(RT) Two decades ago saw the start of Europe’s bloodiest military conflict since the Second World War. The Bosnian War and the break-up of the former Yugoslavia reignited ethnic conflicts between Muslims and Serbs. Over four years, around 100-thousand people were killed, and more than 4 million displaced. The war eventually saw NATO’s first-ever peace mission in its history – setting a template for incursions into foreign trouble spots. Anti-NATO activist Rick Rozoff believes the Alliance’s current interventions make it hard for nations to resolve their conflict themselves.
(Yazan al-Saadi) US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.
James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”
“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id5441475)
In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”
Walid Phares, named by the source as part of the “fact finding team,” is a Lebanese-American citizen and currently co-chairs Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.
In a profile of Walid Phares published in Salon, As’ad AbuKhalil details Phares’ history with right-wing militias during the Lebanese civil war.
Sue Myrick, who allegedly was providing “air cover” for the “fact finding team”, is a Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina who has a track record of extremist pro-zionist and anti-Islamic views.
These include leading the charge against Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy major American ports in 2006 – labeling the Islamic Society of North America as a group of “radical jihadists” – and demanding that former President Jimmy Carter’s citizenship be revoked for daring to meet with Hamas leaders in 2008.
Currently, Myrick is a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a congressional committee charged with overseeing the American intelligence community, and is also involved with the Department of Defense and the US military.
In his email, the “true mission” for the “fact finding” team, Smith told Burton, was how “they can help in regime change.”
Furthermore, the email added that Smith intended to offer “his services to help protect the opposition members, like he had underway in Libya.” He also said that Booz Allen Hamilton, an American consulting firm regularly contracted by the US government for civil and defense projects, “is also working [with] the Agency on a similar request.” (doc-id 5331882)
Smith had originally contacted Stratfor through an email to its founder George Friedman on 15 February 2011 in order to thank the private intelligence firm for its “excellent service of intelligence reporting and analysis.”
“Outstanding just doesn’t cut it – professionally competent, salient, germane, concise are all descriptors that describe your organization’s work product,” he added quite lovingly. (doc-id 257534)
This email was forwarded by Friedman to Burton, who gradually built a friendly relationship with Smith.
By September, Smith had become a major source for Stratfor. Codenamed LY700, he provided intelligence to Burton on developments in Libya – where Smith and his company were contracted to protect Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) members and train Libyan rebel fighters after the implementation of the no-fly zone in March 2011. (doc-id 121087)
Smith’s intelligence impressed Burton, who in praising him to his peers reeled off another one of his signature racist slurs, “Good skinny. This is what is defined as a credible source. Not some windbag Paki academic belching and passing gas.” (doc-id 5280688)
One of Smith’s contacts was Mehdi al-Harati, an Irish-Libyan who was the commander of the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade and deputy commander of the Tripoli Military Council prior to his resignation on 11 October 2011. (doc-id 966063)
During his involvement with Stratfor, Smith provided intelligence on missing surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) (doc-id 5321612) and allegedly “took part” in the killing of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. (doc-id 3980511)
On the same day Burton was informed of Smith’s new assignment to Syria, he requested an overview of the Syrian opposition from the Startfor briefers, Zucha and Aflano.
Zucha in turn contacted Ashley Harrison, a tactical analyst, for more in-depth info about the Syrian opposition. Harrison responded with an attached 14-page document detailing key groups and their leaders. (doc-id 5355211)
The trail of emails ends December 13, days before the Stratfor mail servers were reportedly hacked, with Burton saying that his source “is meeting w/specific people described as key leaders.” (doc-id 5293788)
Will Vice President Joe Biden Stand By His Claim to Impeach A U.S. President For Acting Like a Dictator?
(Thierry Meyssan) The UN Security Council members are at loggerheads over the interpretation of the events that are rocking Syria. On one hand, France, the United Kingdom and the United States claim that a revolution has swept the country, in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”, and suffering a bloody crackdown. On the other hand, Russia’s and China’s take is that Syria is having to cope with armed gangs from abroad, which it is fighting awkwardly thereby causing collateral victims among the civilian population it seeks to protect.
The on-the-spot investigation undertaken by Voltaire Network validated the latter interpretation. We have collected eyewitness testimonies from those who survived an armed attack by a foreign gangs. They describe them as being Iraqis, Jordanians or Libyans, recognizable by their accent, as well as Pashtun.
In recent months, a certain number of Arab newspapers, favorable to the Al-Assad administration, discussed the infiltration into Syria of 600 to 1,500 fighters from the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya (IFGL), rebranded Al Qaeda in Libya since November 2007. In late November 2011, the Libyan press reported the attempt by the Zintan militia to detain Abdel Hakim Belhaj, companion of Osama Bin Laden and historic leader of Al Qaeda in Libya, who became military governor of Tripoli by the grace of NATO. The scene took place at Tripoli airport, as he was leaving for Turkey. Finally, Turkish newspapers mentioned Mr. Belhaj’s presence at the Turkish-Syrian.
Such reports have been met with disbelief on the part of all those who regard Al Qaeda and NATO are irreconcilable enemies between whom no cooperation is possible. Instead, they reinforce the thesis which I have defended since the attacks of September 11, 2001, that Al Qaeda fighters are mercenaries of the service of the CIA.
Who is telling the truth?
For the past week, the Spanish royalist newspaper ABChas published a daily report by photographer Daniel Iriarte. This journalist is with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the north of the country, right on the Turkish border. Iriarte champions the cause of the “revolution” and can never find words harsh enough against “Al-Assad regime.”
The Free Syrian Army is made up of more than 20 00 people, according to its political chief Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad, but of only a few hundred when listening to the Syrian authorities.
However, in the Saturday edition dated 17 December 2011, Daniel Iriarte describes an encounter that shocked him. While his FSA friends were taking him to a new hideout, he came across some foreign insurgents: three Libyans.
The first one among them was al-Mahdi Hatari, a Libyan who lived in Ireland before joining Al Qaeda. At the end of the Libyan war, he was named commander of the Tripoli Brigade, then number 2 of the Tripoli Military Council headed by Abdel Hakim Belhaj. He resigned from this function, according to some because of a dispute with the Transitional National Council, according to others because he wanted to go back to Ireland to join his Irish wife The truth is that he headed for Syria.
Even stranger: a member of Al Qaeda was among the pro-Palestinian activists, in June of last year, on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. Numerous secret service agents, especially US, had infiltrated the “Freedom Flotilla“. He was wounded and held prisoner for nine days in Israel.
Finally, during the Battle of Tripoli, al-Mahdi Harati commanded the Al Qaeda group that besieged and attacked the Rixos hotel, where I was staying with myVoltaire Network companions and the international press, and whose basement served as a shelter for the leaders of the Jamahiriya under the protection of the custody of Khamis Gaddafi. According to the latter, Mahdi al-Harati was being briefed by the French officers on the ground.
The second Libyan that the Spanish photographer in the Syrian army is none other than Kikli Adem, a lieutenant of Abdel Hakim Belhaj. As for the third Libyan, nicknamed Fouad, Daniel Iriarte was not in a position to identify him.
Iriarte’s testimony dovetails with what the Arab anti-Syrian press has been claiming for weeks: the Free Syrian Army is overseen by at least 600 “volunteers” from Al Qaeda in Libya. The entire operation is run by Abdel Hakim Belhaj in person with the help of the Erdogan government.
How can it be explained that a daily newspaper as anti-Assad as ABC has decided to publish the testimony of its special envoy, who sheds light on the nauseating methods employed by NATO and confirms the Syrian government’s thesis of armed destabilization? The fact is that for a week, certain advocates of the clash of civilizations have been riling against a set-up which includes Islamic extremists in a “free world” strategy.
Writing on CNBC Guest Blog, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar revealed on 9 December 2011 that Abdel Hakim Belhaj was suspected of complicity in the attacks of 11 March 2004 in Madrid, an event that put an end to Aznar’s political career.
Mr. Aznar’s outing goes hand in hand with the intervention made by his friends from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the think tank headed by former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold. They publicly voice their doubts about the validity of the current CIA strategy to place Islamists in power throughout North Africa. Their criticism is aimed against the secret society of the Muslim Brotherhood, but also against two Libyan figures: Abel Hakim Belhadj and his friend Sheikh Ali Al-Salibi. The latter is regarded as the new leader of Libya. The two men are deemed to be the pawns of Qatar in the new Libya. It was also Sheikh Salabi who distributed $ 2 billion of Qatari funds to help Al-Qaeda in Libya.
Thus the contradiction that was desperately kept hidden for the past decade returns to the surface: the mercenaries, formerly paid by Osama Bin Laden, have never stopped working in the service of US strategic interests since the first war in Afghanistan, including the period of the September 11 attacks. Yet they are portrayed by Western leaders as implacable enemies.
It is likely that the objections of Mr. Aznar and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs will be overridden by NATO, as were those raised by AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham. At the beginning of the war Libya, he was incensed at having to protect jihadists who had gone to slaughter GIs in Iraq.
Detached from reality, the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (aka “Committee pursuant to resolution 1267”) and the US Department of State still have on their black list the organization of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sheik Salabi under its former label of Islamic Fighting Group in Libya. It would appear that is it the duty of every State to arrest these individuals if they enter their territory.
(DEADLINE LIVE) According to officials familiar with the situation, a meeting between Libya’s new regime, the NATO-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) and members of the Syrian National Council (SNC) ended with a request for the NTC to send arms to the opposition, and potentially to get involved even more. “There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” one Libyan source said. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”
(BBC) Militias from the Libyan city of Misrata are “terrorising” displaced residents of the town of Tawargha over their alleged loyalty to Muammar Gaddafi, says a rights group.
The entire town, once home to 30,000 people, has been abandoned, said US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Parts have been ransacked and burnt and residents told not to return, it said.
The ruling NTC said it has ordered its forces not to loot and that an inquiry would be held in case of wrongdoing.
“We are in complete harmony. If there has been anything outside the law, there will be an investigation,” said Deputy Defence Minister Fawzi Abu Katif.
HRW said it had reports of militiamen shooting unarmed Tawarghans and of arbitrary arrests and beatings, some of them leading to deaths, HRW said.
The militias are accusing the Gaddafi loyalists in Tawargha of committing atrocities, such as murder and rape, alongside Gaddafi forces in Misrata.
The majority of the town’s residents are non-Arab Libyans, many of them descendants of African slaves.
“Revenge against the people from Tawargha, whatever the accusations against them, undermines the goal of the Libyan revolution,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director.
“In the new Libya, Tawarghans accused of wrongdoing should be prosecuted based on the law, not subject to vigilante justice,” she added.
HRW says its conclusions were based on the testimonies of dozens of people across the country.
Pro-Gaddafi forces used Tawargha as a base for attacks on Misrata when they besieged the city during the Libyan uprising.
The anti-Gaddafi militia fought their way out and began an advance on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, back in August.