Category Archives: ISIS

Declassified JCS report shows U.S. invaded Iraq based on flimsy evidence of Iraqi WMDs

The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict that began with the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, 1½ years after the traumatic 9/11 attacks, by a U.S.-led coalition.

The invasion began with a “shock and awe” bombing campaign. Iraqi forces were quickly overwhelmed as U.S. forces swept through the country. The invasion led to the collapse of the Ba’athist government of Saddam Hussein, who was captured in December 2003 and executed by a military court three years later.

But the war continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government. Worse still, Saddam’s former military officers morphed into ISIS, which became the Islamic State. (See Blowback: ISIS leaders are former officers of Saddam Hussein’s army”) After officially withdrawing from Iraq in 2011, the United States became re-involved in 2014 as the Iraqi government proved itself unable to cope with ISIS.

The George W. Bush administration based its rationale for war principally on the assertion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) — yellow-cake uranium poison gas, biological weapons — and that Saddam’s government posed an immediate threat to the United States and its coalition allies. Saddam was also accused of of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, the terrorist group identified as the instigator of 9/11.

The rationale for the Iraq War has since been discredited. But a newly-declassified report to the then-Joint Chiefs of Staff provides even more evidence that the Bush administration went to war with, at best, flimsy evidence of Iraq’s WMDs.

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense 2001-2006John Walcott, adjunct professor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, reports for Politico, Jan. 24, 2016, that on September 9, 2002, as the Bush administration began its public-opinion campaign for an invasion of Iraq, a classified report from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld landed on the desk of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Air Force General Richard Myers.

The report began with these words:

“Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big.”

The report was an inventory of what U.S. intelligence didn’t know about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The report admitted that what the U.S. didn’t know about Iraq’s WMD program ranged from 0% to about 75%While the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iraq was at the heart of the administration’s case for war, the JCS report conceded that:

“Our knowledge of the Iraqi (nuclear) weapons program is based largely—perhaps 90%—on analysis of imprecise intelligence.”

Myers already knew about the report because the Joint Staff’s director for intelligence had prepared it. Clearly, Rumsfeld’s urgent tone conveyed how seriously he viewed the report’s potential to undermine the Bush administration’s case for war.

But neither Rumsfeld nor Myers shared the 8-page report with key members of the administration such as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell or top officials at the CIA, according to multiple sources at the State Department, White House and CIA who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. Instead, the report disappeared, and with it a potentially powerful counter-narrative to the administration’s argument that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons posed a grave threat to the U.S. and its allies, which was beginning to gain traction in major news outlets, led by the New York Times.

A month after Rumsfeld’s note to Myers, on October 7, 2002, Bush appeared at a VFW hall in Cincinnati, where he declared without reservation: Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.” In February 2003, Powell appeared before the UN General Assembly to make the administration’s case, with CIA Director George Tenet sitting behind him:

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What were giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.

Below are screenshots of the 8-page report, preceded by Rumsfeld’s memo to Myers, and Director for Intelligence Major Gen. Glen Shaffer’s memo to the JCS (source: Politico). I supplied the red-color emphasis.

Iraq report Rumsfeld memo to MyersIraq report Rumsfeld memo to Myers1Iraq WMD1Iraq WMD2Iraq WMD3Iraq WMD4Iraq WMD5Iraq WMD6Iraq WMD7Iraq WMD8Altogether, the Iraq War exacted a toll of hundreds of thousands in casualties:

  • An estimated 151,000 to 600,000 Iraqis were killed in the first 3–4 years of conflict.
  • 6,045 Americans were killed: 4,491 soldiers; 1,554 contractors. Additionally, 76,106 Americans were wounded: 32,226 soldiers; 43,880 contractors.

The Iraq War cost the U.S. government more than $845 billion — $720 million a day, if one takes into account the long-term health care for veterans, interest on debt and replacement of military hardware, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance professor Linda Bilmes.

The Bush administration justified the invasion of Iraq on the basis that Saddam’s Iraq posed a clear and present threat to the security of the United States because they had Weapons of Mass Destruction. But it turns out that both the U.S. Defense Secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff knew U.S. intelligence did not support that claim in that there was no hard evidence of Iraqi WMDs.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are fast-tracking a resolution to give Obama unlimited war-making powers — unrestricted in time or geography.

See also:

-StMA

Advertisements

Islamic State says Muslims can cannibalize and harvest organs from live non-Muslims

First, an imam named Yasir Qadhi,who also is a college professor in Tennessee, says Muslims can take the property of Christians and Jews.

Note: An imam is an Islamic leadership position. For Shia or Shi’ite Muslims, imams are infallible.

Now, the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) proclaims that, to save the life of a Muslim, Islamic law permits cannibalizing and taking the organs of “apostates,” who include non-Muslims.

The source of this revolting news is a January 31, 2015 memorandum issued by the ISIL Committee of Research and Fatwas, which was captured by U.S. special forces in Syria in May 2015. The committee reports directly to Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A fatwa is a legal opinion given by a qualified Islamic jurist or mufti on issues pertaining to the Islamic law or sharia. The fatwa in question is Fatwa No. 68.

The news agency Reuters reports on Dec. 25, 2015, that U.S. officials say the document was among a trove of data and other information obtained by U.S. special forces in a raid in eastern Syria in May. The memo does not define “apostate,” though the Islamic State has killed or imprisoned non-Muslims, such as Christians, as well as Muslims who don’t follow Islamic State’s extremist views.

Below is the U.S. government’s translation of the memorandum in its entirety (words in bold are the memo’s; I supplied the dark red color for certain phrases). You can also read the memo for yourself in PDF here.

ISIL COMMITTEE OF RESEARCH AND FATWAS
FATWAS NO. 61, 62, and 64-68

[Page 7 of 9]

The Islamic State
The Research and Fatwa Committee
In the Name of Allah the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
Fatwa Number: 68
Date: 31 JAN 2015

Question: Is it permissible to take the captured apostate’s body organs and give them to Muslims who are in need of them?

There is no doubt that the Muslim hospitals are overwhelmed with diseases that are incurable by doctors and harsh on the patients, such as heart and renal diseases and other fatal or degenerative diseases.

Allah Almighty knows best what is right and what is wrong and there is evidence from texts and Islamic principles and laws supporting the notion that transplanting healthy organs from an apostate’s body into a Muslim’s body in order to save the latter’s life or replace a damaged organ with it is permissible.

Allah Almighty said [TC: Verse 5:32 from the Koran] {if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people}. One notices that the context of this verse is general and covers all scenarios of saving the lives of believers including transplanting organs. Saving a Muslim from death or deterioration is an Islamic legal duty that should be performed with every legitimate way or financial means.

The jurists of the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools and others permitted, when necessary, the killing of the infidel combatant or the apostate should one need to consume their flesh for the purpose of saving his own life. [TC: the author cites texts written by the Imam al-Nawawi, an Islamic scholar, on the legitimacy of killing the infidel fighters and apostates and eating them.]

If the jurists had permitted, when necessary, the consumption of human flesh as a means counter to death or harm, then it is even more appropriate to transplant of organs from the apostate to the Muslim to save the life of the latter. This is especially the case since it was ruled that the apostate’s life and organs are not protected. On the contrary, the apostate’s life and organs don’t have to be respected and may be taken with impunity. Based on aforementioned, the categories of the apostate’s organs are broken down into the following cases:
1-The rule is applicable to organs that could be put to use in both cases–pre and post-mortem.
2-The organs that can only be used pre-mortem, and those are divided into two groups:
a- Organs the removal of which would not be fatal: It is not prohibited to remove this type of organs from a living body as death would defeat the purpose.
b- Organs that end the captive’s life if removed: The removal of that type is also not prohibited, even if it is fatal for the captive. A group of Islamic scholars have permitted, if necessary, one to kill the apostate in order to eat his flesh which is part of benefitting from his body. This encompasses everything that is needed to be taken from the apostate’s body.

The permission to transplant an apostate’s organs into a Muslim’s body facilitates, alleviates, and removes the difficulties endured by Muslims is corroborated by a reason strongly rooted in the pure Sharia. Allah Almighty says [TC: Verses follow from the Koran] {Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties}. He says: {Allah doth wish to lighten your (difficulties): For man was created Weak (in flesh)}. He says: {Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty}. He says: {has imposed no difficulties on you in religion}. Allah Almighty knows best.

Stamp:

stamp of ISIL Committee of Research & Fatwas

The Islamic State
The Caliphate State
The Research and Fatwa Committee

(End of translation)

Reuters claims that although the memo is “raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts,” there is no evidence to support the notion that it has already done so.

However, Iraq has accused Islamic State of harvesting human organs and trafficking them for profit. Iraq’s ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, told Reuters the documents should be examined by the U.N. Security Council as evidence that Islamic State could be trafficking in organs to raise cash.

According to Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, the Special Ops raid in May, which resulted in the death of Islamic State top financial official Abu Sayyaf and the capture of his wife, also netted 7 terabytes of data in the form of computer hard drives, thumb drives, CDs, DVDs and papers. 

See also:

Israel aids Muslim jihadists in Syria with weapons, air strikes, and medical care for the wounded

5 years ago, on December 18, 2010, a popular uprising in Tunisia began a wave of protests, demonstrations, riots and civil wars in the Arab world which the West enthusiastically praised and romanticized by calling the convulsions “Arab Spring.

By the end of February 2012, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings had erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests had broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and Palestine.

Instead of the West’s expectation that the convulsions heralded a springtime for democracy in the Arab world, what resulted was the electoral success of Islamist parties, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. All of which led some to characterize the convulsions as an Islamist Winter.

The on-going civil war in Syria between so-called “Syrian rebels” and the duly elected Ba’athist government of Bashar al-Assad had begun as “Arab Spring” civil uprisings in the spring of 2011.

In 2013, the Obama administration, together with Senate Republicans like John McCain, had agitated for a war to topple Assad. (See “Pulitzer-award journalist says Obama admin made up intelligence for war on Syria“)

Since then, the United States has continued to provide aid in training and weapons to the “Syrian rebels” hellbent on overthrowing the Assad government — the main opponent of ISIS or Islamic State in Syria. (See “CIA expands Obama-approved training of Syrian militants”)

The Obama administration insists that only “moderate” rebels are aided, but it is a known fact that those insurgents include al-Qaeda and ISIS. If Assad is overthrown, the overwhelming likelihood is that Syria will descend into chaos, with the apocalyptic and brutal Islamic State eventually seizing political power. (See “Despite months of U.S. air strikes, ISIS now controls a third of Syria“)

And now, with the Russian and Chinese military aiding Assad, the stakes are raised even higher, transforming Syria into an arena for a WWIII between superpowers.

None of that is in the interests of the United States, or so a rational person would think.

A little-reported and little-publicized fact is that Israel is exacerbating the descent of Syria into chaos by providing so-called Syrian “rebels” with:

1. free medical care to wounded “rebels”

Foreign Policy reports that according to a United Nations report, Syrian “rebels” have transported scores of wounded Syrians across a cease-fire line that has separated Israel from Syria since 1974. Once in Israel, they receive medical treatment in a field clinic before being sent back to Syria to continue their civil war against Assad. 

Daily Mail journalists embedded with Israeli troops report:

Almost every night, Israeli troops run secret missions to save the lives of Syrian fighters, all of whom are sworn enemies of the Jewish state…. Analysts suggest the Jewish state has in fact struck a deadly ‘deal with the devil’ – offering support to the Sunni militants who fight the Syrian ruler Assad in the hope of containing its arch enemies Hezbollah and Iran…. Many of the casualties rescued by Israel belong to Salafist groups …. Some may be members of Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian group affiliated to Al Qaeda that has kidnapped scores of UN peacekeeping troops in this area, and has massacred Christians deeper in Syria…. In the three years that Israel has been running these operations, it has saved the lives of more than 2,000 Syrians – at least 80 per cent of whom are male and of fighting age – at a cost of 50 million shekels (£8.7 million)…. 

2. Weapons

Israel is also providing weapons to those Syrian “rebels”.

The Times of Israel reports that Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, who was arrested on July 22 by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front near the Israeli border, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support.

Safouri can be seen in the video above admitting to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms:

“The [opposition] factions would receive support and send the injured in [to Israel] on condition that the Israeli fence area is secured. No person was allowed to come near the fence without prior coordination with Israel authorities.”

Safouri said that at first he met with an Israeli officer named Ashraf at the border and was given an Israeli cellular phone. He later met with another officer named Younis and with the two men’s commander, Abu Daoud. In total, Safouri said he entered Israel five times for meetings that took place in Tiberias. Following the meetings, Israel began providing Safouri and his men with “basic medical support and clothes” as well as weapons, which included 30 Russian [rifles], 10 RPG launchers with 47 rockets, and 48,000 5.56 millimeter bullets.

3. Bombing Syria

The Guardian reports that the Syrian government claimed that, on Dec. 7, 2015, Israeli jets bombed two installations in Syria, one near the capital, Damascus, and the second in a town near the Lebanese border.

The report by Syrian state television described the attack as “an aggression”. The state news agency Sana said: “The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus international airport.”

No casualties were reported and there was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the country’s civil war through a network of activists on the ground, said the strike near the Damascus airport hit a warehouse, and it was unclear what was in the building. The target of the strikes might have been advanced Russian-made S300 surface-to-air missiles.

The December 7 bombings are not the first Israeli air strikes in Syria. Israel has carried out several air strikes in Syria since the revolt against the Assad government began in March 2011. In June 2015, Israel struck targets inside Syria, including a military installation, following a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli teenager. Israel said at the time that it had struck nine military targets inside Syria and had confirmed “direct hits”.

Why

George Washington writes for ZeroHedge, Dec. 14, 2015, that although Israel claims to be in a mortal struggle with Islamic terrorists, apparently some Islamic terrorists — Sunnis — are better than others.

Michael Stephens, Research Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), explains:

“Above all, Israel wants to prevent Hezbollah from gaining control on the other side of the border. The Sunni militants are fighting Hezbollah, so for now they share the same objectives as Israel. That’s why we’re seeing this odd cooperation between people who would be enemies under any other circumstances.”

Indeed, an Israeli spokesman confirmed that no medical support has been provided to any militants from the Shia (or Shi’ite) alliance.

Kamal Alam, research analyst at RUSI and an expert in Syrian affairs, said:

“From an Israeli viewpoint, it’s a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. There is no one they can trust in the Syrian quagmire, but if you get rid of Hezbollah, that’s the end of Iran in the region. Israel’s main aim has to be to eliminate Hezbollah – and whoever takes on Hezbollah is an uneasy but necessary ally. [But in] giving medical support to these fighters, Israel has done a deal with the devil.

In fact, Israel has made no secret of the fact that it prefers ISIS and Al Qaeda to the Iranian backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. In September 2013, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview:

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc.… 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.

He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

In June 2014, speaking at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren extended Israel’s preference to include the apocalyptic Islamic State or ISIS. He said: “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail.”

Washington’s Blog points out that Israel’s support for al-Qaeda and Islamic State isn’t just about Iran or Shia Muslims. Israel decided long ago to break up Syria and Iraq into numerous mini-states, in part because a compliant government in Syria would allow Israel’s pipelines to win out over competing pipelines.

All of which would explain why, as Reuters puts it, “Israel loses no sleep over Islamic State”. Reuters’ Dimi Reider writes:

At first sight, it seems that Israel is just as preoccupied with the rise of Islamic State as anyone else….

Still, Israel remains the least concerned and least directly threatened country in a region increasingly rocked by Islamic State’s advance. It certainly does not see the group as an external threat. Shocking though the events in Syria and Iraq are, Israel is far beyond the range of even the most sophisticated of Islamic State’s weapons. The group’s immediate territorial interests do not extend to anywhere near Israeli borders, and its support in areas adjacent to Israel is still negligible.  What’s more, unlike many militant groups and states in the region, Islamic State has declared itself emphatically disinterested in intervening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring instead to draw its support from Sunni revanchism and introducing a semblance of order into war-torn regions of Iraq.

Islamic State also does not yet pose an internal threat to Israel. Unlike most countries bordering Syria, Israel has not been politically or demographically unsettled by the civil war there….

Even attempts by Israeli centrists and the U.S. to tie progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the fight against Islamic State have left Israel unmoved…. Israel has been able to extract some short-term gains from unfolding catastrophe. With the West again mobilizing against a radical Islamist group, Netanyahu find himself on the familiar turf of the “war on terror.” He is capitalizing on this by trying to equate Palestinian nationalism — especially the religious wing of it — with Islamic State at every conceivable opportunity….

More shockingly, there are some who say ISIS, which became the Islamic State, was a creation of Israel:

The 97-year-old wire service Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Aug. 13, 2014:

A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry said the jihadist group ISIS was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation.

Yasmina Haifi, a project leader at the ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, made the assertion Wednesday on Twitter, the De Telegraaf daily reported.

“ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name,” wrote Haifi, who described herself on the social network LinkedIn as an activist for the Dutch Labor Party, or PvdA.

Haifi later removed her original message, explaining, “I realize the political sensitivity in connection with my work. That was not my intention.”

Blogger George Washington of ZeroHedge asks: “Perhaps that’s why ISIS, Al Nusra and the other Islamic terrorists in Syria haven’t tried to lay a glove on Israel?” He points out the following disturbing facts:

Writing for Consortiumnews.com, Robert Parry warns:

The Saudi-Israeli alliance has gone on the offensive, ramping up a “regime change” war in Syria and, in effect, promoting a military victory for Al-Qaeda or its spinoff, the Islamic State. But the consequences of that victory could toll the final bell for the American Republic….

As much fun as the “who lost Syria” finger-pointing would be, it would soon give way to the horror of what would likely unfold in Syria with either Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front or the spin-off Islamic State in charge – or possibly a coalition of the two with Al-Qaeda using its new base to plot terror attacks on the West while the Islamic State engaged in its favorite pastime, those YouTube decapitations of infidels….

Such a spectacle would be hard for the world to watch and there would be demands on President Obama or his successor to “do something.” But realistic options would be few, with a shattered and scattered Syrian army no longer a viable force capable of driving the terrorists from power.

The remaining option would be to send in the American military, perhaps with some European allies, to try to dislodge Al-Qaeda and/or the Islamic State. But the prospects for success would be slim. The goal of conquering Syria – and possibly re-conquering much of Iraq as well – would be costly, bloody and almost certainly futile.

The further diversion of resources and manpower from America’s domestic needs also would fuel the growing social discontent in major U.S. cities…. A new war in the Middle East would accelerate America’s descent into bankruptcy and a dystopian police state.

The last embers of the American Republic would fade. In its place would be endless war and a single-minded devotion to security. The National Security Agency already has in place the surveillance capabilities to ensure that any civil resistance could be thwarted.

See also:

-StMA

50+ U.S. intelligence analysts accuse Pentagon of altering their reports to present distorted rosy view of war against ISIS

Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of Centcom

Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef report for The Daily Beast, Sept 9, 2015, that more than 50 intelligence analysts of the U.S. military’s Central Command (Centcom) formally complained that their reports on ISIS/Islamic State and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being altered by senior officials to present the terrorist groups as weaker than the analysts had portrayed.

The analysts are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy. Assigned to work at Centcom and the U.S. military’s command for the Middle East and Central Asia, they are officially employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Ironically, the DIA was created to be immune from the pressures and biases of the officers leading the war, but the agency is supervised by officers at Centcom.

The analysts’ complaints prompted the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence.

The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command, charged with the war against the Islamic State, assesses intelligence. One defense official called it a “cancer…within the senior level of the intelligence command.”

In July 2015, two senior analysts at Centcom signed a written complaint to the Defense Department inspector general alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by Centcom higher-ups to adhere to the Obama administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

In recent months, members of the Obama administration have sought to paint the fight against ISIS in rosy hues—despite the latter’s seizure of major cities like Mosul and Fallujah. As examples:

  • In March, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “I am confident that over time, we will beat, we will, indeed, degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” the Obama administration’s preferred acronym for the group.
  • Obama said in May, “No, I don’t think we’re losing.”
  • In July, John Allen, the retired Marine general charged with coordinating the ISIS campaign, outright declared, “ISIS is losing.”

The written complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, who are willing and able to back up the substance of the allegations with concrete examples. Some of the analysts had complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

The allegations echoed previous charges that political appointees and senior officials cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons program in 2002 and 2003.

Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a “revolt” by intelligence professionals. The analysts accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress. The analysts take a more pessimistic view about how military efforts to destroy the groups are going.

The complaints allege that in some cases key elements of intelligence reports were removed, resulting in a document that didn’t accurately capture the analysts’ conclusions. The complaints also accuse some senior leaders at CENTCOM of creating a “Stalinist” unprofessional work environment. Many described a climate in which analysts felt they could not give a candid assessment of the situation in Iraq and Syria. Some felt it was a product of commanders protecting their career advancement by putting the best spin on the war.

Reports by analysts which were too negative in their assessment of the war were sent back down the chain of the command or not shared up the chain. Others, aware of “the climate around them,” censored themselves so that their reports affirmed already-held beliefs.

Two of the officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said that analysts began airing their complaints last October in an effort to address the issue internally and only went to the inspector general when that effort failed. Some of those who complained were urged to retire; some agreed to leave.

Yet a growing group of intelligence analysts persisted with their complaints. For some, who have served at CENTCOM for more than a decade, scars remained from the run-up to the 2003 war in Iraq, when poorly written intelligence reports suggesting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, when it did not, formed the basis of the George W. Bush administration’s case for war.

According to a report by the New York Times on Sept. 15, 2015, it is highly unusual that an investigation would be opened about the intelligence conclusions in an ongoing war.

The Pentagon’s inspector general is focusing on senior intelligence officials who supervise dozens of military and civilian analysts at Centcom, which oversees American military operations against ISIS. Bridget Serchak, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s inspector general, said in an email, “The investigation will address whether there was any falsification, distortion, delay, suppression or improper modification of intelligence information,” as well as examine any “personal accountability for any misconduct or failure to follow established processes.”

Russian intelligence says ISIS and Taliban amassing on Afghan border for invasion of Central Asia

ISIS to invade Central Asia

Nick Gutteridge reports for the UK Express, that Russian intelligence claims that huge numbers of Islamist fighters — ISIS and Taliban — are massing on Afghanistan’s northern border, ready for an invasion of central Asia.

Speaking at a meeting of special services from the Commonwealth of Independent States, Moscow’s spy chief Alexander Bortnikov warned that heavily-armed Taliban fighters, many of whom have pledged allegiance to ISIS or the Islamic State, are prepared to pass through porous border controls.

Bortnikov said:

“The international community has now hit a new geopolitical challenge, an international criminal group in the name of the Islamic State. This project, which grew out of the ‘Arab Spring,’ has gained momentum thanks to the double standards of certain world regional powers by using ‘a terrorist battering ram’ to reach their own strategic goals in Asia and Africa.

According to our estimates, citizens from more than 100 countries are currently fighting in the ranks of terrorist structures and the recruits constitute up to 40 percent of their forces.

The escalation in tensions in Afghanistan has brought on serious dangers. There are numerous criminal groups included in the Taliban movement on the northern borders of this country right now. Some of them have also begun operating under the Islamic State flag, which has led to a sharp rise in the threat of terrorists invading Central Asia.

After being pegged back in Syria by Russian airstrikes, with its economy is ailing and its command structure close to collapse, the Islamic State could be trying to open up a new front to the north of its territories by invading the former Soviet states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in Central Asia, which are still beholden to Moscow. The jihadists would also secure control of lucrative drug trafficking routes taking raw opium from Afghanistan to be sold as heroin on the streets of Russia and Europe.

ISIS has been looking to grow its presence in Asia and has active cells in India, Pakistan and Malaysia. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month called the situation in Afghanistan “close to critical” and called on other ex-Soviet nations to be prepared to act together to repel a possible attack by ISIS. 

H/t Joseph F.

-StMA

Chinese military joins Russia in Syria

“The board is set . . . the pieces are moving.” -Gandalf, Lord the Rings: The Return of the King

According to The New York Times and FT, in addition to nine T-90 tanks and more than 500 marines for possible ground attacks, Russia is building up its air base near the port city of Latakia in Syria with some of its most advanced ground attack planes and fighter jets, and 2,000 troops as the “first phase” of its mission to shore up the Assad government. The planes are protected by at least two or possibly three SA-22 surface-to-air, antiaircraft systems, and unarmed Predator-like surveillance drones are being used to fly reconnaissance missions.

Russian air base near Latakia, Syria

Now, China is entering the fray.

The pro-Assad Al-Masdar (The Arab Source) reports on Sept. 23, 2015:

[T]he Russians appear to have a contingency that involves another world power that was absent from the U.S. led Anti-ISIS Coalition: China.

On Tuesday morning, a Chinese naval vessel reportedly traveled through Egypt’s Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean Sea; its destination was not confirmed.

However, according to a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that is stationed inside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, Chinese military personnel and aerial assets are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks (6 weeks) to the port-city of Tartous – he could not provide anymore detail.

Russia has made it abundantly clear that they are taking an active role in this conflict, but the news of the Chinese military to Syria provides more insight into their contingency.

It appears that Russia is not going to combat ISIS alone: the plan is similar to the U.S.’ idea of a “coalition” of air forces, but far more involved on the ground; this is something the U.S. and their allies have avoided since the inception of their war against ISIS.

Despite all of this, Russia and the U.S. appear to be at it again; however, this is no space or arms race, they are actively flexing their muscles through their proxies (U.S.: rebels and Russia: Syrian Army).

Map of Syria - Latakia and Tartus

ZeroHedge reminds us that it is not as if China had not given sufficient warning: “This comes two years after China warned that turmoil in Syria could have negative implications for the global economy and 18 months after Beijing, along with Moscow, used their security council vetoes to undercut a UN resolution calling for the crisis in Syria to be referred to the Hague.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on Sept. 21 that “Russia and Iran have stepped up coordination inside Syria as they move to safeguard President Bashar al-Assad’s control over his coastal stronghold, according to officials in the U.S. and Middle East, creating a new complication for Washington’s diplomatic goals.”

-StMA

Russian tanks in Syria

T-90 tank

T-90 tank

James Dunn reports for the Daily Mail, Sept. 14, 2015, that according to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis, seven Russian T-90 tanks and heavy artillery have been spotted on an airfield near the town of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

map of Syria with Latakia

Davis said, “We have seen movement of people and things that would indicate that they plan to use that base there, south of Latakia, as a forward air operating base.

It’s previously been reported that Russia had deployed about 200 naval infantry forces to the airfield. Moscow has also been sending about two cargo flights a day to the airfield over the past week, US officials say.

Moscow has come under increased international pressure in recent days to explain what Washington and Gulf states say is a significant Russian military build-up in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting Assad in a four-and-a-half-year war. Russia has said it will continue with military supplies to Syria and that its assistance to the Syrian army is in line with international law.

The military presence of Russia adds complications to the situation for the United States, which is using Syrian air space to lead a campaign of air-strikes against Islamic State.

See also:

-StMA