TBR News April 19, 2016

Apr 19 2016


The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. April 19, 2016: “Once one of our closest allies, Saudi Arabia is headed for the edge of the quarry and oblivion as a Sunni leading state. The US had their allies drop the price of oil to annoy Putin but the low prices never rose. The Saudis lost billions of dollars as a consequence. Their attempts to forge a Sunni empire by creating and supporting the Sunni IS groups are failing and American Congressional attempts to explore the Saudi origins of the 9/11 attacks are producing loud threats on the part of the Saudis to dump American financial holdings and create havoc in the marketplace. In some intelligence circles, it is well-known that former President and CIA head George H.S. Bush was involved in this attack, was friendly with the Saudis and made four visits to that country prior to 9/11 to discuss possible attacks on the US to strengthen the Republican’s control position in the US. Where will this go? When, not if, this information becomes known to the general public, it could have a devastating effect on both internal and external politics.”

Conversations with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.           After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversations with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.


Conversation No. 72

Date: Sunday, March 2, 1997

Commenced: 1:45 PM CST

Concluded: 2:05 PM CST


GD: That’s either a vacuum cleaner in the background or the Martians are attacking.

RTC: I hate to disappoint you, Gregory. It’s indeed a vacuum cleaner.

GD: Well, we have spoken about flying saucers before so I thought you might have had a run in with them. It’s amazing, the stories people believe.

RTC: Or they want to believe.

GD: Well, crazy old L. Ron Hubbard tells us that his special people, the Thetans, were flown here from outer space in DC3s.

RTC: No, not that. In what? Piston engined aircraft? From….there is no atmosphere up there.

GD: Hubbard started Scientology in the early ‘50s and his writings are full of such silliness.

RTC: A crock of shit, all of it. Still, we were watching him when he was gadding around the Med in an old tub. No one had any idea what the old nut was up to and we knew he had KGB contacts. Not that he was pro-Commie but he was one of those people who believe his own nonsense and the Russians love to get their hands on such like. Stroke him like a cat and get him to work with them. They’re smart and he’s not. We knew his high command was full of foreign agents but we had a hell of a time getting at him. Very well protected. The KGB and the Stasi for sure and we think the Chinks had a hand in the game. The FBI had some snitches planted on him but the whole thing was like play time in a nut house. Still, the old fool made hundreds of millions of dollars of the sucker brigades and it is very hard to argue with that kind of scratch.

GD: Agreed. I am still trying to make up my mind whether Hubbard was a visionary or a self-deluded crook. Your people viewed him as a spy?

RTC: No, we did not but we felt he could do a lot of damage if we didn’t keep an eye on him.

GD: Did you?

RTC: Yes, we planted people with him. Strange, Gregory. The Company, the FBI, the KGB, the Stasi and others all used to work together, all playing roles. We mostly knew who the others were but just never mentioned.

GD: Hubbard died under odd circumstances out in California.

RTC: He was removed, Gregory. The old man was going around the bend and those just under him were afraid he would blow it and they would be kicked out, away from huge sums of money and with the money, growing political power.  One injection of the wrong kind and off he went to flying saucer heaven in the sky. They cremated the old man and dumped him into the ocean off the back of a fishing boat.

GD: Sic Gloria transit mundi.

RTC: Oh yes indeed..

GD: A friend of mine’s grandmother was cubically rich but getting really soft and the Scientologists got their hands on her. They wanted her to give all her money to them so my friend, knowing what I really am, came to me for assistance.

RTC: How much did you get out of it?

GD: You assume I was successful in driving them off.

RTC: That’s a given.

GD: I had a terrible time, especially with Linda. She was a vicious bitch and had her hooks into the old lady very deeply. I met her several times, passed off by my friend as a nephew. God, she hated me because she could see I didn’t believe a word of her nonsense. I had my problems with that one, believe it. First off, I got the old lady to like and trust me. Believe me, I can do that when I want to. Anyway, I got a power of attorney from her, put all her money into an iron-clad trust with the interest going to her and a percentage to her grandson. I mean she was a very decent person but talking to dead relatives and losing bladder control. I got her into a really excellent nursing home that I inspected very carefully. I used to work for Catholic Charities and I know something about nursing homes. Anyway, I made sure the old girl was safe and then I dealt with Linda. She was livid with rage over my presence so I had to neutralize her. It took a baggie of heroin under the front seat of her car, a silenced pistol in the trunk and two telephone calls and Linda was trying to convert people in her cellblock.

RTC: I thought you might have dispatched her to be with Hubbard.

GD: I thought about it but it wasn’t worth it. The old lady was safe and sound and her grandson was set for life. Of course he was more than generous to me for my work but I got quite a view of the working side of the Scientology game. Very effective what with the e-meter and the gabble. A lot of pitiful dimwits running around, looking for answers from someone else. Linda bit a federal agent so they added assault to her ticket.

RTC: I take it you disapprove of the Scientologists?

GD: No, actually I don’t. I believe that everyone should find Heaven in their own way. But not on my front porch and not pushing money into the pockets of thieving politicians . I have Mormon friends and I have the highest regard for their family life. Fine people with well-raised, first class children. They have very strange beliefs but I pay more attention to what they practice rather than what they preach.

RTC: Lots of LDS people in the Bureau.

GD: High minded and honest. I have no problem with that. The problem with cults like Scientology is that they want everyone to see what they see, or think they see, and they grab you by the lapels and shout in your face…and leave literature behind. I’m a practicing agnostic and a pragmatist, Robert, but from time to time, I have to deal with nasty people like Linda. I knew a fellow that was great company until I learned that he was sexually abusing his children. It took me two weeks of hard work, Robert, but he got caught and sent off. Rob an insurance company or a bank and you get no response from me but mess with little children and you can believe me when I say that I will do everything in my power to stop it. Since I am ruthless and have no conscience whatsoever, I am usually successful. Oh yes, and going after crazy old ladies is another of my annoyances. Linda did three years and although I have not encountered her after her fall from grace, I would imagine she goes a bit more quietly now.

RTC: Given all of that, what would you do if she ran up on you now?

GD: Kill her, Robert, very dead. Take the remains out to a big hog farm and toss them over the fence. Hogs will eat anything, even dead Scientologists.

RTC: They tell me hogs are smart.

GD: They are indeed but they are a wonderful garbage disposal system. And there Linda would be…and there Linda would be…and over there, that’s Linda too! What a fate, Robert. Steaming piles of hog turds in the mud.

RTC: Gregory, you are indeed rather unique. Have you done the hog farm thing?

GD: Only God and the hogs know that one. Ask and it shall not be answered but sniff and you might find.


(Concluded at 2:05PM CST)





Only 6% of Americans trust the media – survey

April 16, 2016


As accusations of bias fly during an election year, a new report shows that Americans have serious misgivings about the media, with only six percent saying they have “a great deal of confidence” in the press.

A survey of more than 2,000 adults released on Sunday showed that trust in the media has dipped to dramatically low levels. About 52 percent of respondents said they have “some confidence” in the press, while 41 percent said they have “hardly any confidence.”

“Over the last two decades, research shows the public has grown increasingly skeptical of the news industry,” the report from the American Press Institute reads. “The study reaffirms that consumers do value broad concepts of trust like fairness, balance, accuracy, and completeness. At least two-thirds of Americans cite each of these four general principles as very important to them.”

According to the study, most people couldn’t name a specific instance that damaged their confidence in the media, but about 40 percent could remember a case, generally involving a report that turned out to be inaccurate or was perceived as biased, which caused them to lose their trust.

“The most important thing that news organizations can do is be accurate, and while we know that is a high value, this study reinforces that,” Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, told the Associated Press.

The most essential quality for media institutions is accuracy, with 85 percent of respondents saying it’s extremely or very important for them to get the facts straight. Seventy-six percent said that timeliness is critical.

While social media has changed the way many people encounter news, it’s not necessarily for the better. Although 87 percent said they receive news via Facebook, for example, only 12 percent said they trust it “a lot or a great deal.” The social network with the highest trust rating was LinkedIn, and even then the level confidence was only 23 percent.

While the report didn’t point out any specific recent instances that have led to the erosion in public trust, the AP pointed to a Rolling Stone article on a campus rape that received widespread coverage in the US, but ultimately had to be retracted. It also highlighted inaccurate reports on the Supreme Court’s first ruling upholding Obamacare.

There have also been accusations of biased coverage of the current presidential campaigns, especially with respect to outsider candidates such as Donald Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

The American Press Institute report comes in the wake of a September 2015 Gallup poll which found that only 7 percent of Americans have a great deal of trust in the media, with about 33 percent saying they had a fair amount, and 60 percent claiming they had either little or no trust in the media.


Turkey denies entry to German journalist at Istanbul airport

April 19, 2016

by Markus Wacket and Andreas Rinke


Turkish authorities at Istanbul airport denied entry on Tuesday to a German public television journalist who arrived from Cairo and planned to travel to the Turkey-Syria border, the ARD broadcaster said.

ARD journalist Volker Schwenck announced his detention on Twitter and posted a picture of an entry ban letter given to him by authorities with the headline in Turkish and English: “Inadmissible Passenger Notification Report.”

The incident is another test for Germany’s relations with Turkey, which were strained earlier this month by Ankara’s demand that Germany prosecute a comedian who mocked President Tayyip Erdogan on television.

Erdogan demanded that Germany press charges against Jan Boehmermann after he recited a poem about the Turkish leader in a show on another public broadcaster, ZDF, suggesting he beats little girls, watches child pornography and engages in bestiality.

Chancellor Angela Merkel last week agreed to allow prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann under a section of the German criminal code that prohibits insults against foreign leaders but leaves it to the government to decide whether to authorize such cases.

“Last stop Istanbul. Entry to Turkey declined. There is a notification against my name. I am a journalist. A problem?” Schwenck wrote on Twitter.

The German foreign ministry said it was aware that a German citizen had been denied entry into Turkey and that diplomats were in contact with that person as well as with Turkish authorities.

The German media and public have criticized Merkel’s decision to allow prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann, accusing her of failing to protect free speech.

The European Union, United States and rights groups have criticized the Turkish government for what they say is its attempt to bridle the press.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Tom Heneghan)


Turkey must fulfill all criteria for visa waiver: Juncker

Turkey must meet all criteria of a migrant deal before travel rules for its citizens are relaxed, a top EU official says. Ankara has threatened to ditch the deal if visa-free travel for Turks is not introduced by June.

April 19, 2016


The European Union would not back down on the criteria it has set in a migrant deal with Turkey and insisted they be fulfilled before visa-free travel to the bloc for Turkish citizens was introduced, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday.

“Visa liberalization is a matter of criteria. The criteria will not be watered down in the case of Turkey,” he told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Europe’s leading human rights organization.

His remarks came a day after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned that Turkey would not need to keep its side of the deal if the EU failed to relax travel rules for Turkish citizens traveling to the bloc by June.

Different assessments

The EU has said that Turkey has so far fully met just 19 of 72 criteria for the visa waiver contained in the deal, which sees Turkey obliged to prevent migrants and refugees from leaving its shores by boat or other illegal routes for Europe and to take back all those who do manage to reach the 28-nation bloc in that way.

In return, the EU has pledged, in addition to liberalizing visa rules for Turkish citizens, to provide more funding for refugees staying in Turkey and to revive long-stalled EU accession talks with Ankara.

Davutoglu said only 17 of the criteria for the visa waiver had yet to be met by Ankara, and that he expected the requirements to be completed by May.

Turkish reluctance

However, one criterion in particular might prove a stumbling block: The EU wants assurances from Ankara that nationalities other than Syrian will also be granted effective access to asylum procedures once they have been returned to Turkey. At present, Turkey is offering protection only to refugees from neighboring Syria, meaning that the EU would be in breach of international law if it returned non-Syrian asylum-seekers to the country.

Turkey has voiced concern at the requirement, saying that it could encourage even more refugees and migrants to come into the country, which is already hosting some 2.5 million refugees from Syria’s civil war – more than any other single country.

Some states in the EU also object to Turkish citizens being granted visa-free travel to the block, saying that they fear it could trigger more Muslim migration to Europe, which is already facing the largest migrant influx in decades.

The deal with Turkey has been criticized by several rights groups, who among other things slam the country’s human rights record. However, it has led to a sharp fall in the number of daily arrivals from Turkish soil, after more than 1.1 million refugees and migrants reached the EU in 2015.


White House to Veto Bill Allowing Lawsuits Against Saudi Govt for 9/11

Press Secretary Says ‘Taxpayers’ at Risk

April 18, 2016

by Jason Ditz,


The possibility of holding the Saudi Arabian government liable for the role of its officials in the 9/11 attacks in New York City is looking remote today, with the White House press secretary Josh Earnest openly saying he can’t imagine a scenario in which President Obama doesn’t veto the measure.

The bill, authored by Sens. John Cornyn (R – TX) and Chuck Schumer (D – NY), is called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, and allows terror victims to sue governments of nations that have provided financial support to al-Qaeda. This conspicuously includes Saudi Arabia.

It is widely believed that the “secret” 28 pages of the 9/11 report detail Saudi involvement in funding the attack, and for years the Saudi government’s involvement has been a poorly kept secret. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, however, has threatened major economic repercussions.

Multiple reports have Jubeir threatening to have the Saudi government sell as much as $750 billion in US assets, including Treasury securities and other financial securities on the world market, a move that would potentially have disastrous effects on the US dollar and the American economy in general.

Earnest appeared to concede as much, saying that taxpayers would be at risk if Obama didn’t veto the bill that would authorize the lawsuit. This, however, would be ultimately an acknowledgement that the Saudi government is untouchable, and that efforts to keep the Saudi involvement in 9/11 a secret ultimately is to avoid embarrassing US officials who believe they can’t do anything about it.



Examine Political, Economic Influence on Saudi-9/11 Inquiries

Commission Work Plan Also Reveals FBI Found al Qaeda Member’s U.S. Flight Certificate Inside Envelope of Saudi Embassy in D.C.

April 18, 2016

by Brian P. McGlinchey


As President Obama prepares to visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, his administration is under increasing pressure to declassify 28 pages that, according to many who’ve read them, illustrate financial links between the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers.

Meanwhile, a far lesser-known document from the files of the 9/11 Commission—written by the same principal authors as the 28 pages and declassified last summer without publicity and without media analysis—indicates investigators proposed exploring to what extent “political, economic and other considerations” affected U.S. government investigations of links between Saudi Arabia and 9/11.

Drafted by Dana Lesemann and Michael Jacobson as a set of work plans for their specific parts of the 9/11 Commission investigation, the 47-page document also provides an overview of individuals of most interest to investigators pursuing a Saudi connection to the 2001 attack that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Included in that overview is a previously unpublicized declaration that, after the capture of alleged al-Qaeda operative Ghassan al-Sharbi in Pakistan, the FBI discovered a cache of documents he had buried nearby. Among them: al-Sharbi’s U.S. flight certificate inside an envelope of the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C.

Declassified in July 2015 under the authority of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) pursuant to a Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) appeal, the document is the seventeenth of 29 released under ISCAP appeal 2012-48, which focuses on FBI files related to 9/11. One of two documents in the series identified as “Saudi Notes,” we’ll refer to it as “Document 17.”

Dated June 6, 2003, Document 17 was written by Lesemann and Jacobson in their capacity as staff investigators for the 9/11 Commission, and was addressed to 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow, Deputy Executive Director Chris Kojm and General Counsel Dan Marcus.

Commission Investigators Posed Two Questions That Linger Today

Lesemann and Jacobson had previously worked together on the 2002 joint congressional 9/11 intelligence inquiry and authored the classified, 28-page chapter on foreign government financing of the attacks. Document 17 outlines how the two investigators proposed to extend their earlier research. The plans include many questions Lesemann and Jacobson felt the investigation should answer.

Two of those questions seem strikingly relevant today, as a declassification review of just 28 pages said to implicate Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks has inexplicably taken three times as long as the entire joint inquiry that produced them, and while a growing number of current and former officials who are familiar with the pages emphatically assert there’s no national security risk in their release.

Lesemann and Jacobson, already veterans of investigating 9/11 with the congressional inquiry, asked:

Document 17 Two Questions

They are two questions Lesemann wouldn’t be permitted to answer: Zelikow fired her first. Her termination had an apparent Saudi aspect of its own: Impatient with Zelikow’s neglect of her repeated requests for access to the 28 pages, she circumvented him to gain access on her own. When Zelikow discovered it, he promptly dismissed her.

Organizationally set apart from dozens of other questions as among the more important, overarching lines of inquiry for their particular avenue of the commission’s work, the significance of the questions’ presence in Document 17 is amplified by the absence of corresponding answers in the commission’s final report.

At some point—perhaps after Lesemann’s determined interest in Saudi links to 9/11 led to her dismissal—someone apparently determined a public study of those questions was beyond the scope of work.

Zelikow’s appointment over the commission was controversial, given his previous friendship with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and the fact he’d served on the Bush administration’s transition team. That history and, once appointed, his ongoing contacts with Bush political advisor Karl Rove, led some to question whether he was willing or able to achieve the high level of impartiality so essential to his role.

The Bush administration’s lack of cooperation with Saudi-related 9/11 inquiries is well-documented. According to Philip Shenon’s book, The Commission:

(Commission member and former Secretary of the Navy John) Lehman was struck by the determination of the Bush White House to try to hide any evidence of the relationship between the Saudis and al Qaeda. “They were refusing to declassify anything having to do with Saudi Arabia,” Lehman said. “Anything having to do with the Saudis, for some reason, it had this very special sensitivity.” He raised the Saudi issue repeatedly with Andy Card. “I used to go over to see Andy, and I met with Rumsfeld three or four times, mainly to say, ‘What are you guys doing? This stonewalling is so counterproductive.”

The Bush family has a multi-generational relationship with the Saudi royal family, with ties that are both deeply personal and deeply financial. Prince Bandar bin Sultan was the Saudi ambassador to the United States on 9/11, and is considered a personal friend of George W. Bush.

With many investigatory leads pointing toward the Saudi embassy in Washington, some feel Bandar merits thorough investigation—or that he may even be directly implicated in the 28 pages that Bush controversially redacted.

Saturday, appearing on Michael Smerconish’s CNN program to discuss a Saudi threat to divest itself of some $750 billion in U.S. Treasury securities if Congress passes a law clearing a path for 9/11 victims’ lawsuit against the kingdom, former Senator Bob Graham said, “I believe that there is material in the 28 pages and the volume of other documents that would indicate that there was a connection at the highest levels between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the 19 hijackers.”

A Redacted Question from Document 17

Asked by 60 Minutes if the 28 pages name names, commission member Lehman replied, “Yes. The average intelligent watcher of 60 Minutes would recognize them instantly.”

(If you watched the impactful prime time 60 Minutes segment on the 28 pages that aired last week and don’t remember Lehman’s intriguing statement, it’s because 60 Minutes oddly relegated perhaps their most newsworthy quote of all to this web extra.) There are many more examples of the U.S. government’s thwarting of Saudi-related inquiries, both outside and inside the work of the 9/11 Commission.

A Buried Flight Certificate

The FBI’s 2002 discovery of a U.S. flight certificate inside a Saudi embassy envelope was news to Graham, who co-chaired the joint congressional inquiry that produced the 28 pages.

Al-Sharbi Excerpt Document 17

“That’s very interesting. That’s a very intriguing and close connection to the Saudi embassy,” said Graham, who has been championing the declassification of the 28 pages and a perhaps hundreds of thousands of pages of other documents since 2003.

Since people often re-use envelopes and citizens of any country may have legitimate reasons for correspondence with the embassies of their government in foreign countries they live in, the Saudi embassy envelope isn’t by itself conclusive of anything. 28Pages.org couldn’t find any other history of the FBI’s find or of the government’s evaluation of its significance.

Al-Sharbi is one of 80 remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay. His public record includes his graduation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, reported association with other al-Qaeda members and alleged attendance at training camps in Afghanistan.

He is also among the individuals identified in FBI agent Kenneth Williams’ July 2001 electronic communication, sometimes called the “Phoenix EC” or “Phoenix Memo.” With it, Williams attempted—unsuccessfully—to alert the rest of the bureau about suspicions that Middle Eastern extremists were attending flight schools with ill intent, and to recommend a nationwide investigation of the phenomenon.

While those aspects of al-Sharbi’s story have been widely discussed, the FBI’s reported discovery of his flight certificate inside a Saudi embassy envelope buried in Pakistan has not.

Additional Excerpts from Document 17

The al-Sharbi paragraph excerpted above is in a section titled, “A Brief Overview of Possible Saudi Government Connections to the September 11th Attacks.” Comprising a list of individuals of interest to the investigators, it begins with names central to the well-reported San Diego cell, including future hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar, purported Saudi government operative Omar al-Bayoumi, Saudi diplomat Fahad al-Thumairy and Osama Bassnan, a former employee at a Saudi mission in Washington, D.C. who received “considerable funding from Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa, supposedly for his wife’s medical treatments.”

Here, we directly excerpt many entries from the list, with an emphasis on those that are more suggestive of a link to the Saudi government. Much of the information is already well-known.

It’s important to note that any given association described in these documents may well be benign, that witness statements aren’t always accurate, and that a previous government assertion of a fact may have already proved or may yet be proved wrong.

Omar Al-Bayoumi: Al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national, provided September 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar with considerable assistance after the hijackers arrived in San Diego in February 2000. He helped them locate an apartment, co-signed their lease, and ordered Mohdhar Abdullah (discussed below) to provide them with whatever assistance they needed in acclimating to the United States. The FBI now believes that in January 2000 al-Bayoumi met with Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi diplomat and cleric, at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles before going to the restaurant where he met the hijackers and engaged them in conversation. Whether or not al-Bayoumi ‘s meeting with the hijackers was accidental or arranged is still the subject of debate. During his conversation with the hijackers, Al-Bayoumi invited them to move to San Diego, which they did shortly thereafter. Al-Bayoumi has extensive ties to the Saudi Government and many in the local Muslim community in San Diego believed that he was a Saudi intelligence officer. The FBI believes it is possible that he was an agent of the Saudi Government and that he may have been reporting on the local community to Saudi Government officials. In addition, during its investigation, the FBI discovered that al-Bayoumi has ties to terrorist elements as well.

Osama Bassnan: Bassnan was a very close associate of al-Bayoumi’s, and was in frequent contact with him while the hijackers were in San Diego. Bassnan, a vocal supporter of Usama Bin Ladin, admitted to an FBI asset that he met al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar while the hijackers were in San Diego, but denied this in a later conversation. There is some circumstantial evidence that he may have had closer ties to the hijackers, but the FBI has been unable to corroborate this additional reporting. Bassnan received considerable funding from Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa, supposedly for his wife’s medical treatments. According to FBI documents, Bassnan is a former employee of the Saudi Government’s Educational Mission in Washington, D.C.

Fahad Al-Thumairy: Until recently al-Thumairy was an accredited Saudi diplomat and imam at the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, California. The news media reported that the U.S. Government revoked al-Thumairy’s visa in May 2003 ; the diplomat subsequently returned to Saudi Arabia. The FBI now believes that Omar al-Bayoumi met with al-Thumairy at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles before al-Bayoumi went to the restaurant where he met the hijackers. According to witness reporting, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were also taken to the King Fahad Mosque while they were in the United States.

Mohdhar Abdullah: Abdullah was tasked by Omar al-Bayoumi to provide al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar with whatever assistance they needed while in San Diego. Abdullah, who became one of the hijackers’ closest associates in San Diego, translated for them, helped them open bank accounts, contacted flight schools for the hijackers, and helped them otherwise acclimate to life in the United States.

Osama Nooh and Lafi al-Harbi: Al-Harbi and Nooh are Saudi naval officers who were posted to San Diego while hijackers al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi were living there. After the September 11th attacks, the FBI determined that al-Hazmi had telephonic contact with both Nooh and al-Harbi while al-Hazmi was in the United States.

Mohammed Quadir-Harunani: Quadir-Harunani has been the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation since 1999 and the FBI is currently investigating whether he had contact with the September 11th hijackers. In June 2000 a call was placed from Transcom International, a company owned by Quadir-Harunani, to a number subscribed to by Said Bahaji, one of the key members of the Hamburg cell. Quadir-Harunani is also a close associate of Usama bin Ladin’s half-brother, Abdullah Bin Ladin (discussed below), who was assigned to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.-E87 2.

Abdullah Bin Ladin: Abdullah bin Ladin (ABL) is reportedly Usama bin Ladin’s half-brother. He is the President and Director of the World Arab Muslim Youth Association (WAMY) and the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies in America. Both organizations are local branches of nongovernmental organizations based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to the FBI, there is reason to believe that WAMY is “closely associated with the funding and financing of international terrorist activities and in the past has provided logistical support to individuals wishing to fight in the Afghan War.” ABL has been assigned to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. as an administrative officer. He is a close associate of Mohammed Quadir Harunani’s and has provided funding for Transcom International.

Fahad Abdullah Saleh Bakala: According to an FBI document, Bakala was close friends with two of the September 11th hijackers. The document also notes that Bakala has worked as a pilot for the Saudi Royal Family, flying Usama Bin Ladin between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia during UBL’s exile.

Hamad Alotaibi: Alotaibi was assigned to the Saudi Embassy Military Division in Washington, D.C. According to an eyewitness report, one of the September 11th hijackers may have visited Alotaibi at his residence; another FBI document notes that a second hijacker may have also visited this address.

Hamid Al-Rashid: Al-Rashid is an employee of the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority and was apparently responsible for approving the salary of Omar al-Bayoumi. Hamid al-Rashid is also the father of Saud al-Rashid, whose photo was found in a raid of an al-Qa’ida safehouse in Karachi and who has admitted to being in Afghanistan between May 2000 and May 2001.

Ghassan al-Sharbi: Al-Sharbi is a Saudi student who was taking flight lessons in the Phoenix area before the September 11 attacks and is mentioned in the “Phoenix EC.” The U.S. government captured al-Sharbi in the same location where Abu Zubaida was discovered in early 2002. After Al-Sharbi was captured, the FBI discovered that he had buried a cache of documents nearby, including an envelope from the Saudi embassy in Washington that contained al-Sharbi’s flight certificate.

Saleh Al-Hussayen: According to FBI documents, Saleh Al-Hussayen is a Saudi Interior Ministry employee/official and may also be a prominent Saudi cleric. According to one news article, Saleh Al-Hussayen is the Chief Administrator of the Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina. An FBI affidavit notes that Saleh Al-Hussayen stayed in the same hotel as three of the hijackers on September 10, 2001. He told the FBI that he did not know the hijackers . The FBI agents interviewing him, however, believed he was being deceptive. The interview was terminated when al-Hussayen either passed out or feigned a seizure and was taken to the hospital; he then departed the country before the FBI could reinterview him. Saleh Al-Hussayen is ‘also the uncle of Sami Al -Hussayen (discussed below).

Mohammed Fakihi: Fakihi is a Saudi diplomat. Until recently he was assigned to the Islamic Affairs Section of the Saudi Embassy in Berlin, Germany. Soon after the September 11th attacks, German authorities searched SECRET 3 SECRET 10 the apartment of Munir Motassadeq, an associate of the hijackers in Hamburg , and found Fakihi’s business card. According to press reports , the Saudis did not respond to German requests for information on Fakihi. More recently, German authorities discovered that Fakihi had contacts with other terrorists; Fakihi was subsequently recalled to Saudi Arabia.

Salah Bedaiwi: Bedaiwi is a Saudi Naval officer who was posted to a U .S. Navy base in Pensacola, Florida. He visited the Middle Eastern Market in Miami, a location frequented by several of the hijackers, and was in contact with at least one of the hijackers’ possible associates. The FBI has been investigating these connections, as well as his ties to other terrorist elements.

Mohammed Al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan Al-Shalawi: Al-Qudhaeein and Al-Shalawi were both Saudi students living in the Phoenix area. Qudhaeein was receiving funding from the Saudi Government during his time in Phoenix. Qudhaeein and Al-Shalawi were involved in a 1999 incident aboard an America West flight that the FBI’s Phoenix Office now believes may have been a “dry run” for the September 11th attacks. Al-Qudhaeein and Al-Shalawi were traveling to Washington, D.C. to attend a party at the Saudi Embassy; the Saudi Embassy paid for their airfare. According to FBI documents, during the flight they engaged in suspicious behavior, including several attempts to gain access to the cockpit. The plane made an emergency landing in Ohio, but no charges were filed against either individual. The FBI subsequently received information in November 2000 that Al-Shalawi had been trained at the terrorist camps in Afghanistan to conduct Khobar Towertype attacks and the FBI has also developed information tying Al-Qudhaeein to terrorist elements as well.

Ali Hafiz Al-Marri and Maha Al-Marri: Ali Al-Marri was indicted for lying to the FBI about his contact with Mustafa Al-Hasawi, one of the September 11th financiers. Ali Al-Marri, who arrived in the United States shortly before the September 11th attacks, attempted to call Al-Hasawi a number of times from the United States. The FBI has recently received reporting that he may also have been an al:.Qa’ida “sleeper agent.” According to FBI documents, Ali Al-Marri has connections to the Saudi Royal Family. The Saudi Government provided financial support to his wife, Maha Al-Marri, after Ali Al-Marri was detained and assisted her in departing the United States before the FBI could interview her.

Obama to Visit a Saudi Arabia Deep in Turmoil

April 18, 2016

by Ben Hubbard and Nicholas Kulish

New York Times

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The images of the past year have been deeply unsettling for the people of Saudi Arabia, long accustomed to oil-fueled prosperity and regional clout: militants firing at communities along the country’s southern border; protesters storming the Saudi Embassy in Tehran; civil wars raging in three nearby states.

The view from Riyadh has become increasingly bleak as stubbornly low oil prices constrain the government’s ability to respond to crises and as the kingdom’s regional rival, Iran, moves aggressively to expand its influence at Saudi Arabia’s expense.

Under huge stress, the Saudis have responded in unpredictable ways, often at odds with Washington’s interests. They have launched a costly military offensive in neighboring Yemen that has failed to defeat the Houthi rebels and has empowered the Qaeda affiliate there. They have executed dozens of men on terrorism charges, including a prominent dissident Shiite cleric. And they have largely walked away from Lebanon, suspending billions of dollars in promised aid as Iranian influence there grows.

This is the Saudi Arabia that will greet President Obama, who is scheduled to arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday and who is the source of no small share of this nation’s anxiety. Policy makers across the kingdom have long said that they feel Mr. Obama does not share the country’s regional interests. And after he criticized the Saudis as “free riders” last month, those suspicions have hardened into fears that he may be actively undermining them.

Mr. Obama may try to use his visit to mend relations, but it remains unclear how badly the ties that have long bound the United States and the Saudi monarchy have weakened, and whether the damage can be repaired.

“It is a concerning factor for us if America pulls back,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, an outspoken member of the Saudi royal family, a former head of intelligence and a former ambassador to the United States. “America has changed, we have changed and definitely we need to realign and readjust our understandings of each other.”

The moment is a perilous one for the Saudis as they face economic and demographic challenges as well as strategic and security concerns. Domestically, a growing cohort of young Saudis is entering the job market as low oil prices constrain economic opportunities and undermine the welfare system. Regionally, Iran has outflanked and outmaneuvered Saudi Arabia in crucial countries as the Arab Spring and the war in Syria have upset the local order. Globally, the drift of the United States away from the monarchy’s side has made the Saudis realize how much they have relied on the world’s most powerful nation.

“A large number of factors have come together, both in the region and at home, to create a very challenging threat environment for the Saudis,” said Lori Plotkin Boghardt, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The Saudis feel under siege.”

For decades, the kings and princes who rule Saudi Arabia wielded their oil wealth and religious clout as the controllers of Islam’s holiest sites to pull strings and fund proxies across the Arab world and beyond.

Since the kingdom has never had the military might to protect itself, its alliance with the United States has been essential, and hugely beneficial to both sides. Saudi Arabia knew that in exchange for a steady flow of oil and billions of dollars for the American arms industry, the United States would come to the rescue if its ally faced an external threat — and that it would never speak out too loudly about the kingdom’s closed political system or its poor human rights record.

That relationship was unsettled by the Arab uprisings of 2011, when Saudi officials saw the United States cut loose another Arab ally, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, amid popular protests. Since then, frustration among Saudi officials has grown as Mr. Obama limited American engagement in later crises, in Libya, Syria and elsewhere, and as he made a deal with Iran to lift sanctions in exchange for the reining-in of its nuclear program.

In Syria, the Saudis saw the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad as an opportunity to replace an Iranian ally who was killing his own people. The hope was that a government more amenable to Riyadh’s influence, and less to Iran’s, would come to power. But that hope dwindled when the United States backed away from military action after Mr. Assad crossed Mr. Obama’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons.

Over time, it became clear that Mr. Obama had prioritized combating the Islamic State over ousting Mr. Assad. This infuriated Riyadh, which wanted to marry the two causes. Privately, Saudi officials blame Mr. Obama for prolonging the war by barring Saudi Arabia and other countries from giving Syrian rebels more powerful arms, like antiaircraft missiles, which Mr. Obama feared could be used outside Syria by terrorists.

The mounting frustration has led Saudi Arabia, under a new monarch, King Salman, to abandon its quiet checkbook diplomacy and lash out. In January, it executed 47 men on terrorism charges, including Qaeda militants and the Shiite cleric — sending what it thought was a message to deter jihadists and Iran from trying to destabilize the kingdom.

Analysts have begun speaking of a “Salman Doctrine,” although it is mostly associated with the king’s son Mohammed bin Salman, 30, who is the defense minister and is second in line to the throne. The doctrine calls for increased self-reliance and more assertiveness in regional affairs.

Last month, Saudi Arabia suspended $4 billion in aid promised to the Lebanese Army and security forces, saying that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militant organization in Lebanon, had become too powerful. The Saudis and their gulf allies also issued travel warnings, depriving Lebanon of gulf tourism dollars.

Those moves surprised American officials, who have reported no change in the security situation in Lebanon and who continue to support the Lebanese Army as a counterbalance to Hezbollah.

Saudi Arabia has also shown a growing willingness to use direct force. Last year, its military spending grew to $87.2 billion, as the country passed Russia to become the world’s third-highest military spender. Last month, it opened a new arms factory, and it has proposed building a military base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, to project power abroad. Prince Mohammed has also spearheaded the creation of an international alliance of Muslim countries to combat terrorism, although it is unclear when — if ever — it will begin operations.

Diplomats who track the kingdom question whether Saudi Arabia has the strategic capabilities to match its new ambitions. One test case is Yemen, where the kingdom and its allies have carried out a bombing campaign for more than a year, trying to oust the Houthi Shiite militant group from the capital and restore the government — at tremendous cost to the people of Yemen. An estimated 6,400 people have been killed, more than half of them civilians; nearly half the country’s provinces are on the verge of famine; and Al Qaeda has expanded its control in the south.

The Saudis defend the war as essential to their national security. “It is a war of necessity,” said Abdulaziz Sager, a Saudi political scientist and the chairman of the Gulf Research Center. “You can’t let a failing state with a violent nonstate actor be your neighbor.”

Domestically, the fall in oil prices has echoed through the Saudi economy, forcing the government to run a large deficit, impose spending limits and ponder steps that were once unthinkable, like imposing taxes on citizens and privatizing parts of Saudi Aramco, the state oil giant.

Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded the country’s credit rating this year, and companies that depend on government contracts have struggled to pay workers, creating problems for citizens and for the kingdom’s many foreign workers.

“These are really uncharted waters,” said Ms. Plotkin Boghardt, the Washington Institute fellow. “The oil income has been like the superglue between the Saudi government and the Saudi citizens. With this glue beginning to melt away, it opens up a whole situation that we’ve never seen before and they’ve never been in before.”

It is not all dire news for the kingdom. Saudi Arabia still has the world’s largest reported reserves of oil, which remains essential to the global economy. The country also has low debt and large cash reserves.

And although Iran has increased its influence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, it has done so at great cost, financially and militarily. “The Saudis took the region for granted while Iran put a strategy in place back in the ’80s, and has been implementing it year by year and dollar by dollar,” said Randa Slim, an analyst at the Middle East Institute.

But the kingdom maintains strong ties with many other countries — including Egypt, Britain and Pakistan — and as a leading Sunni nation, it has the demographic upper hand against Shiite Iran. “The score is still in their favor because it is a majority Sunni Arab region,” Ms. Slim said.

Officials involved in the Saudi-United States relationship acknowledge the chill, but say that it has not filtered down to the operational level, and that cooperation remains robust on issues like security, counterterrorism and business. And many Saudis realize that Mr. Obama’s days in the White House are almost over and that his successor may engage differently with the kingdom.“I’ve read so many accounts over the years predicting the demise of the House of Saud, and each time they’ve managed to survive,” said Robert W. Jordan, a former United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia. “They have an enormous survival instinct.”

Ben Hubbard reported from Riyadh, and Nicholas Kulish from New York.



The First Draft of History: Dispatches from the Frontline of War

April 17, 2016

by Patrick Cockburn

UNZ Review

War reporting is easy to do but very difficult to do really well. There is great demand for a reporter’s output during the fighting because it is melodramatic and appeals to readers and viewers. This is what I used to label in my own mind as “twixt shot and shell” reporting, and there is nothing wrong with it.

The first newspapers were published during the Dutch Wars with Spain, the Thirty Years War and the English Civil War at the beginning of the 17th century. People rightly want to know the latest news about momentous and interesting events such as wars, natural calamities and crime. But single-minded preoccupation with combat may be deceptive, because such exciting events are not necessarily typical; neither do they always tell one who is winning or losing the war.

I covered the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the beginning of 2002, which was largely reported as a military victory by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, supported by US air strikes. Television viewers would have seen impressive pictures of exploding bombs and lines of dejected prisoners. But I followed the Taliban from Kabul to Kandahar and their villages outside the city and saw their forces retreating and breaking up without really being defeated. There was little serious fighting, but a lot of giving up and going home by Taliban fighters who had been told to do so by their commanders and who knew that they were bound to lose the war anyway. At one moment, south of Ghazni, I accidentally drove through the Taliban front line, which had disintegrated. I nervously had to tell my driver to turn the car around and get back as quickly as possible without attracting attention to Northern Alliance positions. I kept thinking that I must have unaccountably missed the real fighting, but finally decided that there had not been much of it. This was important because if the Taliban had not been truly beaten, it meant they could make a comeback in the years to come – as indeed they did, with spectacular success.

There is a risk here of saying “I told you so” too vociferously, which does no good to the writer or reader. There is also an implied criticism of other reporters as shallow fellows who were caught up in the drama of war and failed to take the longer view. In practical terms, the journalist who spends so much time explaining the whys and wherefores of a conflict and neglects to cover the actual fighting will not hold his or her job for very long. War reporters are occasionally belittled in two wholly opposite ways: as either “hotel journalists,” cowering in their rooms while covering the action second-hand, or “war junkies,” tragic figures addicted to the excitement of armed conflict. The first accusation is easily disposed of since those reporters averse to being caught up in a conflict in which they might be killed – not an unreasonable attitude – take the elementary precaution of staying out of dangerous places such as Baghdad, Kabul, Beirut, Damascus, Tripoli and the like. As for the allegation that some reporters are “war junkies,” an intense interest in any professional speciality risks giving the impression that one is nursing an unhealthy obsession.

But in fact few correspondents are so enamoured with combat that they believe nothing else matters. A surprising aspect of wars since 2001 is that the journalists have often spent a much longer period of time in these countries than Western diplomats or officials. When Isis captured Mosul in 2014, the political section of the British embassy in Baghdad had just three junior diplomats on short-term deployment.

Of course, there may be a certain déformation professionnelle involved in the reporting of wars. When doing so in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya or Iraq, it is difficult not to convince oneself of the significance of whatever skirmish one is describing. This failing is almost impossible to avoid, because everybody is prone to exaggerate the importance of an event in which others are being killed. There is also a natural identification with those soldiers and militiamen, however thuggish and unsavoury, who are being shot at or shelled alongside oneself. Some, but not all, correspondents romanticise rebels who may be heroic defenders of their own communities but are quick to loot and kill when they advance beyond their home ground. All these factors combined in the early days of the uprisings in Libya and Syria to make rebel gunmen sound less sectarian and brutal than they really were. It was only in the first half of 2015 that there was a general admission that, ruthless though the Syrian government might be in barrel-bombing civilian areas, the armed opposition was by then almost entirely dominated by Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate. Sympathetic reporting of rebel-held areas in Iraq, Syria and Libya largely died away because they had become too dangerous for any local or foreign journalist to visit without risking kidnapping or decapitation. As for government-held areas in Iraq and Syria, in the past the Ba’athist governments in both countries had always made a sort of fetish of their own brutality as a sign of loyalty and determination and regardless of civilian casualties. The Syrian government used the same gangster methods of assassination, bombings and indiscriminate shelling to rule Lebanon during its long occupation as it used against its own civilian population after 2011.

Reporting wars has become much more dangerous now than it was half a century ago. The first armed conflict I wrote about was in Belfast in the early 1970s, when I used to joke that newly formed paramilitary groups appointed a press officer even before they bought a gun. In the first years of the Lebanese Civil War after 1975, the different militias used to hand journalists formal letters telling their checkpoints to allow free passage. There were so many militias that I was afraid of mixing up the letters, which looked rather alike, and used to keep those from left-wing groups tucked into my left sock and those from right-wing groups into the right one.

This relationship broke down from 1984 as Shia fundamentalist groups began to see journalists as targets for abduction for ransom or as political bargaining chips. Iraq at the height of the sectarian warfare of 2006-07 was dangerous, although not as dangerous as it has since become. I used to have a second car tailing mine in Baghdad to see if I was being followed and would make sure the staff in my hotel were well-paid so they could tip me off if anybody was taking too great an interest in my activities. Friends and colleagues who have been killed, such as David Blundy in El Salvador in 1989 and Marie Colvin in Syria in 2012, were very experienced journalists. Once I had imagined that it would be young and over-enthusiastic freelancers trying to make their name who would be killed. In the event, it turns out to have been the veterans who lost their lives more frequently – not because they made any great mistakes, but because they went to the well too often, and got away with it so many times that they took one risk too many.

There is a peculiarity about these present wars that makes them difficult to report because the military activity is not all-out armed conflict. It is a sort of quasi-guerrilla warfare with strong political content, in which the most striking features are the religious fanaticism, cruelty and military expertise of Isis and other al-Qaeda-type groups that differ little from it in ideology and behaviour, such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. But it is important not to focus only on their attention-grabbing atrocities, but the striking weakness of their enemies, whether they are in Washington or Baghdad. The military prowess of Isis is less surprising than the speed with which the Iraqi army disintegrated in 2014 when attacked by far smaller forces.

Perhaps this should not have come as the shock that it did: in 2013 I had spent some months in Iraq on the 10th anniversary of the US invasion and decided that the government and army were saturated by corruption and wholly dysfunctional. The following year I had written extensively and begun a book on the growing strength of the extreme Sunni jihadis. Even so, I never conceived that Isis was going to capture Mosul and most of northern and western Iraq. I had forgotten a golden rule when predicting the future in Iraq, which is to forecast the worst possible outcome. This may take longer to happen than one had expected, but when it does occur will be far worse than one’s direst imaginings. Similarly pessimistic calculations made about Syria, Yemen and Libya in recent years would likewise have accurately forecast their present grim situation.

It is easy to be a professional pessimist over Iraq and much of the rest of the region, but I have tried to avoid this, sometimes in the face of the evidence. I have liked Iraqis since I first went to their country in 1977 and have always had close Iraqi friends. During that first visit it all looked very different as the country enjoyed one of its rare moments of peace. The Kurdish rebellion had temporarily ended following the 1975 Algiers Agreement, when Saddam Hussein did a deal with the Shah of Iran who, with the backing of the US, betrayed his former Kurdish allies. The country had a standard of living that was about the same as Greece, as oil revenues soared, and there were good administrative, education and health systems. Saddam was vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and had not achieved complete power. Still unknown were his capacity for extreme violence against his own people and his proneness to titanic miscalculations that would lead him to fight wars against Iran and the US that Iraq could not possibly win.

I had just been in Iran in 1980 when there were the first rumours that Saddam might invade, something I discounted at the time on the grounds that he would not do anything so foolish. I was wrong, but 10 years later, as Iraqi tanks were massing north of the Kuwait border, I had learned my lesson and believed that no act of megalomaniac folly was beyond him. (I knew a few of his senior advisers who were certainly aware of the likely consequences of attacking Iran or invading Kuwait, but I doubt if they ever expressed their misgivings. A Russian diplomat, who knew Iraq’s ruling circles well, once told me that the only safe course for a senior member of the regime was “to be 10 per cent tougher than the boss”. In other words, if Saddam said he was going to invade Kuwait, even his best-informed lieutenants might urge him to push on to Saudi Arabia. Iraqi leaders grotesquely misinformed about their military and political strength did not end with the fall of Saddam. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who presided over one of the biggest military debacles in history in 2014, continued to have himself pictured staring intently at a large map and addressing his generals like Napoleon before the battle of Austerlitz.)

Journalists are sometimes patronisingly congratulated for providing “the first draft of history”, though often the first draft is better than the last. There is credibility about eyewitness reporting before it has been through the blender of received wisdom and academic interpretation. Journalists are often over-modest about what they know, and their editors are even more so – ever nervous when their man or woman in the field is saying different things from some pundit they have just seen on television or read in an op-ed column. In the US such talking heads, who have the great advantage to TV stations of providing their services for free, are often the despair of journalists in the front line. One night in Baghdad in 1998, as American missiles exploded in central Baghdad and pieces of shrapnel from anti-aircraft fire rained down, I remember watching a journalist friend crawl outside to use a satellite phone. On his return I asked him why he had done such a dangerous thing and he explained wryly that his office in New York had told him to call some expert on Iraq at a think-tank in Washington to get their assessment of the US air strikes.

My newspaper, The Independent, never put me under any such constraints or questioned my judgement in any of these wars and conflicts. I used to sympathise with American colleagues in 2003 and again in 2008 who knew very well that the war in Iraq was not won, but were being confidently contradicted by their home offices. I recall in 2008 a correspondent for one US television network gloomily telling me he had not been on air for 60 days despite the ongoing violence because “New York is convinced that the war here is over”.

Of course, the war never ended in Iraq or any of the other countries covered in this book. This is one of the striking features of the present era: wars turn into bloody stalemates with no outright winners or losers, aside from the millions of civilians who are the victims. Political systems decay or are overthrown but nobody is strong enough to replace them. An Islamic cult motivates people so they are prepared to die for it in a way that is no longer true of nationalism or socialism. There is outrage at the atrocities and destructiveness of the Caliphate as its militants blow up the ancient buildings of Palmyra and cut off the head of the chief archaeologist. But as yet there is no sustained counter-attack to eliminate the Islamic State. When I was living in a disease-ridden and impoverished Afghan village north of Kabul covering the last days of the Taliban, they seemed like an exotic but temporary throwback with their treatment of women as chattels and their hatred of other Islamic sects. Instead, against all the odds, they turned out to be the harbingers of an embattled and violent future.


America as a Terrorist Target

by Harry von Johnston PhD


When the Syrian Palmyra was liberated from the fanatic Sunni Moslem IS people, a Russian SVR unit searched for, and found, considerable IS documents that were most revealing and informative. One set of documents set forth a series of targets in the United States that IS is planning to attack. It is a long list so it is my intention to publish various segments of this particular document for the edification of the public.

One of the plans would be to release BW material near water reservoirs and another would be to put Claymore mines in suitcases on crowded bus, rail or airport locations. Their remote-controlled explosions would spray deadly shrapnel into the crowds.

Penetration of the United States would not be difficult. Both the Canadian and Mexican borders are very porous and the sea coasts are virtually without any observation or protection from small boats, fishing craft or commercial shipping.

In the state of Virginia we have Langley, the headquarters of the widely-diversified CIA. But at the same time there is the mid-state of Charlottesville that contains a number of intelligence agencies and an area slated to be occupied by top level US military personnel with the Washington-based Pentagon moves in toto to that area.

And in the state of New Mexico, we have the southern town of Sierra Vista and the neighboring Ft. Huachuca. The city is home to many American and foreign intelligence personnel and the Army base is the southwest intelligence and radio interception center.

This is only a sampling of the targets specified in the thick captured file and we will publish more in future postings.

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