Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blowback? Manchester bomber linked to terrorist group which UK allegedly backed

RT | May 25, 2017

© Esam Al-Fetori / Reuters
Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi and his father, Ramadan, had long-standing links to a violent jihadist group which may have had British backing for the 2011 Libyan war and a 1996 attempt to kill then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The controversy centers on the role of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was both an anti-Gaddafi and Al-Qaeda subsidiary in the North African state.

Many of the fighters which formed the group in the mid-90s were veterans of the Afghan-Soviet war from the 1980s. They went on to fight the Gaddafi regime in Libya itself.

The war saw the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime and the eventual murder of the leader himself after he was captured by opposition fighters. Since NATO’s intervention, Libya has been in chaos.

It has descended into a protracted civil war, is a major contributor to the international refugee crisis, has its own branch of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), and two opposing governments.

The elder Abedi was reportedly one of the LIFG fighters who fled Gaddafi’s response to the rebels, settling in London and, later, in Manchester.

The area of Manchester in which Salman Abedi grew up was home to a number of other LIFG members, including former senior commanders including Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who left Manchester to go to Libya and run a 200-300-strong militant network for Osama Bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Azzouz is reported to be an expert bomb-maker.

In 2002, former MI6 agent and whistleblower David Shayler accused the British spy agency of colluding with the jihadist group in a failed 1996 effort to kill Gaddafi, an allegation the British government strenuously denies.
Allegations have also emerged that in 2011, the UK may have relaxed restrictions on LIFG fighters based in the UK and helped them return to Libya to fight Gaddafi.

The UK was at that time engaged in fighting Gaddafi as part of a US-led NATO coalition. Former fighters interviewed by the Middle East Eye said that the UK actively supported the return of anti-Gaddafi dissidents, including those with Al-Qaeda links, to the North African state.

One fighter who spoke to the Middle East Eye said he had been interviewed by an MI5 agent who asked if he was “willing to go into battle?

While I took time to find an answer he turned and told me the British government have no problem with people fighting against Gaddafi,” the fighter said.

Others reported that when the war in Libya began, they looked into how to get fake documents, because their passports had been removed as part of restrictive control orders placed on them by the UK government.

One said that within days, the authorities had returned their passports, after which they headed straight to Libya to take on Gaddafi.

At the time of the war, current UK Prime Minister Theresa May was Home Secretary, with oversight of MI5 operations. It is not clear if she was aware of the decision to relax restrictions of jihadists and return their travel documents.

Israeli Minister Calls for Assad’s Assassination, After US Compares Syrian Gov to Nazi Regime

New Eastern Outlook | May 24, 2017

For the duration of the Syrian proxy war, Israel has been a key player in the destabilization of the Syrian state. From providing medical support to directly arming the rebels, Israel’s dirty role in supporting the opposition has been clear for all to see for years now. Despite these efforts to force regime change in Damascus however, the Syrian government still stands, with the Syrian army increasingly gaining the advantage in the conflict. Considering this, it comes as no surprise that many in Israel (and in other parts of the world) are getting more and more desperate with the lack of regime change, and are now advocating for more radical steps to be taken.

One such individual who is pushing for a more hawkish approach is the Israeli Housing and Construction Minister (who also happens to be a retired IDF general), Yoav Galant, who recently called for the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to be assassinated. Speaking at an event in Jerusalem on the 16th of May, Galant said that “the time has come to assassinate Assad,” with his remarks coming a day after the US State Department accused the Syrian government of torturing and killing detainees on mass, then using a crematorium to burn the remains. As the Times of Israel reported in an article titled, Israeli minister: ‘The time has come’ to kill Bashar Assad:
‘“The reality of the situation in Syria is that they are executing people, using directed chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme — burning their corpses, something we haven’t seen in 70 years,” Galant said, in a reference to the Holocaust. The minister said Assad’s actions in Syria amount to nothing less than a “genocide,” with “hundreds of thousands killed.” 
“In my view, we are crossing a red line. And in my view, the time has come to assassinate Assad. It’s as simple as that,” said Galant, who previously served as the head of the IDF’s Southern Command. Galant likened the assassination of Assad to cutting off the “tail of the snake.” After that, he said, “we can focus on the head, which is in Tehran.” 
As noted above, Galant’s call for violence came a day after the US State Department tried to equate the Syrian government to the Nazi regime. On the 15th of May, Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, gave a special briefing to reporters. After going through the usual State Department talking points – the Syrian ‘regime’ using “barrel bombs” etc. – Jones moves on to accuse the Syrian government of “extrajudicial killings” and then trying to hide the extent of the carnage by burning the victims’ bodies:
“Moreover, the regime has also authorized the extrajudicial killings of thousands of detainees using mass hangings at the Saydnaya military prison. Saydnaya is a 45-minute drive outside of Damascus and is one of Syria’s largest and most secure prison complexes… The regime holds as many as 70 prisoners in Saydnaya in cells that have a five-person capacity. And according to multiple sources, the regime is responsible for killing as many as 50 detainees per day at Saydnaya. Credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves.”
Jones continues:
“We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Saydnaya prison complex which could dispose of detainees’ remains with little evidence. Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium, as shown in the photos that we have distributed to you. Although the regime’s many atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison.”
The language Jones uses clearly evokes the horrors of the holocaust and is an attempt to draw parallels between Hitler and Assad, as Jones uses terms such as “mass graves” and claims that the Syrian government is burning bodies. Victims of the genocidal Nazi regime were inhumanely dumped in mass graves, with the Nazis also building crematoriums at concentration camps – including at Auschwitz – to burn the bodies of victims. The use of mass graves and the burning of bodies was part of a clandestine Nazi operation to cover up the extent of the mass killings they had engaged in, with the operation known as Sonderaktion 1005 or Aktion 1005.

A revealing indication as to the credibility of Jones’ grand accusations can be ascertained if we once again look at the language that he uses. Note that Jones repeatedly uses the word “believe” when accusing the Syrian authorities of mass killings: “we believe” this,we believe” that. He does not say “we know,” or “we have confirmed,” or “we have irrefutable proof.” This use of indefinite language can be seen in the supporting ‘evidence’ that the US released and which was promulgated by the mainstream media, as Tony Cartalucci notes in his article titled: US Revives Discredited Syria “Slaughterhouse” Story.

In an article by the Washington Post, the paper reports that the State Department released a few satellite photos of the prison complex, with one showing an L-shaped building labelled “probable crematorium.” Again, “probable” is hardly definitive language, with the satellite images merely showing a few buildings, revealing nothing concrete at all. The only other ‘evidence’ the State Department uses to try and prop-up this weak narrative is a few reports from the London-based Amnesty International concerning human rights abuses at the prison.

More Propaganda?

 Considering the amount of disinformation and propaganda emanating from the West and its regional allies about the Syrian ‘regime,’ the latest accusation of mass killings and the burning of corpses appears to be just the latest installment of deceptive nonsense. Syria has denied these allegations, with an official from the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry telling the Syrian Arab News Agency that the US accusations were “a new Hollywood story” that is dissociated from reality and “fundamentally untrue.” For years, we have heard tales of the abhorrent atrocities committed by Assad’s forces, yet concrete evidence is often elusive or contradictory.

In April 2013 for instance, Israel accused the Syrian government of repeatedly using chemical weapons the previous month, including in a district of Aleppo on the 19th of March. Also in April 2013, the UK accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in previous months, with the British Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, claiming that there was “limited but growing evidence” that Syrian troops used sarin, adding that “this is a war crime.”

Yet in May 2013, the Commissioner of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria (which was set up in 2011 to investigate human rights abuses in the Syrian proxy war, and which had been investigating the use of chemical weapons in 2013), Carla Del Ponte, said in an interview that there was evidence which suggested that the rebels, not the Syrian army, used chemical weapons:
“During our investigation for crimes against humanity and war crimes, we collected some witness testimony that [appeared to confirm] that some chemical weapons were used – in particular nerve gas. What appeared to our investigation was that it was used by the opponents, the rebels, and we have no indication at all that the Syrian government have used chemical weapons. Of course, now, the special commission will investigate and tell us what it is exactly. But I was a little stupefied that the first indication we got [was] about the use of nerve gas by the opposition.”
So, despite the UK and Israel pushing the narrative that the Syrian government was responsible for war crimes in 2013, the UN’s investigation completely contradicted the accusations made by Israel and Britain.

Undoubtedly there are casualties in any war, and the Syrian government has been fighting against foreign-backed extremists for years now. However, the perennial list of genocidal and demonic atrocities that the Syrian government has been accused of is nothing more than regime change propaganda created by the enemies of Syria, with this latest accusation appearing to be the most recent example of this.

Galant seized on the State Department’s accusations to call for Assad’s assassination, a scenario that would only embolden ISIS and other terrorist forces. Galant should spend more time reading history books than making belligerent and stupid comments, as the assassination of a prominent political figure in 1914 sparked a war that caused devastation on a scale previously unseen before in the history of the human race.

Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of  The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

‘Intelligence on attack seemingly leaked by US, it must be stopped’ – Manchester mayor

RT | May 25, 2017

The mayor of Manchester has condemned the leaks on the investigation into the terrorist attack which killed 22 people, apparently coming from the US. This comes amid reports the UK has stopped sharing intelligence on the matter with Washington.

Watch: Cozying up to dictators

Press TV | May 25, 2017

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Putin Warns Against WW3

Brother Nathanael | May 14, 2017

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Our Brains Can Detect Disease in Others

Fars News Agency | May 25, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The human brain is much better than previously thought at discovering and avoiding disease, a new study reports.

Our sense of vision and smell alone are enough to make us aware that someone has a disease even before it breaks out. And not only aware – we also act upon the information and avoid sick people.

The human immune system is effective at combating disease, but since it entails a great deal of energy expenditure disease avoidance should be part of our survival instinct. A new study now shows that this is indeed the case: the human brain is better than previously thought at discovering early-stage disease in others. Moreover, we also have a tendency to act upon the signals by liking infected people less than healthy ones.

"The study shows us that the human brain is actually very good at discovering this and that this discovery motivates avoidance behaviour," says principal investigator Professor Mats Olsson at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Clinical Neuroscience.

By injecting harmless sections of bacteria, the researchers activated the immune response in participants, who developed the classic symptoms of disease -- tiredness, pain and fever -- for a few hours, during which time smell samples were taken from them and they were photographed and filmed. The injected substance then disappeared from their bodies and with it the symptoms.

Another group of participants were then exposed to these smells and images as well as those of healthy controls, and asked to rate how much they liked the people, while their brain activities were measured in an MR scanner.

They were then asked to state, just by looking at the photographs, which of the participants looked sick, which they considered attractive and which they might consider socialising with.

"Our study shows a significant difference in how people tend to prefer and be more willing to socialise with healthy people than those who are sick and whose immune system we artificially activated," says Professor Olsson. "We can also see that the brain is good at adding weak signals from multiple senses relating to a person's state of health."

This he sees as biological confirmation of the argument that survival naturally entails avoiding infection.

"Common sense tells us that there should be a basic behavioural repertoire that assists the immune system. Avoidance, however, does not necessarily apply if you have a close relationship with the person who is ill," says Professor Olsson. "For instance, there are few people other than your children who you'd kiss when they have a runny nose. In other words, a disease signal can enhance caring behaviour in close relationships. With this study, we demonstrate that the brain is more sensitive to those signals than we once thought."