Tag Archive: terror


Remembering Guantanamo

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As the majority of the western world glues itself to the television to get the latest updates on the US Presidential election, a group of British protesters gathered outside the US embassy today to remember those connected to an issue that the Obama administration long seems to have forgotten about.

Yesterday, The London Guantanamo Campaign hosted its event “Demo, Truth and Justice The American Way” which consisted of speakers and entertainers who highlighted the on going human rights abuses conducted by the US and UK governments in Guantanamo Bay.

The event was attended by people like Ilyas Townsend(Justice for Aafia Campaign) who talked about the history of colonialism and it’s contemporary manifestations, Chris Nineham(Stop the War Coalition) who talked about our need to oppose Guantanamo and the connection between Islamophobia and the war in terror and Joy Hurcombe(Save Shaker Aamer Campaign) who spoke of their fight to free Britains last remaining Guantanamo detainee.

But for me the most interesting speech was from Aviva Stahl(CagePrisoners) who highlighted the intrusive entrapment methods of the FBI responsible for radicalising Muslims. This was particularly relevant to my previous article which was an interview with documentary film maker Roshan Muhammad Salih and his investigations of MI5’s intelligence gathering operation of the Muslim community in the UK.

It was a very inspirational event to be involved in, seeing people stand up for the right of others but there is another thing that I learnt. Although it is important to resist the current war on terror, we have to understand that this is simply an evolution of the cold war. Therefore our response to the war on terror must also evolve if we are to take our activism to new powerful heights and ensure that our children and our children’s children have a fighting chance in stopping imperialism and racism in all of its forms.

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Yesterday, CagePrisoners hosted an event called ‘Caged in the USA‘ which included discussions and talks from community activist Lee Jasper, former Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, activist and brother of Talha Ahsan, Hamja Ahsan and ex-US political prisoner and black panther Robert King.

As an observer the event itself highlighted the similarities and the differences between the imprisonment of political prisoners due to the war on terror and the imprisonment of other political prisoners in earlier era’s.

All the speakers and panelists highlighted the same challenges that Muslim and non-Muslim communities face when it comes to the issue of terrorism and the police. Robert King spoke about how the black community were treated as slaves and this has evolved in to the American justice system and Omar Deghayes complimented what Robert King said when he mentioned the Guantanamo inmates are treated as sub-humans and as slaves. The input from Hamja Ahsan and Lee Jasper bought in to the Event the importance of the community to tackle social, economic and political issues and the hypocrisy of the UK government regarding the Extradition of Talha Ahsan.

But one thing that CagePrisoners mentioned was that the Home Office PREVENT department called them and the Karibu Centre to stop the event. Why?

Since there was no promotion of any radical ideology at the event and all that was discussed were issues pertaining to the War on Terror (which is what all CagePrisoner events are known for) it seems to me that the Home Office is acting on the findings by discredited think tanks such as the Quilliam Foundation and the Centre for Social Cohesion.

CagePrisoners act to give a voice to the voiceless and although they might represent some political prisoners who’s opinions I do not agree with, I stick with the principle that no one is above justice and that everyone is entitled to a fair hearing, whether that is Abu Hamza or (if he were to be arrested) the EDL’s Stephen Lennon.

This does not make CagePrisoners an inherently extremist organisation neither but what CagePrisoners have done via events like this is to help open a platform where political issues can be discussed, progressive ideas can be exchanged and civic participation and lawful activism can be encouraged. During these times where the UK governments double standards is plain for all to see organisations that give young activists the platform to air their views and get involved should be encouraged and supported.

But the Home Office PREVENT departments attempt to close the event shows to me a frightening reality that far from preventing violent extremism, it actually tried to prevent any form of political dissent.



I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you
I’m sorry for everything that you went through
At the beginning of it all
I know that you never thought that this war
Would literally kick down your door
Exposing the real world, a world where the innocent are framed
Is what Tony Blair probably meant
When he said the rules of the game have changed
A world where the truth is in her grave
And Lady Liberty is abused like a prisoner in Abu Ghraib
But I know you know what it feels like and I hate to say it
But I find solace in the darkness of my own solitude
When I’m reminded of what you’ve been through
And what your going through instils a strong sense of belief in me
Strongly disagreeing with Francis Fukiyama
this isn’t the end of history
The innocent wont continue to languish in prison
Which is what they’re putting you through for supporting terrorism
But Bush’s business talks with the Taliban
Was never mentioned through the Television
Or the radio yet still they never let you go
That’s the justice system not practicing what they preach
Whenever I think of your mother,
I picture her over tear flooded streams
when it is only heaven that should lay beneath her feet
Yet far from being frail and weak
Only men of honour are jailed for what they believe
Knowing the day will come where you walk free
Fills me with a strong sense of optimism
To continue fighting for the day
oppression is called out for extradition
And the innocent aren’t done for terrorism but until then
I can’t imagine what it’s like to be thrown off-shore
Probably Resulting in eyes flooded with so much tears you can’t see no more

Resulting in grief stricken pain so great you can’t grieve no more
I really respect you for saying you won’t cry,
You won’t show the world that your cracking up inside,
Know my brother
Freedom comes at a price
And you’ve paid the price
freedom will come to you in the form of paradise,
You’ve paid the price,
freedom will come to you in the form of paradise,
you’ve paid the price,
freedom will come to you in the form of paradise.
God willing

Extradition is a film that explores the injustices of the Extradition Act 2003 through the suffering of two individuals and their families. The act stipulates that any British Citizen can be extradited to the US without their government even providing prima facie evidence. Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan have been detained for eight and six years respectively, both without trial. In all this time they have had no charges levelled against them, seen none of the evidence or even been questioned by British or American police. Yet they remain imprisoned.

The documentary showcases the hypocrisy and one-sidedness of the Act but also shows the human suffering of the two men and their families.

The film, directed by Turab Shah, features interviews with Gareth Peirce, Talha’s Brother Hamja Ahsan, playwright Avaes Mohammad, the fathers of Babar and Talha, framed by Talha’s prison poetry.

Source

A federal investigation alleged Enrique Prado’s involvement in seven murders, yet he was in charge when America outsourced covert killing to a private company.

CIA

It was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. “The move was historic,” says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. “It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise.”

The quote is from his e-book How to Get Away With Murder in America, which goes on to note that “in the past, the CIA was subject to oversight, however tenuous, from the president and Congress,” but that “President Bush’s 2001 executive order severed this line by transferring to the CIA his unique authority to approve assassinations. By removing himself from the decision-making cycle, the president shielded himself — and all elected authority — from responsibility should a mission go wrong or be found illegal. When the CIA transferred the assassination unit to Blackwater, it continued the trend. CIA officers would no longer participate in the agency’s most violent operations, or witness them. If it practiced any oversight at all, the CIA would rely on Blackwater’s self-reporting about missions it conducted. Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible.” None of this is new information, though I imagine that many people reading this item are hearing about it for the first time.

Isn’t that bizarre?

The bulk of Wright’s e-book (full disclosure: I help edit the website of Byliner, publisher of the e-book) tells the story of Enrique Prado, a high-ranking CIA-officer-turned-Blackwater-employee who oversaw assassination units for both the CIA and the contractor. To whom was this awesome responsibility entrusted? According to Wright’s investigation, a federal organized crime squad run out of the Miami-Dade Police Department produced an investigation allegedly tying Prado to seven murders carried out while he worked as a bodyguard for a narco crime boss. At the time, the CIA declared him unavailable for questioning; the investigation was shut down before he was arrested or tried.

There’s a lot more to the story — Wright’s e-book is almost 50 pages long — but this bit is of particular note:
The reporting on Prado’s activities at Blackwater produced no evidence that the firm’s employees had ever killed anyone on behalf of the CIA. But I spoke to Blackwater employees who insisted that they had. Two Blackwater contractors told me that their firm began conducting assassinations in Afghanistan as early as 2008. They claimed to have participated in such operations — one in a support role, the other as a “trigger puller.” The contractors, to whom I spoke in 2009 and 2010, were both ex-Special Forces soldiers who were not particularly bothered by assassination work, although they did question the legality of Blackwater’s involvement in it.

According to the “trigger puller,” he and a partner were selected for one such operation because they were Mexican Americans, whose darker skin enabled them to blend in as Afghan civilians. The first mission he described took place in 2008. He and his partner spent three weeks training outside Kabul, becoming accustomed to walking barefoot like Afghans while toting weapons underneath their jackets. Their mission centered on walking into a market and killing the occupant of a pickup truck, whose identity a CIA case worker had provided to them. They succeeded in their mission, he told me, and moved on to another. This contractor’s story didn’t completely fit with other accounts about Prado’s unit at Blackwater. The e-mail written by Prado and later obtained by the Times seemed to indicate that the unit wouldn’t use Americans to carry out actual assassinations. Moreover, two CIA sources insisted that the contractors I spoke to were lying. As one put it, “These guys are security guards who want to look like Rambo.”

When I asked Ed O’Connell, a former Air Force colonel and RAND analyst with robust intelligence experience in Afghanistan, to evaluate these contractors’ claims, he first told me they were almost certainly a “fantastical crock of shit.” But a year later, in 2011, after a research trip in Afghanistan for his firm Alternative Strategies Institute, O’Connell had changed his assessment. He told me, “Your sources seem to have been correct. Private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA.”
So there you have it: A former Air Force lieutenant colonel, speaking on the record and using the present tense, said in 2011 that “private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA.”

Says Wright:

While Blackwater’s covert unit began as a Bush administration story, President Obama now owns it. In 2010, his administration intervened on behalf of the Blackwater executives indicted for weapons trafficking, filing motions to suppress evidence on the grounds that it could compromise national security. The administration then awarded Blackwater (which is now called Academi) a $250 million contract to perform unspecified services for the CIA. At the same time, Obama has publicly taken responsibility for some lethal operations — the Navy SEALs’ sniper attack on Somali pirates, the raid on bin Laden. His aides have also said that he reviews target lists for drone strikes. The president’s actions give him the appearance of a man who wants the best of both worlds. He appears as a tough, resolute leader when he announces his role in killings that will likely be popular — a pirate, a terrorist. But the apparatus for less accountable killings grinds on.
Needless to say, this ought to spark an investigation, but more than that, it should cause Americans to step back and reflect on how vulnerable we’ve made ourselves to bad actors in the post-9/11 era. We’re giving C.I.A. agents and even private security contractors the sort of power no individual should wield. And apparently our screening apparatus turns out to be lacking.