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chomsky.info, December 1, 2012
An old man in Gaza held a placard that reads: “You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.” [1]

The old man’s message provides the proper context for the timelines on the latest episode in the savage punishment of Gaza. They are useful, but any effort to establish a “beginning” cannot help but be misleading. The crimes trace back to 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled in terror or were expelled to Gaza by conquering Israeli forces, who continued to truck them over the border for years after the official cease-fire. The persecution of Gazans took new forms when Israel conquered the Strip in 1967. From recent Israeli scholarship we learn that the goal of the government was to drive the refugees into the Sinai, and if feasible the rest of the population too.

Expulsions from Gaza were carried out under the direct orders of General Yeshayahu Gavish, commander of the Southern Command. Expulsions from the West Bank were far more extreme, and Israel resorted to devious means to prevent the return of those expelled, in direct violation of Security Council orders. The reasons were made clear in internal discussion immediately after the war. Golda Meir, later Prime Minister, informed her Labor colleagues that Israel should keep the Gaza Strip while “getting rid of its Arabs.” Defense Minister Dayan and others agreed. Prime Minister Eshkol explained that those expelled cannot be allowed to return because “We cannot increase the Arab population in Israel” — referring to the newly occupied territories, already tacitly considered part of Israel. In accord with this conception, all of Israel’s maps were changed, expunging the Green Line (the internationally recognized borders), though publication was delayed to permit UN Ambassador Abba Eban to attain what he called “favorable impasse” at the General Assembly, by concealing Israel’s intentions. [2]

The goals may remain alive, and might be a factor contributing to Egypt’s reluctance to open the border to free passage of people and goods barred by the US-backed Israeli siege.

The current upsurge of US-Israeli violence dates to January 2006, when Palestinians voted “the wrong way” in the first free election in the Arab world. Israel and the US reacted at once with harsh punishment of the miscreants, and preparation of a military coup to overthrow the elected government, routine procedure. The punishment was radically intensified in 2007, when the coup attempt was beaten back, and the elected Hamas government established full control over Gaza.

The standard version of these events is more anodyne, for example, in the New York Times, November 29: “Hamas entered politics by running in, and winning, elections in the Palestinian territories in 2006. But it was unable to govern in the face of Western opposition and in 2007 took power in the Gaza Strip by force, deepening the political split [with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority].” [3]

Ignoring immediate Hamas offers of a truce after the 2006 election, Israel launched attacks that killed 660 Palestinians in 2006, mostly civilians, one-third minors. The escalation of attacks in 2007 killed 816 Palestinians, 360 civilians and 152 minors. The UN reports that 2879 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire from April 2006 through July 2012, along with several dozen Israelis killed by fire from Gaza. [4]

A truce in 2008 was honored by Hamas until Israel broke it in November. Ignoring further truce offers, Israel launched the murderous Cast Lead operation in December. So matters have continued, while the US and Israel also continue to reject Hamas calls for a long-term truce and a political settlement in accord with the international consensus on a two-state settlement that the US has blocked since 1976, when the US vetoed a Security Council resolution to this effect, brought by the major Arab states.

In late 2012 the US devoted extensive efforts to block a General Assembly resolution upgrading Palestine’s status to that of a “non-member observer state.” The effort failed, leaving the US in its usual international isolation on November 29, when the resolution passed overwhelmingly on the anniversary of the 1947 General Assembly vote on partition. [5] The reasons Washington frankly offered for its opposition to the resolution were revealing: Palestine might approach the International Criminal Court on Israel’s U.S.-backed crimes, which cannot be permitted judicial review for reasons that are all too obvious. A second concern, the New York Times reported, was that “the Palestinians might use the vote to seek membership in specialized agencies of the United Nations,” which could lead Washington to defund these international organizations, as it cut off financing to UNESCO in 2011 when it dared to admit Palestine as a member. The Master does not tolerate disobedience. [6]

Israel had warned that it would “go crazy” (“yishtagea”) if the resolution passed, reviving warnings from the 1950s that it would “go crazy” if crossed — not very meaningful then, much more so now. [7] And indeed, hours after the UN vote Israel announced its decision to carry forward settlement in Area E1 that connects the vastly expanded Greater Jerusalem that it annexed illegally to the town of Ma’aleh Adumim, greatly expanded under Clinton after the Oslo Accords, with lands extending virtually to Jericho, effectively bisecting the West Bank if the Area E1 corridor is closed by settlement. [8] Before Obama, US presidents had barred Israel’s efforts to expand its illegal settlements into the E1 region, so it was compelled to resort to stealth measures, like establishing a police station in the zone. Obama has been more supportive of Israeli criminal actions than his predecessors, and it remains to be seen whether he will keep to a tap on the wrist with a wink, as before.

Israel and the US insist on “direct negotiations” as the only “path to peace.” They also insist on crucial preconditions. First, the negotiations must be under US leadership, which makes as much sense as asking Iran to mediate Sunni-Shiite conflicts in Iraq. Genuine negotiations would take place under the auspices of some neutral party with a claim to international respect, perhaps Brazil, and would have the US and Israel on one side of the table, and most of the rest of the world on the other. A second precondition, left tacit, is that expansion of Israel’s settlements must be allowed to continue in one or another form (as happened, for example, during the formal 10-month “suspension”), with Washington signaling its disapproval while continuing to provide the required support.

The call for “direct negotiations” without substance is an old Israeli tactic to prevent steps towards diplomatic settlement that would impede its expansionist projects. After the 1967 war, the respected diplomat Abba Eban, who was in charge of the effort, was highly praised by Golda Meir and other colleagues in the governing Labor Party for his success at the United Nations in carrying forward “Israel’s peacemaking strategy” of confusion and delay, which came to “take the shape of a consistent foreign policy of deception,” as it is described by Israeli scholar Avi Raz in a detailed review of internal records. [9] At that time the tactics angered US officials, who protested vigorously though to no effect. But much has changed since, particularly since Kissinger took control of policy and the US largely departed from the world on Israel-Palestine.

The practice of delay goes back to the earliest Zionist settlement, which sought to “create facts” on the ground while keeping goals obscure. Even the call for a “Jewish commonwealth” was not made officially by the Zionist organization until a May 1942 meeting at the Biltmore hotel in New York.

Returning to Gaza, one element of the unremitting torture of its people is Israel’s “buffer zone” within Gaza from which Gazans are barred entry, almost half of Gaza’s limited arable land according to Sara Roy, the leading academic scholar of Gaza. From September 2005, after Israel transferred its settlers to other parts of the occupied territories, to September 2012, Israeli security forces killed 213 Palestinians in the zone, including 154 who were not taking part in hostilities, 17 of them children. [10]

From January 2012 to the launching of Israel’s latest killing spree on November 14, Operation Pillar of Defense, one Israeli was reported to have been killed by fire from Gaza while 78 Palestinians were killed by Israel fire. [11]

The full story is naturally more complex, and considerably uglier.

The first act of Operation Pillar of Defense was to murder Ahmed Jabari. Aluf Benn, editor of Ha’aretz, describes him as Israel’s “subcontractor” and “border guard” in Gaza, who enforced relative quiet in Gaza for over five years. [12] The pretext for the assassination was that during these five years Jabari had been creating a Hamas military force, with missiles from Iran. [13] Plainly, if that is true it was not learned on November 14.

A more credible reason was provided by Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who had been involved in direct negotiations with Jabari for years, including plans for the release of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Baskin reports that hours before Jabari was assassinated, “he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip.” A truce was then in place, called by Hamas on November 12. Israel apparently exploited the truce, Reuters reports, directing attention to the Syrian border in the hope that Hamas leaders would relax their guard and be easier to assassinate. [14]

Throughout these years, Gaza has been kept on a level of bare survival, imprisoned by land, sea and air. On the eve of the latest attack, the UN reported that 40 percent of essential drugs and more than half of essential medical items were out of stock. [15] One of the first of the series of hideous photos that were sent from Gaza in November showed a doctor holding the charred corpse of a murdered child. That one had a personal resonance. The doctor is the director and head of surgery at Khan Yunis hospital, which I had visited a few weeks earlier. In writing about the trip I reported his passionate appeal for desperately needed simple drugs and surgical equipment. These are among the crimes of the US-Israeli siege, and Egyptian complicity.

The casualty rates from the November episode were about normal: over 160 Palestinian dead, including many children, and 6 Israelis. Among the dead were three journalists. The official Israeli justification was that “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.” Reporting the “execution” in the New York Times, David Carr observes that “it has come to this: killing members of the news media can be justified by a phrase as amorphous as ‘relevance to terror activity’.” [16]

The massive destruction was all in Gaza. Israel used advanced US military equipment for the slaughter and destruction, and relied on US diplomatic support, including the usual US intervention to block a Security Council call for a cease-fire. [17]

With each such exploit Israel’s global image erodes. The images of terror and destruction, and the character of the conflict, leave few remaining shreds of credibility to the self-declared “most moral army in the world,” at least among people with eyes open.

The pretexts for the assault were also the usual ones. We can put aside the predictable declarations of the perpetrators in Israel and Washington, but even decent people ask what Israel should do when attacked by a barrage of missiles. It’s a fair question, and there are straightforward answers.

One response would be to observe international law, which allows the use of force without Security Council authorization in exactly one case: in self-defense after informing the Security Council of an armed attack, until the Council acts (UN Charter, Article 51). Israel understands that well. That is the course it followed at the outbreak of the June 1967 war, but of course Israel’s appeal went nowhere when it was quickly ascertained that it was Israel that had launched the attack. Israel did not follow this course in November, knowing well what would be revealed in a Security Council debate.

Another narrow response would be to agree to a truce, as appeared quite possible before the operation was launched on November 14, as often before.

There are more far-reaching responses. By coincidence, one illustration is discussed in the current issue of the journal National Interest. The authors, Asia scholars Raffaello Pantucci and Alexandros Petersen, describe China’s reaction after rioting in western Xinjiang province “in which mobs of Uighurs marched around the city beating hapless Han [Chinese] to death.” Chinese president Hu Jintao quickly flew to the province to take charge, senior leaders in the security establishment were fired, and a wide range of development projects were undertaken to address underlying causes of the unrest. [18]

In Gaza too a civilized reaction is possible. The US and Israel could end the merciless unremitting assault and open the borders, and provide for reconstruction — and if it were imaginable, reparations for decades of violence and repression.

The cease-fire agreement stated that the measures to implement the end of the siege and the targeting of residents in border areas “shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.” There is no sign of steps in this direction. Nor is there any indication of US-Israeli willingness to rescind their policy of separating Gaza from the West Bank in violation of the Oslo Accords, to end the illegal settlement and development programs in the West Bank designed to undermine a political settlement, or in any other way to abandon the rejectionism of the past decades.

Some day, and it must be soon, the world will respond to the plea issued by the distinguished Gazan human rights lawyer Raji Sourani while the bombs were once again raining down on defenseless civilians in Gaza: “We demand justice and accountability. We dream of a normal life, in freedom and dignity.” [19]

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Mahdi Hashi is thought to be in prison in the African state of Djibouti

While he was visiting Somalia, Theresa May deprived him of all his rights as a British national

He was accused of extremist activities but his parents say this is wrong

After landing at Heathrow, he was approached by MI5 who said his ‘suspect status’ would be cleared if he ‘co-operated’ with them

A British citizen whose family believe he is being tortured by American secret agents has suddenly had all his rights as a UK national removed by the Home Secretary.

Mahdi Hashi – who MI5 once tried to recruit as a spy – has been deprived of his British passport, denied access to consular assistance and may never return to Britain. He is thought to be being held in an African prison.

Mohamed and Kaltun Hashi, the parents of the 23-year-old care worker from Camden, North London, became concerned for his safety after being tipped off that in the summer he had been taken to a prison in the African state of Djibouti while visiting neighbouring Somalia.

The information was passed on by another prisoner who said Mr Hashi claimed he had been ‘mistreated’ and was being interrogated by men working for America.

The Mail on Sunday has established that while Mr Hashi was out of Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May used a little-known power – which does not require a court order – to deprive him of all his rights as a British national.

It can also be revealed that Mrs May has issued at least another nine orders against British nationals. The majority have been served on Muslim men, although the most public case is that of Russian spy Anna Chapman, who had been married to a UK national.

Mr Hashi and his family moved to the UK from Somalia when he was five. In late 2009 he returned to the capital Mogadishu where he had met his wife, whom he married last year and with whom he has a child.

His parents found out about his detention only after the other prisoner had been released and returned to Somalia where he made contact with Mr Hashi’s relatives.

In a desperate attempt to find Mr Hashi, his mother-in-law travelled from Mogadishu to Djibouti, but despite repeated requests prison staff refused to say if he was there. The family has also approached the Djibouti and US authorities but have been given no information about Mr Hashi.

The deprivation of citizenship order signed by Mrs May says Mr Hashi has lost his rights to live in the UK because of the ‘public good’.

A letter adds: ‘The Security Service assess that you have been involved in Islamicist extremism and present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom due to your extremist activities.’

Mr Hashi has not been told of what he is accused, nor is it clear whether he knows he is no longer a British citizen.

Human rights lawyers said he may be the victim of a new Government policy in which Britain is denying British nationals citizenship when they find themselves in serious trouble in foreign countries.

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, prominent human rights barrister, said: ‘The increase in orders under this Government of depriving British people of their citizenship on non-conducive grounds is a matter of concern because it is always very difficult to challenge fairly. It means people are being deprived of their rights as a British citizen on the say-so of security officials who can’t be challenged in court.’

Cageprisoners, the human rights group that campaigns against secret detentions, believes Mr Hashi may be the victim of an American rendition programme in which suspects are unlawfully taken to third-party states where they are illegally detained and tortured.

The order issued by Mrs May can be used only against a UK national who has dual citizenship. It is not clear if Mr Hashi can still claim Somali nationality because he left Somalia for the UK when he was so young.

In 2009, Mr Hashi complained to his MP Frank Dobson (pictured)

Human rights group are concerned that he may now be held at Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti where the Americans have built a large base to combat terrorist groups across the continent. It is also where many of the US drone attacks in Africa are co-ordinated.

But in a legal Catch 22 the US Ambassador in London has written to the family, denying any involvement in Mr Hashi’s detention, stating that if Mr Hashi is a British citizen then he must contact the Foreign Office.

Last night his mother said: ‘We are very worried about him and just want to know what has happened.’

The only justification Mrs May has given for removing Mr Hashi’s citizenship is his alleged involvement in Islamic extremism. But his family say he has never been interested in any kind of extremist behaviour.

In 2009 Mr Hashi complained to his MP Frank Dobson and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the body which oversees MI5, that he was being harassed by security officers because he had refused to work as a spy in his North London Muslim community.

In April that year, when he was working as a care worker for a very ill man in North London, Mr Hashi had gone to Gatwick to take a plane to visit his sick grandmother in Djibouti.

But as he was checking in he was stopped by two plainclothes officers. One identified himself as ‘Richard’ and said he was working for MI5, Mr Hashi said in his complaint to the tribunal.

Mr Hashi said: ‘He warned me not to get on the flight. He said, “Whatever happens to you outside the UK is not our responsibility.” I was shocked.’

Mr Hashi continued with his flight but at Djibouti airport he was stopped at passport control, held for 16 hours and then deported back to the UK. He claims Djibouti security officers told him their orders came from London.

After landing at Heathrow he was detained again and visited by ‘Richard’. ‘He said it was them who sent me back because I was a terror suspect.’

Mr Hashi alleged the officer made it clear his ‘suspect’ status and travel restrictions would be lifted only if he agreed to co-operate with MI5. ‘He said, “By co-operating with us we know you’re not guilty”’

Mr Hashi refused and complained to the tribunal and Mr Dobson.

His lawyers, solicitor Saghir Hussain and barrister Faisal Saifee, say Mr Hashi left for Somalia in December 2009 to visit his family and intended to return to the UK in the near future to study engineering.

Mr Hussain said: ‘It seems his imprisonment in Djibouti is the execution of a threat made in 2009 by MI5. What sort of country is this when you are spirited away to another state and your own Government’s response is to take away your citizenship?’

In a letter to the Home Office the Hashi family lawyers have asked for information that will help them provide legal representation to Mr Hashi during his detention.

The Home Office responded: ‘It has been the policy of successive governments neither to confirm or deny speculation, allegations or assertion in respect of intelligence matters.

This policy is maintained, and accordingly the Secretary of State can neither confirm nor deny the allegations made on behalf of your client.’

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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.

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Here is the Speech by David Cameron yesterday, I’m going to do a critique on this.

This is a check against delivery version of the Prime Minister’s speech

“With me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

I will always stand by the Jewish people. And it is humbling to be here tonight and to be called a friend.

Here in this room, we have many of the people who are determined to build the strongest possible relationship between Britain and Israel.

The business leaders who have taken our trade to well over $8 billion a year and made Britain the second biggest export market for Israel in the world.

The scientists who are taking forward an ambitious programme of joint research as part of the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council, which includes no less than four Nobel Prize winners.

The leading academics who are helping to forge new partnerships between Manchester and the Weizmann Institute, Oxford and Ben Gurion, Cambridge and Tel Aviv.

The hi-tech specialists who are making a reality of the UK/Israel Tech Hub – the first of its kind in the world.

And, of course, our two ambassadors – Matthew Gould and Daniel Taub who are doing so much to help build this partnership between our countries.

UJIA

Mick, Doug – you have made an inspirational contribution and I am sure that everyone will want to join me in paying tribute to your leadership and hard work over these past few years.

I am a big admirer of what the UJIA does both here in Britain and in Israel. Let me explain why.

First, the Jewish community in Britain is a role model for successful integration because you understand that as well as being part of a community with a common faith you are also part of a wider community – that of our country.

You epitomise the philanthropic spirit that is so central to Jewish teaching and which sees so many Jewish people give generously – not just to Jewish charities but to all charitable causes.

And through your support for Jewish youth movements and educational programmes for young people at both Jewish and mainstream schools and through your Summer Tours to Israel for 16 year olds and gap year students you continue to show each new generation that it is possible to be both a proud Jew steeped in the values of the Jewish people and a proud British citizen.

Yes, you can love this country, take pride in its history, celebrate its Olympics, even cry with its football fans every other year. There is no contradiction between being a proud Jew, a committed Zionist and a loyal British citizen.

In the past, governments allowed a flawed state multiculturalism that said we should encourage different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.

I don’t subscribe to that. And neither do you. I believe we have to end the passive tolerance of segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.

Let’s be clear what that means. It means getting preachers of hate out of our country.
It means proscribing organisations that incite terrorism. And it means zero tolerance for any form of anti-Semitism, especially on our campuses.

And to those in Britain’s universities and trades unions who want to boycott Israel and consign it to an international ghetto, I say not only will this Government never allow you to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger but I also say this: we know what you are doing – trying to delegitimise the State of Israel – and we will not have it.

SECURING ISRAEL’S FUTURE

I’m a fan of what you do in Israel too. The focus you have given to the Galilee has ensured that UJIA’s funding reaches those communities that most need it.

And the projects you’ve supported touch the lives, not just of those directly involved, but of all Israel. The medical school in Safad which teaches Jews and Arabs alike. Western Galilee College, where more than 30 per cent of the intake is Arab, and almost half of that Arab women. Or, of course, the high school in Shlomi. There in the shadow of the hills from which Hezbollah launched its missiles you brought an army of teachers and the hope of a new generation.

That is the vision, strength and courage on which our future depends. And that is what the UJIA is all about. Now, tonight I want to talk about three key steps to secure Israel’s future.

Standing up to Iran.

Seizing the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring and the spread of democracy in the wider region. And making the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

Let me take each in turn.

IRAN

First, Iran. Let’s be clear about the facts. Iran is flouting six United Nations resolutions. The Regime’s claim that its nuclear programme is intended purely for civilian purposes is not remotely credible.

And it has shown its violent agenda by exporting terror and violence to Iraq, to Syria, to Gaza, to Lebanon and to many peace-loving countries across the world.

Iran is not just a threat to Israel. It is a threat to the world. Now there are some who say nothing will work – and that we have to learn to live with a nuclear armed Iran.

I say we don’t and we shouldn’t.

But at the same time I also refuse to give in to those who say that the current policy is fatally flawed, and that we have no choice but military action. A negotiated settlement remains within Iran’s grasp.

But until they change course, we have a strategy of ever tougher sanctions. Just today, Britain has secured a further round of new sanctions through the EU Foreign Affairs Council. And these relentless sanctions are having an impact no-one expected a year ago.

They have slowed the nuclear programme. Iranian oil exports have fallen by 45 per cent. That’s 1 million fewer barrels a day and $8 billion in revenues lost every quarter.

The Rial has plummeted – losing around half its value between May and September.
Inflation is soaring – thought to be as much as 50 per cent. And the Iranian Regime has had to establish an economic austerity taskforce to manage the pressure they have brought on their own people.

Most significantly, there are signs that the Iranian people are beginning to question the Regime’s strategy with even pro-regime groups protesting at the actions of the Government.

It’s mind boggling that the leaders of a nation so rich in oil have succeeded in turning their country into a banana republic desperately trying to put rockets into space while their people suffer.

The Iranian regime is under unprecedented pressure and faces an acute dilemma. They are leading their people to global isolation and an economic collapse. And they know it.

They know too that there is a simple way to bring sanctions to an end. By giving the international community the confidence we need that they are not and will not develop a nuclear weapon.

I have said to Prime Minister Netanyahu that now is not the time for Israel to resort to military action. Beyond the unpredictable dangers inherent in any conflict, the other reason is this:

At the very moment when the Regime faces unprecedented pressure and the people are on the streets and when Iran’s only real ally in Syria is losing his grip on power a foreign military strike is exactly the chance the Regime would look for to unite his people against a foreign enemy.

We shouldn’t give them that chance. We need the courage to give these sanctions time to work. But let me also say this. In the long term, if Iran makes the wrong choice, nothing is off the table. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to Israel. And a threat to the world. And this country will work unwaveringly to prevent that from happening

Open societies

Let me turn to the changing events in the wider region. I have no illusions about the dangers that political transition can bring in the Arab spring countries.

And I understand why instability can be a great cause for concern. I understand how dark things were for Israel when surrounded by enemies on every border. And I understand how Israelis feel when gas masks are handed out to families; and car parks are converted into bomb shelters.

But I passionately believe that what we are seeing through the Arab Spring need not be a new threat to Israel’s security. Democracy and open societies are not the problem – they can be a big part of the solution.

Yes, there are those who believe that in a volatile region only an authoritarian strong man can maintain stability and security. But when brutal dictators suppress their people in the name of stability, the end result is a region is that more dangerous – not less.

More dangerous because these regimes abuse the Palestinian cause to smother their own people’s hopes and aspirations, dealing with frustration at home by whipping up anger against their neighbours, Israel and the West. And more dangerous too, because people denied a job and a voice are given no alternative but a dead end choice between dictatorship or extremism.

Now, of course, many fear that elections can open the door to Islamist parties whose values are incompatible with truly open societies. But the answer is not to oppose elections. The answer is to respect the outcome of elections. And then judge governments by what they do.

For example, there are big questions facing President Mursi in Egypt. We want to know if he will live up to his commitments to protect the rule of law for all citizens, defend the rights of minorities and allow women to play a full in society. And I challenged him personally on these points when I met him in New York last month.

But when he re-launches Operation Eagle to try and do something about the lawlessness in the Sinai, we should welcome that. And when he goes to Tehran and speaks the truth to that regime about its despicable actions in Syria in support of Assad, we should welcome that too.

But if the Islamists attempt to undermine the stability of other countries or encourage terrorism instead of peace and conflict instead of partnership then we must and will oppose them. And that is why we will not waver from our insistence that Hamas gives up violence and that the rockets from Gaza must stop. Hamas must not be allowed to dictate the way forwards for Israelis and Palestinians.

Of course, the Arab Spring presents huge challenges. But if we can show the strength and courage to engage with new democratic governments, their chance to establish the building blocks of democracy, fair economies and open societies offers the greatest opportunity for stability and peace in a generation.

MEPP

That brings me to the Palestinian Territories and the peace process. We can’t advocate democracy and open societies in one breath and then cite the need for stability as an excuse for why the Palestinians shouldn’t renew their democracy too.

It’s now seven years since Palestinians voted for a President and six since parliamentary elections. The Palestinian leadership needs to refresh its mandate and show it has the consent of its people, starting with municipal elections later this month. And it needs to resolve the situation in Gaza and restore to Palestinians a unified, leadership able to deliver peaceful resolution of the conflict with Israel.

So Palestinian reconciliation and Palestinian elections are key points on the path to peace – because without consent there can never be credible negotiation.

It will require great strength and courage to take the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

And let me say this: I know it takes two to negotiate. So let me tell President Abbas something very clearly there is no path to statehood except through talks with Israel.

So if the Palestinian plan is simply posturing with the UN rather than negotiating with Israel, Britain will never support it.

And let me say this to the Palestinians too. Britain will never support anyone who sponsors a football tournament named after a suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant. We will not tolerate incitement to terrorism.

But in the search for peace both sides have to make hard choices. And just as President Abbas has followed through his commitment to non-violence with real progress on the West Bank so Israel needs a real drive to improve life for ordinary Palestinians.

That means more support for economic development in the West Bank, relaxing restrictions on Gaza, ending the demolition of Palestinian homes, and yes, it means meeting Israel’s obligations under the Roadmap and under international law to halt settlement building.

Britain’s position will not change. Settlements beyond the green line are illegal.

I know how hard the concessions needed for peace can be. But the truth is, time is running out for a two state solution – and with it Israel’s best chance to live in peace with its neighbours.

CONCLUSION

Brett, in your introduction you said that support for Israel was in the DNA of the political party I lead. It is. But I believe it is in the DNA of the country I lead too.

That is why Britain will always stand by Israel, protect Israel, and work with Israel on the path to peace.

I long for the day when I can come to a dinner like this and not have to talk about the threats to Israel. I long too for the day when making statements in support of Israel is as unnecessary as going to see President Obama and saying I support America’s right to exist.

For now, Israel will continue to face acute threats and a hard road to peace. But with strength and courage we can, together, stand up to Iran. We can, together, seize the opportunities presented by the spread of democracy in the wider region. And we can together take the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

So let me conclude by wishing you all a slightly belated shana tova and let us hope that it will be a sweet year for the British Jewish community and the Jewish people in the State of Israel. And one which brings us closer to the peace and security for Israel that its people so richly deserve.”

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A 21 year old Bangladeshi man going by the name of Quazi Mohammed Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis has been arrested on terrorism charges after attempting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank today

At first Nafis drove a van with what he thought was a 1000lb bomb near the building, then walked to a nearby hotel to record a martyrdom video and then phoned a mobile phone designed to detonate the bomb. It failed and Nafis was promptly arrested by the FBI in a sting operation.

Mary Galligan, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI, said “Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure. The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences. It is important to emphasise that the public was never at risk in this case, because two of the defendant’s ‘accomplices’ were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism.”

Although I am happy that this attempt failed and no innocent human being lost their lives, the points emboldened above expose some rather worrying facts.

According to some information released by the FBI Nafis came to the US intending to commit acts of terrorism, attempted to recruit for Al Qaida to assist in carrying out his ambitions in US soil. But one of his recruits tuned out to be a source working for the FBI and it was actually an FBI agent who sold Nafis the material needed to make his fake bomb.

It seems that the FBI, faaar from preventing acts of terror, are actually facilitating acts of terror in order to make arrests. Cases like these should make one question, how many of these ‘Extremist’ Muslims are actually working on behalf of the intelligence services? how many of these intelligence operatives have assisted in radicalising vulnerable Muslims in order to make arrests?

Now as I wrote before, I’m glad this plot failed but let’s not forget reason why the US government is one of the most hated governments in the world. In the past 50 years the US has bombed several countries, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, governs corrupt institutions like the IMF and World Bank, intervened in many elections throughout the world, supports terrorist states like Israel and also is the #1 arms dealer in the whole world.

If anyone wants to understand why the US is so hated, read William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the Worlds only Superpower

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A Danish ex-biker and Muslim convert claimed he was paid $250,000 (£155,000) by the CIA in exchange for recruiting a European bride as part of an elaborate plot to kill Anwar al-Awlaki.

According to a lengthy report in Denmark, Morten Storm acted as matchmaker for Awlaki, the US-raised al-Qaeda spokesman, and a 32-year-old woman from Zagreb, Croatia, called Aminah, after the latter posted a message on a Facebook page dedicated to the terror leader.

The story is being treated as plausible thanks to video recordings exchanged by Awlaki and his bride-to-be provided by Mr Storm to the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, along with text messages, travel receipts and a photograph of a suitcase filled with dollar bills.

Regarded as one of al-Qaeda’s most effective propagandists, Yemen-based Awlaki was killed in a CIA drone strike in September last year after Washington accused him of involvement in numerous terror plots.

Mr Storm claims that both the CIA and PET, the Danish intelligence service, were prepared to sacrifice the life of Muslim convert Aminah in pursuit of Awlaki. However the scheme to trap him through his new wife failed and she remains at large in Yemen, reportedly working on Inspire the English-language jihadist magazine her late husband founded.

Already married with two wives, in a 2009 proposal video Mr Storm says he delivered to Aminah, Awlaki was realistic about conditions his third wife would face, if not the risks.

By Alex SpilliusLast Updated: 9:20PM BST 16/10/2012
A Danish ex-biker and Muslim convert claimed he was paid $250,000 (£155,000) by the CIA in exchange for recruiting a European bride as part of an elaborate plot to kill Anwar al-Awlaki.

According to a lengthy report in Denmark, Morten Storm acted as matchmaker for Awlaki, the US-raised al-Qaeda spokesman, and a 32-year-old woman from Zagreb, Croatia, called Aminah, after the latter posted a message on a Facebook page dedicated to the terror leader.

The story is being treated as plausible thanks to video recordings exchanged by Awlaki and his bride-to-be provided by Mr Storm to the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, along with text messages, travel receipts and a photograph of a suitcase filled with dollar bills.

Regarded as one of al-Qaeda’s most effective propagandists, Yemen-based Awlaki was killed in a CIA drone strike in September last year after Washington accused him of involvement in numerous terror plots.

Mr Storm claims that both the CIA and PET, the Danish intelligence service, were prepared to sacrifice the life of Muslim convert Aminah in pursuit of Awlaki. However the scheme to trap him through his new wife failed and she remains at large in Yemen, reportedly working on Inspire the English-language jihadist magazine her late husband founded.

Already married with two wives, in a 2009 proposal video Mr Storm says he delivered to Aminah, Awlaki was realistic about conditions his third wife would face, if not the risks.

Morten Storm

“I will make a few things clear. Firstly, I don’t live in a fixed location, and therefore my living conditions are varied. Sometimes I live in a tent,” he admitted.

“If you can live in these difficult conditions, and do not mind solitude and restrictions in your communication with the outside world, it is excellent.”

Responding in her own recording, Aminah said: “I feel nervous, this is very awkward for me. I just taped this so you can see how I look.”

Text messages from her to Mr Storm provided to Jyllands-Posten said: “I am ready to die for the sake of Allah”.

Mr Storm claims the CIA gave him a tracking device which was planted in Aminah’s suitcase before she travelled to Yemen.

However after attending a language course for a few weeks in the capital Sana’a, she was instructed by a suspicious Awlaki to leave all her belongings there before travelling to meet him, and the scheme failed.

In earlier interviews, Mr Storm claimed to have supplied information to the CIA which led directly to Awlaki’s death, though he admits the intelligence services dispute that. He went public about his double agent role because he was not rewarded for that fatal assistance.

Aged 36 with a criminal record, Mr Storm formerly lived in Luton, where he enlisted at an Islamic centre and attempted to radicalise members of the community. He has reportedly gone into hiding after receiving death threats from old radical contacts.

Neither the CIA, MI6 nor the Danish intelligence agency PET has publicly commented on Mr Storm’s account.

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An Islamic Human Rights Commission press release

The decision not to extradite computer hacker Gary Mckinnon is welcomed by IHRC but this decision also highlights the hypocrisy and double standards of the government. Three British citizens were extradited to the US earlier this month.

Both Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad insisted on their innocence whereas Gary Mckinnon admitted his guilt. Gark Mckinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as has Talha Ahsan; Talha’s Asperger’s Syndrome was not taken into account when extraditing him. This decision sends a clear message to the Muslim community that there are two laws in this country; A law for British citizens and a separate law for Muslims.

It is convenient for the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to announce changes to Britain’s extradition arrangements. It will be good public relations to step in to save a ‘British citizen’ but the fact still remains that Theresa May remained silent over the extradition of five Muslims to the US.

British Muslim citizens have just as much rights as any other British citizen. This, however, is not how the government view it. The facts are clear, Muslims are extradited, non-Muslims are not. Muslims face detention without charge, non-Muslims do not. In light of government actions it is clear that Muslims are seen as second class citizens in Britain.

Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh said, “If you’re Muslim you will get extradited, if you are not, you get to stay. As Muslims we are second class citizens and we will not get the same level of protection from the British state as other citizens. It reeks of duplicity and hypocrisy. The UK operates a simple principle, ‘innocent until proven Muslim’ ”

For media enquiries please email media@ihrc.org or call 020 8904 4222

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By Liz Fekete

On 24 September, as part of a forty-strong delegation of observers, I was in Morocco at the appeal hearing in the Rabat-Salé court of the Belgian-Moroccan dual national, Ali Aarrass. Aarrass’ conviction and fifteen-year sentence on terrorism charges rested solely on evidence extracted under torture. No representatives of the Spanish or Belgian governments were in court that day to observe the appeal of a European citizen, despite both governments’ complicity in his subsequent torture. (Spain had extradited Ali, a resident in Melilla, to Morocco, in contravention of a UN request to stay his removal, while Belgium had done nothing to protect the basic human rights of its citizen.) In a statement after the verdict, which merely upheld the conviction (while reducing the sentence to twelve years), Aarrass’ lawyers pointed out that the judges had ‘failed to maintain even the appearance of a fair hearing. Two of the judges were obviously sleeping, while the presiding judge was consulting his mobile phone.’ Furthermore, Ali Aarrass’s evidence was cut short and he was not allowed to describe the torture he had been subjected to.[1]

Collusion with torture

No words can express the powerlessness I felt in that court, knowing that a man sitting in the same room, in a glass cage, had been tortured, brutalised by appalling acts to sign a confession into crimes he had consistently denied, and was locked in an inhumane system I can only describe as a nighmarish hell. I imagine what I felt was something akin to the sense of personal failure that US death penalty campaigners must feel every time they stand outside a prison, knowing that someone inside has been condemned. So that when I woke up on the morning of 6 October, and heard the news that both Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan had been extradited to the United States of America, after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, had refused, once again, to bring a prosecution against them in the UK, my thoughts immediately turned to the families and legal team of these two British citizens and to the defenders of their basic rights. Like them, I was horrified that our government could send its own citizens to a country in the full knowledge of the living hell they would most probably endure, literally entombed in the special solitary confinement regime of a supermax prison. Here, incarceration is within a concrete single cell with remote-control solid-steel doors designed to cut off all sound and visual contact with others. And punishments are meted out via electric shock devices such as stun guns and cattle prods, restraint chairs and the ‘five-point restraint’ which leaves prisoners ‘strapped to a steel bed and lying in their own waste for up to 48 hours’.[2]

Whether Babar Ahmad, or Talha Ahsan (who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and is gifted with a unique and surreal poetic mindscape – as recognised by, among others, the Koestler Trust) were guilty of providing material support for terrorism from 1997-2004 and other crimes of conspiracy through their website Azaam.com, should have been a matter for a British court to decide. For Britain is a country which, for as its prime minister now assuredly knows, prides itself on Magna Carta.

No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.

The double standard

The sense of injustice grows when the cases of these three Muslim citizens are juxtaposed to cases of non-Muslim men who have not even been charged with providing material support for terrorism, despite compelling evidence. Many of the Muslims who have been rendered to torture states in the name of the war on terror appeared on the radar of the intelligence services because they were believed, prior to September 11, to have raised funds for or actively supported the ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan (during the Soviet Occupation, or subsequently worked alongside the Taliban), Chechnya (remember the devastating Russian offensive and siege of Grozny), or fought in Bosnia, or aided the resistance to Israeli occupation in the Palestinian Territories.

What of the white/indigenous soldier adventurers of Europe’s far Right, some of whom dabbled in exactly the same asymmetric wars (in their case, on the side of the military powerful), but are not considered pariahs, or extradited to legal black holes as ‘enemy combatants’?

Whilst researching the IRR report Pedlars of Hate: the violent impact of the European far Right I began to see a pattern amongst our intelligence services and police: failure to bring prosecutions against far-right extremists, and even, as is currently being exposed in the ongoing German parliamentary investigation into the National Socialist Underground, collusion with neo-nazis via totally inappropriate informer schemes. I began to ask myself why were there no prosecutions against those fascists who provided material support for Serbian terror in Bosnia or who ‘glorified’ the ethnic cleansing of Muslims at Srebrenica? Nowadays, EU apparatchiks are deeply concerned about the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece, especially now that the level of collusion between the police and the neo-Nazis is becoming so apparent. But where was the EU and intelligence services’ concern when neo-Nazis in Greece and elsewhere were glorifying the massacre of 8,000 men women and children in Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since the second world war? Surely, our politicians and intelligence services were not unaware of claims that a 100-strong unit of Greek volunteers (the Greek Volunteer Guard, some of whom, it is alleged, were supporters of Golden Dawn) fought in Bosnia on the side of the Bosnian Serbs and that some may even have participated in the Srebrenica Massacre, reportedly, on Ratko Mladic’s instigation, hoisting a Greek flag over the town.[3] Today, Golden Dawn has eighteen seats in the Greek parliament; it is not unknown for members to carry out acts of violence, even in front of TV cameras – and yet somehow they avoid arrest and prosecution.[4]

But the story does not end with Golden Dawn. Mass murderer Anders Beiring Brevik declared himself inspired by the Serbian Christian cause, as does Roberto Fiore, another fascist who flies the flag of a ‘Greater Serbia’. He was notorious for fleeing Italy in the 1980s to avoid prosecution following the massacre at Bologna railway station which left eighty-five dead and two hundred wounded. After Fiore, who had fled to London, was convicted in absentia for subversive conspiracy and membership of an armed gang, Her Majesty’s Government repeatedly refused to countenance Italian extradition requests. (It is widely suspected that Fiore was recruited by MI6, and was given full rein to continue his ‘Third Position’ fascist activities, particularly in Libya, in exchange for information.) When in 1998 the Italian appeal court declared that Fiore’s sentence had expired under the statute of limitations, Fiore returned to Italy and resumed his fascist career, even enjoying a stint in the European Parliament as an MEP from 2008-2009 as a representative for the coalition Social Alternative (Alternativa Sociale). Now, he leads Forza Nuova, and hangs out with the Serbian Radical Party which subscribes to the idea of a Greater Serbia and glorifies Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić as ‘Serbian heroes’.[5]

It is hard to know where Europe’s complicity with human rights abuses starts and ends. We extradite one set of citizens to torture states, while we appear to shield another set of citizens from prosecution altogether. ‘After such knowledge, what forgiveness?’

RELATED LINKS

IRR report: Pedlars of Hate: the violent impact of the European far Right

Read an IRR News story: ‘Poetry prize for Talha Ahsan

Free Talha Ahsan

Free Babar Ahmad

[1] Press release, Cabinet D’Avocats Jus Cogens, 3 October 2012. [2] See Frances Webber, ‘The imminent extradiction of Khalid Al-Fawwaz: a lawyers reflections’, Cageprisoners, 2 October 2012; see also, SACC press release, ‘Extradition – Home Secretary must step in to prevent torture’, 4 October 2012 and CagePrisoners press release, ‘CagePrisoners hosts New York press conference in response to extradition cases’, 3 October 2012. [3] Johannes Jakobsson, ‘Valskrällen’, Expo, No. 3, 2012; Helena Smith, ‘Greece faces shame over role in Serb massacre’, Observer, 5 January 2003. [4] In June, Ilias Kasidiaris, who is Golden Dawn’s official spokesman, and a former commando in the Greek army, punched a female Communist MP during a live TV debate. There is speculation that the police protected Kasidiaris by failing to arrest him within the 48-hour time-frame needed to fast-track him through the courts on assault charges. (It is a peculiarity of the Greek system that an arrest warrant expires after 48 hours.) Kasidiaris also faces prosecution for complicity in a 2007 attack when he allegedly drove a car carrying several people who attacked a student. Veteran activist Petros Constantinou told the Guardian on 9 June that the police have facilitated Golden Dawn. ‘Without police cover and protection Golden Dawn would not have survived … And the proof of that is the failure to capture Kasidiaris.’ [5] ‘Roberto Fiore held a meeting with the “Russky Obraz” movement’, Right World. For a description of the Serbian Radical Party, see here.

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Court documents unearthed in the US reveal how senior detectives regularly carried out searches and enquiries on behalf of the FBI.

Metropolitan Police detectives agreed to nine separate requests from FBI agents to provide information on Babar Ahmad at a time when the case against the long-imprisoned terror suspect was collapsing because of a lack of evidence, The Independent can reveal.

Court documents unearthed in the United States reveal how senior detectives involved in the initial investigation of Mr Ahmad regularly carried out searches and enquiries on behalf of the FBI and even sent American agents two encrypted floppy disks that were found at the south Londoner’s home.

The data set, including the disks, forms part of a dossier of evidence that was sent across the Atlantic but was never seen by the Crown Prosecution Service which dropped the initial charges against Ahmad paving the way for is long battle against extradition to the United States.

Critics of Ahmad’s extradition say not enough was done to make sure that the 58-year-old was tried in a British court and that his prosecution has been effectively outsourced to the United States.

Both the Metropolitan Police and the Government have refused to be drawn on the exact nature of the cooperation between British and American detectives following Ahmad’s arrest in December 2003.

But documents filed in a Connecticut court reveal how multiple requests were made by an FBI agent under mutual legal assistance laws which allow foreign governments to ask British police to conduct investigations on their behalf.

The papers come from a trial four years ago in the city of New Haven in which Hassan Abu-Jihaad, a US navy sailor, was convicted of espionage charges. Abu-Jihaad, a convert to Islam, was found guilty of leaking classified ship movements to Azzam Publications – a series of pro-jihadi websites that American prosecutors allege was run by Babar Ahmad and another British man facing imminent extradition Syed Talha Ahsan. The alleged offences took place from late 2000 to late 2001.

At the trial Detective Sergeant Ian Vickers and Detective Sergeant Ian Elgeti, two Met Police officers involved in the original British investigation into Babar Ahmad, gave evidence. During his testimony DS Vickers stated that he was first alerted to the FBI’s interest in Ahmad in late December 2003, a few weeks after his arrest on 2 December. His first point of contact was special agent Craig Bowling, who spoke to him via teleconference and later made a trip to the UK around February 2004.

Asked to describe how the mutual legal assistance treaty system worked he explained that the United States needed to contact to Home Office and request help. “As a result of that,” he added, “If everything is correct and it’s being applied and asked for in the correct manner, then a letter of request goes through to a case officer, normally a detective, to make inquiries, seize exhibits on behalf of the United States.”

Asked how many times such requests were made he replied: “I think there were a total of nine”. He added: “I coordinated that and organized that myself.”

In the same testimony DS Vickers also confirmed that he personally oversaw the transfer of multiple exhibits to the United States including the floppy disks found on Babar Ahmad’s desk.

The decision by the Met Police to send evidence to detectives in the States has been both controversial and shrouded in secrecy. The Attorney General has refused to “confirm or deny” whether dossiers were passed abroad whilst the Metropolitan Police have declined to comment while Mr Ahmad is continuing to fight his extradition to the United States in the UK courts. Neither the Met Police nor the CPS were willing to comment on the new details uncovered in the American court documents when contacted by The Independent.

Mr Ahmad’s legal team had long argued that the CPS should have seen all the evidence against their client before deciding to drop the case. That decision not to press charges against Mr Ahmad was further complicated by the fact that he was viciously beaten by his arresting officers – an incident which the Metropolitan Police later admitted during civil proceedings.

It was only in November 2011 that the CPS admitted to Mr Ahmad’s legal team that they were never shown the entirely of all the evidence seized in the raid on their client’s house. After sending a team to the United States, Mr Ahmad’s lawyers forwarded a new dossier of evidence to the CPS in the spring of this year in the hopes that they might initiate a new prosecution that would keep him in Britain. At the same time a businessman from Newcastle who campaigns against Britain’s extradition laws tried to launch his own private prosecution of Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan. However the Director of Public Prosecutions has rejected both attempts citing a lack of evidence as the reason for his decision.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who has campaigned for Babar Ahmad, called on the CPS and Met Police to provide a full account of the cooperation between American and British law enforcement following his arrest.

“Last year I exposed the fact that the CPS hadn’t even seen, let alone investigated properly, evidence against Babar Ahmad,” she said. “Now we have this extraordinary confirmation that, at a time when the CPS was arguing he couldn’t face trial in the UK because of an “absence of evidence”, British police were in thrall to the FBI and handing over that very evidence without even looking at it themselves. We urgently need to know who directed and authorised this scandalous circumvention of the CPS – and I reiterate my call for a full public inquiry into what has occurred.”

My thoughts on the hypocrisy of Babar Ahmads Case

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WASHINGTON, July 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is being released by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy – The FBI partially declassified and released files linking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a nuclear technology smuggling ring that targeted the United States. The declassified files are now publicly available online at http://www.IRmep.org/ila/krytons/06272012_milco_mdr.pdf

FBI agents interviewed indicted American smuggler Richard Kelly Smyth on April 16-17, 2002, at the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The secret interview report details how during trips to Israel Smyth’s handler placed him in contact with Benjamin Netanyahu at Heli Trading Company. The FBI report suggests that “Smyth and [Netanyahu] would meet in restaurants in Tel Aviv and in [Netanyahu’s] home and/or business.

It was not uncommon for [Netanyahu] to ask Smyth for unclassified material.”
Smyth was indicted in the mid-1980s for smuggling 800 dual use “krytrons” without proper export licenses through a multi-front company network. Smyth fled the U.S. and lived abroad, supported by unknown means, until he was captured by Interpol and returned to the U.S. in 2001. He was convicted in 2002.

During the 2002 Smyth counterintelligence debriefing, the FBI learned that the Israeli Ministry of Defense ordered and paid an Israeli company called Heli Trading for krytrons. Heli in turn sourced them fromCalifornia-based MILCO in a clandestine operation codenamed “Project Pinto.” The report reveals how MILCO illegally shipped other prohibited military articles under general Commerce Department export licenses rather than smuggling them out via Israeli diplomatic pouches.

Released on the Internet on July 4, 2012, the files have been the subject of reporting in the Israeli press, including Israeli National News, Ma’ariv and The Marker. Some U.S. alternative media also explored the implications of the formerly secret files including Antiwar.com, Tikkun Olam, Mondoweiss and CounterPunch. WBAI radio and the Scott Horton Show have hosted interviews.

Although the FBI report has now been sent to the New York Times, Washington Post, all members of Congress and United Nations members, no top-tier establishment news coverage, Congressional or UN investigations have been made public. On Friday, National Public Radio syndicated host Diane Rehmimmediately disconnected IRmep Research Director Grant F. Smith when he asked her reporter roundtable to assess the implications of the Netanyahu espionage ring.

An audio clip of the brief exchange is available at:

http://www.IRmep.org/NPR.mp3

IRmep is a private nonprofit that studies how warranted law enforcement and civil action can improve U.S. Middle East policy.