverte de recettes de poison (du cyanure obtenu à partir de pépins de pomme) dans la cellule de Belkacem. L’expert en toxicologie mandaté par la justice avait confirmé, selon le jugement du tribunal de grande instance de Paris, « l’efficience du mode opératoire décrit dans les recettes ainsi que le caractère potentiellement létal du produit obtenu ». « Le plus redoutable serait de contaminer avec ce liquide un réseau d’adduction d’eau ou un circuit de fabrication alimentaire, ce qui pourrait rendre malades un grand nombre d’individus », pouvait-on encore lire dans le texte de jugement.
    Les enquêteurs n’ont cependant pas pu corroborer l’existence d’un projet d’attaque plus concret à l’aide de ce poison. En revanche, le réseau n’a pas ménagé sa peine pour acheter des armes en Belgique et préparer activement les évasions des leaders islamistes. Un mot manuscrit trouvé chez un membre de la cellule, adressé à un complice, signale :« On a besoin de deux kalachs, de deux calibres, dix grenades. Essaye de faire au plus vite car on en a besoin. C’est à toi de parler avec le frère qui vend les armes. Mon frère ne connaît rien, alors négocie un prix bas. »
    Même s’il a bénéficié d’un non-lieu, la justice ayant estimé n’avoir « pas assez d’éléments démontrant son implication » dans les projets d’évasion, Chérif Kouachi est cependant apparu au fil de l’enquête comme un membre actif du réseau. Étroitement surveillé par les policiers en avril 2010, il a rejoint Djamel Beghal dans le Cantal pendant une semaine, accompagné de deux autres islamistes déjà condamnés pour des faits de terrorisme.
    Lors de ses onze auditions en mai 2010 par les policiers, Kouachi s’est montré obstinément mutique. « L’intéressé garde le silence et fixe le sol », ont noté jusqu’à l’agacement les enquêteurs de la SDAT. « Avez-vous conscience que votre refus à tout dialogue avec nous, y compris sur les choses les plus anodines, le refus d’effectuer une page d’écriture, le refus de regarder les photos qui vous sont présentées, le refus de vous alimenter, relève d’un comportement typique et habituellement constaté chez les individus fortement endoctrinés et appartenant à une organisation structurée ayant bénéficié de consignes à suivre durant une garde à vue ? », ont fait remarquer les policiers au futur auteur du massacre de Charlie Hebdo.
    Les archives informatiques de Kouachi, elles, ont été plus bavardes. De nombreux textes – la plupart anonymes –, découverts dans son ordinateur ou sur des clés USB, témoignent d’un enrôlement djihadiste structuré. Il s’agit la plupart du temps de textes sur des opérations martyres et la conduite à tenir. Tous ont été téléchargés en 2009.
    L’un d’entre eux, baptisé Opérations sacrifices, décrit un modus operandi qui n’est pas sans rappeler l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo. « Un moudjahid (combattant – ndlr) entre par effraction dans la caserne de l’ennemi ou une zone de groupement et tire à bout portant sans avoir préparé un plan de fuite ni avoir pensé à la fuite. L’objectif est de tuer le plus d’ennemis possibles. L’auteur mourra très probablement », peut-on lire. Puis :« Le mot “attentat-suicide” que certains utilisent n’est pas exact. Ce sont les juifs qui ont choisi ce mot pour dissuader les gens d’y recourir (…). Quant aux effets de ces opérations sur l’ennemi, nous avons constaté au cours de notre expérience qu’aucune autre technique ne produisait autant d’effroi et n’ébranlait autant l’esprit. »
    Un autre texte, intitulé Le Prophète de la Terreur, commence par ces mots : « Je suis venu vous apporter le carnage. » Habillé de références religieuses, le texte est en réalité un appel au terrorisme : « Le Coran parle de se préparer le plus que l’on peut à terroriser l’ennemi. » Mieux encore : « horrifier l’ennemi », souhaite-t-il.
    Un ouvrage de l’imam salafiste jordanien Abou Mohamed al-Maqdisi développe quant à lui des « séries de conseils sur la sécurité et la prévention » à l’attention des militants radicaux. Exemple : « Il n’est pas indispensable dans la plupart des circonstances, pour un financeur, de savoir quand et où l’opération aura lieu, ni par quelles mains. De même, pour ceux qui vont exécuter le stade final de l’opération (c’est-à-dire le pirate de l’air, le kidnappeur, celui qui se sacrifie, l’assassin, etc.), il n’est pas indispensable pour eux de savoir qui finance la cellule ou le groupe. »
    Si aucun document trouvé en 2010 chez Kouachi n’évoque l’affaire des caricatures de Mahomet, un long texte intitulé Déviances et incohérences chez les prêcheurs de la décadence évoque la fatwa « pleinement justifiée » contre l’écrivain Salman Rushdie –« Qu’Allah le maudisse ! », est-il précisé –, ou le Français Michel Houellebecq, désigné comme une « loque humaine », qui « se permet dans un de ses torchons de dire que la religion la plus con, c’est l’islam ». Le texte s’en prend aussi aux « scribouilleurs malhonnêtes (à savoir les journalistes) » et assure que « dans les sociétés mécréantes, le péché est la norme et le blasphème un divertissement sadique ».
    L’enquête de 2010 sur la cellule Beghal avait clairement montré que ses membres étaient déterminés à passer à l’attaque. Un proche de Kouachi et Coulibaly, un certain Teddy Valcy, alias “Djamil” (condamné à 9 ans en 2013), avait été arrêté en possession d’une kalachnikov, avec un chargeur engagé contenant vingt-deux cartouches. « Cette arme m’appartient et je n’aurais pas hésité à l’utiliser contre vous si j’en avais eu le temps », avait-il déclaré aux policiers au moment de son interpellation.
    Dans une vidéo enregistrée sur son téléphone portable en avril 2010, il apparaît vêtu d’une djellaba, portant son fusil-mitrailleur à l’épaule. Il prononce alors un discours de guerre : « Il est venu le temps où il faut agir. La communauté musulmane est en danger (…). La dignité des musulmans est bafouée. Nous n’avons pas d’autres solutions que de prendre les armes pour défendre notre communauté. Je vous exhorte à prendre les armes le plus vite possible, avec une très grande détermination, et n’oubliez pas la récompense du martyr (…). On nous appelle “terroristes” mais le mot est faible parce qu’on doit vraiment plus les terroriser, les ennemis, les infidèles. Il n’y a pas de discussion avec eux. » Les 7, 8 et 9 janvier 2015, une partie du réseau Beghal a répondu à l’appel.
    FABRICE ARFI ET KARL LASKE – mediapart.fr

    Find this story at 10 January 2015

    Copyright http://www.mediapart.fr/

    Limoges : suicide d’un commissaire de police

    A peine plus d’un an après qu’il ne découvre le corps sans vie du numéro 3 du SRPJ de Limoges, le numéro 2 du service s’est donné la mort hier sur son lieu de travail avec son arme de service.

    On l’a appris ce matin, un commissaire du SRPJ de Limoges s’est donné la mort la nuit dernière dans son bureau avec son arme de service. Une information confirmée par sa hiérarchie. On ignore à cette heure les raisons de son geste.

    Il se serait donné la mort cette nuit à 1 heure.

    Le commissaire Helric Fredou âgé de 45 ans était originaire de Limoges avait débuté sa carrière en 1997 comme officier de police judiciaire à la direction régionale de la police judiciaire de Versailles, avant de revenir à Limoges. Il était directeur adjoint du service régional de police judiciaire depuis 2012. Son père était un ancien policier, sa mère était cadre infirmière aux urgences de CHU de Limoges. Il était célibataire et n’avait pas d’enfant.

    Selon le syndicat de la police le commissaire était dépressif et en situation de burn out.

    En novembre 2013, le commissaire Fredou avait découvert le corps sans vie de son collègue, numéro 3 du SRPJ de Limoges qui s’était également suicidé avec son arme de service dans son bureau. Il avait lui aussi 44 ans.

    Le commissaire Fredou, comme tous les agents du SRPJ travaillait hier soir sur l’affaire de la tuerie au siège de Charlie Hebdo. Il avait notamment enquêté auprès de la famille de l’une des victimes. Il s’est tué avant même de remettre son rapport.

    Une cellule psychologique est mise en place au sein du commissariat.

    Par Cécile GauthierPublié le 08/01/2015 | 11:24, mis à jour le 14/01/2015 | 15:28

    Find this story at 14 January 2015

    © 2015 France Télévisions

    Police Commissioner Involved in Charlie Hebdo Investigation “Commits Suicide”. Total News Blackout

    Police Commissioner Helric Fredou, Number Two Police Officer of the Regional Service of France’s Judicial Police (JP), Limoges, (Haute-Vienne), “committed suicide on the night of Wednesday to Thursday at the police station.”

    Commissioner Helric Fredou was part of the police investigation into the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

    Terror suspects Cherif and Said Kouachi who were shot dead by police on January 9, spent their high-school years in the Limoges region. No doubt this was the object of Fredou’s police investigation. Yet police and media reports state that on that same Wednesday he was involved in a meeting with the family of one of the Charlie Hebdo victims.

    On Wednesday, as part of the Charlie Hebdo investigation, he dispatched a team of police officials under his jurisdiction. He is reported to have waited for the return of his team for a debriefing. Immediately following the police debriefing, he was involved in preparing his police report.

    According to media reports, he committed suicide at around 1am on Thursday, within hours of the police debriefing. He used his own police weapon, a SIG-Sauer to “shoot himself in the head”.

    At the time of his death, police claim to have not known the reason for his alleged suicide. This was reflected in their official statements to the media: “It is unknown at this time the reasons for his actions”.

    However, a back story appears to have been inserted simultaneously, most likely from the very same police media liaisons, who then told the press that Fredou was ‘depressed and overworked’. For any law enforcement officer in France, it would seem rather odd that anyone would want to miss the biggest single terror event of the century, or history in the making, as it were. (21st Century Wire,)

    ”An autopsy was performed at the University Hospital of Limoges, “confirming the suicide”

    There has been a total news blackout.

    The French media decided or was instructed not to cover the incident. Not news worthy? So much for “Je suis Charlie” and ”Freedom of Expression” in journalism.

    Likewise, the Western media including all major news services (AP, AFP, Reuters, Deutsche Welle, etc) have not covered the issue.

    One isolated report in Le Parisien presents the act of suicide as being totally unrelated to the Charlie Hebdo investigation.

    While described as being depressive and suffering from a burnout, police reports state that Helric Fredou’s suicide was totally unexpected.

    Moreover, it is worth noting that, according to reports, he committed suicide in his workplace, in his office at the police station.

    Did he commit suicide? Was he incited to commit suicide?

    Or was he an “honest Cop” executed on orders of France’s judicial police?

    Has his report been released?

    These are issues for France’s journalists to address. It’s called investigative reporting. Or is it outright media censorship?

    By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
    Global Research, January 11, 2015

    Find this story at 11 January 2015

    Copyright © 2005-2015 GlobalResearch.ca


    In the days since the siege at the Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo, the press and social media sites have been consumed with the possible answers to one question: Beyond the two shooters, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who is responsible for the attack that killed 12 people at the magazine’s offices?

    On Friday, shortly after the gunmen were killed by French forces in a raid on a printing plant outside of Paris, a source from within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) provided The Intercept with a series of messages and statements taking responsibility for the attacks, asserting that AQAP’s leadership “directed” the raid on the magazine to avenge the honor of the Prophet Mohammed.

    Moments after The Intercept published these statements, an AQAP official, Bakhsaruf al-Danqaluh tweeted, in Arabic, the exact paragraphs the AQAP source provided us. Within an hour of that, AQAP’s senior cleric, Sheikh Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari, released an audio statement through AQAP’s official media wing, praising the attack. “Some of the sons of France showed a lack of manners with Allah’s messengers, so a band of Allah’s believing army rose against them, and they taught them the proper manners, and the limits of freedom of speech,” Nadhari declared. “How can we not fight the ones that attacked the Prophet and attacked the religion and fought the believers?” While heaping passionate praise on the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Nadhari stopped short of making any claim that AQAP directed or was in any way involved with the planning.

    Historically, when AQAP has taken credit for attacks, it has used al Qaeda central’s al-Fajr Media to distribute statements and video or audio recordings through the AQAP media outlet al-Malahim to a variety of jihadist forums. But over the past year, AQAP has broadened its distribution strategy and has begun using Twitter and other social media sites. While AQAP continues to use al-Malahim, “the vast majority if not all of the releases are now released onto Twitter first via authenticated Twitter accounts that have become the first point of release,” says Aaron Zelin, an expert on al Qaeda and other militant groups and a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. “This has been the case ever since late July 2014, though AQAP had been making a slow transition going all the way back to early 2014.” Zelin’s analysis of this new distribution strategy tracks with how AQAP sources began to assert responsibility for the Paris attacks last week, with the one caveat being that an AQAP source provided the tweets in advance to a media outlet, The Intercept.

    In the past, AQAP publicly took responsibility through its official media and communication channels. None of that has happened yet in the case of the Kouachi brothers’ Paris attack.

    [Update: On Wednesday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula officially claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack in a statement issued by its media arm. The statement declared that the attack was in retaliation for the magazine’s depictions of the prophet Mohammed in its cartoons. It called the simultaneous assault on the Kosher grocery story by Amedy Coulibaly a coincidence because of the men’s relationships with each other and said it was not the result of AQAP’s coordination with rival group Islamic State.]

    For example, soon after the failed 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot, in which a suicide bomber on a Northwest Airlines flight tried unsuccessfully to set off plastic explosives sewn into his underwear, AQAP posted a web statement praising perpetrator Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a hero who had “penetrated all modern and sophisticated technology and devices and security barriers in airports of the world” and “reached his target.” The statement boasted that the “mujahedeen brothers in the manufacturing department” made the device and that it did not detonate due to a “technical error.” Four months after the attempted attack, AQAP released a video showing Abdulmutallab, armed with a Kalashnikov and wearing a keffiyeh, at a desert training camp in Yemen. In the video, masked men conducted live-ammunition training. One scene showed AQAP operatives firing at a drone flying overhead. At the end of the video, Abdulmutallab read a martyrdom statement in Arabic. “You brotherhood of Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula have the right to wage jihad because the enemy is in your land,” he said, sitting before a flag and a rifle and dressed in white. “God said if you do not fight back, he will punish you and replace you.”

    In analyzing AQAP’s potential role in the Paris attack, it’s worth remembering the four-month delay between the group praising the 2009 underwear plot and the group releasing evidence it actually orchestrated the act. Short of such video or photographic documentation, and even with an official statement from AQAP’s leadership, it would be difficult to prove that AQAP indeed sponsored the raid on Charlie Hebdo.

    Even if AQAP did not “direct” the attack, there is seemingly credible information emerging to prove that at least one — and potentially both — of the Kouachi brothers spent time with AQAP in Yemen. Said Kouachi reportedly made multiple trips to Yemen from 2009 to 2012 and spent time at Sana’a’s Iman University, which was founded by radical preacher Abdel Majid al-Zindani. The French magazine L’Express reported that French intelligence sources claim that Said Kouachi crossed into Yemen from Oman along with another unidentified French citizen in the summer of 2011. Reuters, meanwhile, reports that both Kouachi brothers received weapons training from AQAP in Yemen’s Marib province, an al Qaeda stronghold, citing two anonymous Yemeni officials.

    Earlier, Mohammed Albasha, the Yemeni government’s spokesperson in Washington D.C. urged caution in placing too much weight on such assertions. On Friday, he tweeted:

    On the day of the attack in Paris, Cherif Kouachi reportedly told a French journalist that he and his brother were acting on behalf of AQAP and that their travel to Yemen was financed by Anwar al Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northern Yemen in September 2011. “I just want to tell you that we are defenders of the Prophet. I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by al-Qaeda in Yemen. I was over there. I was financed by Imam Anwar al-Awlaki,” he said.

    A witness to the magazine shooting claimed one of the men shouted during the assault, “You can tell the media that it’s al Qaeda in Yemen.” None of these allegations, in and of themselves, prove that AQAP sponsored or directed the attacks, but the allegations do raise the prospect that, at a minimum, AQAP may have played a role in preparing the brothers for action. As I noted in my previous piece, since 2010 AQAP has publicly promoted a campaign calling on Muslims in Western countries, including France, to assassinate cartoonists who draw the prophet Mohammed, particularly those who do so in what is perceived as an insulting and demeaning manner. Awlaki himself penned an article for the first issue of the al Qaeda magazine Inspire in June 2010 making that direct call and providing a list of suggested targets, including a U.S. citizen in Seattle, Washington.

    The suspect in the shooting at the kosher market in Paris, Amedy Coulibaly, reportedly had a relationship to the Kouachi brothers going back to at least 2010. In a purported martyr video released after he was killed by French forces on Friday, Coulibaly claims he worked in conspiracy with the brothers to produce Friday’s bloodbath. To complicate matters further, he stated in the video that he had made an oath of loyalty to the head of the Islamic State, ISIS, and the self-proclaimed Caliph. “I am pledging my allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi,” Coulibaly said. “I have made a declaration of allegiance to the Caliph and the declaration of a Caliphate.” He also claimed he had coordinated his attack with the Kouachi brothers, though no evidence of this has emerged. “We did things a bit together and a bit apart, so that it’d have more impact,” he said.

    Last Friday, during a sermon in the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq, a leading ISIS cleric declared that his group was behind the Paris attacks. “We started with the France operation for which we take responsibility. Tomorrow will be in Britain, America and others,” said Abu Saad al-Ansari. “This is a message to all countries participating in the [U.S.-led] coalition that has killed Islamic State members.”

    AQAP and ISIS have been engaged in a very public and bitter feud on social media and through official communications for the past year. While not impossible, it is unlikely that AQAP and ISIS at a high level agreed to cooperate on such a mission. An AQAP source told me that the group supports what Coulibaly did and that it does not matter what group — if any — assisted him, just that he was a Muslim who took the action. ISIS, clearly seeking to capitalize on the events in Paris, has now reportedly issued a call for its supporters to attack police forces. Of course, it is also plausible that all three of the men received some degree of outside help, but created their own cells to plot the Paris attacks. Whether Coulibaly was actually working with the Kouachi brothers or was inspired by their attack is also unknown.

    For now, we have little more than verified statements from an AQAP source, a claim of responsibility from an ISIS figure and words of praise from both ISIS and some key AQAP figures. Taking responsibility for the attacks, whether true or not, could aid either group in fundraising and in elevating its prominence in the broader jihadist movement globally.

    The Truth About Anwar Awlaki

    Over the weekend, Anwar Awlaki’s name has once again been splashed on the front page of newspapers and his image and videos have again been referenced in international television coverage. There are two primary reasons for this: the purported Cherif Kouachi statement quoted above that Awlaki had financed a trip to Yemen, and a statement given by an anonymous Yemeni intelligence official to Reuters, asserting that Said Kouachi met with Awlaki in Shebwah province in Yemen at some point in 2011. AQAP has not confirmed either alleged link to Awlaki. This is another situation that would require more documentation, such as photos of either or both of the Kouachi brothers with Awlaki.

    Whatever potential relationship Awlaki had to the Kouachi brothers, the media coverage of Awlaki’s history has been riddled with inaccuracies, exaggerations of his role within AQAP and passing of anonymous US government pronouncements as facts. There is no doubt that Anwar Awlaki very publicly called on Muslims in Western countries to conduct attacks in the U.S. and Europe or to travel to Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to fight jihad. Awlaki very publicly called for the assassination of cartoonists and others who he saw as disgracing the Prophet Mohammed. But Awlaki was never the “leader” of AQAP, and the title bestowed on him by President Obama in announcing Awlaki’s death — head of external operations — was created by the U.S., not AQAP. In fact, when the actual leader of AQAP, Nasir al Wuhayshi, wrote to Osama bin Laden in 2010, asking for his blessing to put Awlaki in charge of the group, Bin Laden shot it down.

    [Editor’s Note: Some of the reporting in this story is drawn from author Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.”]

    On August 27, 2010, Bin Laden ordered his deputy Shaykh Mahmud, also known as Atiya Abdul Rahman, to relay a message to Wuhayshi. Bin Laden seemed to view Awlaki as an ally and a potentially valuable asset to al Qaeda’s goals. The problem, Bin Laden explained, was that Awlaki was an unknown quantity to al Qaeda central, a man who had yet to prove his mettle in actual jihad. “The presence of some of the characteristics by our brother Anwar…is a good thing, in order to serve Jihad,” Bin Laden wrote, adding that he wanted “a chance to be introduced to him more.” Bin Laden explained, “Over here, we are generally assured after people go to the battlefield and are tested there.” He asked Wuhayshi for “the resumé, in detail and lengthy, of the brother Anwar al-Awlaki,” as well as a written statement from Awlaki himself explaining his “vision in detail.” Wuhayshi, Bin Laden asserted, should “remain in his position where he is qualified and capable of running the matter in Yemen.”

    An Awlaki Myth

    None of this is to say that Awlaki was not involved with direct plotting of acts of terrorism, but that there has been no actual evidence produced to support the claim. Awlaki’s assassination was ordered by President Obama despite the fact that Awlaki was not officially indicted by the U.S. on any charges of terrorism. His case was litigated by anonymous US officials in the media and his death warrant signed in secret by the U.S. president.

    It is often asserted as fact that Awlaki directed or encouraged U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan to carry out the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009. But the actual evidence to support this does not exist. Awlaki did indeed email with Hassan, but those emails read like Hassan was a fanboy and Awlaki was politely dismissing him. Awlaki did, after the fact, praise Hasan’s actions, but he denied any claim of direct involvement. It would be uncharacteristic of Awlaki — given his public calls for such actions — to deny a role he would have been proud of playing.

    Soon after the [Fort Hood] shooting, the media began reporting that Hasan had been in contact with Awlaki, adding that Hasan had attended Awlaki’s Virginia mosque in 2001, though the fact that Awlaki had only met him once was not reported. That the two men exchanged at least eighteen e-mails beginning in December 2008 became a major focus of attention and hype from journalists and politicians. But when U.S. officials reviewed the emails, they determined them to be innocuous. According to The New York Times, “a counterterrorism analyst who examined the messages shortly after they were sent decided that they were consistent with authorized research Major Hasan was conducting and did not alert his military superiors.” Awlaki later told a Yemeni journalist that Hasan had reached out to him and primarily asked him religious questions. Awlaki claimed he neither “ordered nor pressured” Hasan to carry out any attacks, a contention supported by the emails once they were made public. But Awlaki’s reaction to the shooting made such details irrelevant in the eyes of the U.S. public and government.

    A few days after the Fort Hood shootings, Awlaki published a blog post with the not-so-subtle title: “Nidal Hasan Did the Right Thing.” Hasan, Awlaki wrote, “is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn’t exist.” Hasan “opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.” Awlaki called on other Muslims within the U.S. Army to carry out similar operations. “Nidal Hasan was not recruited by Al-Qaida,” Awlaki later said. “Nidal Hasan was recruited by American crimes, and this is what America refuses to admit.”

    Terrorism analysts and journalists often mention that Awlaki had contact with three of the 9/11 hijackers and, at times, imply he had foreknowledge of the plot. Awlaki was the imam at two large mosques, one in San Diego and later at one in Falls Church, Virginia. Three of the men, at various points did indeed attend those mosques, but the 9/11 Commission asserted that the future hijackers “respected Awlaki as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him” but added that “the evidence is thin as to specific motivations.” What is seldom mentioned is that soon after 9/11, on February 5, 2002, Awlaki also met with Pentagon employees inside the Department of Defense when he was officially invited to lecture at the DoD. After being vetted for security, Awlaki “was invited to and attended a luncheon at the Pentagon in the secretary of the Army’s Office of Government Counsel.” (It is unlikely Awlaki dined on the “East Side West Side” sandwich offered at the event, which included beef, turkey and bacon on marbled rye).

    Awlaki is also frequently mentioned as the mastermind of the 2009 underwear bomb plot. But, again, this is far from a proven fact. Awlaki’s role in the “underwear plot” was unclear. After the failed bombing, Awlaki claimed that Abdulmutallab was one of his “students.” Tribal sources in Shabwah province told me that al Qaeda operatives reached out to Awlaki to give religious counseling to Abdulmutallab, but that Awlaki was not involved in the plot. While praising the attack, Awlaki said he had not been involved with its conception or planning. “Yes, there was some contact between me and him, but I did not issue a fatwa allowing him to carry out this operation,” Awlaki told Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in an interview for Al Jazeera a few weeks after the attempted attack: “I support what Umar Farouk has done after I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than sixty years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, U.S. missiles have killed” women and “children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a U.S. civil[ian] jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.”

    Shaye pressed Awlaki on his defense of the attempted downing of the plane, pointing out to Awlaki that it was a civilian airliner. “You have supported Nidal Malik Hasan and justified his act by saying that his target was a military not a civilian one. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s plane was a civilian one, which means the target was the U.S. public?” Shaye pressed him. “It would have been better if the plane was a military one or if it was a U.S. military target,” Awlaki replied. But, he added:

    “The American people live [in] a democratic system and that is why they are held responsible for their policies. The American people are the ones who have voted twice for Bush the criminal and elected Obama, who is not different from Bush as his first remarks stated that he would not abandon Israel, despite the fact that there were other antiwar candidates in the U.S. elections, but they won very few votes. The American people take part in all its government’s crimes. If they oppose that, let them change their government. They pay the taxes which are spent on the army and they send their sons to the military, and that is why they bear responsibility.”

    The U.S. government continues to maintain that Awlaki personally directed the Christmas Day bomb plot. Its source for that is an alleged confession given to investigators by Abdulmutallab immediately after he was apprehended. But that confession has serious problems. Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who has scrutinized this case more extensively than any other journalist, has written several analyses of this case. “Abdulmutallab gave 3 ‘confessions,’” Wheeler told me. “The first on December 25, 2009, after he was captured. In that he attributed all his direction to ‘Abu Tarak,’ which [the] DOJ would later claim was just a pseudonym for Awlaki, which is impossible.” In Yemen, I asked many sources close to Awlaki if they had ever heard this nickname used or given to Awlaki. None had.

    The second confession started on January 29, 2010 with the High Value detainee Intelligence Group established by President Obama in late 2009. Abdulmutallab’s lawyer claimed the HIG interrogated his client after he had been held in solitary confinement. “Within days, he implicated Awlaki in everything, including making a martyrdom video with AQ’s greatest English propagandist in Arabic, and final instructions,” Wheeler adds. “The prosecution willingly agreed not to rely on this confession after the defense said it had been made in conjunction with plea discussions.”

    The final confession, Wheeler says, was on October 12, 2011. Abdulmutallab publicly plead guilty to conspiracy and other charges. No one else, including U.S. citizen Awlaki was charged in the alleged conspiracy. “In that plea, Abdulmutallab attributed earlier propaganda from Awlaki as an inspiration, but Abdulmutallab did not implicate Awlaki or anyone else as his co-conspirators,” says Wheeler. “In other words, Abdulmutallab confessed three times. In only one of those confessions did he implicate Awlaki, and that confession was the only one not presented at ‘trial.’” Instead it was used in Abdulmutallab’s sentencing.

    Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux contributed research to this article.

    Correction: This story incorrectly described the occupational breakdown of the people killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack. Most, but not all, of the victims were media workers. 9:26pm ET Jan 12 2014

    Email the author: jeremy.scahill@theintercept.com

    BY JEREMY SCAHILL @jeremyscahill 01/12/2015

    Find this story at 12 January 2015


    Frères Kouachi: révélations au Yémen

    Les investigations se concentrent sur ce pays de la péninsule arabique. Saïd Kouachi y aurait séjourné pendant deux semaines après son arrivée à Oman le 25 juillet 2011. Ce qui a justifié sa surveillance par la DGSI entre novembre 2011 et juin 2014.

    Et si la clef du “11 septembre français” se trouvait à 5 000 kilomètres de distance de Paris, au coeur des montagnes de la péninsule arabique, au Yémen? Les enquêteurs français et américains tournent désormais leur regard vers ce pays de 24 millions d’habitants, devenu depuis le début des années 2000 l’un des creusets du djihadisme international. Et pas seulement parce que Al Qaeda dans la péninsule arabique (Aqpa) s’est félicitée des attaques menées à Paris entre le 7 et le 9 janvier.

    Au moins l’un des deux frères Kouachi, auteurs de la fusillade au magazine Charlie-Hebdo (12 morts), a effectué un séjour au Yémen. Selon nos informations, Saïd Kouachi a en effet été repéré à Oman, le 25 juillet 2011. Il se trouvait en compagnie d’un autre homme qui, selon les autorités françaises, n’est pas son frère Chérif. Les deux passagers auraient pris un vol retour à destination de la France trois semaines plus tard, le 15 août précisément. Qu’ont-ils fait pendant ces trois semaines au Moyen-Orient?

    Entraînement au tir entre frères?
    Des sources officielles yéménites viennent d’affirmer à l’agence Reuters, contrairement à la version de Paris, que Saïd était en fait accompagné de son frère Chérif. Les deux hommes seraient passés clandestinement au Yémen où ils seraient restés deux semaines. “Ils ont rencontré Anwar al-Awlaki (prédicateur d’Al Qaeda dans la péninsule arabique) et ensuite ils ont été entraînés pendant trois jours au tir dans le désert de Marib”, ont confié ces sources. Si cette information est vérifiée, qu’en savaient au juste les services français? De la réponse à cette question dépendra l’ampleur de la polémique sur les failles constatées dans le bouclier antiterroriste.

    Une chose est sûre. Washington a bien transmis à Paris une information essentielle à la fin du mois de novembre 2011 portant sur le passage de Saïd Kouachi à Oman. Côté français, on certifie que ce renseignement américain ne donnait pas la preuve d’un entraînement dans les rangs djihadistes. Mais il existait cependant une forte probalité car un ex-membre de la “filière dite des Buttes-Chaumont” (dans laquelle apparaissent les frères Kouachi dès 2004) avait trouvé refuge dans ce pays pour rejoindre Al Qaeda.

    Le voyage éventuel de Chérif Kouachi fait l’objet de versions discordantes au sein des autorités françaises. Le procureur de la République à Paris, François Molins, a confirmé son existence lors de sa conférence de presse vendredi 9 janvier au soir. L’information viendrait en fait du témoignage de l’épouse de Chérif Kouachi, recueilli par la police judiciaire. Celle-ci aurait en effet confié aux enquêteurs que son mari s’était rendu à Oman, en compagnie de Saïd, à l’été 2011. Cette version a cependant été fermemement démentie par son avocat, Me Christian Saint-Palais. Selon lui, sa cliente aurait bien reconnu que Chérif Kouachi avait effectué des voyages, mais il ne lui en aurait jamais dit, ni la destination, ni le but.

    Une longue surveillance jusqu’à l’été 2014
    Quoi qu’il en soit, cette alerte américaine motive alors le lancement d’une surveillance sur les frères Kouachi par la DGSI (contre-terrorisme). Saïd fait l’objet d’une fiche de “mise en attention” dite “fiche S”, dès la fin du mois de novembre 2011. Les téléphones portables des deux frères sont “branchés”. Cette surveillance sera particulièrement longue, alternée entre la DGSI et la PJ, les écoutes administratives étant renouvelées tous les quatre mois. Chérif, lui, aurait été écouté moins longtemps jusqu’à la fin de 2013, faute d’accord sur le renouvellement des autorisations.

    Les conversations de Chérif au téléphone et de ses fréquentations semblent montrer qu’il se lance alors dans la contrefaçon de vêtements et de chaussures de sport. Pour les policiers, il sort du spectre terroriste, semblant entrer dans celui de la petite délinquance. Aucun signe de dangerosité n’est détecté. Si bien qu’en juin 2014, la surveillance des Kouachi est définitivement levée. La police passe à d’autres suspects. Sept mois plus tard, les frères font irruption dans la salle de rédaction de Charlie Hebdo.

    Par Eric Pelletier , Pascal Ceauxpublié le 10/01/2015 à 20:41, mis à jour le 14/01/2015 à 10:03

    Find this story at 14 January 2015

    © L’Express

    NYT reporters parrot unsubstantiated statements from U.S. counterterrorism officials. What’s new?

    A report in the New York Times claims in its opening paragraph:

    The younger of the two brothers who killed 12 people in Paris last week most likely used his older brother’s passport in 2011 to travel to Yemen, where he received training and $20,000 from Al Qaeda’s affiliate there, presumably to finance attacks when he returned home to France.

    The source of that information is presumably the American counterterrorism officials referred to in the second paragraph.

    Reporters Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti, too busy scribbling their notes, apparently didn’t bother asking these officials how they identified the money trail.

    That’s an important question, because an alternative money trail has already been reported that has no apparent connection to AQAP.

    French media have reported that Amedy Coulibaly — who in a video declared his affiliation with ISIS — purchased the weapons, used both by him and the Kouachi brothers, from an arms dealer in Brussels and that he paid for these with:

    a standard loan of 6,000 euros ($7,050) that Coulibaly took out on December 4 from the French financial-services firm Cofidis. He used his real name but falsely stated his monthly income on the loan declaration, a statement the company didn’t bother to check, the reports say.

    Whereas the New York Times reports receipt of the money and its amount as fact, CNN — no doubt briefed by the same officials — makes it somewhat clearer that this information is quite speculative:

    U.S. officials have told CNN it’s believed that when Cherif Kouachi traveled to Yemen in 2011, he returned carrying money from AQAP earmarked to carry out the attack. Investigators said the terrorist group could have given as much as $20,000, but the exact amount has not been verified. [Emphasis mine.]

    This isn’t a money trail — it’s speculation. And even if AQAP did put up some seed capital, that was four years ago. In the intervening period, the gunmen seem to have been busy engaged in their own entrepreneurial efforts:

    Former drug-dealing associates of Coulibaly told AP he was selling marijuana and hashish in the Paris suburbs as recently as a month ago. Multiple French news accounts have said the Kouachi brothers sold knockoff sporting goods made in China.

    Another gaping hole in the NYT report is its failure to analyze the AQAP videos — there were two.

    The first video, released on January 9, praised the attacks but made no claim of responsibility. Were its makers restrained by their own modesty? The second video, which does claim that AQAP funded and directed the operation, provides no evidence to support these claims.

    The top spokesman for the Yemen branch of al-Qaida publicly took credit Wednesday for the bloody attack on a French satirical newspaper, confirming a statement that had been emailed to reporters last week.

    But the 11-minute video provided no hard evidence for its claims, including that the operation had been arranged by the American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki directly with the two brothers who carried it out before Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

    The video includes frames showing Awlaki but none of him with the brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, nor any images of the Kouachis that haven’t been shown on Western news broadcasts for days.

    So it seems premature for the New York Times to start talking about how the attacks might:

    serve as a reminder of the continued danger from the group [AQAP] at a time when much of the attention of Europe and the United States has shifted to the Islamic State, the militant organization that controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq and has become notorious for beheading hostages.

    The NYT report also makes a claim that I have not seen elsewhere:

    In repeated statements before they were killed by the police, the Kouachi brothers said they had carried out the attack on behalf of the Qaeda branch in Yemen, saying it was in part to avenge the death of Mr. Awlaki.

    Are we to suppose that Awlaki was funding an operation to avenge his own death before he had been killed?

    Based on the information that has been reported so far — and obviously, new information might significantly change this picture — the evidence seems to lean fairly strongly in the direction that the Paris attacks should be seen to have been inspired rather than directed by Al Qaeda.

    And to the extent that Anwar al-Awlaki played a pivotal role in these attacks, the lesson — a lesson that should be reflected on by President Obama and the commanders of future drone strikes — is that Awlaki’s capacity to inspire terrorist attacks seems to be just as strong now as it was when he was alive.

    Indeed, the mixed messages coming from AQAP might reflect an internal debate on whether it can wield more power as an inspirational force or alternatively needs to sustain the perception that it retains control over operations carried out in its name.


    Find this story at 15 January 2015

    Copyright © 2015 ·Prose Theme · Genesis Framework by StudioPress

    Why Reams of Intelligence Did Not Thwart the Paris Attacks

    PARIS — The bloody denouement on Friday of two hostage crises at different ends of a traumatized Paris means attention will now shift to the gaping question facing the French government: How did several jihadists — and possibly a larger cell of co-conspirators — manage to evade surveillance and execute a bold attack despite being well known to the country’s police and intelligence services?

    On its own, the Wednesday morning slaughter that left 12 people dead at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo represented a major breakdown for French security and intelligence forces, especially after the authorities confirmed that the two suspects, the brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, had known links to the militant group Al Qaeda in Yemen.

    President François Hollande after holding a crisis meeting.Days of Sirens, Fear and Blood: ‘France Is Turned Upside Down’ JAN. 9, 2015
    Andrew Parker, the directory general of MI5, said militants were planning attacks in Britain similar to the one in Paris.In Britain, Spy Chief Calls for More Power for AgencyJAN. 9, 2015
    Then on Friday, even as the police had cornered the Kouachi brothers inside a printing factory in the northeast suburbs, another militant, Amedy Coulibaly — who has since been linked to the Kouachis — stormed a kosher supermarket in Paris and threatened to kill hostages if the police captured the Kouachis.

    Mohammed Benali is president of a mosque in Gennevilliers where, he said, Chérif Kouachi was an infrequent visitor. Credit Agnes Dherbeys for The New York Times
    “There is a clear failing,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French television on Friday night. “When 17 people die, it means there were cracks.”

    An American official speaking about the failure to identify the plot said that French intelligence and law enforcement agencies had conducted surveillance on one or both of the Kouachi brothers after Saïd returned from Yemen, but later reduced that monitoring or dropped it altogether to focus on what were believed to be bigger threats.

    “These guys were known to be bad, and the French had tabs on them for a while,” said the American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid complicating a delicate intelligence matter. “At some point, though, they allocated resources differently. They moved on to other targets.”

    The official acknowledged that American spy agencies tracked Westerners, particularly young men, traveling in and out of Yemen much more closely after a failed Qaeda plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

    But the official said the United States left the monitoring of the Kouachi brothers and other French citizens in France to that country’s security services.

    One reason for the lapses may be that the number of possible jihadists inside France has continued to expand sharply. France has seen 1,000 to 2,000 of its citizens go to fight in Syria or Iraq, with about 200 returning, and the task of surveillance has grown overwhelming.

    The questions facing French intelligence services will begin with the attack at Charlie Hebdo.

    Continue reading the main story
    The Links Among the Paris Terror Suspects and Their Connections to Jihad
    Where their lives intersected and what may have influenced them.

    The authorities knew that striking the satirical newspaper and its editor for their vulgar treatment of the Prophet Muhammad had been a stated goal of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, through its propaganda journal, Inspire.

    Intelligence officers had also identified the Kouachi brothers as being previously involved in jihad-related activities, for which Chérif was convicted in 2008. Investigators have also linked Chérif to a plot to free from prison an Islamic militant convicted in the 1995 bombing of a French subway station, while French news organizations have reported that Mr. Coulibaly was also implicated in that case.

    Continue reading the main story
    Much remains unclear about the three suspects and whether they were working in a coordinated fashion. But the French apparently knew, or presumably should have known, either on their own or through close intelligence cooperation with the United States, that Saïd had traveled to Yemen in 2011.

    News reports on Friday said that Saïd had met with the American-born Anwar al-Awlaki, a member and propagandist for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who was later killed by an American drone strike.

    Security officials and acquaintances said that Mr. Kouachi’s travels in Yemen stretched from 2009 until at least 2012.

    Mohammed al-Kibsi, a journalist, said he met Mr. Kouachi in Sana, the Yemeni capital, in January 2010. At the time, Mr. Kibsi was working on an article about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, in a plot that intelligence officials believe was guided by Mr. Awlaki.

    While looking for Mr. Abdulmutallab’s house, Mr. Kibsi said, he came across Mr. Kouachi playing soccer with a group of children. Mr. Kouachi told him that he and Mr. Abdulmutallab were friends: They had lived together for a week or two, a few months before the bombing attempt. They were both learning Arabic at the Sana Institute for Arabic Language, and both worshiped at the same local mosque, he said.

    Continue reading the main story
    Tracking the Aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo Attack
    A visual timeline of the attack and the events that followed.

    Mr. Kouachi was “so friendly” and spoke using a mix of English and French, Mr. Kibsi said, adding that he saw Mr. Kouachi on at least two other occasions, at a different Arabic institute in Sana’s old city.

    It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Kouachi studied at Al-Iman University, an ultraconservative religious center with links to militants that Mr. Abdulmutallab attended.

    Yemen has been an American priority, not a French one, making it likely that the Kouachi brothers and Mr. Coulibaly were put lower on the priority list, intelligence analysts said Friday.

    Indeed, Mr. Coulibaly apparently met President Nicolas Sarkozy in July 2009, according to the French newspaper Le Parisien. At a news media event to encourage youth employment, Mr. Coulibaly was scheduled to be among a group of nine people who had taken part in a work-training program and was working at a Coca-Cola factory in the Parisian suburbs.

    “It is a pleasure to meet the president,” he told a journalist before the meeting. “I don’t know what I’m going to say to him. I will start with, ‘Good morning!’ ”

    The authorities released pictures of Mr. Coulibaly and a companion, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, though it was not clear what became of her and how deep her links were to the group.

    On Friday, even as the Kouachi brothers were confronting the police several miles away, people in the Gennevilliers suburb where Chérif lived described a man who, by appearances, was a devout and solemn Muslim, if giving a few hints of extremism.

    Continue reading the main storyVideo

    PLAY VIDEO|2:10
    Paris Terror Suspect Shown in 2005 Film
    Paris Terror Suspect Shown in 2005 Film
    Chérif Kouachi, one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, appeared in a 2005 investigative documentary about jihadism that aired on French television. Video by France3, via INA on Publish Date January 8, 2015. Photo by Pièces à Conviction, France3.
    Mohammed Benali, president of the mosque in Gennevilliers, said Chérif Kouachi was an infrequent visitor who was polite, was shaven, wore jeans, and showed no signs of radicalization — “except for one incident.”

    Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
    During France’s recent election, the imam consecrated a Friday Prayer to the importance of voting, which prompted Mr. Kouachi to jump up abruptly in the prayer hall and begin arguing that it was un-Islamic to vote.

    “Our security personnel escorted him outside,” Mr. Benali said. “They tried to calm him down. They asked him to respect our mosque and our people.”

    Chérif Kouachi was a familiar figure among some neighborhood shopkeepers, who regarded him as a serious Muslim. The owner of a bakery said that whenever Chérif came inside, his wife remained outside the glass door.

    Inside the apartment building where Chérif lived on the fourth floor, he was described as polite, someone who helped women carry grocery bags up the stairwell during the frequent breakdowns of the elevator. Some neighbors said they saw his wife fully covered in a niqab. Others said they assumed that he lived alone.

    “I always thought that he was single,” said one 24-year-old woman, who like others asked not to be identified. “He was always alone. I saw him once with a friend.”

    For the French authorities, the basic questions are why they had not monitored the three men more aggressively and why the offices of Charlie Hebdo were not better protected.

    Continue reading the main story

    Inside Charlie Hebdo After the Attack
    Inside Charlie Hebdo After the AttackJAN. 09, 2015

    Aftermath of Paris Terror Attack
    Aftermath of Paris Terror AttackJAN. 07, 2015
    Before Paris Shooting, Authors Tapped Into Mood of a France ‘Homesick at Home’
    Before Paris Shooting, Authors Tapped Into Mood of a France ‘Homesick at Home’JAN. 09, 2015

    A Timeline of Threats and Acts of Violence Over Blasphemy and Insults to Islam
    A Timeline of Threats and Acts of Violence Over Blasphemy and Insults to Islam JAN. 08, 2015
    “The problem we face is that even though there are not that many radicalized Muslims in France, there are enough of them to make it difficult to physically follow everyone with a suspicious background,” said Camille Grand, a former French official and director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, an independent Paris group.

    “It’s one thing to listen to the phone calls or watch their travel, but it’s another to put someone under permanent physical surveillance, or even follow all their phone conversations full time for so many people,” he added.

    Jean-Charles Brisard, head of the French Center for Analysis of Terrorism, praised the security response and said there were simply not enough police and security officers to keep full monitoring on everyone who goes through prison.

    “It’s a problem of resources,” Mr. Brisard said.

    He added that the authorities had Chérif Kouachi under surveillance “for a period of time, but then they judged that there was no threat, or the threat was lower, and they had other priorities.”

    “We are understaffed,” complained an officer involved in the search of Chérif Kouachi’s apartment in Gennevilliers. “We would need to triple our staff to better protect the city.”

    President François Hollande went on television Friday — before the two standoffs had ended — to try to reassure the nation, and he visited the Interior Ministry headquarters to supervise the police action.

    The attacks were likely to aggravate the problems of Mr. Hollande, already widely considered weak and indecisive. Moreover, serious internal questions are also likely, as they were after Mohammed Merah, who had been known to the police and intelligence services, killed seven people in southwestern France in 2012, saying that he was acting on behalf of Al Qaeda.

    It later emerged that Mr. Merah had traveled to Afghanistan, and that the Americans had alerted the French, who had not reacted with sufficient attention in what was considered an operational failure.

    Jean-Louis Bruguière, a former presidential adviser on terrorism and a former antiterrorism judge who knew Chérif Kouachi when he was arrested in 2005, said that the authorities could not monitor every person of interest. “You can’t keep a policeman tracking every single one of them,” he said, noting that he had interviewed hundreds of aspiring jihadists.

    Correction: January 17, 2015
    Because of an editing error, an article last Saturday about questions concerning how the jihadists responsible for the murders of 17 people in Paris were able to execute brazen attacks despite being known to the authorities referred incorrectly to the director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, who was quoted in the article. The director, Camille Grand, is a man.

    Reporting was contributed by Rukmini Callimachi, Laure Fourquet and Assia Labbas from Paris, Eric Schmitt from Washington, and Shuaib Almosawa from Sana, Yemen.


    Find this story at 9 January 2015

    © 2015 The New York Times Company


    UPDATED — A source within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has provided The Intercept with a full statement claiming responsibility for the attack against the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris:

    Some ask the relationship between Al-Qaeda Organization and the (brothers) who carried out the #CharlieHebdo operation. Was it direct? Was the operation supervised by the Al-Qaeda wing in the Arabian Peninsula?

    The leadership of #AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as a revenge for the honor of Prophet (pbuh)

    The target was in France in particular because of its obvious role in the war on Islam and oppressed nations.

    The operation was the result of the threat of Sheikh Usama (RA). He warned the West about the consequences of the persistence in the blasphemy against Muslims’ sanctities.

    Sheikh Usama (RA) said in his message to the West: If there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions.

    The Organization delayed to claim responsibility due to the executors’ security reasons. Nevertheless, the operation carries a number of important messages to all the Western countries.

    One: Touching Muslims’ sanctity and protecting those who make blasphemy have dear price and the punishment will be severe.

    Two: The crimes of the Western countries, above them America, Britain and France will backfire deep in their home.

    Three: The policy of hitting the snake’s head followed by the Al-Qaeda organization under the leadership of Adhawahiri is still achieving its goals; until the West retreats.

    Four: The inspiring media policies of the Mujahideen of Al-Qaeda especially of Inspire Magazine has greatly succeeded in identifying its targets and collecting powers.

    One of the cartoonists’ name and photo were put down in Inspire’s wanted poster, dead or alive. The Western regimes should wait for harm and destruction by the Might of Allah.

    I hope the brothers will distribute these tweets and translate them so that they reach the greatest audience. {And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.}

    Arabic-language excerpts from the statement are being circulated widely on Twitter. AQAP has not made any claims of responsibility through its official communication channels. A prominent AQAP cleric released an audio recording today praising the attack, but made no reference to AQAP playing an operational role. [Update: Shortly after The Intercept published this statement, an AQAP official, Bakhsaruf al-Danqaluh, tweeted, in Arabic, the exact paragraphs the AQAP source provided us. This is still not an official AQAP claim of responsibility, but it suggests such a statement may be forthcoming or is being internally debated within the group.]

    Earlier in the afternoon, a source within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula gave The Intercept a separate message praising the attack on Charlie Hebdo. “The lions of Jihad have stood. The followers of Muhammad – peace be upon him – have never forgotten,” the message declared. “Do not look for links or affiliation with Jihadi fronts. It is enough they are Muslims. They are Mujahideen. This is the Jihad of the Ummah. So France, are you ready for more attacks?”

    From the Winter 2014 issue of AQAP’s Inspire, a Muslim prays next to a pressure cooker, above an image of a French passport.
    The source, who demanded anonymity because the group had not yet released an official statement, also told The Intercept that two images in the latest issue of its publication, Inspire, published in December, contained a clue foreshadowing the attack on Charlie Hebdo. One image (at right, click to enlarge) shows a Muslim kneeling in prayer with a cooking pot similar to the one used by the Boston marathon bombers. “If you have the knowledge and inspiration all that’s left is to take action.” On the page immediately below it is a picture of a French passport. Throughout the day, several AQAP members have been praising the attack on social media and discussion sites. An AQAP source pointed The Intercept to a recording they claim is Cherif Kouachi, one of the suspects, acknowledging that his trips to Yemen in 2011 were “financed” by U.S.-born radical imam Anwar al Awlaki and that he was sent to Yemen by AQAP.

    The full message provided by the AQAP source, which references Inspire‘s previous threats to attack media outlets that publish demeaning pictures of the Prophet Muhammad, is here:

    Freedom of Speech

    Freedom of speech! Journalist! Newspaper! It is a war on freedom of speech. It is a war on journalism. These words kept belching out of many mouths. All are well aware of what this magazine published. “It was just satirical,” some argued. I find it funny how this type of people think. “It is a crime for a journalist to be killed,” they claim … I would like to pose some questions to them:

    Was it a crime to kill Sheikh Anwar Al-‘Awlaki for his da’wah?

    Was it a crime to kill Samir Khan for being a member of Inspire Team?

    Was it a crime to kill Fuad Al-Hadhrami, the brother who accompanied journalists in S.Yemen?

    Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard remarked he didn’t “understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.” Isn’t Inspire a magazine? Are we to conclude that drones and missiles aren’t heavy weapons?

    Where are your values in that regard?

    The Charlie magazine team deserved what they got. Many warnings have been given before, but they were persistent. They had the freedom to use cartoons in their magazine, and we have the freedom to use bullets from our magazines. As the ‘Wanted List’ stated: A bullet a day, keeps the kaffir away. Yes, Charb is no more. The lions of Jihad have stood. The followers of Muhammad – peace be upon him – have never forgotten. As Sheikh Anwar Rahimahullah put it: The Dust Will Never Settle Down.

    Do not look for links or affiliation with Jihadi fronts. It is enough they are Muslims. They are Mujahideen. This is the Jihad of the Ummah. So France, are you ready for more attacks; Weren’t you asked by Inspire Magazine immediately after the Wanted List:

    So, why is France so thick in learning from its past mistakes? Is it leaving Paris undefended once again? Woe upon you from tens of Muhammad Merah!

    You come third in the target list, after US and Britain. If I were the latter, I would rather pull my sleeves up.

    Earlier in the day, the French government announced that the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre have been killed following a stand-off at a printing plant outside of Paris. U.S. and French intelligence agencies are aggressively investigating the travel history and associations of the two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi. The brothers both claim to have spent time in Yemen. Agence France Press reports that Said traveled multiple times to Yemen from 2009-2013 and studied at Sana’a’s Iman University, founded by radical preacher Abdel Majid al-Zindani.

    A senior Yemeni intelligence official told Reuters that Said traveled to Yemen in 2011 and met with Awlaki, who was infamous for his sermons and writings calling for Muslims in Western countries to conduct terrorist attacks. Anonymous U.S. officials have alleged in various news reports that Said received training from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and a witness to the shooting told French media that one of the shooters claimed that they were from AQAP. “We do not have confirmed information that he was trained by al Qaeda but what was confirmed was that he has met with Awlaki in Shabwah,” the Yemeni official told Reuters. Awlaki, along with another U.S. citizen, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northern Yemen ordered by President Obama in September 2011.

    Said Kouachi
    A senior Yemeni official told The Intercept that the French government has not yet formally requested the Yemeni government’s assistance or cooperation in their investigation. “France has not approached us in any official way yet,” the official said. “The [Yemeni] government is waiting for a French inquiry.”

    The Intercept granted the Yemeni official anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the matter absent an official French inquiry and because anonymous U.S. and Yemeni officials are making contradictory claims. The official said that many French nationals have traveled to Yemen, sometimes on passports from other nations.

    Awlaki was very public in his calls for assassinating cartoonists and attacking media outlets that published demeaning images of Prophet Mohammed.


    In June 2010, AQAP published its first issue of an English language publication, Inspire. “Allah says: ‘And inspire the believers to fight,’” read the opening line of the letter from Inspire’s unnamed editor. “It is from this verse that we derive the name of our new magazine.” Inspire, the editor wrote, was “the first magazine to be issued by the al-Qaeda Organization in the English language. In the West; in East, West and South Africa; in South and Southeast Asia and elsewhere are millions of Muslims whose first or second language is English. It is our intent for this magazine to be a platform to present the important issues facing the ummah [community] today to the wide and dispersed English speaking Muslim readership.”

    The issue of Inspire featured an “exclusive” interview with the head of AQAP, Nasir al Wuhayshi, also known as Abu Basir, as well as translated works from bin Laden and Zawahiri. It also included an essay praising Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed underwear bomber. The magazine was well produced, with a layout that resembled a typical U.S. teen magazine, though without fashionably dressed women and celebrities. Instead, it featured photos of children alleged to have been killed in U.S. missile strikes and pictures of armed, masked jihadis. An article written under the byline “AQ Chef” and titled “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” provided instructions on how to manufacture explosive devices from basic household goods. Another article gave detailed directions on how to download military-grade encryption software for sending e-mails and text messages.

    Perhaps most disturbing, the magazine contained a “Hit List” of people who it alleged had created “blasphemous caricatures” of the Prophet Muhammad. In late 2005, the Danish publication Jyllands-Posten commissioned a dozen cartoons of the Prophet, ostensibly to contribute to a debate about self-censorship within Islam. It had enraged Muslims across the world at the time, sparked massive protests and resulted in death threats and bomb threats against the newspaper. The hit list published by Inspire included magazine editors, anti-Muslim pundits who had defended the cartoons, as well as the novelist Salman Rushdie. But it also included Molly Norris, a Seattle-based cartoonist who initiated “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” Norris said she did it in response to the U.S. Comedy Central network’s decision to edit out a scene in its popular animated program South Park that addressed the controversy, after receiving a threat.

    Anwar Al-Awlaki at Dar al Hijrah Mosque on October 4 2001 in Falls Church, VA. (Photo by Tracy Woodward/The Washington Post).
    Anwar Al-Awlaki
    Inspire’s hit list was accompanied by an essay penned by Awlaki encouraging Muslims to attack those who defame the image of Mohammed. “I would like to express my thanks to my brothers at Inspire for inviting me to write the main article for the first issue of their new magazine. I would also like to commend them for having this subject, the defense of the Messenger of Allah, as the main focus of this issue,” Awlaki wrote. He then laid out a defense for assassinating those who engaged in blasphemy of Mohammed. “The large number of participants makes it easier for us because there are more targets to choose from in addition to the difficulty of the government offering all of them special protection.” He continued:
    “But even then our campaign should not be limited to only those who are active participants. These perpetrators are not operating in a vacuum. Instead they are operating within a system that is offering them support and protection. The government, political parties, the police, the intelligence services, blogs, social networks, the media, and the list goes on, are part of a system within which the defamation of Islam is not only protected but promoted. The main elements in this system are the laws that make this blasphemy legal. Because they are practicing a “right” that is defended by the law, they have the backing of the entire Western political system. This would make the attacking of any Western target legal from an Islamic viewpoint….Assassinations, bombings, and acts of arson are all legitimate forms of revenge against a system that relishes the sacrilege of Islam in the name of freedom.”

    When Inspire was published, some within the U.S. intelligence community panicked. The first concern was protecting the people who had been identified as targets for assassination. The FBI took immediate precautions to guard the Seattle cartoonist, whom they feared could be murdered. She eventually changed her name and moved. Law enforcement agencies in other countries took similar measures.


    If Awlaki met with Said Kouachi in Yemen, it would not be the first time he met with young Muslims who went on to attempt or conduct terrorist attacks. In the aftermath of the failed Christmas day attack on an airplane over Detroit, the young Nigerian man who attempted to detonate an explosive device sewn into his underwear was presented as an AQAP operative who had been sent on a suicide mission by Anwar Awlaki. Yemeni intelligence officials told the United States that Abdulmutallab had traveled to Awlaki’s tribal area of Shabwah in October 2009. There, they say, he hooked up with members of AQAP. A U.S. government source said that the National Security Agency had intercepted “voice-to-voice communication” between Abdulmutallab and Awlaki in the fall of 2009 and had determined that Awlaki “was in some way involved in facilitating this guy’s transportation or trip through Yemen. It could be training, a host of things. I don’t think we know for sure,” the anonymous source told the Washington Post.

    A local tribal leader from Shabwah, Mullah Zabara, later told me he had seen the young Nigerian at the farm of Fahd al Quso, the alleged USS Cole bombing conspirator. “He was watering trees,” Zabara told me. “When I saw [Abdulmutallab], I asked Fahd, ‘Who is he?’” Quso told Zabara the young man was from a different part of Yemen, which Zabara knew was a lie. “When I saw him on TV, then Fahd told me the truth.”

    UNSPECIFIED – UNDATED: This undated handout image provided by the U.S. Marshals Service on December 28, 2009 shows Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Abdulmutallab, 23, is a Nigerian man suspected of attempting to blow up Northwest 253 flight as it was landing in Detroit on Christmas day. (Photo by U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
    Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
    Awlaki’s role in the “underwear plot” was unclear. Awlaki later claimed that Abdulmutallab was one of his “students.” U.S. officials insist Awlaki played an operational role in the plot. Tribal sources in Shabwah told me that al Qaeda operatives reached out to Awlaki to give religious counseling to Abdulmutallab, but that Awlaki was not involved in the plot. While praising the attack, Awlaki said he had not been involved with its conception or planning. “Yes, there was some contact between me and him, but I did not issue a fatwa allowing him to carry out this operation,” Awlaki told journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in an interview for Al Jazeera a few weeks after the attempted attack: “I support what Umar Farouk has done after I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than sixty years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, U.S. missiles have killed” women and “children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a US civil[ian] jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.”
    Part of this article was adapted from Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.

    Photo: Michel Euler/AP; Kouachi: Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire/Getty; Al-Awlaki: Tracy Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty; Abdulmutallab: U.S. Marshals/Getty

    Email the author: jeremy.scahill@theintercept.com

    BY JEREMY SCAHILL @jeremyscahill 01/09/2015

    Find this story at 9 January 2015

    Copyright https://firstlook.org/theintercept/

    El terror en París: raíces profundas y lejanas CHARLIE HEBDO.

    * Una versión muy resumida de esta nota, escrita ayer “en caliente” ni bien enterado de los hechos, fue publicada en el día de hoy, 8 de Enero de 2015, por Página/12. Ahora, con más tiempo, la doy a conocer con todos sus detalles.

    (Atilio A. Boron ) El atentado terrorista perpetrado en las oficinas de Charlie Hebdo debe ser condenado sin atenuantes. Es un acto brutal, criminal, que no tiene justificación alguna. Es la expresión contemporánea de un fanatismo religioso que -desde tiempos inmemoriales y en casi todas las religiones conocidas- ha plagado a la humanidad con muertes y sufrimientos indecibles. La barbarie perpetrada en París concitó el repudio universal. Pero parafraseando a un enorme intelectual judío del siglo XVII, Baruch Spinoza, ante tragedias como esta no basta con llorar, es preciso comprender. ¿Cómo dar cuenta de lo sucedido?

    Cabu, Wolinski, Charb y Tignous; los dibujantes muertos por el ataque terrorista a Charlie Hebdo. Fotos: EFE

    La respuesta no puede ser simple porque son múltiples los factores que se amalgamaron para producir tan infame masacre. Descartemos de antemano la hipótesis de que fue la obra de un comando de fanáticos que, en un inexplicable rapto de locura religiosa, decidió aplicar un escarmiento ejemplar a un semanario que se permitía criticar ciertas manifestaciones del Islam y también de otras confesiones religiosas. Que son fanáticos no cabe ninguna duda. Creyentes ultraortodoxos abundan en muchas partes, sobre todo en Estados Unidos e Israel. Pero, ¿cómo llegaron los de París al extremo de cometer un acto tan execrable y cobarde como el que estamos comentando? Se impone distinguir los elementos que actuaron como precipitantes o desencadenantes –por ejemplo, las caricaturas publicadas por el Charlie Hebdo, blasfemas para la fe del Islam- de las causas estructurales o de larga duración que se encuentran en la base de una conducta tan aberrante. En otras palabras, es preciso ir más allá del acontecimiento, por doloroso que sea, y bucear en sus determinantes más profundos.

    A partir de esta premisa metodológica hay un factor merece especial consideración. Nuestra hipótesis es que lo sucedido es un lúgubre síntoma de lo que ha sido la política de Estados Unidos y sus aliados en Medio Oriente desde fines de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Es el resultado paradojal –pero previsible, para quienes están atentos al movimiento dialéctico de la historia- del apoyo que la Casa Blanca le brindó al radicalismo islámico desde el momento en que, producida la invasión soviética a Afganistán en Diciembre de 1979, la CIA determinó que la mejor manera de repelerla era combinar la guerra de guerrillas librada por los mujaidines con la estigmatización de la Unión Soviética por su ateísmo, convirtiéndola así en una sacrílega excrecencia que debía ser eliminada de la faz de la tierra. En términos concretos esto se tradujo en un apoyo militar, político y económico a los supuestos “combatientes por la libertad” y en la exaltación del fundamentalismo islamista del talibán que, entre otras cosas, veía la incorporación de las niñas las escuelas afganas dispuesta por el gobierno prosoviético de Kabul como una intolerable apostasía. Al Qaeda y Osama bin Laden son hijos de esta política. En esos aciagos años de Reagan, Thatcher y Juan Pablo II, la CIA era dirigida por William Casey, un católico ultramontano, caballero de la Orden de Malta cuyo celo religioso y su visceral anticomunismo le hicieron creer que, aparte de las armas, el fomento de la religiosidad popular en Afganistán sería lo que acabaría con el sacrílego “imperio del mal” que desde Moscú extendía sus tentáculos sobre el Asia Central. Y la política seguida por Washington fue esa: potenciar el fervor islamista, sin medir sus predecibles consecuencias a mediano plazo.

    Horrorizado por la monstruosidad del genio que se le escapó de la botella y produjo los confusos atentados del 11 de Septiembre (confusos porque las dudas acerca de la autoría del hecho son muchas más que las certidumbres) Washington proclamó una nueva doctrina de seguridad nacional: la “guerra infinita” o la “guerra contra el terrorismo”, que convirtió a las tres cuartas partes de la humanidad en una tenebrosa conspiración de terroristas (o cómplices de ellos) enloquecidos por su afán de destruir a Estados Unidos y el “modo americano de vida” y estimuló el surgimiento de una corriente mundial de la “islamofobia”. Tan vaga y laxa ha sido la definición oficial del terrorismo que en la práctica este y el Islam pasaron a ser sinónimos, y el sayo le cabe a quienquiera que sea un crítico del imperialismo norteamericano. Para calmar a la opinión pública, aterrorizada ante los atentados, los asesores de la Casa Blanca recurrieron al viejo método de buscar un chivo expiatorio, alguien a quien culpar, como a Lee Oswald, el inverosímil asesino de John F. Kennedy. George W. Bush lo encontró en la figura de un antiguo aliado, Saddam Hussein, que había sido encumbrado a la jefatura del estado en Irak para guerrear contra Irán luego del triunfo de la Revolución Islámica en 1979, privando a la Casa Blanca de uno de sus más valiosos peones regionales. Hussein, como Gadaffi años después, pensó que habiendo prestado sus servicios al imperio tendría las manos libres para actuar a voluntad en su entorno geográfico inmediato. Se equivocó al creer que Washington lo recompensaría tolerando la anexión de Kuwait a Irak, ignorando que tal cosa era inaceptable en función de los proyectos estadounidenses en la región. El castigo fue brutal: la primera Guerra del Golfo (Agosto 1990-Febrero 1991), un bloqueo de más de diez años que aniquiló a más de un millón de personas (la mayoría niños) y un país destrozado. Contando con la complicidad de la dirigencia política y la prensa “libre, objetiva e independiente” dentro y fuera de Estados Unidos la Casa Blanca montó una patraña ridícula e increíble por la cual se acusaba a Hussein de poseer armas de destrucción masiva y de haber forjado una alianza con su archienemigo, Osama bin Laden, para atacar a los Estados Unidos. Ni tenía esas armas, cosa que era archisabida; ni podía aliarse con un fanático sunita como el jefe de Al Qaeda, siendo él un ecléctico en cuestiones religiosas y jefe de un estado laico.

    Impertérrito ante estas realidades, en Marzo del 2003 George W. Bush dio inicio a la campaña militar para escarmentar a Hussein: invade el país, destruye sus fabulosos tesoros culturales y lo poco que quedaba en pie luego de años de bloqueo, depone a sus autoridades, monta un simulacro de juicio donde a Hussein lo sentencian a la pena capital y muere en la horca. Pero la ocupación norteamericana, que dura ocho años, no logra estabilizar económica y políticamente al país, acosada por la tenaz resistencia de los patriotas iraquíes. Cuando las tropas de Estados Unidos se retiran se comprueba su humillante derrota: el gobierno queda en manos de los chiítas, aliados del enemigo público número uno de Washington en la región, Irán, e irreconciliablemente enfrentados con la otra principal rama del Islam, los sunitas. A los efectos de disimular el fracaso de la guerra y debilitar a una Bagdad si no enemiga por lo menos inamistosa -y, de paso, controlar el avispero iraquí- la Casa Blanca no tuvo mejor idea que replicar la política seguida en Afganistán en los años ochentas: fomentar el fundamentalismo sunita y atizar la hoguera de los clivajes religiosos y las guerras sectarias dentro del turbulento mundo del Islam. Para ello contó con la activa colaboración de las reaccionarias monarquías del Golfo, y muy especialmente de la troglodita teocracia de Arabia Saudita, enemiga mortal de los chiítas y, por lo tanto, de Irán, Siria y de los gobernantes chiítas de Irak.

    Fusilamiento de un policía a la salida de las oficinas de Charlie Hebdo

    Claro está que el objetivo global de la política estadounidense y, por extensión, de sus clientes europeos, no se limita tan sólo a Irak o Siria. Es de más largo aliento pues procura concretar el rediseño del mapa de Medio Oriente mediante la desmembración de los países artificialmente creados por las potencias triunfantes luego de las dos guerras mundiales. La balcanización de la región dejaría un archipiélago de sectas, milicias, tribus y clanes que, por su desunión y rivalidades mutuas no podrían ofrecer resistencia alguna al principal designio de “humanitario” Occidente: apoderarse de las riquezas petroleras de la región. El caso de Libia luego de la destrucción del régimen de Gadaffi lo prueba con elocuencia y anticipó la fragmentación territorial en curso en Siria e Irak, para nombrar los casos más importantes. Ese es el verdadero, casi único, objetivo: desmembrar a los países y quedarse con el petróleo de Medio Oriente. ¿Promoción de la democracia, los derechos humanos, la libertad, la tolerancia? Esos son cuentos de niños, o para consumo de los espíritus neocolonizados y de la prensa títere del imperio para disimular lo inconfesable: el saqueo petrolero.

    El resto es historia conocida: reclutados, armados y apoyados diplomática y financieramente por Estados Unidos y sus aliados, a poco andar los fundamentalistas sunitas exaltados como “combatientes por la libertad” y utilizados como fuerzas mercenarias para desestabilizar a Siria hicieron lo que en su tiempo Maquiavelo profetizó que harían todos los mercenarios: independizarse de sus mandantes, como antes lo hicieran Al Qaeda y bin Laden, y dar vida a un proyecto propio: el Estado Islámico. Llevados a Siria para montar desde afuera una infame “guerra civil” urdida desde Washington para producir el anhelado “cambio de régimen” en ese país, los fanáticos terminaron ocupando parte del territorio sirio, se apropiaron de un sector de Irak, pusieron en funcionamiento los campos petroleros de esa zona y en connivencia con las multinacionales del sector y los bancos occidentales se dedican a vender el petróleo robado a precio vil y convertirse en la guerrilla más adinerada del planeta, con ingresos estimados de 2.000 millones de dólares anuales para financiar sus crímenes en cualquier país del mundo. Para dar muestras de su fervor religioso las milicias jihadistas degüellan, decapitan y asesinan infieles a diestra y siniestra, no importa si musulmanes de otra secta, cristianos, judíos o agnósticos, árabes o no, todo en abierta profanación de los valores del Islam. Al haber avivado las llamas del sectarismo religioso era cuestión de tiempo que la violencia desatada por esa estúpida y criminal política de Occidente tocara las puertas de Europa o Estados Unidos. Ahora fue en París, pero ya antes Madrid y Londres habían cosechado de manos de los ardientes islamistas lo que sus propios gobernantes habían sembrado inescrupulosamente.

    De lo anterior se desprende con claridad cuál es la génesis oculta de la tragedia del Charlie Hebdo. Quienes fogonearon el radicalismo sectario mal podrían ahora sorprenderse y mucho menos proclamar su falta de responsabilidad por lo ocurrido, como si el asesinato de los periodistas parisinos no tuviera relación alguna con sus políticas. Sus pupilos de antaño responden con las armas y los argumentos que les fueron inescrupulosamente cedidos desde los años de Reagan hasta hoy. Más tarde, los horrores perpetrados durante la ocupación norteamericana en Irak los endurecieron e inflamaron su celo religioso. Otro tanto ocurrió con las diversas formas de “terrorismo de estado” que las democracias capitalistas practicaron, o condonaron, en el mundo árabe: las torturas, vejaciones y humillaciones cometidas en Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo y las cárceles secretas de la CIA; las matanzas consumadas en Libia y en Egipto; el indiscriminado asesinato que a diario cometen los drones estadounidenses en Pakistán y Afganistán, en donde sólo dos de cada cien víctimas alcanzadas por sus misiles son terroristas; el “ejemplarizador” linchamiento de Gadaffi (cuya noticia provocó la repugnante carcajada de Hillary Clinton); el interminable genocidio al que son periódicamente sometidos los palestinos por Israel, con la anuencia y la protección de Estados Unidos y los gobiernos europeos, crímenes, todos estos, de lesa humanidad que sin embargo no conmueven la supuesta conciencia democrática y humanista de Occidente. Repetimos: nada, absolutamente nada, justifica el crimen cometido contra el semanario parisino. Pero como recomendaba Spinoza hay que comprender las causas que hicieron que los jihadistas decidieran pagarle a Occidente con su misma sangrienta moneda. Nos provoca náuseas tener que narrar tanta inmoralidad e hipocresía de parte de los portavoces de gobiernos supuestamente democráticos que no son otra cosa que sórdidas plutocracias. Hubo quienes, en Estados Unidos y Europa, condenaron lo ocurrido con los colegas de Charlie Hebdo por ser, además, un atentado a la libertad de expresión. Efectivamente, una masacre como esa lo es, y en grado sumo. Pero carecen de autoridad moral quienes condenan lo ocurrido en París y nada dicen acerca de la absoluta falta de libertad de expresión en Arabia Saudita, en donde la prensa, la radio, la televisión, la Internet y cualquier medio de comunicación está sometido a una durísima censura. Hipocresía descarada también de quienes ahora se rasgan las vestiduras pero no hicieron absolutamente nada para detener el genocidio perpetrado por Israel hace pocos meses en Gaza. Claro, Israel es uno de los nuestros dirán entre sí y, además, dos mil palestinos, varios centenares de ellos niños, no valen lo mismo que la vida de doce franceses. La cara oculta de la hipocresía es el más desenfrenado racismo.

    Find this story at 8 January 2015

    Copyright © 2009 Atilio Boron

    Paris Unity March – Where Hypocrites Of The World Unite!

    After the Charlie Hebdo attack, dozens of world leaders marched arm in arm with President Francois Hollande during a unity march in Paris. But many of these leaders aren’t exactly supporting free speech and a free press back home. So what’s the deal? Dena Takruri of AJ+ explains

    JANUARY 13, 2015

    Find this story at 13 January 2015
    Or watch here

    Islam and free speech: What’s so funny? Western media keep using Charlie Hebdo attack to fan propaganda about the ‘Islamification’ of Europe.

    Media coverage of the Paris shootings is typical of previous incidents involving Islam and free speech in the West. Much of it has veered between the misleading, sensationalist and absurd (such as a ‘terrorism expert’ on Fox News branding Birmingham a “Muslim-only city”).
    Journalists have jumped on the “Je Suis Charlie” bandwagon. Many would never condone Charlie Hebdo’s content, so why self-identify with the magazine? One can condemn the murder of its staff without embracing what it stands for.
    The media seems reluctant to investigate the causes of radicalism that lead to such attacks, as if doing so implies justification. Thus there is little discussion about Muslim alienation in France and elsewhere in Europe.
    The result is a simplistic discourse of Islam versus free speech. The latter is
    Media coverage of the Paris shootings is typical of previous incidents involving Islam and free speech in the West. Much of it has veered between the misleading, sensationalist and absurd – such as a “terrorism expert” on Fox News branding Birmingham a “Muslim-only city”.
    Journalists have jumped on the “Je Suis Charlie” bandwagon. Many would never condone Charlie Hebdo’s content, so why self-identify with the magazine? One can condemn the murder of its staff without embracing what it stands for.
    The media seems reluctant to investigate the causes of radicalism that lead to such attacks, as if doing so implies justification. Thus, there is little discussion about Muslim alienation in France and elsewhere in Europe.
    The result is a simplistic discourse of Islam versus free speech. The latter is naively portrayed as absolute and non-negotiable, emboldening racist elements of society when European far-right sentiment is increasing.
    Islam v free speech
    In fact, there are limits to any right. In France, freedom of expression “is limited by strict defamation and privacy laws”, and “some of the toughest hate speech laws in the EU”, according to Index on Censorship.
    Muslims are disproportionately surveilled. Wearing religious signs or clothing in schools is forbidden, as is the face veil in public places, and Islamic prayers in the streets.
    In France – and other European states – it is a crime to deny the Holocaust, but not other genocides. Muslims are disproportionately surveilled. Wearing religious signs or clothing in schools is forbidden, as is the face veil in public places, and Islamic prayers in the streets.
    The media has largely glossed over such limitations in France and other countries that claim unrestricted free expression.
    Also largely absent, though crucial, is acknowledgement of the double standards in applying free speech.
    Charlie Hebdo fired one of its employees over anti-Semitic content. Similarly, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten said soon after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005 that it would not publish cartoons offending Christians and Jews.
    In my 10 years as head of a British media watchdog, it has become clear that Muslims are often described in derogatory ways that are unacceptable regarding other communities.
    The effect that the right to offend has on minorities compared with wider society is not addressed. A minority facing discrimination and disenfranchisement will feel existentially threatened, and be potentially radicalised, when the majority exercises its right to offend. The status of society at large is not at risk when the situation is reversed.
    This right is portrayed as a cornerstone of western values, while tolerance and respect – values that have attracted many immigrants, and are crucial in multicultural societies – are touted as appeasement.
    To uphold the right to gratuitously offend, without any sense of responsibility that should accompany freedom of expression, is childish, even dangerous. What point is proven by doing so? A foundation of journalism is awareness that with power comes responsibility, but many journalists in democracies forget how influential their profession is on public opinion and politicians.
    Taking responsibility
    Consider the effect on Muslims of international media mogul Rupert Murdoch saying they “must be held responsible … until they recognise and destroy their growing jihadist cancer”.
    This view is regurgitated by his numerous news outlets and by countless industry colleagues, many of whom have used the Charlie Hebdo attack to fan propaganda about the “Islamification” of Europe and the inherent violence and backwardness of Islam.

    Listening Post – Lead: Charlie Hebdo and the media
    They demand that Muslims apologise for and condemn acts that they have neither committed nor condoned. “I want real Muslims to … make it crystal clear that these terrorists don’t act in their name,” wrote Piers Morgan in an article titled “If I can accept that the Paris murderers aren’t real Muslims why won’t the MUSLIM world say so too?”
    Abundant condemnation from Muslims suggests that Morgan and others are either ignorant or refuse to listen.
    Similarly puzzling is the context in which Islam is mentioned in relation to the Paris shootings. The attackers’ religion is integral to their descriptions.
    The same cannot be said of murdered policeman Ahmed Merabet or Lassana Bathily, who saved shoppers in a kosher supermarket. Is someone’s Muslim faith only relevant in a negative context?
    As in the past, there is more discussion of Muslims than with them. An example is the BBC’s flagship political debate programme, Question Time, which fielded a panel of five talking about the Paris attacks without a single Muslim.
    Amid round-the-clock coverage of the shootings, reprisal attacks against Muslims have been remarkably under-reported, as have other deadly attacks against civilians and suppression of free speech worldwide. Violent incidents in Nigeria and Yemen in the last week led to far more civilian deaths than in Paris (up to 2,000 in Nigeria), but they were not deemed as newsworthy.
    The solidarity rally in Paris was attended by a who’s who of enemies of free speech and independent journalism. Those hoping the mainstream media would highlight this hypocrisy were disappointed.
    The irony was not lost on Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Holtrop, who said: “We vomit on all those people who are suddenly saying they are our friends… I’ve got to laugh about that.”
    Yet, recurrent problematic coverage is no laughing matter.
    Sharif Nashashibi is an award-winning journalist and analyst on Arab affairs. He is a regular contributor to Al Jazeera English, Al Arabiya News, The National, The Middle East magazine and the Middle East Eye.

    13 Jan 2015 07:49 GMT
    Sharif Nashashibi

    Find this story at 13 January 2015

    © 2015 Al Jazeera Media Network


    Defending free speech and free press rights, which typically means defending the right to disseminate the very ideas society finds most repellent, has been one of my principal passions for the last 20 years: previously as a lawyer and now as a journalist. So I consider it positive when large numbers of people loudly invoke this principle, as has been happening over the last 48 hours in response to the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

    Usually, defending free speech rights is much more of a lonely task. For instance, the day before the Paris murders, I wrote an article about multiple cases where Muslims are being prosecuted and even imprisoned by western governments for their online political speech – assaults that have provoked relatively little protest, including from those free speech champions who have been so vocal this week.

    I’ve previously covered cases where Muslims were imprisoned for many years in the U.S. for things like translating and posting “extremist” videos to the internet, writing scholarly articles in defense of Palestinian groups and expressing harsh criticism of Israel, and even including a Hezbollah channel in a cable package. That’s all well beyond the numerous cases of jobs being lost or careers destroyed for expressing criticism of Israel or (much more dangerously and rarely) Judaism. I’m hoping this week’s celebration of free speech values will generate widespread opposition to all of these long-standing and growing infringements of core political rights in the west, not just some.

    Central to free speech activism has always been the distinction between defending the right to disseminate Idea X and agreeing with Idea X, one which only the most simple-minded among us are incapable of comprehending. One defends the right to express repellent ideas while being able to condemn the idea itself. There is no remote contradiction in that: the ACLU vigorously defends the right of neo-Nazis to march through a community filled with Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois, but does not join the march; they instead vocally condemn the targeted ideas as grotesque while defending the right to express them.
    But this week’s defense of free speech rights was so spirited that it gave rise to a brand new principle: to defend free speech, one not only defends the right to disseminate the speech, but embraces the content of the speech itself. Numerous writers thus demanded: to show “solidarity” with the murdered cartoonists, one should not merely condemn the attacks and defend the right of the cartoonists to publish, but should publish and even celebrate those cartoons. “The best response to Charlie Hebdo attack,” announced Slate’s editor Jacob Weisberg, “is to escalate blasphemous satire.”

    Some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo were not just offensive but bigoted, such as the one mocking the African sex slaves of Boko Haram as welfare queens (left). Others went far beyond maligning violence by extremists acting in the name of Islam, or even merely depicting Mohammed with degrading imagery (above, right), and instead contained a stream of mockery toward Muslims generally, who in France are not remotely powerful but are largely a marginalized and targeted immigrant population.
    But no matter. Their cartoons were noble and should be celebrated – not just on free speech grounds but for their content. In a column entitled “The Blasphemy We Need,” The New York Times‘ Ross Douthat argued that “the right to blaspheme (and otherwise give offense) is essential to the liberal order” and “that kind of blasphemy [that provokes violence] is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good.” New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait actually proclaimed that “one cannot defend the right [to blaspheme] without defending the practice.” Vox’s Matt Yglesias had a much more nuanced view but nonetheless concluded that “to blaspheme the Prophet transforms the publication of these cartoons from a pointless act to a courageous and even necessary one, while the observation that the world would do well without such provocations becomes a form of appeasement.”

    To comport with this new principle for how one shows solidarity with free speech rights and a vibrant free press, we’re publishing some blasphemous and otherwise offensive cartoons about religion and their adherents:

    And here are some not-remotely-blasphemous-or-bigoted yet very pointed and relevant cartoons by the brilliantly provocative Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff (reprinted with permission):

    Is it time for me to be celebrated for my brave and noble defense of free speech rights? Have I struck a potent blow for political liberty and demonstrated solidarity with free journalism by publishing blasphemous cartoons? If, as Salman Rushdie said, it’s vital that all religions be subjected to “fearless disrespect,” have I done my part to uphold western values?

    When I first began to see these demands to publish these anti-Muslim cartoons, the cynic in me thought perhaps this was really just about sanctioning some types of offensive speech against some religions and their adherents, while shielding more favored groups. In particular, the west has spent years bombing, invading and occupying Muslim countries and killing, torturing and lawlessly imprisoning innocent Muslims, and anti-Muslim speech has been a vital driver in sustaining support for those policies.

    So it’s the opposite of surprising to see large numbers of westerners celebrating anti-Muslim cartoons – not on free speech grounds but due to approval of the content. Defending free speech is always easy when you like the content of the ideas being targeted, or aren’t part of (or actively dislike) the group being maligned.

    Indeed, it is self-evident that if a writer who specialized in overtly anti-black or anti-Semitic screeds had been murdered for their ideas, there would be no widespread calls to republish their trash in “solidarity” with their free speech rights. In fact, Douthat, Chait and Yglesias all took pains to expressly note that they were only calling for publication of such offensive ideas in the limited case where violence is threatened or perpetrated in response (by which they meant in practice, so far as I can tell: anti-Islam speech). Douthat even used italics to emphasize how limited his defense of blasphemy was: “that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended.”

    One should acknowledge a valid point contained within the Douthat/Chait/Yglesias argument: when media outlets refrain from publishing material out of fear (rather than a desire to avoid publishing gratuitously offensive material), as several of the west’s leading outlets admitted doing with these cartoons, that is genuinely troubling, an actual threat to a free press. But there are all kinds of pernicious taboos in the west that result in self-censorship or compelled suppression of political ideas, from prosecution and imprisonment to career destruction: why is violence by Muslims the most menacing one? (I’m not here talking about the question of whether media outlets should publish the cartoons because they’re newsworthy; my focus is on the demand they be published positively, with approval, as “solidarity”).

    When we originally discussed publishing this article to make these points, our intention was to commission two or three cartoonists to create cartoons that mock Judaism and malign sacred figures to Jews the way Charlie Hebdo did to Muslims. But that idea was thwarted by the fact that no mainstream western cartoonist would dare put their name on an anti-Jewish cartoon, even if done for satire purposes, because doing so would instantly and permanently destroy their career, at least. Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim commentary (and cartoons) are a dime a dozen in western media outlets; the taboo that is at least as strong, if not more so, are anti-Jewish images and words. Why aren’t Douthat, Chait, Yglesias and their like-minded free speech crusaders calling for publication of anti-Semitic material in solidarity, or as a means of standing up to this repression? Yes, it’s true that outlets like The New York Times will in rare instances publish such depictions, but only to document hateful bigotry and condemn it – not to publish it in “solidarity” or because it deserves a serious and respectful airing.

    With all due respect to the great cartoonist Ann Telnaes, it is simply not the case that Charlie Hebdo “were equal opportunity offenders.” Like Bill Maher, Sam Harris and other anti-Islam obsessives, mocking Judaism, Jews and/or Israel is something they will rarely (if ever) do. If forced, they can point to rare and isolated cases where they uttered some criticism of Judaism or Jews, but the vast bulk of their attacks are reserved for Islam and Muslims, not Judaism and Jews. Parody, free speech and secular atheism are the pretexts; anti-Muslim messaging is the primary goal and the outcome. And this messaging – this special affection for offensive anti-Islam speech – just so happens to coincide with, to feed, the militaristic foreign policy agenda of their governments and culture.

    To see how true that is, consider the fact that Charlie Hebdo – the “equal opportunity” offenders and defenders of all types of offensive speech – fired one of their writers in 2009 for writing a sentence some said was anti-Semitic (the writer was then charged with a hate crime offense, and won a judgment against the magazine for unfair termination). Does that sound like “equal opportunity” offending?

    Nor is it the case that threatening violence in response to offensive ideas is the exclusive province of extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam. Terrence McNally’s 1998 play “Corpus Christi,” depicting Jesus as gay, was repeatedly cancelled by theaters due to bomb threats. Larry Flynt was paralyzed by an evangelical white supremacist who objected to Hustler‘s pornographic depiction of inter-racial couples. The Dixie Chicks were deluged with death threats and needed massive security after they publicly criticized George Bush for the Iraq War, which finally forced them to apologize out of fear. Violence spurred by Jewish and Christian fanaticism is legion, from abortion doctors being murdered to gay bars being bombed to a 45-year-old brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza due in part to the religious belief (common in both the U.S. and Israel) that God decreed they shall own all the land. And that’s all independent of the systematic state violence in the west sustained, at least in part, by religious sectarianism.

    The New York Times‘ David Brooks today claims that anti-Christian bias is so widespread in America – which has never elected a non-Christian president – that “the University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality.” He forgot to mention that the very same university just terminated its tenure contract with Professor Steven Salaita over tweets he posted during the Israeli attack on Gaza that the university judged to be excessively vituperative of Jewish leaders, and that the journalist Chris Hedges was just disinvited to speak at the University of Pennsylvania for the Thought Crime of drawing similarities between Israel and ISIS.

    That is a real taboo – a repressed idea – as powerful and absolute as any in the United States, so much so that Brooks won’t even acknowledge its existence. It’s certainly more of a taboo in the U.S. than criticizing Muslims and Islam, criticism which is so frequently heard in mainstream circles – including the U.S. Congress – that one barely notices it any more.

    This underscores the key point: there are all sorts of ways ideas and viewpoints are suppressed in the west. When those demanding publication of these anti-Islam cartoons start demanding the affirmative publication of those ideas as well, I’ll believe the sincerity of their very selective application of free speech principles. One can defend free speech without having to publish, let alone embrace, the offensive ideas being targeted. But if that’s not the case, let’s have equal application of this new principle.

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images; additional research was provided by Andrew Fishman

    BY GLENN GREENWALD @ggreenwald 01/09/2015
    Email the author: glenn.greenwald@theintercept.com

    Find this story at 9 January 2015

    copyright https://firstlook.org/theintercept/

    Charlie Hebdo: This Attack Was Nothing To Do With Free Speech — It Was About War

    White people don’t like to admit it, but those cartoons upheld their prejudice, their racism, their political supremacy, and cut it how you will — images like that upheld a political order built on discrimination.

    In less than an hour of the dreadful shooting of 12 people at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, the politicians had already started to lie to their own public.

    John Kerry, US Secretary of State, declared that, “freedom of expression is not able to be killed by this kind of act of terror.”

    The media lapped it up — the attack was now spun as an attack on ‘Freedom of Speech’. That cherished value that the West holds so dear.
    The British Government was so in love with it, that they were passing laws that demanded nursery school teachers spy on Muslim toddlers because they had too much of it. Toddlers were ‘free’ to speak their mind as long as it agreed with UK Government policy.

    A ‘free speech’ machine. It looks for people who do not have enough free speech and them gives them some
    Still at least it was not as draconian as Western Governments routine harassment of those they thought spoke a bit too freely. Ask Moazzam Beg, the freed Guantanamo Bay Detainee and human rights campaigner, who was falsely accused of terrorism and imprisoned for months, after flying back from Syria with damning evidence of Britain’s complicity in torture in the Muslim world.

    Or for that matter the Al-Jazeera journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye incarcerated in Yemen at the behest of the America for reporting the wrong type of facts.

    They loved it so much, they kept spying on everyone, tapping their phones and arresting them for not having the right sort of it.

    Basically Muslims were FREE TO AGREE — that great overarching cherished Western principle that Muslims just didn’t understand.
    As usual there was no real depth in any of the analysis in the media. The public were left in shock and anger but without any real answers

    The elites narrative was simple, a left-wing magazine, had produced ‘satirical cartoons’ about all religions and politicians, some of them about the Prophet of Islam — Only the Muslims took offence (subtext because their backward barbaric religion was alien and intolerant).

    The argument sounded reasonable enough… if you lived in a bubble on the land of middle class white guy — sadly Muslims usually didn’t have that luxury.
    Let me explain it from a different perspective, one that Muslims saw all too clearly.

    After all its only a joke! They make fun of white people as well!
    In 30’s America when white people were burning black people on trees, whites could equally have used this argument. After all there were cartoons even about the president! However making insulting cartoons about white people who controlled the power structures was not the same as demonizing black people — a powerless underclass.

    Imagery of black people being, dumb, violent, lazy, thieves who looked like monkeys — upheld a political reality, the very imagery re-enforced the prejudices of those in power and subjugated blacks.

    The same with Jews in Nazi Germany — Imagine today’s spurious and conceited argument being used by the Nazi’s — could a German newspaper hide behind the claim it also made fun of white Germans? How unjustified that only the Jews complained so! After all Germans didn’t complain when they were made fun of — those backward Jews and their greedy religion didn’t understand free speech!

    White people don’t like to admit it, but those cartoons upheld their prejudice, their racism, their political supremacy, and cut it how you will — images like that upheld a political order built on discrimination.
    The Muslims today are a demonized underclass in France. A people vilified and attacked by the power structures. A poor people with little or no power and these vile cartoons made their lives worse and heightened the racist prejudice against them.

    Even white liberals have acted in the most prejudiced way. It was as if white people had a right to offend Muslims and Muslims had no right to be offended?

    After the massacre of 1000 Muslims by Egyptian dictator in a single day — the paper ran this headline “The Quran is sh*t it doesnt stop bullets” — Imagine if a Muslim paper did this about them now — still find it funny?
    Cue some right wing media white dude (or some Zionist) to now accuse me of justifying the murder —After all, if you are Muslim, explaining things is justifying them right! ?

    The truth is, this awful attack can not be explained in a vacuum, absent of the context around it. It has to be seen through the prism of events that are going on around the world. With eyes firmly fixed on the wars going on from Palestine to Pakistan.

    A global view spreading across the Muslim world, is that the West is at war with them (propagandists say this is due to hate preachers — nothing to do with more bombs being dropped on Iraq alone than were used in the whole of the first and second world war).

    This anger sweeping the Muslim world, is solidifying in the consciousness of millions, re-enforced by daily bombings, kidnappings and of course wars that the West has initiated and engaged in. These policies have lead to many Muslims abandoning the belief that they could bring any change peacefully — cue the rise of men taking up arms.

    Killing Muslim children doesnt make Muslims take up arms — its just they hate freedom of speech honest!
    These images then, can be played down as just a ‘bit of fun’ as no doubt the least perceptive of you will try to argue, or it can be seen through the prism of the war on terror — just another front on the war against Islam that has claimed so many lives — and the demonology behind it.

    The Orientalist racist stereotype of the Muslim humourless barbarian — in this image of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH — it says “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!”
    I argue, that we are creating extremists in the bucket load and have done so exponentially, since we declared this endless war of terror . Our policies are hardening views on all sides.

    To justify its continuation, politicians have to keep lying (via the plaint corporate media) to the public, saying Muslim violence is due to ‘Islamists, Extremists, Hate Preachers — the evil Muslim fairy, or any other word that makes people think the problem is faith and not the real driver — War.

    This false narrative is creating extremism in white communities too (note the rise of right wing neo-facists across Europe. And of course as the bombs fall like rain — it hardens opinions and creates extremists in the Muslim world. And both these people are expressing themselves in very ugly ways — and that’s exactly what happened here.

    Twelve people are dead — because the world we are creating — is utterly polarised.

    Our bombs dont leave much room for ‘freedoms’ and now neither do theirs.
    Extremism leads to extremism — this is just another symptom of the world Bush and Blair gave us and our political classes are determined to keep it going. Read more on this here and here.

    Drone strike — another dead Muslim
    The two sides are set to clash unless we pull the foot off the accelerator — and our elites don’t have the sense to do that .

    By the time the dust settles, there will more attacks against Muslims in the streets, mosques burned down, politicians introducing draconian laws against Muslims, media wall-to-wall demonization and France along with the rest of Europe will lurch right — proving true the very thing these Muslims believe — that the West hates them — and they wouldn’t be wholly wrong.

    Someone, more powerful than you or I reader, in the political elites has to have the sense to change the mood music of war and hate, re-look at our policies and have the courage to say:

    ‘Everyone chill out, put the guns down and lets talk’.

    Even if I am wrong, one thing is for sure — to bring an end to this — we got to do something differently, because what we are doing now — isn’t working.
    And if they dont — buckle up — we haven’t seen anything yet.

    Asghar Bukhari

    Find this story at 7 January 2015

    Copyright https://medium.com/

    Why I am not Charlie

    There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it. Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

    To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

    Among the dead at Charlie Hebdo: Deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Stephane Charbonnier, who was also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac (aka Tignous)
    Among the dead at Charlie Hebdo: Deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Stephane Charbonnier, who was also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac (aka Tignous)

    Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines:

    From the twitter feed of @thereaIbanksy, January 7
    From the twitter feed of @thereaIbanksy, January 7

    “Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.) But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: “We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

    But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

    Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 12.34.32 AMIf you don’t agree with what Charlie Hebdo said, the terrorists win.

    Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 12.22.15 AMYou’re not just kowtowing to terrorists with your silence. According to Tarek Fatah, a Canadian columnist with an evident fascist streak, silence is terrorism.

    Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 11.46.59 PMOf course, any Muslim in the West would know that being called “our enemy” is a direct threat; you’ve drawn the go-to-GItmo card. But consider: This idiot thinks he is defending free speech. How? By telling people exactly what they have to say, and menacing the holdouts with treason. The Ministry of Truth has a new office in Toronto.

    There’s a perfectly good reason not to republish the cartoons that has nothing to do with cowardice or caution. I refuse to post them because I think they’re racist and offensive. I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. I can defend what you say, and still say it’s wrong — isn’t that the point of the quote (that wasn’t) from Voltaire? I can hold that governments shouldn’t imprison Holocaust deniers, but that doesn’t oblige me to deny the Holocaust myself.

    It’s true, as Salman Rushdie says, that “Nobody has the right to not be offended.” You should not get to invoke the law to censor or shut down speech just because it insults you or strikes at your pet convictions. You certainly don’t get to kill because you heard something you don’t like. Yet, manhandled by these moments of mass outrage, this truism also morphs into a different kind of claim: That nobody has the right to be offended at all.

    I am offended when those already oppressed in a society are deliberately insulted. I don’t want to participate. This crime in Paris does not suspend my political or ethical judgment, or persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Yet this means rejecting the only authorized reaction to the atrocity. Oddly, this peer pressure seems to gear up exclusively where Islam’s involved. When a racist bombed a chapter of a US civil rights organization this week, the media didn’t insist I give to the NAACP in solidarity. When a rabid Islamophobic rightist killed 77 Norwegians in 2011, most of them at a political party’s youth camp, I didn’t notice many #IAmNorway hashtags, or impassioned calls to join the Norwegian Labor Party. But Islam is there for us, it unites us against Islam. Only cowards or traitors turn down membership in the Charlie club.The demand to join, endorse, agree is all about crowding us into a herd where no one is permitted to cavil or condemn: an indifferent mob, where differing from one another is Thoughtcrime, while indifference to the pain of others beyond the pale is compulsory.

    We’ve heard a lot about satire in the last couple of days. We’ve heard that satire shouldn’t cause offense because it’s a weapon of the weak: “Satire-writers always point out the foibles and fables of those higher up the food chain.” And we’ve heard that if the satire aims at everybody, those forays into racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism can be excused away. Charlie Hebdo “has been a continual celebration of the freedom to make fun of everyone and everything….it practiced a freewheeling, dyspeptic satire without clear ideological lines.” Of course, satire that attacks any and all targets is by definition not just targeting the top of the food chain. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges,” Anatole France wrote; satire that wounds both the powerful and the weak does so with different effect. Saying the President of the Republic is a randy satyr is not the same as accusing nameless Muslim immigrants of bestiality. What merely annoys the one may deepen the other’s systematic oppression. To defend satire because it’s indiscriminate is to admit that it discriminates against the defenseless.

    Funny little man: Contemporary caricature of Kierkegaard
    Funny little man: Contemporary Danish cartoon of Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard, the greatest satirist of his century, famously recounted his dream: “I was rapt into the Seventh Heaven. There sat all the gods assembled.” They granted him one wish: “Most honorable contemporaries, I choose one thing — that I may always have the laughter on my side.” Kierkegaard knew what he meant: Children used to laugh and throw stones at him on Copenhagen streets, for his gangling gait and monkey torso. His table-turning fantasy is the truth about satire. It’s an exercise in power. It claims superiority, it aspires to win, and hence it always looms over the weak, in judgment. If it attacks the powerful, that’s because there is appetite underneath its asperity: it wants what they have. As Adorno wrote: “He who has laughter on his side has no need of proof. Historically, therefore, satire has for thousands of years, up to Voltaire’s age, preferred to side with the stronger party which could be relied on: with authority.” Irony, he added, “never entirely divested itself of its authoritarian inheritance, its unrebellious malice.”

    Satire allies with the self-evident, the Idées reçues, the armory of the strong. It puts itself on the team of the juggernaut future against the endangered past, the successful opinion over the superseded one. Satire has always fed on distaste for minorities, marginal peoples, traditional or fading ways of life. Adorno said: “All satire is blind to the forces liberated by decay.”

    Funny little man: Voltaire writing
    Funny little man: Voltaire writing

    Charlie Hebdo, the New Yorker now claims, “followed in the tradition of Voltaire.” Voltaire stands as the god of satire; any godless Frenchman with a bon mot is measured against him. Everyone remembers his diatribes against the power of the Catholic Church: Écrasez l’Infâme! But what’s often conveniently omitted amid the adulation of his wit is how Voltaire loathed a powerless religion, the outsiders of his own era, the “medieval,” “barbaric” immigrant minority that afflicted Europe: the Jews.

    Voltaire’s anti-Semitism was comprehensive. In its contempt for the putatively “primitive,” it anticipates much that is said about Muslims in Europe and the US today. “The Jews never were natural philosophers, nor geometricians, nor astronomers,” Voltaire declared. That would do head Islamophobe Richard Dawkins proud:

    Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 3.01.25 AM

    The Jews, Voltaire wrote, are “only an ignorant and barbarous people, who have long united the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition and the most invincible hatred for every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched.” When some American right-wing yahoo calls Muslims “goatfuckers,” you might think he’s reciting old Appalachian invective. In fact, he’s repeating Voltaire’s jokes about the Jews. “You assert that your mothers had no commerce with he-goats, nor your fathers with she-goats,” Voltaire demanded of them. “But pray, gentlemen, why are you the only people upon earth whose laws have forbidden such commerce? Would any legislator ever have thought of promulgating this extraordinary law if the offence had not been common?”

    You are an infamous impostor, Father, but at least you’re circumcised: Voltaire lectures to a priest
    You are an infamous impostor, Father, but at least you’re circumcised: Voltaire lectures to a priest

    Nobody wishes Voltaire had been killed for his slanders. If some indignant Jew or Muslim (he didn’t care for the “Mohammedans” much either) had murdered him mid-career, the whole world would lament the abomination. In his most Judeophobic passages, I can take pleasure in his scalpel phrasing — though even 250 years after, some might find this hard. Still, liking the style doesn’t mean I swallow the message. #JeSuisPasVoltaire. Most of the man’s admirers avoid or veil his anti-Semitism. They know that while his contempt amuses when directed at the potent and impervious Pope, it turns dark and sour when defaming a weak and despised community. Satire can sometimes liberate us, but it is not immune from our prejudices or untainted by our hatreds. It shouldn’t douse our critical capacities; calling something “satire” doesn’t exempt it from judgment. The superiority the satirist claims over the helpless can be both smug and sinister. Last year a former Charlie Hebdo writer, accusing the editors of indulging racism, warned that “The conviction of being a superior being, empowered to look down on ordinary mortals from on high, is the surest way to sabotage your own intellectual defenses.”

    Of course, Voltaire didn’t realize that his Jewish victims were weak or powerless. Already, in the 18th century, he saw them as tentacles of a financial conspiracy; his propensity for overspending and getting hopelessly in debt to Jewish moneylenders did a great deal to shape his anti-Semitism. In the same way, Charlie Hebdo and its like never treated Muslim immigrants as individuals, but as agents of some larger force. They weren’t strivers doing the best they could in an unfriendly country, but shorthand for mass religious ignorance, or tribal terrorist fanaticism, or obscene oil wealth. Satire subsumes the human person in an inhuman generalization. The Muslim isn’t just a Muslim, but a symbol of Islam.

    Cartoon by Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih, from Aljazeera.com
    Cartoon by Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih, from Aljazeera.com

    This is where political Islamists and Islamophobes unite. They cling to agglutinative ideologies; they melt people into a mass; they erase individuals’ attributes and aspirations under a totalizing vision of what identity means. A Muslim is his religion. You can hold every Muslim responsible for what any Muslim does. (And one Danish cartoonist makes all Danes guilty.) So all Muslims have to post #JeSuisCharlie obsessively as penance, or apologize for what all the other billion are up to. Yesterday Aamer Rahman, an Australian comic and social critic, tweeted:

    Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 12.08.33 AM

    A few hours later he had to add:

    Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 12.07.58 AM

    This insistence on contagious responsibility, collective guilt, is the flip side of #JeSuisCharlie. It’s #VousÊtesISIS; #VousÊtesAlQaeda. Our solidarity, our ability to melt into a warm mindless oneness and feel we’re doing something, is contingent on your involuntary solidarity, your losing who you claim to be in a menacing mass. We can’t stand together here unless we imagine you together over there in enmity. The antagonists are fake but they’re entangled, inevitable. The language hardens. Geert Wilders, the racist right-wing leader in the Netherlands, said the shootings mean it’s time to “de-Islamize our country.” Nigel Farage, his counterpart in the UK, called Muslims a “fifth column, holding our passports, that hate us.” Juan Cole writes that the Charlie Hebdo attack was “a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public” — at “sharpening the contradictions.” The knives are sharpening too, on both sides.

    We lose our ability to imagine political solutions when we stop thinking critically, when we let emotional identifications sweep us into factitious substitutes for solidarity and action. We lose our ability to respond to atrocity when we start seeing people not as individuals, but as symbols. Changing avatars on social media is a pathetic distraction from changing realities in society. To combat violence you must look unflinchingly at the concrete inequities and practices that breed it. You won’t stop it with acts of self-styled courage on your computer screen that neither risk nor alter anything. To protect expression that’s endangered you have to engage with the substance of what was said, not deny it. That means attempting dialogue with those who peacefully condemn or disagree, not trying to shame them into silence. Nothing is quick, nothing is easy. No solidarity is secure. I support free speech. I oppose all censors. I abhor the killings. I mourn the dead. I am not Charlie.

    Posted on 9 January 2015

    Find this story at 9 January 2015

    Copyright http://paper-bird.net/

    Am I Charlie?

    I am Charlie because 12 people were executed in cold blood.
    I am not Charlie because I am troubled by the crowd of mostly white middle class liberals who took to the streets in Paris to protest the killings, many of whom apparently feel their culture and values are superior to others. Many of them also enjoy the privileges of being white and middle class in Paris, a city where many of the lowest paid work is done by Africans, including Muslim North Africans.

    I am Charlie because no one has an inherent right to the protection of the dignity of their religious or national identity, under threat of execution. For example, we should all be able to critique and even ridicule Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any faith when its scriptures are used to justify human rights abuses against women or gay and lesbian people.

    I am not Charlie because racism is rife in France, and five million French people voted for the Front National last year, a far right party that blames immigrants, most of whom are black, for the ills in French society. And I believe the publishers of Charlie Hebdo played into that racism by invoking cultural stereotypes, whether intentionally or not.

    I am not Charlie because I live in South Africa, and every day in this country, even in 2015, there are white people who try to erase the legacy of slavery, colonialism and Apartheid. Some of them argue against the use of affirmative action to redress past discrimination. Their aim seems to be to protect their privilege, and I believe many white liberals in France would like to do the same when it comes to their history of colonisation of North Africa.

    I am Charlie despite the fact that I live in South Africa, because South Africa desperately needs satirists to expose the hypocrisy of our leaders. South Africa is now more unequal than it was under Apartheid, such that two rich men have the same wealth as 50% of the entire population, and yet instead of focusing on addressing this, many of our leaders are black billionaires, preoccupied with personal self-enrichment. And when cartoonists such as Zapiro or artists such as Brett Murray have tried to use satire to criticise the corruption of our leaders, they are warned not to insult the dignity of the president or his comrades.

    I am Charlie because political leaders here try to use race to silence their critics, arguing that it is only white cartoonists and artists that would humiliate an older person who deserves respect in black culture, just as some in France have argued that only non-Muslims would ridicule or satirise their prophet. And yet this is not true in either case. In South Africa, artists like Ayanda Mabulu and musicians like Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh also use art and music to challenge and ridicule black leaders.

    I am not Charlie because Barack Obama continues to roll out his “war on terror” around the world in the name of American values, using drone strikes against whole families and communities, plus routine torture and execution, arguably creating more terror than many of his ‘terrorist’ opponents. And in order to legitimise these wars and prevent his terror being morally compared with that of his opponents, he needs us all to be Charlie. He needs us all to buy into a distorted dichotomy between Western liberalism that defends freedom of speech, and the barbarism of religious fanatics and terrorists whose only motive is to murder Americans.

    I am not Charlie because it’s not a crime for a policeman to murder a black youth in Ferguson.

    I am not Charlie because “concomitant action” in Marikana left 34 striking miners dead.

    I am Charlie because Boko Haram used Islam to justify the abduction and sexual enslavement of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria in April 2014. And yet I am not Charlie because there’s another story here of the systematic marginalisation of millions of Nigerians in the North and the East of the country and the theft of their natural resources by a Nigerian elite in cahoots with multinational corporations.

    I am not Charlie because they called it a democratic Arab Spring and yet after the NATO planes were returned to base, cities were left to burn, dreams were forgotten and the only thing left was the rubble.

    I am not Charlie because until 2008 Nelson Mandela was officially considered a terrorist and yet he is now remembered as one of the greatest people to have ever lived.

    I am not Charlie because it just isn’t that simple. We cannot create a more just society simply by defending the right of everyone to speak out freely, using the social and economic power they currently have. We need to redistribute power and wealth to create a just society, whether in South Africa, France or elsewhere in the world.

    I am Charlie because without freedom of expression, we cannot organise people to transform our societies to create more justice, equality, harmony and solidarity.

    Am I Charlie?

    BEN CASHDAN 09 JAN 2015 12:50 (SOUTH AFRICA)

    Find this story at 9 January 2015

    Copyright http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/

    They bombed al-Jazeera’s reporters. Now the US is after our integrity (2010)

    A lot can change in five years. In December 2005 the Guardian opened its pages for me to respond to a leak – the Bush-Blair memo in which both leaders discussed the possibility of bombing Al-Jazeera’s Qatar HQ, where more than 1,000 people work. While those who leaked the memo were imprisoned, its detailed contents were never disclosed. Earlier this year I learned from a senior US official that the discussions had indeed taken place.

    I was not surprised. Our bureaus in Kabul and Iraq had previously been bombed by the US in an attempt to stifle the channel’s independence; one of our journalists in Iraq was killed. But this did not deter us from our mission to provide “the opinion and the other opinion” – our motto; to give a voice to the voiceless; to hold centres of power to account; and to uphold our editorial independence no matter what the cost. We maintained these values even as the US bombed our offices, continuing our coverage of both sides of the story.

    The Arab world, the region in which we are located, continues to see its share of bloodshed and war. Our audience, often the victim of these conflicts, demands honesty, credibility and integrity. If we get a story wrong, or are biased, it could mean the difference between life and death for viewers. They have come to expect independence as a standard.

    This week our independence was once again called into question. Cables from the US embassy in Doha were made accessible by WikiLeaks, alleging that Qatar was using Al-Jazeera as a tool for its foreign policy. While nothing could be further from the truth, US diplomats had the freedom to express their opinions. But interpretation and conjecture cannot take the place of analysis and fact. They focused on the source of our funding rather than our reporting, in an attempt to tarnish our work. Judgments made in the cables are plainly erroneous, such as the assertion that we softened our coverage of Saudi Arabia and the Iranian elections due to political pressure – one needs only to look at our reporting of these events to see that this is not the case. We are journalists not politicians – we are not driven by political agendas, for or against anyone.

    Journalists across the world picked up the story, and while some were careful to place it in context, many uncritically took the claims as fact. The Guardian’s report went well beyond even what was stated in the cables; the article clearly misunderstood the rhetorical statements reportedly made by Qatar’s prime minister, which then fed the false claim that al-Jazeera was being used as a “bargaining chip”. Those who understand the Middle East also know that Al-Jazeera’s coverage is no obstacle to a durable peace in the region. Context, analysis and a deep knowledge of the region are essential to a proper reading of the cables. Without these, journalism is another unwitting tool for centres of power.

    The region where we are situated is host to some of the most repressive governments in the world, where freedom of expression is silenced, journalists languish in prisons, and independent civil institutions are rare. Allegations that we lack independence are part of our daily routine – they no longer surprise us.

    But we take measures to protect our editorial integrity in spite of intimidation from governments and regimes – our journalists have been banned, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Al-Jazeera’s bureaus have routinely been closed, many times by Arab regimes with which Qatar has good relationships. Although banned in these countries, we continue to cover their stories with depth and balance. To institutionalise our independence we have ensured diversity among our staff, and have more than 50 nationalities represented – with no majority of any one nationality.

    Questions about al-Jazeera’s independence and its relationship with Qatar, our primary source of funding, are asked in almost any interview I give. Because the region has a history of state-controlled media it’s assumed our host country must impact upon our editorial policy. But the Qatari government has kept its distance – it is similar to the kind of model one sees in other publicly funded arm’s length broadcasters such as the BBC. Qatar’s prime minister openly criticises al-Jazeera, and has talked about the “headaches” caused by our independence. But we subject state officials to the same hard questions and journalistic standards we have for everyone else. Al-Jazeera has strong editorial policies to protect its independence from the influence of power – one only has to look at the screen to witness this.

    While we don’t claim to get it right all of the time (we are only human), we have got it right most of the time. We have placed a great deal of value on reporting from the field. Had the US diplomats actually watched al-Jazeera’s reports, they would have heard the voices and players who were shaping conflicts, wars and emerging democracies. By analysing our content they would have gained insights into the region. When George Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq and most media outlets echoed his simplistic version of events, al-Jazeera was providing pictures and analyses that predicted the coming storm. At the time we were roundly criticised, often by states who had friendly relations with Qatar. And in Afghanistan, while others broadcast images of progress and calm, al-Jazeera highlighted the growing influence of the Taliban, reflecting the politics on the ground. In these cases and many others, time has vindicated our reporting. Had these diplomats listened to the voices reflected in our coverage perhaps some of their mistakes could have been averted.

    Those who lobby against al-Jazeera seek to delegitimise the work of dedicated and courageous journalists who put their lives on the line. For 14 years we have committed ourselves to safeguarding our editorial independence. Our audiences rely on us for this, and we will not be affected by pressure from regimes, states, media or other centres of power. We have full confidence in our mission as journalists.

    Wadah Khanfar
    The Guardian, Friday 10 December 2010 21.46 GMT

    Find this story at 10 December 2010

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Guantánamo Bay files: Al-Jazeera cameraman held for six years (2011)

    An al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network, the files disclose. Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese cameraman, was detained in Pakistan after working for the network in Afghanistan after 9/11, and flown to the prison camp where he was allegedly beaten and sexually assaulted.

    His file makes clear that one of the reasons he was sent to Guantánamo was “to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL”.

    The file shows that the camp authorities were convinced that al-Hajj was an al-Qaida courier who had provided funds for a charity in Chechnya suspected of having links with Bin Laden.

    However, the contents of the file also appear to support complaints made by al-Hajj to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that during his first 100-plus interrogations he was never once questioned about the allegations he faced, and that he eventually demanded that he be questioned about what he was supposed to have done wrong.

    Stafford Smith believes the US military authorities were attempting to force al-Hajj to become an informer against his employers.

    Al-Hajj was finally released in May 2008.

    Ian Cobain
    The Guardian, Monday 25 April 2011

    Find this story at 25 April 2011

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Fury at US as attacks kill three journalists (2003)

    Al-Jazeera quits Iraq as Americans accused over deaths

    The Arab satellite television channel al-Jazeera is to pull its reporters out of Iraq after one of them was killed during a US air raid on Baghdad.

    “I cannot guarantee anyone’s safety,” the news editor, Ibrahim Hillal, told reporters. “We still have four reporters in Baghdad, we will pull them out. We have one embedded with US forces in Nassiriya; we want to pull him out.”

    The move followed a day in which three journalists were killed by US fire in separate attacks in Baghdad, leading to accusations that US forces were targeting the news media.

    Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, 35, was killed when an American tank fired a shell directly at the Reuters suite on the 15th floor at the Palestine hotel, where many journalists are staying.

    Jose Couso, 37, a cameraman for the Spanish television channel Tele 5, was wounded in the same attack and died later in hospital. Samia Nakhoul, the Gulf bureau chief of Reuters, was also injured, along with a British technician, Paul Pasquale, and an Iraqi photographer, Faleh Kheiber.

    Earlier, al-Jazeera cameraman Tarek Ayyoub, a 35-year-old Palestinian who lived in Jordan, was killed when two bombs dropped during a US air raid hit the satellite station’s office in the Iraqi capital.

    American forces also opened fire on the offices of Abu Dhabi television, whose identity is spelled out in large blue letters on the roof.

    All the journalists were killed and injured in daylight at locations known to the Pentagon as media sites. The tank shell that hit the Palestine hotel slammed into the 18-storey building at noon, shaking the tower and spewing rubble and dirt into hotel rooms at least six floors below.


    The attack brought pandemonium in the hotel which lies on the east side of the Tigris. It was adopted by all remaining western journalists in the city after advice from the Pentagon to evacuate from the western side of the river.

    Central command in Qatar said its troops had been responding in self-defence to enemy fire but witnesses dismissed that claim as false. According to a central command statement, “commanders on the ground reported that coalition forces received significant enemy fire from the hotel and consistent with the inherent right of self-defence, coalition forces returned fire”.

    The statement added: “Sadly a Reuters and Tele 5 journalist were killed in this exchange. These tragic incidents appear to be the latest example of the Iraqi regime’s continued strategy of using civilian facilities for military purposes.”

    But journalists in the hotel insisted there had been no Iraqi fire.

    Sky’s correspondent, David Chater, said: “I never heard a single shot coming from the area around here, certainly not from the hotel,” he said.

    BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar added that none of the other journalists in the hotel had heard any sniper fire.

    Chater said he saw a US tank pointing its gun at the hotel and turned away just before the blast. “I noticed one of the tanks had its barrel pointed up at the building. We went inside and there was an almighty crash. That tank shell, if it was an American tank shell, was aimed directly at this hotel and directly at journalists. This wasn’t an accident. It seems to be a very accurate shot.”

    Geert Linnebank, Reuters editor-in-chief, said the incident “raises questions about the judgment of the advancing US troops who have known all along that this hotel is the main base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad”.

    Journalists, a watchdog group that defends press freedoms, demanded an invesigation in a letter to the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. “We believe these attacks violate the Geneva conventions,” the letter said, adding that even if US forces had been fired on from the Palestine hotel “the evidence suggests that the response of US forces was disproportionate and therefore violated humanitarian law”.

    During the Afghan war, two supposedly smart US bombs hit the Reuters office in Kabul and many suspect the attack was no accident. It happened at a strategic moment, two hours before the Northern Alliance took over the city.

    US military officials at central command said they were investigating and added that the casualties were “regrettable”. “We know that we don’t target journalists,” said Brigadier General Vince Brooks, deputy director of operations.

    Al-Jazeera correspondent Tarek Ayyoub was broadcasting live to the satellite station’s 7am news bulletin when US aircraft fired two missiles at the bureau building, killing him and injuring a colleague. Two Iraqi staff are missing.

    Ibrahim Hilal, al-Jazeera’s chief editor at its headquarters in Qatar, said a US warplane was seen above the building before the attack. “Witnesses saw the plane fly over twice before dropping the bombs. Our office is in a residential area and even the Pentagon knows its location,” he said.

    Al-Jazeera correspondent Majed Abdul-Hadi said the bombardment was probably deliberate.

    In Doha last night al-Jazeera’s chairman, Hamad bin Thamer, said the channel “could not ascertain” if its Baghdad bureau had been targeted by the US. But he dismissed American claims that there had been gunfire coming from the building at the time of the attack.

    “This was absolutely and categorically denied by other reporters and our reporters present on the ground,” he said.

    Mr Ayyoub, 35, a Palestinian born in Kuwait, had not intended to go to Baghdad but as the war dragged on he felt he had to work there, and al-Jazeera agreed to let him work in Baghdad.

    His widow, Dima Ayyoub, launched a vitriolic attack on America: “My message to you is that hatred breeds hatred,” she said in a live telephone link-up from her home in Amman, Jordan. “I cannot see where is the cleanness in this war. All I see is blood, destruction and shattered hearts. The US said it was a war against terrorism. Who is committing terrorism now?”

    Suzanne Goldenberg in Baghdad, Rory McCarthy in Doha, Jonathan Steele in Amman and Brian Whitaker
    Wednesday 9 April 2003 07.30 BST

    Find this story at 9 April 2003

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Al-Jazeera Kabul offices hit in US raid (2001)

    The channel says everybody knew where the office was, including the Americans
    The Kabul offices of the Arab satellite al-Jazeera channel have been destroyed by a US missile.

    This office has been known by everybody, the American airplanes know the location of the office, they know we are broadcasting from there

    Al-Jazeera Managing Director Mohammed Jasim al-Ali
    The Qatar-based satellite channel, which gained global fame for its exclusive access to Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban, announced that none of its staff had been wounded.

    But al-Jazeera’s managing director Mohammed Jasim al-Ali, told BBC News Online that the channel’s 12 employees in Kabul were out of contact.

    Mr Jasim would not speculate as to whether the offices were deliberately targeted, but said the location of the bureau was widely known by everyone, including the Americans.

    He also expressed concern at reports that Northern Alliance fighters were singling out Arabs in the city since they took over early on Tuesday.

    Critical situation

    The station said in an earlier report the bureau had been hit by shells when the Afghan opposition forces entered the capital.

    Al-Jazeera confirmed later that it was a US missile that destroyed the building and damaged the homes of some employees.

    Al-Jazeera presenter
    The station has been viewed with suspicion in the West for its access to the Taleban
    “The situation is very critical,” Mr Jasim told the BBC from the channel’s offices in Doha.

    “This office has been known by everybody, the American airplanes know the location of the office, they know we are broadcasting from there,” he said.

    He said there had been no contact with Kabul correspondent Taysir Alluni because all their equipment had been destroyed.

    The Northern Alliance has reportedly ordered most reporters in Kabul to gather at the Inter-Continental Hotel.

    “Now that the Northern Alliance has taken over, it is too dangerous,” Mr Jasim said, adding that he had heard that some Arabs had been killed.

    Taleban withdrawal

    Earlier, al-Jazeera correspondent Yusuf al-Shuli quoted Taleban officials in their southern stronghold of Kandahar as saying they had withdrawn from the cities to spare the civilians air bombardment and acts of vengeance by the Northern Alliance.

    Al-Jazeera footage of three boys reported to be Bin Laden’s sons
    Al-Jazeera said these three boys are Bin Laden’s sons
    “They told us that reoccupying these cities will not take long once the air cover that supports the Northern Alliance is over,” he said.

    He said there was a “mixture of anger, despair, and disappointment among most people” in Kandahar at the fall of Kabul, but the situation there was calm.

    Al-Jazeera has a reputation for outspoken, independent reporting – in stark contrast to the Taleban’s views of the media as a propaganda and religious tool.

    But the channel has been viewed with suspicion by politicians in the West and envy by media organisations ever since the start of the US-led military action in Afghanistan.

    Exclusive access

    For a time it was the only media outlet with any access to Taleban-held territory and the Islamic militia itself.

    It broadcast the only video pictures of Afghan demonstrators attacking and setting fire to the US embassy in Kabul on 26 September.

    The banner of al-Jazeera
    The channel says its guiding principles are “diversity of viewpoints and real-time news coverage”
    Most controversially, it was the first channel to air video tapes of Osama Bin Laden urging Muslims to rise up against the West in a holy war.

    Last week it showed footage of three young boys reported to be Bin Laden’s sons.

    Western governments at one stage warned that the channel was being used by the al-Qaeda network to pass on coded messages to supporters around the world.

    Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 13:48 GMT

    Find this story at 13 November 2001

    Copyright BBC

    In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism

    On Wednesday morning, the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo was attacked by three masked gunmen, armed with kalashnikovs, who stormed the building and killed ten of its staff and two police officers. The gunmen are currently understood to be Muslim extremists. This attack came minutes after the paper tweeted this drawing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

    (“Best wishes, by the way.” Baghdadi: “And especially good health!”)

    An armed attack on a newspaper is shocking, but it is not even the first time Hebdo has been the subject of terrorist attacks. Gawker has a good summary of past controversies and attacks involving Hebdo. Most famously, the magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011, after they printed an issue depicting the Prophet Muhammad on the cover.

    In the face of such an obvious attack on free speech, voicing anything except grief-stricken support is seen by many as disrespectful. Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter, one of the first American comics sources to thoroughly cover the attack, quickly tweeted this:


    When faced with a terrorist attack against a satirical newspaper, the appropriate response seems obvious. Don’t let the victims be silenced. Spread their work as far as it can possibly go. Laugh in the face of those savage murderers who don’t understand satire.

    In this case, it is the wrong response.

    Here’s what’s difficult to parse in the face of tragedy: yes, Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical newspaper. Its staff is white. Its cartoons often represent a certain, virulently racist brand of French xenophobia. While they generously claim to ‘attack everyone equally,’ the cartoons they publish are intentionally anti-Islam, and frequently sexist and homophobic.

    Here, for context, are some of the cartoons they recently published.







    (Yes, that last one depicts Boko Haram sex slaves as welfare queens.)

    These are, by even the most generous assessment, incredibly racist cartoons. Hebdo’s goal is to provoke, and these cartoons make it very clear who the white editorial staff was interested in provoking: France’s incredibly marginalized, often attacked, Muslim immigrant community.

    Even in a fresh-off-the-press, glowing BBC profile of Charb, Hebdo’s murdered editor, he comes across as a racist asshole.

    Charb had strongly defended Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad.

    “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,” he told the Associated Press in 2012, after the magazine’s offices had been fire-bombed.

    “I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Koranic law.”

    Now, I understand that calling someone a ‘racist asshole’ after their murder is a callous thing to do, and I don’t do it lightly. This isn’t ambiguous, though: the editorial staff of Hebdo consistently aimed to provoke Muslims. They ascribe to the same edgy-white-guy mentality that many American cartoonists do: nothing is sacred, sacred targets are funnier, lighten up, criticism is censorship. And just like American cartoonists, they and their supporters are wrong. White men punching down is not a recipe for good satire, and needs to be called out. People getting upset does not prove that the satire was good. And, this is the hardest part, the murder of the satirists in question does not prove that their satire was good. Their satire was bad, and remains bad. Their satire was racist, and remains racist.

    The response to the attacks by hack cartoonists the world over has been swift. While many are able to keep pretty benign:




    Several of the cartoons sweeping Twitter stooped to drawing hook-nosed Muslim caricatures, reminiscent of Hebdo’s house style.



    Perhaps most offensively, this Shaw cartoon (incorrectly attributed to Robert Mankoff) from a few years back swept Twitter, paired with the hashtag #CharlieHebdo:


    Political correctness did not kill twelve people at the Charlie Hebdo offices. To talk about the attack as an attack by “political correctness” is the most disgusting, self-serving martyr bullshit I can imagine. To invoke this (bad) Shaw cartoon in relation to the Hebdo murders is to assert that cartoons should never be criticized. To invoke this garbage cartoon is to assert that white, male cartoonists should never have to hear any complaints when they gleefully attack marginalized groups.

    Changing your twitter avatar to a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad is a racist thing to do, even in the face of a terrorist attack. The attitude that Muslims need to be ‘punished’ is xenophobic and distressing. The statement, “JE SUIS CHARLIE” works to erase and ignore the magazine’s history of xenophobia, racism, and homophobia. For us to truly honor the victims of a terrorist attack on free speech, we must not spread hateful racism blithely, and we should not take pride in extreme attacks on oppressed and marginalized peoples.

    A call “TO ARMS”


    is gross and inappropriate. To simplify the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices as “Good, Valiant Westerners vs. Evil, Savage Muslims” is not only racist, it’s dangerously overstated. Cartoonists (especially political cartoonists) generally reinforce the status quo, and they tend to be white men. Calling fellow cartoonists TO ARMS is calling other white men to arms against already marginalized people. The inevitable backlash against Muslims has begun in earnest.


    This is the worst.

    The fact that twelve people are dead over cartoons is hateful, and I can only pray that their attackers are brought to justice. Free speech is an important part of our society, but, it should always go without saying, free speech does not mean freedom from criticism. Criticism IS speech – to honor “free speech martyrs” by shouting down any criticism of their work is both ironic and depressing.

    In summary:

    Nobody should have been killed over those cartoons.

    Fuck those cartoons.

    by Jacob Canfield
    January 7, 2015 12:49 pm

    Find this story at 7 January 2015

    Copyright http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/

    Suspicions grow of Yemen link to Paris gunmen

    IRBIL, IRAQ — As French police and security forces scoured the country for the two brothers suspected of massacring 12 people at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, intelligence officials in Europe and the United States were conducting a search of their own – for evidence that would link the two to international terrorism organizations.

    French officials told the intelligence services of two neighboring countries that they believed the two suspects, Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said, had recently traveled to Syria, where they’d fought with jihadist groups. But the French alert, distributed throughout Europe’s no-visa-required travel zone, offered no specifics on when the brothers supposedly traveled to or from Syria, and American officials, for one, were said to doubt the accuracy of the information.

    “We’re assuming that the French are basing this on intelligence, but they have yet to specifically share it, as one assumes they’re pretty busy hunting these guys down right now,” said one European intelligence official who does not have permission to speak to the news media.

    “But it’s certainly logical based on their clear professionalism and comfort handling their weapons in executing the journalists and police, as well as making their escape,” he added.

    U.S. officials are said to be more interested in connections between the Kouachis and Yemen, where al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula remains al Qaida’s most aggressive branch. Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, now a CBS News consultant, told the network’s morning show Thursday that one of the Kouachis is thought to have traveled to Yemen in 2011.

    Other sources said he was referring to Said Kouachi, 34, an assertion that was backed by French news reports. The French news magazine Le Point, citing unnamed European officials, said Said Kouachi had spent several months of 2011 training in Yemen with al Qaida-linked groups.

    “We’re looking at an al Qaida in Yemen-directed attack,” Morell said. If further investigation proves that true, he said, Wednesday’s newspaper assault would be the first AQAP attack outside of Yemen since the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt when a Nigerian AQAP recruit attempted to detonate a bomb aboard a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit.

    U.S. intelligence officials refused to comment on what their investigation has found and declined to endorse Morell’s statements. But they were echoed by John Miller, a former CBS correspondent who now is the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, who appeared with Morell.

    Also still unanswered is whether the Charlie Hebdo attackers were acting under their own initiative or were carrying out orders from a terrorist superior elsewhere. While French authorities have told news outlets that 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad faces no charges in Wednesday’s attack, there were worries that other conspirators remained at large.

    On Thursday morning, a gunman described by witnesses as of African descent and wearing body armor shot and killed a police officer in Paris before escaping, leaving authorities to scramble to determine if the incidents were related.

    Cherif Kouachi, at 32 the younger of the two brothers, has a long history of al Qaida-related sympathies. According to official French statements, he was convicted in 2007 of attempting to join al Qaida in Iraq and was detained for nearly three years as part of a broader investigation into an international jihadist trafficking ring that delivered fighters to Iraq to battle U.S. troops there.

    Also convicted in that investigation was Boubaker al Hakim, who now claims to be a member of the Islamic State, the successor group to al Qaida in Iraq, that now controls large chunks of Iraq and Syria. Last month, al Hakim claimed responsibility for the assassination in 2013 of two secular politicians in Tunisia, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, researcher Jean-Pierre Filiu, an expert on radical Islam at Paris’ Sciences Po University, told the Agence France Press news agency in an interview. Filiu suggested that that connection suggests an Islamic State tie to the Kouachi brothers.

    But Morell and Miller dismissed the likelihood of an Islamic State link, despite worries in Europe that hundreds of Europeans have flocked to Syria and Iraq to fight on behalf of the Islamic State. The Islamic State’s “job,” Miller said, “is to take territory and hold it, plant a flag and say this is the Islamic State. They are in the nation-building business.”

    AQAP, on the other hand, is the al Qaida wing tasked with external actions, and the travel to Yemen by one of the Kouachi brothers “would suggest,” Miller said, “that this was organized and directed by al Qaida’s external planning operation.”

    Indeed, Wednesday’s operation appeared to closely follow a script commonly used by al Qaida and the slew of groups its ideology and training camps have inspired. At least one witness said that the gunmen identified themselves as al Qaida members during the massacre in the newspaper’s newsroom. Le Point also said that as the gunmen were abandoning their getaway car, they told a passer-by “tell the media it’s al Qaida in Yemen.”

    The attackers also appeared to be experienced and prepared. They reacted calmly when they realized they initially had arrived at the wrong office and quickly adjusted their plan to find the correct location, a sign that they were operationally comfortable and able to overcome a mistake also made not uncommonly by police and military raiders around the world.

    The timing of the attack, during the newspaper’s hour-long weekly editorial meeting, indicates the attackers knew the editorial schedule of the newspaper and knew it was the one hour of the work week where all the top editors and cartoonists would be present in one room. And the attackers were able to overcome significant security procedures for a newspaper that was known to be a target and had been firebombed in 2011, including at least one armed police officer assigned to protect the editor because of previous threats.

    They also called out the names of specific cartoonists to kill but let others live, and were comfortable enough with their weapons that they were able to accurately control their fire.

    Still, the complexity of the operation would fall well within the capabilities of a small group of men trained on the battlefields of Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen. According to a police official quoted by Bloomberg news service, automatic AK-47 variants like those used by the attackers are easily purchased in Paris for about $1,200, making financing such an operation easily within range of a small group.

    Such small groups have planned previous spectacular attacks without much outside support, including the July 7, 2005, London transit bombings, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and a disrupted plot in 2006 to attack Heathrow airport.

    The possibility that a small group could have planned the Paris attack on its own chills European security officials.

    “That’s what we all fear, that this is where it’s headed,” said the European intelligence official. “These guys come home with skills and motivation but aren’t part of the traditional network.”

    Prothero is a McClatchy special correspondent. Twitter: @mitchprothero
    McClatchy Foreign Staff
    January 8, 2015

    Find this story at 8 January 2015

    Copyright http://www.mcclatchydc.com/

    FBI informants may be revealed after agency loses court battle (2014)

    • Photographer arrested after 2008 protest wins ruling
    • FBI sought to protect ‘confidential sources’

    The FBI has lost a legal battle to prevent the disclosure of documents that could reveal the identity of two of its covert informants.

    In highly unusual case Laura Sennett, a freelance photojournalist, has won a ruling from a district court that compels the FBI to provide her with documents that shed light on informants use by agents used in their investigation into a protest which resulted in damage to a hotel lobby in Washington.

    The FBI launched its joint terrorism task force investigation days after anarchists protested a World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting in the capital in April 2008.

    Protesters stormed into the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel around 2.30am, chanting slogans and throwing paint-filled balloons. Most of the criminal damage, including a broken window, was minor, although the hotel said a statue worth more than $200,000 was damaged.

    Sennett had been tipped off about the protest and attended to take photographs. She believed the protesters planned to wake up the IMF delegates by making a commotion, and maintains she had no prior knowledge of their criminal intent. She did not enter the hotel lobby – choosing to photograph events from outside.

    Both of the “confidential sources” cited in the court case were asked by the FBI to review surveillance footage of the protest, in order to help identify who was there. They identified a handful of activists as well as Sennett, who specialises in reporting grass-roots activism.

    The FBI placed the photojournalist under surveillance before raiding her home with two-dozen armed law enforcement officials, who seized memory cards, hard drives and computer and camera equipment.

    In an effort to find out more about why she was targeted, Sennett, 51, has been running a legal campaign to obtain information the bureau holds about her, using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

    She had so far been given more than 1,000 pages of FBI documents, which the Guardian has seen, but the bureau withheld key portions, claiming they fell under an exemption intended to protect the identity of “confidential sources”. That decision has been challenged in court by Sennett’s lawyers.

    On Wednesday, district judge James E Boasberg sided with Sennett, ordering the FBI to release the contested documents, which all parties accept “could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source”.

    The judge said that despite three attempts, the FBI had failed to convince him the sources would have inferred confidentiality from their interactions with agents.

    Dan Metcalfe, who directed the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy for more than 25 years before retiring in 2007, and has represented the FBI in dozens of similar cases, said it was “extremely rare” for the bureau to be forced to reveal the identity of a source.

    “I can think of just a handful of cases at most in which the FBI has had to disclose potentially identifying information about a confidential source over the past 40 years,” he said.

    The case, he said, was a significant blow for the FBI, which is very strongly opposed to revealing the identity of its sources, not least because doing so could discourage future informants from co-operating.

    Metcalfe, now a law professor at the American University, said the solicitor general was highly unlikely to launch an appeal.

    “I’ve read thousands and thousands of FOIA opinions,” he said. “I would put this in the top percentile for being analytically sound and written exceptionally well. Based upon the facts that one gleans from reading the opinion, this is an entirely correct outcome. I see little or no prospect for reversal on appeal.”

    Mike German, a former FBI agent now with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, said he believed the two informants in the case, one of whom is said to have attended anti-capitalist meetings, could be private investigators.

    “That is something that, having seen the documents, the judge may be less keen on keeping secret,” he said.

    German said the fact an act of vandalism against the Four Seasons was even investigated by the FBI’s counter-terrorism teams followed a pattern of investigations into protest movements that are “more about suppressing dissent than investigating serious or violent crime”.

    Detective Vincent Antignano, the federal marshall deputised to run the FBI’s investigation into the protest, said in a deposition conducted by Sennett’s legal team he believed Sennett was “like-minded like anarchists”, because she was among the 16 people captured on the hotel’s surveillance video.

    “Everyone on that video is a suspect, so that’s the way I look at it,” he said, adding that he assumed she had similar views to the protesters captured in the video “who despise their government”.

    Asked to elaborate, Antignano said that while he did not know Sennett’s dietary preference, “she could also be a vegan like … [people] who are against animal protests [sic] or animal research or won’t eat meat and stuff like that.”

    Antignano had a broad notion of what behaviour constituted “terrorism”, saying that even an assault could fall within the definition.

    “If you get assaulted and you believe you’ve been terrorised, then maybe that is terrorism,” he told Sennett’s lawyer.

    The deposition was part of a separate case, in which Sennett’s lawyers sued the FBI for damages they said Sennett suffered as part of the raid on her home, which was led by Antignano.

    Sennett said the raid was traumatising. Around two-dozen agents “yanked my 19-year-old son out of bed at gunpoint”, she said, before quizzing her about political books on her shelf and asking what “kind of an American” she was.

    Sennet said she replied: “I’m a photographer.”

    A freelancer whose images have appeared on CNN, MSNBC and the History Channel and in the Toronto Free Press, Sennett is adamant the FBI must have known she was present at the protest in a journalistic capacity. The FBI denied its agents knew of her occupation.

    Sennett was never arrested or charged. She believes undercover police or moles within the protest group may have been responsible for giving the FBI details, including a cellphone number, which allowed agents to track her down.

    Her lawyer, DC-based Jeffrey Light, argued that her status as a photojournalist should have barred agents from seizing her material, under a clause of the Privacy Protection Act.

    However in that case a district court ruled against Sennett – a decision upheld in 2012 by the court of appeal, which found that while Sennett’s occupation provided “an innocent explanation” for her presence at the protest, the FBI, when it launched its inquiry, still had “probable cause” to believe she was part of a conspiracy to commit vandalism.

    Wednesday’s court ruling by judge Boasberg, a Barack Obama appointee, was far more sympathetic to Sennett’s case.

    Boasberg said the FBI had failed to provide sufficient proof that its informants “inferred that their communications with the bureau would remain confidential”. While acknowledging the FBI’s argument regarding preserving the confidentiality of informants – “one of source protection and empowerment of law-enforcement agencies” – Boasberg added: “That solicitude, however, can only carry the court so far.”

    Light said he hoped Wednesday’s victory, which the government has 90 days to appeal, would take the capital’s protest community a step closer to discovering the identity of potential moles in their midst.

    “People want to know who is spying on them,” he said.

    Sennett said she hoped that by identification of the FBI’s informants in her case would discourage the bureau from conducting similar quasi-terrorist investigation in the future.

    “I pursued this case because I don’t think anyone – activists, freelancers, bloggers – should have to go through what I went through.”

    The US attorney’s office said it was reviewing the case but declined to offer further comment.

    The FBI also declined a request for comment.

    Paul Lewis in Washington
    theguardian.com, Friday 2 May 2014 18.01 BST

    Find this story at 2 May 2014

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

    US spy agencies eavesdrop on Kiwi

    The New Zealand military received help from US spy agencies to monitor the phone calls of Kiwi journalist Jon Stephenson and his associates while he was in Afghanistan reporting on the war.

    Stephenson has described the revelation as a serious violation of his privacy, and the intrusion into New Zealand media freedom has been slammed as an abuse of human rights.

    The spying came at a time when the New Zealand Defence Force was unhappy at Stephenson’s reporting of its handling of Afghan prisoners and was trying to find out who was giving him confidential information.

    The monitoring occurred in the second half of last year when Stephenson was working as Kabul correspondent for the US McClatchy news service and for various New Zealand news organisations.

    The Sunday Star-Times has learned that New Zealand Defence Force personnel had copies of intercepted phone “metadata” for Stephenson, the type of intelligence publicised by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. The intelligence reports showed who Stephenson had phoned and then who those people had phoned, creating what the sources called a “tree” of the journalist’s associates.


    New Zealand SAS troops in Kabul had access to the reports and were using them in active investigations into Stephenson.

    The sources believed the phone monitoring was being done to try to identify Stephenson’s journalistic contacts and sources. They drew a picture of a metadata tree the Defence Force had obtained, which included Stephenson and named contacts in the Afghan government and military.

    The sources who described the monitoring of Stephenson’s phone calls in Afghanistan said that the NZSIS has an officer based in Kabul who was known to be involved in the Stephenson investigations.

    And since early in the Afghanistan war, the GCSB has secretly posted staff to the main US intelligence centre at Bagram, north of Kabul. They work in a special “signals intelligence” unit that co-ordinates electronic surveillance to assist military targeting. It is likely to be this organisation that monitored Stephenson.

    Stephenson and the Defence Force clashed in the Wellington High Court two weeks ago after it claimed Stephonson had invented a story about visiting an Afghan base.

    The Human Rights Foundation says Defence Force involvement in monitoring a journalist is an abuse of fundamental human rights.

    “Don’t they understand the vital importance of freedom of the press?” spokesman Tim McBride said. “Independent journalism is especially important in a controversial war zone where the public has a right to know what really happens and not just get military public relations,” he said.

    The news has emerged as the Government prepares to pass legislation which will allow the Defence Force to use the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders.

    The Stephenson surveillance suggests the Defence Force may be seeking the GCSB assistance, in part, for investigating leaks and whistleblowers.

    Stephenson said monitoring a journalist’s communications could also threaten the safety of their sources “by enabling security authorities to track down and intimidate people disclosing information to that journalist”.

    He said there was “a world of difference between investigating a genuine security threat and monitoring a journalist because his reporting is inconvenient or embarrassing to politicians and defence officials”.

    The Star-Times asked Chief of Defence Force Rhys Jones and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman if they were aware of the surveillance of Stephenson, if they approved of it and whether they authorised the investigation of Stephenson (including the phone monitoring).

    They were also asked if they thought journalists should be classified as threats. Neither answered the questions.

    Defence Force spokesman Geoff Davies said: “As your request relates to a legal matter involving Jon Stephenson which is still before the court, it would not be appropriate for the Chief of Defence Force to comment.”

    In fact, none of the issues before that court relate to the surveillance or security manual.

    Coleman’s press secretary said the minister was not available for comment and to try again next week.

    Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the monitoring of Stephenson demonstrates that the security services see the media and journalists as a legitimate target.

    “Democracy totally relies on a free and independent press,” he said. “Current attempts to strengthen the security apparatus for monitoring New Zealanders is deeply disturbing and menacing for democracy.”

    An internal Defence document leaked to the Star-Times reveals that defence security staff viewed investigative journalists as “hostile” threats requiring “counteraction”. The classified security manual lists security threats, including “certain investigative journalists” who may attempt to obtain “politically sensitive information”.

    The manual says Chief of Defence Force approval is required before any NZDF participation in “counter intelligence activity” is undertaken. (See separate story)

    Stephenson took defamation action against the Defence Force after Jones claimed that Stephenson had invented a story about visiting an Afghan base as part of an article about mishandling of prisoners.

    Although the case ended with a hung jury two weeks ago, Jones conceded during the hearing that he now accepted Stephenson had visited the base and interviewed its Afghan commander.

    Victoria University lecturer in media studies Peter Thompson said the Afghanistan monitoring and the security manual’s view of investigative journalists confirmed the concerns raised in the High Court case.

    There was “a concerted and deliberate effort to denigrate that journalist’s reputation for political ends”.

    There is currently controversy in the United States over government monitoring of journalists. In May the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months’ worth of phone records of its reporters and editors.

    The media organisation said it was a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news gathering process.


    A leaked New Zealand Defence Force security manual reveals it sees three main “subversion” threats it needs to protect itself against: foreign intelligence services, organisations with extreme ideologies and “certain investigative journalists”.

    In the minds of the defence chiefs, probing journalists apparently belong on the same list as the KGB and al Qaeda.

    The manual’s first chapter is called “Basic Principles of Defence Security”. It says a key part of protecting classified information is investigating the “capabilities and intentions of hostile organisations and individuals” and taking counteraction against them.

    The manual, which was issued as an order by the Chief of Defence Force, places journalists among the hostile individuals. It defines “The Threat” as espionage, sabotage, subversion and terrorism, and includes investigative journalists under the heading “subversion”.

    Subversion, it says, is action designed to “weaken the military, economic or political strength of a nation by undermining the morale, loyalty or reliability of its citizens.”

    It highlights people acquiring classified information to “bring the Government into disrepute”.

    This threat came from hostile intelligence services and extreme organisations, and “there is also a threat from certain investigative journalists who may seek to acquire and exploit official information for similar reasons”, it says.

    Viewing journalism as a security threat has serious implications. The manual states that “plans to counter the activities of hostile intelligence services and subversive organisations and individuals must be based on accurate and timely intelligence concerning the identity, capabilities and intentions of the hostile elements”.

    It says “one means of obtaining security intelligence is the investigation of breaches of security”.

    This is where the security manual may be relevant to the monitoring of Jon Stephenson’s phone calls. The Defence Force was unhappy at Stephenson’s access to confidential information about prisoner handling in Afghanistan and began investigating to discover his sources.

    The manual continues that “counter intelligence” means “activities which are concerned with identifying and counteracting the threat to security”, including by individuals engaged in “subversion”.

    It notes: “The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service is the only organisation sanctioned to conduct Counter Intelligence activities in New Zealand. [Chief of Defence Force] approval is required before any NZDF participation in any CI activity is undertaken.”

    Under the NZSIS Act, subversion is a legal justification for surveillance of an individual.

    The sources who described the monitoring of Stephenson’s phone calls in Afghanistan said the NZSIS has an officer based in Kabul who was known to be involved in the Stephenson investigations.

    To reinforce its concern, the defence security manual raises investigative journalists a second time under a category called “non-traditional threats”. The threat of investigative journalists, it says, is that they may attempt to obtain “politically sensitive information”.

    Politically sensitive information, such as the kind of stories that Stephenson was writing, is however about politics and political accountability, not security. Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson, who has published a number of Jon Stephenson’s prisoner stories, said the Defence Force seemed to see Stephenson as the “enemy”, as a threat to the Defence Force.

    “But that’s not how Jon works and how journalism works,” he said. “Jon is just going about his business as a journalist.”

    The New Zealand Defence Force “seems to be confusing national security with its own desire not to be embarrassed by disclosures that reveal it has broken the rules”, he said.

    Last updated 05:00 28/07/2013

    Find this story at 28 july 2013

    © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

    US: Silencing news sources?

    After the seizure of AP’s phone records, we ask if the US is still the land of the free for journalists and sources.

    On May 10th, the Associated Press news agency received an email from the US Department of Justice saying that records of more than 20 phone lines assigned to its reporters had been secretly seized as part of an investigation into a government leak.
    The government claimed it was a matter of national security, while the AP called it an unprecedented intrusion into its newsgathering operations. But should the journalistic community be so surprised? With the Obama White House’s track record on whistleblowers and WikiLeaks, the move to spy on AP seems consistent with an administration more committed to secrecy than ever before.
    Is the United States still the land of the free for journalists and their sources? In this week’s News Divide we speak to Laura Malone, legal counsel for the Associated Press; Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars; The World is a Battlefield; the investigative reporter Dana Priest of the Washington Post; and Ben Wizner from the American Civil Liberties Union.
    This week’s Newsbytes: After two years in hiding, a prominent Bahraini blogger reappears in the UK; Globovision, a leading opposition outlet in Venezuela, is sold to businessmen allegedly friendly with the government; and Islamabad is missing one of the most prominent Western journalists based there – the New York Times’ Declan Walsh was ordered to leave the country before the election.
    One of the lesser-known consequences of the US-led ‘war on terror’ has been a wave of anti-terrorism legislation in other countries. One of them is Ethiopia. It is not a country known for its freedom of the press and, with ongoing internal conflicts with separatist groups, and the powers that be keeping a wary eye on the nearby Arab Spring, the government in Addis Ababa has been cracking down on the media.
    It is doing so with an anti-terror law passed in 2009, which has led to the sentencing of 11 journalists, sent dozens of reporters into exile and has forced countless others to practice self-censorship. The Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead reports on the law that blurs the line between journalism and terrorism.
    Unless you have been in orbit or beyond, you have probably already seen our Video of the Week – it’s astronaut Chris Hadfield and his version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded while on board the International Space Station. It has been watched online and on TV millions of times over, but it is so good that we wanted to run it anyway.

    Listening Post Last Modified: 18 May 2013 08:09

    Find this story at 18 May 2013

    Is the Government Spying on Reporters; More Often Than We Think?

    There’s evidence that the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records is far from unprecedented.

    The Justice Department’s seizure of call logs [1] related to phone lines used by dozens of Associated Press reporters has provoked a flurry of bipartisan criticism, most of which has cast the decision as a disturbing departure from the norm. AP head Gary Pruitt condemned the decision, part of an investigation into leaks of classified information, as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.” Yet there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence suggesting the seizure may not be unprecedented—just rarely disclosed.

    The Justice Department is supposed to follow special rules [2] when it seeks the phone records of reporters, in recognition that such snooping conflicts with First Amendment values. As Pruitt complained in an angry letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, those logs provided the government a “road map” of the stories his reporters were investigating, and there is evidence that such seizures deter [3] anonymous sources from speaking to the press—whether they’re discussing classified programs or merely facts that embarrass the government.

    Federal regulations require that the attorney general personally approve such a move, ensure the request is narrow and necessary, and notify the news organization about the request—in advance whenever possible. In this case, however, the Justice Department seems to have used an indiscriminate vacuum-cleaner [4] approach—seeking information (from phone companies) about a wide range of phone numbers used by AP reporters—and it only notified AP after the fact.

    It wouldn’t be surprising if there were more cases like this we’ve never heard about. Here’s why: The Justice Department’s rules only say the media must be informed about “subpoenas” for “telephone toll records.” The FBI’s operations guidelines [5] interprets those rules quite literally, making clear the requirement “concerns only grand jury subpoenas.” That is, these rules don’t apply to National Security Letters [6], which are secret demands for information used by the FBI that don’t require judicial approval. The narrow FBI interpretation also doesn’t cover administrative subpoenas, which are issued by federal agencies without prior judicial review. Last year, the FBI issued NSLs for the communications and financial records of more than 6,000 Americans—and the number has been far higher in previous years. The procedures that do apply to those tools have been redacted from publicly available versions of the FBI guidelines. Thus, it’s no shocker the AP seizure would seem like an “unprecedented intrusion” if the government doesn’t think it has to tell us about the precedents. And there’s no telling if the Justice Department rules (and the FBI’s interpretation) allow the feds to seize without warning other types of electronic communications records that could reveal a journalist’s e-mail, chat, or Web browsing activity.

    Is it paranoid to fear the Justice Department and the FBI are sidestepping the rules? Consider a case first reported in 2008 [7], and discussed at length in a damning (but heavily redacted) 2010 report [8] from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. In this instance, the FBI obtained nearly two years of phone records for lines belonging to Washington Post and New York Times bureaus and reporters—even though the FBI had initially requested records covering only seven months. In what the OIG called a “serious abuse of the FBI’s authority to obtain information,” agents seized these records under false pretenses, “without any legal process or Attorney General approval.” And these records remained in the FBI’s database for over three years before the OIG or the press found out [7].

    It gets worse. The OIG report noted that the FBI had made “community of interest” requests to phone carriers; these requests sweep in not only the target’s call records, but those of people the target has spoken with—which can include reporters. Such requests can provide investigators an incredibly revealing portrait of entire social networks. Yet the OIG found that agents used boilerplate requests for information from the carriers; some claimed they submitted the requests without actually knowing exactly what “community of interest” meant, and even when they did it didn’t necessarily occur to them that they were likely to obtain reporter records through such requests. In other words, FBI agents often made these requests without fully understanding what they were requesting.

    By Julian Sanchez | Fri May. 17, 2013 1:01 PM PDT

    Find this story at 17 May 2013

    Copyright ©2013 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress.

    AP records seizure just latest step in sweeping U.S. leak probe

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Justice Department’s controversial decision to seize phone records of Associated Press journalists was just one element in a sweeping U.S. government investigation into media leaks about a Yemen-based plot to bomb a U.S. airliner, government officials said on Wednesday.

    The search for who leaked the information is being led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington and has involved extensive FBI interviews of personnel at the Justice Department, U.S. intelligence agencies, the White House’s National Security staff and the FBI itself.

    The interviews have been lengthy and thorough, said people who have been questioned in the investigation, but requested anonymity. Two of those interviewed said leak inquiries were always aggressive and that being questioned is a wearing and unpleasant experience.

    The investigation, which a law enforcement official has said was prompted by a May 7, 2012, AP story about the operation to foil the Yemen plot, appears to be ongoing. Some potential witnesses have been advised they are likely to be interviewed in the next two or three weeks.

    Officials in the office of Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Attorney General Eric Holder, who recused himself from involvement in the case, largely sidestepped questions from angry lawmakers on Wednesday about his department’s secret seizure of AP records, which the news agency revealed on Monday.

    The seizure, denounced by critics as a gross intrusion into freedom of the press, has created an uproar in Washington and led to questions about how the Obama administration is balancing the need for national security with privacy rights.

    There are signs the administration’s efforts to find the alleged leaker were unproductive – at least before the Justice Department seized two months of records of phone calls by the AP and its journalists.

    “Seeking toll records associated with media organizations is undertaken only after all other reasonable alternative investigative steps have been taken,” Holder’s deputy, James Cole, said in a letter on Tuesday to AP President Gary Pruitt, who has protested the government’s action.

    In that letter, Cole revealed the Justice Department had conducted more than 550 interviews and reviewed tens of thousands of documents before subpoenaing phone company records of AP calls.

    Reuters was one of nearly 50 news organizations that signed a letter to Holder on Tuesday complaining about the AP phone record seizures.


    Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment and media attorney, said, “The breathtaking scope of these subpoenas served on the telephone companies might suggest that after all this time, they have no idea who they’re looking for.”

    Another possibility is “they are touching all bases” because they suspect someone but are not sure, said Abrams, a partner at Cahill Gordon and Reindel LLP in New York. He said it was difficult for an outsider to know.

    “I don’t think that there is any doubt that this is a serious investigation that they have spent a lot of time on and that they feel deeply about,” Abrams said. Justice’s targeting of a large number of phone lines and the AP journalists who use them “taken together, certainly makes it look like the largest, most intrusive action by the government vis-a-vis the press that I can remember.”

    Holder has called the leak “very, very serious” and said it “put the American people at risk.” He did not provide details.

    The AP has reported that it delayed reporting the story of how the United States had foiled a plot by a suicide bomber affiliated with Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, at the request of government officials, who said it would jeopardize national security. Once U.S. officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP said, it disclosed the plot.

    A law enforcement official said on Wednesday that because officials were so concerned and shocked by the leak, they opened an investigation into how the AP found out about the spy operation even before the news agency ran its initial story. The AP had contacted the government and asked for comment several days before the story was published.

    The AP’s first story reported the CIA had “thwarted an ambitious plot” by AQAP to attack an airline with a newly designed underwear bomb and said the FBI had acquired the bomb. The AP reported it did not know what had happened to the alleged bomber.

    A few hours after the story was published, John Brennan, then chief White House counterterrorism adviser and now director of the CIA, held a conference call with former counterterrorism officials who frequently appear as TV commentators. Brennan said the plot was never a threat to the U.S. public or air safety because Washington had “inside control” over it.

    (Editing by Warren Strobel and Peter Cooney)
    Wed, May 15 2013

    By Mark Hosenball and Tabassum Zakaria

    Find this story at 15 May 2013

    © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.

    Exclusive: Did White House “spin” tip a covert op?

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House efforts to soft-pedal the danger from a new “underwear bomb” plot emanating from Yemen may have inadvertently broken the news they needed most to contain.

    At about 5:45 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 7, just before the evening newscasts, John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top White House adviser on counter-terrorism, held a small, private teleconference to brief former counter-terrorism advisers who have become frequent commentators on TV news shows.

    According to five people familiar with the call, Brennan stressed that the plot was never a threat to the U.S. public or air safety because Washington had “inside control” over it.

    Brennan’s comment appears unintentionally to have helped lead to disclosure of the secret at the heart of a joint U.S.-British-Saudi undercover counter-terrorism operation.

    A few minutes after Brennan’s teleconference, on ABC’s World News Tonight, Richard Clarke, former chief of counter-terrorism in the Clinton White House and a participant on the Brennan call, said the underwear bomb plot “never came close because they had insider information, insider control.”

    A few hours later, Clarke, who is a regular consultant to the network, concluded on ABC’s Nightline that there was a Western spy or double-agent in on the plot: “The U.S. government is saying it never came close because they had insider information, insider control, which implies that they had somebody on the inside who wasn’t going to let it happen.”


    The next day’s headlines were filled with news of a U.S. spy planted inside Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who had acquired the latest, non-metallic model of the underwear bomb and handed it over to U.S. authorities.

    At stake was an operation that could not have been more sensitive — the successful penetration by Western spies of AQAP, al Qaeda’s most creative and lethal affiliate. As a result of leaks, the undercover operation had to be shut down.

    The initial story of the foiling of an underwear-bomb plot was broken by the Associated Press.

    According to National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, due to its sensitivity, the AP initially agreed to a White House request to delay publication of the story for several days.

    But according to three government officials, a final deal on timing of publication fell apart over the AP’s insistence that no U.S. official would respond to the story for one clear hour after its release.

    When the administration rejected that demand as “untenable,” two officials said, the AP said it was going public with the story. At that point, Brennan was immediately called out of a meeting to take charge of damage control.

    Relevant agencies were instructed to prepare public statements and urged to notify Congressional oversight panels. Brennan then started the teleconference with potential TV commentators.

    White House officials and others on the call insist that Brennan disclosed no classified information during that conference call and chose his words carefully to avoid doing so.

    The AP denies any quid pro quo was requested by them or rejected by the White House. “At no point did AP offer or propose a deal with regard to this story,” said AP spokesman Paul Colford.

    As for his appearance on ABC, Richard Clarke acknowledges he made a logical “leap” when he said that “inside control” meant “there was human inside control rather than anything else I could imagine.” But he adds that over the course of a week, ABC “took extraordinary measures … to make sure” that nothing it was planning to broadcast would damage ongoing counter-terrorism operations.


    As a result of the news leaks, however, U.S. and allied officials told Reuters that they were forced to end an operation which they hoped could have continued for weeks or longer.

    Several days after the first leaks, counter-terrorism sources confirmed to Reuters that a central role in the operation had been played by MI-5 and MI-6, Britain’s ultra-secretive domestic and foreign intelligence services, whose relationship with their American counterparts has been periodically strained by concern about leaks.

    These sources acknowledged that British authorities were deeply distressed that anything at all had leaked out about the operation.

    The White House places the blame squarely on AP, calling the claim that Brennan contributed to a leak “ridiculous.”

    “It is well known that we use a range of intelligence capabilities to penetrate and monitor terrorist groups,” according to an official statement from the White House national security staff.

    (Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Warren Strobel and Jim Loney)

    Fri, May 18 2012

    By Mark Hosenball

    Find this story at 18 May 2013

    © Thomson Reuters 2011

    Here’s the story the AP suspects led to sweeping Justice Dept. subpoena

    The Department of Justice secretly obtained Associated Press phone records from 20 different phone lines over two months, according to the news agency. The subpoenaed phones records included personal and office lines for several national security reporters and editors as well as “the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.”

    Presumably, now that the story has broken, public pressure will compel some sort of explanation from the Department of Justice or the Obama administration. In the meantime, the AP’s own story on the incident strongly suggests a theory for what happened: that the DoJ was looking for the source on the AP’s May 2012 story about a successful CIA operation to thwart a Yemen-based terror plot, a sort of underwear bomber part two.

    Here’s what the AP says in its story about the subpoena:

    The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

    In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP’s source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an “unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”

    And here’s a snip from the original May 2012 AP story that the agency believes may have started it all. Note that the story seems to cite both the FBI and CIA, as well as revealing that the bomb may not have been detectable by then-current airport security scanners:

    US officials say the plot involved an “upgrade” of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

    This new bomb was also built to be used in a passenger’s underwear but contained a more refined detonation system.

    The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

    The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought his plane tickets when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said. It is not immediately clear what happened to the alleged bomber.

    By Max Fisher, Updated: May 13, 2013

    Find this story at 13 May 2013

    © The Washington Post Company

    FBI Conducts Threat Assessment on Antiwar.Com Journalists for Linking to Publicly Available Document

    Antiwar.com has a troubling story detailing how what appears to be either an FBI counterintelligence investigation of suspected Israeli spies or an attempt to track down everyone who had posted terrorist watch lists online led to the FBI to investigate the site and Justin Raimondo and Eric Garris.

    The story is troubling for several reasons:
    The report on Antiwar.com reveals the FBI’s Electronic Communications Unit (the same one involved in using exigent letters to get community of interest phone numbers) was already monitoring Antiwar.com when the FBI did a threat analysis of them in 2004.
    Based on the fact that they had posted two watch lists, that a number of people under investigation read the site, and other redacted reasons, the FBI recommended a preliminary investigation into whether (basically) they were spying.
    The report cited electronic communications collected under FISA. While that may be no more than 4 FISA references in another case out of the Newark Office (which appears to be a prior investigation tied to the Israelis), that’s not clear that that’s the only FISA-collected information here.
    Whether or not the FBI already had used FISA on Antiwar.com, the low bar for PATRIOT powers (connection to a counterterrorist or counterintelligence investigation; the Israeli investigation would qualify) means the government could have used PATRIOT powers to investigate them.

    So here’s my analysis.

    Someone emailed Antiwar.com this set of FOIAed FBI documents. The documents appear to show that the FBI did some research on Antiwar.com in 2004 and recommended a Preliminary Investigation of them to see if they were spies. Their research appears to include 4 pieces of electronic communication collected under FISA, though it appears those were collected in another case.

    The Contents of the FBI File

    What follows assumes that the documents are authentic (Antiwar.com did not FOIA this themselves and they just received it out of the blue). It’s possible they’re an elaborate forgery, but they certainly appear to be valid FBI documents.

    Roughly speaking, here’s what’s included in the document packet as a whole.
    1-2: The faxed copy of a 302 (interview report) dated September 16, 2002 related to the Israelis
    3-4: A transfer document
    5-26: A document, dated October 4, 2002, documented the return and translation of evidence taken from the Israelis as well as xeroxes of the evidence
    27-29: An interview report dated October 2, 2002, first requested September 10, 2002
    30-32: An October 29, 2002 report on photos confiscated from an Israeli when he was detained on October 30, 2001
    33-34: An April 23, 2003 report on an earlier arrest of four Israelis on August 14, 2001
    35: Mostly blank cover sheet
    36-37: An FBI handwriting analysis of documents taken from the Israelis
    38-51: A report, dated July 10, 2003, summarizing and closing the case on the Israelis
    52-58: A report, dated July 10, 2003, summarizing the results of the case on the Israelis
    59-61: Paperwork from February and April 2004 reopening and transferring the investigation of the Israelis
    62-71: A 10-page report, dated April 30, 2004, on Raimondo, Garris, and Antiwar.com
    72-84: Web printouts of antiwar.com related information
    85-89: Paperwork related to the closure of the investigation into the 5 Israelis and the destruction of evidence collected from them
    90-94: FOIA notations

    Only the two bolded sections pertain to Antiwar.com. The rest (plus–it appears from the title of the Scribd file, http://www.scribd.com/doc/62394765/1138796-001-303A-NK-105536-Section-6-944900, which appears to come from the Newark case number–at least five other sections) describes the FBI’s investigation of the five Israelis alleged to have filmed the destruction of the World Trade Center (read pages 38-51 for the most complete description of the FBI investigation). The short version of the conclusion in that investigation is that the Israelis did have ties to the Israeli government, but did not appear to have foreknowledge of the attack.

    The Antiwar.com Threat Assessment appears to have been forwarded to the counterterrorism people working on the Israeli case; it’s likely the FOIA asked for everything relating to the Israeli investigation.

    The Genesis of the Antiwar.com Threat Assessment

    Which brings us to the report on Antiwar.com itself.

    It appears that, in March 2004, the FBI may have done a search of everyone who had a 9/11 “watch list” available online.

    An electronic communication from the Counterterrorism, NTCS/TWWU to all field offices, dated 03/24/2004, advised that the post-9/11 “watch list,” “Project Lookout,” was posted on the Internet and may contain the names of individuals of active investigative interest. Different versions of these lists may be found on the Internet. This assessment was conducted on the findings discovered on www.antiwar.com.

    The file doesn’t actually say whether that’s why the FBI started investigating Antiwar.com. Rather, it says,

    While conducting research on the Internet, an untitled spreadsheet , dated 10/03/2001, was discovered on the website antiwar.com.

    Given the recently reopened investigation into the Israelis at that time, the FBI may have found it in research on them and used the watch list directive to conduct further investigation. Or it may have just been the watch list directive.

    The FBI’s Research into Antiwar.com

    As Raimondo notes, he posted links to that document–sourced clearly to Cryptome–in this post on the Israelis.

    Ostensibly to figure out how and why he was posting a terrorist watch list, the FBI:
    Did searches on its Universal Index on both Garris and Raimondo (there was significant material on one of them)
    Did a scan of the Electronic Case File, apparently finding:
    One completely redacted file
    A counterintelligence report forwarded from the Counterintelligence office to the Office
    Several documents (from a different FBI office) that appear to be based on posts of Raimondo (these have serial numbers reading “315M/N-SL-188252), though the second is a Letterhead Memo
    A document citing Antiwar.com as a source of information on US military aid to Israel
    A report on a peaceful protest in the UK including a reference to an article handed out at the protest citing antiwar.com
    A report on a Neo-Nazi conference at which a member recommended reading Antiwar.com for information on the Middle East conflict
    The contents of a seized hard drive showing its owner visited Antiwar.com between July 2002 and June 2003.
    Recorded six more completely redacted entries
    Looked up details on DMV, Dun and Bradstreet, Lexis Nexis, business, and phone searches
    Looked up several other database searches the description of which are redacted
    Cited four FISA-derived references from a case file in Newark, but with no description of contents
    Referred to a bunch of other articles on Antiwar.com, both access via Lexis Nexis and via web searches.

    The FBI’s Verdict: Further Investigation

    All of which the FBI used to come to the following conclusion:

    The rights of individuals to post information and to express personal views on the Internet should be honored and protected; however, some material that is circulated on the Internet can compromise current active FBI investigations. The discovery of two detailed Excel spreadsheets posted on www.antiwar.com may not be significant by itself since distribution of the information on such lists are wide spread. Many agencies outside of law enforcement have been utilizing this information to screen their employees. Still it is unclear whether www.antiwar.com may only be posting research material compiled from multiple sources or if there is material posted that is singular in nature and not suitable for public released. There are several unanswered questions regarding antiwar.com. It describes itself as a non-profit group that survives on generous donations from its readers. Who are these contributors and what are the funds used for? [two lines redacted] on www.antiwar.com. If this is so, then what is his true name? Two facts have been established by this assessment. Many individuals worldwide do view this website including individuals who are currently under investigation and [one line redacted].

    With the recommendations (for DC’s corrupt ECAU office):

    It is recommended that ECAU further monitor the postings on the website www.antiwar.com.

    And in San Francisco:

    It is recommended that a [Preliminary Investigation] be opened to determine if [redacted] are engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to National Security on behalf of a foreign power.

    Now, it’s bad enough the FBI doesn’t consider Antiwar.com a journalistic site at all. It’s also pretty appalling that they used pretty unnecessary questions to justify further investigation.

    And remember, the bar for the FBI to use First Amendment “protected” reasons to investigate someone have been lowered since 2004.

    Apparently, for the FBI, advocating for peace and making a publicly available PDF available constitutes sufficient threat to conduct a counterintelligence investigation.

    Posted on August 22, 2011 by emptywheel

    Find this story at 22 August 2011

    AntiWar.com Editors Sue Over FBI Surveillance

    WASHINGTON — Two editors of AntiWar.com sued the FBI on Tuesday, alleging that the bureau has failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents about the government’s investigation of the website.

    FBI documents posted online show that the bureau recommended opening an investigation into the website in 2004 after it posted terrorist watch-lists online.

    The Huffington Post | By Ryan J. Reilly Posted: 05/21/2013 5:13 pm EDT | Updated: 05/21/2013 6:04 pm EDT

    Find this story at 21 May 2013

    Copyright © 2013 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc

    Journalisten moesten Chinezen bespioneren


    Van een onzer verslaggevers AMSTERDAM, vrijdag Personen die door de AIVD worden benaderd om als informant of agent voor de dienst te gaan werken, kunnen hiertoe niet gedwongen worden , zo benadrukt de inlichtingendienst. Net zomin kunnen zij gedwongen worden om bepaalde informatie te verstrekken. Zowel de medewerking als de informatieverstrekking aan de AIVD is dus geheel vrijwillig en betreft primair de verantwoordelijkheid van de betrokken persoon zelf.


    Uit informatie die De Telegraaf heeft ontvangen, blijkt dat de Nederlandse journalisten is gevraagd verslagen over en foto s te maken van Chinese officials die contact zochten met Nederlandse officials en vertegenwoordigers van het bedrijfsleven en de overheid, die bijeenkwamen in het Holland Heineken House.


    De AIVD wil niet ingaan op verdere vragen, bijvoorbeeld hoe de betrokken journalisten voor vertrek naar China werden geïnstrueerd en of Nederlandse journalisten vaker worden benaderd als bron voor de geheime dienst.


    Find this Story at 15 juni 2012 

    © 1996-2012 Telegraaf Media Nederland | Landelijke Media B.V., Amsterdam.