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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The deaths of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri were a serious blow to Isis, but the roles they had vacated were quickly filled by the alumni of Camp Bucca – whose upper echelons had begun preparing for this moment since their time behind the wire of their jail in southern Iraq. “For us it was an academy,” Abu Ahmed said, “but for them” – the senior leaders – “it was a management school. There wasn’t a void at all, because so many people had been mentored in prison.

Isis: the inside story
One of the Islamic State’s senior commanders reveals exclusive details of the terror group’s origins inside an Iraqi prison – right under the noses of their American jailers. Report by Martin Chulov

Thursday 11 December 2014 01.00 EST
In the summer of 2004, a young jihadist in shackles and chains was walked by his captors slowly into the Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq. He was nervous as two American soldiers led him through three brightly-lit buildings and then a maze of wire corridors, into an open yard, where men with middle-distance stares, wearing brightly-coloured prison uniforms, stood back warily, watching him.
“I knew some of them straight away,” he told me last month. “I had feared Bucca all the way down on the plane. But when I got there, it was much better than I thought. In every way.”
The jihadist, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, entered Camp Bucca as a young man a decade ago, and is now a senior official within Islamic State (Isis) – having risen through its ranks with many of the men who served time alongside him in prison. Like him, the other detainees had been snatched by US soldiers from Iraq’s towns and cities and flown to a place that had already become infamous: a foreboding desert fortress that would shape the legacy of the US presence in Iraq.
The other prisoners did not take long to warm to him, Abu Ahmed recalled. They had also been terrified of Bucca, but quickly realised that far from their worst fears, the US-run prison provided an extraordinary opportunity. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”
It was at Camp Bucca that Abu Ahmed first met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of Isis who is now frequently described as the world’s most dangerous terrorist leader. From the beginning, Abu Ahmed said, others in the camp seemed to defer to him. “Even then, he was Abu Bakr. But none of us knew he would ever end up as leader.”

Abu Ahmed was an essential member of the earliest incarnation of the group. He had been galvanised into militancy as a young man by an American occupation that he and many like him believed was trying to impose a power shift in Iraq, favouring the country’s larger Shia population at the expense of the dominant Sunnis. His early role in what would become Isis led naturally to the senior position he now occupies within a revitalised insurgency that has spilled across the border into Syria. Most of his colleagues regard the crumbling order in the region as a fulfilment of their ambitions in Iraq – which had remained unfinished business, until the war in Syria gave them a new arena.
He agreed to speak publicly after more than two years of discussions, over the course of which he revealed his own past as one of Iraq’s most formidable and connected militants – and shared his deepening worry about Isis and its vision for the region. With Iraq and Syria ablaze, and the Middle East apparently condemned to another generation of upheaval and bloodshed at the hands of his fellow ideologues, Abu Ahmed is having second thoughts. The brutality of Isis is increasingly at odds with his own views, which have mellowed with age as he has come to believe that the teachings of the Qur’an can be interpreted and not read literally.
His misgivings about what the Islamic State has become led him to speak to the Guardian in a series of expansive conversations, which offer unique insight into its enigmatic leader and the nascent days of the terror group – stretching from 2004, when he met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Camp Bucca, to 2011, when the Iraqi insurgency crossed the border into Syria.
At the beginning, back in Bucca, the prisoner who would become the most wanted man in the world had already set himself apart from the other inmates, who saw him as aloof and opaque. But, Abu Ahmed recalled, the jailers had a very different impression of Baghdadi – they saw him as a conciliatory and calming influence in an environment short on certainty, and turned to him to help resolve conflicts among the inmates. “That was part of his act,” Abu Ahmed told me. “I got a feeling from him that he was hiding something inside, a darkness that he did not want to show other people. He was the opposite of other princes who were far easier to deal with. He was remote, far from us all.”
* * *
Baghdadi was born Ibrahim ibn Awwad al-Badri al-Samarrai in 1971, in the Iraqi city of Samarra. He was detained by US forces in Falluja, west of Baghdad, in February 2004, months after he had helped found a militant group, Jeish Ahl al-Sunnah al-Jamaah, which had taken root in the restive Sunni communities around his home city.
“He was caught at his friend’s house,” said Dr Hisham al-Hashimi, an analyst who advises the Iraqi government on Isis. “His friend’s name was Nasif Jasim Nasif. Then he was moved to Bucca. The Americans never knew who they had.” Most of Baghdadi’s fellow prisoners – some 24,000 men, divided into 24 camps – seem to have been equally unaware. The prison was run along strictly hierarchical lines, down to a Teletubbies-like uniform colour scheme which allowed jailers and captives alike to recognise each detainee’s place in the pecking order. “The colour of the clothes we wore reflected our status,” said Abu Ahmed. “If I remember things correctly, red was for people who had done things wrong while in prison, white was a prison chief, green was for a long sentence and yellow and orange were normal.”
When Baghdadi, aged 33, arrived at Bucca, the Sunni-led anti-US insurgency was gathering steam across central and western Iraq. An invasion that had been sold as a war of liberation had become a grinding occupation. Iraq’s Sunnis, disenfranchised by the overthrow of their patron, Saddam Hussein, were taking the fight to US forces – and starting to turn their guns towards the beneficiaries of Hussein’s overthrow, the country’s majority Shia population.

The small militant group that Baghdadi headed was one of dozens that sprouted from a broad Sunni revolt – many of which would soon come together under the flag of al-Qaida in Iraq, and then the Islamic State of Iraq. These were the precursors to the juggernaut now known simply as the Islamic State, which has, under Bagdhadi’s command, overrun much of the west and centre of the country and eastern Syria, and drawn the US military back to a deeply destabilised region less than three years after it left vowing never to return.
But at the time of his stay at Bucca, Baghdadi’s group was little-known, and he was a far less significant figure than the insurgency’s notional leader, the merciless Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who came to represent the sum of all fears for many in Iraq, Europe and the US. Baghdadi, however, had a unique way to distinguish himself from the other aspiring leaders inside Bucca and outside on Iraq’s savage streets: a pedigree that allowed him to claim direct lineage to the Prophet Muhammad. He had also obtained a PhD in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad, and would draw on both to legitimise his unprecedented claim to anoint himself caliph of the Islamic world in July 2014, which realised a sense of destiny evident in the prison yard a decade earlier.
“Baghdadi was a quiet person,” said Abu Ahmed. “He has a charisma. You could feel that he was someone important. But there were others who were more important. I honestly did not think he would get this far.”
Baghdadi also seemed to have a way with his captors. According to Abu Ahmed, and two other men who were jailed at Bucca in 2004, the Americans saw him as a fixer who could solve fractious disputes between competing factions and keep the camp quiet.
“But as time went on, every time there was a problem in the camp, he was at the centre of it,” Abu Ahmed recalled. “He wanted to be the head of the prison – and when I look back now, he was using a policy of conquer and divide to get what he wanted, which was status. And it worked.” By December 2004, Baghdadi was deemed by his jailers to pose no further risk and his release was authorised.
“He was respected very much by the US army,” Abu Ahmed said. “If he wanted to visit people in another camp he could, but we couldn’t. And all the while, a new strategy, which he was leading, was rising under their noses, and that was to build the Islamic State. If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now. Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology.”
As Isis has rampaged through the region, it has been led by men who spent time in US detention centres during the American occupation of Iraq – in addition to Bucca, the US also ran Camp Cropper, near Baghdad airport, and, for an ill-fated 18 months early in the war, Abu Ghraib prison on the capital’s western outskirts. Many of those released from these prisons – and indeed, several senior American officers who ran detention operations – have admitted that the prisons had an incendiary effect on the insurgency.
“I went to plenty of meetings where guys would come through and tell us how well it was all going,” said Ali Khedery, a special aide to all US ambassadors who served in Iraq from 2003-11, and to three US military commanders. But eventually even top American officers came to believe they had “actually become radicalising elements. They were counterproductive in many ways. They were being used to plan and organise, to appoint leaders and launch operations.”

Abu Ahmed agreed. “In prison, all of the princes were meeting regularly. We became very close to those we were jailed with. We knew their capabilities. We knew what they could and couldn’t do, how to use them for whatever reason. The most important people in Bucca were those who had been close to Zarqawi. He was recognised in 2004 as being the leader of the jihad.
“We had so much time to sit and plan,” he continued. “It was the perfect environment. We all agreed to get together when we got out. The way to reconnect was easy. We wrote each other’s details on the elastic of our boxer shorts. When we got out, we called. Everyone who was important to me was written on white elastic. I had their phone numbers, their villages. By 2009, many of us were back doing what we did before we were caught. But this time we were doing it better.”
According to Hisham al-Hashimi, the Baghdad-based analyst, the Iraqi government estimates that 17 of the 25 most important Islamic State leaders running the war in Iraq and Syria spent time in US prisons between 2004 and 2011. Some were transferred from American custody to Iraqi prisons, where a series of jailbreaks in the last several years allowed many senior leaders to escape and rejoin the insurgent ranks.
Abu Ghraib was the scene of the biggest – and most damaging – breakout in 2013, with up to 500 inmates, many of them senior jihadists handed over by the departing US military, fleeing in July of that year after the prison was stormed by Islamic State forces, who launched a simultaneous, and equally successful, raid on nearby Taji prison.
Iraq’s government closed Abu Ghraib in April 2014 and it now stands empty, 15 miles from Baghdad’s western outskirts, near the frontline between Isis and Iraq’s security forces, who seem perennially under-prepared as they stare into the heat haze shimmering over the highway that leads towards the badlands of Falluja and Ramadi.
Parts of both cities have become a no-go zone for Iraq’s beleaguered troops, who have been battered and humiliated by Isis, a group of marauders unparalleled in Mesopotamia since the time of the Mongols. When I visited the abandoned prison late this summer, a group of disinterested Iraqi forces sat at a checkpoint on the main road to Baghdad, eating watermelon as the distant rumble of shellfire sounded in the distance. The imposing walls of Abu Ghraib were behind them, and their jihadist enemies were staked out further down the road.
The revelation of abuses at Abu Ghraib had a radicalising effect on many Iraqis, who saw the purported civility of American occupation as little improvement on the tyranny of Saddam. While Bucca had few abuse complaints prior to its closure in 2009, it was seen by Iraqis as a potent symbol of an unjust policy, which swept up husbands, fathers, and sons – some of them non-combatants – in regular neighbourhood raids, and sent them away to prison for months or years.
At the time, the US military countered that its detention operations were valid, and that similar practices had been deployed by other forces against insurgencies – such as the British in Northern Ireland, the Israelis in Gaza and the West Bank, and the Syrian and Egyptian regimes.

Even now, five years after the US closed down Bucca, the Pentagon defends the camp as an example of lawful policy for a turbulent time. “During operations in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, US Forces held thousands of Law of War detainees,” said Lt Col Myles B Caggins III, a US Department of Defense spokesman for detainee policy. “These type of detentions are common practice during armed conflict. Detaining potentially dangerous people is the legal and humane method of providing security and stability for civilian populations.”
* * *
Some time after Baghdadi was released from Bucca, Abu Ahmed was also freed. After being flown to Baghdad airport, he was picked up by men he had met in Bucca. They took him to a home in the west of the capital, where he immediately rejoined the jihad, which had transformed from a fight against an occupying army into a vicious and unrestrained war against Iraqi Shia.
Death squads were by then roaming Baghdad and much of central Iraq, killing members of opposite sects with routine savagery and exiling residents from neighbourhoods they dominated. The capital had quickly become a very different place to the city Abu Ahmed had left a year earlier. But with the help of new arrivals at Bucca, those inside the prison had been able to monitor every new development in the unfolding sectarian war. Abu Ahmed knew the environment he was returning to. And his camp commanders had plans for him.
The first thing he did when he was safe in west Baghdad was to undress, then carefully take a pair of scissors to his underwear. “I cut the fabric from my boxers and all the numbers were there. We reconnected. And we got to work.” Across Iraq, other ex-inmates were doing the same. “It really was that simple,” Abu Ahmed said, smiling for the first time in our conversation as he recalled how his captors had been outwitted. “Boxers helped us win the war.”
Zarqawi wanted a 9/11 moment to escalate the conflict – something that would take the fight to the heart of the enemy, Abu Ahmed recalled. In Iraq, that meant one of two targets – a seat of Shia power or, even better, a defining religious symbol. In February 2006, and again two months later, Zarqawi’s bombers destroyed the Imam al-Askari shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad. The sectarian war was fully ignited and Zarqawi’s ambitions realised.
Asked about the merits of this violent provocation, Abu Ahmed paused for the first time in our many conversations. “There was a reason for opening this war,” he said. “It was not because they are Shia, but because the Shia were pushing for it. The American army was facilitating the takeover of Iraq and giving the country to them. They were in cooperation with each other.”
He then reflected on the man who gave the orders. “Zarqawi was very smart. He was the best strategist that the Islamic State has had. Abu Omar [al-Baghdadi] was ruthless,” Abu Ahmed said, referring to Zarqawi’s successor, who was killed in a US-led raid in April 2010. “And Abu Bakr is the most bloodthirsty of all.
“After Zarqawi was killed, the people who liked killing even more than him became very important in the organisation. Their understanding of sharia and of humanity was very cheap. They don’t understand the Tawheed (the Qur’anic concept of God’s oneness) the way it was meant to be understood. The Tawheed should not have been forced by war.”
Despite reservations that were already starting to stir, by 2006, Abu Ahmed had become part of a killing machine that would operate at full speed for much of the following two years. Millions of citizens were displaced, neighbourhoods were cleansed along sectarian lines, and an entire population numbed by unchecked brutality.
That summer, the US finally caught up with Zarqawi, with the help of Jordanian intelligence, killing him in an airstrike north of Baghdad. From late 2006, the organisation was on the back foot – hampered by a tribal revolt that uprooted its leadership from Anbar and shrank its presence elsewhere in Iraq. But according to Abu Ahmed, the group used the opportunity to evolve, revealing a pragmatism in addition to its hardline ideology. For Isis, the relatively quiet years between 2008 and 2011 represented a lull, not a defeat.
By this time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had risen steadily through the group to become a trusted aide to its leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and his deputy, the Egyptian jihadist Abu Ayub al-Masri. It was at this point, Abu Ahmed said, that Isis made an approach to the Ba’athist remnants of the old regime – ideological opponents who shared a common enemy in the US and the Shia-led government it backed.
Earlier incarnations of Isis had dabbled with the Ba’athists, who lost everything when Saddam was ousted, under the same premise that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. But by early 2008, Abu Ahmed and other sources said, these meetings had become far more frequent – and many of them were taking place in Syria.
Syria’s links to the Sunni insurgency in Iraq had been regularly raised by US officials in Baghdad and by the Iraqi government. Both were convinced that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, allowed jihadists to fly into Damascus airport, where military officials would escort them to the border with Iraq. “All the foreigners I knew got into Iraq that way,” Abu Ahmed told me. “It was no secret.”
* * *
From 2008, when the US began to negotiate the transition of its powers to Iraq’s feeble security institutions – and therefore pave the way to its own exit – the Americans increasingly turned to only a few trusted figures in the Iraqi government. One of them was Major General Hussein Ali Kamal, the director of intelligence in the country’s Interior Ministry. A secular Kurd who had the trust of the Shia establishment, one of Kamal’s many duties was to secure Baghdad against terror attacks.
Like the Americans, General Kamal was convinced that Syria was destabilising Iraq, an assessment based on the interrogations of jihadists who had been captured by his troops. Throughout 2009, in a series of interviews, Kamal laid out his evidence, using maps that plotted the routes used by jihadists to cross the border into western Iraq, and confessions that linked their journeys to specific mid-ranking officers in Syrian military intelligence.

Seventeen of the 25 most important Islamic State leaders now running the war in Iraq and Syria spent time in US prisons

As Isis activity ebbed in Iraq, he had become increasingly obsessed with two meetings that had taken place in Syria early in 2009, which brought together Iraqi jihadists, Syrian officials and Ba’athists from both countries. (Kamal, who was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2012, died earlier this year, and authorised me to publish details of our conversations. “Just tell the truth,” he said during our last interview in June 2014.)
When I first met him in 2009, he was poring over transcripts of recordings that had been made at two secret meetings in Zabadani, near Damascus, in the spring of that year. The attendees included senior Iraqi Ba’athists who had taken refuge in Damascus since their patron Saddam was ousted, Syrian military intelligence officers, and senior figures in what was then known as al-Qaida in Iraq. The Syrians had developed links to the jihadists since the earliest days of the anti-US insurgency and had used them to unsettle the Americans and their plans for Iraq.
“By early in 2004/05, Islamic elements, jihadists and disenfranchised Ba’athists were starting to get together,” said Ali Khedery, the former adviser to American ambassadors and senior commanders in Bagdhad. “They were naturally disciplined, well organised people who knew the lay of the land. And over time, some folks who were Ba’athists became more and more Islamist and the insurgency raged. By 2007, General [David] Petraeus was saying there was crystal clear intelligence of cooperation between Syrian military intelligence and the jihadists. Though the motivations never really aligned 100%.”
In our conversations, Abu Ahmed emphasised the Syrian connection to Iraq’s insurgency. “The mujahideen all came through Syria,” he said. “I worked with many of them. Those in Bucca had flown to Damascus. A very small number had made it from Turkey, or Iran. But most came to Iraq with the help of the Syrians.”
The supply line was viewed by Iraqi officials as an existential threat to Iraq’s government and was the main source of the poisonous relationship between Nouri al-Maliki, then Iraq’s prime minister, and Bashar al-Assad. Maliki had become convinced early in the civil war that Assad was trying to undermine his regime as a way to embarrass the Americans, and the evidence he saw in 2009 from the meeting in Damascus took his loathing of the Syrian leader to a whole new level.
“We had a source in the room wearing a wire,” at the meeting in Zabadani, General Kamal told me at the time. “He is the most sensitive source we have ever had. As far as we know, this is the first time there has been a strategic level meeting between all of these groups. It marks a new point in history.”
The Ba’athists present led the meeting. Their aim, according to General Kamal’s source, was to launch a series of spectacular attacks in Baghdad and thereby undermine Maliki’s Shia-majority government, which had for the first time begun to assert some order in post-civil war Iraq. Until then, al-Qaida in Iraq and the Ba’athists had been fierce ideological enemies, but the rising power of the Shias – and their backers in Iran – brought them together to plan a major strike on the capital.
By July 2009, the Interior Ministry had increased security at all checkpoints across the Tigris river into Baghdad, making a commute at any time of day even more insufferable than normal. And then General Kamal received a message from his source in Syria. The extra security at the bridges had been spotted by the attack plotters, he said. New targets were being chosen, but he didn’t know what they were, or when they would be hit. For the next two weeks, Kamal worked well into the evening in his fortified office in the southern suburb of Arasat, before being sped by armoured convoy across the July 14 Bridge – which had been a target only days earlier – to his home inside the Green Zone.
For the rest of the month, General Kamal spent several hours each scorching night sweating it out on a treadmill, hoping that the exercise would clear his head and get him ahead of the attackers. “I may be losing weight, but I’m not finding the terrorists,” he told me during our last conversation before the attackers finally struck. “I know they’re planning something big.”

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006 when he was the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. Photograph: AP
On the morning of 19 August, the first of three flat-bed trucks carrying three large 1000-litre water tanks, each filled with explosives, detonated on an overpass outside the Finance Ministry in south-eastern Baghdad. The blast sent a rumble across the Emerald City, raising desert soil that caked homes brown, and sending thousands of pigeons scattering through the sky. Three minutes later, a second enormous bomb blew up outside the Foreign Ministry on the northern edge of the Green Zone. Shortly after that, a third blast hit a police convoy near the Finance Ministry. More than 101 people were killed and nearly 600 wounded; it was one of the deadliest attacks in the six-year-old Iraqi insurgency.
“I failed,” Kamal told me that day. “We all failed.” Within hours, he was summoned to meet Maliki and his security chiefs. The prime minister was livid. “He told me to present what I had to the Syrians,” Kamal later said. “We arranged with Turkey to act as a mediator and I flew to Ankara to meet with them. I took this file” – he tapped a thick white folder on his desk – “and they could not argue with what we showed them. The case was completely solid and the Syrians knew it. Ali Mamlouk [the head of Syrian general security] was there. All he did was look at me smiling and say ‘I will not recognise any official from a country that is under US occupation’. It was a waste of time.” Iraq recalled its ambassador to Damascus, and Syria ordered its envoy to Baghdad home in retaliation. Throughout the rest of the year, and into early 2010, relations between Maliki and Assad remained toxic.
In March 2010, Iraqi forces, acting on a US tip, arrested an Islamic State leader named Munaf Abdul Rahim al-Rawi, who was revealed to be one of the group’s main commanders in Baghdad, and one of the very few people who had access to the group’s then leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Al-Rawi talked. And in a rare moment of collaboration, Iraq’s three main intelligence bodies, including General Kamal’s Intelligence Division, conspired to get a listening device and GPS location tracker in a flower box delivered to Abu Omar’s hideout.
After it was confirmed that Abu Omar and his deputy, Abu Ayub al-Masri, were present at a house six miles south-west of Tikrit, it was attacked in a US-led raid. Both men detonated suicide vests to avoid being captured. Messages to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were found on a computer inside the house. Much like Bin Laden’s safe house in Pakistan, where he would be killed a little more than a year later, Abu Omar’s hideout had no internet connections or telephone lines – all important messages were carried in and out by only three men. One of them was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Abu Bakr was a messenger for Abu Omar,” Abu Ahmed told me. “He became the closest aide to him. The messages that got to Osama bin Laden were sometimes drafted by him and their journey always started with him. When Abu Omar was killed, Abu Bakr was made leader. That time we all had in Bucca became very important again.”
The deaths of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri were a serious blow to Isis, but the roles they had vacated were quickly filled by the alumni of Camp Bucca – whose upper echelons had begun preparing for this moment since their time behind the wire of their jail in southern Iraq. “For us it was an academy,” Abu Ahmed said, “but for them” – the senior leaders – “it was a management school. There wasn’t a void at all, because so many people had been mentored in prison.
“When [the civil war in] Syria became serious,” he continued, “it wasn’t difficult to transfer all that expertise to a different battle zone. The Iraqis are the most important people on the military and Shura councils in Isis now, and that is because of all of those years preparing for such an event. I underestimated Baghdadi. And America underestimated the role it played in making him what he is.”
* * *
Abu Ahmed remains a member of Isis; he is active in the group’s operations in both Iraq and Syria. Throughout our discussions, he portrayed himself as a man reluctant to stay with the group, and yet unwilling to risk any attempt to leave.
Life with Isis means power, money, wives and status – all attractive lures for young firebrands with a cause - but it also means killing and dominating for a worldview in which he no longer believes so fervently. He said hundreds of young men like him, who were drawn to a Sunni jihad after the US invasion, do not believe that the latest manifestation of the decade-long war remains true to its origins.

“The biggest mistake I made is to join them,” Abu Ahmed said, but added that leaving the group would mean that he and his family would certainly be killed. Staying and enforcing the group’s brutal vision, despite partially disavowing it, does not trouble Abu Ahmed, who sees himself as having few other options.
“It’s not that I don’t believe in Jihad,” he said. “I do,” he continued, his voice trailing away. “But what options do I have? If I leave, I am dead.”
The arc of his involvement with what is now the world’s most menacing terrorist group mirrors many others who now hold senior positions in the group: first a battle against an invading army, then a score to be settled with an ancient sectarian foe, and now, a war that could be acting out an end of days prophecy.
In the world of the Bucca alumni, there is little room for revisionism, or reflection. Abu Ahmed seems to feel himself swept along by events that are now far bigger than him, or anyone else.
“There are others who are not ideologues,” he said, referring to senior Isis members close to Baghdadi. “People who started out in Bucca, like me. And then it got bigger than any of us. This can’t be stopped now. This is out of the control of any man. Not Baghdadi, or anyone else in his circle.”
Martin Chulov covers the Middle East for the Guardian. He has reported from the region since 2005. Additional reporting by Salaam Riazk

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  1. "... This is out of the control of any man. Not Baghdadi, or anyone else in his circle.”

    Then they will done, more on the Rufus timeline than on the US Army's.
    How the Daesh fare in Syria, yet to be determined. The political dynamic there much more convoluted.

    1. Then they will be done, more on the Rufus timeline than on the US Army's.

  2. North Korea is one of the least connected countries in the world. Few North Koreans have access to computers, and even those who do are typically able to connect only to a domestic intranet. Though North Korea is equipped for broadband Internet, only a small, approved segment of the population has any access to the World Wide Web.

    More than a million North Koreans, however, are now using mobile phones. The network covers most major cities, but users cannot call outside the country or receive calls from outside.

    North Korea’s telecom links go through China, Caron said, “So anyone looking to do harm to their system would potentially incur the wrath of China. Of course there’s always the Tom Clancy scenario, which is that there’s another player here that is pushing both sides towards cyberwar.”

    Washington did not deny carrying out the attack, but would not discuss whether the U.S. had a role in it.

    “We aren’t going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options, or comment on those kind of reports in any way, except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen,” a State Department spokeswoman said.

    Internet monitoring companies said it would be hard, if not impossible, to determine who pulled the switch. Some speculated North Korea may have done so itself, as a defensive move. It could also have been done in China: The four networks that North Korea uses to connect to the global Internet are routed through China Unicom, the state-run telecommunications company.

    North Korea’s defense department asserted Sunday that the U.S. government was “deeply involved” in the making of the Sony Pictures comedy “The Interview” and threatened to “blow up” the White House, the Pentagon and other U.S. targets if Washington retaliated for the cyberattack on the studio.

  3. http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2014/12/fbi-is-now-involved-in-investigation-of.html#more

    FBI Is Now Involved in Investigation of Iguala; 17 New Mass Graves Found

    At about the same time as the parents and supporters were alleging direct participation by the Army and Federal Police in the murders and abductions in Iguala, Attorney General Murillo announced that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations was now involved in investigating the the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students as part of the Merida Initiative.

    Murillo acknowledged that “some FBI agents were dispatched. They came and helped, above all, in organizing the forensic procedures and personnel involved.”

    Sergio Alcocer, the subsecretary of Foreign Relations for North America, noted that the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, offered help to the Guerrero’s interim state governor, Rogelio Ortega Martinez in the framework of the Merida Initiative.

    The involvement of the FBI was in all likelihood pressured into action by criticism in the press of the US silence about the incident. Obama and Sec. of State Kerry have said very little about the missing students scandal.

    The security cooperation agreement (Merida) has been criticized for allegations of training law enforcement in torture, crowd suppression techniques, and interrogation tactics at what was formerly called the School of the Americas. Merida has also been connected to the ATF gunwalking scandal where the U.S. government shipped guns to Mexico, the majority of which fell into cartel hands.

  4. Reuters) - Jordan will begin training the first group of army troops from neighboring Iraq in the next few weeks as part of the international effort to fight Islamic State, the Iraqi defense minister said on Monday.

    Speaking after meeting Jordanian King Abdullah, Khaled al Obeidi said Amman would also supply the Iraqi army with arms needed for its drawn-out fight against the radical Islamists who have seized wide swathes of the north and west of his country.

    "I think in the next weeks the first batch of Iraqi army will get training in Jordan," the defense minister told Reuters in Amman. "The arms warehouses of Jordan from weapons and ammunition will be open to the Iraqi army."

    Obeidi was due to visit Jordanian army camps on Tuesday. He said his talks with the army's chief of staff would focus on ways of regaining control of the crucial overland trade and passenger artery.

    The fall of large parts of Anbar province bordering Jordan to Islamic State poses a major security risks for the kingdom, officials say. Tribes currently fighting the jihadists in Anbar have longstanding ties with Jordan.

    Jordan has provided a logistics base for the U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State in Syria and is a hub for intelligence gathering operations against the jihadists, a western diplomatic source said.

    The kingdom, which helped train thousands of Iraqi army troops in the post-Saddam Hussein era as part of U.S. plans to rebuild the former Iraqi military, now sees Sunni tribal fighters playing a lead role in battling Islamic militants in their own areas.

  5. Sen. Roberts returns from Iraq newly confident in U.S. mission: ‘This strategy is working’

    WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Pat Roberts returned Monday from a clandestine trip to Iraq to visit Kansas soldiers, bringing with him a new-found support for a U.S. military mission that he previously criticized for being “much too vague” and dependent on foreign partners.

    American troops and their allies in Iraq are making “real and tangible progress” against Islamic State militants who seized much of Iraq and Syria over the summer, the Kansas senator said in a press call with reporters after his plane landed in Washington.

    “I am guardedly optimistic that Iraqis can take the necessary steps to take back their country,” he said.

    Read more here:

    1. Roberts no longer sees a need for a formal declaration of war against the Islamic State, which would require approval from the Senate.

      “I think that’s probably an issue that has passed,” he said. “We do authorize training and assistance. If you authorize that, we are not actually taking part with boots on the ground in a war. I know I originally thought, being a Marine, that would not be the answer, but having seen Sunni and Shia and everyone else (working together) and seeing the routing of (the Islamic State) ... I don’t think an act of war at this point is needed.”

      Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/12/22/250890/sen-roberts-returns-from-iraq.html#storylink=cpy

  6. “There is no doubt that Iran has been beside the government and people of Iraq since the beginning of the Iraqi crisis,” Larijani said in a press conference on Tuesday in the Iraqi city of Najaf, in reference to the campaign of terror which has been going on in Iraq for almost 6 months.

    The Iranian parliament speaker touched upon his meeting with Iraq’s most senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, in the holy city of Najaf and said the two discussed the issue of terrorism in the region and the measures that can be taken to create lasting peace and security.

    He said that Ayatollah Sistani provided “very effective guidance” on all issues discussed during the meeting.

    Larijani had visited Syria and Lebanon before his visit to Iraq.

    Iraq is facing a terror campaign by Takfiri ISIL militants, who control some parts of Syria and Iraq and are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control. They have terrorized and killed people of all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.

  7. It was the US trained Iraqi Army that got run out by ISIS in the first place.

    I am un-guardedly pessimistic that they will do much better this time.

    1. Do we know that this al Baghdadi character is dead?

      Not that it makes much difference.

  8. 17,500 Germans Gather to Sing Christmas Carols Against Islamisation
    Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke

    by Oliver Lane23 Dec 2014554
    The German PEGIDA movement held its largest meeting yet last night to protest what they call the ‘Islamisation of the Western World’, despite stiff opposition from all sections of Germany’s elite including politicians, media, and the arts.

    PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West) has grown rapidly since its inception in October, a peaceful ‘strolling’ movement opposing the exceptional violence seen in street battles between Salafist Muslims and ethnic Kurds seen in many German cities this year and enormous immigration. Now on it’s tenth ‘evening stroll’, it has grown from a couple of hundred people, to 15,000 last week, to more than 17,500 last night.

    In addition to the hundreds of banners with slogans such as ‘Against Hatred, Violence, and the Quran’, ‘Against Religious Fanaticism’, and ‘No Sharia in Europe’, the thousands attending brought song sheets which had been distributed online and sang favourite Christmas carols.

    Despite the essentially ordinary character of many of the people taking to the streets for the peaceful strolls, and the admission by senior government and police figures that a great many of those joining in are families bringing their children, the organisation has come in for stiff criticism and rejection by the heights of the German elite.

    Chancellor Merkel has suggested the leadership of PEGIDA have an ulterior motive, despite their focus on non-violent protest and apolitical principles. She even went as far to warn people thinking of going on the weekly stroll to “watch out that they are not instrumentalised by the organisers”. The SPD, Germany’s Labour-party equivalent have gone as far as calling PEGIDA “Nazis in pinstripes”.

    This is despite a report by the German police that there are significantly more known troublemakers in the counter-protest movements, than in PEGIDA itself.

    It is not only German politics which is putting its weight behind the counter-PEGIDA movement. Apparently dismayed that 17,500 people had turned out in bad weather to sing Christian carols, the Protestant Bishop of Dresden said PEGIDA were trying “to exploit a Christian symbol and a Christian tradition” for political ends.

    Germany’s art elite also showed their disapproval last night. The directors of Dresden’s Bavarian State Opera house, outside which the protests take place turned off the lights on the building, cloaking it in darkness during the stroll. Colossal 50-foot banners were draped in front of the building reading “humanity, respect, and diversity”.

    No plans have yet been announced by PEGIDA for their next march.


    I will have to ask my friend in Dresden all about this.

    Nazis singing Christmas carols?

    1. 'Patriotic Europeans' is a nice touch. As is 'Islamisation of the West'.

  9. Re: Israel - Lebanon War 2006

    I vividly recall advising that Syria was the problem, not Lebanon, and should be the target of Israeli military action. Had that been done, what has followed might have been prevented. Syria spun the spider's web, with all threads leading back to Damascus -- kill the spider, pull in the web.

  10. DOW 18K
    GDP BEST IN DECADE............Drudge

    A rising tide lifts all boats, if you've got a boat.

  11. Last week it was Tehran, this week, Damascus.

    The "Heart of Darkness", it used to be in Mecca, before the Israeli started sucking from the Saudi teat.

    Saudi-Israeli alliance

    In broad daylight, a Saudi-Israeli alliance

    Saudi Israeli alliance forged in blood

    Understanding the Israeli-Egyptian-Saudi alliance

    The 'enemy' is always changing, the motivation, not so much.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. According to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, the most recent proposition is being spearheaded by Danny Seaman, who was slammed by the media for writing anti-Muslim messages on Facebook.

      Students will be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”, the Independent reported.

    3. jack, in your own words, when you committed war crimes in Central America did you take native girls as slave too?

  12. 3,500 Yazidiz women and girls are still being held by Islamic State, many being used as sex slaves. The crew that got us into Iraq and was the cause of this catastrophe are all enjoying government pensions and protection. There is no cost and downside risk for US politicians unless you cross the leadership of our rulers and masters, as in using campaign money to pave your driveway. That will get you six years.

    Still, the mob of extremely low information dolts cheers them on.

    1. The crew that got us into Iraq had the lid on until your dolt came along and took all the troops out.

      Now we have a worse catastrophe. Seven devils worse than the first.

    2. Care to support that, in your own words with some facts?

  13. ‘This strategy is working’
    — Republican Senator Pat Roberts

    That's the 'Rat Doctrine' that Senator Roberts is speaking of.

    ‘This strategy is working’
    — Republican Senator Pat Roberts


  14. To whom is one patriotic to, a flag, a politician or as an American is it The Constitution? In my mind the Constitution outranks all others. It is after all the contract that we are all bound by. The words are simple enough but not for our rulers and masters in DC. Washington does not revere the Constitution, the entire apparatus works around it. They deal with the problematic language with a legalistic higher act.

    Mention the Constitution and you will mostly get a smirk form the DC establishment.

    Where in the Constitution does it authorize US officials to carry out regime-change operations in foreign countries? Regime changes were the objective for Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Cuba, Panama, Viet Nam, and if they can get away with it Iran.

    Who pays the freight and the damage? Not any of the masters or the master manipulators.

  15. We've been using The Crook Doctrine forever in Afghanistan and the Taliban still controls the countryside.

  16. Not particularly surprising as It is their countryside and is not in Kansas.

  17. You can't tolerate some "foreign" wolves in Idaho. They bring out all your homicidal tendencies. Try to think. It doesn't hurt.

    1. But you see, I am agreeing with you.

      I don't think this bombing is going to make much of a difference.

      Your last jab is totally idiotic.

    2. You are right though that the wolves are foreign. They are the big Canadian wolves. We never had those here before.

    3. Brought to us by moron environmentalists and animal rights folks from back east.

      They must bring out your killer instinct. You like 'em. They kill. Elk by the hundreds.

      Try to think.


    4. There are articles in the papers here every week about the marauding wolves.

      They are now on our shoot at sight list, day or night, the problem has gotten so bad.

      Thanks, morons from back east.

    5. I noticed my friend Wayne's cattle were all gone some days ago.

      Maybe he just got tired of it. He's my age.

      Maybe the wolves were the final straw.

      I will ask him next time I bump into him.

    6. Those wolves as American as your are, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

    7. Another meaningless statement by d.rat Jack "I'm a War Criminal, Professional Asshole, Dead Beat Dad, Liar, Moron and Racist" Hawkins.

    8. Coward is hereby added.

      Thank you, allen.

    9. No, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, it merely serves as a reminder of your less than stellar geography skills.

      Canadian wolves are just as American as an Idaho farmer.

      You really are slip sliding away.

  18. I wonder if Doug can see the Hawaiian volcano oozing from his place?

  19. Other than to caution that Israel will not unilaterally attack Iran, I rarely speak of the place.

    I was quite annoyed by the repression of Iranian students 5-6 years ago.

    I love Iranian carpets (I would gladly give someone else's head for an Habibian) and pistachios.

    fake Habibian

    As for Syria, good riddance.

  20. I'm goin' to the Cd'A Casino.

    Beats listening to Deuce and d.rat.

    Cheers !!

  21. ISIS Closing in on Israel from the North and the South

    Watch: This Is What The Fight Against ISIS Looks Like From The Border in Turkey

    By Riyadh Mohammed,
    The Fiscal Times
    December 23, 2014

    The war against ISIS is taking a dangerous, perhaps inevitable turn. The terror organization has been keen to expand to southern Syria and the Syrian capital of Damascus. Now it says it has recruited three Syrian rebel groups operating in the south of the country in an area bordering the Israeli occupied Golan Heights — that have switched their loyalties to ISIS.

    This switch means that Israel, the U.S.’s closest ally in the Middle East, could be threatened from the southwest by the Egyptian ISIS group of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis in Sinai and by ISIS in southern Syria.

    The ISIS war is not going well at all for the US-led alliance in Syria. ISIS and al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, are still the dominant rebel groups in the country. The U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army is still not a reliable fighting force.

    Related: Reports of U.S. Ground Fighters Emerge as ISIS Gains in Iraq

    The three rebel groups that just joined ISIS could make that situation even worse. Two of the groups are small in number, but the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade has hundreds of fighters. The Yarmouk Brigades has been at odds with al-Nusra Front and switched now to join what leaders of all thrwee groups believe is the future of Islam.

    “If Israel was attacked by ISIS, America would expect a proportionate response by Israel, which is militarily capable of defending itself,” said Geoffrey Levin, a professor at New York University. “America would counsel against sustained Israeli involvement because it could threaten the tacit alliance between America, Iran, Turkey, and several Arab states against ISIS.”

    “More recent reports indicated a closer alliance with [the Islamic State] due to tensions with JN [al-Nusra Front],” said Jasmine Opperman, a researcher at Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC). She said al-Nusra attacked the headquarters of the Yarmouk Brigade in southern Syria in early December 2014 following clashes between the two groups.

    Al-Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade controlled an area near the Jordan-Israel border in March 2013. That same month, the brigade took as hostages some of the United Nations peacekeeping mission soldiers. Even so, Israel reportedly allowed the brigade to have its wounded fighters treated in Israeli hospitals.

    Related: Iraq's 'Bodyguards' Subvert the War Against ISIS

    1. ISIS has been known for launching surprise attacks and opening new battlefronts when it seems to be losing. ISIS also has been criticized by many Arabs and Muslims for not taking its fight to Israel and instead fighting fellow Arabs and Muslims. An attack aimed at Israel may boost ISIS’s popularity in the Arab world and refresh its recruitment and funding efforts.

      On the other hand, some of ISIS’s top military commanders were former officers in Saddam Hussein’s army, and they may resort to what Saddam did in the 1991 Gulf War when he attacked Israel with mid-range rockets, hoping to drag the Israelis into a conflict that he was losing.

      An Israeli retaliation in 1991 could have jeopardized the U.S-led coalition that then included Arab countries like Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The same is true now.


      Despite some recent tensions between the countries, Israel remains America’s closest ally in the Middle East. Attacks on Israel by ISIS or affiliated groups could further escalate war in the region, or they could further strain ties between the Obama administration and the Israeli government.

      Related: This Laser Could Take Out ISIS

      “It would be more likely a sign of desperation, as were Saddam's attempts to lure Israel into the 1991 war as a way of breaking the Arab coalition against him,” said NYU’s Levin. At that time, continuous pressure from the first Bush administration and the installation of the Patriot anti-rocket system convinced the Israelis to refrain from reacting to Saddam’s attack.

      Israel could launch a preemptive attack to destroy or significantly damage these ISIS-affiliated units whether by air or by ground forces. Israel used its advanced air force to launch attacks in Syria several times since the beginning of Syrian civil war in 2011.

      Meanwhile, Israel has recently boosted its defenses in the Golan Heights, saying its main concern was to prevent any major weapon transfer from Syria to Hezbollah, the Lebanese guerrilla organization that has engaged in several rounds of war with the Israelis since the 1980s.

      This article was updated at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 23.

      Top Reads from The Fiscal Times:

      Why Big Oil Needs a Bailout in New OPEC Price War
      9 ISIS Weapons That Will Shock You
      Why Drones Could Cause the Next Mid-Air Disaster

      - See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2014/12/23/ISIS-Closing-Israel-North-and-South#sthash.nsSXn2ee.dpuf

    2. :) heh

      I gotta laugh, though the situation isn't at all funny.

      It looks as if ISRAEL may be the one that might tame ISIS in Syria, d. rat's beloved ISRAEL, the rat Doctrine having crapped out there.

    3. >>>The ISIS war is not going well ((((at all)))) for the US-led alliance in Syria.<<<

      The rat Doctrine at work. Bombing support for brave local fighters......

    4. .......is not going well ((((at all))).

    5. The only fight where the Rat Doctrine is being implemented in Syria, is at Kobane, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

      There is no where else in Syria where the Coalition is providing Close Air Support for ground operations.

      But then, you thought that Derna, Libya was a Syrian seaport, too.

      I would consul that in the future you take greater heed of Ms Lebowitz's sage advise.

      “Think before you speak.
      Read before you think.”

      ― Fran Lebowitz

  22. rat - O - Zero was blabbering on about King David the other day, too -

    Health & Science
    Archaeological find from Israel supports stories of kings David and Solomon
    By Nancy Szokan December 23 at 12:45 PM

    The ancient kings David and Solomon are two of the better-known figures of the Bible. Yet some scholars have disputed their existence, or at least their roles as kings, citing a dearth of evidence that there were functioning governments or states in the 10th century B.C., when the two men are said to have lived.

    In the December issue of the journal Near Eastern Archaeology, researchers from Mississippi State University challenge that argument with a report of finding six bullae — clay seals used to secure official documents — at Khirbet Summeily, a site east of Gaza in southern Israel.

    According to project co-director Jimmy Hardin, who has been excavating there since 2011, the seals indicate that there were “either political or administrative activities going on at a level well beyond those typical of a rural farmstead. . . . Finding the bullae this past summer strongly supports our idea that Khirbet Summeily was a governmental installation.”

    Dating the seals to the 10th century B.C., he said, “lends general support to the historical veracity of David and Solomon as recorded in the Hebrew biblical texts.”


    1. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peteron, the discussion had nothing to do with David, everything to do with ...

      .... a curious commercial subculture where science is being harnessed to provide “proof” for believers, and where archaeology and politics are as intertwined as nesting snakes.


      The admitted reconstruction of the artifact that mentioned David, after the fabrication was completed.

  23. If Israel should give ISIS a good blood letting in Syria, what will Deuce say ?

    Another example of perfidious Jewish aggression ?

    Will we have a thread about it ?

    1. Bet Rufus would applaud Israel if they do.

      So would I.

    2. Bet Rufus would find fault with Israel no matter what.

    3. I'm betting Rufus would welcome an Israeli attack.

      He's got his reputation on the line with his July 4th, 2015 Prediction.


    4. (maybe he wouldn't say so though)

    5. If a frog had wings, it would not bounce its body when it hopped.

    6. Israel prefers Daesh (al-Qeada) in Syria, over the Alawites, Christians and their Kurdish allies

      Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel so wanted Assad out and his Iranian backers weakened, that Israel would accept al-Qaeda operatives taking power in Syria.

      “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”

      Even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
      “We understand that they are pretty bad guys,” Oren said in the interview.


  24. I tell my friend at Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Dresden, Germany that I like Modi. She doesn't give politics much thought though. Her thing is to improve the world.

    Find jobs
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    About us
    For employers

    Max Planck Institute for Brain Research

    The Max Planck Institute for Brain Research is a fundamental research and scientific training institution focused on understanding the brain. The human brain is a formidably complex machine, composed of about one hundred billion neurons and trillions of connections, or synapses between them. Out of such a system, as if magically, arise perception, behavior and thought. The brain is often described as the “most complex machine in the known universe”.

    Brains are products of evolution, a response of biological organisms to selection pressure. Consequently, brains solve many complex, yet specialized problems: find food, identify and avoid danger, learn and recognize kin, learn from past associations, predict the near future, communicate, and in a few species, transmit knowledge. This all seems so simple. Yet we know that these problems are complex because our attempts at solving them with artificial machines have been disappointing so far. Today’s computers are getting better at solving pure-computation problems (chess for instance). But they are still poor at solving object-, character- or face-recognition tasks, operations that our brains carry out effortlessly. And brains work with very little power (about 30W in humans). They are a triumph of efficiency.

    Studying and understanding the brain is important for many reasons. First, it is a fascinating scientific challenge. Because of the diversity and complexity of the fundamental problems we face, modern neuroscience is an interdisciplinary science par excellence, involving (among others) molecular biologists, biochemists, geneticists, electrophysiologists, ethologists, psychologists, physicists, computer scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Understanding the brain requires reductionist approaches as well as synthetic ones. Simply put, it is a formidable and interesting challenge for scientists with a passion for fundamental research.

    Second, understanding the brain is of paramount importance for medicine. Data from the World Health Organization show that psychiatric and neurological diseases are among the main causes of disability and disease. Indeed, in 2005, brain disorders accounted for 35% of the economic burden of all diseases on the European continent. While our institute is not a medical institution, the knowledge we produce (e.g., on mechanisms of neural development, synaptic plasticity or brain dynamics) is of fundamental relevance for applied neurological research (e.g., neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders).

    Our goal is to be an institution where some of the best scientists in the world work together to understand the operations and function of nervous systems. Our scientific focus is on circuits, or networks of interacting parts-molecules in a neuron, neurons in a local circuit, circuit-to-circuit communication. Experimental work at the Institute is carried out on non-primate animal species (e.g., rats and mice, fish), in an interdisciplinary, interactive setting, located in the heart of the natural sciences campus of the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. Our immediate neighbors and scientific partners are the Biology, Chemistry and Physics Departments of the Goethe University, the Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies (FIAS) and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics. We also have close relationships with the Medical Science, and Computer Science (Center for Scientific Computing) and Mathematics Departments of the Goethe University, and the Ernst Strüngmann Institute, whose focus is on Cognitive Neuroscience.


    1. India May End Support for PLO State at UN
      December 23, 2014 by Daniel Greenfield
      Print This Post


      If the Modi government makes that kind of shift, it would be significant and a sign that Netanyahu’s outreach to India and China was ahead of the curve, while the left insists on somehow appeasing European Islamophilia and Islamopanic with endless concessions.

      In what could amount to a tectonic shift in the country’s foreign policy, the Modi government is looking at altering India’s supporting vote for the Palestinian cause at the United Nations to one of abstention.

      Two sources within the government confirmed to The Hindu that the change, which will be a fundamental departure from India’s support to the cause of a Palestinian state, was under consideration.

      “Like other foreign policy issues, the Modi government is looking at India’s voting record at the United Nations on the Palestinian issue,” a government source told The Hindu. The change only needs an administrative nod, the second source said.

      Despite the growing defence and diplomatic ties with Israel, the UPA government, which junked traditional ally Iran to vote with the United States at the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005, had baulked at making any change in India’s support to the Palestinians.

      Moving from a “Yes” vote to an abstention is not that big in and of itself, but it does signify that India will no longer be a rubber stamp for anything that the Muslim world demands. It never made much sense for India to support Muslim terrorists in Israel while fighting them in Kashmir, but likewise it makes little sense for Russia to fight Muslim terrorists in the Caucasus while supporting them in the Middle East.

      Or for the United States to support Muslim terrorists in Egypt, Burma and Israel while opposing them in Pakistan and Iraq. So a lot of countries have conflicting foreign policies.

      Countries that are both non-Muslim and non-Western are going to have to cope with a world in which the Western elite panders to Muslim terrorists while Muslim countries form a shifting alliance intent on destroying them. India may have found its new balance in that regard.

      Israel and India both need options for dealing with Islamic terrorism, externally and internally, and Western pressure to accommodate Muslim demands.

      Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


  25. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, posting boring bullshit

    At last learn to choose the highlights, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.
    But then you would have to take some responsibility for the content.

    Which is something that none of the Zionists do.

    1. At least learn to choose the highlights, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

  26. India in flames

    At least 56 people including children died in a series of militant attacks in Assam, Indian police said on Wednesday, as the rebels dramatically intensified a long-running separatist campaign in the tea-growing state.

    Bodo guerrillas have in recent years launched ferocious attacks on both Muslim settlers and Adivasis who oppose their claim for an independent homeland.

    India's Adivasis are disproportionately poor and many live in Assam, where they take poorly-paid work on tea plantations.

    It was not clear why the villagers were targeted, but analyst K.G. Suresh said the attacks were likely carried out in revenge for a recent government crackdown on militants in the state.

    "There was resentment among the NDFB over an anti-militancy operation that was carried out recently. The tribals were easy targets," said Suresh, a senior fellow with the Vivekananda International Foundation think tank in Delhi.

    "In the northeast there is not just one entity, there are hundreds of tribes who are mutually antagonistic."


  27. Keurig recalled 7 million of its Mini Plus single serve coffee brewing machine, after a number of them injured dozens of its users by spraying hot liquid.

  28. (Reuters) - An 18-year-old black man was shot and killed by police late on Tuesday at a gas station in a St. Louis suburb near where unarmed teen Michael Brown was killed by a white officer in August, police and local media said.

  29. BBC News - ‎
    The Jordanian military has confirmed that one of its planes has crashed over northern Syria and that its pilot has been captured

  30. In total, the United States carried out 488 air strikes in Syria through Dec. 15.

    AMMAN - Three months of US-led strikes in Syria have so far killed at least 1,171 people, mostly Islamic State militants, a British-based Syrian monitoring group said on Tuesday.

    Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters only 52 were civilians.
    The United States and its allies have significantly scaled down their air strikes in Syria since late September compared to the first month of the campaign.

  31. The Hindu - ‎

    Violence escalated in Assam on Wednesday as the toll in the carnage by NDFB(S) militants rose to 65, mostly women and children, with advivasis retaliating by torching houses and attacking a police station during protests that left three persons dead

  32. India Burning ...

    All-out offensive against militant group that carried out deadly Assam attack

    GUWAHATI: The Army and security forces, including the state police, are launching an all-out offensive to take out the 80-odd cadres of the Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), who carried out the deadly attack on Tuesday evening.

    With the recovery of more bodies the death toll climbed from the overnight figure of 48 to 65. The figure includes 21 women and 18 children.

    The decision for the offensive was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh and attended by top officials of ministries of home, defence and paramilitary forces, sources said.

    "This was an act of terror and we will deal with it accordingly... whatever action is required, we will take," Rajnath Singh told reporters after the meeting in New Delhi

    Describing the attack on adivasi villagers by the Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), as "very unfortunate and cowardly act", he said 50 companies (5000 personnel) of paramilitary forces have been rushed to Assam to assist the state government to deal with the situation arising out of the violence in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts.

  33. Flames mounting in India

    Assam violence: Adivasis retaliate, kill 2 Bodos, torch a village

    NEW DELHI: Two Bodos have been killed by adivasis in retaliatory killings in Assam. The adivasis have also torched a Bodo village in Kokrajhar district.

    Two Bodos were hacked to death in Chirang district, according to reports.

    The retaliatory killings come a day after Bodo militants killed 65 adivasis in twin attacks.

    Union home minister Rajnath Singh condemned the violence in Assam.

    "Incident in Assam is condemnable, this was an act of terror and that is how we plan to look at it as," Rajnath said.

    Earlier today, three adivasis protesting against attack by Bodo militants were killed in police firing.

    An earlier version of this story said that five protesting adivasis were killed in police firing.

  34. Looks like Jack is taking up Hinduism.

    He has a long hard journey ahead.

    He's at Chakra One.

    1. Chakra One is that dead dull place between your genitals and your asshole.

      That is Jack's place.

    2. If Jack were to actually get a job and open a bar he could call it The Chakra One Bar.

      Probably couldn't get a liquor license though.

      Parole violation.

  35. Oh, oh -

    ISIS shoots down coalition warplane, captures pilot
    posted at 9:31 am on December 24, 2014 by Noah Rothman

    Last week, reports began to surface in the press indicating that coalition forces were running out of Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria to strike. The same is not true for ISIS, which is taking full advantage of its now target-rich environment.

    On Wednesday, the Kingdom of Jordan confirmed that one of their fighter planes had been taken out of the sky over Syria by ISIS forces. The Jordanian pilot was also confirmed captured, and his image began to appear on social media accounts linked to Islamic State militants.

    This disturbing development was originally revealed to the press by the London-based watchdog group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which indicated that the plane had gone down near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. “Another group, the Raqqa Media Center, said the warplane crashed near the village of Hamra Ghannam, adding that ISIS militants were searching the area in case there is another pilot,” Fox News reported.

    RMC published a photograph said to be of the pilot who appeared wearing a white shirt as he was surrounded by 11 fighters, some of them masked. Another photograph published by the group showed the man — naked from the waist down and soaking wet — being captured by three gunmen as he was taken out of what appeared to be a lake.

    RMC later posted a photograph of the Jordanian military identity card of the pilot identifying him as Mu’ath Safi Yousef al-Kaseasbeh who was born on May 29, 1988. A photograph of al-Kaseasbeh was also posted in the Petra report, but he was not named.

    Analysts long believed that ISIS maintained the capability to shoot down not just military aircraft but passenger planes as well, but this is the first time the militant group has successfully shot down a warplane.

    CNN noted in its report on the downing of a coalition aircraft in Syria and “the capture of a pilot would be a setback for the anti-ISIS alliance.” That may prove to be an understatement.

    The Reuters dispatch that warned of dwindling ISIS targets for Western and Arab allies to strike also raised the concern that this condition could lead to the fraying of the alliance.

    1. In December, nearly 97 percent of all airstrikes were conducted by U.S. military forces. American allies carried out only two airstrikes inside Syria as of December 18 while U.S. forces undertook 62 sorties.

      “That accentuates a shift that began shortly after the start of the campaign in late September, when US allies carried out 38 percent of the strikes,” Reuters reported. “The percentage quickly dropped to around 8 percent in October and 9 percent in November, according to Reuters calculations based on the data.”

      Just under half of the 65 non-US coalition air strikes in Syria tallied until 3 a.m. on Dec. 15 took place in the first nine days of the air campaign in late September, according to US military data. US allies carried out 20 air strikes in October and just 14 in November.

      The only two strikes by Washington’s allies this month targeted an electronic warfare garrison near the city of Raqqa on Dec. 7, a US official said.

      Despite their limited engagement, a coalition allied plane is the first to be shot down in combat with ISIS. That is unlikely to prompt a surge in new airstrikes from coalition partners.

      The value added by America’s coalition allies, particularly the Arab states, was always primarily symbolic. United States warplanes and ordnance have done the heavy lifting from the start of the war against the Islamic State, and coalition partners primarily provided the campaign with the veneer of legitimacy. The morale of an Arab coalition member state on the frontlines of the war must be crushed by the loss of a pilot and a warplane to ISIS.

      “Jordan holds the group and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life,” read a statement released by a Hashemite Kingdom army representative. But faith in this warning’s worth must be low. ISIS has repeatedly demonstrated their level of regard for life.


  36. The Israeli Air Force and Army may soon come to the rescue though, pulling the failed d.rat Doctrine out of the fire. They'll just do the job themselves......

    1. Anonymous, you are repeating the same foolishness that Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson is wont to slop..

      Thee Rat Doctrine is not being implemented in Syria, except in Kobane.

      The Coalition is not providing Close Air Support to the forces fighting against the Daesh, except at Kobane.
      No where else in Syria are there local ground engaged in ground combat operations against the Daesh that the Coalition is providing Close Air Support for.

      The Rat Doctrine is rooted in the concept of using Coalition air superiority in its Close Air Support role, not in needless "Strategic" Search and Destroy patrols. As noted upthread, after the first month, September, the number of air ops in Syria greatly diminished, there are very few 'Strategic" targets left.

      Unless there are ground forces engaged in combat operations on the ground, that the Coalition can provide Close Air Support to, the Rat Doctrine cannot be utilized, let alone declared a failure.

      Really, Anonymous, it is like you are an echo of Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

    2. No where else in Syria are there local ground forcesengaged in ground combat operations against the Daesh that the Coalition is providing Close Air Support for.

  37. December 24, 2014
    Islamic State downs their first fighter aircraft
    By Rick Moran

    The war against Islamic State has taken a dangerous turn as the terrorists have shot down their first coalition plane and captured the pilot.

    Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a first lieutenant in the Jordanian air force, was captured after his aircraft was reportedly shot down with a heat seeking missile.


    A senior Jordanian military official confirmed the pilot was seized, saying his plane went down in Syria's Raqa region, a militant stronghold, early on Wednesday.

    "The pilot was taken hostage by the IS terrorist organisation," official news agency Petra quoted the official as saying.

    Jordan did not say why the plane went down, but both the jihadists and a monitoring group said it was shot with an anti-aircraft missile.

    If confirmed, it would be the first coalition warplane shot down since air strikes on IS began in Syria in September.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said its sources in Syria confirmed IS had captured the pilot "after shooting his plane down with an anti-aircraft missile near Raqa city."

    Coalition warplanes have carried out regular strikes around Raqa, which IS has used as the headquarters for its self-declared "caliphate" after seizing control of large parts of Syria and Iraq.

    The IS branch in Raqa published photographs on jihadist websites purporting to show its fighters holding the captured pilot.

    One showed the pilot, wearing only a white shirt, being carried from a body of water by four men. Another showed him on land, surrounded by about a dozen armed men.

    A photograph was also released of the pilot's military identification card, showing his name as Maaz al-Kassasbeh, his birth date as May 29, 1988, and his rank of first lieutenant.

    The jihadists claimed to have shot down the warplane with a heat-seeking missile.

    The pilot's father Youssef was quoted by Jordanian news website Saraya as saying the family had been informed by the air force of his capture.

    Jordan does not have a modern air force so it's no great feat to have brought one of their planes down. Still, this has got to alter our calculations a bit, given that President Obama doesn't want any casualties in his "war" against IS. Our F-15's and other combat aircraft have effective countermeasures to heat seeking missiles, but we really don't know what kind of anti-aircraft defenses IS might be able to deploy.

    The captured pilot is probably doomed to suffer a horrible, public death. No doubt Islamic State will seek to make an example of him in order to scare off other countries in the coalition.

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/12/islamic_state_downs_their_first_fighter_aircraft.html#ixzz3MpPLgfIG
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  38. Rethinking Our Strategy in Iraq and Syria
    by Gary Anderson

    Journal Article | December 22, 2014 - 1:11pm

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    Rethinking Our Strategy in Iraq and Syria

    Gary Anderson

    The war against the self-styled Islamic State is beginning to look more and more like the late, unlamented war in Vietnam. The Obama administration has placed self-imposed limitations on the use of ground forces, thereby creating the kind of sanctuary that North Viet Nam represented from 1963-75. Like President Johnson, Barak Obama had pledged no ground troops, but eventually sent in “advisors” and “defensive forces” to protect the advisors bases as well as the aircraft that were supporting the host nation government’s forces who were supposed to be doing the actual fighting; albeit poorly. This looks exactly like the Vietnam War in 1964-65 that I remember watching on TV and reading about in high school.

    Since the Ivy League schools that produced the Obama Administration’s brain trust no longer require the serious study of history, the people who are planning the war effort don’t see the irony. It will take local political solutions to stabilize Syria and Iraq, but those political solutions will not happen until the conventional military power of the Islamic State is destroyed; that can be done in 3-4 months if we apply US-led western military forces in an overwhelming punitive campaign, to include ground forces, to crush the Islamic State’s army.......

    Small Wars Journal

    >>>Phase I; the Destruction of al Baghdadi’s Army. Without a US/western corps sized intervention that will destroy the jihadist army in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State will dominate the political scene in Iraq and Syria for years to come while the west struggles to create a regional home grown force capable of confronting it.<<<

    1) Bad news for The Rufus July 4th, 2015 Prediction
    2) Bad news for The rat - O - Zero Doctrine

    1. It's possible O'bozo will catch a break in Syria via the Israeli Army and Air Force.

  39. This is another example of the strength of the Coalition, the downed jet, not piloted by a US Air Force officer.
    The plane, although of US manufacture, is part of the Jordanian Air Force.

    Another example of local forces engaged in fighting for what their government thinks is right.

    1. Balancing 'National Interests' with 'National Debt', the US opts for our foreign allies to fight for themselves.

      Easing the costs in blood and treasure imposed by burden of Empire.
      Following closer to the British model than the US has opted for, previously.

    2. Yup, another example of the Coalition strength........a downed jet and a beheaded pilot.

      Off your meds again today, Jack "War Criminal, Dead Beat Dad, Coward, Liar, Racist, Anti-Semite, self confessed Professional Asshole, and self confessed moron" Hawkins?

      Did I get it all allen?

    3. And since when is a foreign country's forces, Jordon, 'local forces' ?

      What an idiot.

    4. If the Israelis get in, that would make their forces 'local forces'.

      What an idiot is Jack Ass.

    5. One could just as well say USA forces are 'local forces'.

      At least Jack realizes he is a moron. He has admitted to being a moron.


    6. Let's look, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, at the numbers ...

      Them: over 1,100 KIA, that over one thousand one hundred of them, Killed in Action.
      US one Jordanian pilot. Captured, presumed to be headed to execution.

    7. If that is now the standard that military operations are to be judged ...
      The loss of a pilot serving in the military of a foreign country, is now considered a watershed moment in US foreign policy?

      Get a grip on reality, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

      You are slip sliding a-way

    8. The loss of the Jordanian plot is an indicator that the US has succeeded in "Spreading the Risk of combat operations.

      This is great news for those of US that wish to limit US casualties in the current series of military conflicts in the Middle East.

    9. Dear Reader -

      d.rat, aka Jack "War Criminal....etcetcetc" Hawkins is our in house 'dumb shit'.

      Wish him a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and make him feel good about himself for a few minutes.

  40. Cuba has the very best collection of old cars in the entire world -


    1. That's Quirk, parked, when undercover last year in Quba, on the job researching tourism possibilities and purchasing cigars to shop back to Detroit -

      Line 6, Number 4


      Close up of Q-Car below


      ho, Ho, HO

    2. Quirk has told me he can make "a few K's" by smuggling a couple suitcases of Quban Cigars and selling them on the streets of Detroit during the Holiday Season.

    3. When this source of income dries up due to the end of embargo he has his new Quba Tourism LLC to fall back on - "free cigar with every ticket and EBT cards accepted".

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Quirk.

      And I actually mean that !

      Cheers to you !

  41. ISIS is now reported to be attempting to secure oil fields in Libya.

    1. Islamist militants on verge of capturing Libya’s oilfields, Egypt warns

      Republish Reprint

      Damien McElroy, The Telegraph | October 27, 2014 | Last Updated: Oct 27 7:02 PM ET
      More from The Telegraph
      Smoke billows from a fire at Tripoli's airport sparked by fighting earlier this year. Islamist militias now control most of Libya’s big cities and large swaths of territory.
      AP Photo/Mohammed Ben Khalifa/FileSmoke billows from a fire at Tripoli's airport sparked by fighting earlier this year. Islamist militias now control most of Libya’s big cities and large swaths of territory.

      LONDON — Egypt is warning terrorist groups are poised to seize control of Libya’s oilfields, as the country’s foreign minister appealed for an expansion of the Western-led campaign against jihadists fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham (ISIS) to tackle extremism threatening North Africa.

      Sameh Shukri, the Egyptian foreign minister, used a visit to London Monday to push for a new approach from Britain and the West to Islamist violence in Egypt and its neighbours, modelled on the campaign targeting the Islamic extremists.

      “The natural resources in Libya represents a very large pool of wealth and funding that will fund terrorist activity not only there but in other parts of the world,” he said. “You see [ISIS] in Iraq utilizing gasoline and the black market, and in Libya this is a danger that will have a big impact for us”........


    2. Look for Egyptian intervention.

  42. I doubt that "India burning" will influence the rapidly growing relationship between the Zionists and India. India has big plans and sees Israel as, at least, a catalyst to their realization. Sectarian violence in India is old news.

    India will, I believe, change its voting pattern at the UN.

    Yesterday, something remarkable happened that is going to have world changing consequences: a 3D printer was used to create a very specific bronchial stent for an infant who had been on a ventilator for 18 months. It worked! Pigs may find themselves going back to making bacon.

    1. By the way, when there is violence between Hindus and Moslems in India. it is almost always the result of some initial Moslem aggression.

      d. rat just doesn't like my friend cause she is soooo way smarter than he.

    2. d. rat always attacks his betters, even if the only way he can do so is to attack their country of origin.

    3. That's why he is always attacking the Jews, and now the Hindus.

      Later....we're going shopping for food for X-Mas dinner.

      Cheers !

    4. Posting reports upon events in India is twisted by a warped mind into an attack on Hindus

      Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, is always claiming that reports he does not approve of, that do not fit his perception of 'How Things Are' should be construed as ... attacks

      Quite bizarre, really.

  43. First Kenya, now Sudan

    The International Criminal Court takes another bad knock

  44. War ravages Syria heritage sites

    Nearly 300 sites of incalculable value for Syria and human history have been destroyed, damaged or looted in almost four years of war...

  45. Washington Times - ‎ Rick Santorum is gearing up for another run for president and vows next time he'll be an even stronger candidate — armed with a retooled message aimed at the working class, an established network of supporters and, perhaps more importantly, a resume ...

  46. The Flames Grow as Death Toll Mounts - Assam violence: Toll reaches 76, four districts put under curfew

    GUWAHATI: Assam remained on the edge on Wednesday as the death toll in attacks by the Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) reached 76 amid reports of retaliatory strikes and thousands of people leaving their homes and taking shelter in schools and churches.

    A day after the NDFB(S) attacks in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts, the Army and security forces stepped up counter-insurgency operations against the militants amid reports of Assam Police's failure to prevent the killings despite prior intelligence specifying date, time and location of the attacks. The state government insisted the intelligence inputs came too close to the attacks, allowing it little time to tighten security


    1. Defence PRO, Lt Col S Newton, said 10 Army columns, called in following a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gogoi on Tuesday night, were deployed in the troubled areas of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Sonitpur and Udalguri districts.

      "Special area domination patrols have been deployed. Senior Army officers are supervising the operations and helping the civil administration and Assam Police," he said. Aerial surveillance by Army helicopters are in service, he added.

      "We're going all-out against the militants. I had a discussion with the Prime Minister last night and the Centre has directed the Army to take out the militants," said Gogoi. "The Centre has also sent us 55 companies of paramilitary forces. The militants have taken shelters in Bhutan and Myanmar and Arunachal Pradesh," he added.

  47. Each day, the population of India is increased by 42,434.

    1. And decreased by probably 30,000+ something or other.....

      The Government is trying to make birth control easily available....

      As James Joyce said in one of his books, Ulysses I think, whole boat loads come and go each day, whole cities full.....

      Boggles the mind......

      The Hindus stood and fought the Moslem invasions. The Buddhists, being more pacifist, migrated north into the mountains, and east........that is why the world has an India.

    2. I think my remembered quote is by Leopold Bloom, Stephen's spiritual father so to speak, somewhere in Episode 6, 'Hades', of Ulysses -


  48. Here's a Christmas Eve twisted mind for ya, Dear Readers -

    Jack HawkinsWed Dec 24, 10:46:00 AM EST

    The loss of the Jordanian plot is an indicator that the US has succeeded in "Spreading the Risk of combat operations.

    This is great news for those of US that wish to limit US casualties in the current series of military conflicts in the Middle East.

    Not such great news for the pilot, who will beheaded.

    A sane mind would have bemoaned the loss of any anti-ISIS aircraft.

    But, as we all know here all so well, The Crapper ain't sane.

    IDAHOAN Original Mashed Potatoes
    Dark Gravy
    Peas Corn


  49. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit brought against Barack Obama by an Arizona police chief who called the U.S. president's sweeping immigration reforms unconstitutional, saying the plaintiff lacked legal standing in the case.

    Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the demand by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for a preliminary injunction to halt the policies.

    Arpaio, who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff," filed the case last month, saying Obama had overstepped his powers by bypassing Congress and ordering the changes himself.

    Arpaio's lawsuit said the reforms, which eased the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants, amounted to an amnesty and would encourage more people to cross the border illegally.

    Beryl's 33-page decision said Arpaio did not meet the legal requirements to qualify as a person of standing in bringing the case on constitutional grounds.

    The biggest overhaul to immigration in a generation has set up a confrontation between the president and Republicans, who will take full control of Congress in January and have said the president had gone too far by imposing the changes.

    Obama has dismissed Republican accusations that the changes amounted to an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Howell's decision confirms that "the president's executive actions on immigration are lawful."

    An Arizona federal judge in May 2013 ruled that deputies of Arpaio's office had racially profiled Latino drivers.

    The judge ordered that race no longer be used as a factor in law enforcement decisions and appointed a court monitor to oversee Arpaio's operations.

    Arpaio has denied that racial profiling occurred and has appealed against the judge's ruling.

  50. Grisly finds in Iraqi Yazidi village wrested from militants

    They were at that moment being led by Islamic State group gunmen toward a checkpoint on the edge of town.

    "If you don't hear from us, you'll find our bodies near the checkpoint," Khalef said they told him in the calls.

    There is no way to definitively say the mounds are graves or know how many bodies are in them until they are dug up. The Kurds have no plan to do so immediately, though they have cordoned off the four sites with tape…

    On Aug. 3 — the same day they took the largest town in the area, Sinjar — the militants appeared at the entrance to Hardan in eight black SUVs, backed by Sunni Muslims from neighboring villages…

    ... how sickeningly familiar ...

  51. UPDATE: USA says Jordanian warplane crashed in Syria; not shot down by ISIS...

    Militants capture pilot...

    Turning Christian churches into torture chambers...........Drudge


  52. Op-Ed

    Time to End the North Korean Threat

    Author: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
    December 23, 2014
    Wall Street Journal


    There are signs that Beijing is viewing the regime in Pyongyang as more strategic liability than asset.

    A debate is under way about how best to respond to North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony, an attack designed to punish the firm for making a movie that humiliated Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Ideas range from a cyberattack to weaken North Korean political and military assets to relisting the country as a state sponsor of terrorism, presumably accompanied by new sanctions.

    These ideas are fine as far as they go, but they don’t go far enough. The serious threat posed by North Korea far transcends cyberspace. Only one approach is commensurate with the challenge: ending North Korea’s existence as an independent entity and reunifying the Korean Peninsula.

    Pyongyang possesses between four and 10 nuclear devices as well as hundreds of short- and intermediate-range missiles. The regime has active uranium enrichment and plutonium programs. It is only a matter of time before North Korea can place a nuclear warhead on one or more of its missiles and produce missiles capable of reaching the U.S. The regime is already a known proliferation threat—a decade ago it was helping to build a nuclear reactor in Syria—and it remains a potential source of missiles and nuclear materials to rogue states and terrorists.............


    You'll have to sign on to the Wall Street Journal to read the whole article.

  53. Heh

    Under the original introduction of Canadian wolves in Idaho, the idea was, IIRC, that the wolves would stay in Idaho. But, they went and swam the Snake River, the bastards, getting into Washington and Oregon....

    Home » State » Oregon
    Oregon wolf numbers could trigger delisting in 2015
    Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email Share on print More Sharing Services 9
    Eric Mortenson

    Capital Press
    Published: October 1, 2014 12:56PM
    John and Karen Hollingsworth/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service A gray wolf is seen in this file photo.
    The action would remove endangered species protection for wolves in Northeast Oregon.

    Oregon may begin the process of removing wolves from the state endangered species list in 2015.

    Wildlife staff will deliver the annual wolf management report to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Commission when it meets Oct. 9 and 10 in Central Point, Ore. Among other items, staff will report that Oregon is likely to document at least four breeding pairs for the third consecutive year, which under the wolf plan triggers the delisting process.

    Under the plan, a breeding pair is defined as having at least two pups that survive to the end of the year, Dec. 31. Russ Morgan, who heads ODFW wolf program, said pups have been documented in nine Oregon packs this year. Some pups may not survive the full year, but it’s likely the state will reach the triggering number.

    “Our wolf plan is clear: If we reach four breeding pairs three consecutive years, staff will propose (delisting),” Morgan said. Oregon documented six breeding pairs in 2012 and four pairs in 2013, he said.

    State delisting would eliminate endangered species status for wolves in the eastern third of the state. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already delisted wolves in Northeast Oregon, but they remain under state ESA protection. Wolves in the rest of Oregon — such as well-traveled OR-7 and his mate and pups in the Southwest Oregon Cascades — remain covered under the federal ESA.

    In other business, the wildlife commission will consider the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association’s request for more precise location data when wolves are in areas where their livestock graze.

    ODFW now gathers GPS location data from collared wolves and provides it to producers, but not the public, in generalized form. Producers learn, usually several hours later, when wolves were within pre-defined geographic polygons of varying size, but don’t receive pinpoint locations. That’s what the OCA is now asking for. The request is opposed by groups such Oregon Wild, which believe the information could be used to harm wolves.

    Morgan said the current notification system was well received at first, but it is not especially timely and is subject to problems such as irregular data collection and collar failure. More than 83,000 text or email notifications were sent out in 2013 to 108 livestock producers in three Oregon counties, according to an ODFW staff report.

    “Point-location data” would tell producers that a wolf was at a specific point on a map rather than within a polygon, Morgan said. But it would still not be particularly timely. “It won’t tell you where a wolf is going to be, it only tells you where a wolf has been,” he said.


  54. A must for any Russian leader in times of economic crisis -

    Putin caps vodka prices amid economic crisis............Drudge

    Pooty's popularity is up around 80% in Russia.....quite amazing.

  55. W.R. Hunwick Why Christmas is huge in China

    Scott McKay A very puppy Christmas

    NBC Christmas is a big hit in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

    from Hot Air


    Santa is taking over the world.

  56. Jackie Evancho

    Silent Night


    12 years old then, 14 now........she is truly something else.....

  57. Jackie Evancho


    1. Here she is at 14 years old - (which is now)


      Let's hope her voice doesn't undergo a change.....

      Isn't she something ?

  58. The normally alleged justification for Palestinian violence – a reaction to “the occupation” – does not stand up. Since 1995, over 95% of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) Palestinians have lived under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, which controls all aspects of Palestinian life except for visas and external security. And since 2005, Palestinians in Gaza have controlled even these.

    The Oslo Accords were supposed to have put an end to all that. Palestinian leaders were supposed to educate the public to embrace peace. They promised to change the hearts and minds of average Palestinians, to raise a generation ready to live in peace with Israel. Instead, they decided to do exactly the opposite. And, as the new poll demonstrates, they succeeded.....

    Why Do 80% of Palestinians Support Murder?
    December 24, 2014 by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn


  59. December 24, 2014
    FBI warns of ISIS plan to blow up Mississippi River bridge
    By Thomas Lifson

    According to this Reuters dispatch, the FBI has warned of a threat by ISIS to blow up the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge, connecting Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation passed the threat on to local police in a bulletin out of an "abundance of caution," spokesman Chris Allen said.

    "This is an unsubstantiated, anonymous threat," he said, adding that there was no useful intelligence arising from it.

    It is probably just bluster, but it does indicate that American homeland targets are aspired to by ISIS, and that they will not necessarily be high profile New York or Washington structures. In fact, choosing heartland targets would, if successfully attacked, be far more effective in accomplishing the aim of striking terror into the American mind.

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/12/fbi_warns_of_isis_plan_to_blow_up_mississippi_river_bridge.html#ixzz3MtbY7sTI
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