Saturday, January 11, 2014

Passenger - Let Her Go

British politicians and generals targeted in Iraq abuse case

Army chief General Sir Peter Wall and Geoff Hoon, ex-defence secretary, among those named at international criminal court
The government has insisted it will fight a bid to trigger prosecutions of former British ministers and senior military figures over alleged war crimes in Iraq. A complaint filed with the international criminal court (ICC) accuses British forces of abusing and killing detainees in their custody. The head of the army, General Sir Peter Wall, ex-defence secretary Geoff Hoon and former defence minister Adam Ingram are among those named in the 250-page dossier, according to the Independent on Sunday. Human rights lawyers have drawn on the cases of more than 400 Iraqis, arguing they represent "thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment". They describe incidents ranging from "hooding" prisoners to burning, electric shocks, threats to kill and "cultural and religious humiliation". Other forms of alleged abuse between 2003 and 2008 include sexual assault, mock executions, and threats of rape, death, and torture. The formal complaint to the ICC was lodged on Saturday by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). It calls for an investigation into the alleged war crimes under Article 15 of the Rome statute. The dossier says "those who bear the greatest responsibility" for alleged war crimes "include individuals at the highest levels" of the British army and political system. UK military commanders "knew or should have known" that forces under their control "were committing or about to commit war crimes". It goes on to say that "civilian superiors knew or consciously disregarded information at their disposal, which clearly indicated that UK services personnel were committing war crimes in Iraq". The Ministry of Defence insisted all the issues had already been examined or were being examined in Brtain. "These matters are either under thorough investigation or have been dealt with through various means including through the Iraq historic allegations team, independent public inquiries, the UK and European courts and in parliament," a spokesman said. "As such, further action through the ICC is unnecessary when the issues and allegations are already known to the UK government, action is in hand and the UK courts have already issued judgments. "Should we be approached by the ICC, we will take the opportunity to explain the very extensive work under way to deal with historic allegations of abuse. "We reject the suggestion that the UK's armed forces – who operate in line with domestic and international law – have systematically tortured detainees. But of course the UK government regrets the small number of cases where abuses have taken place. "Wherever allegations have been substantiated we have compensated victims and their families." Lawyers at the Berlin-based ECCHR have been litigating against American military and civilian officials over alleged illegal interrogation policies on behalf of Iraqi and Guantánamo detainees who suffered torture and other crimes while in US detention. PIL is acting for more than 1,069 former detainees and surviving relatives who allege they or their family members were unlawfully detained, tortured or killed by UK service personnel in Iraq. The firm represented the family of Baha Mousa and is also representing alleged victims of mistreatment in Iraq at the long-running Al-Sweady inquiry into incidents after the Battle of Danny Boy in southern Iraq in May 2004. It has also been behind attempts to force the government to hold a wider inquiry into general allegations of unlawful killing and abuse by UK troops. In 2013 high court judges said a "new approach" was required relating to the government's inquiry into the allegations, which is currently being carried out by the independent Iraq historic allegations team (Ihat). In May the judges called for mini-inquiries, akin to inquests, to take place in possibly scores of cases to fulfil the requirements of Article 2, which relates to the obligation to investigate suspicious deaths involving the state. The judges were told that there might be as many as 150-160 cases involving deaths, as well as 700-800 involving mistreatment of civilians in breach of Article 3 of the European convention on human rights, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment.

In Scandal, Turkey’s Leaders May Be Losing Their Tight Grip on News Media

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has labeled an investigative reporter who has published a number of leaked documents related to a widening corruption scandal a traitor. Mr. Erdogan’s lawyers have also filed suit against a newspaper columnist, once a reliable supporter of the prime minister, for his critical Twitter messages.
As the government has sought to purge the police force of officers involved in the corruption investigation, it has also gone after the news media, barring reporters from police departments and some critical journalists from traveling overseas with Mr. Erdogan. Yet none of these heavy-handed tactics has stanched the flow of leaks, including the publication, in some newspapers and on Twitter, of a document that was said to be a summons for Mr. Erdogan’s son to appear for questioning, and reports on the discovery of $4.5 million in cash stuffed in shoe boxes at the home of a director of a state bank.
The constant public disclosures, mostly through fragments of investigatory files, have shocked many Turks accustomed to living under a government known for its ability to control the news media and silence dissent.
“We would never have expected anything like this,” said Numar Baki, a waiter at an Istanbul cafe, referring to the public nature of the scandal.
It is perhaps another sign, along with the resignations of several party officials and cabinet ministers, of what some analysts see as the slow erosion of what had been Mr. Erdogan’s iron grip on all levels of power within Turkish society.
Under Mr. Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has gained a reputation for harassing and intimidating the news media. More journalists are in jail in Turkey than anywhere else in the world, including China and Iran. The close relationship between Mr. Erdogan’s government and news media bosses has often meant that journalists need to toe the government line if they are to keep their jobs. Many have not, however, and perhaps a greater hallmark of Mr. Erdogan’s treatment of the news media is not the number of journalists in jail but the number who have lost their jobs because of government pressure. During protests last spring and summer, for instance, nearly five dozen journalists were fired, according to one tally released by the main opposition party. But amid the current scandal, there are signs that Mr. Erdogan’s grip on the news media is slipping — or at least his ability to control the conversation — even as much of the mainstream news media continue to back the government.
In Turkey as elsewhere in the Middle East, the explosion of Internet-based media outlets has surpassed the ability of the government to control information completely. When Nazli Ilicak, a longtime journalist here, lost her job recently at the pro-government newspaper Sabah after emerging as a strong voice against the government’s handling of the corruption inquiry, she said she would simply keep up her criticism on Twitter and on independent websites.
“I have 500,000 followers,” she said in a recent television appearance. “That’s more than Sabah’s circulation.”
Meanwhile, a segment of the news media that at one time was seen as a reliable supporter of the government has turned on Mr. Erdogan. Followers of the Muslim spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, have over the years secured top positions in the judiciary and the police and are said to be leading the corruption investigation. Several news media outlets are also affiliated with Mr. Gulen, and their coverage has been the most aggressive. Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Gulen had once been partners in an Islamist political alliance, and together they pushed the military from its dominant position in politics through several trials on charges of coup plotting. Those prosecutions were led by the Gulenists, and the Gulen-affiliated news outlets were the biggest cheerleaders for the cases. Now that same judiciary is targeting Mr. Erdogan. The coverage of the corruption scandal showed no signs of abating on Saturday, with thousands protesting Mr. Erdogan and his ruling party in Ankara, the Turkish capital. News reports showed labor unionists holding signs saying, “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism” and “This is just the beginning. The struggle continues” — slogans like those raised during the antigovernment protests last May and June. Only a few miles away, in Parliament, lawmakers threw fists, kicks, water bottles, handbags and at least one laptop at one another as they argued over a bill that would allow the government to gain more power over the judiciary. Video on CNN Turk showed men in suits stepping on chairs and tables and yelling. One opposition lawmaker was treated at a hospital after a tablet computer was thrown at his head, and the president of a judges’ association was kicked by a lawmaker from the governing party, CNN Turk reported. One columnist, Mahir Zeynalov, who writes for Today’s Zaman, an English-language daily affiliated with the Gulen movement, was recently sued by Mr. Erdogan for posts on Twitter that according to the complaint, “committed a crime by exceeding the limit of criticism.” Mr. Zeynalov’s posts, though, have been mostly about news events and the corruption investigation, and it was unclear what the prime minister had found offensive. “I think I should only tweet about penguins from now on,” Mr. Zeynalov wrote on Twitter after the case was filed, referring to some television channels’ practice of broadcasting a documentary about penguins last spring rather than reporting on the antigovernment protests. So even as the flow of leaks seems beyond Mr. Erdogan’s control, the government is doing its best to make life difficult for journalists reporting aggressively on the corruption allegations. During the long-running military trials, known as the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials, many of the most arresting details were reported by Mehmet Baransu, of the left-leaning daily Taraf. Mr. Baransu, the investigative reporter in this drama, has published leaked documents and incriminating photographs of officials accepting bribes. He said he believed he was being closely monitored by the government, which has blocked his website.
“My phone is being tapped,” he said, “but I don’t care.”
Mr. Baransu said he was barred from appearing on the talk shows of many channels, and he criticized the mainstream news media for their soft coverage and failure to question Mr. Erdogan’s contention that the corruption investigation was the work of foreign conspirators.
“Erdogan wants to show that this is a conspiracy, that the United States and Israel are behind it,” he said. “Under no circumstances does he want to talk about corruption.
“No one on TV is asking: ‘Who put the money in the shoe boxes? Was it the C.I.A.?’ No one is asking these questions.” For a long time he was assigned two police officers as security because he had faced a number of death threats. But recently, he said, the security was pulled, and he was told that two officers working from a station on the Asian side of Istanbul would be on standby. He lives and works on the European side.
“It’s really a difficult time right now, because the prime minister has publicly called me a traitor,” he said. But “more documents will come out, and we will keep writing about it.”

Saudi Arabia: A Retrograde Rentier Dictatorship and Global Terrorism

by James Petras
Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela. The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents. Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over. The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection. The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family. The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.
Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides: overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers. In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.
The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials. Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983-2005). Between 2005-2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency. Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working in liaison with the CIA. Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channelled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua. During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon. Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act. US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.
With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.
Bandar’s Terror Network
Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of right-wing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military intervenor in the Gulf region (Bahrain). Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups. Bandar is a “pragmatic” terrorist operator: repressing Al Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an ‘independent course’ where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge from those of the US. In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relation with the Netanyahu regime, around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rohani regime. Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.
North Africa: Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Egypt
Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the right-wing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition. Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt. Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war. However divergences emerged in the aftermath: the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pat’s faced off against Saudi backed Al Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders. Bandar funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime. The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi. Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets. They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control. In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi. Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi. The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged. With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals. None were taken of any consequences. The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders. It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power. In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism. He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime. Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future. The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection. Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened Gulf State unity: Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime. Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere. Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria. Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds. Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. Bandar financed the major ‘rebel’ Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations. With Hezbollah supporting Assad, Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli. Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah. In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorist, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran. For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran. Teheran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive. Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy then reality.
Bandar Diverges from Washington: the Offensive in Iraq and Iran
Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington. This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief: a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract “favors” for his services, especially when those “favors” enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure. Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points. As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi ‘royalty’ with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing. While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy. He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives. While the US is committed to backing the right-wing Maliki regime in Iraq, Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support. Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran. Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.
Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers. His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influence have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures.” He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick: a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechen terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics. He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting ‘moderate’ armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, a terrorist Al Qaeda affiliate. Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon.
Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a ‘negotiated departure’. Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudi’s expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom. The only region where the Saudi’s have exercised direct military intervention is in the Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.
Bandar: Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations
Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence. All to the worst. Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime. Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shia regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms. What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity. Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.
The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rule. They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca, and the Holy sites. So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle. He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents, and other respectable notables to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot. Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles. They worry that Saudis trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists — dubbed as “holy warriors” — may return from Syria, Russia, and Iraq and bomb the King’s palaces. Moreover, oversea regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate: Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation. Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels. Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy. It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces. The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain. While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing. While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.
Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal. One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.
In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism. Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden. That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!

The corruption of Britain: UK’s key institutions infiltrated by criminals
The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent
In 2003 Operation Tiberius found that men suspected of being Britain’s most notorious criminals had compromised multiple agencies, including HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the City of London Police and the Prison Service, as well as pillars of the criminal justice system including juries and the legal profession. The strategic intelligence scoping exercise – “ratified by the most senior management” at the Met – uncovered jurors being bought off or threatened to return not-guilty verdicts; corrupt individuals working for HMRC, both in the UK and overseas; and “get out of jail free cards” being bought for £50,000. The report states that the infiltration made it almost impossible for police and prosecutors to successfully pursue the organised gangs that police suspected controlled much of the criminal underworld. The author of Tiberius, which was compiled from intelligence sources including covert police informants, live telephone intercepts, briefings from the security services and thousands of historical files, came to the desperate conclusion: “Quite how much more damage could be done is difficult to imagine.” The fresh revelations come a day after The Independent revealed that Tiberius had concluded the Metropolitan Police suffered “endemic police corruption” at the time, and that some of Britain’s most dangerous organised crime syndicates were able to infiltrate New Scotland Yard “at will”. In its conclusions, the report stated: “The true assessment of the damage caused by these corrupt networks is impossible to make at this stage, until further proactive scoping has been undertaken. “However a statement by an experienced SIO [senior investigating officer] currently attached to SO 1(3) gives some indication of the depth of the problem in east and north-east London: ‘I feel that at the current time I cannot carry out an ethical murder investigation without the fear of it being compromised.’ “The ramifications of this statement are serious and disturbing and provide a snapshot of the current threat to the criminal justice system. Additionally the fact that none of these syndicates have been seriously disrupted over the last five years provides an insight into the effectiveness of their networks.” In one case identified by Tiberius, a leading criminal was acquitted of importing cannabis after he allegedly “bought” members of the jury hearing his case. A named police officer “was involved in some way or another”, according to the report. Tiberius also revealed the Met was concerned at the time with a national newspaper story on the ability of the Adams family to escape the law by penetrating the criminal justice system. In 1998, police appeared to have finally made a breakthrough when Tommy Adams was jailed for more than seven years for importing cannabis. However, the article cited by Tiberius stated that the “only reason the Adams family had allowed the prosecution to succeed and had not resorted to bribery or intimidation to thwart it, was because the other brothers wanted to teach Tommy a lesson for getting involved in crimes they had not authorised”. The article concluded: “Witnesses terrified into silence, dodgy jurors, bent lawyers, bent policemen and bent CPS clerks – all are part of the same cancer eating away at justice. A cure for the malady will not be easy to come by. Perhaps we should begin by acknowledging that the patient is sick.” Tiberius disclosed that the Met interviewed the journalist who wrote the story after the murder of Solly Nahome, a Jewish money launderer credited as the “brains” behind the Adams’ criminal empire. The reporter stated one of her journalistic sources on the family was a corrupt police officer but did not disclose who it was. Another case of corruption beyond the Met, identified by Tiberius, included intelligence of alleged foul play within HMRC, which is supposed to lead the UK’s fight against white-collar crime such as money laundering.
In 2000, according to Tiberius, a key police informant was secretly helping Scotland Yard with an investigation into the importation of £10m of heroin by a Turkish gang in north London.
The deal went wrong, the informant was tortured in a cellar and “an attempt was made to sever his fingers with a pair of garden shears”. His associate was also attacked and had “three fingers chopped off with a machete”. The henchman Tiberius alleged had committed the assaults was the son of a named Met detective, who repeatedly tried to impede police inquiries into the case, according to Tiberius. He also had a corrupt relationship with a named detective sergeant then based in Marylebone police station who is suspected to have “organised cheque frauds”. Research conducted by The Independent suggests that none of the three men has ever been prosecuted.
The Turkish drug dealer was later convicted and told police he was an HMRC informant. He said he knew of “corrupt contacts within the police” and had a Cyprus-based customs officer as a handler who “took money off him”.
Alastair Morgan, whose brother Daniel was murdered in 1987 before he could expose links between Met officers and organised crime, told The Independent: “Despite all the protestations by police that things have changed since the ‘bad old days’, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. “The police have no desire to tackle this. It would be too damaging to have it all aired in open court. The Met is a highly political organisation.”
Scotland Yard said: “[We] will not tolerate any behaviour by our officers and staff which could damage the trust placed in police by the public. We are determined to pursue corruption in all its forms and with all possible vigour. All such allegations and intelligence are taken extremely seriously.”

Who was Ariel Sharon?

Ariel Sharon's brilliant moves and disastrous mistakes

If you can define Ariel Sharon's legacy in one line, citing just one of his dramatic actions, then you have missed most of the man.
The former Israeli prime minister led a life that looks much like the history of his country, filled with trauma, heartbreak, creativity, bloodshed and transformation. He aroused intense hatred from his enemies and profound admiration from his followers. He had strong opinions, took bold, risky actions. He made brilliant moves and disastrous mistakes. Sharon stood at the center of the greatest disputes, the most feverish controversies in the country's history. And then he stunned the world with a radical change of heart.
The brazen right-wing hardliner remains a target of hatred for many in the Arab world. And yet, when he suffered a devastating stroke in 2006, he had undergone a breathtaking political conversion. Once a major proponent of the plan to build Jewish settlements in territories captured during the 1967 Six Day War, he had decided it was time for Israel to withdraw from much of the territory.
As he told the New York Times' William Safire in 2004, he didn't believe the Palestinian leaders would respect a peace agreement, but he didn't want Israel to rule over millions of Palestinians. So, he said, "I discussed this between me and myself and came up with a new initiative." Initially, nobody liked his idea very much. "In Israel, the right does not like me to do it, and the left cannot do it," he said, "but you don't wait forever."
Despite bitter protests from his former allies and stiff resistance from the settlers, he carried out the "Disengagement" in 2005, removing every single settler and every Israeli soldier from the Gaza Strip. And he cryptically spoke of more "painful compromises" to come. "We yearn for peace with our neighbors," he said to Israelis, "even at the price of painful concessions." There is every reason to believe he was preparing to withdraw Israeli settlements from much of the West Bank, as well. Had Sharon stayed in office, the Israel-Palestinian conflict would look very different today.
Sharon embodied the Israeli dilemma of how to obtain peace while maintaining security. As he had predicted years earlier, the withdrawal from Gaza ultimately turned the territory into a launching pad for attacks against Israeli towns. And yet, few Israelis wish their country still occupied the Strip. The larger-than-life prime minister helped his country survive in a deeply hostile region, where Israel's neighbors made it clear from the day the state was founded that they would find it the happiest of outcomes if the Jewish state would cease to exist. But he also drove Israel into terrible quagmires. Barely 20 years old in 1948, he sustained multiple injuries fighting in a war against half a dozen Arab countries, which attacked the moment Israel declared its independence. In 1973, when Egyptian and Syrian armies crossed into Israel on Yom Kippur, while much of the country was fasting for the calendar's holiest day, Israel appeared at risk of falling. Egyptian forces were headed for Tel Aviv. It was Sharon who devised and executed a plan to cross the Suez Canal, cut off and encircle part of the Egyptian army, a plan that helped Israel win the war and pave the road to peace. He suffered head injuries in battle but kept on fighting. Pictures of Sharon with his head bandaged while winning the war became iconic, a metaphor for a country battered, creative, resilient. He was the defense minister who carried out the withdrawal of all Israelis, including settlers, from the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for peace with Egypt. The darkest, most destructive chapter in Sharon's life unfolded in Lebanon in 1982 when he was defense minister. It is by that chapter that most Arabs remember him. Back then, Israeli civilians were coming under constant attack from the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO, which had become a state-within-a state inside Lebanon. Sharon launched an invasion to remove the PLO, allying Israeli forces with Lebanon's Christian militias, the Phalangists. Israeli forces allowed Phalangist fighters to enter the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut to clear out Palestinian militias. Instead, the Phalangists committed horrific massacres of civilians. Contrary to what many believe, Sharon had no knowledge that the massacres would occur. An Israeli commission of inquiry found that despite previous excesses by the Christian militias, Israel had concluded that Phalangist forces had reached a stage of maturity that would "ensure that such actions would not repeat themselves." Given the sectarian passions, it was reckless to allow the Christian militias into the camp.
The Israeli inquiry headed by the country's President of the Supreme Court, the Kahan Commission, found Sharon bore "personal responsibility" and recommended his removal from office. Israelis were seething at him and their government. He rejected the charges and refused to step down. Israeli peace activists launched protests to push for his removal. When a hand grenade was detonated in one demonstration, killing an Israeli protester, Sharon finally stepped down. Eventually, Sharon rose again.
He had never cared much what people thought about him and was never one to follow ideological fashion. That was probably a result of his childhood. When he was born in 1928, his parents had settled in a socialist farming community, but rejected their neighbors' views on communal living. Sharon and his family were outsiders in their own home. He learned to think for himself and follow his instincts rather than the crowd.
He had reached the height of his career in 2006 when it suddenly ended from a massive stroke that put him in a coma.
Before his illness, Sharon had found a new path. He broke with his rightist party, the Likud, in a rift that put him on the opposite side of other hardline stalwarts such as today's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sharon created the Kadima (forward) party ahead of elections he was poised to win in a landslide. When he was incapacitated, Kadima won. His deputy Ehud Olmert became prime minister and carried on with peace talks, which ultimately foundered. Sharon had hand-picked Tzipi Livni to join him in Kadima. She is now a leading advocate of concessions for peace and member of Israel's negotiating team. Despite his missteps, Israelis trusted Sharon as a strong defender of their security. That meant that when he was prepared to take risks for peace, they were ready to join him. That's why he won elections while vowing to undertake "painful compromises." That's why it was so demoralizing when he suddenly left the stage. Israelis, including Netanyahu, know that peace will not be possible without some risk-taking. The question is the extent of the danger they are prepared to accept. His life showed the complex link between security, peace and politics. And he showed once again that it is often the fiercest warriors who take risks for peace. It was another Israeli right-wing leader, Menachem Begin, who made peace with Egypt. It was Yitzhak Rabin, a respected general, who shook hands with Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.
It was Sharon, an architect of the settler movement, who said settlements had to be removed. He left a complicated legacy, defending his country from those who would destroy it, and taking on those who disagreed with his controversial views at home.

UK politicians accused of Iraq war crimes

Groups ask ICC to open cases against former defence and interior ministers after compiling 400 torture claims.
The International Criminal Court has been asked to investigate the actions of former members of the British cabinet and troops over allegations of "systematic torture" in Iraq.
The European Centre for Constitutional Human Rights, based in Germany, and the Public Interest Lawyers firm, based in England, said in a statement that they had jointly filed a complaint to the ICC. The complaint called for the "opening of an investigation" into the actions of senior British officials "in particular the former minister of defence Geoff Hoon and secretary of state, Adam Ingram, for systematic torture and abuse of prisoners in Iraq between 2003 and 2008." More than 400 Iraqi prisoners have contacted PIL in the past few years, alleging "serious abuse and humiliation" on the part of British soldiers, the two organisations said.
"Our legal team has exhausted all legal avenues" to obtain justice in Britain, said Phil Shiner, a public interest lawyer.
A 250-page document was handed over to the ICC, comprising 85 particularly representative cases and more than 2,000 accusations of abuse documented over five years, said the two organisations. A similar complaint to the ICC failed in 2006. However, "eight years later, it is evident that a thorough investigation was and is remains necessary," read the joint statement. Serious violations of the Geneva Convention which protects prisoners of war from abuse may constitute a war crime.
According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the British ministry of defence admitted "isolated cases" of abuse by British soldiers in Iraq, but denied anything systemic.

President Obama's Weekly Address: Ensuring 2014 is a Year of Action to Grow the Economy

Watch Barack Obama 'Sing' Lady Gaga's 'Do What U Want'

If President Barack Obama is interested in pursuing a career in music after his term is over, he might just be an absolute shoe-in for becoming a pop star. At least, if this new music video from baracksdubs, the people who turn media into music, is anything to judge by. Their latest work above has President Obama 'singing' Lady Gaga's hit song "What Do U Want" like a total presidential pro. Go ahead and click play to take a listen.

Ex-Israel PM Ariel Sharon dies

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon died at a hospital near Tel Aviv on Saturday, aged of 85, after spending eight years in a coma, Israeli media said. There was no immediate confirmation from Sheba hospital, where he was being treated, with a spokesman announcing a statement would be given at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT).

War In Afghanistan: ‘Humanitarianism is as culpable as war’

In October 2001, when bombs started dropping in Afghanistan, the military also dropped aid packages, and humanitarianism as a concept died during that mash-up between aid and the military, says anthropologist Anila Daulatzai
Anthropologist Anila Daulatzai did research, as part of her doctoral training at Johns Hopkins University, on the “Ethnography of Widowhood and Care in Kabul.” She is currently writing a book based on her doctoral dissertation: “War and What Remains: Everyday Life in Contemporary Kabul, Afghanistan.” Here are excerpts from an interview given to Meena Menon on her work, life in Kabul, the lives of Afghans disrupted by serial wars, occupations, and foreign-funded, agenda-driven aid programmes.
What made you choose Afghanistan as a research site?
I wanted to understand and carefully document what serial war had done to Afghans. I felt the discipline of anthropology was the most suitable for this task. I was born and raised in the U.S. and my family hails from Pakistan. These two countries have systematically created the conditions that constitute, and destroyed, contemporary Afghanistan. I thought that I should systematically study war and the work of war. The first time I went to Afghanistan to conduct anthropological research was in 2003. I went back in 2006 and stayed (off and on) until 2011, which required me to change my entire life, really.
How did you go about your research, and what were your experiences in Kabul?
I first thought of the daily life of Afghans, what they do, where they go and where I would find a lot of widows congregating. I heard of a widow bakery project run by the World Food Programme. I wanted to work there. It took about six months to get permissions. They asked me, “so you are going to be like these embedded reporters in war zones?” They didn’t know what an anthropologist was. They knew aid workers and journalists. With the widows I worked with, it also took me some time to explain that I was not part of the international aid industry.
Apart from the bakery, there were several sites where I met widows. One was on the streets — women claiming that they are widows and asking for alms. I would be chasing cars in the main streets of Kabul asking people why they gave. People would say, “she’s a widow, it’s not my duty to find out if she really is, but if she claims that, it is our Islamic duty to give.” I found in Kabul that widowhood has a certain social currency because people understand that there are so many of them, and the state has not been able to provide for them. Even some women who weren’t widows had a reason for wanting to present themselves as widows. I also did participant observation at the monthly distribution sites of rations for widows.
Why were widows your main focus and what did you find or learn, and how did it epitomise the war experience?
I wanted to trace what war had done to the Afghan family by studying widows. Customarily, they would be remarried to a brother-in-law — but that is rare now. Families no longer have the means to fulfil such obligations. I found many widows living by themselves, and houses where several lived together. There is even a place in Kabul known by name as the place women, mostly widows, live there. Also, I focussed on widows because you can’t talk about the war without investigating humanitarian practices in Afghanistan. You bomb a country, make many widows and then you take care of them — this is what renowned anthropologist Talal Asad describes as the cruelty and compassion of the liberal state.
What surprised you in your research?
In October 2001, when bombs started dropping, the military also dropped aid packages. Humanitarianism as a concept died during that mash-up between aid and the military. The military builds schools so they look like humanitarians. Meanwhile, humanitarian organisations were more interested in keeping the donor money flowing than serving the Afghan people, though there were some exceptions.
I came to realise to what extent neo-liberal agendas are part of the aid industry, and thus also of the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Neo-liberal agendas are fundamentally changing what it means to be a widow. Afghans would suddenly say things to widows like, “why don’t they go and work?” I had never seen this before in Afghanistan. It is because programmes for gender-mainstreaming were focussed on jobs. The only concept of helping widows was making them work. Of course there were widows who wanted to work, saying it kept them busy, etc. But if this is the only form of care you are going to get, it fundamentally alters so much, and it’s ultimately a neo-liberal, neoconservative agenda — while social institutions like Islamic charity are being rendered irrelevant and/or suspect. In America, it’s greatly problematic and everywhere else too, but here is a country that has been subjected to serial war. There are ultimately very few programmes that reflect any understanding of how to implement projects to people who have been subjected to serial war, and that coincide with sensibilities of people who consider themselves to be Muslims.
Donors insist that in order to improve the country, Afghans need to be productive in a market economy — but wouldn’t it be more productive if there was no war? You are telling Afghans to be productive as if they wouldn’t know how to. They have survived and managed against all odds, which I would certainly consider productive (many people in other parts of the world would not be able to manage or even relate to this).
Aid workers are implementing a five-million dollar gender programme but unable to meet Afghan women — other than the woman who serves tea, due to security protocols. Many international aid organisations wanted to primarily employ women, even if less qualified, to encourage gender equality. Yet, for an Afghan woman to work in an office staffed with males sparked suspicion and created tensions in many families. People who make these programmes are clueless about the dynamics in Afghan families — many brothers are suspicious as only their sisters are “targeted” for employment by international gender equality initiatives. Donors are only interested in the numbers of women employed, little else.
How has the war impacted society in Afghanistan?
Serial war created suspicion — everyone is suspicious of everyone. Many activists were tempted by attractive international salaries, and work according to the agenda of the occupation. I don’t blame them, but there is no indigenous Afghan feminist movement any more. Similar with the few academics (Afghans and otherwise), anthropologists are working for the U.S. state, and others, as policymakers. The money is certainly lucrative but Afghanistan lost its scholars, and there is little to no effort to produce more. It certainly is overwhelming. Liberal humanitarianism exists in the form of Fulbright scholarships to talented Afghans and supports study in the U.S., yet it creates more neo-liberal policy bureaucrats. They will not be Afghan intellectuals, they will be neo-liberal bureaucrats.
How do you see the future of Afghanistan and the role of the Taliban?
The U.S. military will still be present, aid will be reduced. When the U.S. symbolically leaves, any violence will be termed “civil war.” I don’t agree with the term “civil war” as applied to Afghanistan (for the 1990s, or as used now for post-2014), as the term fails to capture the international culpability and the role of foreign powers in arming and funding their strategic partners in Afghanistan. I anticipate Mr. Obama’s administration, and others, claiming that everything was done to bring stability to the country and then summon an old cliché: Afghans are only at peace when they are at war. I hope I am wrong, though. The Taliban make a point to show themselves as present even in their absence, because of the fear of who they are and what they have come to represent — the spectre of the inhumane. We can bomb and occupy Afghanistan (and now Pakistan) because of this inhumanity, we can commit the most inhuman acts ourselves, paradoxically, but legitimately in the eyes of the international community, through drones, and other violence in Afghanistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Profound acts of violence are committed and justified to rid this region of non-state actors who commit profound acts of violence. Violence as a cure for violence. Now, everything is about security, global security, yet the security of Afghans was never at stake. It was always about the security of the U.S. or elsewhere. The security of Afghans never fit into anyone’s calculations, really.

With Release of Prisoners, Afghan Leader Again Defies U.S. Wishes

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan on Thursday ordered the release of dozens of prisoners accused of having American blood on their hands, saying there was not enough evidence to hold them and intensifying his showdown with Obama administration officials after weeks of warnings that he risked losing American troop support.
The move threatened to plunge relations to a new state of crisis even as a broader, long-term security agreement between the two countries has been held up for weeks. American officials have said that the prisoners to be released are dangerous Taliban militants and that freeing them without trial would violate an agreement on detainees reached last year. That detention authority deal was considered a prerequisite to the security pact, known as the bilateral security agreement, which would allow for a continued American troop presence and aid past 2014.
Still, just a week after some American officials insisted that such a prisoner release would prove that Mr. Karzai could not be trusted to honor a security deal, the initial American response on Thursday was cautious. Officials were critical of the release, but also careful to say that the move would not harm the security deal and that they were still trying to get a full accounting for the decision.
“We don’t tie it to B.S.A.,” one Obama administration official said, referring to the security agreement and noting that it was a “separate deal,” while speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The suddenly tempered language from the administration raised the prospect that Mr. Karzai had again called an American bluff, or that the Americans might be sending mixed signals about the White House’s intent.
Mr. Karzai has been increasingly successful in pushing his demands past the point of American resistance in recent years, including the issue of detention. That has led some Afghan officials familiar with his thinking to say that the Afghan president has concluded that the United States was willing to bend as far as he wanted it to in order to keep troops here.
That calculation was on clear display in November, when just a few days after giving his tentative approval to the troop agreement’s wording, Mr. Karzai abruptly reversed course and said he would not sign it until months after American officials had said it would be too late. He persisted after American officials insisted that he was risking billions of dollars in international aid, and then he began to add conditions, including that the Americans bring Taliban negotiators to the table with Mr. Karzai’s government.
An American official said Thursday night that the American ambassador in Kabul, James B. Cunningham, reported in an internal cable that he did not think Mr. Karzai would agree to sign the accord before Afghanistan’s elections in April. News of the cable was first reported online by The Washington Post. The Obama administration wants the agreement to be signed soon so that the United States and its NATO allies, who are pursuing a similar agreement, will have time to make plans for a post-2014 force.
“There is not a lot of time left before that planning has to begin,” the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said earlier Thursday.
But instead of dealing with the security pact, Mr. Karzai’s government appears to be reviving an old dispute. Last year, American officials initially resisted Mr. Karzai’s demands to turn over authority over detainees to the Afghans, saying they were worried that Afghan officials would be too quick to release dangerous militants who would then return to the battlefield. The Americans said Mr. Karzai’s promise that it would not happen that way cleared the path for the security agreement.
On Thursday, Afghan officials said that in ordering the release of 72 detainees, they were following legal procedure because neither American nor Afghan security officials could produce evidence that the men had been involved in killing troops.
“We have the right to release the men,” said Aimal Faizi, Mr. Karzai’s spokesman. “The Americans know very well they do not have anything that is solid against these detainees.” He characterized some of the evidence as being nothing more than fingerprints on guns, noting that almost everyone in Afghanistan owned a gun. The prisoners are being held near Bagram Air Base at what was the main American prison in Afghanistan. Mr. Faizi said that the exact timing of their release would be up to prison officials and the three-member Afghan detention commission that recommended the move. The commission could not be immediately reached for comment, though one of its leading members, Abdul Shakor Dadras, said last week that the releases would begin soon after a final decision was made. Mr. Faizi said that for Mr. Karzai, the issue was separate from the long-term security deal. “The president is doing exactly what he has to do as someone who is responsible for all Afghans,” he said. Jen Psaki, the spokeswoman for the State Department, criticized the release, saying that it undermined justice under Afghan law and that the detainees being freed were “dangerous criminals against whom there is strong evidence linking them to terror-related crimes, including the use of improvised explosive devices, the largest killer of Afghan civilians.” But she, too, did not tie the release to prospects for an American security agreement. “Our view continues to be, despite these reports, that it’s not only desired by the United States for the Afghans to sign the B.S.A., but it’s in the interest of the Afghan people.” Just a week earlier, some American officials were suggesting that the two issues were related. One of the strongest statements came from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who along with Senator John McCain of Arizona met with Mr. Karzai last week in Kabul. And they told the Afghan president over lunch that releasing the prisoners could provoke Congress to slash aid to Afghanistan. Since Afghanistan took over detention authority in March, the Afghan commission has set free 560 prisoners and recommended that 114 be tried on accusations of insurgent activities. That left 88 other detainees whose cases had to be ruled on.
In late December, the commission decided that there was not enough evidence and ruled that all 88 suspects should be freed. But the Americans and the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, which is supposed to make recommendations to the prisoner review commission, both objected and were given more time to come up with evidence against the prisoners.
Mr. Faizi said Thursday that the directorate, after reviewing the evidence it could collect, ended up recommending in a meeting with Mr. Karzai that only 16 of the 88 be prosecuted. “Some of these detainees have been held as long as seven years for unknown reasons,” he said.
Mr. Karzai then ordered the remaining 72 freed.
Other Afghan officials said that was not the case. The security directorate had recommended that many of the 88 be held for trial, but was overruled by Mr. Karzai, said one senior Afghan security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the president. Mr. Karzai, according to the security official and another Afghan familiar with the president’s thinking, saw freeing the prisoners as a way to accomplish two goals: He could curry favor with the Taliban in hopes of bringing the insurgents to talks, and he could punish the United States for what he considered its insincere effort to initiate peace talks. Mr. Karzai was also said to be upset over the reported revelations in a new memoir by the former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates about Mr. Obama’s apparent dislike of the Afghan leader and his lack of faith in the American war effort here. An adviser to Mr. Karzai suggested that his deepening animus for the United States was at least partly behind the decision to free the men. The adviser also argued that if the prisoners later attacked American or Afghan forces, it would be because they had been tortured in prison.
“An official in the meeting told the president that these men have been tortured and kept in very bad conditions, and the president agreed,” the adviser said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity.

U.S. Expresses Concern About Planned Afghan Prisoner Release

The United States has again expressed concern over plans by Kabul to release prisoners who Washington considers a security risk. On January 10, White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. officials had discussed the plan with their Afghan counterparts.
"We are very concerned about the release of any detainees who would pose a threat to U.S. forces," Carney said.
On January 9, a statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai said there was no or little evidence linking the 72 to any wrongdoing. The statement said a further 16 detainees will remain in custody until their cases can be reviewed further.
It's unclear when the releases will take place.
However, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the 72 detainees Kabul planned to release are "dangerous criminals."
"We have expressed our concerns over the possible release of these detainees without their cases being referred to the Afghan criminal justice system. We've seen reports that President Karzai has approved the release of 72 out of the 88 detainees under review," Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington on January 9.
"As you may also know, these 72 detainees are dangerous criminals against whom there is strong evidence linking them to terror-related crimes, including the use of improvised explosive devices, the largest killer of Afghan citizens." Last week, a group of U.S. senators met Karzai in Kabul to warn him that the release of the 88 detainees from the Parwan Detention Facility "would be a major step backwards" in U.S.-Afghan relations.
U.S. officials turned over control of the Parwan facility -- near the U.S.-run Bagram military base north of Kabul -- to Afghan authorities in March 2013. The prisoner release is the latest sticking point in relations between Kabul and Washington. The two sides are struggling to agree on a framework security agreement spelling out the terms and conditions for some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the NATO-led force later this year.

C.M.Sindh annouces compensation for the heirs of Shaheed Ch. Aslam SP CID Police.
The Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah under the instructions of Ex- President of Pakistan and Co-Chairman PPP Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has announced the compensation of Rs 2 Crores for the heirs of Shaheed Choudhri Aslam SP CID Police, who along with other police officials was Martyred by terrorists in a blast on his vehicle today in Karachi. The Chief Minister also announced the compensation of Rs 20 lacs for the heirs of other Martyrs of this incident and Rs one Lac for each injured crop. Besides one government service one plot would also be given to the heirs of each martyr of this incident in addition to financial aid to them the announcement revealed.
The Chief Minister further said that this compensation is being given to the heirs of Shaheed Choudhry Aslam on account of his achievements in the fight against terrorists and his bravery services that he rendered to protect the lives and properties of the people

Pakistan: Not contacted by any government official: Aitzaz’s father

The father of Aitzaz Hasan, the teenage boy who sacrificed his life by stopping a suicide bomber from entering his school told media on Saturday that the family had not been contacted by any government official. Meanwhile floral wreaths were laid on the grave of Aitzaz on behalf of Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, Corps Commander Peshawar Lt. General Khalid Rabbani and Inspector General Frontier Coprs Major General Ghayur Mahmood. Army officials also presented a salute to the grave of Aitzaz Hasan. Aitzaz a student of class IX sacrificed his life on January 6 when he prevented a suicide bomber from entering the premises of his school during the morning assembly. Aitzaz’s brave act resulted in the lives of several students being saved.
The brave student was on his way to school when he spotted a suspicious person. When Atizaz called out to this person, he started walking faster towards the school. In an effort to stop the attacker, Aitzaz threw a rock which failed to hit him. This is when Aitzaz ran towards the person and grabbed him, prompting the suicide bomber to detonate his explosive laden vest.
Aitzaz’s bravery has been widely praised both on traditional and social media with several hashtags on twitter started trending in Pakistan calling for his heroics to be recongnised.

Video: Pakistan Army's Tribute to Hangu Hero

Tribute to Hangu Hero-11 Jan 2014 by GeoNews

Pakistan's labour laws 'ignore abuse of children'

Human rights groups in Pakistan say the country's labour laws ignore the abuse of children who, from a young age, are working on the streets or in the homes of middle-class families. There are an estimated 12 million child workers in Pakistan, many enduring unsafe or harsh conditions. Last week the employers of a ten-year-old girl were arrested following her death. The police say there were indications she had been beaten.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Taliban supporter Legislators shy away from honouring Aitzaz Hasan
At a time when the bravery of martyr Aitzaz Hasan, the teenager from Hangu district, is being discussed Worldwide, nationally, the supporters of Taliban Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-islami and Deobandi Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) legislators in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly barely took out time to laud his heroic efforts.
Members from both the treasury and opposition benches, who rarely spare an opportunity to talk endlessly on the most frivolous issues, did not pay much attention because of having links with notorious Taliban, when Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Nighat Orakzai raised the issue on a point of order.
Orakzai asked the government to give an award to brave teenager Aatizaz Hasan for his outstanding gallantry when he saved countless lives by embracing a suicide bomber. Following Orakzai’s remarks, speaker Asad Qaiser asked Minister for Information Shah Farman to speak on the issue. Farman informed the house IGP Nasir Khan Durrani has recommended Hasan for a civil award. He then went round in circles over the issue of terrorism and did not condemn the attacks outright. Later, as no other legislator wanted a discussion on the subject, the speaker moved to the house’s agenda for the day.

Pakistan: Deobandi Terrorists Involved In Chaudhry Aslam Killing
An alleged suicide bomber who detonated his explosive-laden vehicle to target SP CID Chauhdry Aslam has been identified, sources said late Friday night.
The sources said that the bomber was identified as Naeemullah, 26, a Deobandi terrorist, resident of Karachi’s Banaras Colony. A police team, investigating the suicide bombing that killed the top anti-terror cop in Karachi, SP CID Chaudhry Aslam, reportedly identified a suspect through finger prints found at the crime site, a report on BBC Urdu website said on Friday. SP Niaz Khoso, an officer of the police probe team said the suspect has been identified as Naimullah, a resident of Peerabad Qasba Colony. He said Naimullah’s father Rafiullah is curator of a local Deobandi seminary. Aslam with two more policemen was assassinated in a car bomb attack in Karachi’s Essa Nagri area on Thursday when his convoy was approaching Lyari Expressway. The Mohmand agency chapter of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier on Friday, the funeral prayers of the slain police officials were offered under strict security arrangements at the Aziz Bhatti police headquarters, and Aslam’s burial was later conducted at the Gizri graveyard. Rafiullah and one of Naimullha’s brothers have been taken into police custody and were taken to an undisclosed location for interrogation. The police officer said Naimullah was part of the terrorist group that carried out deadly Abbas Town bombing last year. He said the investigative team has collected samples for DNA tests by taking close relatives of Naimullah into their custody. Final confirmation before officially charging the suspects will only be made after DNA test results. It is pertinent to mention that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had also said that the suspect in Chaudhry Aslam bombing was identified whose name and address was handed over to Sindh government.

Balochistan: BLA destroys air traffic radar at Panjgur airport
Flights at Panjgur airport has been suspended after the Baloch Liberation Army destroyed the main radar on Friday.
According to details unknown men attack VOR radar system in the precincts of Panjgur International Airport burnt the equipment. As a result the VOR system - for determining the direction of the planes in the air – was damaged. The attacker also seized two armed security personnel, Tayyab and Mullah Saleem, from the airport located in Chitkan area of Panjgur district. The two security officials were guarding the radar when the attacker kidnapped them. Earlier a private Pakistani TV channel claimed that the attacker kidnapped six security officials deployed on the security of the airport VOR navigation system. It is worth mentioning that Baloch freedom fighters have attacked the Punjgor airport several times in past few weeks. Meanwhile a spokesperson of the Baloch Liberation Army, Jeeand Baloch, accepted responsibility for the attack and seizing the security officials.
He vowed to continue such attack until the freedom of Balochistan. Two day earlier the BLA claimed to have killed at least seven Pakistani soldiers in Lajjy area near Kharan Balochistan.
Jeeand Baloch claimed that BLA fighters attacked a camp of security forces in Patkan are of Kharan and a check post of FC in Lajjy area. He claimed that in both attack at least seven soldiers were killed and several other injured.
Separately, another pro-freedom group claimed that its fighters have attacked an FC patrolling team at Tump College Cross killing two soldiers and injuring three others on Friday afternoon.
Nohan Baloch a spokesperson for a lesser known Baloch militant group the BNLF (Baloch National Liberation Front) claimed responsibility for the attack.
He informed NNI from an undisclosed location that the struggle for Balochistan’s freedom and establishment of an equal system will continue till victory.

Pakistan:IMF expresses concern over money whitening schemes
The IMF’s Mission chief, Jeffery Franks, has expressed concern over the tax incentive scheme announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that such schemes granted immunity from audit and undermined tax enforcement.
He also said that the IMF’s upcoming review mission scheduled to visit Pakistan by end of January would seek modifications in order to redress its concerns. When contacted in Washington DC about the viewpoint of the Fund on the tax incentive package unveiled by the PML-N led regime, IMF’s Mission chief Jeffery Franks replied that they had some concerns about this package and would seek clarifications during the upcoming round of review talks.
For conducting second review and release of third tranche worth $545 million under 36 months Extended Fund Facility (EFF), the IMF’s mission is scheduled to visit Islamabad from January 28, 2014, and will stay in Islamabad for two weeks Jeffery Franks said: “We strongly support the government’s objective of increasing the number of taxpayers in the system and the amount collected. However, we have some concerns about the tax incentive scheme announced.”
Among other things, he said, the IMF worries as it grants immunity from audits in exchange for relatively modest tax payments, undermining tax enforcement.“During the upcoming review mission, we will work with the authorities to clarify our understanding of the scheme and will seek modifications as needed to address our concerns,” he added.
When asked about the proposed schedule of next round of review talks, he said that the mission would travel to Pakistan from January 28, 2014.The IMF has expressed its concern at a time when recently published report disclosed that there are many parliamentarians who are non NTN holders as well as non filers which forced the government to announce its plan to publish tax directory of parliamentarians by mid of next month.
The FBR, the sources said, issued notifications for tax incentive scheme announced by the PM last month.For money whitening scheme announced by PM Nawaz Sharif, the FBR has given timeframe of two and half year for starting production from the units which will get benefits under this scheme. Under the money whitening scheme, which the FBR tagged it as incentives on investment scheme, the tax machinery has linked it with commencement of commercial activities of those industrial units till June 30, 2016. “This amnesty is not meant for indefinite period as the FBR has given time frame from January 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016, and such units will be bound to start their production within the envisaged deadline,” said the official.The FBR also issued SRO under the PM scheme which would provide benefit to dormant NTN (National Tax Number) holders in the country. A
ll those NTN holders who have not filed returns from last five years could avail this scheme provided they paid at least Rs20,000 tax every year. In such cases, the FBR would not raise any question about them.
The number of NTN holders standing in the range of 3.3 million but the number of return filers were much low.The FBR would also kick-start data cleansing exercise of NTN holders as there were many instances of dormant NTN holders as many such holders did not exist on the ground.The ongoing audit on the basis of last year returns would continue and all those could avail tax incentive scheme on the basis of returns of 2013 who would increase their tax by 25 percent.

Pakistan: The bravery of Aitzaz Hasan

No words can describe the sheer admiration and sadness one feels for 15-year-old Aitzaz Hasan, the brave young teen who sacrificed his life by preventing a suicide bomber from detonating himself in his school. The terrible incident took place in Hangu, outside a school packed with 2,000 children. According to his friends, Aitzaz and a few other boys noticed a suspicious looking man wearing a suicide vest and approaching the school. Whilst the other boys decided to run away, the lionhearted Aitzaz confronted the bomber in an attempt to capture him. However, the terrorist detonated himself and took the teen with him to the after world.
It is indeed a sad world in which school children have to make such decisions, where they either choose to run away and cower under terrorist strangleholds or stand their ground and, more often than not, become martyrs for the sake of others. By offering himself, Aitzaz Hasan saved 2,000 innocent lives — an act of valour and sacrifice indeed. There has been a tremendous outpouring of praise from all over the country, particularly on social media, where awareness is being raised of the bravery of the young man. He is being likened to another young child in Pakistan who also fought against the terrorists; her name is Malala. Both Malala and Aitzaz belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province most afflicted by the militancy in FATA. It is the children of FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who are suffering the brunt of the terrorists’ wrath. The militants have been targeting education in this region for one simple reason: it is education that provides the youth with an alternative to the Taliban narrative — a life worth living for. The bomber in this incident was targeting a school, a signature move of the Taliban. Children like Malala and Aitzaz have had enough. They have seen their schools, teachers and friends targeted and brutally killed, all in the name of Taliban ideology. They have seen their hopes and dreams destroyed, and they have reached a tipping point.
A proposal has been put forward by civil society that Aitzaz Hasan receive the highest military award, the Nishan-e-Haider, but that seems unlikely as no precedent exists for a civilian ever being given this military award. However, it is hoped that the government takes note of the ultimate sacrifice given to the nation by this young boy, and that he be commemorated in a befitting manner. It is so important to encourage this nation’s children who take affirmative action against terrorism. It is just so tragic that these very children are the main casualties in this war.

Attack on Chaudhry Aslam: ‘Suicide bomber’ identified as Imam’s son

The suspected suicide bomber, who allegedly rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into slain SP CID Chaudhry Aslam’s Vigo, has been identified as Naeemullah, the son of a prayer leader. According to initial investigations and evidence collected thus far, the police believe that the young Naeemullah, who was identified by fingerprints, carried out the attack in Karachi on Thursday, said SP Niaz Khosa. Some body parts allegedly of a suspected attacker were found at the bomb site on Friday and sent to the National Database and Registration Authority for identification. “[We are] 98% sure that a suicide bomber hit the explosives-laden Suzuki cargo van with Aslam’s Vigo,” Crime Investigation Department (CID) DIG Zafar Bukhari told The Express Tribune.
However, police officials insist that the investigation is only in its initial stages and things could change. Naeemullah was a seminary student and son of Rafiullah, who is the Imam of Masjid Jamia Sidiqia and Mohtamim (administrator) of Madrassah Siddiqia lil Banat in Karachi’s restive Orangi Town. Rafiullah and around half a dozen family members and comrades have been detained by the CID. According to police officials, the father and son are reportedly members of the Zikria Mehsud group, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Karachi chapter in Sohrab Goth. The police have raided the suspect’s house and detained family members in the past. Officials allege that the Zikria Mehsud group is responsible for the Abbas Town incident as well as for the six decapitated bodies found near a shrine on the outskirts of Karachi. Laid to rest Chaudhry Aslam’s funeral prayers were offered at Karachi Police Headquarters, Hassan Square, on Friday. He was accorded full police honours and a floral tribute. Meanwhile, police investigators claimed that the former chief of CID’s Anti-Extremist Cell was killed in a suicide attack. He was killed in a powerful bomb blast on Thursday evening. His guard and driver were also killed, while 11 others were injured. The funeral took place amid tight security – the police cordoned off roads leading to the headquarters and everyone was checked three times before being allowed to enter the area. Around 166 policemen and officers of the Sindh police lost their lives in the line of duty in attacks and bomb blasts, but this never affected the morale of the police. But Aslam’s death definitely has. “Believe it or not, the Sindh police department is over after [Chaudhry Aslam] Sahib,” said Basharat Hussain, one of his closest friends. Khan was laid to rest at the Gizri Graveyard, DHA, next to his mother’s grave. Insider’s involvement? The arrest of one policeman a few months ago – who had connections with the Taliban – confessed to being a supporter of the Taliban and also claimed the Karachi police had many more of his ilk. The attack was carried out with proper homework as the terrorists knew that Aslam was not travelling in his bombproof SUV these days, said DIG Bukhari. “We cannot rule out the possibility of spies.” The post-mortem report All of Aslam’s face and head bones were broken, according to the post-mortem report. “The huge explosion also damaged his chest and lower torso. His left side was more damaged than the right side,” explained police surgeon Dr Jalil Qadir. “We recognised him from his beard.”

Aitizaz Hasan, Chaudhry Aslam, me and you

By Dr Adil Najam
The writer has taught international relations and public policy at Boston University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and was the vice chancellor of LUMS.
On Monday, a child died in Hangu. He died a hero’s death. He died for a cause greater than himself, showing great courage and immense conviction. In a society where even the government sometimes seems to be not fighting back, this child fought back. He stood up. That is the stuff heroes are made of. Let us not forget, however, that he was but a child. Yes, he gave his life to save the lives of others. But let us remember that his life was taken away from him. Snatched brutally. Needlessly. Ruthlessly. Barbarically. Yes, he was a hero. But he was also a victim. Let us also remember that he was a Pakistani. He is dead precisely because he was a Pakistani. Martyred, yes. But, before that, murdered by those who make a sport of killing Pakistanis. Let us not forget who he was: Aitizaz Hasan, resident of village Ibrahimzai, a Pakistani, a hero, a victim, a student, a child. Fifteen-year olds should not be in the business of dying in ghastly encounters with self-righteous lunatics in suicide jackets. Fifteen-year olds should not be in the business of saving their school and their class-mates from horrendous death by themselves dying horrendously. As we salute Aitizaz Hasan’s courage and bravery let us also remember that 15-year olds should not be in the business of dying a hero’s death. The only business a 15-year old should be in is to live a child’s life: a little mischief, a lot of innocence, maybe some frolic on the side. It was the action of a suicide bomber that took Aitizaz Hasan’s life on that frigid morning in Ibrahimzai, Hangu. But it was the inaction of an entire society, an entire a polity, that robbed him of his childhood. This is not just a story about what Aitizaz Hasan did that morning. It is also a story about all that we as a society have not been doing: on providing security to our citizens, on fighting terrorism, on combating extremism, and indeed on education itself. Aitizaz’s death is a reflection of our failures. Shame on us! All of us!
* * * * *
Three days later, on the Lyari Expressway in Karachi, Pakistan’s most feared and, maybe, most respected policeman was killed. He had led a ruthless life. He met a ruthless death. The central character of so many ‘encounters’ was himself ‘encountered.’ His death should not have surprised anyone. Yet it left the entire metropolis and the entire country shocked. Quite literally, stunned: “If the ‘iron man’ of Pakistan police was not safe, then who was?” we all asked ourselves. In life he had been called many things; most often ‘controversial.’ In death, there was just one word that everyone has used: Hero. And a hero he is. He is a hero, not for the way he died. But for the way he lived: by standing up. No one seems to have any doubts about his flaws; his rough edges. But the outpouring of admiration has bordered on the reverential. In a society whose biggest sin is inaction, it should not be a surprise that a ‘man of action’ emerges a saint.
Chaudhry Aslam is a hero like no other in Pakistan today because he did something that no one else seems willing or able to do: to do something. He stood up. Just as that child in Hangu would later do, Chaudhry Aslam had lived having decided that he had to do something, even if it was something reckless. There is a message in the ‘herodom’ of Chaudhry Aslam that is greater even than Chaudhry Aslam. It is that Pakistan and Pakistanis crave action against terrorism. One only hopes that the message gets across to policymakers.
Yes, Chaudhry Aslam’s story is a story of sacrifice, but it is also a story of murder. His story is not simply about yet another gruesome attack on a Pakistani. It is the story of yet another gruesome attack on a symbol of the Pakistani state. If the attack on Aitizaz Hasan and his school was another attack on Pakistan’s future, the attack on Chaudhry Aslam was an attack on a central apparatus of Pakistan’s statehood. The question you and I confront is one we have confronted before: If this is not war, then what is? If you are not on the side of Pakistan in this war, then whose side are you on?
* * * * *
There is so much – way too much – to reflect on in the angst of this week. Let me offer just three thoughts.
First, a thought about ‘herodom’: Pity the people whose heroes die young. Pity the nation where one has to die to become a hero. In a society at peace with itself neither Aitizaz Hasan nor Chaudhry Aslam should have had to die to become a hero. There is so much more that they could have done had they lived. Herodom has robbed one of his childhood and another of his parenthood. There can be no greater tragedy than that.
Second, a thought on what Aitizaz Hasan was defending, and what his killers sought to attack: schools. Terrorists clearly see schools – and education – as one of the biggest threats to their agenda of extremist hatred. Such a great threat that a child, Malala Yousafzai, had to risk death and another, Aitizaz Hasan, had to embrace it. Yet, in a strangely perverse way they may understand the power of education much more than we do. What they seek to destroy so violently, we have done very little to build. I wonder what the school in Ibrahimzai that Aitizaz gave his life defending actually looks and feels like? If it is like so many other government schools in so much of the rest of Pakistan, it is likely to be a picture of neglect. It is not just ironic but disgusting to realise that what our enemies choose not to ignore, we continue to neglect. Finally, a thought on the Chaudhry Aslam’s we choose to ignore; indeed, we often lampoon: Pakistani policemen everywhere. Most policemen are not as fascinating and charismatic as Chaudhry Aslam was. Indeed, some may be individually incompetent, corrupt or have succumbed to an inept system. But the fact is that most Pakistani policemen are chronically under-resourced, over-stressed and under-appreciated; stuck in one hell of a tough job; which the generally do with amazing grace, obvious courage and often with bravery. The Pakistani policeman is, really, the frontline in Pakistan’s war against terror. Very often they are the only thing standing between a suicide bomber and his would-be victim. On chowki after chowki, check post after check post, Pakistani policemen are putting their lives on the line for your safety, and mine.
The mayhem of this week should remind us that the Pakistani policeman deserves a little more respect than he gets. Maybe an occasional gesture of appreciation instead of the scorn and sarcasm we usually reserve for them. Here is one small act that will not take much but could go a long way: next time you see a Pakistani policeman doing his duty, stop, smile, and simply say: ‘Thank You.’

Activist Malala Hails Pakistani Teen Hero

Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousufzai said Friday that she is donating a half million Pakistani rupees, worth close to $5,000, to the family of a 15-year-old boy who died trying to stop a suicide bomber from targeting his school. Yousufzai also called on the Pakistani government to bestow its highest civilian award on Aitzaz Hassan, who was killed Monday in a remote village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's Hangu district.
Malala survived an attack by Pakistani Taliban gunmen in Swat in 2012, when she was just 12 years old. She has gained worldwide attention for her vocal opposition to militants and her support for the rights of women and girls.
“I feel saddened that violence took another child’s life in my country," Malala said in Britain,
where she now lives. "I feel proud that I belong to a country where many brave and courageous people like Aitzaz Hasan are born.”
Local police said Aitzaz, a ninth grader, saw the attacker getting off a bus and heading toward the gate of the school. The man was wearing a school uniform but he looked suspicious, and that is when Aitzaz tried to stop him, prompting the attacker to detonate the explosives-filled vest he was wearing. Aitzaz's elder brother, Mujtaba, told VOA's Deewa the teenager's act "made his mother cry but saved 500 other mothers from crying," referring to the number of students in the school at the time of the blast. Mujtaba said his brother often said he would fight if he came face to face with a suicide bomber. “He actually did what he had said he would,” Mujtaba said. Instead of grieving and mourning, the brother said the family is celebrating Aitzaz's bravery and martyrdom.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Sunni militant group, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group is blamed for attacks on Shi'ites, who are a minority in Pakistan.