Thought police tell Lauren Southern she’s a ‘threat to society’
Paul Joseph Watson | Infowars.com – MARCH 12, 2018
UK border authorities banned conservative journalist Lauren Southern from entering the country earlier today ostensibly because Southern had criticized Islam during a previous visit to the United Kingdom.
Southern was detained by border police in Calais while attempting to enter the UK on a bus. Authorities singled her out, confiscated her passport, detained and interrogated her.
The official reason for banning Southern from entering the country was that she was “involved in the distribution of racist material in Luton” and that such activities posed “a threat to the fundamental interests of society and to the public policy of the United Kingdom.”
The “racist material” in question comprised of leaflets which stated “Allah is a gay God”.
Presumably, the UK has now instituted a kind of reverse Muslim ban where people who question the belief system of Islam (which isn’t a race) are now barred from entry.
Meanwhile, over 400 ISIS jihadists who fought in Syria and Iraq have been allowed back into the UK, with some being given welfare and free housing.
Southern’s ban follows the similar treatment of right-wing activists Brittany Pettibone and Martin Sellner, who were detained over the weekend by UK authorities after Sellner tried to enter the country to give a speech on the topic of the threat to free speech at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London.
Pettibone was told she was denied entry because she planned to interview Tommy Robinson, whom the UK government accuses of inciting “racial hatred” because of his criticism of Islam.
Other conservatives banned from the UK include Geert Wilders, who leads the Netherlands’ second largest political party, and popular American radio host Michael Savage.
The treatment of Sellner, Pettibone and Southern sets a horrifying precedent for free speech and represents an embarrassment to the United Kingdom. Urgent questions need to be asked in Parliament to ascertain why people are being banned from the country for holding conservative political beliefs.
Smoke is seen in some areas in Damascus, Syria, on February 20, 2018. © Ammar Safarjalani / Global Look Press
A group of MPs from the far-right Alternative for Germany Party has come to Damascus to see the situation on the ground “firsthand.” The politicians are seeking evidence that refugees could be repatriated from Germany to Syria.
The group, consisting of six federal and regional MPs, arrived in the Syrian capital on Monday. They said their trip is a “private” one, even though it was discussed with the Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) co-chairs, Alexander Gauland und Joerg Meuthen, according to Der Spiegel weekly.
The German delegation includes four members of the German Bundestag (the Lower House of the German Parliament) and two regional MPs from North Rhine Westphalia. The MPs are expected to stay in Syria for about seven days and will visit Damascus as well as the cities of Homs and Aleppo.
The information they gather would particularly allow the MPs to “adequately assess” if Syria can be considered “safe” for the refugees to return there. “Experience that the MPs would get would allow [them] to make a rational assessment of the situation in Syria with regard to the ongoing discussion about its designation as a ‘safe country of origin’ as well as with regard to the decision on the moratorium on repatriation of failed asylum seekers,” the group said in a statement posted on Facebook before its departure.
The AfD capitalized on the refugee crisis by repeatedly criticizing Merkel for her ‘open door’ policy as Germany accepted the largest number of asylum seekers during the massive influx of refugees to Europe. The party is known for its harsh anti-Islam and anti-immigrant stance.
Back in November, the German MPs from AfD already came forward with an initiative to declare Syria a “safe country of origin.” They also urged the German government to sign an agreement with the Syrian President Bashar Assad, which would “promote the return of the Syrian refugees” to their homes. The motion was rejected by other MPs, who accused the AfD of “cynicism.”“By [submitting] such proposal, the AfD acts as a press service of Assad,” a member of the German Green Party, Luise Amtsberg, said at that time.
Germany has accepted hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers during the refugee crisis after the Chancellor Angela Merkel embraced the policy of “open doors.” Berlin also imposed a moratorium on repatriating failed asylum seekers to Syria back in 2012, arguing that it is not safe for them to return home.
Now, the group said it will visit education facilities in Syria as well as meet with the representatives of various “religious communities” as well as some Syrian officials. The MPs also said they had “nothing against” meeting with the Syrian President Bashar Assad personally. They did not specify, however, if such a meeting was on their agenda.
On Tuesday, the MPs met with the Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassun. According to Christian Blex, a regional MP from the German State of North Rhine Westphalia, who leads the group, he called on the Syrian refugees to return home. Earlier, they also met with some members of the Syrian parliament.
Blex also posted some photos from what he described as streets and a market in Damascus. He said that the group met “many open and friendly people,” adding that “everything is absolutely calm.”
Earlier, the MPs complained in their statement that the “German media coverage provides no sound way to assess the exact situation in Syria,” adding that their trip is aimed at “obtaining detailed information about the humanitarian situation and reconstruction efforts in Syrian regions, which were liberated from terrorists.”
In the meantime, the AfD continues to gain popularity at home. Despite being mired in numerous controversies, the far-right are now close to becoming the second most popular political party in Germany.
“Most politicians do not want to admit that the Western world is at war and should act accordingly… Policy responses are, in most cases, inadequate.”
15 Feb 2018
A military analyst has criticised EU leaders for failing to accept that “the Western world is at war” and warned that Europe will see worse terror attacks committed by Islamic extremists.
“Most politicians do not want to admit that the Western world is at war and should act accordingly… Policy responses are, in most cases, inadequate,” Lukáš Visingr told Czech news channel ČT24.
Mr. Visginr added that the recent period of calm – following the spate of Islamic extremist-inspired terror attacks that included the London Bridge, Manchester, Champs Elysees, Paris, and Barcelona attacks during the summer of 2017 – should not be taken as permanent.
“Informants warn that there are hundreds and thousands of well-trained jihadists in Europe who are ready to carry out attacks,” he said, noting that these Islamic State militants are returning from war zones in the Middle East after facing military defeat.
The security specialist also observed that terror attacks hitherto have mostly been carried out by “keen amateurs; they were not people who had special training from ‘professional’ terrorists like the Islamic State”.
“When this new generation [of returning, trained Islamic State militants] begins attacking, I think that we are in for much worse things.”
“I am convinced that there will be large-scale Islamic extremist attacks in Europe,” Visginr warned.
The defence analyst then hit back at the news presenter’s criticism that to profile Europe’s growing Muslim population is unfair and “nonsense”.
“I do not think it’s nonsense,” Visginr said. “The fact is that the Muslim community, although many of its members do not have a radical inclination, is a community from which the threat is coming.”
A similar assessment was made this month by defence analysts Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) in a report that said the terror threat will increase in 2018 as foreign jihadists return to Europe with advanced knowledge learnt whilst fighting with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
“Foreign fighters returning to Europe will provide critical skills that will help an increasing number of operational Islamist networks conduct more complex attacks,” writes the report’s author, Otso Iho.
“These skills include the construction of viable IEDs – learned in Iraq and Syria where the Islamic State (Isil) has produced IEDs on an industrial scale – expertise in assault weapons, and the use of new weapons types or technologies such as drones.”
In October 2017, the Soufan Center’s report, titled “Beyond the Caliphate, Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees”, found that at least 5,600 individuals from 33 countries who travelled to support the Islamic State have now returned to their countries of origin, many of which are in the West.
President Obama’s White House had a troublesome tendency to mishandle some of the nation’s most delicate intelligence — especially regarding the Middle East — by leaking classified information in an attempt to sway public opinion on sensitive matters. (Associated Press/File)
By Guy Taylor and Dan Boylan
They wanted him dead.
For years, a clandestine U.S. intelligence team had tracked a man they knew was high in the leadership of al Qaeda— an operative some believed had a hand in plotting the gruesome 2009 suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.
Their pursuit was personal, and by early 2014, according to a source directly involved in the operation, the agency had the target under tight drone surveillance. “We literally had a bead on this guy’s head and just needed authorization from Washington to pull the trigger,” said the source.
Then something unexpected happened. While agents waited for the green light, the al Qaeda operative’s name, as well as information about the CIA’s classified surveillance and plan to kill him in Pakistan, suddenly appeared in the U.S. press.
Abdullah al-Shami, it turned out, was an American citizen, and President Obama and his national security advisers were torn over whether the benefits of killing him would outweigh the political and civil liberties backlash that was sure to follow.
In interviews with several current and former officials, the al-Shami case was cited as an example of what critics say was the Obama White House’s troublesome tendency to mishandle some of the nation’s most delicate intelligence — especially regarding the Middle East — by leaking classified information in an attempt to sway public opinion on sensitive matters.
By the end of Mr. Obama’s second term, according to sources who spoke anonymously with The Washington Times, the practices of leaking, ignoring and twisting intelligence for political gain were ingrained in how the administration conducted national security policy.
Those criticisms have resurfaced in the debate over whether overall intelligence fumbling by the Obama White House in its final months may have amplified the damage wrought by suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election last year.
On repeated occasions during the Obama era, high-level sources and some lawmakers told The Washington Times, the president’s inner circle ignored classified briefings and twisted intelligence to fit political goals. Long before Donald Trump appeared on the White House campaign scene, many pointed to an incident during the 2012 election cycle as the most dramatic evidence of how that approach affected the handling of national security threats.
‘Understating the threat’
On the campaign trail in 2012, Mr. Obama declared that al Qaeda was “on the run,” despite a flow of intelligence showing that the terrorist group was metastasizing — a circumstance that led to the rise of the Islamic State.
Many Americans believed the president was justifiably touting a major success of his first term with the U.S. Special Forces killing of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in 2011. But the gulf between Mr. Obama’s campaign pronouncements and classified briefings provided to Congress touched off a heated debate in intelligence circles over whether the president was twisting the facts for political gain.
“Candidate Obama was understating the threat,” said Mike Rogers, who at the time was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. After the 2012 election, he said, “To say the core [was] decimated and therefore we [had] al Qaeda on the run was not consistent with the overall intelligence assessment at the time.”
Reflecting back this month, Mr. Rogers suggested that Mr. Obama — like many presidents before him — had a propensity for pushing certain politically advantageous narratives even if they contradicted classified intelligence.
Indeed, controversy has long swirled around politicized intelligence and leaks. The George W. Bush administration was accused of “stovepiping” intelligence it needed for its case to invade Iraq in 2003 while ignoring bits that may have undercut the rationale for war.
That case blossomed into a major scandal known as the “Plame affair.” White House staffer Scooter Libby was convicted of lying to investigators about the leak of the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband had challenged the administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. President Bush later commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence.
With regard to the Obama White House, Mr. Rogers told The Times, the circumstances were different but no less disturbing. “Over the course of their time in office, the Obama administration’s world got smaller and smaller,” said the Michigan Republican, who retired from Congress in 2015. “They listened to fewer and fewer different opinions. When you do that, that is how you miss things.”
‘Heart was never in it’
Chaos and instability in the Middle East factored into one Obama-era intelligence leak that officials now say badly undermined national security.
The CIA’s covert “Train and Equip” program was crafted to aid forces seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad after the 2011 Arab Spring protests exploded into a civil war in Syria.
Train and Equip began with a flow of “nonlethal aid” to certain Syrian rebel groups, but as its budget ballooned to some $1 billion, the program morphed into an unwieldy and ineffective effort to assist an unconventional military campaign.
One former senior intelligence official said the program was badly undermined because the White House was constantly leaking details of efforts to build a Free Syrian Army with cash, weapons and intelligence.
“Obama had drawn a red line on Syria over chemical weapons, but then he didn’t do [expletive],” the former official told The Times. “The White House was facing a lot of political pressure to show they had policy for Syria, so they leaked the CIA’s covert action plan. They leaked it for purely political reasons, so they could say, ‘Look, look, we have a Syria strategy.’”
Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst now with the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, said other factors also undermined any chance for the program to succeed. Mr. Obama and his top aides were openly wary of being dragged deeper into the Syrian fight while the administration was trying to execute a strategic “pivot to Asia” — away from the heavy U.S. foreign policy focus on the Middle East.
“Obama’s heart was never in it, and the administration wanted nothing to do with it,” Mr. Pollack told The Times. “He mostly did it to avoid domestic political blowback. We could have done so much more, but the way it was run, it killed itself.”
Mr. Pollack, who once worked in the Clinton White House, said the program’s recruitment vetting was ridiculous. “The [Obama] administration more or less insisted, ‘We will only accept applicants … who had never met a jihadist.’ The vetting standards were absurd and excluded almost everyone who had any contact with the opposition in Syria,” Mr. Pollack said.
“It was like they thought we were going to wage a civil war against the Assad government with members of the social pages of The New York Times,” he said. “The Harvard crew team was not going to show up.”
In the long run, the policy’s failure provided a clear window for Iran and Russia to expand their military presence and political influence into the power vacuum created by Syria’s war.
And then there was unmasking.
Controversy has swirled for the past year around the Obama administration’s use of a process that allowed high-level White House officials to learn the redacted identities of Americans swept up in classified surveillance against suspected foreign operatives during the months surrounding the presidential election.
For decades, national security officials at the highest level have used their security clearances to engage in the process known as “unmasking” while reading raw intercepts from around the world for better understanding of relationships that might impact America’s safety.
President Carter’s hawkish national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was known by America’s spies as one who “loved raw intelligence,” according to Bob Woodward’s book “Veil, The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987.”
“Unmasking itself is not nefarious or conspiratorial; it’s done all the time around the world by ambassadors and CIAstation chiefs,” said one former CIA clandestine service officer who spoke with The Times. “It’s a standard procedure and involves a rigorous and bureaucratic process … to ensure whoever’s seeking the unmasking of names has a legitimate reason.”
But Republicans believe the process — and the safeguards against abuse — went terribly awry in the final months of the bitter campaign between Mr. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton and through the transition period between Mr. Trump’s unexpected victory and inauguration.
Remarks by former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former top White House strategist Steve Bannon, were all captured in surveillance of a Trump Tower meeting in December 2016. Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, has since acknowledged she asked that the identities of the Americans in the surveillance be revealed, citing what she said were legitimate concerns about the purpose of the group’s meeting with foreigners.
Although the unmasking itself may have been justified, the former CIA clandestine service officer said, what came next was dangerous.
“The issue is when any names that have been unmasked end up getting leaked to the press,” the former officer said. “And that is certainly what looks like happened vis-a-vis the Obama administration’s unmasking of Trump officials who were in meetings with Russians or Turks that were under American intelligence surveillance.”
Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House intelligence committee, has gone further, suggesting that Obama administration officials strategically leaked the names to smear Mr. Trump and fuel a narrative that the Trump campaign was secretly working with foreign forces.
‘Come on, Mr. President’
Suspicion that the Obama White House intentionally leaked the unmasked names has been fueled by what intelligence sources say was the administration track record of other sensitive leaks — which stretched back to the Abdullah al-Shami case in Afghanistan.
CIA agents were shocked when their classified drone surveillance against al-Shami suddenly appeared in 2014 reports by The Associated Press and The New York Times, one source told The Times. “There’s no question this guy got wind of the reports,” said the source. “The leak gave him a heads-up, and he suddenly disappeared. We lost our bead on him.”
Some at the CIA were outraged. Agents had been tracking the al Qaeda operative since early 2009, believing he had been directly involved in a bomb attack that injured several officials at U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan. Al-Shami’s fingerprints turned up on packing tape around a second bomb that didn’t explode.
Roughly a year later, there was another attack on Chapman, a key clandestine operations center in Afghanistan, in which seven CIA officers were killed. Some suspected al-Shami played a role in that attack as well.
Abdullah al-Shami — Arabic for “Abdullah the Syrian” — was the nom de guerre of a young man named Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh. Although raised in Dubai, al-Farekh was an American citizen because he was born in Texas.
By the time the CIA had him in its crosshairs in 2014, Mr. Obama was reeling from the furor sparked by his authorization of a drone strike in 2011 that killed another American citizen: al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the al-Awlaki strike as a violation of U.S. law because al-Awlaki had “never been charged with any crime” in an American court.
Fearful of a similar reaction, the Obama administration decided the best course of action would be to leak information about the al-Shami case to stir up public awareness of the conundrum facing the president, the former intelligence officials said.
“Look,” said the source, “I actually appreciate that Obama didn’t like the idea of killing another American without due process. But was leaking this stuff really the right way to handle this?
“I mean, come on Mr. President, it’s your finger on the trigger. You’re the one who decides. All we do is aim the gun,” said the source, who said it was fortunate that al-Shami was later captured alive and secretly flown to the United States for trial.
The al Qaeda operative was convicted in September in U.S. federal court in New York on terrorism charges under his birth name, Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh.
The 31-year-old is slated to be sentenced next month.
The issue of Syria dominated the more than hour-long phone call between the Russian and American presidents. Putin briefed Trump of his recent meeting with Assad, and both leaders agreed on the importance of the UN-led Syrian peace process.
Putin told Trump that President Bashar Assad confirmed his commitment to political reforms in Syria, including constitutional amendments. Assad also supported the idea of holding presidential and parliamentary elections as part of a transitional political process during his Monday meeting with Putin in Sochi.
The Russian president informed his US counterpart of the forthcoming meeting between the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey aimed at finding ways to further normalize the situation in Syria while contributing to the political process in the Middle Eastern country. The trilateral talks are scheduled for Wednesday, November 22.
“Both the parties expressed satisfaction with the phone call, which was practical and informative,” a statement from the Kremlin reads.
The White House said Washington reaffirmed its support for the Joint Statement of the US and Russia issued at the APEC summit on November 11.
“We’re talking very strongly about bringing peace to Syria, very strongly about North Korea, and about Ukraine,” Trump told journalists following the phone call with Putin.
The Russian president said a resolution of the Syrian political crisis must be based on the principles of preserving sovereignty, territorial integrity and the independence of Syria. Putin added that Russia has offered to host the Syrian Congress on National Dialogue in Sochi.
Putin again spoke of normalizing bilateral relations, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism. He added that cooperation between Russian and US security services could be of great practical significance. Trump supported Putin’s ideas, the Kremlin said.
Putin and Trump agreed that the crisis around the Korean peninsula should be solved through diplomatic means, according to the Kremlin. While discussing the Iranian nuclear program, the Russian president restated Moscow’s commitment to the full implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA). He also called the agreement “an important factor of regional stability” that also contributes to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Putin and Trump also touched on the terrorist threat and drug production in Afghanistan. Speaking about the situation in Eastern Ukraine, Putin once again underlined that there is no viable alternative other than the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties to the Ukrainian conflict.
Trump and Putin last spoke on the sidelines of the Vietnam APEC summit in mid-November. And even though there was no official meeting between the two leaders during the gathering, they still managed to hammer out a joint statement on Syria, in which they said the Syrian conflict “does not have a military solution.”
Trump later described his brief encounters with Putin during the summit as “good discussions.” He also slammed those who oppose US rapprochement with Russia, branding them “haters and fools.” He tweeted that “Russia can greatly help” the US in solving many pressing world issues.
Putin also held separate phone conversations with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. The discussions centered on the situation in Syria as well as a range of bilateral issues.
The latest report published by Germany’s Federal Association for Assistance for the Homeless shows the number of people living on the streets has surged by 33 percent in the two years through 2016.
“In 2016 an estimated 52,000 people were living on German streets, an increase of a third on the 39,000 people who were living rough in 2014,” the report says.
The data also shows that the number of people who don’t have their own home last year totaled 422,000 compared 335,000 two years before. Most of them have to live in collective accommodation or share apartments with friends, partners or family.
The head of the association Thomas Specht cites continuously increasing rents, sluggish wages as well as restricted housing supply among the key reasons behind the figures. The number of council flats had decreased by 60 percent to 1.2 million since 1990, as local councils had to sell off many properties to private investors.
“The authorities have lost control of the stock of affordable housing,” Specht said, as quoted by The Local Germany.
“The numbers presented today on homelessness are shocking. In our view this proves that ever more people are unable to pay their rents because of low wages and over-indebtedness,” said Ulrike Mascher, President of the social campaign group VdK.
Some politicians tend to blame the so-called open door policy, implemented by the current government, headed by Angela Merkel. The number of refugees from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries reportedly increased five-fold during 2015.
However, Specht pointed out that although the influx of migrants had some impact on facilities for the homeless, it couldn’t be the only factor.
Last month, Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party agreed to limit the number of people allowed to enter Germany for humanitarian reasons to 200,000 annually with migrant workers not to be affected by the plan.