Islamic State: Germany Struggles to Deal with Returning Fighters

Germany Terror Trial

By SPIEGEL Staff

Published by Spiegel Online

Hundreds of radical Islamists from Germany have headed to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State. Many have since returned home. Now the country’s court system is gearing up for the coming legal battles — and facing myriad challenges.

The players at TuS Makkabit Frankfurt remember Kreshnik B. as a reliable defender. As a member of the Jewish football club’s youth B-team, he kept opposing players away from his goal and even shot a few of his own. Kreshnik B., who is Muslim, happily wore the blue jersey of the team, despite it being decorated with Hebraic lettering and the Star of David. “He was proud to take the field with the star,” club leader Alon Meyer recalls.

Not even three years after playing for the team, Kreshnik swapped the football field for the battlefield. In the name of Allah, he allegedly joined the radical Islamist organization Islamic State in its fight to set up an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. “Jihad these days is an individual’s duty,” he wrote his sister from the Middle East and asked her to pray that he might fall as a martyr. “I’m chillin’, fighting, doing my job for Allah. I take my Kalashnikov and bismillah,” he rhymed.

The five months that Kreshnik B., now 20, spent in Syria fighting for Islamic State are now the subject of a case which began in Frankfurt on Monday. He stands accused of membership in a terrorist organization and of “preparing a serious act of violent subversion.”

His trial marks the first time that a presumed Islamic State fighter has appeared in front of a German court. It won’t be the last. The number of jihadists who have left the country for Syria along with the number of Islamic State’s supporters in Germany is already much higher than it ever was during the Afghanistan conflict. Currently, there are around 140 investigations under way in Germany against Islamic State fighters or their supporters. And the number is climbing. Federal state prosecutors have taken on 33 cases involving more than 60 suspects, but the flood of cases has begun clogging up dockets across the country.

Politicians have also begun considering ways to stop the jihadists and their increasingly bold propaganda promoting the “holy war.” Last Friday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière made any form of support for Islamic State illegal and an association of state working groups under the leadership of the Hesse Interior Ministry is currently looking into ways of preventing young Muslims from sliding into the militant Islamist scene in the first place. The aim is to combat the consistently rising number of young Muslims joining the jihad.

‘Tell Mom She Shouldn’t Be Frightened’

In many ways, Kreshnik B., the son of refugees from Kosovo, is a typical representative of jihad Made in Germany. The indictment claims that he boarded an Istanbul-bound bus in Frankfurt with six others in 2013. From there, they continued on to Syria.

“I really don’t care which group I end up fighting for,” Kreshnik wrote to his sister during the journey. “The most important thing is that I fight for Sharia and that I can do many deeds to serve God.” As fate would have it, he ended up joining Islamic State near the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Other extremist groups refused to accept the inexperienced men from the West, most of whom were unable to speak Arabic. But Islamic State took almost all of them, as cannon fodder, suicide bombers or, should it become necessary, hostages for ransom money.

Kreshnik B. went through a weapons training program, performed guard duties and fought. Back in Germany, his parents went to the police and were apparently ready to travel to Syria to convince their son to come home. “Tell mom that she shouldn’t be frightened, because I have my weapon with me,” Kreshnik wrote to his sister.

But the fun of jihad didn’t last long. Soon, Kreshnik began complaining to his sister of harassment from his commander, and of arguments and boring guard shifts. On one day, he reported, “three or four people” from his group died. We “shot tanks and tried everything, but nothing worked.”

Then, the head of the group came and said: “I need four people to go in who won’t come out alive.” The German jihadist wasn’t prepared for such a mission after all and traveled back to Frankfurt on Dec. 12, 2013, where he was arrested.

Part of the Salafist Scene

Exactly what pushed young people like Kreshnik B. to risk their lives in faraway wars was long a mystery to German authorities. But security officials recently assembled an 18-page report examining the radicalization process. It has provided some initial answers, and its findings, in some cases, are surprising.

The report notes that, of the 378 people who had headed for Syria with “Islamist motivations” by the end of June, more than 40 were women. Sixteen of them were minors, with the youngest having just turned 15. Almost two-thirds were born in Germany and roughly half of them left with the intention of joining the jihad. The overwhelming majority, 84 percent, are believed by authorities to be part of the Salafist scene.

In no way were all of Germany’s radicalized Muslims on the fringes of society or people without a future. More than 100 of them had received their diplomas by the time they left, with 41 of them having completed the Abitur, Germany’s college-prep diploma. Forty-three were enrolled in universities.

The “most important factor for radicalization” were friends, the study found. In 114 cases, they had a significant effect on those who headed off to join the jihad. Indeed, a jihadist’s circle of friends was found to be more important than the work of recruiters or radical preachers in Salafist mosques. In two-thirds of the cases, the Internet played a role in the radicalization process.

The report, which was commissioned by the Interior Ministry, conspicuously lacks ideas for how to address the growing number of fanatical Islamists. The fact that it took more than a year for the vast majority to become radicalized — theoretically providing sufficient time to intervene — offers a glimmer of hope. But family members, non-Islamist friends, teachers or social workers only rarely notice the subtle changes occurring in those close to them as they become more radical.

‘I Love Allah More’

Ismail I. marks something of an exception — his transformation took place extremely rapidly. He will likely become the next German to answer before a court for allegedly having joined the jihad in Syria. The trial is set to begin in Stuttgart at the end of October.

The Lebanese-born 24-year-old hasn’t had much success in his life. He was able to receive his high school diploma, albeit at a lower-tier Realschule, but was unable to find a traineeship afterwards. Drugs and truancy led to his expulsion from a vocational college, after which he worked for short stints at a bakery and at a KFC in Stuttgart. His marriage only lasted a few months.

Ismail I. then became acquainted with several significant figures in the German Salafist scene, including the preacher Sven Lau, who recently made headlines by sending a “Sharia Police” out on patrol in Wuppertal. After taking part in a pilgrimage with Lau, Ismail I. is thought to have flown from Düsseldorf to the Turkish city of Gaziantep on Aug. 22, 2013. From there, he took a bus to the Syrian border. He left a letter behind for his family reading: “I love you, but I love Allah more.”

In Syria, he allegedly joined Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, a Chechen-dominated group of Islamist fighters that merged into Islamic State over the course of last year.

In the autumn of 2013, Ismail I. apparently flew back to Stuttgart at the group’s behest. There, he went on a shopping spree for the war, buying large amounts of camouflage clothing, night-vision devices, scalpels and Celox, a drug which slows bleeding. For €850, he also purchased an old station wagon that he and a helper planned to use to drive his purchases back to Syria. But they didn’t get very far. They were arrested on Nov. 13 at an Autobahn rest area between Stuttgart and Ulm.

The case of Ismail I. illustrates the challenge facing the German judiciary as it addresses the muddled Syrian civil war 3,000 kilometers away. Several different groups, subgroups and sub-subgroups are involved in the fight there and it isn’t easy to tell which ones are affiliated with Islamic State.

Federal prosecutors, who charged Ismail I. in May, must conduct precise investigations. They are responsible for all cases having to do with crimes committed in connection with membership in or support of a foreign terror organization.

‘Unique Challenges’

History has shown that many such trials last more than a year. Officially, the federal prosecutor’s office describes them as “unique challenges for criminal investigations.” Unofficially, federal prosecutors recently sounded the alarm in the Justice Ministry — if the number of such cases continue to rise, the office will sooner or later be overwhelmed.

In Kreshnik B.’s case, a deal is in the works which could provide some relief to all involved. The court this week indicated that Kreshnik B. may be given a lighter sentence should he provide a comprehensive confession. Ahead of the trial, his defense attorney and prosecutors reportedly met with the judge to pave the way for just such a deal. Either way, given the possibility that Kreshnik B. would be convicted under juvenile law, his sentence isn’t likely to be severe. The defendant’s attorney, Mutlu Günal, told SPIEGEL that he would be open to a plea bargain.

But policymakers face an even more difficult challenge than jurists when it comes to jihad tourists. Officials believe that 120 people have returned to Germany from Syria thus far, but in many cases it isn’t clear what the person in question was doing in Syria — whether they fought and, if so, for whom. Most importantly, it isn’t clear in all cases whether they represent a threat now that they have returned home. The report compiled by security officials notes that only two dozen of those who have returned are “being cooperative with authorities.” The others are refusing to talk — and refusing to answer the question as to whether they intend to bring Islamic State’s fight to Germany.

Domestic policymakers have recently spoken of “banning” Islamic State in Germany. But in order to do so, it has to be proven that the group has built up club-like structures here — which it hasn’t yet. Last Thursday, domestic intelligence officials from across the country held a telephone conference to discuss what rules could be put in place instead. The next day, Interior Minister de Maizière announced that all acts in support of Islamic State were banned.

Whether the ban will be effective in the fight against Islamic State activists remains to be seen. The edict will certainly be helpful in locking away individual Islamic State supporters for up to two years should they display the group’s flag, use its symbols or spread its propaganda videos in the Internet. But banning Islamic State as a group isn’t yet possible because the group as such doesn’t exist yet in Germany. As such, de Maizière is operating in a legal gray area. “We want to nip the establishment of organized terror structures in the bud,” he said last week.

‘Deterrent Effect’

Another problem is the need to draw a clear line between Islamic State logos and normal symbols of Muslim belief. In individual cases, that might be tricky, one reason that the ban remained under consideration for so long. “We wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t offend the religious sensibilities of Muslims,” de Maizière said. He hopes the edict now issues will have a “deterrent effect.”

Other proposals have gone much further. One which is particularly popular among members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats would see a provision added to the criminal code that was once used to combat Germany’s left-wing terror group Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF).

“We have to once again make it criminal to solicit sympathy for terror organizations,” says CDU domestic policy expert Armin Schuster. “That would likely hit Islamic State supporters in Germany the hardest.”

The opposition in Berlin, however, continues to reject a further tightening of anti-terror laws. There are already “sufficient levers available to impose bans and limitations” on terrorists and their supporters, says Green Party domestic policy expert Irene Mihalic. “They just have to be forcefully applied.”

By Jörg Diehl, Hubert Gude, Jörg Schindler, Fidelius Schmid and Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt

 

 

 

Digital Jihad: Inside Islamic State’s Savvy PR War — Spiegel Online

SYRIA-IRAQ-US-CONFLICT-IS-JIHADISTS

By Christoph Reuter, and Samiha Shafy

Published by Spiegel Online
 
 

Islamic State’s methods may be medieval, but the group’s propaganda is second to none. The Islamists target their professionally produced videos at specific audiences — sometimes to spread a specific message, sometimes merely to terrify.

Last Monday, the now weekly Islamic State television show pronounced its verdict on Barack Obama’s latest speech about the group: “Disappointingly predictable,” the anchorman intoned. “America is good, the Islamic State is bad,” he said, parodying the US president’s strategy. “And they will be defeated using aircraft and a motley collection of fighters on the ground.”

US allies in the Free Syrian Army, he went on, were an “undisciplined, corrupt and largely ineffective fighting force.” The Islamic State, the anchorman intoned, “welcome meeting Obama’s under-construction army.”

The speaker, pale and thin but bathed in professional lighting as he sat calmly at a table like a real anchorman, is a hostage. “Hello there,” his show began, “I’m John Cantlie, the British citizen abandoned by my government and a long-term prisoner of the Islamic State.” The cameras changed perspective frequently, from a frontal view to a lateral one, and zoomed in on his unshaven face. Cantlie, in effect, was speaking for his life. After about six minutes, he closed: “Until next time.”

The weekly videos featuring Cantlie, in which he argues on behalf of those who likely intend to kill him, are among the most perfidious productions created by the terrorist group Islamic State. Indeed, not long after Cantlie’s latest episode, Islamic State released another video, allegedly showing the beheading of Cantlie’s countryman Alan Henning, a 47-year-old taxi driver and aid organization worker who was kidnapped in Syria nine months ago. He is the fourth Western hostage that Islamic State has decapitated.

In recent months, Islamic State has become known for its adept video production and its fighters are widely present on all manner of social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram and SoundCloud. If their accounts get closed down, they just register under new names.

But the group’s marketing gurus do much more than simply repeat the same message ad infinitum on different platforms. They design each video and each message to correlate exactly to the target audience. For Western observers, they are cool, clean and coherent. For locals, they are bloody, brutal and fear-inducing.

Bringing People Together

When it works to their advantage, they exaggerate their own massacres. Sometimes they falsify the identity of their victims. The thousands of fellow Sunnis they killed in Syria were branded simply as “godless Shiites” on television. They even market themselves to kids, manipulating popular video games such as Grand Theft Auto V so that Islamic State fighters and the group’s black flag make an appearance.

In short videos from the series “Mujatweets,” an apparently German fighter talks about his supposedly wonderful life in the Caliphate. Such scenes, depicting the multicultural Islamic State brotherhood, are clearly meant for Muslims in the West. “Look here,” the message is, “everyone is equal here!” The images suggest that jihad has no borders; that it brings people together and makes them happy. Other blogs include women gushing about family life in wartime and the honor of being the widow of a martyr.

Islamic State’s propaganda offers something for every demographic — it is so professionally produced that al-Qaida looks old-fashioned by comparison. It is, as the New York Times recently dubbed it, “jihad 3.0.”

Their strategy is best illustrated by two almost simultaneously released videos from several weeks ago. One was produced to publicize the killing of American journalist James Foley, who had been kidnapped in November 2012. The second was likely never intended for a Western audience.

In the first, Foley’s captors had him deliver a message to the world. In the soft light of morning, Foley — dressed in Guantanamo orange — blamed the US for his death, expressed his regret at having been born American and absolved his murderers of all guilt. After he finished speaking, the masked Islamist standing next to him placed his knife on Foley’s throat and began moving it back and forth as the picture went dark.

There isn’t a single drop of blood to be seen in the video, making it seem as though his on-camera beheading was merely simulated. Experts have puzzled over the meaning of the staging, given the captors later show Foley’s bloody and detached head lying on his body. The most plausible explanation is that the video was designed to be tolerable for Western viewers — its most important message isn’t the murder itself, but Foley’s statement and that of his murderer just prior to the beheading. Those who attack Islamic State, the hooded killer threatens, must bear the consequences. He speaks English with a British accent.

‘Look At the Knife’

The second video couldn’t be more different. Heavily pixelated, it depicts Islamic State fighters murdering a group of rebellious clan members not far from the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor. It is difficult to find adequate words to describe the 11-minute movie. The victims are lying on the ground, staring upwards with eyes full of fear, before their throats are slit one after the other and their heads are chopped or torn from their torsos. Their butchers laugh as they kill, saying things like “Hey, he’s really got some meat on his cheeks!” or “Hey you, you should look at the knife when I cut your head off!” The killers speak Arabic with Moroccan and Egyptian accents.

This video is aimed at a different audience, people living in the regions under Islamic State control, particularly those who might dare to resist — such as the men from the al-Sheitaat tribe that were massacred on camera. According to various sources, up to 700 tribesmen were killed in the slaughter. And the message appears to have been heard: The tribe’s sheikh responded by begging Islamic State for forgiveness and mercy.

For those against whom Islamic State is fighting, the message is always the same: Be afraid! The panicked fear they spread has become a real weapon for the jihadis, in light of the fact that they are often outnumbered by their opponents. It has worked well in many Syrian and Iraqi towns and villages. At the beginning of August, for example, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters abandoned almost all of their positions in the face of advancing Islamic State fighters.

To spread panic even further, Islamic State often exaggerates its own bloody excesses. After the battles between June 11 and 14, when Islamic State took control of Sunni areas in northwest Iraq, the group’s PR division released videos of its atrocities. They claimed the clips showed Islamic State jihadists killing 1,700 pro-government Shiite soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, a number that quickly found its way into international media reports.

But the videos, brutal as they were, showed the murder of a few dozen captured soldiers at most. People visited several large Iraqi cities on the search for evidence of the massacre, but no mass funerals or mourning ceremonies were observed. Activists from Human Rights Watch studied high-resolution satellite photos for fresh excavation sites that could indicate mass graves. They found evidence of two mass graves, and their initial study concluded that the number of dead was between 160 and 190. The group suspects that other mass graves exist, but no proof for a higher number of casualties has yet been found.

The West has tended to take Islamic State claims of barbarity at face value, primarily because it seems so unlikely that anyone would exaggerate one’s own cruelty. But the Islamic State was likely trying to reap benefits from its own seeming exaggerations.

‘The Law of the Jungle’

The jihadists’ PR experts are adept at altering reality to best fit the message it is attempting to propagate — either by overstating its murderousness or by changing the identities of its victims. Islamic State claims to be protecting and representing the interests of Sunni Muslims. Nevertheless, the jihadists in Syria have killed thousands of Sunnis who refused to submit to their ruthless claims to power. So as to stay on message, Islamic State propagandists simply claimed in video text that those killed were “Shiite soldiers of Assad’s.”

From a technical perspective, the group’s digital jihad has “exponentially improved” in the last year and a half, says Christoph Günther, an Islam expert at the University of Leipzig. Since 2007, he has been monitoring the group’s PR strategy. At the beginning — before it adopted the megalomaniacal name “Islamic State” and proclaimed the establishment of a “Caliphate” — its presentation was modest. “Earlier, the image quality of their videos was terrible,” Günther says. Often, hours-long speeches in Arabic were simply uploaded to the Internet.

Today, he says, the situation has changed significantly, thanks partly to the companies that Islamic State now operates in the territories under its control. The improvements have also stemmed from the influx of foreign fighters who can now spread the group’s propaganda in English, French, German and other languages.

One thing, however, remains unclear: What is Islamic State’s religious message? Osama Bin Laden and his followers made an effort to justify their deeds both before and after Sept. 11, 2001, says Fawaz Gerges, a terrorism expert at the London School of Economics. “They came up with theological justifications, they pointed to the suffering of the Palestinians or they claimed they were defending Muslims.” For Islamic State, though, he says, justifications hardly play any role at all. Its only message is violence and it is aimed even at their own fellow Sunnis. “There is nothing,” Gerges says. “It’s an intellectual desert.”

For years, Gerges has been monitoring the man who claims to be Islamic State’s “official spokesman.” He calls himself Abu Mohammed al-Adnani and the US State Department added his name to its terrorist list on August 18. Adnani, from the northern Syrian town of Binnish, is thought to be around 37 years old and is among the earliest members of Islamic State. He is one of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s closest confidants and was among those sent to Syria in 2011 to gain a foothold there. Today, Adnani is considered to be the right-hand man of al-Baghdadi’s, the self-proclaimed Caliph. A speech he delivered after coalition air strikes against Islamic State began — in which he called US Secretary of State John Kerry an “old uncircumcised geezer” — was translated into seven languages.

One anecdote about Adnani is particularly insightful, Gerges says. Two years ago, Gerges relates, representatives from various Islamist groups met near Aleppo to talk about conflicts among their groups. The others agreed that a religious council should be founded to solve the conflicts in accordance with Islamic law. But the Islamic State spokesman, so the story goes, merely looked at them disdainfully. He then said: “The only law I believe in is the law of the jungle.”

“Non-Official Cover” – Respected German Journalist Blows Whistle on How the CIA Controls the Media

 

Region:

 

131404“I was bribed by billionaires, I was bribed by the Americans to report…not exactly the truth.” – Udo Ulfkotte, former editor of one of Germany’s main daily publications, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Some readers will see this and immediately dismiss it as Russian propaganda since the interview appeared on RT. This would be a serious mistake.

Whether you want to admit it or not, CIA control of the media in the U.S. and abroad is not conspiracy theory, it is conspiracy fact.

Carl Bernstein, who is best known for his reporting on Watergate, penned a 25,000 word article in Rolling Stone after spending six months looking at the relationship of the CIA and the press during the Cold War years. Below is an excerpt, but you can read the entire thing here.

In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.

Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go‑betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without‑portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring‑do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full‑time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.

Like any good intelligence agency, the CIA learned from its mistakes upon being exposed, and has since adjusted tactics. This is where the concept of “non-official cover” comes into play. The term was recently described by German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, in a blistering RT interview. Mr. Ulfkotte was previously the editor for one of Germany’s main dailies, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), so he is no small fry.

“Non-official cover” occurs when a journalist is essentially working for the CIA, but it’s not in an official capacity. This allows both parties to reap the rewards of the partnership, while at the same time giving both sides plausible deniability. The CIA will find young journalists and mentor them. Suddenly doors will open up, rewards will be given, and before you know it, you owe your entire career to them. That’s essentially how it works. But don’t take it from me…

 

 

 

If this peaked your curiosity, read about Operation Mockingbird.

Also see my post: How Hollywood Became “Propagandist in Chief” by John Pilger

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Pure War in Tehran – By Pepe Escobar

ASIA TIMES Online

THE ROVING EYE
Pure War in Tehran
By Pepe Escobar

I’ve just spent a frantic week in Tehran. Before departure, I had made a conscious decision; only one book in the backpack. Maximum concentration. I ended up choosing Pure War, the 2008 reprint by Semiotext(e) in LA of the 1983 Paul Virilio classic I had picked up at the revamped Foyles in London a few days back.

For a roving correspondent, going to Iran is always extra-special. Getting a press visa approved usually takes ages. This was my sixth trip – and I had no visa. Just a number, tied to a visa at the airport. Until the last minute, I thought I’d be deported from Imam Khomeini International – back to Abu Dhabi, which is now pretending to bomb The Caliph. Then, a small miracle; a VIP room, a visa in 10 minutes and the next I know I’m zooming into an eerily deserted Tehran at sunrise on a Friday, past the psychedelic space station decked in green that is Imam Khomeini’s shrine.

Why Virilio? Because he was the first to conceptualize that with the explosion of asymmetrical warfare, Total War had become local – on a global scale. I expanded on the theme in my 2007 book Globalistan and in my writings. Washington and Tel Aviv had been threatening to bomb Iran for years. Virilio was the first to assert that “peace” merely extends war by other means.

May 1968 as a theatre of the mind – a theatre of the imagination. When society could be an artwork, a performance, with the crowds in the street as the chorus. The last creative reaction against consumerism. “Power to the imagination”.

A beautiful sunny morning in front of the Foreign Ministry compound. An exhibition/installation about the “imposed” – as it’s widely known – Iran-Iraq war. A reconstructed minefield; a map of nations weaponizing Saddam; pictures of young fighters/martyrs who wouldn’t have been older than 14. A theatre of painful remembrance. In late 1978, Tehran also had its crowds in the streets as chorus – against the shah. Khomeini was a reaction against consumerism; but was he “power to the imagination”? And then, all was engulfed in a theatre of cruelty – the tragedy of the “imposed” war.

War in the journalistic sense is national delinquency elevated to the scale of an extremely important conflict – It’s the equivalent of the “tumults”, as ancient societies called them. We can no longer even speak of wars, they are interstate delinquencies. It’s State terrorism.

In Tehran, my immensely gracious hosts were the organizers of New Horizon: the International Conference of Independent Thinkers. After plenty of twists and turns, the Foreign Ministry ended up also being involved. The conference issued a important resolution condemning ISIS/ISIL/The Caliph; Zionism; Islamophobia; sectarianism; and Washington’s blind support for anything Israel unleashes over Palestine: Israel’s national delinquency, or State terrorism. The conference also called for cooperation and understanding between the West and Islam: that implies a struggle against interstate delinquencies.

The best defense is to attack; and to attack you must have some ideas; right now there aren’t any ideas. Imagination today is in the image, and the image is in power. There’s no imagination for anything but the image.

I have to leave a fabulous open-air traditional Persian dinner to go to Press TV studios for a debate with notorious neo-con Daniel Pipes about ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. We surprisingly agree more than I would normally expect. Well, not hard considering the Obama administration’s non-strategy “strategy”; an image (bombs and Tomahawks) fighting an image (The Caliph’s carefully edited beheading show).

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the United Nations kept making waves; “Extremists threaten our neighbors, resort to violence and shed blood.” It’s “the people in the region who can deliver” in the fight against The Caliph. Rouhani was not exactly referring to the made in USA jets allegedly deployed by the Gulf Cooperation Council coalition of the clueless/cowards; the House of Saud, UAE, Bahrain and associate member Jordan.

In all my conversations, a consensus emerges; the power vacuum of post-2013 Shock and Awe and occupation led to the rise of al-Qaeda in Iraq and eventually ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. But even as Tehran and Washington may have flirted about a joint move against The Caliph, Washington then denied it wanted help and Tehran rejected it outright.

Still, what Rouhani said in New York kept echoing day after day everywhere in Tehran; weaponizing the “new” Free Syrian Army in Saudi Arabia, of all places, amounts “to train another group of terrorists and send them to Syria to fight”. And Washington’s “strategy” is further enabling hardcore Sunni dictators who’ve made their careers demonizing Shi’ites.

And then that other “unofficial” Caliph, neo-Ottoman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stepped in; there would be no use of Turkish “territory” or “military bases” by the “coalition” if “the objective does not also include ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime”. Who needs Caliph Erdogan to fight Caliph Ibrahim? Major General Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, can do it; his picture, side by side with Kurdish peshmergas, made a splash all over Iran when published by IRINN.

The cinema shows us what our consciousness is. Our consciousness is an effect of montage – It’s a collage. There is only collage, cutting and splicing. This explains fairly well what Jean-Francois Lyotard calls the disappearance of the great narratives. Classless society, social justice – no one believes in them anymore. We’re in the age of micro-narratives, the art of the fragment.

The joy of Laleh park – a Persian park crisscrossed by stray Persian cats as well as accomplished volleyball and badminton players and pram-pushing families. That’s where Arash Darya-Bandari, medievalist extraordinaire with many years spent in the Bay Area, gives me a crash course on the finer points of one of the great surviving narratives; Shi’ism and Khomeini’s concept of velayat-e-faqih. In Pure Non-War terms, this was always supposed to be about social justice. And that’s why it’s unintelligible to turbo-capitalism.

The park as Agora; a garden of intellectual delights. Nearly all my top conversations took place walking across or around Laleh park. And then one night, I went for a solitary walk, just to find a revolutionary movie/performance on a makeshift stage, complete with a trench and mortars. An audience of a few solitary men and some scattered families. The cinema keeping the consciousness of the Iran-Iraq war alive.

The end of deterrence corresponds to the beginning of the information war, a conflict where the superiority of information is more important than the capability to inflict damage.

The New Horizon conference could not but be about information war. The overall theme was the fight against the Zionist lobby. Everyone knows what the lobby means and how it operates, especially in the US. And yet, in my short interventions, at the Foreign Ministry and at the conference, I preferred to focus on its global financial/economic reach. Follow the money. That’s the only way to pierce the lobby’s seemingly invincible armory.

Another face of information war. Everywhere I went, I had the pleasure to see how Gareth Porter’s book – Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iranian Nuclear Scare – was received as a blessing. The book was translated into Farsi by the Fars News Agency, in only two months, with meticulous care, and launched in a simple ceremony.

It’s bound to become a best seller – as it conclusively proves, for instance, how the Iranian “plot” to equip missiles with nuclear warheads was entirely fabricated by the terrorist outfit Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and then handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the Mossad. Contrast the respect shown to Gareth in Tehran to the wall of silence of its US reception – just another reflection of the 35-year-old “wilderness of mirrors” opposing Washington to Tehran.

Predictably, the usual illiterate morons in the US dubbed the conference as an “anti-Semite hate fest”. Gareth was described as “an anti-Israel journalist” and myself as “a Brazilian anti-Israel journalist”. Obviously the moronic inferno is not familiar with the concept of “foreign policy”.

Space is no longer in geography – it’s in electronics. Unity is in the terminals. It’s in the instantaneous time of command posts, multinational headquarters, control towers, etc. Politics is less in physical space than in the time systems administered by various technologies. ? There is a movement from geo- to chronopolitics: the distribution of territory becomes the distribution of time. The distribution of territory is outmoded, minimal.

Time to go to the bazaar – the ultimate urban distribution of territory. At the main entrance, a gaggle brandishing calculators and pieces of paper is involved in an incredible racket. With Roberto Quaglia – author of a wicked debunking of the 9/11 saga – we joke this looks like a slaves market. Not really. This is nothing less than a futures market on the course of the rial. With the national currency fluctuating so much because of the sanctions – it lost three quarters of its value in the past few years – the chance to make a bundle is irresistible.

We meet the beautiful Zahra – she sells handmade towels but is essentially a killer fashion photographer. And then the ritual I’ve loved since forever; haggling for the perfect tribal rug. In this case, a Zaghol from the 1930s, never to be reproduced because the local nomads are becoming sedentary and there are no new weavers. A case of distribution of territory becoming the distribution of (lost) time.

The Pharaohs, the Romans, the Greeks were surveyors. That was geopolitics. We’re no longer there, we’re in chronopolitics. Organization, prohibitions, interruptions, orders, powers, structurings, subjections are now in the realm of temporality. And that’s also where resistance should be.

Which lead us, once again, to sanctions. Much had been made of what Rouhani told Austrian President Hans Fisher at the UN – about Iran being ready to deliver gas to the European Union. That’s not happening tomorrow; the last figure I had, in Tehran, years ago, is that the country would need at least US$200 billion in investments to upgrade its energy infrastructure. Rouhani was forced to clarify it. And Tehran won’t sell itself to the EU on the cheap.

The end of sanctions is all about chronopolitics.

We have entered an age of large-scale terrorism. Just as we speak of petty delinquency and major delinquency, I think the same should be said of petty and major terrorism. … The military-industrial and scientific complexes continue to function on their own momentum. It’s a crazy engine that won’t stop.

Tehran thinks about the crazy engine all the time. I’m sort of “kidnapped” from a meeting and end up in a small think tank with a fabulous map on the wall detailing the US command centers. All the students are eager to know what the Empire is really up to with Iran.

A visit to the “nest of spies” – the former US embassy – is also inevitable. An apotheosis of 1970s technology – immaculately preserved like nowhere else in the world; radio equipment, proto-computers, telephones, telexes, rolodexes, a “forgery room” for fake passports. No wonder Washington could never recover from the loss of this sterling listening post of the whole Middle East. Will this building ever be a “normal” US embassy again? Someone should ask the hick Hamlet who almost turned into a mad bomber.

This is why the airport today has become the new city. ? People are no longer citizens, they’re passengers in transit. No longer a nomad society, in the sense of the great nomadic drifts, but one concentrated on the vector of transportation. The new capital is … a city at the intersection of practicabilities of time, in other words, of speed.

The last day had to contain an epiphany. I waited for it all day long – amid myriad interviews and a fabulous Indian lunch in North Tehran with Gareth and Dr Marandi of the Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran; the ideal Platonic banquet of conviviality and intellect. Then, at night, a mad dash across town to the Rey shrine; working-class neighborhood, foundation stone of Tehran, one of the top pilgrimage sites in Iran alongside Qom and Mashhad.

Aesthetic illumination meets sensorial overload meets spiritual pull – with an extra kick because you’re arguably the only Westerner in sight. Tens of thousands of pilgrims honor the death of Imam Ali’s son-in-law. What’s that thing about the death of grand narratives? Not in deep Iran.

And then it’s all over, as in a Coleridge dream; did I dream this fleeting Persian interlude, or did Tehran dreamed a little dream of me? I’m back to my default mode – the essential passenger in transit; a nomad carpet, a backpack and a boarding pass. Next stop; a faceless city in an intersection of speed.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

MH17 victim found wearing oxygen mask – Dutch FM

Members of a group of international experts inspect wreckage at the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)

Members of a group of international experts inspect wreckage at the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)

By RT

Published time: October 09, 2014 11:31

One of the passengers of the MH17 plane shot down over Ukraine was wearing an oxygen mask, Dutch Foreign Minister Franz Timmermans has said. This new revelation contradicts assumptions that all 298 people on board the plane died instantly.

Timmermans’ comments suggest that the Boeing-777-200 shot down three months ago might not have fallen apart immediately after the aircraft was hit, killing all people aboard, if at least one passenger remained conscious and managed to pull an oxygen mask on.

“People hardly had time to notice the missile coming, but do you know that one of the victims was found with an oxygen mask over their mouth?” Timmermans said Thursday, HOC TV channel reported.

“This means that someone had time to do that,” he said. “At least, we cannot rule out this possibility.”

Dutch prosecutors have confirmed that one flight MH17 passenger, an Australian citizen, was found with the elastic strap of an oxygen mask around his neck.

It is not known “how or when the mask got around the victim’s neck,” AP quoted Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for Dutch prosecutors, as saying.

Dutch prosecutors said that no other MH17 victim was found with an oxygen mask on.

Members of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry gather and place bodies at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Members of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry gather and place bodies at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Magomed Talboev, Russia’s former top test pilot, told Slon.ru that finding one MH17 victim with an oxygen mask on does not necessarily contradict previously assumptions about the immediate death of everyone aboard.

“A couple of seconds could pass before the plane disintegrated,” Talboev said. “This is enough to grab a mask that falls automatically in front of your face and put it on – this is [survival] instinct.”

The Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down on July 17, flying from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It crashed near Torez, a settlement 60 kilometers from the Russian border, in the warzone where Ukrainian troops were fighting Donetsk self-defense forces. All 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers died.

Because most of the victims, 196 passengers, were Dutch citizens, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) is leading and coordinating the investigation of an international group of experts.

One month ago, on September 9, the DSB issued a preliminary report into the crash, saying that the plane “broke up in the air, probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”

Everyone onboard died instantly because of immediate decompression, the report said, without mentioning any use of oxygen masks.

Because active military operations were continuing near the MH17 crash site, forensic experts were unable to recover evidence on the ground, and not all the bodies have been recovered three months on. After the Sept. 5 ceasefire agreement was reached between the warring parties, investigation activities at the crash site zone resumed.

So far, the bodies of 251 MH17 victims have been identified by Dutch officials in The Hague.

 

Kiev seeks access to MH17 site to back ‘prefabricated’ crash version – Moscow

An Emergencies Ministry member walks at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

An Emergencies Ministry member walks at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Ukrainian Security Service seeks to reach the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 flight to fabricate at least some evidence which will allow Kiev to conceal the true causes of the catastrophe from the world, said Russia’s Defense ministry.

“One cannot but feel angry about yet another attempt by the Ukrainian security service chief to use absolutely groundless allegations in a bid to persuade the public of alleged Russian military involvement in the Boeing disaster in the skies over Ukraine,” Defense Ministry official representative, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said on Wednesday.

He referred to claims that were earlier made by Ukraine’s National Security Service Head Valentin Nalivaychenko speaking on Ukraine’s Channel 5 about Kiev’s “full understanding” of the causes of the Malaysian Boeing’s crash.

Nalivaychenko claimed that Ukrainian investigators and international experts now must visit the site of the crash only to search for “what is still missing” to back the Kiev’s version of events.

The fact that the Ukrainian security chief “fully” understands the details of the crash surprised Konashenkov, especially since the international commission’s investigation has not yet established them. However, the so-called Ukrainian investigators still have to find at least some evidence to somehow support their “full knowledge,” he added.

The attempt made by Kiev to look for the “missing evidence” to back up a version fabricated in advance confirms the well-known popular wisdom – “an uneasy conscience betrays itself,” said the General.

“I would like to recall that the commanders of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in the southeast of Ukraine, including Nalivaychenko himself, did their utmost to prevent an international inquiry from visiting the site of the plane’s crash,” Konashenkov stated.

The Ukrainian troops launched a massive offensive against militias near Torez – close to MH17 crash site – using multiple rocket launchers Uragan, Grad and Smerch to eliminate the existing material evidence, the General said.

An armed member of self-defenses forces stands guard at the site of the crash of the Il-76 Ukrainian army transport plane in Luhansk June 14, 2014 (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

An armed member of self-defenses forces stands guard at the site of the crash of the Il-76 Ukrainian army transport plane in Luhansk June 14, 2014 (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

He stressed that these military actions were taken contrary to Kiev’s official statements about the suspension of hostilities and of course with Nalivaychenko in the know.

It seems that three months after the crash – upon completing the investigation of the Odessa tragedy and fire that killed over 40 people and the Maidan events – the “impartial” Ukrainian investigators found time to aid the international commission on the MH17 crash, said Konashenkov.

“One can only wonder what prevented the Ukrainian leadership throughout this period to reasonably share their ‘understanding’ [of the crash causes] with the international investigative commission into the MH-17 accident?”

“Or at least to publicly answer questions about the circumstances of the last minutes before the crash of the Malaysian aircraft, which have been officially announced by the Russian Defense Ministry?”

The spokesman of the Defense Ministry said he was confused that Kiev’s probe is being carried out by Ukrainian security service’s freshly-appointed investigators instead of experienced professionals, as opposed to international norms.

“Of course, only such ‘professionals’, as Ukraine’s National Security Service investigators can find – in the area plowed by Ukrainian Grads and Uragans – the evidence sought by Nalivaychenko, which, according to his plan, will help conceal from the International Commission the true causes of the tragedy,” the General concluded.

The Malaysia Airlines plane on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people aboard crashed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on July 17. The majority of those on the plane – which was allegedly shot down – were citizens of the Netherlands.

The preliminary report on the Malaysian jet crash made by the international team headed by Dutch experts in September only confirmed that the plane was shot down. Following the report, Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said that with so many blank spots it “did little to advance our understanding of what happened.”

MH17 broke up in mid-air due to external damage – Dutch preliminary report

A Malaysian air crash investigator works at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 24, 2014 (Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev)

A Malaysian air crash investigator works at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 24, 2014 (Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev)

The MH17 crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck the Boeing from the outside, the preliminary report into the Malaysia Airlines disaster in Ukraine said.

“Flight MH17 with a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside,” the Dutch Safety Board said in its preliminary report.

Dutch investigators added that “there are no indications” that the tragedy was triggered “by a technical fault or by actions of the crew.”

“Damage was consistent with damage that would be expected from large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”

‘We need more analysis to investigate the crash” – Malaysian minister

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said on Tuesday that more analysis was needed to investigate the crash.

“We want to further analyze the data and the wreckage,” he said, adding that more details were needed so that the authorities “will bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The Malaysia Airlines plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people aboard crashed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on July 17. The majority of those on the plane – which was allegedly shot down – were citizens of the Netherlands.

Plane was ‘split into pieces during flight’

The cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and data from air traffic control all suggest that flight MH17 proceeded as normal until 13:20:03 GMT, after which it ended abruptly.

The cockpit crew made no emergency call, the radio communications with Ukrainian air traffic control shows.

“The final calls by Ukrainian air traffic control made between 13.20:00 and 13.22:02 [GMT] remained unanswered,” the report said.

he plane was “split into pieces during flight,” the investigators said, based on the analysis of the pattern of wreckage on the ground. The Dutch investigators said that “available images show that the pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places.” The report emphasizes that investigators haven’t yet had the chance to recover the components for forensic investigation. However, the photos taken from the wreckage “indicated that the material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects,” the report said. “The characteristics of the material deformation around the puncture holes appear to indicate that the objects originated from the outside the fuselage.” The fact that the plane was damaged from the outside “also explains the abrupt end to the data registration on the recorders, the simultaneous loss of contact with air traffic control and the aircraft's disappearance from radar,” the report says.

he plane was “split into pieces during flight,” the investigators said, based on the analysis of the pattern of wreckage on the ground.
The Dutch investigators said that “available images show that the pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places.”
The report emphasizes that investigators haven’t yet had the chance to recover the components for forensic investigation.
However, the photos taken from the wreckage “indicated that the material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects,” the report said. “The characteristics of the material deformation around the puncture holes appear to indicate that the objects originated from the outside the fuselage.”
The fact that the plane was damaged from the outside “also explains the abrupt end to the data registration on the recorders, the simultaneous loss of contact with air traffic control and the aircraft’s disappearance from radar,” the report says.

he plane was “split into pieces during flight,” the investigators said, based on the analysis of the pattern of wreckage on the ground.

The Dutch investigators said that “available images show that the pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places.”

The report emphasizes that investigators haven’t yet had the chance to recover the components for forensic investigation.

However, the photos taken from the wreckage “indicated that the material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects,” the report said. “The characteristics of the material deformation around the puncture holes appear to indicate that the objects originated from the outside the fuselage.”

The fact that the plane was damaged from the outside “also explains the abrupt end to the data registration on the recorders, the simultaneous loss of contact with air traffic control and the aircraft’s disappearance from radar,” the report says.

The plane was “split into pieces during flight,” the investigators said, based on the analysis of the pattern of wreckage on the ground.

The Dutch investigators said that “available images show that the pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places.”

The report emphasizes that investigators haven’t yet had the chance to recover the components for forensic investigation.

However, the photos taken from the wreckage “indicated that the material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects,” the report said. “The characteristics of the material deformation around the puncture holes appear to indicate that the objects originated from the outside the fuselage.”

The fact that the plane was damaged from the outside “also explains the abrupt end to the data registration on the recorders, the simultaneous loss of contact with air traffic control and the aircraft’s disappearance from radar,” the report says.

Part of the inside cockpit roof, indicating penetration with objects outside (Image from onderzoeksraad.nl)

Part of the inside cockpit roof, indicating penetration with objects outside (Image from onderzoeksraad.nl)

“The initial results of the investigation point towards an external cause of the MH17 crash,” he said. “More research will be necessary to determine the cause with greater precision. The Safety Board believes that additional evidence will become available for investigation in the period ahead.”

 

 

Joustra said that the Dutch Safety Board’s full report will be published in summer 2015, “within one year of the date of the crash.”

In the meantime, the Russian Federal Aviation Agency said that the Dutch report marks the beginning of a thorough investigation of the plane crash.

“The investigation of the crash site and the wreckage should be an important part of this work,” said Oleg Storchevoy, the agency’s deputy head. “[We] need to investigate all the radiolocation data, perform forensic expertise…. Without this information one can’t speak of any preliminary conclusions concerning the tragedy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By RT

Published time: November 21, 2013 16:03

Crimes of Ukrainian Aidar battalion confirmed in Amnesty Int’l report – Russia

Ukraine battalion Aidar crimes

Ukraine battalion Aidar crimes

 

By RT

An Amnesty International report has confirmed that war crimes including abductions, executions and extortion were committed by the Ukrainian Aidar battalion in Lugansk region, eastern Ukraine, an official from Russia’s Foreign Ministry says.

“The report confirms large-scale crimes, including war [crimes] made routinely and under the aegis of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, by the leaders and members of the Aidar battalion,” said Konstantin Dolgov, the Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights.

“Amnesty International points only to some of these [crimes] – abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, including demanding ransom for abducted Ukrainians, and simple robbery from the civilian population,” Dolgov said.

He added that Russian authorities have repeatedly called on international organizations , including Amnesty International, to pay more attention to large-scale human rights violations during Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine.

“We hope that the report on Aidar’s [battalion] crimes will attract more attempts in these sphere because the atrocities of Aidar members is only a part of sinister crimes committed by the punishers,” he said, “All these crimes, including the [May 2] bloodshed in Odessa should be objectively investigated under effective international control and the culprits should be brought to justice.”

Fighters of the Donbass battalion by the building of the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Kotenko)

Fighters of the Donbass battalion by the building of the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Kotenko)

Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, has called for urgent investigation of the shelling in eastern Ukraine.

“[We] call all sides of the conflict to restrain their forces from any war crimes, any violations of the international humanitarian law and do everything in their power to protect civilians and their lives,” Shetty said.

All allegations of abuses should be investigated, he said, adding: “I call upon the Ukrainian government to do everything in their power to provide the humanitarian assistance which internally displaced people urgently require, as winter is approaching,”

Abductions, extortion, executions: Amnesty slams actions of Aidar Batallion

In its report, released Sept. 8 and titled, “Ukraine: abuses and war crimes by the Aidar volunteer battalion in the north Lugansk region,”

Amnesty International said: “Members of the Aidar territorial defense battalion, operating in the north Luhansk [Lugansk] region, have been involved in widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.”

Бойцы батальона “Азов” приняли присягу в Киеве перед отправкой на Донбасс

Azov battalion soldiers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine in Kiev’s Sophia Square before being sent to the Donbass region. (RIA Novosti/Alexandr Maksimenko)

According to Amnesty, “members of the Aidar battalion act with virtually no oversight or control, and local police are either unwilling or unable to address the abuses.”

Amnesty Intl: Both sides of Ukrainian conflict committed war crimes

“Some of the abuses committed by members of the Aidar battalion amount to war crimes, for which both the perpetrators and, possibly, the commanders would bear responsibility under national and international law.”

“Some of the abuses committed by members of the Aidar battalion amount to war crimes, for which both the perpetrators and, possibly, the commanders would bear responsibility under national and international law.”

Fire brigade members extinguishing fire in a building hit by a shell during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Fire brigade members extinguishing fire in a building hit by a shell during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Amnesty called upon the Kiev authorities ”to bring Aidar and other volunteer battalions under effective lines of command and control, promptly investigate all allegations of abuses, and hold those responsible to account.”

“The [Aidar] fighters abducted local men, often businessmen or farmers, whom they accused of collaborating with the separatists and held in makeshift detention facilities,” says the report. “… The victims were subjected to beatings at the moment of capture and/or during interrogations, and either had to pay ransom for their release, or had possessions, including money, cars, telephones, and other valuables seized by the battalion members.”

A man going down to the basement of a building damaged during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

A man going down to the basement of a building damaged during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Swastikas, SS badges and other Nazi regalia noticed among Ukrainian troops

The troops from Ukrainian Azov and Donbass battalions were reportedly noticed wearing Nazi symbols – swastikas and SS badges.

According to a video on German TV station ZDF, Ukrainian soldiers were shown wearing swastikas and the “SS runes” of Adolph Hitler’s elite corps. The footage was shot by a camera team from Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

“We were filming a report about Ukraine’s Azov battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf, when we came across these soldiers,” said Oysten Bogen, a correspondent for TV2, a private television station, NBC News reported.

Bogen then asked a spokesperson if the battalion had “fascist tendencies. “

“The reply was: absolutely not, we are just Ukrainian nationalists,” Bogen said.

Wolfsangel in E. Ukraine: Foreign Policy talks to deputy leader of ‘pro-govt’ Azov Battalion

Ukrainian volunteer pro-government militias were organized in Kiev in 2014 with the help of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

One such group, the Azov battalion, was formed in May 2014 in Mariupol, based on special patrol units of the Interior Ministry. Participants of the Azov battalion are also known on the Internet as “black men” due to their uniforms.

 

 

The Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) Nazi symbol can be commonly seen on uniforms worn by men from the Azov battalion. It was originally used by the SS and the Hitler Youth, as well as various modern-day neo-Nazi groups.

Another militia group under Kiev’s control, the Donbass battalion, was created in Odessa in April to fight against the supporters of the People’s Republic of Donetsk. In May the Ukrainian news portal LB.ua published a video showing a member of Donbass battalion killed in the fighting who has a Nazi swastika on his chest.

Far-right Right Sector party which first came to international spotlight at the end of November 2013, is considered very active in the violence which triggered the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich. Right Sector fighters used clubs, petrol bombs, and firearms against Ukrainian police while wearing Nazi insignia.

 

 

During the EuroMaidan protests, the far-right organization Right Sector was formed on the basis of the Donbass battalion and other far-right groups. Russia put the party’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh, on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov to launch attacks on Russia. Yarosh has also threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian soil.

In the meantime, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has launched an investigation over the crimes of volunteer battalions in eastern Ukraine.

“We have the facts and criminal proceedings where the representatives of volunteer battalions committed crimes against the local population,” the country’s Prosecutor General, Vitaly Yarema, told RIA Novosti.

 

 

4th mass grave found in E. Ukraine, self-defense forces report

mass grave - ukraine

mass grave – ukraine


By RT

Published time: September 28, 2014 22:36

One more mass grave has been found in a village in eastern Ukraine, say self-defense forces. The site was located days after OSCE mission confirmed the discovery of three mass burial sites in areas recently abandoned by Kiev forces.

The new site of the suspected murders is near Nyzhnia Krynka village, not far from the town of Makeevka, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Purgin told ITAR-TASS. The number of bodies and their identities have yet to be determined.

Taped hands, gun wounds’: RT witnesses exhumation of mass graves in E. Ukraine

“Another grave discovered … How many bodies and how these people died will be established during the exhumation,” Purgin said.

In the meantime, a group of international experts have already arrived at the area of mass burials in the village, a source from the DPR told RIA Novosti.

“About 10 international observers are currently working at the site of mass graves near the village of Nyzhnia Krynka,” said the source, adding that the group includes experts from Russia and France.

A Donetsk People's Republic militiaman is at the site of the graves of peaceful residents discovered near Mine 22 "Kommunar" outside Donetsk (stills from video courtesy of the Ruptly international news agency / RIA Novosti)

A Donetsk People’s Republic militiaman is at the site of the graves of peaceful residents discovered near Mine 22 “Kommunar” outside Donetsk (stills from video courtesy of the Ruptly international news agency / RIA Novosti)

Several weeks ago, before a ceasefire was agreed, this area of Ukraine was under the control of the Ukrainian army and the National Guard’s Aidar battalion. Earlier this month, an Amnesty International report has confirmed that war crimes including abductions, executions and extortion were committed by this particular Ukrainian battalion.

Last week RT crew went to investigate the previously discovered site where four bodies have been found buried in shell craters behind a burnt-out coal mine, days after the OSCE confirmed that three mass graves, allegedly with many bodies, have been found near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Maria Finoshina - Reality of war.

Maria Finoshina – Reality of war.