TBR News June 18, 2016

Jun 18 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 18, 2016: “”What on the surface appears to be a complex subject, on closer examination turns out to be extraordinarily simple. I am referring specifically here to the turmoil in the Middle East.

The basis for all the murderous manipulations is America’s frenzied need for oil. Once a producer of this substance, vital for the production of gasoline so necessary to the driving American public, the United States has fallen woefully behind in supplying their public with cheap gas for their vital vehicles.

With this in mind, consider the machinations of the stupid, evil and manipulated George W. Bush.

Because Iraq had large untapped oil fields and had infuriated Israel by firing rockets at her cities, Bush, using the usual CIA-created prevarications, invaded Iraq, hopeful of gaining her oil and pulling Israel’s chestnuts out of the fire for her.

Like all committee-created operations, the Iraqi one fell flat on its face.

Next, we had a new king in Saudi Arabia, a major US oil producer.

He had the concept of a great Sunni Muslim empire, under his control of course. Parts of Iraq, Syria and Iran are Shi’ite and this branch of Islam is considered a deadly enemy by the dominant Sunnis.

After many secret conferences, the Saudis convinced the Americans that they would grab, by force, the Shi’ite lands and then there would be religious power and, of course, more oil for America.

The Saudis formed ISIS to do their dirty work and the CIA lent its murderous technicians as trainers in terrorism to the newly-formed ISIS people.

After all, it was the CIA that organized, trained and equipped AlQuaeda to fight America’s proxy war against Russia in Afghanistan.

In this case, as in so many irrational and destructive CIA projects, ISIS took the bit in its teeth and began a vicious and psychotic campaign of terror in the Middle East that frightened everyone not in Langley.

Assad, in Shi’ite Syria, was anathema to Israel so the US started rebellions in his country to overthrow him.

Israel hated Assad because, allied with Russia, he had allowed many deadly missiles to be transshipped from Russia to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. CIA-fostered rebellion broke out in Syria and was well on its way to what both the Saudis, Israel and the CIA to success.

Syrian oilfields were invaded and controlled by CIA-trained ISIS units and the oil was transshipped, via a willing Turkey (whose Mussolini-type president and his family enjoyed the profits and some of the stolen oil) through Israel to the US.

Then Putin, far more clever than the US would like to admit, angry at spiteful sanctions dumped on his country, got into the equation and Russian airpower did terrible damage to ISIS, killing a number of CIA ‘assistants’ in the process and totally interdicting the flow of oil to Turkey.

Enraged, the CIA had its people in Ankara assure the frustrated Turks that if they shot down a Russian plane, the Russians might attack them in retaliation and then NATO would rush to Turkey’s rescue and help her murder off annoying Kurds.

It would be a reprise of the 1916 Turkish genocide against the Christian Armenians only this time, the Turks could let others do its ethnic cleansing for them.

And the CIA would have revenge on Putin for daring to interfere with their plans. The plane was duly shot down but Putin did not move troops against Turkey but put on economic sanctions of his own and caused terrible economic problems for Ankara, problems the CIA could do nothing about.

And the smell of failure is in the air.

The CIA-led Kiev revolt failed.

The Turkish provocations failed.

The US-Saudi ISIS movement is failing.

What sort of murderous creativity will Langley create next?

A US invasion of Canada?

Mexico, now in a state of total anarchy, would be safe because she has run out of oil.

Perhaps Venezuela will be another star on the wall at Langley.

Or perhaps some place in the Arctic could become a mischief-maker’s target.”

 The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.

His name was Heinrich Müller.

Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.

This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.

When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.

Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.

The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.

Saturday, 9 December 1950

I have been contacted by Colonel Behn about the Cuban business he discussed with me recently. He would like me to drop down to Havana and check out several security matters he has had a problem with. This has to do with some Cuban support for the Puerto Rican separatist fanatics

He too is investing in defense stocks.

I should go down sometime next week for four days. Bunny said she would like to go with me but feels she would like to stay here because of a horse problem. Because of what Behn said about the nightlife in Havana, I did not press her to come.

A small affair only increases the devotion of the errant husband!

Sosthenes Behn, whom Müller had met in Berlin before the war, was a towering figure in the communications field. Born in 1884 in the Virgin Islands, then a Danish possession, Behn took part in World War I as a U.S. Army Signal Corps officer and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel, and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal and the French Legion of Honor.

He was a director of, or controlled the following companies:

Chairman, International Telephone & Telegraph Corp.; Chairman International Standard Electric Co.; Chairman and Board President of the Cuban Telephone Co.; President and Director of Port of Havana Docks Corp., the Havana Docks Corp., Radio Corporation of Cuba, Standard Products Distributing Co of Cuba, International Telephone & Telegraph Co. of Spain, Director Puerto Rico Telephone Co., Radio Corporation of Puerto Rico, Director, Chairman of the Finance Committee of Federal Electric Co., Director of American Cable & Radio Co., Capehart Farnsworth Co., The Coolerator Co., Federal Telecommunications Labs, Inc., Federal Telephone and Radio Co., International Telecommunications Labs, Inc., International Telephone Building Co., Kellogg Credit Co., Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Co., Cia Standard Electric Argentina, Cia de Telefonos de Chile, Standard Electric Corporation, Puerto Rico, Standard Elektrizitats-Gesellschaft, A.F., Standard Electrica, S.A.R.L., Lisbon, Standard Electricia, S.A., Madrid, L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., Ltd. Sweden and a Director of the National City Bank of New York.

Behn held a number of high decorations and was a member of many influential clubs such as the Metropolitan Club of Washington and the Knickerbocker and Links Clubs of New York.

He died on June 6, 1957 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Behn has aroused the fury of professional German-haters because of his business-as-usual attitude towards German business after the war. He was, however, a successful man which they obviously are not.

Thursday, 14 December 1950

A wonderful brief vacation in Havana! Warm weather, good food and an interesting old Spanish colonial city. I really should have gone to the Virgin Islands instead of Washington. The people in Cuba are a mixture of Negro and Spanish while the ones in Mexico (where I have not yet gone) are a cross between Spanish and Indian.

I took one of my people with me and I looked into the business for Behn and spent two days at the various clubs watching the impressive club dancers, swimming at the beautiful beaches and being nice to several charming young ladies whom I met while swimming. I knew that would happen because I know myself so well, but Bunny is happy with her horses and I enjoy my own kind of riding.

The government here is basically in the pockets of the United States and is very corrupt but so are most of the governments in Central and South America.

The music is interesting and there is gambling at a number of casinos. I won about sixty dollars that I spent on one of the young ladies. They are so accommodating and a few dollars goes quite a distance there. I shall certainly have to go back again but Behn told me I ought to go to the Virgins (not the British ones) where I could do better. Nice blonde Danish stock there, mixed in with the others.

No sooner do I get back than more mournful news from Korea, and of course, plans for a gala Christmas here.

Still thinking of Havana, I can visualize a very nude Cuban dancer bursting out of a large cake but obviously this will not happen here. A pity. It might not be dignified but it certainly is enjoyable to contemplate.

Back to work again and I have the beginnings of a fine tan. Bunny said I must have lost a few pounds, was romantic and said that she would go the next time! We will see. It could always be secret work. It always is.

Attlee, the British Prime Minister, was here, frantically trying to keep Truman from dropping the bomb. Of course he is a rabid pacifist, was one even as a British officer in the 1914 war and is rather useless.

Ross, the President’s press secretary and an old friend, died suddenly at a press conference and Truman is still upset about it. This is certainly not a good time for the President but he will pull through

There was a scandal of sorts concerning his daughter. She gave a concert which was very savagely reviewed by a critic from the (Washington, ed.) Post. He was quite cruel about her voice, or lack of it, and Truman simply exploded and wrote the man a savage letter. It got printed in another paper and there has been much criticism. I have heard Miss Truman sing and while she has a light, pleasant voice, it will never amount to much. There is no real feeling and little real depth but of course one cannot say this to the proud father. Harry is a good man, without a doubt, but has a terrible temper which, given all the strain he is now under, I can understand.

The situation in Korea is getting worse but the Chinese military do not have the air power this country does, and thank God, the Soviets are not about to give them anything. They have fully equipped the North Korean forces, even with artillery and aircraft, but they will not give these things to China.

There is some hope in this because there will be a deeper rift in the future. The two people are enemies and have been for some time. The Japanese and the Russians hate each other, the Chinese hate the Japanese and the Russians, and they all hate Americans.

Monday, 18 December 1950

The news from Korea is still negative but hopefully, the inexorable Chinese advance can be slowed to a halt soon. More and more troops and equipment are being moved to Japan. Several instances of sabotage of American ships engaged in sending equipment to the war zone. FBI is investigating.

A very elaborate Christmas being planned. Very large tree to go up in the main hall, (no candles this year) with a crate of decorations, smaller tree for the servant’s quarters. God knows how much I will be expected to spend on presents for everyone.

The guest list will include, besides my wife and myself, her aunt, two cousins, Heini, his sister and brother, Arno (naturally for the sister…the parents are not coming again. I think the last one was too fancy for their system but I did have a very nice letter from them thanking me for my financial aid last year), and Irmgard. That makes an even number which is better to seat at the table and no one is crowded. We could probably seat fifty but ten is quite enough, thank you.

Maxl, who loves it down here, will get a nice small broiled filet of beef and the horses get an armful of apples to munch on.

I told Bunny that I absolutely would not invite any of the CIA or Army people down here. I couldn’t avoid this socializing while we were in the District but here I can pick and choose. Besides, if I invited couples from work, there might be trouble with the wives I have fucked. God save us from hysterical females at any time, especially at Christmas.

There are several hundred cards, which have to be sent out, and Bunny will take care of that chore for me.

Although I certainly enjoy the good fortune, I think with some nostalgia on the much simpler days behind me. Of course we only remember the good times, never the bad but Christmas is a sad time for many and suicides multiply during the season.

Adults, who were once innocent children remember the theoretical joys of past Christmas celebrations through wishful eyes, think upon the security of the period, mourn for the dead and gone, and slash their wrists in the bathtub.

I have always wondered why people shoot themselves at home. They leave such a mess for others to clean up. A friend of Bunny’s aunt blew his brains out all over his sleeping wife and it took a week to clean up the walls and all the bedding had to be burned. What a nice thought on his part. A little something for the wife to remember him by.

He should have gone off and done it in the woods and if he had gone in far enough, he could have contributed to the feeding of various kinds of wildlife who aren’t too particular about what they eat. Then, when they eventually found him, there would be that much less left to bury. Of course some parts would probably be missing but if the casket were closed, who would miss a leg or two?

Bunny tells me that I have a terrible sense of humor and while she does laugh, there are times when I know I shock her sensibilities.

I never bothered Sophie with these things because she had no sense of humor whatsoever and there would have been prolonged difficulties over such matters.

I hope they have a good holiday in Germany, in fact I wish the entire country a good holiday. Things are beginning to look up over there, even if the country is run by a disgusting rabble of American ass-kissers and moral bankrupts. The people will survive in spite of the politicians.

We have received a number of greeting cards including one from the President and his family with a nice, handwritten note on it.

Several weeks ago, I happened to be in a printing shop to have more engraved business cards printed when I saw a very large album containing samples of Christmas cards. This was an outdated book and the proprietor told me he was going to throw it out. I took it instead because all of the cards had different names printed on them. These I addressed to my co-workers and put them into the mail the other day.

Can you imagine these social climbers puzzling over a card from “Bob, Irene and Jimmy?” They have no idea who these people are and run around frantically looking into their desks for an identifying name and address. After all, the senders just might be someone important, and in Washington, one always likes to keep up with society. It will give them something to take their minds off of Korea at any rate.

This reminds me of a little joke I played on Dulles. I had someone who was going to Chicago send him a scarcely literate letter informing him that the writer, a cousin, who was obviously feebleminded, and his mother, who weighed four hundred pounds and was crippled, would be arriving in the area in time for Christmas and would love to see Cousin Allan again! And the dog would be well behaved because after he attacked the little girl next door, they had sent him to a dog trainer. Then, as if this was not enough to keep him boiling, I sent him another one from Cleveland announcing the forthcoming arrival but stating the dog had died. They were bringing the animal’s corpse with him so they could bury it on Allen’s estate. Another letter from Philadelphia announcing that mother was not well again but they hoped she would live long enough to die in the bosom of her family.

One of her feet, the idiot cousin wrote, was turning black and starting to smell “just a little bit” but that Mama was bearing up wonderfully well even if the old car was not. I found out very quickly that he was not amused at all. In fact, the entire clan was not amused and had given collective orders to various servants not to admit any relatives during the season. This was a mistake because legitimate cousins bearing expensive gifts will be turned away.

Like Sophie, they have absolutely no sense of humor whatsoever!


Obama will be leaving office soon. The sooner the better

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

 President Barack Obama, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, is no longer a “lawyer”. He surrendered his license back in 2008 in order to escape charges he lied on his bar application

Michelle Obama “voluntarily surrendered” her law license in 1993. after a Federal Judge gave her the choice between surrendering her license or standing trial for Insurance fraud!

Source: http://jdlong.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/pres-barack-obama-editor-of-the-Harvard-law-review-has-no-law-license/

https://www.iardc.org (Stands for Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee).

Barack Obama was NOT a Constitutional Law Professor at the University of Chicago.

The University of Chicago released a statement in March 2008 saying Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) “served as a professor” in the law school-but that is a title Obama, who taught courses there part-time, never held the title of Professor of Law,” said Marsha Ferziger Nagorsky, an Assistant Dean for Communications and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago School of Law

The Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission lists President Obama’s registration status as “voluntarily retired.”

It lists Michelle Obama’s status as “voluntarily inactive.”It’s true that although both President Obama and the University of Chicago have stated at various times that he was a “professor of law” or “professor of constitutional law” at the U.C. Law School, he never officially held that title. He was first a Lecturer (1992-1996) and then a Senior Lecturer (1996-2004) until elected to the Senate in 2004.

It’s true that neither the president nor the first lady holds an active license to practice law. A search on the website of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois shows that Barack Obama is listed as “voluntarily retired and not authorized to practice law,” and Michelle Obama is listed as “voluntarily inactive and not authorized to practice law.”

President Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991 and was admitted as a lawyer by the Supreme Court of Illinois on Dec. 17, 1991. Prior to being elected to the Illinois state Senate in 1996, he worked as a civil rights lawyer at the firm formerly known as Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. Four days after Obama announced that he would run for president in February 2007, he voluntarily elected to have his law license placed on “inactive” status, according to Grogan. Then, after becoming president, he elected to change his status to “retired” in February 2009.

Michelle Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1988, and was admitted as a lawyer by the Supreme Court of Illinois on May 12, 1989. Following graduation, she joined Sidley Austin, a corporate law firm in Chicago. But a few years later, in 1994, while working for the Public Allies project in Chicago, Obama voluntarily had her license placed on “inactive” status.

ISIS in America

Nine Lost Souls the FBI Charged as Terrorists While Letting the Orlando Shooter Go

June 17, 2016

by Murtaza Hussain, Josh Begley

The Intercept

In the midst of Omar Mateen’s shooting rampage in Orlando, law enforcement officials say the 30-year-old Florida resident called 911 and proclaimed his support for the Islamic State. Although FBI officials say they have not identified any direct connection between Mateen and the terrorist group, his case has once again brought calls for a harsh crackdown on individuals who might commit acts of domestic terrorism.

In the United States, 88 people have been arrested on charges of supporting ISIS since 2014, according to statistics compiled by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. Who are they? Most are young, male, and American citizens. But in contrast to the Islamic State’s own propaganda, as well as the statements of many political figures, many of the U.S. supporters of ISIS come across as more pathetic than fearsome. While media reports have trumpeted the danger of sleeper cells, most of the people arrested by the FBI appear to have been wayward, isolated young men (and a few women) with little connection to international terrorist groups.

Recent coverage of the Orlando shooting has indicated that Mateen was motivated by homophobia and mental illness as much as any militant ideology; the FBI had investigated Mateen on two occasions and interviewed him but never pressed charges. The FBI’s handling of his case, along with its handling of the often-hapless people it does arrest on terrorism charges, shows the complexity and, perhaps, the impossibility of the task — trying to identify and imprison real terrorists before they commit acts of terrorism.

Using court documents, interviews, and Google images of major landmarks from their personal lives, The Intercept has constructed brief portraits of nine recent cases of “ISIS in America.”

For Mufid Elfgeeh, the internet was an escape. The 30-year-old spent his days working in a pizzeria in a bleak industrial area of Rochester, New York, living in a small attic above his business. He had lived alone in the United States since the age of 14, after his father left the country for Yemen. Temperamental and socially maladjusted, he spent his nights chatting with Islamic State supporters on Twitter, operating dozens of accounts for that purpose.

By 2013 his online activity had put him on the radar of the FBI. The following year, after a sting operation in which Elfgeeh was befriended by two government informants, he was arrested and charged with material support for terrorism. Shortly after his arrest, his pizzeria was partially destroyed in a fire.

Elfgeeh was described by those who knew him as a difficult and emotional man with few real friends. By the time of his arrest, the informants in the case had become the people he spent most of his free time with. In conversations with them, he mused about shooting soldiers and offered to help them travel to Syria with the aid of his online contacts.

On May 31, 2014, after his new friends successfully set up a gun deal for him, Elfgeeh was arrested.

He is now serving a 22-year sentence for material support of terrorism. His sentence is the longest given to anyone convicted of supporting ISIS in the United States.

After Nader Elhuzayel’s parents declared bankruptcy, the Crystal Inn motel in Anaheim, California, became their home. Elhuzayel, 25, lived there until his arrest in the summer of 2015. The government alleges he had attempted to travel abroad to join the Islamic State.

In his surveilled conversations, Elhuzayel evinced an overwhelming desire to leave Anaheim. Debating with a friend about where to go, he first chose Yemen, because “it was so beautiful.”

He expressed wishes to die and go to heaven by fighting with ISIS. Online, he connected with a Palestinian woman who also supported the group.

According to the criminal complaint against him, he and the woman “professed love for each other” and agreed to meet to get married. They discussed living on a farm together and raising children, while supporting ISIS “despite their parents’ opposition.”

On May 21, 2015, Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport while attempting to board a one-way flight to Tel Aviv. He is currently on trial on charges of material support for terrorism and bank fraud.

For several months, Ali Shukri Amin crafted a terrifying image for himself as the most prominent American supporter of ISIS on Twitter. Under the name @AmreekiWitness, he sent thousands of messages in support of the group, disseminating its propaganda and even providing instructions on how to fund the organization with Bitcoin.

His offline persona was somewhat less imposing. Amin was a 17-year-old student at Osbourn Park High School in suburban Virginia. Physically impaired by Crohn’s disease, he spent hours alone on the internet. While outwardly living the life of a typical teenager, in private he developed a raging obsession with the Islamic State. When his best friend, 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, made his own plans to actually join the group, Amin helped drive him to the airport. Niknejad is believed to have made it to ISIS territory and remains at large today.

Amin was arrested in 2014. His estranged father, whom Amin had not seen in over a decade, traveled from the United Arab Emirates to attend his court hearings. His father would later tell the judge that his absence in Amin’s life had “created a spiritual wound” in his son — one that was ultimately filled by his online activities.

Last year, Amin pleaded guilty to one count of material support for terrorism. In a letter to the judge before his sentencing, Amin apologized for his actions and renounced his support for the group. “Developing these relationships became very important to me,” he wrote of his online audience, “because several of these ‘friends’ treated me with respect and occasionally reverence.”

Following his guilty plea, Amin was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Safya Roe Yassin was a resident of Buffalo, Missouri, a town of 3,000 people an hour’s drive north of Springfield. Neighbors knew Yassin, a single mother, as outspoken about conspiracy theories, including alleged links between autism and childhood vaccinations and the poisoning of the American public by “chemtrails.”

Sometime in 2014, a Facebook friend complained to the FBI about her increasingly erratic online postings. Yassin, whose sister told local media that Yassin is a Christian, had begun posting messages in support of the Islamic State. Alongside her Facebook activity, she had been operating dozens of Twitter accounts.

According to a criminal complaint, on August 24, 2015, Yassin retweeted a message from another user that contained threats against U.S. government officials. As the complaint noted, “Her unrelenting support of ISIS/ISIL was patently obvious in her verbatim retweets.”

Yassin was taken into custody in February 2016 and charged with transmitting a threat. She has pleaded not guilty. She faces up to five years in prison.

On June 2, 2015, Usaama Rahim was shot and killed by a police officer in the parking lot of a pharmacy in Boston. A blurry video later released by the police purported to show Rahim approaching the officer in a threatening manner before he was killed. On his body, police found a hunting knife.

In the weeks following the shooting, the circumstances that led to Rahim’s death became the subject of intense scrutiny. FBI officials alleged that Rahim was a supporter of the Islamic State and had expressed his desire to kill a police officer. Rahim was the brother of a prominent local imam, and his family said that Rahim, an African-American, carried a knife for protection from local police. “As you all know, with the current slaughter of black men that’s going on across the nation, that’s enough to make any black man feel threatened,” a woman who identified herself as his aunt told reporters shortly after the shooting.

In their public accounting of the event, local and federal law enforcement claimed that Rahim had been under surveillance due to his online behavior. His social media activity, however, seemed contradictory. Despite “liking” an ISIS page on Facebook, he had also spoken out against extremist violence in the Middle East.

Earlier this year, two friends of Rahim’s who were also arrested at the time were charged with planning to support ISIS in the United States. They each face up to 20 years in prison.

Abror Habibov, 30, operated a chain of small cellphone and kitchenware kiosks in malls across the East Coast. He employed a 19-year-old named Akhror Saidakhmetov to help run his business. According to a criminal complaint, the government alleges that Habibov and Saidakhmetov began making plans for Saidakhmetov to travel to Syria, with Habibov acting as his funder.

The allegations came about after a lengthy investigation involving an undercover informant. The government alleges that Habibov bought tickets for Saidakhmetov and another man, 24-year-old Abdurasul Juraboev, to travel abroad and ultimately join ISIS. Their plans seemed to be poorly thought out, however — even fantastical. At one point, Saidakhmetov suggested to an undercover government informant that he would hijack the plane and give it to ISIS — so that “then they would have a plane.” When Saidakhmetov’s mother later confiscated his passport, the informant helped him fill out an application for a new one.

In surveilled conversations, Habibov raised doubts about the mental stability of his alleged co-conspirators, telling a third party, “Yes, I think [Juraboev] is normal. I am just saying … I don’t know.” Habibov was arrested in Florida on the same day that Juraboev and Saidakhmetov were detained in New York.

Habibov is now facing up to 15 years in prison on material support for terrorism charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

On the internet, Christopher Lee Cornell created a new persona for himself: Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah. The unemployed 20-year-old began tweeting support for ISIS in the summer of 2014, largely from his family home in suburban Cincinnati. In August of that year, he was contacted online by an individual working undercover for the government. According to the criminal complaint, that individual “began cooperating with the FBI in order to obtain favorable treatment with respect to his criminal exposure on an unrelated case.”

Over the next few months, Cornell and the informant would continue communicating online, discussing their support for ISIS. In time, they’d talk about the possibility of conducting a terrorist attack on their own. The informant traveled to meet Cornell at a hotel, bringing their internet discussions a step closer to reality. In January 2015, Cornell was arrested by authorities after agreeing to purchase weapons, allegedly to further a terrorist plot.

The pale, long-haired 20-year-old was described by his parents as a “momma’s boy” who was bullied in his neighborhood and referred to his cat as his best friend. He had apparently converted to Islam only months before his arrest.

Members of the local Muslim community interviewed by the media appeared oblivious to him. Indeed, the only personal nexus he had with terrorism was the government’s own informant.

Cornell is in custody awaiting trial on charges of plotting to kill government officials and provide material support to ISIS. He has pleaded not guilty.

Before heading to the airport to board a flight bound for Turkey, Jaelyn Young and Muhammad Dakhlalla left farewell notes for their families. The young newlyweds had decided to leave the United States and start a new life in the territories controlled by the Islamic State.

On May 13, 2015, the 19-year-old Young came onto the radar of authorities after tweeting her desire to save money and travel to Syria. Through a pseudonymous Twitter account, she said that she was working overtime to save money for her trip and to get a passport to leave the country. Over the next several months, she conversed with a number of undercover FBI agents online with whom she developed travel plans for herself and Dakhlalla.

Officials in the case said that Young, a former high school cheerleader, had been the one to initiate the idea to travel abroad with Dakhlalla, whom she would later marry. The two were arrested while attempting to board a flight from a regional airport near their homes in Columbus, Mississippi.

In her farewell note, Young told her family that she was safe and not to look for her. This March, after her arrest, she pleaded guilty to one count of attempted material support. Young and Dakhlalla face up to 20 years in prison.

On March 26, 2014, 19-year-old John T. Booker checked himself in to a mental health facility. He had already been under the watch of the FBI after a series of social media postings praising attacks against U.S. soldiers. Over the next year and a half, Booker was befriended by two government informants. He told them about his desire to join ISIS and fight American troops. They provided him with information and material related to bomb making — and helped him plan an attack against a local military base in Kansas.

Booker was arrested before the plan ever came to fruition. The materials he was provided were inert, and the FBI had been tracking him long before his arrest. The circumstances of his case — in which the FBI evidently watched him check himself in to a mental health facility as a teenager and then proceeded to set up a sting — have led to speculation that Booker was a vulnerable individual who was entrapped by the government. Pictures of the chubby, bespectacled teenager seemed at odds with a hardened terrorist who informants said had been willing to kill himself in an explosion at the base.

Speaking to local media in Kansas after his son’s arrest, Booker’s father said, “Once kids turn 18 and graduate, parents have no control over them.”

Booker pleaded guilty to terrorism charges this year. He is awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

Europe’s far-right parties meet near Vienna, urge Brexit

Gathering near Vienna for a “Patriotic Spring,” Europe’s populist, far-right leaders have urged Britons to leave the EU. Attendees also blasted migration, calling for a restoration of national sovereignty.

June 17, 2016


Leaders of Europe’s biggest far-right parties gathered Friday near Vienna, rallying against migration and the European Union while urging Britons to vote to leave the 28-nation bloc.

The gathering in Vösendorf saw a convergence of anti-immigration, euro-skeptic parties that have disrupted the European political establishment in the past year as the continent continues to grapple with a historic refugee crisis and economic weakness.

The meeting was hosted by Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ), which almost won presidential elections in May and which is leading opinion polls ahead of the next scheduled elections in 2018. Politicians from nine countries attended the meeting, including Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, politicians from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Italy’s Northern League.

The so-called political elites of Europe “are scared that the United Kingdom is regaining its liberty, its freedom to trade with whom it pleases,” Le Pen told the crowd of some 2,000 people. “We want all the peoples of Europe to take back these liberties. The will of the people has to be respected,” she said.

“France possibly has a thousand more reasons to want to leave the EU than the English,” and all bloc members “need to question their relations with the EU,” Le Pen added.

FPÖ leader Hans-Christian Strache blasted immigration and bemoaned German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy. He accused the German leader of causing “irreparable damage” to Europe by opening up her nation’s borders to hundreds of thousands fleeing conflict zones.

“We don’t want Europe to be a carbon copy of the United States… We want a Europe of fatherlands,” Strache said.”The new fascism comes from the left and from radical Islam.”

Seeking cooperation

The gathering, called the “Patriotic Spring,” was designed to strengthen cooperation among populist, anti-immigration parties that have been on the rise across Europe amid the arrival of a record number of refugees, recent militant attacks, and high unemployment.

In Germany, where far-right parties had thus far struggled to gain traction in the post-war era, the AfD has won significant support in recent state elections and could gain representation in the Bundestag in Berlin next year.

AfD leader Frauke Petry joined Strache last week for a symbolic trip to the top of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. AfD politician Marcus Pretzell, joined the gathering in Vienna.

“Patriots love what Germany once was, what Germany could be,” Pretzell said. “But they cry when they look at the current state of their country.”

‘Saber-rattling & warmongering’: German FM blasts NATO military drills in Eastern Europe

June 18, 2016


Sharply criticizing NATO war games in Eastern Europe, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that inflaming the standoff with Russia would endanger European security and increase risk of reviving an “old confrontation.”

The ongoing large-scale Anakonda-16 NATO military maneuvers in Poland, simulating the repulsion of “Russian aggression” against the country, are counterproductive, Deutsche Welle cited German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as telling Bild am Sonntag newspaper, in an interview to be published Sunday.

“Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken,” Steinmeier said ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw beginning July 8. “We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation,” he emphasized.

Rather than inflaming the situation further “through saber-rattling and warmongering,” there ought to be more space for dialogue and cooperation with Moscow, Steinmeier said.

It would be “fatal to now narrow the focus to the military, and seek a remedy solely through a policy of deterrence,” German FM said, calling to give way to diplomacy instead of military posturing.

Calling for dialogue and a diplomatic approach, Steinmeier also mentioned the necessity of maintaining military preparedness of NATO.

The alliance should also consider the possibility to “renew discussions about the benefits of disarmament and arms control for security in Europe,” he said.

The Anaconda drills have become NATO’s largest exercise in Europe since the Cold War, bringing to Poland over 31,000 troops from 24 NATO member states and “partner nations,” including the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and others.

Moscow has once again pointed out that augmentation of NATO military presence in Eastern Europe and Baltics is unjustified, stressing that Russia has no plans whatsoever to interfere with any country in the region.

“I am convinced that every serious and honest politician is well aware that Russia will never invade any NATO member. We have no such plans,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated.

The NATO summit in Warsaw is set to put “Russian threat” issue high on the agenda, as the gathering will be making the final decision on stationing additional NATO troops in Eastern Europe.

More NATO troops deployed to Poland will be sending “a clear signal that an attack on Poland will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance,” the bloc’s Secretary General told reporters following his meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in early June.

The statements made by NATO leadership put Russian diplomats in a position where they have to deny the obvious.

“During the NATO secretary general’s recent visit to Poland, officials in this country [Poland] made statements suggesting that from now on Russia would know that any attack on Poland would mean an attack on NATO as a whole. This is completely absurd because they are discussing a non-existent problem. There are no plans for any attacks on Poland,” Russian envoy to NATO Aleksandr Grushko said in an interview with TV channel Russia-24.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday, President Vladimir Putin said that NATO has “an absolutely slapdash attitude to our position on anything,” adding that it was the US that had unilaterally quit the missile defense treaty, which was initially signed to “provide strategic balance in the world.”

NATO “needs a foreign enemy, otherwise what would be the reason for the existence of such an organization,” said the Russian leader. The conflict in Ukraine, caused by a bloody coup supported by the US and its European NATO allies, was forced on that country “to substantiate the very existence of the North Atlantic alliance,” the Russian president concluded.

Putin assured his audience that he does not want to proceed to a new Cold War, as “no one wants it.”“However dramatic the logic of the development of international relations might seem on the outside, it’s not the logic of global confrontation,” he explained.

A Saudi Imam, 2 Hijackers and Lingering 9/11 Mystery

June 17, 2016

by Mark Mazetti and Scott Shane

New York Times

WASHINGTON — Inside an opulent palace in Riyadh late one evening in February 2004, two American investigators interrogated a man they believed might hold answers to one of the lingering mysteries of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: What role, if any, did officials in Saudi Arabia’s government play in the plot?

The man under questioning, Fahad al-Thumairy, had been a Saudi consular official based in Los Angeles and the imam of a mosque visited by two of the hijackers. The investigators, staff members of the national 9/11 commission who had waited all day at the United States Embassy before being summoned to the late-night interview, believed that tying him to the plot could be a step toward proving Saudi government complicity in the attacks.

They were unsuccessful. In two interviews lasting four hours, Mr. Thumairy, a father of two then in his early 30s, denied any ties to the hijackers or their known associates. Presented with phone records that seemed to contradict his answers, he gave no ground, saying the records were wrong or people were trying to smear him. The investigators wrote a report to their bosses saying they believed Mr. Thumairy was probably lying, though no government investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks has ever found conclusive evidence that Mr. Thumairy — or any other Saudi official — assisted in the plot.

But nearly 15 years after the attacks on New York and Washington, the question of a Saudi connection has arisen again amid new calls for the release of a long-classified section of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that discusses a possible Saudi role in the terrorist plot — the so-called 28 pages, whose secrecy has made them almost mythical.

American officials who have read the 28 pages say that, of all the investigative leads in that section of the report, the unanswered questions about Mr. Thumairy and the two hijackers remain the most intriguing. If there was any Saudi government role whatsoever, some still believe, it most likely would have gone through Mr. Thumairy.

The fact that years of investigation found no hard proof of official Saudi involvement has led some, notably the Saudi government, to argue that it is now the stuff of wild conjecture and conspiracy theory. The material in the 28 pages has been thoroughly investigated, the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said during a news conference here on Friday, and “those investigations have revealed that these allegations are not correct.”

“There is no there there,” he said.

John O. Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said during a recent interview with the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television network that while he supported the release of the 28 pages, “people shouldn’t take them as evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks.” American investigations into 9/11, he said, concluded that the attacks were the work of “Al Qaeda, of Bin Laden” and “others of that ilk.”

But to some, all the circumstantial evidence provides a glimpse of a truth that has yet to be unearthed.

“It’s one of those cases where there are an awful lot of very troubling coincidences,” said Richard L. Lambert, who oversaw the investigation into the hijackers’ contacts as the assistant agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s San Diego office in the year after the attacks.

At the F.B.I., the Sept. 11 plot officially remains an open case. While there is broad agreement on how it unfolded, there are aspects of the investigation that remain unresolved. And the mystery begins with the arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 15, 2000, of two Saudi men who more than year and a half later would be among the hijackers who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

Apart from their proven devotion to the jihadist cause, the men, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, seemed unlikely choices for a pair of terrorists who would have to survive, and plot for months, in the United States. Neither spoke English or had experience navigating American life.

That circumstance would make it all the more critical for the F.B.I., after the attacks, to find out whether the two hijackers received help after reaching Los Angeles. But after an exhaustive canvass of hotels, investigators were unable to find any definitive evidence of where and how Mr. Hazmi and Mr. Mihdhar spent their first two weeks in the United States. By some accounts, however, they worshiped at the King Fahad Mosque in the Culver City area, where Mr. Thumairy was an imam, and they may have stayed in a nearby apartment rented by the mosque.

An F.B.I. document from 2012, cited last year by an independent review panel, concluded that Mr. Thumairy “immediately assigned an individual to take care of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar during their time in the Los Angeles area.” The review broadly upheld the conclusions of the 9/11 commission on Saudi involvement, and the F.B.I. has still not been able to fill other gaps in the timeline of those initial two weeks in January 2000.

When the two hijackers reappeared in early February, they were eating at a restaurant, Mediterranean Gourmet, near the mosque. There, they encountered Omar al-Bayoumi, a fellow Saudi who was on the Saudi government payroll through the country’s civil aviation authority, possibly with an assignment to keep an eye out for Saudi dissidents in California.

Mr. Bayoumi later told the F.B.I. that the meeting was happenstance — that he overheard Mr. Hazmi and Mr. Mihdhar, noticed their Gulf accents and struck up a conversation. But the bureau believed that Mr. Bayoumi had met with Mr. Thumairy at the mosque just before he met the hijackers in the restaurant, and investigators wondered whether Mr. Thumairy had arranged the meeting.

At the time, Mr. Thumairy was part of a network of representatives of the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which finances mosque-building, trains clerics and proselytizes the conservative and intolerant strain of Islam known as Wahhabism. During his interview in Riyadh in 2004, Mr. Thumairy spoke fondly of his six years in Los Angeles, praising the warm weather and friendly people. His job at the consulate and the nearby mosque, he said, was to answer religious questions.

But investigators wrote that Mr. Thumairy appeared to be “deceptive” when questioned about his contacts, notably with Mr. Bayoumi. He denied knowing Mr. Bayoumi, despite telephone records that showed 21 calls between them over two years.

Whether out of charitable instincts or at someone’s direction, Mr. Bayoumi, then 42, helped the two future hijackers settle in San Diego, in the apartment building where he himself lived. He co-signed the lease and paid the security deposit and first month’s rent, though they reimbursed him.

Eleanor J. Hill, the staff director for the congressional inquiry, cautioned that the 28 pages were not a Rosetta Stone that would decipher the enduring puzzles of 9/11.

“What the 28 pages are is a summary of the information given to the agencies for further investigation,” she said. “Nobody should be expecting that the 28 pages will give a final conclusion”

In a statement in April, Thomas H. Kean and Lee Hamilton, the 9/11 commission’s co-chairmen, insisted that they took all questions about a possible Saudi role in the plot seriously, following up on the leads in the 28 pages. They said that while the commission had “not found evidence” that Mr. Thumairy assisted the hijackers, he was “still a person of interest” in the case.

The commission’s final report said that “we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al Qaeda. Today, some commission staff members point out that the wording did not rule out the possibility that lower-ranking Saudi officials had assisted the hijackers. They also said the commission operated under extreme time pressure and was not able to follow up fully on every lead.

Mr. Thumairy’s visa was quietly revoked in 2003 because American officials believed he was a “radical imam,” documents show. When he tried to return to Los Angeles from a trip home, he was detained for two days and sent back to Saudi Arabia. But he told his interrogators that night in 2004 that he would never have knowingly assisted terrorists.

“He said that he has always spread the message of peace, both in the U.S. and here in Saudi Arabia, and especially since 9/11,” the two commission investigators who questioned him, Dieter Snell and Rajesh De, wrote in their report on the interview.

“He said he wants to work with the U.S. and the Saudi government because terrorism hurts everyone.”

Mr. Lambert, the former F.B.I. official in San Diego, said he was skeptical that the assistance was given by chance. With the 9/11 plot riding on the hijackers’ ability to manage daily life, he said, Qaeda leaders would most likely have made arrangements to get them help.

“I have to believe something was planned for the care and nurturing of these guys after they arrived,” he said. “They weren’t too sophisticated, and they didn’t speak English. They needed help getting settled and making preparations.”

There were other tantalizing suggestions of a possible network of supporters. Mr. Hazmi and Mr. Mihdhar began worshiping at a San Diego mosque where the imam was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric who years later would became an infamous online recruiter for Al Qaeda. A Yemeni student named Mohdar Abdullah drove them around, helped them open bank accounts and connected them with flight schools. Two Saudi naval officers living in San Diego had telephone contact with Mr. Hazmi.

But it was the Thumairy-Bayoumi connection that some investigators found to be the most suspicious.

The first independent panel investigating the attacks, the Congressional Joint Inquiry, compiled a list of leads into the California part of the plot that it turned over to the F.B.I. and C.I.A. and eventually became part of the 28 pages withheld from the public version of the report. That section has remained classified even though the Saudi government has long called for its release. Mr. Jubeir, the Saudi minister, reiterated that call on Friday because, he said, his government could not “respond to blank pages.”

Netanyahu’s Petty Corruption

June 18, 2016

by Uri Avnery


Many years ago I received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s office. I was told that Yitzhak Rabin wanted to see me in private.

Rabin opened the door himself. He was alone in the residence. He led me to a comfortable seat, poured two generous glasses of whisky for me and himself and started without further ado – he abhorred small talk – “Uri, have you decided to destroy all the doves in the Labor Party?”

My news magazine, Haolam Hazeh, was conducting a campaign against corruption and had accused two prominent Labor leaders, the new president of the Central Bank and the Minister for Housing. Both were indeed members of the moderate wing of the party.

I explained to Rabin that in the fight against corruption I could make no exceptions for politicians who were close to my political outlook. Corruption was a cause in itself.

The first generation of the founders of Israel was free of corruption. Corruption was unthinkable.

Indeed, purism was carried to extremes. Once a prominent Labor leader was criticized for building for himself a villa in a Jerusalem suburb. There was not the slightest suggestion of corruption. He had inherited the money. But it was considered scandalous for a Labor leader to live in a private villa. A “comrades’ court” decided to expel him from the party, and that was the end of his career.

At the same time, an official residence was built for the Foreign Minister, so he could receive foreign dignitaries in decent surroundings. The minister at that time, Moshe Sharett, believed that it was wrong to hold on to his own private apartment, so he sold it and donated the money to several charitable associations.

The next generation was quite different. It behaved as if it owned the place by divine right.

Its most typical representative was Moshe Dayan. He was born in the country and David Ben-Gurion appointed him Chief of Staff. In this capacity he directed several “retaliation raids” across the border and then the 1956 attack on Egypt which ended in a resounding victory (helped by the Franco-British invasion of the Suez Canal area behind the back of the Egyptian army.)

Dayan was an amateur archeologist. He stuffed his private villa (by that time, villas were already allowed) with ancient artifacts that he dug up all over the country. That was strictly illegal, since unprofessional digging destroyed historical evidence, making it impossible to define the date. But everybody winked. After all, Dayan was a national hero.

Then my magazine published a shattering revelation: Dayan did not just keep the artifacts in his garden. He sold them all over the world, with a personal signed note that shot their price up. This revelation triggered a huge scandal and inflamed a lot of hatred – towards me. In a public opinion poll published that year I was chosen as “the most hated person” in the country, beating the chief of the Communist party to the title. (Such polls have since been discontinued.)

Dayan’s brother-in-law was Ezer Weitzman, the general responsible for the air force that won the fabulous victory in the 1967 Six-day War. It was an open secret that Weitzman was kept by an American Jewish millionaire and lived in a luxurious villa in Caesarea, the most prestigious place in the country (where Binyamin Netanyahu now has his own private villa.)

For some years this has been a general fashion. Every Jewish millionaire in America had “his” Israeli general, whom he kept in style and who was his pride and joy. For rich Jews, having an Israeli general at family feasts was an obligatory status symbol.

Ariel Sharon, for example. The son of poor parents, inhabitants of a cooperative village, he finished his army career and lo and behold – he suddenly was the owner of a huge ranch. It was given to him as a present by an ex-Israeli American multi-millionaire. (Rumors had it that the millionaire deducted the money from his US taxes.)

That was at a time when Israeli generals were not only heroes at home, but all over the world. Moshe Dayan, easily recognizable by his black eye-patch, was a hero in Los Angeles no less than in Haifa.

All these generals (except Ezer Weitzman, who came from a rich family) grew up in very straitened circumstances. Their parents were members of kibbutzim (communal villages) or moshavim (cooperative villages), all of which were at the time extremely poor. Sharon, a moshav-boy, told me that he walked every day for half an hour to his high school and back to save the bus fare.

That was true for the next generation of leaders, too. Ehud Olmert, the ex-prime minister – now in prison for corruption – grew up in a very poor neighborhood and became obsessed with owning expensive things. The ex-president of the state, Moshe Katzav, who shares a prison with him, was sentenced for rape, not corruption, but also grew up in poverty as a new immigrant.

(The current joke has it that after a concert in prison the warden announces: “Everybody remain seated until the President and the Prime Minister leave.”)

Ehud Barak, a former Chief of Staff and Prime Minister, is now amassing a large fortune by “giving advice” to foreign governments. He grew up in a poor village.

I myself was spared this craving for money, though I, too, lived in utmost poverty after coming to Palestine at the age of ten. Luckily, before that I grew up in very well-to-do circumstances in Germany. Since my family and I were much happier in Israel than in Germany, I learned that happiness has nothing to do with riches.

All this crosses my mind because we are bombarded almost daily with accusations of corruption against Binyamin Netanyahu and his highly unpopular wife, Sarah.

Sarah’le, as she is commonly called, a former air stewardess who met her husband on a flight, seems to be a shrew who tyrannizes the staff of the official residence. Some of these have sued her. They revealed that she pilfers the public purse for her private needs.

But what is really disturbing is that Sarah Netanyahu, who was not elected by anyone, seems to be in charge of all senior public appointments. No one can reach these heights without being interviewed and approved by her personally.

She has appointed all three senior law-enforcement officials: the Legal Advisor (actually the Super-Attorney General), the powerful State Comptroller and the Chief of Police.

If so, this was an act of foresight. Because now the three of them are sitting day and night and consulting each other about what to do with the flood of disclosures about the Netanyahu family’s financial affairs. They desperately want to avoid indicting the Netanyahus for anything, but that becomes increasingly difficult, since they are subject to the supervision of the Supreme Court.

I have already reported on some of these disclosures, but new ones pop up every week. It has become a kind of national sport.

It began with the disclosure that before becoming Prime Minister, at a time when he was in and out of government, Netanyahu used to be paid twice or thrice for his first-class air tickets by different unsuspecting institutions, without declaring that as income. This is now called in Israeli slang “Bibitours”.

Since then he has been involved in all kinds of affairs bordering on criminal corruption which are in various stages of “examination”. New ones are added to the list all the time. The three Neyanyahu-appointed legal officers are in constant consultation about whether to order a criminal investigation, which might compel him to leave office at least temporarily.

The climax was achieved when a Jewish financier accused in France of colossal fraud disclosed to the court that had had privately donated to Netanyahu a million Euros and paid Bibi’s extremely expensive hotel bills in many cities, including the French riviera. The exact sums are in doubt, but it is not denied that Netanyahu received from the man, who was already under suspicion of corruption at the time, large sums of money.

The generous Israeli taxpayers (including me) paid for the five days of Bibi’s stay in New York last fall, to the tune of some 600,000 dollars. This sum – more than 100 thousand dollars per day – included the payment for his private hairdresser (1600 dollars) and his make-up woman (1750 dollars). The purpose of the trip was to address the UN General Assembly. I wonder how much each word cost.

The information was disclosed by order of the court under the Freedom of Information Law.

The Israeli public laps it all up. No one seems to get angry. Jokes abound about the “royal couple”.

For many of Netanyahu’s own voters, mostly poor people of Oriental Jewish origin, the disclosures only show that he is a clever person, who knows how to exploit opportunities, as they themselves would love to do.

How to treat these disclosures, which dominate so many TV news programs and newspaper headlines?

I must admit that I treat them with some disdain. What are these instances of petty corruption compared to Netanyahu’s actions and non-actions which have a direct influence of the fate of Israel?

I consider Binyamin Netanyahu as the gravedigger of our state, the man who sets the course towards catastrophe, the man who obstructs any chance for peace. Just this week Netanyahu proudly told his party colleagues that he will “never” agree to conduct negotiations based on the Arab 2002 peace initiative, which includes the end of the occupation, the setting up of the State of Palestine and the evacuation of settlements. Many people believe that this refusal is fatal.

Facing these calamities, why get excited about some little corruption?

But then I remember the case of Al Capone, the gangster who was responsible for huge crimes, including the cold-blooded murder of many people, but who was finally convicted and sent to prison only for income tax evasion.

If Netanyahu can be convicted of petty corruption and compelled to resign – isn’t that just what the country needs?

The questions about his government’s possible role are coming from several sources. The Senate unanimously passed a bill last month that would make it easier to sue the Saudi government for any role in the terrorist attacks, and the House might take up the bill next week. A lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia on behalf of the families of those killed in the attacks continues its slow progress through the courts.

U.S. dangles large land return as anti-base resentment surges in Okinawa

June 18, 2016

by Tim Kelly


OKINAWA, Japan- The United States Marine Corps in Okinawa may hand back a 10,000 acre (40.5 square km) tract of land to Japan early next year, its commander said on Saturday, as Washington confronts a surge in opposition to U.S. military bases there following the murder of a Japanese woman.

The return of the land, part of a jungle training camp, known as Camp Gonsalves in Northern Okinawa, was agreed in 1996, but has been delayed by protesters blocking the construction of helipads by the Japanese government that the Marines say they need before the handover.

“There have been discussions recently and we are hopeful that in the second half of this year there will be some movement,” Lieutenant General Lawrence D. Nicholson said at his headquarters at Camp Foster in Okinawa. “It would be the largest land return since 1972.”

Okinawa, which was under U.S. occupation until 1972, still hosts 30,000 military personnel living and working on bases that cover a fifth of the island. Local resentment about that burden surged after an American civilian working at a U.S. base was arrested last month in connection with the murder of a local 20-year-old Japanese woman.

The incident has spurred calls, backed by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, for the United States to move military personnel off the island. In 1996 the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to relocate some troops outside Okinawa and move others to less populated parts of the island after the rape of a Japanese schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemen.

“They came with guns and bulldozed people’s homes to build their bases. We didn’t give it to them,” said Junsei Shimoji a 76-year-old taxi driver whose family home was destroyed during the U.S. invasion of the island in 1945 at the end of World War Two.

Nicholson announced a 30-day mourning period following the murder last month, banning marines from drinking at bars off base.

“If you violate Japanese law, you will be subject to it and I think that is an important and strong message that the Okinawan people need to know,” he said

Troops will be allowed back into public bars from June 25, Nicholson said, although major Fourth of July celebrations such as firework displays will be canceled.

“We are going to have a subdued Fourth of July, and that is on all of Okinawa and probably throughout the whole of Japan,” he said.

Nicholson said he has ordered all of his troops to stay away from a demonstration on Sunday in Okinawa’s capital, Naha, to protest against U.S. bases. The organizers are expecting thousands of people at what could be the biggest such gathering in at least two decades.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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