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Jeremy Corbyn Dares to Speak Truth About the ‘War on Terror’ – AlterNet

Jeremy Corbyn – Take Back Our World! – Global Justice Now. Cropped. 21 February 2015, 00:00 Photo Credit: By Global Justice Now (Jeremy Corbyn) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This June 8, British voters will decide whether or not to continue with the conservative status quo, or take a chance on a new kind of left-wing politics that would represent a firm break with the orthodoxies of the ruling Conservative Party and the Labour Partys establishment wing.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Partys intrepid new socialist leader, has pledged to drastically change his society. His partys leftist manifesto calls for more funding for the socialized health care system, nationalizing the countrys tattered railways and putting a stop to massive cuts in social spending. Yet Corbyn has also taken a step further than others in his party have dared, pledging to do what to many progressives remains a shibboleth: oppose war and imperialism and limit the violent blowback they have caused back home.

The liberal political establishment in the U.S. and across Western Europe has uncritically supported wars from Iraq to Libya to the push for regime change in Syria, often in the name of humanitarianism and civilian protection. While many progressives have portrayed the so-called war on terror as an unfortunate but necessary evil, Corbyn has made a crucial break with the norms of the political establishment, condemning the imperial wars the West has waged and emphasizing that this military intervention has only fueled the violent extremism the British government claims to be combatting.

Manchester Attack and Government Complicity

On May 22, a man detonated a suicide bomb at a concert in Manchester, killing two dozen and wounding more than 100, many of them children. The jihadist group ISIS took credit for the attack. Salman Abedi, the attacker, was a British citizen, not a refugee, from a family that was part of the Western government-backed right-wing Libyan opposition to longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

As Max Blumenthal detailedin an article on AlterNet,the British intelligence services played a direct role in supporting Islamist militancy in Libya, working closely with the Al Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in a cynical bid to topple Gaddafi. When NATO escalated2011 protests in Libya into an explicit regime change operation, the U.S. and U.K. governments encouraged foreign fighters to travel to the North African nation to help fight. Among those who took the MI6 ratline from Manchester to Libya was Ramadan Abedi, the father of the bomber.

During her tenure as Home Secretary, Theresa May was in charge of overseeing MI6 operations. It was during this time that Libya was flooded with fighters from Britain, with passports being handed even to British-Libyan citizens under government control orders for their alleged ties to extremist groups.

According to Akram Ramadan, a mechanic from Manchester who fought with the LIFG, roughly three-quarters of all foreign fighters in Libya arrived from his hometown in the U.K.

With Ramadan Abedi on the Libyan front lines, his sons eventually followed in his footsteps. His youngest son, Hamza, arrived in the country and joined up with an ISIS affiliate, while Salman took a trip to Libya just days before the bombing. Abedi had also reportedly visited Syria, apparently to make common cause with the jihadist groups battling the Syrian government with arms and support from the West and its Gulf allies.

In the past, right-wing politicians had successfully exploited terror attacks like the kind carried out in Manchester, stoking fear and anti-Muslim bigotry to shift public opinion. Jeremy Corbyn, a left-wing anti-war stalwart, upended the dynamic by introducing a counter-narrative that challenged violent extremism at its roots.

While many liberals spoke of the bombing as a mere tragedy, whitewashing its politicized nature, Corbyn pointed his finger at interventionism and empire.

Groundbreaking Speech

In a groundbreaking speech on May 26, Jeremy Corbyn pledged to change what we do abroad. He linked Western wars of aggression to the plague of violent jihadist attacks targeting soft targets in the West.

Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home, Corbyn noted.

The leftist Labour leader forcefully condemned the horrific terror and the brutal slaughter of innocent people. But unlike his political peers, Corbyn did not depoliticize the bombing. He explained that in order to prevent future attacks, Britains foreign policy must change. Foreign wars may not be the only thing fueling this violence, he noted, but they are a key factor.

We must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working, Corbyn emphasized. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.

That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children, he added. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions.

Ultimately, in order to defeat terrorism, Corbyn stressed, we must understand what fuels it: Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism.

The Medias War on Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyns comments provoked a predictable festival of mock outrage from his Tory opponents, who borrowed a line from their Republican counterparts across the pond and accused him of denigrating the “troops. The attacks were accompanied by a wave of tabloid headlines alleging that Corbyn had fostered deep friendships with terrorist groups from Hamas to the IRA.

TheConservative Party issued a ham-handed attack, claiming the Labour leaders speech has shown today why he is not up to the job of keeping our country safe. The statement continued, Jeremy Corbyn has a long record of siding with our enemies. Britains Conservative security minister smeared Corbyn, claiming his speech justified terrorism.

Centrist Blairites also chimed in. The liberal interventionist and pro-Israel activist Nick Cohen lashed out at Corbyn, writing a hackneyed op-ed that utterly ignored the Western wars he has wholeheartedly supported that have destabilized the Middle East and fueled Salafi-jihadism. Cohen instead framed violent extremism as a matter of values, subtly reinforcing the line of far-right Islamophobes like UKIPs Nigel Farage.

The corporate media did its part, tarring and feathering the leftist Labour leader. A columnist at the right-wing Telegraph published a hatchet job not so subtly titled, Jeremy Corbyn has long hated Britain.

Analysis from Loughborough Universitys Center for Research in Communication and Culture showed the almost comically ridiculous bias Labour faces in the British media.

Few media outlets, even ostensibly left-leaning newspapers like the Guardian, acknowledged that in reality, the policies pursued by the U.K.s right-wing government, with the support of Theresa May, have led to the spread of the type of violent extremism that fueled the Manchester attack.

Virtually no one cited the British government reports that corroborate Corbyns argument.

The Governments Own Findings Back Corbyn Up

Behind the bluster, multiple reports released by the British government backed up Corbyns remarks.

In 2016, the British House of Commons bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee published a detailed report on the 2011 war in Libya exposing that the NATO military intervention had beensold on lies.

Among the deceptions deployed to justify NATO regime change was the myth that the Libyan opposition was politically moderate. The Foreign Affairs Committee report on the other hand noted that the British government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element.

The House of Commons report added, It is now clear that militant Islamist militias played a critical role in the rebellion from February 2011 onwards.

Moreover, the U.K. governments enormous, decade-long Iraq Inquiry, popularly known as the Chilcot Report,revealed in 2016 that before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, British intelligence officials had repeatedly warned that the joint American-British war would fuel and empowerSalafi-jihadist groups like al-Qaeda.

Despite these reports, centrist former Labour prime minister Tony Blair teamed up with U.S. President George W. Bush, in an invasion that the United Nations explicitly said violated international law. Blair admitted in 2015 that the Iraq war, in which he played Bushs junior partner, gave riseto ISIS.

Closing the Gap

With mere days before the election, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to close the once large chasm between his party and the Tories. And he has done this despite enormous odds and tremendous opposition from his partys ossified establishment.

When the snap election was scheduled by Prime Minister May in April, it seemed a Tory victory was all but certain. In the months since, support for Labour has slowly increased. On May 31, leading pollster YouGov put Labour just 3 percent behind the Conservatives, which could lose its parliamentary majority. Corbyn and May are neck and neck.

Corbyn has managed to do this in spite of a level of media bias that is almost unprecedented in British politics. Even the Guardian has treated Corbyn as a pariah.

Yet the British public has rejected the elite medias torrent of attacks, sending a surge of support for Labour. While the political establishment and the corporate media have been unable to explain why the scourge of violent extremism continues, Corbyn has provided the public the answers it has been desperately seeking. His deft response to the Manchester attack appears to be paying dues.

For years, Corbyn has been an outspoken, principled critic of Western wars. He has long been a leader in the Stop the War Coalition. (In a symbolic anecdote, Chelsea Clinton interrupted a Stop the War Coalition event in 2003 that featured Corbyn as a speaker.)

Jeremy Corbyn is trying to mainstream a left-wing alternative to the discredited centrist and the far-right fringe. Rather than running from his political identity, he has put it front and center, reminding British voters after Manchester, I have spent my political life working for peace and human rights and to bring an end to conflict and devastating wars.

Corbyn may not beat the odds and unseat May, but his unexpected surge in the polls has served as a stunning rebuke to the militaristic political elite, and gives a glimmer of hope to those who still imagine an end to the forever war.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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Jeremy Corbyn Dares to Speak Truth About the ‘War on Terror’ – AlterNet

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Manchester Bomber Is The Spawn Of Hillary And Barack’s Excellent Libyan Adventure – Mintpress News (blog)

Manchester is the latest iteration of a scenario weve gone through so many times now, like some groundhog-day dream.

An armed Libyan rebel shoots an AK-47 at a poster of Muhammar Gaddafi in the captured rebel town of Ras-Lanuf in the east of the country (Photo: Andrey Stenin/Sputnik)

On November 20, 2015, two jihadi militants attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, seizing about 100 hostages and leaving bodies strewed across the building. When it was over, 22 people (including the attackers) had been killed. As the New York Times reported:

Mali has been crippled by instability since January, 2012, when rebels and Al Qaeda-linked militants armed with the remnants of late Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafis arsenal began advancing through the countrys vast desert in the north and capturing towns.

Not much has been made in American and Western media of this attack. Most of the dead were Malians, Russians, and Chineseand, hey, it was in Africa; Shit happens. Especially there. How many people reading this even remember that it happened? Follow-up analysis? It was Africa. That kind of coverage. (I did post about it at the time, making many points that unfortunately bear repeating here.)

Last Monday, jihadi suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people. Salman grew up in an anti-Qaddafi Libyan immigrant family. In 2011, his father, Ramadan Abedi, along with other British Libyans (including one who was under house arrest), was allowed to go [to Libya], no questions asked, to join the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaeda-affiliate, to help overthrow Qaddafi. In Manchester, as Max Blumenthal puts it, in his excellent Alternet piece, it was all part of the rat line operated by the MI5, which hustled anti-Qaddafi Libyan exiles to the front lines of the war. In Manchester, Salman lived near a number of LIFG militants, including an expert bomb maker. This was a tough bunch, and everybodyincluding the cops and Salmans Muslim neighborsknew they werent the Jets and the Sharks. As Middle East Eye reports, he was known to security services, and some of his acquaintances had reported him to the police via an anti-terrorism hotline.

Could it be any clearer? The Abedi family was part of a protected cohort of Salafist proxy soldiers that have been used by the West to destroy the Libyan state. There are a number of such cohorts around the world that have been used for decades to overthrow relatively prosperous and secular, but insufficiently compliant, governments in the Arab and Muslim worldand members of those groups have perpetrated several blowback attacks in Western countries, via various winding roads. In this case, the direct line from Libya to Mali to Manchester is particularly easy to trace.

Too bad more people in Britain and the West hadnt paid attention to what happened in Mali two years ago. Too bad they hadnt thought too much about the chain of jihadi proxy interventions that the United States and its allies, or about the connection with the chain of jihadi attacks in Western countries. Too bad they hadnt recognized the continuing arrogance of the Western (U.S./NATO) and Middle Eastern (Gulf, Israel) powers who think they can unleash and re-leash these jihadi fighters at will. Too bad they dont understand the contradiction between mourning the bombing of Manchester and crying for the bombing of Syria.

Too bad the Western (i.e., American-directed) media dont provide what would be necessary to understand these things: ongoing coverage and analysis of the obvious relation between the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by jihadi militants and the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by Western and allied governments. Its a good bet nobody will have forgotten the Manchester bombing two years from now. It was in merry old England, after all and many of the victims were beautiful British girls. Its also a good bet that the media analysis will continue to have everyone scratching their heads about why these death-loving Muslims hate us so much. That kind of coverage.

The jihadi attackers in Mali and the jihadi bomber in Manchester were direct productsnot accidental by-products, but deliberately incubated protgsof American-British-French-NATO regime change in Libya, a project that was executed by the Obama administration and spearheaded by Hillary Clinton.

Before the glorious revolution, Libya under Ghaddafi had the highest standard of living of any country in Africa, according to the UN Human Development Index. Before the jihadi onslaught backed by NATO bombing campaign, Ghaddafis Libya was an anchor of stability in North Africa, as even the U.S. and British governments knew and acknowledged, per a 2008 cable from American foreign service officer Christopher Stevens, published by Wikileaks:

Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellentMuammar al-Qadhafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilize the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam.

The US-British-French-NATO humanitarian intervention put an end to that by overthrowing the Libyan government under entirely phony pretexts, in contravention of fundamental international law, and in violation of the UN resolution, they claimed as a justification. The executioners and beneficiaries of that aggression where the jihadis who have been rampaging from Mali to Manchester. Its a bright, clear line.

Britains Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi near Gaddafis home town of Sirte. May 29, 2007. (Leon Neal/Reuters)

Ghaddafi himself warned Tony Blair that an organization [the LIFG].has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organization in North Africa. Ghaddafis son, Saif, warned that overthrowing Libyas would make the country the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean and You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door.

Thanks to Blair and Obama and Clinton and Sarkozy, thats exactly what happened. Libya was destroyed as a functioning state, and the terror is now inside every Western door.

Westerners and Americans transfixed by Ghaddafis garish posturing may have, and may still, find it hard to accept, but it needs to be said aloud: In 2011, Ghaddafi was right about what was going in in Libya, and all best and brightest militaristic conservatives and humanitarian liberals, in and out of government, were wrong. A lot of radical lefties, too, myself included; though I always vehemently opposed the US-NATO intervention, I, too, took Ghaddafis complaints for excuses. But lesson learned (by some): What was going on in Libya was the same thing that went on in Afghanistan in the 80s, and the same thing that is going on in Syria today, supercharged by the intervening war in Iraq

Throughout this nefarious chain of destruction, nobody in the world has committed worse crimes than all the humanitarian liberals in and out of government who have enacted and/or gone along with the imperialist chaos program of destroying relatively prosperous and secular societies in the Arab and Muslim world, and replacing them with sectarian jihadi playgrounds. And no force in the world is more responsible for the rampaging jihadi wolves, lone and in packs, than the United States and its compliant allies, including Great Britain.

Whether any American liberal wants to or not, anyone who is mourning Manchester needs to hear it said: Were crying over the horror in Manchester today because yesterday Hillary Clinton was laughing about the horror she inflicted on Libya including the killing of Ghaddafi by those protected Salafist proxies who sodomized him with a bayonet: We came. We saw. He died. [big smile, joyous laugther] Yes, exactly that.

Ha, Ha. Maybe she can get a gig in a comedy club in Manchester.

Really, knowing what we do about Libya through to Manchester, does any of the outrageous things weve from Trump equal the despicableness of Hillarys perverse glee in this video? Its an image not to be forgotten.

Im sure that our current president, if hes given the timeand, if hes not, some other Republican or Democratwill meet or exceed the high standards that have been set, but Donald Trump has not yet come near committing the series of crimes for which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (following the precedent of five previous American administrations) are responsible. These crimes produced the twin horrors of imperialist and jihadi chaos, of which the destruction of the Libyan state was one egregious example, and the killing of young concertgoers in Manchester another. This represents a deep, persistent bipartisan policy that is much more important and difficult to confront than the question of which front man or woman will be selling it.

Manchester is the latest iteration of a scenario weve gone through so many times now, like some groundhog-day dream. At the end of my post two years ago, I was urging and hoping that Americans would wake up. But a lot of American liberals and lefties, including Berniebots, still like to imagine theres a political space they can inhabit called Progressive Except Imperialism. There isnt. Imperialism with Social Security and Medicare and Obamacareeven single-payer healthcareis imperialism, and its reactionary and supremacist. Equal-opportunity imperialism is imperialism. African-American, women, Latinx, or LGBTQ presidents, generals, and drone operators do not make it any less criminal, or dangerous, or any less inevitably erosive of all those cherished progressive domestic programs.

Ignoring or putting aside what the U.S. does in Libya, or Iraq, or Syria, or Palestine becauseTrump! The Republicans! is ignoring a fundamental element of a progressive politics as well as an immediate danger to the country. One can do it, but those who do, cant claim to be seriously confronting the horrors of a tragedy like Manchester, no matter how many tears they shed.

Im afraid that is where were stuck. The absurdity of Trump is drawing more well-meaning people into the flames of nostalgia for an imaginary Democratic copasetic state that disappeared on January 20th. The #Resistance cant even get its act together for single-payer healthcarethe easiest sell imaginable; its not only avoiding the more contentious issues regarding American aggression in places like Libya and Syria, its succumbing to the dangerous, war-mongering, Russophobic program of the military-intelligence complex.

Its still dream on, and I fear it will take a shock much greater than Manchester before Americans finally get the news.

The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.

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The Manchester Bomber Is The Spawn Of Hillary And Barack’s Excellent Libyan Adventure – Mintpress News (blog)

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Legacy of Hillary, Barack’s Libyan adventure – The Herald

Barack Obama

Jim Kavanagh Correspondent On November 20, 2015, two jihadi militants attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, seizing about 100 hostages and leaving bodies strewed across the building.

When it was over, 22 people (including the attackers) had been killed. As the New York Times reported:

Mali has been crippled by instability since January, 2012, when rebels and Al Qaeda-linked militants armed with the remnants of late Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafis arsenal began advancing through the countrys vast desert in the north and capturing towns.

Not much has been made in American and Western media of this attack.

Most of the dead were Malians, Russians, and Chinese and, hey, it was in Africa; Shit happens. Especially there. How many people reading this even remember that it happened? Follow-up analysis? It was Africa. That kind of coverage.

Last Monday, jihadi suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people.

Salman grew up in an anti-Gaddafi Libyan immigrant family. In 2011, his father, Ramadan Abedi, along with other British Libyans (including one who was under house arrest), was allowed to go [to Libya], no questions asked, to join the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaeda-affiliate, to help overthrow Gaddafi.

In Manchester, as Max Blumenthal puts it, in his excellent Alternet piece, it was all part of the rat line operated by the MI5, which hustled anti-Gaddafi Libyan exiles to the front lines of the war.

In Manchester, Salman lived near a number of LIFG militants, including an expert bomb maker. This was a tough bunch, and everybody including the cops and Salmans Muslim neighbours knew they werent the Jets and the Sharks. As Middle East Eye reports, he was known to security services, and some of his acquaintances had reported him to the police via an anti-terrorism hotline.

Could it be any clearer? The Abedi family was part of a protected cohort of Salafist proxy soldiers that have been used by the West to destroy the Libyan state. There are a number of such cohorts around the world that have been used for decades to overthrow relatively prosperous and secular, but insufficiently compliant, governments in the Arab and Muslim worldand members of those groups have perpetrated several blowback attacks in Western countries, via various winding roads. In this case, the direct line from Libya to Mali to Manchester is particularly easy to trace.

Too bad more people in Britain and the West hadnt paid attention to what happened in Mali two years ago. Too bad they hadnt thought too much about the chain of jihadi proxy interventions that the United States and its allies, or about the connection with the chain of jihadi attacks in Western countries. Too bad they hadnt recognised the continuing arrogance of the Western (US/Nato) and Middle Eastern (Gulf, Israel) powers who think they can unleash and re-leash these jihadi fighters at will. Too bad they dont understand the contradiction between mourning the bombing of Manchester and crying for the bombing of Syria.

Too bad the Western (i.e., American-directed) media dont provide what would be necessary to understand these things: ongoing coverage and analysis of the obvious relation between the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by jihadi militants and the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by Western and allied governments.

Its a good bet nobody will have forgotten the Manchester bombing two years from now.

It was in merry old England, after all and many of the victims were beautiful British girls.

Its also a good bet that the media analysis will continue to have everyone scratching their heads about why these death-loving Muslims hate us so much.

That kind of coverage.

The jihadi attackers in Mali and the jihadi bomber in Manchester were direct products not accidental by-products, but deliberately incubated protgs of American-British-French-NATO regime change in Libya, a project that was executed by the Obama administration and spearheaded by Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clintion

Before the glorious revolution, Libya under Gaddafi had the highest standard of living of any country in Africa, according to the UN Human Development Index.

Before the jihadi onslaught backed by Nato bombing campaign, Gaddafis Libya was an anchor of stability in North Africa, as even the US and British governments knew and acknowledged, per a 2008 cable from American foreign service officer Christopher Stevens, published by WikiLeaks:

Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent . . . Muammar Gaddafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilise the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam.

The US-British-French-Nato humanitarian intervention put an end to that by overthrowing the Libyan government under entirely phony pretexts, in contravention of fundamental international law, and in violation of the UN resolution they claimed as a justification.

The executioners and beneficiaries of that aggression where the jihadis who have been rampaging from Mali to Manchester.

Its a bright, clear line.

Gaddafi himself warned Tony Blair that an organisation [the LIFG] has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organisation in North Africa.

Gaddafis son, Saif, warned that overthrowing Libyas government would make the country the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean and You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door.

Thanks to Blair and Obama and Clinton and Sarkozy, thats exactly what happened.

Libya was destroyed as a functioning state, and the terror is now inside every Western door.

Westerners and Americans transfixed by Gaddafis garish posturing may have, and may still, find it hard to accept, but it needs to be said aloud: In 2011, Gaddafi was right about what was going on in Libya, and all best and brightest militaristic conservatives and humanitarian liberals, in and out of government, were wrong.

A lot of radical lefties, too, myself included; though I always vehemently opposed the US-Nato intervention, I, too, took Gaddafis complaints for excuses.

But lesson learned (by some): What was going on in Libya was the same thing that went on in Afghanistan in the 80s, and the same thing that is going on in Syria today, supercharged by the intervening war in Iraq

Throughout this nefarious chain of destruction, nobody in the world has committed worse crimes than all the humanitarian liberals in and out of government who have enacted and/or gone along with the imperialist chaos program of destroying relatively prosperous and secular societies in the Arab and Muslim world, and replacing them with sectarian jihadi playgrounds.

And no force in the world is more responsible for the rampaging jihadi wolves, lone and in packs, than the United States and its compliant allies, including Great Britain.

Whether any American liberal wants to or not, anyone who is mourning Manchester needs to hear it said: Were crying over the horror in Manchester today because yesterday Hillary Clinton was laughing about the horror she inflicted on Libya including the killing of Gaddafi by those protected Salafist proxies who sodomised him with a bayonet: We came. We saw. He died. [big smile, joyous laughter] Yes, exactly that.

Ha, Ha. Maybe she can get a gig in a comedy club in Manchester.

Really, knowing what we do about Libya through to Manchester, does any of the outrageous things weve from Trump equal the despicableness of Hillarys perverse glee in this video? Its an image not to be forgotten.

Im sure that our current president, if hes given the timeand, if hes not, some other Republican or Democratwill meet or exceed the high standards that have been set, but Donald Trump has not yet come near committing the series of crimes for which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (following the precedent of five previous American administrations) are responsible. These crimes produced the twin horrors of imperialist and jihadi chaos, of which the destruction of the Libyan state was one egregious example, and the killing of young concertgoers in Manchester another. This represents a deep, persistent bipartisan policy that is much more important and difficult to confront than the question of which front man or woman will be selling it.

Manchester is the latest iteration of a scenario weve gone through so many times now, like some groundhog-day dream

Its still dream on, and I fear it will take a shock much greater than Manchester before Americans finally get the news. Counterpunch

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Legacy of Hillary, Barack’s Libyan adventure – The Herald

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May 30, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West’s Disastrous Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars – Bulatlat

How the US and UK helped bring jihadists like Salem Abedi to Libya and Syria

By MAX BLUMENTHAL AlterNet

The heinous suicide bombing by British-born Salman Abedi of an Arianna Grande concert in Manchester was not merely the work of an evil loser, as Donald Trump called it. It was blowback from interventionist policies carried out in the name of human rights and civilian protection. Through wars of regime change and the arming and training of Islamist proxy groups, the US, UK and France played out imperial delusions across the Middle East. In Syria and Libya, they cultivated the perfect petri dish for jihadist insurgency, helping to spawn weaponized nihilists like Abedi intent on bringing the Wests wars back home.

The son of anti-Qaddafi immigrants to the UK, Abedi grew up in Manchesters community of Libyan exiles. A report in the London Telegraph indicated that he had traveled just weeks before his attack to Libya, where Salafi-jihadi militias are competing for control of the destabilized country. Abedi had also reportedly traveled to Syria to join up with the extremist rebels that have waged a six-year-long insurgency against the countrys government, with billions of dollars in assistance from the West and its Gulf allies. According to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, it was in these conflict zones where Abedi was radicalized. Sens John McCain and Lindsey Graham with Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leader Abdelhakim Belhaj The impressionable 22-year-old returned to the UK with enough training to make a fairly sophisticated bomb that massacred 22 concert goers, many of them children. It seems likely possible that he wasnt doing this on his own, Britains home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the BBC. She described the bomb as more sophisticated than some of the attacks weve seen before.

According to the Telegraph, A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range. They included Abd al-Baset Azzouz, an expert bomb maker who controls an Al Qaeda-affiliated militia in eastern Libya.

When the uprising against Gaddafi began in 2011, Ramadan Abedi, the father of Salem, returned to his home country to fight with the LIFG.

While it is not known if Salman Abedi himself was involved with the LIFG, the groups links to British and American intelligence are well established, and go back decades.

The Wests favorite Al Qaeda affiliate?

David Shayler, a maverick officer of Britains MI5 intelligence services, alleged that his government had covertly funded the LIFG to carry out the failed 1996 assassination attempt on Qaddafi.. Two years later, Libyan state television produced footage of a failed grenade attack on Qaddafi that it alleged was carried out by a British agent. At the time, the LIFG was an affiliate of Al Qaeda whose members included Anas al-Libi, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden.

In March 1998, Qaddafis Libya became the first country to issue an Interpol arrest warrant for bin Laden. The warrant was studiously ignored by American and British intelligence, according to French journalist Guillaume Dasqui and Jean-Charles Brisard, an adviser to French President Jacques Chirac. Five months later, Al Qaeda struck the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. (Among the participants in the attack were al-Libi and Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a spy for Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who had entered the US on a CIA-approved visa and managed to rise to the rank of corporal at the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg, where he smuggled special forces training manuals out to Al Qaeda cadres.)

An MI6 document leaked online in 2000 appeared to confirm Shaylers account, asserting that British intelligence was aware of a plot in 1995 to kill Qaddafi that included Libya veterans who served in Afghanistan. LIFGs leader, Abdelhakim Belhaj, had been among those veterans, fighting against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the 1980s alongside local mujahedin armed and trained by the CIA. He moved his operations to Sudan in 1991, the same year that bin Laden set up camp outside the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

It took the attacks of 9/11 and the inauguration of the so-called war on terror to make Belhaj a target of the West. He was captured in 2001 by the CIA in Pakistan, where he had fled after fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban, and was rendered to Libya two months later. Six years later, he was released from prison thanks to a de-radicalization program overseen by Saif Qaddafi and facilitated through negotiations with the Qatari government.

A secret 2008 US Embassy cable described Qaddafis government as a bulwark against the spread of Islamist militancy. Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent, the cable read. Muammar al-Qadhafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilize the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam.

The author of that cable was the late foreign service officer, J. Christopher Stevens.

Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation

When the Libyan uprising broke out in March 2011, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates immediately pumped arms and logistical support into the armed opposition. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw the insurgency as an opportunity for America to assert its influence amidst the tumult of the Arab Spring. She advocated arming the rebels on the grounds that Washington could get skin in the game, according to her Middle East advisor, Dennis Ross.

Ignoring warnings from NATOs supreme allied commander Adm. James Stavridis about the presence of Al Qaeda in the opposition, President Barack Obama approved shipments of TOW missiles, armored Humvees, and advanced radar systems to the Libyan insurgents.

When she learned of the newly up-armed rebels rapid advances, Clinton reportedly exclaimed, Good! This is the only language that Qaddafi is understanding.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a subject of Qatari political influence and alleged bribery over the 2022 FIFA World Cup vote, urged his Western allies to ask our Arab friends to distribute weapons to the National Transitional Council, the official body of the Libyan opposition. When a French shipment of missiles and machine guns arrived through the port of Benghazi, the NTCs acting defense minister handed them over to Belhaj and the LIFG.

As the insurgency gathered steam, Belhaj found a powerful ally in John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After a friendly meeting with Belhaj and his militiamen in Benghazi on April 22, 2011, McCain called on responsible nations to provide the Libyan rebels with battlefield intelligence, training, and weapons.

McCain emerged from the meeting stirred with inspiration. I met these courageous fighters, and they are not al-Qaeda, the senator proclaimed. To the contrary: they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We need to help them do that.

They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe

In the early days of the insurgency, on February 25, Qaddafi reached out to Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister who had cut the deal in the desert that brought Qaddafi out of the political wilderness in 2004.

In a series of panicked phone calls that day, Qaddafi warned Blair that his removal would open the floodgates for a jihadist takeover. I want to tell you the truth, he said to Blair. It is not a difficult situation at all. The story is simply this: an organization has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organization in North Africa. They dont use Arabic words, they use Islamic [ones]. The sleeper cells in Libya are similar to the ones in America before 9/11.

Qaddafi then mentioned rebels who had spent time in Guantanamo detainee who had joined Al Qaeda and trained at a camp run by bin Laden in Afghanistan. He was referring to Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who was captured by the US in Pakistan thanks to a tip from Qaddafis own intelligence services. Qaddafi complained that Qumu was now leading the forces seeking his ouster, a claim confirmed by the New York Times two months later when it described the rebel leader as a US ally of sorts.

The Libyan strongman predicted that if the rebels overthrew him, they would set up an Islamic state in the country, or what he called an Al Qaeda Emirate.

He concluded: They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe.

Blair brushed Qaddafis ominous warnings aside and calmly urged him to relinquish power through a peaceful transition. A week later, Obama declared, Moammar Qaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.

Qaddafis son, Saif, warned at the time that the removal of Libyas government by force would lead to a refugee crisis of titanic proportions. Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean, the younger Qaddafi declared in 2011. You will see the pirates in Sicily, in Crete, in Lampedusa [the Italian island home of migrant detention facilities]. You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door.

A failed state, courtesy of NATO

Almost six years after Moamar Qaddafi was sodomized to death with a bayonet in the streets of his hometown of Sirte by Western-backed rebels operating under NATO air cover, then left to rot in a butcher shop in Misrata, his most dire warnings have come true.

Libya today is a failed state, its public coffers and oil reserves looted by the foreign powers that oversaw the war of regime change in 2011. Its shores are a main disembarkation point for migrants, where women fleeing conflict and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa are beaten, raped and starved in living hellholes, according to UNICEF. The United Nations International Organization for Migration has recorded testimony of open air slave markets in Libya where migrants from West Africa are bought and sold. The refugee crisis has propelled the rise of the far-right in Europe, fueling the demagogic politics of figures from Nigel Farage to Marine Le Pen that blame the victims of the Wests catastrophic interventions.

While Belhaj has emerged as a powerbroker of the free Libya, leading the Islamist al-Watan Party and operating his own private media empire with backing from Qatar, Libya has been overrun by warlords affiliated with jihadist groups like the Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia, the Al Qaeda affiliate that participated in the notorious 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Salem Abedis younger brother, Hashem, is a member of the Islamic State, according to a rival militia, and helped plan the Manchester attack from inside Libya.

The British Foreign Affairs Committee report released in September 2016 on the Libyan intervention concluded that, Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate.

Its authors added, The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.

Lingering questions

In the wake of the Manchester bombing, British citizens deserve a new public inquiry. Acquaintances of the Abedi family said that neighbors in Manchester had notified an anti-terrorism hotline several years ago when Salman Abedi expressed public support for suicide bombing. But British authorities took no action.

Was British intelligence attempting to groom Abedi as an informant, as it had tried with Mohammed Emwazi, the wayward London youth who somehow wound up in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria as the fearsome decapitator known as Jihadi John? What did the British government know about Abedi and when did it know it?

The right-wing demagogues pouring out their wrath on Muslim immigrants and rallying for more restrictionist policies are diverting blame from where it should ultimately lie. In their pursuit of imperial delusions in Libya and beyond, Western leaders cynically sacrificed the security of their own citizens, setting the stage for the massacre in Manchester. The interventionists should be held accountable before they can strike again. Reposted by

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The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West’s Disastrous Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars – Bulatlat

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The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West’s Disastrous Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars – AlterNet

Sens John McCain and Lindsey Graham with Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leader Abdelhakim Belhaj

The heinous suicide bombing by British-born Salman Abedi of an Arianna Grande concert in Manchester was not merely the work of an evil loser, as Donald Trump called it. It was blowback from interventionist policies carried out in the name of human rights and civilian protection. Through wars of regime change and the arming and training of Islamist proxy groups, the US, UK and France played out imperial delusions across the Middle East. In Syria and Libya, they cultivated the perfect petri dish for jihadist insurgency, helping to spawn weaponized nihilists like Abedi intent on bringing the Wests wars back home.

The son of anti-Qaddafi immigrants to the UK, Abedi grew up in Manchesters community of Libyan exiles. A report in the London Telegraph indicated that he had traveled just weeks before his attack to Libya, where Salafi-jihadi militias are competing for control of the destabilized country. Abedi had also reportedly traveled to Syria to join up with the extremist rebels that have waged a six-year-long insurgency against the countrys government, with billions of dollars in assistance from the West and its Gulf allies. According to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, it was in these conflict zones where Abedi was radicalized.

The impressionable 22-year-old returned to the UK with enough training to make a fairly sophisticated bomb that massacred 22 concert goers, many of them children. It seems likely possible that he wasnt doing this on his own, Britains home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the BBC. She described the bomb as more sophisticated than some of the attacks weve seen before.

According to the Telegraph, A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range. They included Abd al-Baset Azzouz, an expert bomb maker who controls an Al Qaeda-affiliated militia in eastern Libya.

When the uprising against Gaddafi began in 2011, Ramadan Abedi, the father of Salem, returned to his home country to fight with the LIFG. He was part of the rat line operated by the MI5, which hustled anti-Qaddafi Libyan exiles to the front lines of the war.

“I was allowed to go [to Libya], no questions asked,” a British Libyan who had been under house arrest at the time for ties to extremist groups, told Middle East Eye.

While it is not known if Salman Abedi himself was involved with the LIFG, the groups links to British and American intelligence are well established, and go back decades.

The Wests favorite Al Qaeda affiliate?

David Shayler, a maverick officer of Britains MI5 intelligence services, alleged that his government had covertly funded the LIFG to carry out the failed 1996 assassination attempt on Qaddafi. Two years later, Libyan state television produced footage of a failed grenade attack on Qaddafi that it alleged was carried out by a British agent. At the time, the LIFG was an affiliate of Al Qaeda whose members included Anas al-Libi, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden.

In March 1998, Qaddafis Libya became the first country to issue an Interpol arrest warrant for bin Laden. The warrant was studiously ignored by American and British intelligence, according to French journalist Guillaume Dasqui and Jean-Charles Brisard, an adviser to French President Jacques Chirac. Five months later, Al Qaeda struck the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. (Among the participants in the attack were al-Libi and Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a spy for Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who had entered the US on a CIA-approved visa and managed to rise to the rank of corporal at the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg, where he smuggled special forces training manuals out to Al Qaeda cadres.)

An MI6 document leaked online in 2000 appeared to confirm Shaylers account, asserting that British intelligence was aware of a plot in 1995 to kill Qaddafi that included Libya veterans who served in Afghanistan. LIFGs leader, Abdelhakim Belhaj, had been among those veterans, fighting against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the 1980s alongside local mujahedin armed and trained by the CIA. He moved his operations to Sudan in 1991, the same year that bin Laden set up camp outside the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

It took the attacks of 9/11 and the inauguration of the so-called war on terror to make Belhaj a target of the West. He was captured in 2001 by the CIA in Pakistan, where he had fled after fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban, and was rendered to Libya two months later. Six years later, he was released from prison thanks to a de-radicalization program overseen by Saif Qaddafi and facilitated through negotiations with the Qatari government.

A secret 2008 US embassy cable described Qaddafis government as a bulwark against the spread of Islamist militancy. Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent, the cable read. Muammar al-Qadhafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilize the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam.

The author of that cable was the late foreign service officer, J. Christopher Stevens.

Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation

When the Libyan uprising broke out in March 2011, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates immediately pumped arms and logistical support into the armed opposition. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw the insurgency as an opportunity for America to assert its influence amidst the tumult of the Arab Spring. She advocated arming the rebels on the grounds that Washington could get skin in the game, according to her Middle East advisor, Dennis Ross.

Ignoring warnings from NATOs supreme allied commander Adm. James Stavridis about the presence of Al Qaeda in the opposition, President Barack Obama approved shipments of TOW missiles, armored Humvees, and advanced radar systems to the Libyan insurgents.

When she learned of the newly up-armed rebels rapid advances, Clinton reportedly exclaimed, Good! This is the only language that Qaddafi is understanding.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a subject of Qatari political influence and alleged bribery over the 2022 FIFA World Cup vote, urged his Western allies to ask our Arab friends to distribute weapons to the National Transitional Council, the official body of the Libyan opposition. When a French shipment of missiles and machine guns arrived through the port of Benghazi, the NTCs acting defense minister handed them over to Belhaj and the LIFG.

As the insurgency gathered steam, Belhaj found a powerful ally in John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After a friendly meeting with Belhaj and his militiamen in Benghazi on April 22, 2011, McCain called on responsible nations to provide the Libyan rebels with battlefield intelligence, training, and weapons.

McCain emerged from the meeting stirred with inspiration. “I met these courageous fighters, and they are not al-Qaeda, the senator proclaimed. To the contrary: they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We need to help them do that.

They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe

In the early days of the insurgency, on February 25, Qaddafi reached out to Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister who had cut the deal in the desert that brought Qaddafi out of the political wilderness in 2004.

In a series of panicked phone calls that day, Qaddafi warned Blair that his removal would open the floodgates for a jihadist takeover. I want to tell you the truth, he said to Blair. It is not a difficult situation at all. The story is simply this: an organization has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organization in North Africa. They dont use Arabic words, they use Islamic [ones]. The sleeper cells in Libya are similar to the ones in America before 9/11.

Qaddafi then mentioned rebels who had spent time in Guantanamo detainee who had joined Al Qaeda and trained at a camp run by bin Laden in Afghanistan. He wasreferring to Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who was captured by the US in Pakistan thanks to a tip from Qaddafis own intelligence services. Qaddafi complained that Qumu was now leading the forces seeking his ouster, a claim confirmed by the New York Times two months later when it described the rebel leader as “a US ally of sorts.”

The Libyan strongman predicted that if the rebels overthrew him, they would set up an Islamic state in the country, or what he called an Al Qaeda Emirate.

He concluded: They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe.

Blair brushed Qaddafis ominous warnings aside and calmly urged him to relinquish power through a peaceful transition. A week later, Obama declared, Moammar Qaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.

Qaddafis son, Saif, warned at the time that the removal of Libyas government by force would lead to a refugee crisis of titanic proportions. Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean, the younger Qaddafi declared in 2011. You will see the pirates in Sicily, in Crete, in Lampedusa [the Italian island home of migrant detention facilities]. You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door.

A failed state, courtesy of NATO

Almost six years after Moamar Qaddafi was sodomized to death with a bayonet in the streets of his hometown of Sirte by Western-backed rebels operating under NATO air cover, then left to rot in a butcher shop in Misrata, his most dire warnings have come true.

Libya today is a failed state, its public coffers and oil reserves looted by the foreign powers that oversaw the war of regime change in 2011. Its shores are a main disembarkation point for migrants, where women fleeing conflict and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa are beaten, raped and starved in “living hellholes,” according to UNICEF.The United Nations International Organization for Migration has recorded testimonyof open air slave markets in Libya where migrants from West Africa are bought and sold. The refugee crisis has propelled the rise of the far-right in Europe, fueling the demagogic politics of figures from Nigel Farage to Marine Le Pen that blame the victims of the Wests catastrophic interventions.

While Belhaj has emerged as a powerbroker of the free Libya, leading the Islamist al-Watan Party and operating his own private media empire with backing from Qatar, Libya has been overrun by warlords affiliated with jihadist groups like the Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia, the Al Qaeda affiliate that participated in the notorious 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Salem Abedis younger brother, Hashem, is a member of the Islamic State, according to a rival militia, and helped plan the Manchester attack from inside Libya.

The British Foreign Affairs Committee report released in September 2016 on the Libyan intervention concluded that, Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate.

Its authors added, The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.

Lingering questions

In the wake of the Manchester bombing, British citizens deserve a new public inquiry. Acquaintances of the Abedi family said that neighbors in Manchester had notified an anti-terrorism hotline several years ago when Salman Abedi expressed public support for suicide bombing. But British authorities took no action.

Was British intelligence attempting to groom Abedi as an informant, as it had tried with Mohammed Emwazi, the wayward London youth who somehow wound up in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria as the fearsome decapitator known as Jihadi John? What did the British government know about Abedi and when did it know it?

The right-wing demagogues pouring out their wrath on Muslim immigrants and rallying for more restrictionist policies are diverting blame from where it should ultimately lie. In their pursuit of imperial delusions in Libya and beyond, Western leaders cynically sacrificed the security of their own citizens, setting the stage for the massacre in Manchester. The interventionists should be held accountable before they can strike again.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West’s Disastrous Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars – AlterNet

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Yet another video shows US-funded white helmets assisting public-held executions in rebel-held Syria – Salon

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Syria Civil Defense, popularly knownas the White Helmets, can be seen in a new video assisting in a public execution in a rebel-held town in Syria. It is at least the second such execution video featuring members of the Nobel Prize-nominated group.

The White Helmets have received at least $23 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a wing of the State Department. The British Foreign Office and other European governments have pitched in as well.

Frequently cited as an invaluable source of information by major Western media outlets, the group was the subject of an Academy Award-winning 2016 Netflix documentary,The White Helmets.

Endorsements from A-list Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney and Justin Timberlake, as well as Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, have followed.

Large corporate media networks have yet to report on the dark side of the White Helmets, however, and films like the widely celebrated Netflix feature function as uncritical commercials for the group, helping to keep the public in a state of ignorance about the domination of the Western-backed Syrian armed opposition by extremist Salafi jihadist groups, and about the civil conflict in general.

While CNN and other outlets rely heavily on footage taken by White Helmets members, not one major Western media outlet has reported on the latest execution video starring the groups uniformed members.

The video, which Syrian opposition activists uploaded to Facebook, shows three men from the White Helmets rushing into the center of a crowd, mere seconds after an alleged criminal was shot in the head, and removing the body on a stretcher. A member of the White Helmets can be seen celebrating along with the crowd of onlookers.

WARNING: This video features violence that may disturb viewers.

The men in the video were clearly identified by their signature white helmets, along with vests embroidered with the Syria Civil Defense logo.

The public execution took place in the small city of Jasim, in Syrias southern Daraa province which is often described as a hub for moderate rebels. Activists posted the video on May 16 on the Facebook page Coordination of the City of Al-Harra, Mother of the Martyrs, a site for the opposition in the neighboring city of Al-Harra.

Two days later, Syria Civil Defense released a carefully craftedstatementadmitting its members were involved in the execution. The statement noted that a tribal council in Jasim had asked the White Helmets to humanely dispose of the body of a person that had been sentenced to death, by the local court, for murder. The group said it had conducted an investigation into the execution, and in response dismissed a White Helmet leader, while temporarily suspending two other team members.

Executing an Oscar-worthy performance

This is not the first time the White Helmets have appeared as participants in a public execution.

A jarring execution filmed in 2015 in the rebel-held town of Haritan shows two members of Syria Civil Defense waiting just off camera while a member of Syrias al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, reads out a death sentence, before shooting a man dressed in street clothes in the head. Seconds later, the White Helmets team tosses the mans body onto a stretcher and scrambles away.

WARNING: This video features violence that may disturb viewers.

The 2015 video prompted a carefully worded statement by the organization, condemning the killing and claiming its members were simply fulfilling their task by performing the emergency burial of the dead.

A British public relations outfit called the Syria Campaign was hired by an influential British-Syrian billionaire, Ayman Asfari, to market the White Helmets to the Western public. As Max Blumenthal hasreported for AlterNet, the Syria Campaign was itself the creation of a slick New York City- and London-based public relations firm called Purpose. Among the PR groups greatest achievements was fundraising for the widely celebrated Netflix documentary.

This year, the makers of the film were awarded with an Oscar for Best Documentary Short. As he received the honor before millions of viewers around the world, director Orlando Einsiedel read a prepared statement from Read al-Saleh, the director of the White Helmets: Our organization is guided by a verse in the Quran: To save one life is to save all of humanity.

But the execution videos call into question the White Helmets claims to act as an impartial, life-saving rescue organization, and raise serious questions about the motives of its funders and promoters within public relations firms and mainstream newsrooms.

Hidden soldiers of al-Qaeda and ISIS?

The White Helmets operate exclusively within the armed Syrian opposition, working closely with al-Qaedas local affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and even ISIS. The British journalist and ISIS hostage John Cantlie inadvertentlyexposed the groups relationship with ISIS when he referred to a White Helmets team as the Islamic States fire brigade in a propaganda video he was forced to participate in.

Videos and photos of White Helmets members posing triumphantly on the corpses of Syrian soldiers and joining fighters in accosting an alleged political opponent have circulated throughout social media.

In March 2015, the extremist-sympathizing opposition media outlet Sarmeen posted a video featuring the White Helmets gleefully joining a chant with Salafi jihadist fighters in Idlib, as they fire a fusillade of bullets into the air.

A member of Syria Civil Defense grabs a flag from one of the militants and begins waving it: a black flag with the shahada in white letters, a common Salafi jihadist symbol, emblazoned with the name of Jaish al-Sunna, an extremist Islamist militia that is allied with Syrias al-Qaeda affiliate and that has reportedly recruited child soldiers with the help of the al-Qaeda-linked fundamentalist Saudi warlordAbdullah al-Muhaysini.

Another upload to YouTube, posted the same day by the rebel media outlet, shows White Helmets joining the extremist militants in songs and chants.

Al-Muhaysini, the ideological leader of Syrias Salafi jihadist rebels, has repeatedly praised the White Helmets. The Saudi warlord, who has been implicated in numerous war crimes in Syria, including mass executions of captured Syrian soldiers, insisted in an interview that there is no difference between the mujahideen (Salafi jihadist fighters) and the White Helmets. He even favorably described Syria Civil Defense members as mujahideen.

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Yet another video shows US-funded white helmets assisting public-held executions in rebel-held Syria – Salon

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‘White House adviser is person of interest in Russia probe’ – AppsforPCdaily

The Times said the document was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office. The report did not name the adviser.

It says the President then told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador that he “faced great pressure because of Russian Federation”.

In this May 3, 2017, file photo, FBI Director James Comey listens on Capitol Hill in Washington.

This week, the Justice Department announced that former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller would serve as a special counsel to continue the probe into the Trump campaign and any possible ties to Russian Federation. But lawmakers indicated after the Rosenstein briefings that the special counsel-led probe will look at all these factors.

At first, the White House said Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey based on the recommendation of the Justice Department, and because of Mr. Comey’s handling of the F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton previous year.

“When I made a decision to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story”, the President admitted.

When asked by a reporter on Thursday if he had urged Comey to back down on Flynn, he responded curtly, “No, no, next question”.

Mr Trump’s arrival in Saudi Arabia came as Yemen’s armed Houthi movement said it had fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital Riyadh.

That’s not the only bad news for Trump.

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with [Sergey] Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the USA, in late November.

Despite initially opposing the appointment of an independent counsel, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the development “helps assure people and the Justice Department that they’re going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we’ve called for all along”. But lawmakers at both congressional sessions expressed frustration that Rosenstein would say little in answer to their questions about his actions – or others’ – before Comey’s firing.

He drew applause from most of the members in the room when he said the investigation into alleged Russian interference should be bipartisan. “This renewed my confidence that we should not have confidence in this administration”. “I thought he belonged in an institution”.

That flies in the face of the White House’s public insistence that Comey’s dismissal was not linked to his ongoing investigation.

Trump and his team planned the trip as an opportunity for the USA president to unify Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders against extremism, a senior administration official said.

Journalist and author Max Blumenthal told RT that recent leaks to the media represented “almost a tidal wave” coming from within the intelligence services and reported as from anonymous former and current USA officials.

“I wrote it. I believe it”. “And they can not believe what they’re finding”, he said. Rosenstein denounced that decision as “profoundly wrong and unfair”.

With the president departing on Friday afternoon for the first foreign visit of his presidency, focus was turning to the scope and nature of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the USA election and links between the president’s election campaign team and the Kremlin.

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‘White House adviser is person of interest in Russia probe’ – AppsforPCdaily

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Latest News: Comey to testify in open setting to Senate on alleged Russian interference in 2016 RT America -RT – Standard Republic

Ex-FBI director James Comey has agreed to testify openly to the Senate on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Hes also expected to react to reports that President Donald Trump called him a real nutjob in a meeting with Russian diplomats.

Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, announced late Friday that Comey accepted an invitation to testify to the committee in an open setting.

The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media, Burr said in a statement.

The committees ranking Democrat, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, said Director Comey served his country with honor for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story, in a joint statement with Burr.

President Donald Trump reportedly Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the countrys ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak that Comey was crazy, a real nutjob during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 10, one day after Comey was fired, according to the New York Times.

The Times claims the remarks came from notes taken in the Oval Office, and that an official read quotes from them to the paper, and that theyre backed up by a second official.

I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job, Trump is reported to have told the top Russian diplomats.

I faced great pressure because of Russia. Thats taken off, Trump allegedly said. Im not under investigation.

Commenting on the allegations Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russias actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.

The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations, he added.

Once again is seemingly a reference to an allegation made by the Washington Post that Trump also shared classified information with Lavrov at the same meeting.

These claims have been dismissed by the Trump administration as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, who offered to provide a record of the meeting to prove no classified or secret information was shared.

The Times also claims that a third government official who was briefed on the meeting defended the president and suggested that telling Lavrov about the pressure he was under was a negotiating tactic, designed to coax concession out of the foreign minister on Syria, Ukraine and a number of other issues.

Journalist and author Max Blumenthal told RT that recent leaks to the media constituted not just a steady drip, but almost a tidal wave coming from within the intelligence services and reported as from anonymous former and current US officials.

Many of the leaks, Blumenthal noted, were related to Trumps conversations about his Russia policy and foreign policy in general, in order to stimulate opposition not just to a US-Russia detente, but to ultimately end with nothing less than [Trumps] impeachment, Blumenthal said.

Describing Trump as an extremely sloppy operator, Blumenthal called his administration inept in putting out fires amid reported allegations and mixed messaging following the terrible handling of Comeys firing.

Trump was provoked, goaded into bombing the Syrian government by the media, a severe shift from campaign promises to work with Russia against the Islamic State in the region, Blumenthal said. Blumenthal believes geo-political as well as domestic political interests are driving an agenda set by former officials from the Obama administration against Trump.

What were witnessing is a very undemocratic atmosphere, where anonymous officials from within the intelligence agencies within the deep state are driving media coverage, driving the public into hysteria, aiming at impeachment, Blumenthal said.

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May 21, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

In the Saudis’ Den of Extremism, Trump Trades Advanced Weapons for a $200 Billion Re-Election Fund – AlterNet

President Donald Trumps nine-day-long tolerance tour will continue this Friday with a visit to Saudi Arabia. The junket offers Trump a brief respite from the suffocating atmosphere in Washington, where he faces a mounting campaign fueled by anonymous leaks from intelligence officials that is aimed at nothing less than his impeachment and replacement by a more supplicant Republican.

Trumps ties to Saudi Arabia run deep. During the campaign, even as Trump blamed the Saudi royal family for the 9/11 attacks, he registered eight companies connected to hotel interests in the kingdom. Once Trump was inaugurated, the Saudis returned the favor, paying for rooms at his Washington, D.C., hotel through Qorvis MSLGroup, a Beltway lobbying firm. The rooms were reserved for a group of veterans flown into town by Qorvis to lobby against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) congressional legislation that would allow the bereaved family members of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for its alleged role in the attacks.

Many of the veterans had no idea they were acting on behalf of Saudi Arabia, and some, like Tim Cord, staged an open revolt when they realized they had been deceived. Were sitting in a room full of retired generals, colonels, men who gave 25 years of their life to this country and theyre being lied to by a bunch of young punks who are using the vet angle to make themselves sympathetic. Why do you think a 60-year-old general would want anything to do with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Cord, a veteran of the Iraq war,complained to the website 28pages.com. I mean, thats a pretty heavy thing to assume were all going to be cool with.

Throughout his chaotic tenure, Saudi Arabia has proven to be Trumps most durable foreign ally, even providing him with political cover after the fallout from his Muslim travel ban. Following a White House meeting this March with Trump and his national security team, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmanhailed the president as a true friend of Muslims who will serve the Muslim World in an unimaginable manner, opposite to the negative portrait of his Excellency that some have tried to promote.

Ahead of the White House meeting, the Saudishired a D.C.-based consulting group, Booz Allen Hamilton, to compose a special presentation for the president. Prince Salman walked Trump through the Powerpoint slideshow the firm prepared, outlining a plan to invest at least $200 billion in American infrastructure and open up new business opportunities for U.S. companies inside the kingdom. In exchange, Trump was asked to ink the largest weapons deal in history, forking over the advanced missile defense systems and heavy weapons the Obama had administration had refused to sell. The weapons would then be used to pulverize Yemen.

Trump reportedly accepted Salmans pitch, but only on the condition that Saudis plow their infrastructure investments into the Rust Belt swing statesOhio, Michigan, and Wisconsinthat held the key to his 2020 presidential victory. So far, Trumps foes in the Democratic Party and the organized liberal resistance have shrugged at the reports of his collusion with a foreign theocracy to secure re-election, obsessing instead over nebulous claims of his illicit ties to Russia.

When Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he plans to deliver aspeech that will demonstrate Americas commitment to our Muslim partners, according to his National Security Council Director, Gen. H.R. McMaster. The address will likely have less to do with tolerance than with interests that converge around hostility to Iran, the drive to destroy a government in Yemen that is seen as its proxy, and selling the tens of billions in weapons the meat grinder operation requires. The spectacle will nevertheless give the president the chance to bask in the admiring glow of a Muslim ally, countering his image back home as a glowering bigot.

The 31-year-old aide who composed Trumps speech is Stephen Miller, an ultra-conservative operative who entered the administration under the watch of Steven Bannon, the former Breitbart News editor-in-chief. A key author of Trumps legally nullified Muslim ban, Miller was at the vanguard of a generation of right-wing activists that cohered around the post-9/11 politics of Islamophobia. Orchestrated with the full cooperation of the Saudi royal family, the spectacle of Trumps speech will represent Millers crowning moment, helping him paper over his anti-Muslim past and consolidating his role as one of the presidents most trusted spin artists.

The Islamophobia Industrys Alex P. Keaton

During his days at Santa Monica High School, a bastion of coastal liberalism, Miller distinguished himself as a hyper-active conservative troll in the mold of Alex P. Keaton. The adolescent activist frequently phoned in to the right-wing Larry Elder Show to complain about multiculturalism and the persistent presence of undocumented immigrants, leading to his discovery by David Horowitz, the radical leftist-turned-extreme right provocateur.

In 2007, while Miller was a sophomore at Duke University, Horowitz was busy spreading his Islamofascism Awareness Week to campuses across the country. Speaking before College Republican chapters, and often flanked by a cavalcade of grim private security guards, Horowitz railed against Islamic extremism and Islam in general, helping to popularize the narrative of creeping Sharia that paints Muslim immigrants to the West as a radical fifth column.

Horowitzs national campaign provided a new generation of right-wing activists like Miller with a flood of outside resources and the sense that they were leading a transcendent civilizational mission. At Duke, Horowitz recruited Miller to establish a Terrorism Awareness Project that aimed to correct what he saw as academias insufficient interest in Islamofascism.

American kids attend school in an educational system corrupted by the hard left. In this upside-down world, America is the villain and Jihadists the victims of our foreign policy, Miller wrote at the time. Instead of opening eyes, we are fastening blindfolds.

As an advisor to the Duke Conservative Union, Miller worked closely with a rising right-wing activist named Richard Spencer. The duoorganized screenings of anti-Muslim propaganda films and brought the white nationalist pundit Peter Brimelow to campus for a debate on immigration. After graduation, Spencer emerged as the poster boy of American white nationalism, promoting discredited theories of race science in glossy mainstream magazine spreads. Miller went a more mainstream route, taking a job in the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, where he helped his boss stifle a plan to put millions of qualified undocumented immigrants on the path to citizenship.

During his days at Duke, Miller got in touch with what he saw as his Jewish roots thanks to Rabbi Ben Packer, an open supporter of the Jewish fascist warlord Meir Kahane and the self-proclaimed rabbi on campus. Packerinvited Miller on a trip Israel through theBirthright Israel program, which provides all-expenses-paid tours to young Jewish adults across the West. As soon as Miller arrived, Packer took him straight to the religious nationalist settler communities that surrounded the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Stephen [Miller] thanked me for my efforts to show them around and remarked that putting on the Tefilin [Jewish holy phylacteries] at Machpelah was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, Packer recalled. [Packer, Arutz Sheva] [Michael Brown, EI]

Next, Packer tapped his contacts in Jerusalem tolink Miller with a filmmaker who was building on the close bond between the pro-Israel lobby and the new generation of right-wing activists in the West. He was Raphael Shore, a Canadian-Israeli activist who worked at Aish HaTorah. Housed in a giant complex in Jerusalems occupied Old City, Aish was a cipher for millions in donations from wealthy supporters of Israel. The centercoordinated directly with Israels Foreign Ministry to amplify Israels public relations across the West. At Aish, Shore oversaw the creation of a film company, the Clarion Project, that became one of the central nodes of Islamophobic propaganda.

During the 2008 American presidential election campaign, Shores Clarion Fund distributed 28 million DVDs of a film called Obsession, slipping it into newspapers as inserts that reached residents of swing states around the country. Obsession introduced viewers to the self-styled experts of the Islamophobia industry, from Steven Emerson to Robert Spencer, and to the narrative of creeping Sharia. The mass mailing also capitalized on an ongoing right-wing disinformation effort to portray the Democratic Partys nominee, Senator Barack Obama, as a secret Muslim born outside the United States a Trojan Horse for a foreign Islamic agenda.

By introducing Middle America to the politics of Islamophobia, Shore had accomplished what Steven Bannon hadtried and failed to do when he shopped a script for a documentary about a Muslim takeover of America called the Islamic States of America.

Partners in Extremism

Given Millers role as a pioneer of Islamophobic politicking, it might seem ironic that he has been tapped to compose a speech promoting friendship between Washington and the Muslim world. From the Saudi standpoint, however, geopolitical imperatives have always superseded any concern for the wellbeing of Muslims or Arabs outside its immediate ambit. Since the high colonial days, the House of Saud has functioned as a handmaiden of Western imperial powers, assisting their longstanding goal of undermining Arab nationalism, protecting Israel and stifling the spread of communism.

During the covert war the U.S. waged against Afghanistans Soviet-backed government, Saudi Arabia matched each dollar the CIA spent on the arming and training of the Afghan mujahedin. As Saudi Arabia pumped tens of billions of dollars into propagating its ultra-sectarian strain of Wahhabi Islam across the Middle East, it directed its most zealous citizens into Afghanistan through the Services Bureau funded by private Gulf donors like Osama bin Laden. The covert war contributed directly to the fall of the Soviet Union and simultaneously turned loose the scourge of international jihadism.

The architect of the Afghan trap strategy, former National Security Director Zbigniew Brzezinski, freely acknowledged that the demands of empire outweighed any consideration he might have had for national security. Compared to the Soviet Union, and to its collapse, hecommented to the filmmaker Samira Goetschel in 2006, the Taliban were unimportant.

During the Arab Spring, the Saudi militarydirectly intervened to crush a citizen uprising in Bahrain. Thanks to the kingdoms critical assistance, the U.S. Navys Fifth Fleet was able to hold on to the base that represented the most important American military asset in the Persian Gulf. Next, the Saudis shelled out millions to prop up Abdel Fatah el-Sisis military junta in Egypt, crushing the countrys first democratically elected government and putting the January 25 revolution to bed once and for all. Across the region, meanwhile, the Gulf monarchy cranked up its private media megaphone and activated Wahhabi religious proxies to drown out the cosmopolitan, reformist politics of the Arab Springs youth activists with regressive, sectarian messaging.

In Syria, Saudi Arabia has reverted to the role it played in Afghanistan, partnering with Washington to propel a proxy war aimed at weakening a Russian ally. Thanks to the flow of arms from Western and Gulf powers, Al Qaedas local affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, hastaken control of large swaths of territory andappeared on the battlefield with sophisticated American weaponry. The Syrian rebel group that has received the bulk of Saudi support, Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam), currently controls the city of East Ghouta, where it hasparaded captive Alawite soldiers and their wives in cages, using them as human shields. In a video message to his supporters, the groups late leader, Zahran Alloushthe son of a Saudi clericpledged to ethnically cleanse Syria of religious minorities: Oh, you enemies of Islam we will step on your heads, herumbled into a camera.

In Yemen, the special relationship between Washington and Riyadh has helped generate perhaps the worlds worst humanitarian crisis. Thanks to the extensive assistance provided to the Saudi military by both the Obama and Trump administrations, Yemen now faces a rapidly spreadingcholera epidemic while child malnutrition is at an all time high, according to the UN. By reducing the country to a failed state, the U.S. and its Gulf allies have provided a critical shot in the arm to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In a report published this February, the International Crisis Groupconcluded, The Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda (AQ) is stronger than it has ever been. As the countrys civil war has escalated and become regionalized, the international conflict resolution group found, its local franchise, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is thriving in an environment of state collapse, growing sectarianism, shifting alliances, security vacuums and a burgeoning war economy.

As in the past, American foreign policy in the Middle East has sacrificed national security and human rights for the dubious pursuit of empire. The leading edge of its cynical project is Saudi Arabia, the Arab Spring’s destroyer, one of the worlds leading exporters of extremism and the top importer of American arms.

Trump and the Islamophobes he has empowered might be seen as the enemy of Muslims back home, but in Riyadh, they are received as natural partners in a geopolitical death dance that grooves to the drums of war.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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In the Saudis’ Den of Extremism, Trump Trades Advanced Weapons for a $200 Billion Re-Election Fund – AlterNet

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Jeremy Corbyn Dares to Speak Truth About the ‘War on Terror’ – AlterNet

Jeremy Corbyn – Take Back Our World! – Global Justice Now. Cropped. 21 February 2015, 00:00 Photo Credit: By Global Justice Now (Jeremy Corbyn) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons This June 8, British voters will decide whether or not to continue with the conservative status quo, or take a chance on a new kind of left-wing politics that would represent a firm break with the orthodoxies of the ruling Conservative Party and the Labour Partys establishment wing. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Partys intrepid new socialist leader, has pledged to drastically change his society. His partys leftist manifesto calls for more funding for the socialized health care system, nationalizing the countrys tattered railways and putting a stop to massive cuts in social spending. Yet Corbyn has also taken a step further than others in his party have dared, pledging to do what to many progressives remains a shibboleth: oppose war and imperialism and limit the violent blowback they have caused back home. The liberal political establishment in the U.S. and across Western Europe has uncritically supported wars from Iraq to Libya to the push for regime change in Syria, often in the name of humanitarianism and civilian protection. While many progressives have portrayed the so-called war on terror as an unfortunate but necessary evil, Corbyn has made a crucial break with the norms of the political establishment, condemning the imperial wars the West has waged and emphasizing that this military intervention has only fueled the violent extremism the British government claims to be combatting. Manchester Attack and Government Complicity On May 22, a man detonated a suicide bomb at a concert in Manchester, killing two dozen and wounding more than 100, many of them children. The jihadist group ISIS took credit for the attack. Salman Abedi, the attacker, was a British citizen, not a refugee, from a family that was part of the Western government-backed right-wing Libyan opposition to longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. As Max Blumenthal detailedin an article on AlterNet,the British intelligence services played a direct role in supporting Islamist militancy in Libya, working closely with the Al Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in a cynical bid to topple Gaddafi. When NATO escalated2011 protests in Libya into an explicit regime change operation, the U.S. and U.K. governments encouraged foreign fighters to travel to the North African nation to help fight. Among those who took the MI6 ratline from Manchester to Libya was Ramadan Abedi, the father of the bomber. During her tenure as Home Secretary, Theresa May was in charge of overseeing MI6 operations. It was during this time that Libya was flooded with fighters from Britain, with passports being handed even to British-Libyan citizens under government control orders for their alleged ties to extremist groups. According to Akram Ramadan, a mechanic from Manchester who fought with the LIFG, roughly three-quarters of all foreign fighters in Libya arrived from his hometown in the U.K. With Ramadan Abedi on the Libyan front lines, his sons eventually followed in his footsteps. His youngest son, Hamza, arrived in the country and joined up with an ISIS affiliate, while Salman took a trip to Libya just days before the bombing. Abedi had also reportedly visited Syria, apparently to make common cause with the jihadist groups battling the Syrian government with arms and support from the West and its Gulf allies. In the past, right-wing politicians had successfully exploited terror attacks like the kind carried out in Manchester, stoking fear and anti-Muslim bigotry to shift public opinion. Jeremy Corbyn, a left-wing anti-war stalwart, upended the dynamic by introducing a counter-narrative that challenged violent extremism at its roots. While many liberals spoke of the bombing as a mere tragedy, whitewashing its politicized nature, Corbyn pointed his finger at interventionism and empire. Groundbreaking Speech In a groundbreaking speech on May 26, Jeremy Corbyn pledged to change what we do abroad. He linked Western wars of aggression to the plague of violent jihadist attacks targeting soft targets in the West. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home, Corbyn noted. The leftist Labour leader forcefully condemned the horrific terror and the brutal slaughter of innocent people. But unlike his political peers, Corbyn did not depoliticize the bombing. He explained that in order to prevent future attacks, Britains foreign policy must change. Foreign wars may not be the only thing fueling this violence, he noted, but they are a key factor. We must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working, Corbyn emphasized. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism. That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children, he added. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions. Ultimately, in order to defeat terrorism, Corbyn stressed, we must understand what fuels it: Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The Medias War on Corbyn Jeremy Corbyns comments provoked a predictable festival of mock outrage from his Tory opponents, who borrowed a line from their Republican counterparts across the pond and accused him of denigrating the “troops. The attacks were accompanied by a wave of tabloid headlines alleging that Corbyn had fostered deep friendships with terrorist groups from Hamas to the IRA. TheConservative Party issued a ham-handed attack, claiming the Labour leaders speech has shown today why he is not up to the job of keeping our country safe. The statement continued, Jeremy Corbyn has a long record of siding with our enemies. Britains Conservative security minister smeared Corbyn, claiming his speech justified terrorism. Centrist Blairites also chimed in. The liberal interventionist and pro-Israel activist Nick Cohen lashed out at Corbyn, writing a hackneyed op-ed that utterly ignored the Western wars he has wholeheartedly supported that have destabilized the Middle East and fueled Salafi-jihadism. Cohen instead framed violent extremism as a matter of values, subtly reinforcing the line of far-right Islamophobes like UKIPs Nigel Farage. The corporate media did its part, tarring and feathering the leftist Labour leader. A columnist at the right-wing Telegraph published a hatchet job not so subtly titled, Jeremy Corbyn has long hated Britain. Analysis from Loughborough Universitys Center for Research in Communication and Culture showed the almost comically ridiculous bias Labour faces in the British media. Few media outlets, even ostensibly left-leaning newspapers like the Guardian, acknowledged that in reality, the policies pursued by the U.K.s right-wing government, with the support of Theresa May, have led to the spread of the type of violent extremism that fueled the Manchester attack. Virtually no one cited the British government reports that corroborate Corbyns argument. The Governments Own Findings Back Corbyn Up Behind the bluster, multiple reports released by the British government backed up Corbyns remarks. In 2016, the British House of Commons bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee published a detailed report on the 2011 war in Libya exposing that the NATO military intervention had beensold on lies. Among the deceptions deployed to justify NATO regime change was the myth that the Libyan opposition was politically moderate. The Foreign Affairs Committee report on the other hand noted that the British government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element. The House of Commons report added, It is now clear that militant Islamist militias played a critical role in the rebellion from February 2011 onwards. Moreover, the U.K. governments enormous, decade-long Iraq Inquiry, popularly known as the Chilcot Report,revealed in 2016 that before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, British intelligence officials had repeatedly warned that the joint American-British war would fuel and empowerSalafi-jihadist groups like al-Qaeda. Despite these reports, centrist former Labour prime minister Tony Blair teamed up with U.S. President George W. Bush, in an invasion that the United Nations explicitly said violated international law. Blair admitted in 2015 that the Iraq war, in which he played Bushs junior partner, gave riseto ISIS. Closing the Gap With mere days before the election, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to close the once large chasm between his party and the Tories. And he has done this despite enormous odds and tremendous opposition from his partys ossified establishment. When the snap election was scheduled by Prime Minister May in April, it seemed a Tory victory was all but certain. In the months since, support for Labour has slowly increased. On May 31, leading pollster YouGov put Labour just 3 percent behind the Conservatives, which could lose its parliamentary majority. Corbyn and May are neck and neck. Corbyn has managed to do this in spite of a level of media bias that is almost unprecedented in British politics. Even the Guardian has treated Corbyn as a pariah. Yet the British public has rejected the elite medias torrent of attacks, sending a surge of support for Labour. While the political establishment and the corporate media have been unable to explain why the scourge of violent extremism continues, Corbyn has provided the public the answers it has been desperately seeking. His deft response to the Manchester attack appears to be paying dues. For years, Corbyn has been an outspoken, principled critic of Western wars. He has long been a leader in the Stop the War Coalition. (In a symbolic anecdote, Chelsea Clinton interrupted a Stop the War Coalition event in 2003 that featured Corbyn as a speaker.) Jeremy Corbyn is trying to mainstream a left-wing alternative to the discredited centrist and the far-right fringe. Rather than running from his political identity, he has put it front and center, reminding British voters after Manchester, I have spent my political life working for peace and human rights and to bring an end to conflict and devastating wars. Corbyn may not beat the odds and unseat May, but his unexpected surge in the polls has served as a stunning rebuke to the militaristic political elite, and gives a glimmer of hope to those who still imagine an end to the forever war. Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton. Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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The Manchester Bomber Is The Spawn Of Hillary And Barack’s Excellent Libyan Adventure – Mintpress News (blog)

Manchester is the latest iteration of a scenario weve gone through so many times now, like some groundhog-day dream. An armed Libyan rebel shoots an AK-47 at a poster of Muhammar Gaddafi in the captured rebel town of Ras-Lanuf in the east of the country (Photo: Andrey Stenin/Sputnik) On November 20, 2015, two jihadi militants attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, seizing about 100 hostages and leaving bodies strewed across the building. When it was over, 22 people (including the attackers) had been killed. As the New York Times reported: Mali has been crippled by instability since January, 2012, when rebels and Al Qaeda-linked militants armed with the remnants of late Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafis arsenal began advancing through the countrys vast desert in the north and capturing towns. Not much has been made in American and Western media of this attack. Most of the dead were Malians, Russians, and Chineseand, hey, it was in Africa; Shit happens. Especially there. How many people reading this even remember that it happened? Follow-up analysis? It was Africa. That kind of coverage. (I did post about it at the time, making many points that unfortunately bear repeating here.) Last Monday, jihadi suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people. Salman grew up in an anti-Qaddafi Libyan immigrant family. In 2011, his father, Ramadan Abedi, along with other British Libyans (including one who was under house arrest), was allowed to go [to Libya], no questions asked, to join the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaeda-affiliate, to help overthrow Qaddafi. In Manchester, as Max Blumenthal puts it, in his excellent Alternet piece, it was all part of the rat line operated by the MI5, which hustled anti-Qaddafi Libyan exiles to the front lines of the war. In Manchester, Salman lived near a number of LIFG militants, including an expert bomb maker. This was a tough bunch, and everybodyincluding the cops and Salmans Muslim neighborsknew they werent the Jets and the Sharks. As Middle East Eye reports, he was known to security services, and some of his acquaintances had reported him to the police via an anti-terrorism hotline. Could it be any clearer? The Abedi family was part of a protected cohort of Salafist proxy soldiers that have been used by the West to destroy the Libyan state. There are a number of such cohorts around the world that have been used for decades to overthrow relatively prosperous and secular, but insufficiently compliant, governments in the Arab and Muslim worldand members of those groups have perpetrated several blowback attacks in Western countries, via various winding roads. In this case, the direct line from Libya to Mali to Manchester is particularly easy to trace. Too bad more people in Britain and the West hadnt paid attention to what happened in Mali two years ago. Too bad they hadnt thought too much about the chain of jihadi proxy interventions that the United States and its allies, or about the connection with the chain of jihadi attacks in Western countries. Too bad they hadnt recognized the continuing arrogance of the Western (U.S./NATO) and Middle Eastern (Gulf, Israel) powers who think they can unleash and re-leash these jihadi fighters at will. Too bad they dont understand the contradiction between mourning the bombing of Manchester and crying for the bombing of Syria. Too bad the Western (i.e., American-directed) media dont provide what would be necessary to understand these things: ongoing coverage and analysis of the obvious relation between the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by jihadi militants and the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by Western and allied governments. Its a good bet nobody will have forgotten the Manchester bombing two years from now. It was in merry old England, after all and many of the victims were beautiful British girls. Its also a good bet that the media analysis will continue to have everyone scratching their heads about why these death-loving Muslims hate us so much. That kind of coverage. The jihadi attackers in Mali and the jihadi bomber in Manchester were direct productsnot accidental by-products, but deliberately incubated protgsof American-British-French-NATO regime change in Libya, a project that was executed by the Obama administration and spearheaded by Hillary Clinton. Before the glorious revolution, Libya under Ghaddafi had the highest standard of living of any country in Africa, according to the UN Human Development Index. Before the jihadi onslaught backed by NATO bombing campaign, Ghaddafis Libya was an anchor of stability in North Africa, as even the U.S. and British governments knew and acknowledged, per a 2008 cable from American foreign service officer Christopher Stevens, published by Wikileaks: Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellentMuammar al-Qadhafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilize the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam. The US-British-French-NATO humanitarian intervention put an end to that by overthrowing the Libyan government under entirely phony pretexts, in contravention of fundamental international law, and in violation of the UN resolution, they claimed as a justification. The executioners and beneficiaries of that aggression where the jihadis who have been rampaging from Mali to Manchester. Its a bright, clear line. Britains Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi near Gaddafis home town of Sirte. May 29, 2007. (Leon Neal/Reuters) Ghaddafi himself warned Tony Blair that an organization [the LIFG].has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organization in North Africa. Ghaddafis son, Saif, warned that overthrowing Libyas would make the country the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean and You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door. Thanks to Blair and Obama and Clinton and Sarkozy, thats exactly what happened. Libya was destroyed as a functioning state, and the terror is now inside every Western door. Westerners and Americans transfixed by Ghaddafis garish posturing may have, and may still, find it hard to accept, but it needs to be said aloud: In 2011, Ghaddafi was right about what was going in in Libya, and all best and brightest militaristic conservatives and humanitarian liberals, in and out of government, were wrong. A lot of radical lefties, too, myself included; though I always vehemently opposed the US-NATO intervention, I, too, took Ghaddafis complaints for excuses. But lesson learned (by some): What was going on in Libya was the same thing that went on in Afghanistan in the 80s, and the same thing that is going on in Syria today, supercharged by the intervening war in Iraq Throughout this nefarious chain of destruction, nobody in the world has committed worse crimes than all the humanitarian liberals in and out of government who have enacted and/or gone along with the imperialist chaos program of destroying relatively prosperous and secular societies in the Arab and Muslim world, and replacing them with sectarian jihadi playgrounds. And no force in the world is more responsible for the rampaging jihadi wolves, lone and in packs, than the United States and its compliant allies, including Great Britain. Whether any American liberal wants to or not, anyone who is mourning Manchester needs to hear it said: Were crying over the horror in Manchester today because yesterday Hillary Clinton was laughing about the horror she inflicted on Libya including the killing of Ghaddafi by those protected Salafist proxies who sodomized him with a bayonet: We came. We saw. He died. [big smile, joyous laugther] Yes, exactly that. Ha, Ha. Maybe she can get a gig in a comedy club in Manchester. Really, knowing what we do about Libya through to Manchester, does any of the outrageous things weve from Trump equal the despicableness of Hillarys perverse glee in this video? Its an image not to be forgotten. Im sure that our current president, if hes given the timeand, if hes not, some other Republican or Democratwill meet or exceed the high standards that have been set, but Donald Trump has not yet come near committing the series of crimes for which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (following the precedent of five previous American administrations) are responsible. These crimes produced the twin horrors of imperialist and jihadi chaos, of which the destruction of the Libyan state was one egregious example, and the killing of young concertgoers in Manchester another. This represents a deep, persistent bipartisan policy that is much more important and difficult to confront than the question of which front man or woman will be selling it. Manchester is the latest iteration of a scenario weve gone through so many times now, like some groundhog-day dream. At the end of my post two years ago, I was urging and hoping that Americans would wake up. But a lot of American liberals and lefties, including Berniebots, still like to imagine theres a political space they can inhabit called Progressive Except Imperialism. There isnt. Imperialism with Social Security and Medicare and Obamacareeven single-payer healthcareis imperialism, and its reactionary and supremacist. Equal-opportunity imperialism is imperialism. African-American, women, Latinx, or LGBTQ presidents, generals, and drone operators do not make it any less criminal, or dangerous, or any less inevitably erosive of all those cherished progressive domestic programs. Ignoring or putting aside what the U.S. does in Libya, or Iraq, or Syria, or Palestine becauseTrump! The Republicans! is ignoring a fundamental element of a progressive politics as well as an immediate danger to the country. One can do it, but those who do, cant claim to be seriously confronting the horrors of a tragedy like Manchester, no matter how many tears they shed. Im afraid that is where were stuck. The absurdity of Trump is drawing more well-meaning people into the flames of nostalgia for an imaginary Democratic copasetic state that disappeared on January 20th. The #Resistance cant even get its act together for single-payer healthcarethe easiest sell imaginable; its not only avoiding the more contentious issues regarding American aggression in places like Libya and Syria, its succumbing to the dangerous, war-mongering, Russophobic program of the military-intelligence complex. Its still dream on, and I fear it will take a shock much greater than Manchester before Americans finally get the news. The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Legacy of Hillary, Barack’s Libyan adventure – The Herald

Barack Obama Jim Kavanagh Correspondent On November 20, 2015, two jihadi militants attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, seizing about 100 hostages and leaving bodies strewed across the building. When it was over, 22 people (including the attackers) had been killed. As the New York Times reported: Mali has been crippled by instability since January, 2012, when rebels and Al Qaeda-linked militants armed with the remnants of late Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafis arsenal began advancing through the countrys vast desert in the north and capturing towns. Not much has been made in American and Western media of this attack. Most of the dead were Malians, Russians, and Chinese and, hey, it was in Africa; Shit happens. Especially there. How many people reading this even remember that it happened? Follow-up analysis? It was Africa. That kind of coverage. Last Monday, jihadi suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people. Salman grew up in an anti-Gaddafi Libyan immigrant family. In 2011, his father, Ramadan Abedi, along with other British Libyans (including one who was under house arrest), was allowed to go [to Libya], no questions asked, to join the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaeda-affiliate, to help overthrow Gaddafi. In Manchester, as Max Blumenthal puts it, in his excellent Alternet piece, it was all part of the rat line operated by the MI5, which hustled anti-Gaddafi Libyan exiles to the front lines of the war. In Manchester, Salman lived near a number of LIFG militants, including an expert bomb maker. This was a tough bunch, and everybody including the cops and Salmans Muslim neighbours knew they werent the Jets and the Sharks. As Middle East Eye reports, he was known to security services, and some of his acquaintances had reported him to the police via an anti-terrorism hotline. Could it be any clearer? The Abedi family was part of a protected cohort of Salafist proxy soldiers that have been used by the West to destroy the Libyan state. There are a number of such cohorts around the world that have been used for decades to overthrow relatively prosperous and secular, but insufficiently compliant, governments in the Arab and Muslim worldand members of those groups have perpetrated several blowback attacks in Western countries, via various winding roads. In this case, the direct line from Libya to Mali to Manchester is particularly easy to trace. Too bad more people in Britain and the West hadnt paid attention to what happened in Mali two years ago. Too bad they hadnt thought too much about the chain of jihadi proxy interventions that the United States and its allies, or about the connection with the chain of jihadi attacks in Western countries. Too bad they hadnt recognised the continuing arrogance of the Western (US/Nato) and Middle Eastern (Gulf, Israel) powers who think they can unleash and re-leash these jihadi fighters at will. Too bad they dont understand the contradiction between mourning the bombing of Manchester and crying for the bombing of Syria. Too bad the Western (i.e., American-directed) media dont provide what would be necessary to understand these things: ongoing coverage and analysis of the obvious relation between the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by jihadi militants and the continuing series of horrors perpetrated by Western and allied governments. Its a good bet nobody will have forgotten the Manchester bombing two years from now. It was in merry old England, after all and many of the victims were beautiful British girls. Its also a good bet that the media analysis will continue to have everyone scratching their heads about why these death-loving Muslims hate us so much. That kind of coverage. The jihadi attackers in Mali and the jihadi bomber in Manchester were direct products not accidental by-products, but deliberately incubated protgs of American-British-French-NATO regime change in Libya, a project that was executed by the Obama administration and spearheaded by Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clintion Before the glorious revolution, Libya under Gaddafi had the highest standard of living of any country in Africa, according to the UN Human Development Index. Before the jihadi onslaught backed by Nato bombing campaign, Gaddafis Libya was an anchor of stability in North Africa, as even the US and British governments knew and acknowledged, per a 2008 cable from American foreign service officer Christopher Stevens, published by WikiLeaks: Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent . . . Muammar Gaddafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilise the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam. The US-British-French-Nato humanitarian intervention put an end to that by overthrowing the Libyan government under entirely phony pretexts, in contravention of fundamental international law, and in violation of the UN resolution they claimed as a justification. The executioners and beneficiaries of that aggression where the jihadis who have been rampaging from Mali to Manchester. Its a bright, clear line. Gaddafi himself warned Tony Blair that an organisation [the LIFG] has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organisation in North Africa. Gaddafis son, Saif, warned that overthrowing Libyas government would make the country the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean and You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door. Thanks to Blair and Obama and Clinton and Sarkozy, thats exactly what happened. Libya was destroyed as a functioning state, and the terror is now inside every Western door. Westerners and Americans transfixed by Gaddafis garish posturing may have, and may still, find it hard to accept, but it needs to be said aloud: In 2011, Gaddafi was right about what was going on in Libya, and all best and brightest militaristic conservatives and humanitarian liberals, in and out of government, were wrong. A lot of radical lefties, too, myself included; though I always vehemently opposed the US-Nato intervention, I, too, took Gaddafis complaints for excuses. But lesson learned (by some): What was going on in Libya was the same thing that went on in Afghanistan in the 80s, and the same thing that is going on in Syria today, supercharged by the intervening war in Iraq Throughout this nefarious chain of destruction, nobody in the world has committed worse crimes than all the humanitarian liberals in and out of government who have enacted and/or gone along with the imperialist chaos program of destroying relatively prosperous and secular societies in the Arab and Muslim world, and replacing them with sectarian jihadi playgrounds. And no force in the world is more responsible for the rampaging jihadi wolves, lone and in packs, than the United States and its compliant allies, including Great Britain. Whether any American liberal wants to or not, anyone who is mourning Manchester needs to hear it said: Were crying over the horror in Manchester today because yesterday Hillary Clinton was laughing about the horror she inflicted on Libya including the killing of Gaddafi by those protected Salafist proxies who sodomised him with a bayonet: We came. We saw. He died. [big smile, joyous laughter] Yes, exactly that. Ha, Ha. Maybe she can get a gig in a comedy club in Manchester. Really, knowing what we do about Libya through to Manchester, does any of the outrageous things weve from Trump equal the despicableness of Hillarys perverse glee in this video? Its an image not to be forgotten. Im sure that our current president, if hes given the timeand, if hes not, some other Republican or Democratwill meet or exceed the high standards that have been set, but Donald Trump has not yet come near committing the series of crimes for which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (following the precedent of five previous American administrations) are responsible. These crimes produced the twin horrors of imperialist and jihadi chaos, of which the destruction of the Libyan state was one egregious example, and the killing of young concertgoers in Manchester another. This represents a deep, persistent bipartisan policy that is much more important and difficult to confront than the question of which front man or woman will be selling it. Manchester is the latest iteration of a scenario weve gone through so many times now, like some groundhog-day dream Its still dream on, and I fear it will take a shock much greater than Manchester before Americans finally get the news. Counterpunch

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May 30, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West’s Disastrous Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars – Bulatlat

How the US and UK helped bring jihadists like Salem Abedi to Libya and Syria By MAX BLUMENTHAL AlterNet The heinous suicide bombing by British-born Salman Abedi of an Arianna Grande concert in Manchester was not merely the work of an evil loser, as Donald Trump called it. It was blowback from interventionist policies carried out in the name of human rights and civilian protection. Through wars of regime change and the arming and training of Islamist proxy groups, the US, UK and France played out imperial delusions across the Middle East. In Syria and Libya, they cultivated the perfect petri dish for jihadist insurgency, helping to spawn weaponized nihilists like Abedi intent on bringing the Wests wars back home. The son of anti-Qaddafi immigrants to the UK, Abedi grew up in Manchesters community of Libyan exiles. A report in the London Telegraph indicated that he had traveled just weeks before his attack to Libya, where Salafi-jihadi militias are competing for control of the destabilized country. Abedi had also reportedly traveled to Syria to join up with the extremist rebels that have waged a six-year-long insurgency against the countrys government, with billions of dollars in assistance from the West and its Gulf allies. According to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, it was in these conflict zones where Abedi was radicalized. Sens John McCain and Lindsey Graham with Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leader Abdelhakim Belhaj The impressionable 22-year-old returned to the UK with enough training to make a fairly sophisticated bomb that massacred 22 concert goers, many of them children. It seems likely possible that he wasnt doing this on his own, Britains home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the BBC. She described the bomb as more sophisticated than some of the attacks weve seen before. According to the Telegraph, A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range. They included Abd al-Baset Azzouz, an expert bomb maker who controls an Al Qaeda-affiliated militia in eastern Libya. When the uprising against Gaddafi began in 2011, Ramadan Abedi, the father of Salem, returned to his home country to fight with the LIFG. While it is not known if Salman Abedi himself was involved with the LIFG, the groups links to British and American intelligence are well established, and go back decades. The Wests favorite Al Qaeda affiliate? David Shayler, a maverick officer of Britains MI5 intelligence services, alleged that his government had covertly funded the LIFG to carry out the failed 1996 assassination attempt on Qaddafi.. Two years later, Libyan state television produced footage of a failed grenade attack on Qaddafi that it alleged was carried out by a British agent. At the time, the LIFG was an affiliate of Al Qaeda whose members included Anas al-Libi, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. In March 1998, Qaddafis Libya became the first country to issue an Interpol arrest warrant for bin Laden. The warrant was studiously ignored by American and British intelligence, according to French journalist Guillaume Dasqui and Jean-Charles Brisard, an adviser to French President Jacques Chirac. Five months later, Al Qaeda struck the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. (Among the participants in the attack were al-Libi and Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a spy for Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who had entered the US on a CIA-approved visa and managed to rise to the rank of corporal at the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg, where he smuggled special forces training manuals out to Al Qaeda cadres.) An MI6 document leaked online in 2000 appeared to confirm Shaylers account, asserting that British intelligence was aware of a plot in 1995 to kill Qaddafi that included Libya veterans who served in Afghanistan. LIFGs leader, Abdelhakim Belhaj, had been among those veterans, fighting against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the 1980s alongside local mujahedin armed and trained by the CIA. He moved his operations to Sudan in 1991, the same year that bin Laden set up camp outside the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. It took the attacks of 9/11 and the inauguration of the so-called war on terror to make Belhaj a target of the West. He was captured in 2001 by the CIA in Pakistan, where he had fled after fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban, and was rendered to Libya two months later. Six years later, he was released from prison thanks to a de-radicalization program overseen by Saif Qaddafi and facilitated through negotiations with the Qatari government. A secret 2008 US Embassy cable described Qaddafis government as a bulwark against the spread of Islamist militancy. Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent, the cable read. Muammar al-Qadhafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilize the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam. The author of that cable was the late foreign service officer, J. Christopher Stevens. Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation When the Libyan uprising broke out in March 2011, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates immediately pumped arms and logistical support into the armed opposition. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw the insurgency as an opportunity for America to assert its influence amidst the tumult of the Arab Spring. She advocated arming the rebels on the grounds that Washington could get skin in the game, according to her Middle East advisor, Dennis Ross. Ignoring warnings from NATOs supreme allied commander Adm. James Stavridis about the presence of Al Qaeda in the opposition, President Barack Obama approved shipments of TOW missiles, armored Humvees, and advanced radar systems to the Libyan insurgents. When she learned of the newly up-armed rebels rapid advances, Clinton reportedly exclaimed, Good! This is the only language that Qaddafi is understanding. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a subject of Qatari political influence and alleged bribery over the 2022 FIFA World Cup vote, urged his Western allies to ask our Arab friends to distribute weapons to the National Transitional Council, the official body of the Libyan opposition. When a French shipment of missiles and machine guns arrived through the port of Benghazi, the NTCs acting defense minister handed them over to Belhaj and the LIFG. As the insurgency gathered steam, Belhaj found a powerful ally in John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After a friendly meeting with Belhaj and his militiamen in Benghazi on April 22, 2011, McCain called on responsible nations to provide the Libyan rebels with battlefield intelligence, training, and weapons. McCain emerged from the meeting stirred with inspiration. I met these courageous fighters, and they are not al-Qaeda, the senator proclaimed. To the contrary: they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We need to help them do that. They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe In the early days of the insurgency, on February 25, Qaddafi reached out to Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister who had cut the deal in the desert that brought Qaddafi out of the political wilderness in 2004. In a series of panicked phone calls that day, Qaddafi warned Blair that his removal would open the floodgates for a jihadist takeover. I want to tell you the truth, he said to Blair. It is not a difficult situation at all. The story is simply this: an organization has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organization in North Africa. They dont use Arabic words, they use Islamic [ones]. The sleeper cells in Libya are similar to the ones in America before 9/11. Qaddafi then mentioned rebels who had spent time in Guantanamo detainee who had joined Al Qaeda and trained at a camp run by bin Laden in Afghanistan. He was referring to Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who was captured by the US in Pakistan thanks to a tip from Qaddafis own intelligence services. Qaddafi complained that Qumu was now leading the forces seeking his ouster, a claim confirmed by the New York Times two months later when it described the rebel leader as a US ally of sorts. The Libyan strongman predicted that if the rebels overthrew him, they would set up an Islamic state in the country, or what he called an Al Qaeda Emirate. He concluded: They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe. Blair brushed Qaddafis ominous warnings aside and calmly urged him to relinquish power through a peaceful transition. A week later, Obama declared, Moammar Qaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave. Qaddafis son, Saif, warned at the time that the removal of Libyas government by force would lead to a refugee crisis of titanic proportions. Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean, the younger Qaddafi declared in 2011. You will see the pirates in Sicily, in Crete, in Lampedusa [the Italian island home of migrant detention facilities]. You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door. A failed state, courtesy of NATO Almost six years after Moamar Qaddafi was sodomized to death with a bayonet in the streets of his hometown of Sirte by Western-backed rebels operating under NATO air cover, then left to rot in a butcher shop in Misrata, his most dire warnings have come true. Libya today is a failed state, its public coffers and oil reserves looted by the foreign powers that oversaw the war of regime change in 2011. Its shores are a main disembarkation point for migrants, where women fleeing conflict and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa are beaten, raped and starved in living hellholes, according to UNICEF. The United Nations International Organization for Migration has recorded testimony of open air slave markets in Libya where migrants from West Africa are bought and sold. The refugee crisis has propelled the rise of the far-right in Europe, fueling the demagogic politics of figures from Nigel Farage to Marine Le Pen that blame the victims of the Wests catastrophic interventions. While Belhaj has emerged as a powerbroker of the free Libya, leading the Islamist al-Watan Party and operating his own private media empire with backing from Qatar, Libya has been overrun by warlords affiliated with jihadist groups like the Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia, the Al Qaeda affiliate that participated in the notorious 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Salem Abedis younger brother, Hashem, is a member of the Islamic State, according to a rival militia, and helped plan the Manchester attack from inside Libya. The British Foreign Affairs Committee report released in September 2016 on the Libyan intervention concluded that, Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate. Its authors added, The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda. Lingering questions In the wake of the Manchester bombing, British citizens deserve a new public inquiry. Acquaintances of the Abedi family said that neighbors in Manchester had notified an anti-terrorism hotline several years ago when Salman Abedi expressed public support for suicide bombing. But British authorities took no action. Was British intelligence attempting to groom Abedi as an informant, as it had tried with Mohammed Emwazi, the wayward London youth who somehow wound up in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria as the fearsome decapitator known as Jihadi John? What did the British government know about Abedi and when did it know it? The right-wing demagogues pouring out their wrath on Muslim immigrants and rallying for more restrictionist policies are diverting blame from where it should ultimately lie. In their pursuit of imperial delusions in Libya and beyond, Western leaders cynically sacrificed the security of their own citizens, setting the stage for the massacre in Manchester. The interventionists should be held accountable before they can strike again. Reposted by

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May 30, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West’s Disastrous Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars – AlterNet

Sens John McCain and Lindsey Graham with Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leader Abdelhakim Belhaj The heinous suicide bombing by British-born Salman Abedi of an Arianna Grande concert in Manchester was not merely the work of an evil loser, as Donald Trump called it. It was blowback from interventionist policies carried out in the name of human rights and civilian protection. Through wars of regime change and the arming and training of Islamist proxy groups, the US, UK and France played out imperial delusions across the Middle East. In Syria and Libya, they cultivated the perfect petri dish for jihadist insurgency, helping to spawn weaponized nihilists like Abedi intent on bringing the Wests wars back home. The son of anti-Qaddafi immigrants to the UK, Abedi grew up in Manchesters community of Libyan exiles. A report in the London Telegraph indicated that he had traveled just weeks before his attack to Libya, where Salafi-jihadi militias are competing for control of the destabilized country. Abedi had also reportedly traveled to Syria to join up with the extremist rebels that have waged a six-year-long insurgency against the countrys government, with billions of dollars in assistance from the West and its Gulf allies. According to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, it was in these conflict zones where Abedi was radicalized. The impressionable 22-year-old returned to the UK with enough training to make a fairly sophisticated bomb that massacred 22 concert goers, many of them children. It seems likely possible that he wasnt doing this on his own, Britains home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the BBC. She described the bomb as more sophisticated than some of the attacks weve seen before. According to the Telegraph, A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range. They included Abd al-Baset Azzouz, an expert bomb maker who controls an Al Qaeda-affiliated militia in eastern Libya. When the uprising against Gaddafi began in 2011, Ramadan Abedi, the father of Salem, returned to his home country to fight with the LIFG. He was part of the rat line operated by the MI5, which hustled anti-Qaddafi Libyan exiles to the front lines of the war. “I was allowed to go [to Libya], no questions asked,” a British Libyan who had been under house arrest at the time for ties to extremist groups, told Middle East Eye. While it is not known if Salman Abedi himself was involved with the LIFG, the groups links to British and American intelligence are well established, and go back decades. The Wests favorite Al Qaeda affiliate? David Shayler, a maverick officer of Britains MI5 intelligence services, alleged that his government had covertly funded the LIFG to carry out the failed 1996 assassination attempt on Qaddafi. Two years later, Libyan state television produced footage of a failed grenade attack on Qaddafi that it alleged was carried out by a British agent. At the time, the LIFG was an affiliate of Al Qaeda whose members included Anas al-Libi, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. In March 1998, Qaddafis Libya became the first country to issue an Interpol arrest warrant for bin Laden. The warrant was studiously ignored by American and British intelligence, according to French journalist Guillaume Dasqui and Jean-Charles Brisard, an adviser to French President Jacques Chirac. Five months later, Al Qaeda struck the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. (Among the participants in the attack were al-Libi and Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a spy for Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who had entered the US on a CIA-approved visa and managed to rise to the rank of corporal at the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg, where he smuggled special forces training manuals out to Al Qaeda cadres.) An MI6 document leaked online in 2000 appeared to confirm Shaylers account, asserting that British intelligence was aware of a plot in 1995 to kill Qaddafi that included Libya veterans who served in Afghanistan. LIFGs leader, Abdelhakim Belhaj, had been among those veterans, fighting against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the 1980s alongside local mujahedin armed and trained by the CIA. He moved his operations to Sudan in 1991, the same year that bin Laden set up camp outside the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. It took the attacks of 9/11 and the inauguration of the so-called war on terror to make Belhaj a target of the West. He was captured in 2001 by the CIA in Pakistan, where he had fled after fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban, and was rendered to Libya two months later. Six years later, he was released from prison thanks to a de-radicalization program overseen by Saif Qaddafi and facilitated through negotiations with the Qatari government. A secret 2008 US embassy cable described Qaddafis government as a bulwark against the spread of Islamist militancy. Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent, the cable read. Muammar al-Qadhafis criticism of Saudi Arabia for perceived support of Wahabi extremism, a source of continuing Libya-Saudi tension, reflects broader Libyan concern about the threat of extremism. Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilize the regime, the [government of Libya] has aggressive pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, and blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam. The author of that cable was the late foreign service officer, J. Christopher Stevens. Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation When the Libyan uprising broke out in March 2011, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates immediately pumped arms and logistical support into the armed opposition. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw the insurgency as an opportunity for America to assert its influence amidst the tumult of the Arab Spring. She advocated arming the rebels on the grounds that Washington could get skin in the game, according to her Middle East advisor, Dennis Ross. Ignoring warnings from NATOs supreme allied commander Adm. James Stavridis about the presence of Al Qaeda in the opposition, President Barack Obama approved shipments of TOW missiles, armored Humvees, and advanced radar systems to the Libyan insurgents. When she learned of the newly up-armed rebels rapid advances, Clinton reportedly exclaimed, Good! This is the only language that Qaddafi is understanding. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a subject of Qatari political influence and alleged bribery over the 2022 FIFA World Cup vote, urged his Western allies to ask our Arab friends to distribute weapons to the National Transitional Council, the official body of the Libyan opposition. When a French shipment of missiles and machine guns arrived through the port of Benghazi, the NTCs acting defense minister handed them over to Belhaj and the LIFG. As the insurgency gathered steam, Belhaj found a powerful ally in John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After a friendly meeting with Belhaj and his militiamen in Benghazi on April 22, 2011, McCain called on responsible nations to provide the Libyan rebels with battlefield intelligence, training, and weapons. McCain emerged from the meeting stirred with inspiration. “I met these courageous fighters, and they are not al-Qaeda, the senator proclaimed. To the contrary: they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. We need to help them do that. They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe In the early days of the insurgency, on February 25, Qaddafi reached out to Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister who had cut the deal in the desert that brought Qaddafi out of the political wilderness in 2004. In a series of panicked phone calls that day, Qaddafi warned Blair that his removal would open the floodgates for a jihadist takeover. I want to tell you the truth, he said to Blair. It is not a difficult situation at all. The story is simply this: an organization has laid down sleeper cells in North Africa called the Al Qaeda organization in North Africa. They dont use Arabic words, they use Islamic [ones]. The sleeper cells in Libya are similar to the ones in America before 9/11. Qaddafi then mentioned rebels who had spent time in Guantanamo detainee who had joined Al Qaeda and trained at a camp run by bin Laden in Afghanistan. He wasreferring to Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who was captured by the US in Pakistan thanks to a tip from Qaddafis own intelligence services. Qaddafi complained that Qumu was now leading the forces seeking his ouster, a claim confirmed by the New York Times two months later when it described the rebel leader as “a US ally of sorts.” The Libyan strongman predicted that if the rebels overthrew him, they would set up an Islamic state in the country, or what he called an Al Qaeda Emirate. He concluded: They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe. Blair brushed Qaddafis ominous warnings aside and calmly urged him to relinquish power through a peaceful transition. A week later, Obama declared, Moammar Qaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave. Qaddafis son, Saif, warned at the time that the removal of Libyas government by force would lead to a refugee crisis of titanic proportions. Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean, the younger Qaddafi declared in 2011. You will see the pirates in Sicily, in Crete, in Lampedusa [the Italian island home of migrant detention facilities]. You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door. A failed state, courtesy of NATO Almost six years after Moamar Qaddafi was sodomized to death with a bayonet in the streets of his hometown of Sirte by Western-backed rebels operating under NATO air cover, then left to rot in a butcher shop in Misrata, his most dire warnings have come true. Libya today is a failed state, its public coffers and oil reserves looted by the foreign powers that oversaw the war of regime change in 2011. Its shores are a main disembarkation point for migrants, where women fleeing conflict and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa are beaten, raped and starved in “living hellholes,” according to UNICEF.The United Nations International Organization for Migration has recorded testimonyof open air slave markets in Libya where migrants from West Africa are bought and sold. The refugee crisis has propelled the rise of the far-right in Europe, fueling the demagogic politics of figures from Nigel Farage to Marine Le Pen that blame the victims of the Wests catastrophic interventions. While Belhaj has emerged as a powerbroker of the free Libya, leading the Islamist al-Watan Party and operating his own private media empire with backing from Qatar, Libya has been overrun by warlords affiliated with jihadist groups like the Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia, the Al Qaeda affiliate that participated in the notorious 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Salem Abedis younger brother, Hashem, is a member of the Islamic State, according to a rival militia, and helped plan the Manchester attack from inside Libya. The British Foreign Affairs Committee report released in September 2016 on the Libyan intervention concluded that, Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate. Its authors added, The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda. Lingering questions In the wake of the Manchester bombing, British citizens deserve a new public inquiry. Acquaintances of the Abedi family said that neighbors in Manchester had notified an anti-terrorism hotline several years ago when Salman Abedi expressed public support for suicide bombing. But British authorities took no action. Was British intelligence attempting to groom Abedi as an informant, as it had tried with Mohammed Emwazi, the wayward London youth who somehow wound up in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria as the fearsome decapitator known as Jihadi John? What did the British government know about Abedi and when did it know it? The right-wing demagogues pouring out their wrath on Muslim immigrants and rallying for more restrictionist policies are diverting blame from where it should ultimately lie. In their pursuit of imperial delusions in Libya and beyond, Western leaders cynically sacrificed the security of their own citizens, setting the stage for the massacre in Manchester. The interventionists should be held accountable before they can strike again. Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Yet another video shows US-funded white helmets assisting public-held executions in rebel-held Syria – Salon

This article originally appeared on AlterNet. Syria Civil Defense, popularly knownas the White Helmets, can be seen in a new video assisting in a public execution in a rebel-held town in Syria. It is at least the second such execution video featuring members of the Nobel Prize-nominated group. The White Helmets have received at least $23 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a wing of the State Department. The British Foreign Office and other European governments have pitched in as well. Frequently cited as an invaluable source of information by major Western media outlets, the group was the subject of an Academy Award-winning 2016 Netflix documentary,The White Helmets. Endorsements from A-list Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney and Justin Timberlake, as well as Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, have followed. Large corporate media networks have yet to report on the dark side of the White Helmets, however, and films like the widely celebrated Netflix feature function as uncritical commercials for the group, helping to keep the public in a state of ignorance about the domination of the Western-backed Syrian armed opposition by extremist Salafi jihadist groups, and about the civil conflict in general. While CNN and other outlets rely heavily on footage taken by White Helmets members, not one major Western media outlet has reported on the latest execution video starring the groups uniformed members. The video, which Syrian opposition activists uploaded to Facebook, shows three men from the White Helmets rushing into the center of a crowd, mere seconds after an alleged criminal was shot in the head, and removing the body on a stretcher. A member of the White Helmets can be seen celebrating along with the crowd of onlookers. WARNING: This video features violence that may disturb viewers. The men in the video were clearly identified by their signature white helmets, along with vests embroidered with the Syria Civil Defense logo. The public execution took place in the small city of Jasim, in Syrias southern Daraa province which is often described as a hub for moderate rebels. Activists posted the video on May 16 on the Facebook page Coordination of the City of Al-Harra, Mother of the Martyrs, a site for the opposition in the neighboring city of Al-Harra. Two days later, Syria Civil Defense released a carefully craftedstatementadmitting its members were involved in the execution. The statement noted that a tribal council in Jasim had asked the White Helmets to humanely dispose of the body of a person that had been sentenced to death, by the local court, for murder. The group said it had conducted an investigation into the execution, and in response dismissed a White Helmet leader, while temporarily suspending two other team members. Executing an Oscar-worthy performance This is not the first time the White Helmets have appeared as participants in a public execution. A jarring execution filmed in 2015 in the rebel-held town of Haritan shows two members of Syria Civil Defense waiting just off camera while a member of Syrias al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, reads out a death sentence, before shooting a man dressed in street clothes in the head. Seconds later, the White Helmets team tosses the mans body onto a stretcher and scrambles away. WARNING: This video features violence that may disturb viewers. The 2015 video prompted a carefully worded statement by the organization, condemning the killing and claiming its members were simply fulfilling their task by performing the emergency burial of the dead. A British public relations outfit called the Syria Campaign was hired by an influential British-Syrian billionaire, Ayman Asfari, to market the White Helmets to the Western public. As Max Blumenthal hasreported for AlterNet, the Syria Campaign was itself the creation of a slick New York City- and London-based public relations firm called Purpose. Among the PR groups greatest achievements was fundraising for the widely celebrated Netflix documentary. This year, the makers of the film were awarded with an Oscar for Best Documentary Short. As he received the honor before millions of viewers around the world, director Orlando Einsiedel read a prepared statement from Read al-Saleh, the director of the White Helmets: Our organization is guided by a verse in the Quran: To save one life is to save all of humanity. But the execution videos call into question the White Helmets claims to act as an impartial, life-saving rescue organization, and raise serious questions about the motives of its funders and promoters within public relations firms and mainstream newsrooms. Hidden soldiers of al-Qaeda and ISIS? The White Helmets operate exclusively within the armed Syrian opposition, working closely with al-Qaedas local affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and even ISIS. The British journalist and ISIS hostage John Cantlie inadvertentlyexposed the groups relationship with ISIS when he referred to a White Helmets team as the Islamic States fire brigade in a propaganda video he was forced to participate in. Videos and photos of White Helmets members posing triumphantly on the corpses of Syrian soldiers and joining fighters in accosting an alleged political opponent have circulated throughout social media. In March 2015, the extremist-sympathizing opposition media outlet Sarmeen posted a video featuring the White Helmets gleefully joining a chant with Salafi jihadist fighters in Idlib, as they fire a fusillade of bullets into the air. A member of Syria Civil Defense grabs a flag from one of the militants and begins waving it: a black flag with the shahada in white letters, a common Salafi jihadist symbol, emblazoned with the name of Jaish al-Sunna, an extremist Islamist militia that is allied with Syrias al-Qaeda affiliate and that has reportedly recruited child soldiers with the help of the al-Qaeda-linked fundamentalist Saudi warlordAbdullah al-Muhaysini. Another upload to YouTube, posted the same day by the rebel media outlet, shows White Helmets joining the extremist militants in songs and chants. Al-Muhaysini, the ideological leader of Syrias Salafi jihadist rebels, has repeatedly praised the White Helmets. The Saudi warlord, who has been implicated in numerous war crimes in Syria, including mass executions of captured Syrian soldiers, insisted in an interview that there is no difference between the mujahideen (Salafi jihadist fighters) and the White Helmets. He even favorably described Syria Civil Defense members as mujahideen.

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

‘White House adviser is person of interest in Russia probe’ – AppsforPCdaily

The Times said the document was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office. The report did not name the adviser. It says the President then told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador that he “faced great pressure because of Russian Federation”. In this May 3, 2017, file photo, FBI Director James Comey listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. This week, the Justice Department announced that former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller would serve as a special counsel to continue the probe into the Trump campaign and any possible ties to Russian Federation. But lawmakers indicated after the Rosenstein briefings that the special counsel-led probe will look at all these factors. At first, the White House said Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey based on the recommendation of the Justice Department, and because of Mr. Comey’s handling of the F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton previous year. “When I made a decision to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story”, the President admitted. When asked by a reporter on Thursday if he had urged Comey to back down on Flynn, he responded curtly, “No, no, next question”. Mr Trump’s arrival in Saudi Arabia came as Yemen’s armed Houthi movement said it had fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital Riyadh. That’s not the only bad news for Trump. The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with [Sergey] Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the USA, in late November. Despite initially opposing the appointment of an independent counsel, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the development “helps assure people and the Justice Department that they’re going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we’ve called for all along”. But lawmakers at both congressional sessions expressed frustration that Rosenstein would say little in answer to their questions about his actions – or others’ – before Comey’s firing. He drew applause from most of the members in the room when he said the investigation into alleged Russian interference should be bipartisan. “This renewed my confidence that we should not have confidence in this administration”. “I thought he belonged in an institution”. That flies in the face of the White House’s public insistence that Comey’s dismissal was not linked to his ongoing investigation. Trump and his team planned the trip as an opportunity for the USA president to unify Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders against extremism, a senior administration official said. Journalist and author Max Blumenthal told RT that recent leaks to the media represented “almost a tidal wave” coming from within the intelligence services and reported as from anonymous former and current USA officials. “I wrote it. I believe it”. “And they can not believe what they’re finding”, he said. Rosenstein denounced that decision as “profoundly wrong and unfair”. With the president departing on Friday afternoon for the first foreign visit of his presidency, focus was turning to the scope and nature of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the USA election and links between the president’s election campaign team and the Kremlin.

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Latest News: Comey to testify in open setting to Senate on alleged Russian interference in 2016 RT America -RT – Standard Republic

Ex-FBI director James Comey has agreed to testify openly to the Senate on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Hes also expected to react to reports that President Donald Trump called him a real nutjob in a meeting with Russian diplomats. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, announced late Friday that Comey accepted an invitation to testify to the committee in an open setting. The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media, Burr said in a statement. The committees ranking Democrat, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, said Director Comey served his country with honor for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story, in a joint statement with Burr. President Donald Trump reportedly Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the countrys ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak that Comey was crazy, a real nutjob during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 10, one day after Comey was fired, according to the New York Times. The Times claims the remarks came from notes taken in the Oval Office, and that an official read quotes from them to the paper, and that theyre backed up by a second official. I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job, Trump is reported to have told the top Russian diplomats. I faced great pressure because of Russia. Thats taken off, Trump allegedly said. Im not under investigation. Commenting on the allegations Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russias actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia. The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations, he added. Once again is seemingly a reference to an allegation made by the Washington Post that Trump also shared classified information with Lavrov at the same meeting. These claims have been dismissed by the Trump administration as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, who offered to provide a record of the meeting to prove no classified or secret information was shared. The Times also claims that a third government official who was briefed on the meeting defended the president and suggested that telling Lavrov about the pressure he was under was a negotiating tactic, designed to coax concession out of the foreign minister on Syria, Ukraine and a number of other issues. Journalist and author Max Blumenthal told RT that recent leaks to the media constituted not just a steady drip, but almost a tidal wave coming from within the intelligence services and reported as from anonymous former and current US officials. Many of the leaks, Blumenthal noted, were related to Trumps conversations about his Russia policy and foreign policy in general, in order to stimulate opposition not just to a US-Russia detente, but to ultimately end with nothing less than [Trumps] impeachment, Blumenthal said. Describing Trump as an extremely sloppy operator, Blumenthal called his administration inept in putting out fires amid reported allegations and mixed messaging following the terrible handling of Comeys firing. Trump was provoked, goaded into bombing the Syrian government by the media, a severe shift from campaign promises to work with Russia against the Islamic State in the region, Blumenthal said. Blumenthal believes geo-political as well as domestic political interests are driving an agenda set by former officials from the Obama administration against Trump. What were witnessing is a very undemocratic atmosphere, where anonymous officials from within the intelligence agencies within the deep state are driving media coverage, driving the public into hysteria, aiming at impeachment, Blumenthal said.

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May 21, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

In the Saudis’ Den of Extremism, Trump Trades Advanced Weapons for a $200 Billion Re-Election Fund – AlterNet

President Donald Trumps nine-day-long tolerance tour will continue this Friday with a visit to Saudi Arabia. The junket offers Trump a brief respite from the suffocating atmosphere in Washington, where he faces a mounting campaign fueled by anonymous leaks from intelligence officials that is aimed at nothing less than his impeachment and replacement by a more supplicant Republican. Trumps ties to Saudi Arabia run deep. During the campaign, even as Trump blamed the Saudi royal family for the 9/11 attacks, he registered eight companies connected to hotel interests in the kingdom. Once Trump was inaugurated, the Saudis returned the favor, paying for rooms at his Washington, D.C., hotel through Qorvis MSLGroup, a Beltway lobbying firm. The rooms were reserved for a group of veterans flown into town by Qorvis to lobby against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) congressional legislation that would allow the bereaved family members of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for its alleged role in the attacks. Many of the veterans had no idea they were acting on behalf of Saudi Arabia, and some, like Tim Cord, staged an open revolt when they realized they had been deceived. Were sitting in a room full of retired generals, colonels, men who gave 25 years of their life to this country and theyre being lied to by a bunch of young punks who are using the vet angle to make themselves sympathetic. Why do you think a 60-year-old general would want anything to do with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Cord, a veteran of the Iraq war,complained to the website 28pages.com. I mean, thats a pretty heavy thing to assume were all going to be cool with. Throughout his chaotic tenure, Saudi Arabia has proven to be Trumps most durable foreign ally, even providing him with political cover after the fallout from his Muslim travel ban. Following a White House meeting this March with Trump and his national security team, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmanhailed the president as a true friend of Muslims who will serve the Muslim World in an unimaginable manner, opposite to the negative portrait of his Excellency that some have tried to promote. Ahead of the White House meeting, the Saudishired a D.C.-based consulting group, Booz Allen Hamilton, to compose a special presentation for the president. Prince Salman walked Trump through the Powerpoint slideshow the firm prepared, outlining a plan to invest at least $200 billion in American infrastructure and open up new business opportunities for U.S. companies inside the kingdom. In exchange, Trump was asked to ink the largest weapons deal in history, forking over the advanced missile defense systems and heavy weapons the Obama had administration had refused to sell. The weapons would then be used to pulverize Yemen. Trump reportedly accepted Salmans pitch, but only on the condition that Saudis plow their infrastructure investments into the Rust Belt swing statesOhio, Michigan, and Wisconsinthat held the key to his 2020 presidential victory. So far, Trumps foes in the Democratic Party and the organized liberal resistance have shrugged at the reports of his collusion with a foreign theocracy to secure re-election, obsessing instead over nebulous claims of his illicit ties to Russia. When Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he plans to deliver aspeech that will demonstrate Americas commitment to our Muslim partners, according to his National Security Council Director, Gen. H.R. McMaster. The address will likely have less to do with tolerance than with interests that converge around hostility to Iran, the drive to destroy a government in Yemen that is seen as its proxy, and selling the tens of billions in weapons the meat grinder operation requires. The spectacle will nevertheless give the president the chance to bask in the admiring glow of a Muslim ally, countering his image back home as a glowering bigot. The 31-year-old aide who composed Trumps speech is Stephen Miller, an ultra-conservative operative who entered the administration under the watch of Steven Bannon, the former Breitbart News editor-in-chief. A key author of Trumps legally nullified Muslim ban, Miller was at the vanguard of a generation of right-wing activists that cohered around the post-9/11 politics of Islamophobia. Orchestrated with the full cooperation of the Saudi royal family, the spectacle of Trumps speech will represent Millers crowning moment, helping him paper over his anti-Muslim past and consolidating his role as one of the presidents most trusted spin artists. The Islamophobia Industrys Alex P. Keaton During his days at Santa Monica High School, a bastion of coastal liberalism, Miller distinguished himself as a hyper-active conservative troll in the mold of Alex P. Keaton. The adolescent activist frequently phoned in to the right-wing Larry Elder Show to complain about multiculturalism and the persistent presence of undocumented immigrants, leading to his discovery by David Horowitz, the radical leftist-turned-extreme right provocateur. In 2007, while Miller was a sophomore at Duke University, Horowitz was busy spreading his Islamofascism Awareness Week to campuses across the country. Speaking before College Republican chapters, and often flanked by a cavalcade of grim private security guards, Horowitz railed against Islamic extremism and Islam in general, helping to popularize the narrative of creeping Sharia that paints Muslim immigrants to the West as a radical fifth column. Horowitzs national campaign provided a new generation of right-wing activists like Miller with a flood of outside resources and the sense that they were leading a transcendent civilizational mission. At Duke, Horowitz recruited Miller to establish a Terrorism Awareness Project that aimed to correct what he saw as academias insufficient interest in Islamofascism. American kids attend school in an educational system corrupted by the hard left. In this upside-down world, America is the villain and Jihadists the victims of our foreign policy, Miller wrote at the time. Instead of opening eyes, we are fastening blindfolds. As an advisor to the Duke Conservative Union, Miller worked closely with a rising right-wing activist named Richard Spencer. The duoorganized screenings of anti-Muslim propaganda films and brought the white nationalist pundit Peter Brimelow to campus for a debate on immigration. After graduation, Spencer emerged as the poster boy of American white nationalism, promoting discredited theories of race science in glossy mainstream magazine spreads. Miller went a more mainstream route, taking a job in the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, where he helped his boss stifle a plan to put millions of qualified undocumented immigrants on the path to citizenship. During his days at Duke, Miller got in touch with what he saw as his Jewish roots thanks to Rabbi Ben Packer, an open supporter of the Jewish fascist warlord Meir Kahane and the self-proclaimed rabbi on campus. Packerinvited Miller on a trip Israel through theBirthright Israel program, which provides all-expenses-paid tours to young Jewish adults across the West. As soon as Miller arrived, Packer took him straight to the religious nationalist settler communities that surrounded the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Stephen [Miller] thanked me for my efforts to show them around and remarked that putting on the Tefilin [Jewish holy phylacteries] at Machpelah was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, Packer recalled. [Packer, Arutz Sheva] [Michael Brown, EI] Next, Packer tapped his contacts in Jerusalem tolink Miller with a filmmaker who was building on the close bond between the pro-Israel lobby and the new generation of right-wing activists in the West. He was Raphael Shore, a Canadian-Israeli activist who worked at Aish HaTorah. Housed in a giant complex in Jerusalems occupied Old City, Aish was a cipher for millions in donations from wealthy supporters of Israel. The centercoordinated directly with Israels Foreign Ministry to amplify Israels public relations across the West. At Aish, Shore oversaw the creation of a film company, the Clarion Project, that became one of the central nodes of Islamophobic propaganda. During the 2008 American presidential election campaign, Shores Clarion Fund distributed 28 million DVDs of a film called Obsession, slipping it into newspapers as inserts that reached residents of swing states around the country. Obsession introduced viewers to the self-styled experts of the Islamophobia industry, from Steven Emerson to Robert Spencer, and to the narrative of creeping Sharia. The mass mailing also capitalized on an ongoing right-wing disinformation effort to portray the Democratic Partys nominee, Senator Barack Obama, as a secret Muslim born outside the United States a Trojan Horse for a foreign Islamic agenda. By introducing Middle America to the politics of Islamophobia, Shore had accomplished what Steven Bannon hadtried and failed to do when he shopped a script for a documentary about a Muslim takeover of America called the Islamic States of America. Partners in Extremism Given Millers role as a pioneer of Islamophobic politicking, it might seem ironic that he has been tapped to compose a speech promoting friendship between Washington and the Muslim world. From the Saudi standpoint, however, geopolitical imperatives have always superseded any concern for the wellbeing of Muslims or Arabs outside its immediate ambit. Since the high colonial days, the House of Saud has functioned as a handmaiden of Western imperial powers, assisting their longstanding goal of undermining Arab nationalism, protecting Israel and stifling the spread of communism. During the covert war the U.S. waged against Afghanistans Soviet-backed government, Saudi Arabia matched each dollar the CIA spent on the arming and training of the Afghan mujahedin. As Saudi Arabia pumped tens of billions of dollars into propagating its ultra-sectarian strain of Wahhabi Islam across the Middle East, it directed its most zealous citizens into Afghanistan through the Services Bureau funded by private Gulf donors like Osama bin Laden. The covert war contributed directly to the fall of the Soviet Union and simultaneously turned loose the scourge of international jihadism. The architect of the Afghan trap strategy, former National Security Director Zbigniew Brzezinski, freely acknowledged that the demands of empire outweighed any consideration he might have had for national security. Compared to the Soviet Union, and to its collapse, hecommented to the filmmaker Samira Goetschel in 2006, the Taliban were unimportant. During the Arab Spring, the Saudi militarydirectly intervened to crush a citizen uprising in Bahrain. Thanks to the kingdoms critical assistance, the U.S. Navys Fifth Fleet was able to hold on to the base that represented the most important American military asset in the Persian Gulf. Next, the Saudis shelled out millions to prop up Abdel Fatah el-Sisis military junta in Egypt, crushing the countrys first democratically elected government and putting the January 25 revolution to bed once and for all. Across the region, meanwhile, the Gulf monarchy cranked up its private media megaphone and activated Wahhabi religious proxies to drown out the cosmopolitan, reformist politics of the Arab Springs youth activists with regressive, sectarian messaging. In Syria, Saudi Arabia has reverted to the role it played in Afghanistan, partnering with Washington to propel a proxy war aimed at weakening a Russian ally. Thanks to the flow of arms from Western and Gulf powers, Al Qaedas local affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, hastaken control of large swaths of territory andappeared on the battlefield with sophisticated American weaponry. The Syrian rebel group that has received the bulk of Saudi support, Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam), currently controls the city of East Ghouta, where it hasparaded captive Alawite soldiers and their wives in cages, using them as human shields. In a video message to his supporters, the groups late leader, Zahran Alloushthe son of a Saudi clericpledged to ethnically cleanse Syria of religious minorities: Oh, you enemies of Islam we will step on your heads, herumbled into a camera. In Yemen, the special relationship between Washington and Riyadh has helped generate perhaps the worlds worst humanitarian crisis. Thanks to the extensive assistance provided to the Saudi military by both the Obama and Trump administrations, Yemen now faces a rapidly spreadingcholera epidemic while child malnutrition is at an all time high, according to the UN. By reducing the country to a failed state, the U.S. and its Gulf allies have provided a critical shot in the arm to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In a report published this February, the International Crisis Groupconcluded, The Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda (AQ) is stronger than it has ever been. As the countrys civil war has escalated and become regionalized, the international conflict resolution group found, its local franchise, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is thriving in an environment of state collapse, growing sectarianism, shifting alliances, security vacuums and a burgeoning war economy. As in the past, American foreign policy in the Middle East has sacrificed national security and human rights for the dubious pursuit of empire. The leading edge of its cynical project is Saudi Arabia, the Arab Spring’s destroyer, one of the worlds leading exporters of extremism and the top importer of American arms. Trump and the Islamophobes he has empowered might be seen as the enemy of Muslims back home, but in Riyadh, they are received as natural partners in a geopolitical death dance that grooves to the drums of war. Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed


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