Monday, November 16, 2015

Terrorist identification

We're seeing a hideous amount of war propaganda. The neocons are partying like it's 2003.

ISIS threatens to take the war to Washington DC and to the rest of Europe. These threats make no sense from a tactical standpoint, so why make them? (In a time of hysteria, few ask "Cui bono?")

I was under the impression that the main difference between ISIS and Al Qaeda concerned the question of where to fight. ISIS has concentrated on acquiring a specific piece of real estate in Syria where they could establish a caliphate, while Al Qaeda focused on toppling "the far enemy" -- the United States. Viewed in that light, 9/11 made a certain strategic sense: Having helped to bankrupt the USSR in Afghanistan, Bin Laden thought that he could bring similar financial pain to the other superpower.

But that goal is not the goal of ISIS. Like Lex Luthor in the first Superman movie, ISIS wants land. So why would ISIS fight outside of the Middle East?

Further questions: If ISIS is now following the Al Qaeda game plan, what substantive issue separates the two groups? Should we still even speak of two groups? And if they have become, de facto, one and the same, then how do we respond to David Petraeus' suggestion that we should join forces with Al Qaeda?

The way to do it. It's pretty obvious, now, that Obama is being mousetrapped into a war intended to unseat Assad under the pretext of fighting ISIS. This outcome is what the neocons want and expect -- hence, all of the war propaganda.

It's also obvious that the only way Obama can escape this mousetrap is to announce a new strategy: Working with Putin and Assad to destroy ISIS. The American people will buy that. The left will accept this, and so will the Trump faction of the GOP. The neocons, of course, will go effing nuts.

But what alternative does Obama have? The refugee crisis has demonstrated the killing flaw in the neocon plan to use a proxy army of jihadi maniacs against Assad. It's time to give up that mad goal and clean up the mess we made.

The way NOT to do it. Obama has started to bomb the ISIS oil infrastructure. Until just today, the bombing campaign has concentrated on oil production facilities (which are owned by the rightful government of Syria), not on the trucks delivering the product.

I have seen no indication that Obama intends to inflict any pain on the buyers of the oil. Until he does so, we must assume that he isn't serious.

The CIA's strange statement. John Brennan said something intriguing:
CIA Director John Brennan said on Monday that officials had "strategic warning" about the terrorist attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of more than 130 and injured hundreds more, also saying that Islamic State likely has more operations in the pipeline.

"It’s not a surprise this attack was carried out, from the standpoint of we did have strategic warning," Brennan said at a Center for Strategic & International Studies forum. "We knew that these plans or plotting by ISIL was underway looking at Europe in particular as a venue for carrying out these attacks."

Brennan did not assert that the CIA or the West more broadly had specific indications about the shootings and suicide bombings in Paris, but he did warn that the Friday attacks were not likely a "one-off event."
"Strategic warning"? What does that mean? Wasn't it just a day or two ago when we all heard that the Paris attacks came as a complete surprise?

I'm reminded of Flight 9268. First, Brennan said that there was zero indication of that a terror attack in the works. Later, we heard (courtesy of our Israeli friends) that there was "chatter" indicating that something big was in the works. 

Papers, please. There's a lot of talk about identifying the terrorists by their passports and other identification: For example, see this story. Interestingly, two of the men carried false Turkish passports.

We learn here that whenever the jihadis would overrun a Syrian town, one of their first tasks was to commandeer the offices which issued official documentation. Blank documents can be filled out in any way one chooses.
The documents, on sale for around $2,000, would help an asylum claim in Europe.

The forger who sold us the papers, said that they are being used by ISIS fanatics to travel undetected across borders into Europe hidden among tens of thousands of genuine refugees fleeing the terror and destruction.

Once in Europe they can set up sleeper cells or live freely under a new identity without facing the consequences of their brutal past actions.

ISIS fighters are among the people going to Europe in this way. They are going to Europe to wait for the right time to become a fighter for ISIS again

As the forger chillingly put it: 'ISIS fighters are among the people going to Europe in this way. They are going to wait for the right time to become a fighter for ISIS again.'
At this stage, it's hard to know how much of what we are hearing is truthful and how much is war propaganda. I feel comfortable stipulating the likelihood of fake refugees carrying fake documents, but why would a terrorist carry a passport during an operation?

I can see how an ISIS fighter might hide among the refugees -- but how can ISIS terrorists do so while carrying so much lethal ordinance? Nobody has even tried to explain that poser.

Blaming Snowden.  The propagandists are making a concerted effort to blame the Paris attacks on, of all people, Ed Snowden. Greenwald:
But now we’ve entered the inevitable “U.S. Officials Say” stage of the “reporting” on the Paris attack — i.e., journalists mindlessly and uncritically repeat whatever U.S. officials whisper in their ear about what happened. So now credible news sites are regurgitating the claim that the Paris Terrorists were enabled by Snowden leaks — based on no evidence or specific proof of any kind, needless to say, but just the unverified, obviously self-serving assertions of government officials. But much of the U.S. media loves to repeat rather than scrutinize what government officials tell them to say.
Before Snowden, we are told, the terrorists stupidly used regular email unencrypted emails and telephone communications.

This assertion is, of course, nonsense: The leaders of Al Qaeda knew full well that walls had ears and computers had bugs. That's why Bin Laden used only trusted human couriers. Greenwald cites an article from early 2001 about the "sophisticated encryption" used by Bin Laden's aides.

As Marcy Wheeler reminds us, there have been "official" leaks which had the effect of terrorists that their communications were compromised -- and how those communications were compromised. Wanna see a really, really blatant example? Go here. That Daily Beast story from 2013 is pretty amazing.

It's no wonder so many wacky conspiracy stories proliferate in our society. Our newspapers brim with stories designed not to establish truth but to convey propaganda.
Given the wars in the Balkans after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the current Ukrainian conflict and the open borders in the EU, I don't think it's difficult for terrorists to get their hands on any type of weaponry and move it where they want. Jihadists were involved in the fighting in Bosnia and Kosovo and have even turned up in Ukraine along side the Neo-Nazi mafia units.
I think it's fair to assume that any major operation would require a certain amount of chatter that would be picked up by the intelligence agencies invasive eavesdropping...of course, then they have the option of letting it go, or stopping it depending on what serves the intelligence agencies best interests. And it should be clear by now, the interests of the "host country" have to take a lower priority to these parasitic "security" enterprises.

So in this case, the CIA war to topple Assad was going badly...and they had already gotten flak for the complete FUBAR in Libya...they badly needed a reset, as Russia was just starting to get results for their efforts...clearly the killing of 244 Ruskies had no deterrent effect, quite the opposite. Time for plan B?

People say these things take months to plan, that's interesting, it's urban warfare, sans any opponent, but if we take that as a given. An operation can have a long shelf-life...only to be pulled down when needed.

One thing interest me in this, how terrorism rarely touches Israel, now perhaps the media is correct, Jews are Übermensch and we, the rest of the west, are Untermensch. But still, I find it odd that with Israel just a stones throw...ISIl & Al Nusra, aka Al Qaeda never seem to throw a punch their way.

I remember an Israeli woman, during an interview just after 911, positively glowing in schadenfreude, saying to the reporter, now they [the USA] will know how it feels and will no longer question our [Israeli] policies. Why does Wahhabism and Zionism have such an affinity for each other, with neither striking the other? Each seem to serve each others purposes? While such an odd couple is very much in the interests of an enlarged security it in ours?

BTW, ISIL has done Israel a huge favor...
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