Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The "Threat" of Iran? Or the Threat of Deterrence to Washington?

There is much discussion in Western political discourse of the “threat” of Iran, spoken of as though it is a self-evident truth, an assumption that underlies the entire spectrum of debate.  To question such an obvious truism is something that disciplined intellectuals understand is not proper of them to do.  Most likely the thought doesn't even cross their minds, thanks to dignified university education and the values instilled from it; there are some things not suitable for a respectable intellectual to discuss, after all.

Senator John McCain recently stated that Iran will pose “a direct threat to the existence of the state of Israel” if it is allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, warning further that “The Iranians are on the march.”  House Speaker John Boehner recently said that “There needs to be a more serious conversation in America about... the threat posted by Iran,” further stating that Iran poses a “grave threat” to our “security and way of life.”  Israel’s US ambassador Ron Dermer stated that the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran “could endanger the very existence of the State of Israel,” going on to say that Iran is “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world.”  Former US Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters went so far as to say that “Iran is building a new Persian Empire.”  Furthermore, in order to slow down Iran’s progress towards a bomb, Netanyahu has threatened to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Threats which are credible, according to officials from the Obama administration.  Obama, over the years, has also used such threats by telling other world leaders that toughening sanctions on Iran is the only way to forestall an Israeli attack.  Obama himself has argued that a nuclear Iran poses a “profound” national security threat to the US.

Given this ubiquitous rhetoric, there is an obvious question that arises, one which is seldom asked: what exactly is this “threat” that a nuclear Iran poses?  What exactly is such a grave and existential threat that Western leaders would risk escalation and military confrontation by threatening the Iranian republic with an attack?  Fortunately, we have an authoritative answer to this.

Each year the Department of Defense produces an unclassified, congressionally mandated report detailing the Pentagon’s assessment of the military power of Iran, which it is required to submit to lawmakers.  An effort of intelligence evaluation which utilizes thousands of dollars to get accomplished ($22,000 in 2012.)  It is reported on sparingly in the media.

The 2014 report opens by stating that “Iran has not substantially changed its national security and military strategies over the past year,” virtually the same opening line as previous reports, except for the addition: “however, Tehran has adjusted some of its tactics to achieve its enduring objectives.  President Hasan Ruhani’s international message of moderation and pragmatism is intended to support these objectives.”

It goes on to state that “Iran’s military doctrine is defensive.  It is designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests.”  Thus, Iranian military strategy is to attack only in the event that it is aggressed upon, and still then only long enough to force a diplomatic solution; its doctrine is defensive.

In the context of its ballistic missile development, the report states “Since the Iran-Iraq War, Tehran has placed significant emphasis on developing and fielding ballistic missiles to counter perceived threats from Israel and coalition forces in the Middle East and to project its power in the region.”  Iran is developing weapons stockpiles specifically to counter the threats from Israel and the West, of which I have documented above.  This falls in line with the defensive assessment of Tehran’s military; its buildup is a defensive response, not an offensive one.

In terms of its nuclear capabilities, the Pentagon admits that “Iran continues to develop technological capabilities that could be applicable to nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, which could be adapted to deliver nuclear weapons,” although at present no nuclear weapons exist.  (emphasis added)

Therefore, the “threat” of Iran, of which we are constantly told to fear, the “grave threat” to our “security and way of life”, this “new Persian Empire” that “could endanger the very existence of Israel” that Obama warns is a “profound” national security threat to the US, is simply the threat that scares Western policymakers the most: the threat of deterrence and defense.

Worrying still is the fact that those who are most adamant about warning us of this “threat” know perfectly well that their words are not true.  John McCain, who is quoted above as saying that a nuclear Iran will pose “a direct threat to the existence of Israel” previously employed a national security aide named Anthony Cordesman.  In 2013 Cordesman published a research paper for the Center for Strategic and International Studies of which he concluded that it is Iran, and not Israel, that faces a direct existential threat, “Israel now poses a more serious existential threat to Iran than Iran can pose to Israel in the near term… It seems likely that Israel can deliver an ‘existential’ nuclear strike on Iran, and will have far more capability to damage Iran than Iran is likely to have against Israel for the next decade.”  And as the DoD report states, if and when Iran does acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, they will be deterrents used to defend against an attack.

Further confirmation of this is available from the February 2014 Annual Threat Assessment given before the Senate Armed Services Committee by the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn.  Detailing Iran’s threat assessment, Flynn notes “Iran has threatened to temporarily impede international ship traffic transiting through the Strait of Hormuz if it is attacked or in response to further sanctions on its oil exports.  Additionally, Iran has threatened to launch missiles against U.S. targets and our regional allies in response to an attack.  Tehran could also employ its terrorist surrogates.  However, it is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preemptive attack.”  (emphasis added)

Therefore, the threat of Iran is one of deterrence, of defending itself in the event of an attack, and there exists no evidence that it seeks to provoke or attack its adversaries. 

Given this, it is hard not to wonder why there is so much paranoia, fear, and thus belligerent and punitive rhetoric employed against Iran.  If the threat is deterrence, then why all the hostility?

The characterization of Iran as a rogue, aggressive, and hostile state has become a sort of dogma in Western discourse, sharing similar characteristics with a fundamentalist religious belief.  A main reason for this is simply the intention of the United States to punish Iran; after all it does not follow orders.  However, as is seen with the example of Cuba, in order to be hostile and punitive towards a recalcitrant state there is a necessity to portray that state as the unreasonable aggressor or a despotic terrorist, thereby making your actions against it appear to be defensive and reactionary, rather than offensive and aggressive; people are much more likely to approve of defensive actions rather than offensive ones. 

In Cuba, the impetus for the aggression against it stemmed from the fall of the US-supported dictator Batista to Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, who subsequently expelled US corporations and nationalized the land and resources they had been exploiting.  They didn’t like that much, and the US reacted in kind by immediately launching military attacks and decades of terrorism against Cuba, along with historic amounts of assassination and regime-change attempts.  The reasons were explained by the State Departments Policy Planning Council, which warned that “the primary danger we face in Castro is... in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries… The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the U.S., a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half,” referring to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, in which the US declared its intention of dominating the hemisphere.

The Iran case is similar.  After the 1953 CIA-run coup that overthrew the parliamentary government and installed the brutal regime of the Shah, a day hasn't gone by that the US hasn't been torturing Iran.  After the Shah’s overthrow in 1979, the US immediately turned to supporting Saddam Hussein’s vicious invasion.  The punitive measures exist to this day, including crippling economic sanctions, threats of attack, and attacks against allies such as Syria.  The reasons for this, as well, are similar: Iran too represents a successful defiance of US power, and refuses to obey orders emanating from Washington.  If your goal is world hegemony, and you feel you have the right to use force freely wherever you want, then you simply cannot tolerate such a deterrent.

There is another element to this as well, and that is of a truism that should be evident to knowledgeable analysts of statecraft.  US leaders take for granted the indelible presumption that we, as a nation, are good, and therefore by extension it follows that whatever we do, is also good.  In contrast, of course the actions of our enemies are bad.  So when we invade Afghanistan, we are liberating Afghanistan.  When Russia invades Afghanistan, they are conquering Afghanistan.  Similarly when we invade Vietnam or Iraq, we are not conquering, we are bringing freedom and democracy.  Applying the logic to Iran, given that Iran represents an opposition to US policy and hegemony, which is of course benevolent, they must then be evil.  So when we install a brutal dictator in their country, that is good, and when they expel that dictator and pursue an independent policy of self-determination, that of course is very bad.  When we threaten to attack Iran, it is out of a munificent desire to stop a grave threat to the world, and so on.  This is the essence of the fanatical religion that exists in the West.

Another reason for portraying Iran as a hostile threat is that it provides a useful scapegoat for the problems in the region, and provides an excuse for Western offensive actions.  It is well known to policy planners that intervention and aggression are not goals shared by the populous, and therefore a threat or enemy is needed to justify such actions.  Former National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter and current Obama advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski expressed this notion in 1997 when he wrote that “Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy.  But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being.”(1)  And thus you have the Iranian “threat.” 

This is of course not to say that the Iranian government is righteous or beyond reproach, far from it, there is much authoritarianism and internal repression to admonish, however that is a threat to their domestic population, not the US and the West.

Coming back now to the actual “threat”, the one of nuclear deterrence capabilities, there are ways to prevent against this.  One way would be to institute a nuclear weapons free zone in the region.  That would effectively eliminate any problems or threats, and further foster peace and stability in the Middle East.  That proposal is strongly supported by Egypt and the Arab states, and has overwhelming support in general worldwide, except that the United States and Israel won’t allow it.  They insist on a precondition: that Israel be exempt.  Obviously, because of this the proposal won’t get anywhere.  And this very perfectly exemplifies the true picture of the situation: that because of the United States and Israel’s aggression, hostility, and unilateral insistence on not only maintaining their weapons capabilities, but assiduously enhancing them forward, Iran is working towards preventive capabilities to defend itself and deter a potential attack. 

Ironically, it is then Israel’s insistence on maintaining its power and ability to existentially threaten Iran that is in turn pushing Iran towards pursuing nuclear capabilities and further military power.

These conclusions were as well echoed by a prominent Israeli historian and professor, Martin van Creveld, who stated succinctly back in 2004 that given the unilateral aggression shown by the West, Iran is forced into a position of deterrence “The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy.”     


1.)    Zbigniew Brzezinski, “The Eurasian Chessboard,” The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives (New York, 1997), pg. 35-36.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Terrorism is a Result of US Policy #CharlieHebdo

The Narrative

The official narrative has been produced, ready for mass consumption.  Two men brandishing balaclavas, military fatigues, armed with AK-47’s, a shotgun, and an RPG launcher, walked into the wrong address first before finding the proper Charlie Hebdo building, and then subsequently proceeded to brutally murder a total of 12 people, including 2 police officers, one allegedly shot at point-blank range.  Despite these missteps, the fact that they had timed their meeting to coincide with the publications editorial meeting, their calm demeanors even as police arrived, the apparent rehearsed nature of the attacks, followed by their successful getaway all point towards professionalism and military training.

The attackers were heard shouting “Allahu Akbar,” “The Prophet is avenged,” and “We have killed Charlie Hebdo,” as they conducted their lethal campaign.  Witnesses have stated they spoke perfect French while proclaiming to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Yemen, or Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).  American intelligence told France that the 2 brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, had traveled to Yemen in 2011 to receive training from AQAP.  A source within AQAP reportedly released a statement to The Intercept stating that, “The leadership of #AQAP directed the operation,” although no official claim of responsibility has been made from the organization.  Before his death, Cherif Kouachi claimed in an interview with BFM TV that he had been to Yemen and received funding from Anwar al-Awlaki, the infamous Muslim preacher and American citizen who US officials say is responsible for encouraging terrorist attacks against Western countries and who was extra-judiciously murdered by a US drone strike in 2011.  Yemeni officials confirmed to Reuters that Said had met with Awlaki in Yemen.

Initially the police had stated that the Kouachi brothers had another accomplice, but have remained silent on the account ever since 18-year old Hamyd Mourad turned himself in late Wednesday with an ironclad alibi. 

Fleeing the scene the brothers evaded several police cars, and in what has now become a suspicious trademark of alleged al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks, one of the perpetrators left his ID card conveniently for the police to find.

The day after this incident a policewoman was killed in the suburb of Montrouge, the police identifying the killer as Amedy Coulibaly after having recovered his DNA from an abandoned balaclava.  Coulibaly claimed responsibility for the killing and said that he had synchronized the move with the Kouachi brothers.  The massive police search operation eventually culminated when police cornered the two brothers in a printing facility near the Charles De Gaulle Airport.  Mr. Coulibaly meanwhile held shopper’s hostage across town in a kosher grocery store.  The police conducted simultaneous operations at the two locations, killing the two Kouachi brothers as well as Mr. Coulibaly.  It was reported that Coulibably had killed four hostages and injured five others before the police had shot him, however it is possible that they were killed as a result of the raid.

Terrorism is a Result of US Policy in Syria

French intelligence is understandably under pressure after the terrorist attack; how could such an attack be carried out amidst the overbearing police-state and surveillance apparatus that has been propped up now for over a decade since 9/11?

France’s surveillance policies are as well some of the most extreme in the Europe.  A controversial article in a 2013 defense bill, referred to as the “French Patriot Act,” permits widespread monitoring and collection of internet user data in real time without judicial oversight, requiring ISP’s as well as content hosting companies like YouTube to give over its user’s data upon request from government agencies.  La Quadrature Du Net, a French civil liberties NGO, said of the bill, “Considering the recently uncovered evidence of massive and generalised spying on citizens, the maneuvers of the President and of the government deceive no one. This bill sets up a generalised surveillance regime and risks to destroy once and for all the limited trust between citizens and agencies responsible for security.”  The Wall Street Journal reports that France last just year passed, “new laws that allow prosecutors to detain and prosecute people for the mere act of traveling to Iraq or Syria.”

Despite all of this, the mainstream media has the answer: intelligence failure.  It was a blunder, the brothers had been under surveillance after their 2011 trip to Yemen but subsequently were dropped from monitoring last spring after no suspicious activity was recorded.  French intelligence were forced to allocate resources elsewhere, because, “By 2013, France was struggling to monitor a flood of citizens suspected of traveling-or planning to travel-to Syria and Iraq.”(1)  This statement, or perhaps better termed ‘this excuse’, coupled as well with reports that the Kouachi brothers were part of the ‘flood of citizens’ who traveled to Syria(2), exposes the hypocritical nature of the “War on Terror” and the theft of our freedoms that it supposedly justifies.

Far from making us safer we have seen how this “War on Terror” has systematically supported and empowered Islamic jihadists as a geopolitical tools against the West’s enemies.  Graham Fuller, the former Deputy Director of the National Council on Intelligence and former CIA station chief, stated that, “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”(3)   In 2007 Seymour Hersh reported on the Bush administration’s policy of supporting radical Islam, “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” 

This policy has continued under the Obama administration.  The US, apart from army training of rebels who go on to join jihadist extremists, has been active in the coordination of financing and shipping of arms to Syrian rebels through Saudi Arabia and Qatar, shipments which according to mainstream news reports have been “largely going to hard-line Islamists.”  In addition to this the CIA, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies, in bases located in Turkey(4) and Jordan(5), have been aided ‘vetted’ rebel groups who have admitted to both working with and funneling US supplied weapons to al-Nusra and ISIS.(6)(7)(8)(9)(10) 

In the 2007 Seymour Hersh report, Hersh quotes a US government consultant as stating that Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the US and former director of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, has assured the White House that, “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”  Back in August of 2013, Prince Bandar allegedly threatened Putin if he did not change his position regarding Assad and Syria, “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future,” the Prince was quoted as saying. 

Given this, it is easy to see why the covert operations against Syria by the US and Saud have led to the rise of ISIS, al-Nusra, and the CIA-vetted groups like the FSA and SRF who admittedly have been fighting alongside and funneling US weapons to al-Qaeda.  Therefore, when US intelligence officials warn of the terrorist threat emanating from Syria, they are discussing the direct result of a US policy of fomenting Islamic extremism.  Seen in this light, the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo cannot be separated from the policy of arming, funding, and training jihadists to attack the Syrian population and weaken the Syrian state.  If it is true that French intelligence were preoccupied with monitoring terrorists threats emanating from Syria, then this threat as well is a direct result of the Western policy, which includes the participation of France(11), of fomenting terrorism in Syria.

Holes in the Narrative

Problems arise when further analysis is laid upon the official narrative of events, described above. 

Firstly, reasonable questions have been raised regarding the video of the officer shot at point blank range.  When inspecting the video we find that when slowed down it seems as though the shot fired did not hit the police officer, evidenced by the plume of dust created on the ground in front of him from the impact of the bullet.  This is further confirmed by the fact that after the shot was fired the officer’s head wasn’t rocked at all by the blast, no movement is perceived; if the officer was hit his head would have recoiled from the impact of the blast.(12)  Although it is plausible that the officer was shot perhaps in the neck or upper abdomen, questions arise given that all news sources report that he died from a shot to the head.  It would be wrong to suggest that Ahmed Merabet has not been killed, however there is reason to suspect that the cause of his death has not been truthfully reported on.

Secondly, the claims that police had recovered an ID card confirming the identity of their suspect strains belief and further sheds doubt upon claims of the suspects identities.  These claims could easily be false; we are forced to take the authorities at their word, without further proof being available.

Thirdly, a police officer assigned to investigate the Charlie Hebdo murder committed suicide on the night of the attacks, prompting questions relating to the nature of his suicide, and whether or not it represents an interest in silencing information that he had uncovered.

Furthermore, the assailants all had histories of terrorism that was known to French and American intelligence.  Cherif Kouachi and Coulibaly had been imprisoned for terrorist charges, and reports indicate that Coulibady had become radicalized in prison.  The Washington Post reports that both men had become devoted followers of Djamel Beghal, described as having ties to al-Qaeda and being convicted of plotting to blow up the US Embassy in Paris in 2001.  After his prison sentence Coulibaly met with then French President Sarkozy, and 10 months after this visit police found weapons caches in Coulibably’s apartment.  Coulibaly then was convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison relating to an attempt to break another militant Islamist out of prison, yet he was released early from this sentence.  These facts of intensive intelligence related to these men’s ties to jihadi extremism, as well as their connections to French authorities, coupled with reports of the Kouachi brothers traveling to Syria ostensibly to participate in militant jihadism there, produce worrying questions about the conduct of French authorities, and further lay doubt on the practice of widespread surveillance which collects data on the entire haystack and thus leaves the needles to fall through the cracks.

Julien Assange asks these important questions in a recent post, “So conspicuous is the failure in the Charlie Hebdo killings that serious questions must be asked. Cherif Kouachi had previously been involved in furthering the Sunni insurgency in the Levant. Were the brothers protected by the French services as part of French adventurism in Syria, Libya and elsewhere—as a conduit to funnel money, guns and militants into Africa and the Middle East? Were the brothers protected because they were witting or unwitting informers? Were the brothers protected in order to conduct a mediagenic, budget-boosting arrest seconds before the attack began — but the attack was moved forward? Why was the security architecture of the Charlie Hebdo building so poor? How is it that semi-automatic weapons found their way into France and into the hands of known jihadis? And most of all why has France’s crazed Sunni adventurism in Syria, Libya and other parts of Africa been tolerated despite the inevitable destabalization, radicalization and blowback?”

I am Charlie?

The wave of support associated with the #IAmCharlie meme should avoid the trap of conflating support for the freedom of speech with support of the bigoted and racist Charlie Hebdo cartoons, which include mocking the sex slaves of Boko Haram as welfare queens.  There exist extreme double standards in the West in regards to free speech; one would be hard pressed to see people showing the same amount of support if Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons had been as anti-Semetic or anti-black as they were anti-Muslim.  Instead, we should not associate our defense of free-speech, even when one finds that speech repugnant, with vindication of the speech itself.  “The reaction should be completely independent of what [one] thinks about this journal and what it produces.  The passionate and ubiquitous chants “I am Charlie,” and the like, should not be meant to indicate, even hint at, any association with the journal, at least in the context of defense of freedom of speech.  Rather, they should express defense of the right of free expression whatever one thinks of the contents, even if they are regarded as hateful and depraved,” Noam Chomsky writes in a recent post.

We should also avoid the divisive mindset set forth that seeks to explain the situation as a “clash of civilizations,” or one that portrays the events as the Righteous West versus the depraved Muslim terrorists; these arguments are not plausible.  One should remember that the majority of Muslims do not support Islamic extremism, which is not surprising given that those most affected by this extremism is not the West, the recent attacks being only a very small portion of the overall terrorism committed, but are instead Muslim and Arab populations in Arab countries. 

It should be noted that the outcry against anti-Muslim sentiments also stems from major Western aggressions against Arab nations and populations.  These include the destruction of Afghanistan, the war in Iraq which is the greatest criminal act of the 21st century, the transformation of Libya into a failed state governed by extremism, the constant droning of Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and others in Obamas illegal drone operations which is the greatest campaign of terrorism present today, as well as the allied support of the brutal dictatorships of Jordan, Egypt, the regimes of the UAE, Qatar, and the medieval-like monarchy of Saudi Arabia, support for Israel’s wanton aggression and colonization of the Palestinians, etc., etc. 

The demonization of Islam, and racism against Arabs in general, is thus not solely a matter of cartoons and words, but is instead a widespread phenomenon that is proliferated, tolerated, and encouraged because it is beneficial to the dominant power-structures interest in controlling Middle Eastern oil.  The demonization of an entire people is a useful tool when you have an interest in invading their lands and controlling their resources; it creates an outlook about the world that garners support amongst the populations of the states that seek to endeavor in these aggressive actions, and legitimizes atrocities that would otherwise never have been accepted had the victims not been reduced to ‘the Other’.  (A telling example of this is the Nazi’s use of media and propaganda that helped to reduce perception of Jews to little more than hated monsters that were to be feared, leading ultimately to the Holocaust.)

Also ignored is the fact that the biggest perpetrator of jihadi extremism in the world is the West and its allies, as described above, which uses these militant ideologies as geopolitical weapons against nations it deems as enemies.  In official documents leaked by WikiLeaks, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in 2009 of our close ally Saudi Arabia, stating that, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide… Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups.”  Middle East specialist Patrick Cockburn further reports on Clinton’s statements, “in so far as Saudi Arabia did act against al-Qa'ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad.”

Anti-Muslim arguments also ignore the fact that the police officer killed attempting to protect the Charlie Hebdo offices, despite their virulent anti-Muslim sentiments, was himself a Muslim, prompting the hashtags #IAmAhmed and #JesuisAhmed.

Following terror attacks such as these, the public is understandably concerned with safety, however the answer is not to further give up our freedoms to our governments, which weakens our safety given that we then have to worry of the threat posed by government oppression as well as non-state terrorists (highlighted by the fact that the police-state apparatus, while accomplishing the theft of our rights and freedoms, has not stopped any terrorist plots against the West)(13)(14)(15), but instead if we honestly want to stop terror we must firstly seek to understand the legitimate grievances that inspire these acts(16)(17), and secondly we must stop our governments from utilizing terrorists against foreign countries as geopolitical tools of imperialism as well as from engaging in wars of aggression and resource domination; the world would overnight be massively rid of the threat of terrorism if the US and its allies would simply stop participating in it.


1.)    The Wall Street Journal reports that French intelligence was struggling to monitor its citizens traveling to Iraq and Syria, a number that has surpassed 1,000, according to officials.  Meichtry, Stacy et al.  Overburdened French Dropped Surveillance of Brothers.  January 10, 2015.  The Wall Street Journal.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

2.)   Bloomberg reports, citing the French outlet Le Point, that Cherif Kouachi disappeared after being detained by French police in 2010, only to return from Syria with his brother Said last summer.  Fouquet, Helene.  Patel, Tara.  Paris Attack Suspect Had History of Terror-Charge Arrests.  January 8, 2015.  Bloomberg.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

3.)   Richard Labeviere, Dollars For Terror: The United States and Islam (New York: Algora, 2000)

4.)   Reuters, quoting government sources, reports that the US is collaborating along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey in a secret command center operated by Turkey near the Syrian border in the city of Adana.  The base had been established to help direct military and communications support to Assad’s opponents.  Hosenball, Mark.  Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret U.S. support for Syrian rebels.  August 1, 2012.  Reuters.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

5.)   The Wall Street Journal reports on a ‘secret’ base in Jordan in which US, Jordanian, Saudi, and other allies’ intelligence agencies have been coordinating the covert Syrian operations, which includes vetting of rebel groups and the provision of arms and funding.  Entous, Adam et al.  A Veteran Saudi Power Player Works To Build Support to Topple Assad.  August 25, 2013.  The Wall Street Journal.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

6.)   Reports of widespread defection of US-supported FSA factions into the ranks of ISIS in July of 2014.  Raja, Abdullah.  FSA brigades pledge allegiance to ISIS in Al Bukamal, east Syria.  July 7, 2014.  Zaman Alwsl.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

7.)   In September 2014, US-supported Harakat Hazm affiliate Aasin Zeidan is quoted by the LATimes as saying, “Inside Syria we became labeled as secularists and feared Nusra Front was going to battle us… But Nusra doesn't fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.”  Harakat Hazm is, according to the Washington Post, “the biggest recipient of U.S. assistance offered under a small-scale, covert CIA program launched this year [2014], including the first deliveries of U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles.”  Abdulrahim, Raja.  Syria rebels, once hopeful of U.S. weapons, lament lack of firepower.  Setpember 7, 2014.  LA Times.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

8.)   In September 2014, the DailyStar quotes US-backed FSA commander Bassel Idriss as saying that, “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in ... Qalamoun… We have reached a point where we have to collaborate with anyone against unfairness and injustice… Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values.”  Knutsen, Elise.  Frustration drives Arsal’s FSA into ISIS ranks.  September 8, 2014.  The Daily Star.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

9.)   In April 2014, The Independent quotes US-backed SRF leader Jamal Maarouf as saying, “It’s clear that I’m not fighting against al-Qa’ida. This is a problem outside of Syria’s border, so it’s not our problem. I don’t have a problem with anyone who fights against the regime inside Syria.”  The report goes on to state that, “Maarouf admits to fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra – one example being the offensive against Isis, whose brutal tactics were deemed too violent even for al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.  While Maarouf maintains that their military supplies are too few to share, he cites the battle of Yabroud, against the regime, as an example of how his group shared weapons with Jabhat al-Nusra.  “If the people who support us tell us to send weapons to another group, we send them. They asked us a month ago to send weapons to Yabroud so we sent a lot of weapons there. When they asked us to do this, we do it.”  Hunter, Isabel.  ‘I am not fighting against al-Qa’ida… it’s not our problem’, says West’s last hope in Syria.  April 2, 2014.  The Independent.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

10.)            For further information on US-supported rebels and their links to ISIS, al-Nusra, and extremism, this report by Patrick Poole contains a wealth of information and is extensively sourced.  Poole, Patrick.  ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Commander Admits Alliance with ISIS, Confirms PJ Media Reporting.  September 10, 2014.  PJ Media.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

11.) France24 reports, citing an interview conducted by Le Monde, that French President Hollande has confirmed that France has delivered aid to Syrian rebels, most likely weapons caches.  France delivers arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms.  August 21, 2014.  France24.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

12.)StormCloudsGathering analysis of the video allegedly depicting police officer Ahmed Marebet being shot by assailant.  Charlie Hebdo Shooting Censored Video.  January 10, 2015.  Storm Clouds Gathering.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

13.)In January of 2014 John Mearsheimer, respected scholar at the University of Chicago, writes on the Privacy Board established by the Obama administration to investigate the effectiveness of NSA spying programs, “The Obama administration, not surprisingly, initially claimed that the nsa’s spying played a key role in thwarting fifty-four terrorist plots against the United States, implying it violated the Fourth Amendment for good reason. This was a lie, however. General Keith Alexander, the nsa director, eventually admitted to Congress that he could claim only one success, and that involved catching a Somali immigrant and three cohorts living in San Diego who had sent $8,500 to a terrorist group in Somalia.”  Mearsheimer, John J.  America Unhinged.  January/February 2014, Number 129.  The National Interest.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015). 

14.)            The nonprofit public policy group New American Foundation has published a report reviewing US terrorist arrests and concludes that widespread collection of telephone metadata does little to prevent terrorism.  Peter Bergen, director of the foundations national security program, stated, “Our investigation found that bulk collection of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group.”  Strohm, Chris.  NSA Data Have No Impact on Terrorism: Report.  January 13, 2014.  Bloomberg.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

15.)Far from stopping terrorism, US law enforcement has, in the pursuit of stopping terrorism, actively engaged in committing terrorism in order to bring about counterterrorism convictions.  Human Rights Watch has recently published a report with startling revelations of FBI conduct in regards to counterterrorism operations, stating that in many instances the FBI has created and developed terrorist plots, and pressured and encouraged them to take place.  It states, “Since the September 11 attacks, more than 500 individuals have been prosecuted in US federal courts for terrorism or related offenses.  Many prosecutions have properly targeted individuals engaged in planning or financing terror attacks. But many others have targeted individuals who do not appear to have been involved in terrorist plotting or financing at the time the government began to investigate them.  Indeed, in some cases the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by conducting sting operations that facilitated or invented the target’s willingness to act. According to multiple studies, nearly 50 percent of the more than 500 federal counterterrorism convictions resulted from informant-based cases; almost 30 percent of those cases were sting operations in which the informant played an active role in the underlying plot. In the case of the “Newburgh Four,” for example, a judge said the government “came up with the crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles,” and had, in the process, made a terrorist out of a man “whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope… While some of these cases involved foreign nationals and conduct overseas, or individuals who are not Muslim, many of the most high-profile terrorism prosecutions have focused on “homegrown” terrorist threats allegedly posed by American Muslims. Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute found that at times, in aggressively pursuing terrorism threats before they even materialize, US law enforcement overstepped its role by effectively participating in developing terrorism plots—in at least two cases even offering the defendants money to entice them to participate in the plot.”  Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions.  Human Rights Watch.  Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute.  July 2014.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

16.)            Leading national security scholar Nafeez Ahmed writes in a recent piece, “France’s failed policies towards its Muslim minority communities have played a critical role in establishing a groundswell of social exclusion and alienation, that makes some French Muslims vulnerable to recruitment by Islamist extremists.  This was even acknowledged by Bernard Squarcini, the head of France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI), who recently admitted that the reasons France has faced an increasingly high risk of terrorist attack include the country’s history as a colonial power, its military involvement in Afghanistan, and the widening restrictions on Muslim women’s dress including the banning of headscarves in public service jobs. Yet in some ways, Squarcini also misses the point, even noted by private US intelligence firm Stratfor, which is closely linked to the American military intelligence community: “France has a significant Muslim minority largely segregated in slums known in French as ‘banlieues’ outside France's major cities. A significant proportion of the young Muslim men who live in these areas are unemployed and disaffected. This disaffection has been displayed periodically in the form of large-scale riots … which resulted in massive property destruction and produced the worst civil unrest in France since the late 1960s. While not all those involved in the riots were Muslims, Muslims did play a significant and visible role in them… Moves by the French government such as the burqa ban have stoked these tensions and feelings of anger and alienation. The ban, like the 2004 ban against headscarves in French schools, angered not only jihadists but also some mainstream Muslims in France and beyond.”  Ahmed, Nafeez.  Blowback in Paris.  January 8, 2015.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).

17.)Noam Chomsky writes in 2001, citing Wall Street Journal reports, “Immediately after 9-11, the Wall Street Journal, later others, began to investigate opinions of "moneyed Muslims": bankers, professionals, managers of multinationals, and so on. They strongly support US policies in general, but are bitter about the US role in the region: about US support for corrupt and repressive regimes that undermine democracy and development, and about specific policies, particularly regarding Palestine and Iraq. Though they are not surveyed, attitudes in the slums and villages are probably similar, but harsher; unlike the "moneyed Muslims," the mass of the population have never agreed that the wealth of the region should be drained to the West and local collaborators, rather than serving domestic needs. The "moneyed Muslims" recognize, ruefully, that Bin Laden's angry rhetoric has considerable resonance, in their own circles as well, even though they hate and fear him, if only because they are among his primary targets.  Chomsky, Noam.  Terror and Just Response.  July 2, 2002.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).  Waldman, Peter et al.  America in the Eyes of the Arab World: A Complex Mix of Emotions Fuels Hate.  September 14, 2001, The Wall Street Journal.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).  Waldman, Peter.  Pope, Hugh.  'Crusade' Reference Reinforces Fears War on Terrorism Is Against Muslims.  September 21, 2001.  The Wall Street Journal.  (Accessed on 1/11/2015).