Thursday, April 28, 2011

Truth and Reconciliation, Part 1

First, a vid entitled ENLIGHTENING: Prof. Molefi Asante Talks on Côte d'Ivoire, Libya and Africa's Future found at The Frontier Telegraph (Cameroon) (see also Prof. Molefi Asante on Libya & Cote D'Ivoire). I don't agree with everything the professor says, but his explanation of the dynamics involved in Côte d'Ivoire is quite interesting, and that is why I posted this vid here.

The same kind of dynamic that he describes in Côte d'Ivoire is how we got the Obamanistas running the US.

(This dynamic is at work in the Balkans, as well.)

Now, another vid from the same place, entitled Gambian Government Statement on Ivoirian Tragedy:

For those who think Côte d'Ivoire is a Muslim/Christian thing, notice that the above vid is produced by a country, 90% of whose inhabitants are Muslim, and it opposes the installation of Ouattara in place of incumbent Gbagbo, who actually won the election according to Ivoirian law.

The comment at that link is also interesting (I did a little work on the formatting):

Kwame Piankhi Says:

April 23rd, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I believe we Afrikans (Diasporan and Continental) should boycott French products and services including the area of governmental contracts. This is not only based on France's sordid history on the Continent, but also the on current economic arrangement with the "Francophone" African countries called the CFA (Communuate Financiere de l’Afrique). This agreement forces France's former colonies to deposit 80% of their foreign reserves in the French Treasury. Furthermore, France has priority in acquisition of raw materials deemed "strategic" and has first right of refusal for all government contracts in these countries. Finally, the CFA allows France to have permanent military bases in its ex-colonies and they have the "legal" right to intervene in these countries.

According to New African Magazine: "If you think it is bad enough that the majority of the former French colonies in Africa fall in the 'Bottom 50' of the least developed countries in the world, spare a thought for this fact: Poor as they are, they have, for over six decades, been depositing 65% of their foreign reserves in the French Treasury in Paris – thanks to an archaic colonial arrangement linking their local currency, the CFA franc , to the French franc and now the euro." Later on, it is learned that "another 20% of reserves [go] to cover financial liabilities."
"The Economic and Political Effects of the CFA Zone"
"CFA The grip France won't let go"
And the article "The Colonial Pact" page 4 of the attached file "Cote D’Ivoire: The Story Behind the Story"

Another reason for a boycott is France's interference in the internal affairs of Cote D'Ivoire and Libya. France has allowed the Ivorian Presidential candidate, Outtara, to usurp the Constitutional process for resolving disputed election results (see attachments "Decision of Constitutional Council" and the "Letter from Sen. James Inhofe to Sec of State Hillary Clinton" As to Libya, France has disregarded AU initiatives to resolve the evolving civil war peaceably.

Lastly, France has refused repay to Haiti $40 billion that it took as "reparations" for property losses during the Haitian Revolution. See:

A boycott should remain in place until the following occur:

1. The CFA arrangement must be cancelled and the former "Francophone" African countries must be allowed to keep their foreign reserves.
2. All African foreign reserves must be returned to the rightful countries subject to an independent accounting verification.
3. France must remove all military bases (permanent and otherwise) from African countries. Furthermore, any intervention by France, overt or otherwise, into the "CFA zone" should be considered a violation of international law.
4. Allasane Outtara must be forced to step down as President of Cote D'Ivoire and new elections should be called in accordance to the Ivorian Constitution. France cannot be allowed to be an observer in any election activities as it is not an objective observer.
5. France must repay to Haiti, $40 billion that it took as "reparations" through coercive means.
The following companies should be boycotted: Total Elf Fina, Accor Novotel, Societe Generale, all Danone products including Dannon Yogurt and Evian Water, Compagnie Fruitière (which sells fruit under the SCB and Bouba labels), Michelin (which also owns Uniroyal and Goodrich tires), Nissan/Renault, Perrier, Nestle, Bic Products, L'Oreal and Lancome.

We consider an excerpt from A Necessary Friendship by Amit Singh, dated April 27, 2011 (I did not reproduce links found in the article):


Ouattara has been depicted as innocent in the Ivory Coast crisis, in stark contrast to Gbagbo, a man portrayed as a despot or 'strongman' unwilling to relinquish power despite the weight of a democratic process finding against him. This is somewhere near the truth: Gbagbo has relentlessly tried to cling on to power and his shelling of the country's capital in March was described by the UN as a 'possible crime against humanity.'

However, Soro and Ouattara are no angels. In the worst reported incident so far, hundreds of ethnic Guéré civilians who were supposedly pro-Gbagbo were massacred in the western town of Duékoué by forces loyal to Ouattara. Some witnesses claimed to have seen pro-Ouattara forces executing civilians who were not militia. Witnesses claim that the pro-Outarra forces were targeting them as a collective punishment against the Guéré. According to a 39-year-old women who lost her husband in the attack, the soldiers shouted "we're here to kill Gbabgo, but since you the Guéré voted for Gbagbo, we'll kill you, we'll kill you until the last Guéré".

Human Rights Watch has called for an investigation into alleged crimes committed by forces under Ouattara and Soro's control. Any investigation that could follow Ouattara's ascension to the presidency would be problematic for his legitimacy. Would Ouattara punish those who supported him in removing Gbagbo? If he was to, it could be a grossly unpopular move at a time when Ivory Coast is still in a state of unrest. Surely those loyal to him will expect some sort of reward, perhaps even immunity against punishment.

However, the Western powers which publically supported Ouattara will surely demand that he investigates his supporters. If he does not he may lose his international legitimacy before he has even started. Ouattara's spokeswoman and election campaign manager Anne Desiree Ouloto refuted any allegations that pro-Ouattara forces were responsible for what had happened in Duékoué, claiming that no pro-Ouattara fighters had perpetrated any violations.

Those who control Ouattara also control the media. That is how they painted Gbagbo as a "strongman" and Ouattara as a democratically-elected leader.

The same way, they can just whitewash Ouattara's forces, playing down the atrocities, absolving Ouattara's rebel forces of the worst of the crimes, and generally muddying up the waters.

The Western powers will demand no real investigations; only a charade to pacify the Western sheeple.

This begins another series on events in Africa...

The New SS

Gate Rape of Miss USA - her story at her website.

My comment:

TSA agents are violating the civil rights of Americans, and sexually assaulting Americans under color of authority. This is the result of official policy from the top down.

Based on precedents established at Nuremberg in the aftermath of World War II, the TSA is therefore a criminal organization. Even the fact that someone is employed by the TSA suggests that that person is conspiring to break the law. Also, again based on precedent from war crimes trials, the defense that "I was just following orders" is inadequate. TSA agents may be held individually and criminally accountable, and they will not stop violating our rights until we begin to prosecute them.

The TSA is the new SS, and must be treated as such.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Forbidden Knowledge, Forbidden City, Part 2

We pick up where we left off at the end of Part 1, and continue reviewing Google charge highlights China-based hacking by Joe McDonald, dated February 3, 2010:

Companies rarely come forward

Officials in the United States, Germany and Britain say hackers linked to China's military have broken into government and defense systems. But attacks on commercial systems receive less attention because victims rarely come forward, possibly for fear it might erode trust in their businesses.

Google was the exception when it announced Jan. 12 that attacks hit it and at least 20 other companies. Google says it has "conclusive evidence" the attacks came from China but declined to say whether the government was involved.

Google cited the attacks and attempts to snoop on dissidents in announcing that it would stop censoring results on its China-based search engine and leave the country if the government does not loosen restrictions.

Only two other companies have disclosed they were targets in that attack — software maker Adobe Systems Inc. and Rackspace Inc., a Web hosting service.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Finnish security software maker F-Secure Corp., said his company has detected about two dozen attacks originating from China each month since 2005.

"There must be much more that go completely undetected," he said.

Hypponen said a large British military contractor with which his company worked discovered last year that information had leaked for 18 months from one of its computers to an Internet address in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong. He said similar attacks on military contractors were found in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland.

Saydjari said other researchers have told him of dozens of U.S. companies that have been attacked from China but said he could not disclose their names or other details.


First of all, the attacks like this one on Google, that are traced back to China, are only the tip of what appears to be a real cyberintelligence iceberg. Second, the fact that China conducts so many cyberattacks lends credence to my suggestion in Part 1 that the PRC may have been behind the attacks first on RSA, then on ORNL.


China's army supports hacker hobbyists

A key source of the skills required might be China's military. China's army supports hacker hobby clubs with as many as 100,000 members to develop a pool of possible recruits, according to Saydjari.

"China has a strategic goal of becoming the world-dominant economic power within this century. Certainly one way to do that faster is to steal industrial secrets," he said.

There are no estimates of losses attributable to hacking traced to China, but antivirus supplier McAfee Inc. says intellectual property worth an estimated $1 trillion was stolen worldwide through the Internet in 2008.

Separately, a Los Angeles law firm says it was hit Jan. 11 by an attack that appeared to originate in China after it filed a lawsuit for CyberSitter LLC, a software maker that accuses the Chinese government of stealing its code for use in a Web-filtering system.

The firm Gipson Hoffman & Pancione said e-mails sent to its lawyers contained malicious software designed to extract information from their computers.

I would say that establishes both motive and opportunity.

'Advanced persistent threat'

Security firm Mandiant Corp. has dubbed such attacks — which allow repeated thefts over months or years — an "advanced persistent threat" and says each one it has studied over the past five years involved theft of information related to U.S.-China corporate acquisitions, negotiations or military acquisitions.

"The scale, operation and logistics of conducting these attacks — against the government, commercial and private sectors — indicates that they're state-sponsored," the company said in a report last month.

But even if an attack is traced to China, experts need to examine the computer used to be sure it was not hijacked by an attacker elsewhere. Consultants say security for many Chinese computers is so poor that they are vulnerable to being taken over and used to hide the source of attacks from elsewhere.

In the Google case, confirming the source would require China's cooperation, and Beijing has yet to respond to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's appeal for an investigation.

"The 'smoking gun' proof is very hard to put together," said Graham Cluley, a researcher for Sophos, a British security software company.

Perhaps China takes advantage of its poor cybersecurity environment as plausible deniability cover for the attacks its intelligence personnel commit?

Regardless, it is a safe bet we will not get that "smoking gun".

China denies government involvement

China's Industry Ministry said in a statement that any suggestion the government is involved in any Internet attack "is groundless and aims to discredit China."

But China is no stranger to government-directed industrial espionage on a vast scale.

Intelligence experts say that since the 1970s, Beijing has carried on a quiet campaign to acquire foreign technology and other secrets by using Chinese businesspeople, students and scientists who travel abroad as part-time spies.

China, with the world's biggest population of Web users at more than 384 million, also has a history of hacking. In 1999, Web surfers defaced U.S. government sites after the mistaken American bombing of Beijing's Belgrade embassy killed three Chinese. Nationalists have attacked Web sites in Japan and Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing as its own territory.

More recent cases have shifted from vandalism to theft of government or trade secrets.

The vast scale, government-directed espionage is far from being just industrial!


From vandalism to theft

Last March, a Canadian group, the Information Warfare Monitor, said it found a China-based ring stole sensitive information from thousands of computers worldwide. Targets included the communications network of The Associated Press.

The government did not respond to the report's details but said it opposes computer crime and criticized the researchers for suggesting otherwise.

China has also ordered vendors that sell computer security technology to government agencies to reveal how it works under rules that take effect on May 1. Foreign companies operating there worry that might compromise systems used by banks and others to protect customer information and trade secrets.

Beijing is also pressing foreign financial firms to move more of their computer servers into China. That might require a switch to Chinese-made equipment with weaker protections.

Companies' reluctance to talk about China-based hacking "makes it difficult to make the case for action broadly," Saydjari said. "That might be why Google is parting from that history and sounding the alarm."

Remember, this was a 2010 article. How much progress has China made since then in cyberespionage by requiring vendors to divulge secrets to computer security technology in exchange for China's business?

What might be of interest at ORNL? Perhaps this - 20 petaflops: New supercomputer for Oak Ridge facility to regain speed lead over the Chinese, March 23, 2011:

It was only last October that China's National University of Defense team unveiled the Tianhe-1A, a machine capable of computing at 2.5 petaflops.

"China's National University of Defense team" - is that the connection to the PLA?


The [20 petaflop - 20,000 trillion calculations per second] Titan, built by Cray Computer, will become part of a collection of some of the fastest computers in the world at the ORNL facility, joining NOAA's Gaea, the NSF's Kraken and the DOE's current workhorse, the Jaguar, though new space will have to be found, as the current structure has no room. Plans are in the works for an entirely new facility to be built over the next year, which should fit in well with the delivery date for the first stage of the Titan expected to be by the end of this year, with the second stage slated for sometime next year.

Wow! Petaflops!

Now that sounds exciting... and technology from a computer that works that fast would be worth stealing.

Forbidden Knowledge, Forbidden City, Part 1

We begin with excerpts from Lab halts Web access after cyber attack, April 19, 2011, about a cyber attack on Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL):

OAK RIDGE — A highly sophisticated cyber attack — known as Advanced Persistent Threat [APT] — forced Oak Ridge National Laboratory to shut down all Internet access and email systems over the weekend.

Those restrictions will remain in place until lab officials and others investigating the attack are sure the situation is well controlled and manageable, ORNL Director Thom Mason said Monday [April 18].


"In this case, it was initiated with phishing email, which led to the download of some software that took advantage of a 'zero day exploit,' a vulnerability for which there is no patch yet issued," he said. The vulnerability involved Internet Explorer, he said.


Mason confirmed that some computers were confiscated and quarantined. He also confirmed that the phishing email messages in this case were disguised as coming from the lab's human resource department.

He said that some lessons learned from the 2007 attack helped lab officials with the current situation, but he said this is a much more advanced attack than the event four years ago.

"Well, if you look at this APT, it is much more sophisticated than what was being used a few years ago," he said. "Certainly what we've seen is very consistent with the RSA attack. ...Whoever is doing this attempts to get a foothold in the network system, works patiently and relatively quietly to try to expand that and is looking for specific types of information."

Director Mason mentions "the RSA attack" - perhaps some background about it might help. RSA At a Glance tells us what RSA is:

Corporate Overview

RSA, The Security Division of EMC, is the premier provider of security, risk and compliance solutions, helping the world's leading organizations succeed by solving their most complex and sensitive security challenges. These challenges include managing organizational risk, safeguarding mobile access and collaboration, proving compliance, and securing virtual and cloud environments.

Combining business-critical controls in identity assurance, data loss prevention, encryption and tokenization, fraud protection and SIEM with industry leading eGRC capabilities and consulting services, RSA brings trust and visibility to millions of user identities, the transactions that they perform and the data that is generated.
In other words, RSA is an industry leader in cyber security.

About the attack on RSA, RSA Executive Chairman Art Coviello had this to say:

Like any large company, EMC experiences and successfully repels multiple cyber attacks on its IT infrastructure every day. Recently, our security systems identified an extremely sophisticated cyber attack in progress being mounted against RSA. We took a variety of aggressive measures against the threat to protect our business and our customers, including further hardening of our IT infrastructure. We also immediately began an extensive investigation of the attack and are working closely with the appropriate authorities.

Our investigation has led us to believe that the attack is in the category of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). Our investigation also revealed that the attack resulted in certain information being extracted from RSA's systems. Some of that information is specifically related to RSA's SecurID two-factor authentication products. While at this time we are confident that the information extracted does not enable a successful direct attack on any of our RSA SecurID customers, this information could potentially be used to reduce the effectiveness of a current two-factor authentication implementation as part of a broader attack. We are very actively communicating this situation to RSA customers and providing immediate steps for them to take to strengthen their SecurID implementations.

So, an APT attack hits a cyber security industry leader. For more background, we consider Hacker Spies Hit Security Firm RSA, dated March 17, 2011, by Kim Zetter:

The company said in a note posted on its website that the intruders succeeded in stealing information related to the company’s SecurID two-factor authentication products. SecurID adds an extra layer of protection to a login process by requiring users to enter a secret code number displayed on a keyfob, or in software, in addition to their password. The number is cryptographically generated and changes every 30 seconds.

So, the attackers sought information about a complex cyber security system where the right person has to be at the right computer, and with the right controlled cryptographic device, to be able to log on.

ORNL has plenty of activities that would warrant that level of security.

Skipping down in Hacker Spies Hit Security Firm RSA:

RSA categorized the attack as an advanced persistent threat, or APT. APT attacks are distinctive in the kinds of data the attackers target. Unlike most intrusions that go after financial and identity data, APT attacks tend to go after source code and other intellectual property and often involve extensive work to map a company's infrastructure.

APT attacks often use zero-day vulnerabilities to breach a company and are therefore rarely detected by antivirus and intrusion programs. The intrusions are known for grabbing a foothold into a company's network, sometimes for years, even after a company has discovered them and taken corrective measures.

Last year's hack into Google was considered an APT attack, and, like many intrusions in this category, was linked to China.

So, this is an advanced persistent threat.

Depending on whose article you read, an APT might just be a miscellaneous category for anything the IT firm doesn't know how to deal with.

But, when a major IT company like Google gets hit, then a year later an industry leader in cyber security gets hit, and they're calling it an APT, that makes me suspect it is something serious.

It seems the RSA attack was after the source code that would allow the hacker access to ORNL's data.

Did the hacker succeed, and via the APT phishing get information from one of ORNL's many critical programs?

Regarding the Google attack, we get some background from Google charge highlights China-based hacking by Joe McDonald, dated February 3, 2010:

BEIJING — Google's accusation that its e-mail accounts were hacked from China landed like a bombshell because it cast light on a problem that few companies will discuss: the pervasive threat from China-based cyberattacks.

The hacking that angered Google Inc. and hit dozens of other businesses adds to growing concern that China is a center for a global explosion of Internet crimes, part of a rash of attacks aimed at a wide array of targets, from a British military contractor to banks and chemical companies to a California software maker.

The government denies it is involved. But experts say the highly skilled attacks suggest the military, which is a leader in cyberwarfare research, or other government agencies might be breaking into computers to steal technology and trade secrets to help state companies.

"Chinese hacking activity is significant in quantity and quality," said Sami Saydjari, president of the consulting firm Cyber Defense Agency and a former U.S. National Security Agency official.

I don't see that anyone has publicly accused China of being behind the APT attacks on RSA and ORNL, but it sure seems to me that might have been the case.

As I dig, I find the trail leads from these major advanced persistent threat cyberattacks on key US-based targets to cyberintelligence officers of Communist China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). From there, a trail leads back to PLA front companies in the United States. From there, via the front companies' associated political action committees (PACs), a trail leads via campaign contributions to important US politicians. And, these PLA front companies are not the only hosts for Communist Chinese intelligence operations in the US - which have been ongoing and enjoying success for decades.

More to follow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Unity and Faith, Part 2

We started looking at the situation in Nigeria in Part 1. Considering the post-election violence there, and some things I see about the situation in Nigeria that remind me of other recent events in Africa, we will look a little deeper.

In a pre-election paper entitled Key Issues in Nigeria's 2011 Elections, dated March 29, 2011, author Sola Tayo makes the following observation about politics in Nigeria this election cycle:

Engaging young people

The political parties will also have to make greater efforts to engage the younger electorate. There is a gulf between Nigeria's leaders and the younger population. While still retaining the country's leaning towards social conservatism, young people are increasingly being influenced by other cultures. It could be argued that this is the nature of the power of information-sharing in the world today, but there is a danger in Nigeria of disengagement from mainstream politics in favour of extreme religious affiliations or material gains. Re-engaging young people with national political issues will take time, but could create an appetite in this generation not just to ask questions but actually to challenge the clique of a relatively few 'Big Men' who still dominate Nigerian political life.

If social conservatism means religion, then the danger that Nigeria's young people could be drawn to religious extremism is great indeed.

In recent years, money from the Middle East has gone to revitalize Islam around the world - building mosques, training mullahs - and the brand of Islam that has been spread is "true" Islam - very militant, mainly petrodollar-funded Saudi Wahhabism. At its core, Islam mandates that Islamic law be supreme; other cultures must be subjugated in a subservient status called dhimmitude, designed to make adhering to another religion so painful as to compel submission to Islam, even though Islam's apologists tirelessly repeat that there is no compulsion in religion.

Is the spread of this kind of ideology among Nigeria's Muslims - who comprise slightly more than half the population - a factor?

Tayo points out that today's world is characterized by information-sharing. This explains how Islamic militancy could be propagated, even in the absence of overt foreign involvement. It would only take a small minority of Muslims to adopt these kinds of beliefs and begin to capitalize on or steer unrest in a way that is advantageous. History is replete with examples of unrest that led to revolutionary change which was then hijacked by a small group of highly-motivated and well-organized people.

This question of influence from outside Nigeria is of interest. We now examine another excerpt from Key Issues in Nigeria's 2011 Elections (though we will get to the part dealing with outside interference in a subsequent post):

Internal security and outside interference

There are three main ongoing problems relating to security, all (currently) relatively localized: Niger delta militant groups in the south, Islamist groups in the northeast, and the social and religious flare-ups in Jos and Nigeria's middle belt. In the past, the violence has tended to be contained within local communities, which gives the impression that it is relatively easy to deal with by enforcing martial law, conducting large-scale police operations and through cooperation between the police and intelligence services. However, the 50th Anniversary Independence Day bombs in Abuja, on 1 October 2010, which for the first time targeted a national celebration attended by high-level international dignitaries, indicate that the containment of violence may be becoming a thing of the past.

These bomb attacks were claimed by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group based in the oil-producing south. MEND and other groups in the region are notorious for their acts of violence. These are mostly targeted at oil companies which they blame for polluting their environment and destroying their livelihoods while depriving local people of a fair share of oil revenues. Militant activity in the Niger Delta usually consists of attacks on oil pipelines and the kidnapping for ransom of employees of oil companies (foreign and local) and the families of local government officials. MEND has threatened in the past to take its attacks outside the Niger Delta, to Abuja and Lagos. The Independence Day bombs were a powerful reminder that once localized disputes can and will spread beyond their previous confines.

Security has been prioritized since the October bombings, but violent attacks have continued in the run-up to the elections. Worryingly, the use of bombs, previously unusual in Nigeria, has continued, and expanded to other disputes. In December 2010 at least 80 people were killed in a series of church bombings in Jos. Four people were killed in a similar attack in Abuja a week later. MEND had claimed responsibility for the October bombs, but Boko Haram, a northern-based militant Islamist group with an increasingly violent track record, has claimed responsibility for the Jos attacks. The human rights organization Amnesty International, in a recent report (Loss of Life, Insecurity and Impunity in the Run up to Nigeria's Elections) has warned of an escalation in pre-election violence.

Of course, the pre-election report warned of an escalation of pre-election violence. But, most of the election activity is over (there are still some regional elections coming up shortly). The dynamic, however, is largely the same. Since the election results returned an incumbent southerner from the ruling PDP to power, the northern factions may feel they have something to complain about.

Broady speaking, much of the violence in Nigeria is associated with a southern group, known as MEND. But, narrowing in on topics relevant to the post-election violence, Boko Haram is also mentioned as responsible for violence in Jos. The name "Jos" itself is interesting; according to some sources, the city is so named as an acronym for "Jesus Our Savior". Located right on the border between the Christian-dominated south, and the Muslim-dominated north, Jos has become a battlefield more than once in recent years.

Regarding violence in Jos early last year, an article entited What's behind Christian-Muslim fighting in Nigeria? dated January 19, 2010, had this to say:

Sectarian violence continued for a third day in the Nigerian city of Jos, and appeared to be spreading to surrounding suburbs, as the state government announced a 24-hour curfew to bring Christian-Muslim fighting to a halt.

Officials at Jos's Central Mosque, where most of the Muslim dead have been brought to be buried, say that 139 bodies have been found thus far, but other reports say that the death toll may be much higher, perhaps beyond 200. Residents told human rights workers that gunfire continued throughout the day, even after the Nigerian Army was called in to help police to rein in the violence.

"The cycle of violence is explained by the fact that both the two communities, Muslim and Christian, share many of the same problems, including lack of economic opportunities," says Corinne Dufka, an Africa researcher with Human Rights Watch, based in Dakar, Senegal.

Frustration among the young is often a tool in the hands of ambitious politicians, she adds, and even after courts are presented with evidence that violence is often orchestrated or manipulated, "nobody is held accountable."

Ms. Dufka says that calling in the Army could be a very positive step, "if the Army uses minimal force, such as tear gas to clear the streets," but the long-term solution will come only when the government is seen to be fair by both communities, and when "the choreographers of the violence, the ones who incite violence, are held accountable."

Claims that the violence is "choreographed", "orchestrated", "manipulated"... and no one is held accountable.

Nigeria has a north-south political split, as pointed out in Part 1. Skipping down in What's behind Christian-Muslim fighting in Nigeria? the de facto agreement to alternate between a northerner and a southerner as president is explained as alternating between a Muslim and a Christian; it should be noted that this excerpt is from a time when Goodluck Jonathan was vice president, and when the president was sick (see Part 1):

It is unclear how much the rioting in Jos is affected by national politics, but a political crisis in which the Muslim president Umaru Yar'Adua has spent the last two months in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, refusing to cede official power to his Christian vice president Goodluck Jonathan, cannot have helped relations between Christians and Muslims.

Many Muslim politicians say they would refuse to allow power to shift, even temporarily, to Vice President Jonathan, calling instead for a fresh round of elections in which only Muslim candidates could run. In order to keep peace, for many years there's been an unofficial agreement to alternate the presidency between Christians and Muslims.

It is likely the current violence, being painted in much of the mainstream media as a north/south issue, is, at its roots, a Muslim/Christian issue, and "north/south" is PC-speak for this religious problem.

The Jos rioting of 2010 resumed in March; at the time, the governor of Plateau State, where Jos is located, was Christian, as were many of the members of the security forces.

However, religion was only part of the cultural rift at the base of the rioting; from Nigeria violence: Muslim-Christian clashes kill hundreds, dated March 8, 2010:

The central city of Jos is on high alert after Sunday's violence in Nigeria in which a late-night attack by herdsmen killed up to 500 people from nearby farming villages. The attack has been seen as a reprisal for attacks in January, in which about 300 herdsmen were killed by youths from the farming community.

The town of Jos is all too often a focal point for competition over the use of arable land in central and northern Nigeria, where climate change has dried up pasture lands and forced animal herders closer and closer to farming communities, where their herds can destroy crops.

Jos is also right on the de facto fault line separating Nigeria's mainly Muslim north from its mainly Christian south. The farming community in Jos is primarily Christian of the Berom ethnic group, while the herders are ethnic Fulanis who practice Islam.

"Land is central to the conflict in Jos," says Ugar Ukandi Odey, a Jos-based news reporter for the Nigerian newspaper NEXT. Mr. Odey has been covering the attacks and the tense aftermath. "The Beroms are the original people of Jos, and the Fulanis are nomads moving around with cattle who have settled in amongst the Berom people. But it becomes ethnic and religious, because there are Christians on one side, and the Fulanis are Muslims on the other side."

Skipping down:

Working to keep violence from spreading Jonathan and state officials will have to work fast to keep the violence from spreading. The attacks were brutal, with mobs of young men passing through two villages outside Jos and hacking to death anyone they caught – women, the elderly, and even toddlers – with machetes. Some firebrand Christian leaders from Jos are condemning the Army for moving too slowly, and calling the attack on their parishioners a jihad against Christians.

Uh-oh: the j-word.

More to follow...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unity and Faith, Part 1

Nigeria is an interesting country. It is the most populous country in Africa, and the 7th most populous country in the world. It is estimated that more than one fifth of the world's black population lives in Nigeria, and Nigeria has what is considered one of the world's major developing economies. Add to that its central location in Africa, with its own significant oil fields and adjacent to many other oil fields, and Nigeria is perhaps the major player in Africa, and a significant player on the world scene.

On April 16, Nigeria held presidential elections. For an overview of how the election process itself went, I refer you to Sahel Blog's article entitled International Observers Comment on Nigeria's Elections.

The election results are sparking some turbulence in a nation that already is simmering with other problems.

The incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, was elected as vice president and sworn in on May 29, 2007. Due to illness, President Umaru Yar'Adua was unable to function as president, so Jonathan became acting president as of February 9, 2010; upon Yar'Adua's death, Jonathan took the oath of office to become president on May 6, 2010. President Jonathan is a member of the People's Democratic Party, which also controls Nigeria's National Assembly.

Re-elected: Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan

2011 Nigerian Presidential Election Results

2011 Nigerian National Assembly Election Results

Now, for background, we consider an excerpt from a paper entitled Key Issues in Nigeria's 2011 Elections by Sola Tayo, dated March 29, 2011:

While other parties had a smoother journey in declaring their candidates the PDP spent much of the latter part of 2010 embroiled in a debate over the origin of its candidate. An agreement within the party dictates that the presidency should rotate between Nigeria's north and south – a system commonly known as 'zoning'. It appears in the party's constitution but without detail of its implementation, which casts doubt on whether it is legally enforceable.[2] On the basis of this, many people, particularly in the north, consider it to be the north's turn to hold the presidency as Nigeria's last president, northerner Umaru Yar'Adua, died before completing his first term in office, and his predecessor in office, Obasanjo, was a southerner. Yet Goodluck Jonathan, who as vice-president took over the presidency upon Yar'Adua's death, is himself also a southerner. A powerful coalition of northern interests combined to try to prevent Jonathan's assumption of the interim presidency, and subsequently his nomination to PDP candidate for these upcoming elections, precisely because they foresaw the north missing out on 'its turn'.

The excerpt tells of a north/south split within the ruling PDP. But, as I looked at results published by Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission, evidence of another kind of north-south political split was quite obvious.

The main runner-up for the presidency was a candidate from the Congress for Progressive Change, General Muhammadu Buhari. From Q&A: Nigeria elections, April 19, 2011:

Goodluck Jonathan from the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) was declared the winner with 57% of the vote, taking 22.5 million votes.

The runner-up, General Muhammadu Buhari, of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), took 12.2 million votes.

International observers said polling was generally free and fair and there has been praise for the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The African Union observer team said it was Nigeria's best poll for decades, but this did not stop riots breaking out in many northern cities, where Gen Buhari is popular.

To win in the first round, a candidate needs at least 25% of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states, as well as a majority of the total votes cast.

The protesters accuse PDP politicians in the north of rigging to allow Mr Jonathan to reach this threshold.

They also claim there are discrepancies between turnout and results in some areas of the south, Mr Jonathan's powerbase.

From a March 7, 2011, article entitled Buhari Warns Of Arab-style Revolution In Nigeria, we have the following:

PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Mohammadu Buhari, has warned that the current unrest in North Africa and Middle East would not elude Nigeria if the leadership remains unaccountable to the people.

Buhari, who was in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, yesterday to flag off the CPC presidential campaign rally for the South-South zone of the country, said no one should rule out the North African revolution in Nigeria, if the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not change its style of governance.

You know, it occurred to me that there also seems to be a split along religious lines, which is a roughly north-south split. In fact, skipping down in Q&A: Nigeria elections:

Is there always a north-south divide to politics?

Elections in Nigeria tend to be about ethnicity, religion and regionalism, not issues.

But it is the first time in Nigeria's recent history that the presidential election result has exposed the huge division between the mainly Muslim, Hausa-speaking north and Christian and animist south.

Often the winning candidate - irrespective of region, religion or ethnicity - has commanded a wide national spread in the first round.

Historically, this was due either to a formal alliance by political parties or - more recently - an informal agreement within the governing PDP party to alternate the presidency between the north and the south after two terms in office.

However, this rotation was broken when Mr Jonathan succeeded to the presidency last year after the death of Umaru Yar'Adua, a northerner. PDP powerbrokers wanted their candidate in this election to be a northerner.

And much of the anger being expressed by the young men rioting in northern cities comes down to frustration.

The north is far behind the south in terms of development, education and job opportunities - some of the issues politicians have often promised to address and failed to deliver.

Coupled with Buhari's warnings, this sounds like a recipe for big trouble.

I can't help but notice that Nigeria also has trouble with the Boko Haram militants, that half the country already has sharia as state law, and that Nigeria is along the Sahara/Sahel corridor that I have written about in previous posts - a corridor through which flow contraband, illegal arms, and people with political-religious agendas.

It seems to me I started a series about Côte d'Ivoire with a post kind of like this one, and look what happened there.

Of course, Nigeria is very different from Côte d'Ivoire...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April in America

On April 18, 1775, British regulars came out of Boston to seize certain rebels and their munitions. They began their move late at night.

Rebels scouts rode ahead carrying news of the British movement. The rebels the British sought to seize escaped. Meanwhile, the rebel system to warn of movements of British troops was so efficient, that even as British troops were getting out of boats across the bay from Boston, rebel militia was already getting ready to meet them.

As the British forces approached Lexington in the colony of Massachusetts at dawn, rebel militia was forming up to meet them. The rebel leaders they had hoped to seize were long gone, but the British still sought rebel weapons and ammunition stored in Concord.

There was an initial skirmish, with rebel forces likely the first to open fire. The British proceeded toward Concord as more and more rebel militiamen converged on the area. By late morning on the 19th, the British regulars were concluding their search-and-destroy mission in Concord, as nearly a thousand rebel militiamen converged on the road leading back to Boston. The British, numbering less than 700 and very tired after having had very little sleep, marching all night, skirmishing with the rebel militia and carrying out their search for rebel supplies, were getting apprehensive as they saw themselves possibly being cut off far from their base in Boston.

Rebel militia chased the British regulars all the way back to Boston; by the time the British regulars reached Boston, rebel militia facing them numbered 15,000 - and the American Revolution had begun.

Fast forward 220 years.

A massive explosion (by some reports, more than one explosion) destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.

The story our government has told us regarding the events surrounding that terrorist attack is not totally true, nor are the true parts the entire story.

There was a story behind the story we were told by our government. Sgt. Terrance Yeakey was brutally murdered because he knew something about that story; his death was ruled a suicide.

I draw strength reading about the achievements of Americans in 1775, as I consider the events of 1995.

As the Lord lives, the people who are behind the murder of Sgt. Terrance Yeakey will be brought to justice; as the Lord lives, the people who are behind the murder of Sgt. Terrance Yeakey will be brought to their knees.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tolerance of the Intolerant

This is quality.

First, an excerpt (approximately the first half) from Wear hijab or die (actually, I think this is the headline, and the title is the bold-faced bullet below), dated April 18, 2011, reproduced below:

ISLAMIC extremists bent on establishing Sharia law in Britain have threatened to kill women who do not cover their heads.

They have also posted signs warning of "gay-free" zones and defaced posters featuring bikini-clad models.

Hardline Muslims are feared to be imposing their values on others in Tower Hamlets, East London.

A non-Muslim Asian pharmacist in Whitechapel who wears western clothes said she was told to cover up with a hijab headscarf or face a boycott.

Later she claimed a second man told her: "If you keep doing these things we will kill you." Police are investigating.

There is also a post over at Atlas Shrugs that addresses this. In it, Pamela references another article.

The comments at the articles are quite interesting. :)

This is what tolerance of the intolerant has lead to.

Islam comes not to coexist, but to conquer. Islam is not a religion of peace; it is an ideology of armed conquest. "Islam" means "submission" - submission to the will of Allah (some moon god from the Arabian peninsula) as that will is interpreted by the head mullah.

To be sure, there are good people who are Muslims. There are good people who can find good things in Islamic holy texts, and who can act upon their interpretations and bring good from it all.

These people are called takfir, and are subject to the death penalty as apostates from Islam.

That's not my word for them; that what true Muslims call them.

Unless of course you are one of the Muslims who says you are the good guys and these other guys are khawarij....

Fine. End the threat posed by them to humanity, and I might agree with you.

Sold to the Highest Bidder

One of my favorite places for informed, in-depth news AND ANALYSIS about world events is Foreign Policy, which I link to in the sidebar.

Notice the caps for "and analysis" - news is news, and anybody can report what they think they see going on.

I want to understand the dynamics below the surface and, frankly, today's reporters are generally a lazy group of people. They like to be spoon-fed from press releases, and there is very little real investigative reporting among the MSM. Oh, sure, if there is some safe smut, like a sex scandal, they might dig, because that sells copy. It is especially rewarding if it is a Republican that has gotten caught.

But, where do we really get good in-depth analysis?

Anyway, Foreign Policy has an excellent article about "free trade" entitled Nothing Free About It at which I was the first commentator. My ranting comment is as follows:

Sold to the Highest Bidder

All of those very legitimate points aside, how can people of one nation, who must pay high tax rates and whose employers have strict environmental regulations, possibly compete with what is essentially slave labor in a nation that is eager to sacrifice the environment in order to achieve economic growth?

"Free trade" isn't free - it means someone is getting screwed.

Add to that the current US practice of offering "offsets" in our high-tech military exports. Foreign buyers of US military hardware agree to buy our weapons, provided at least some of the production occurs in their country, not ours. That means the jobs, the know-how, the national-security-related industrial base - it's all over there, in a nation that might just be our enemy after the next election or coup. On top of that, we are often giving US foreign military aid dollars to these countries, provided they buy our weapons. But, what good does that do Americans, if "our" weapons are being produced there? We pay foreign nations American tax dollars to become de facto competitors as we develop their industrial base.

The trouble is, American leaders, both political and business, all too often serve not the United States, but the almighty dollar. We can understand that of business leaders, though some concern for America would be nice. However, this is unacceptable on the part of our "public servants" who abuse their positions of trust to take care of business interests - often foreign business interests - while on the US public's payroll. In turn, these business interests take care of our "public servants" after they leave public service.

And when we get sold "change", the only thing that changes is the names of the connected people who benefit from screwing us, as our "public servants" sell us out to the highest bidder.

Look into the Sibel Edmonds case, and see if that serves as a primer to know what I'm talking about.

Or, here's one for you. It's a long post - read it all the way to the end, because it doesn't take you where you might think it does at the beginning.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Côte d'Ivoire and 2012

Just writing a note on Facebook, I had this to say on April 16, 2011, in a note entitled Côte d'Ivoire - Dress Rehearsal for 2013? (slightly reformatted for this blog):

As I review information surrounding the events in Côte d'Ivoire, some things jump out at me.

1) There are questions about whether all the people who voted for Ouattara were legally eligible to vote in the elections.

2) I have questions about whether Ouattara is eligible for the presidency under Ivoirian law.

Regardless, the Ivoirian Constitutional Council is the only body in Côte d'Ivoire that can certify someone as the winner of the election; they certified Gbagbo, not Ouattara.

Despite this, the international community declared Ouattara the winner, then installed him under force of arms.

The precedent has been set to declare Obama the winner in 2012 - regardless of what happens at the polls, or whether or not he is even eligible - and maintain him in power after January, 2013, through force of an international intervention.

Somebody please point out the flaw in my logic or facts.

I have been suspicious of this whole situation from the start, but this now goes beyond suspicion.

Please watch the following vids (which are all conveniently accessible at an admittedly pro-Gbagbo site):

Senator James Inhofe has also been following developments in Côte d'Ivoire, and speaking about the situation there. He has many taped speeches and press conferences on the topic; here is a recent one:

(See also A Plea for the Cote D'Ivoire.)

Senator Inhofe's information, presented in the Senate, confirms some of what I had suspected, but been unable to find online. Ouattara's people are thugs. Assuming President Gbagbo is what the international community is labeling him as - a "strongman" - Ouattara will be no better.

The information I have found, detailed elsewhere under the label Ivory Coast, shows that Ouattara, when he was prime minister, did a great deal of damage to Côte d'Ivoire's economy and internal ethnic relations. These issues were what helped cause the unrest that he ultimately leveraged, first into a civil war, then into an election. The election was stolen, but he was able to leverage the facade of an election into support by the international community adequate to place him in power, in violation of Ivoirian law.

Also, my information shows Gbagbo's administration was, at the top, not corrupted by narcotics trafficking.

Though Ouattara's supporters are generally Muslims from the northern part of Côte d'Ivoire, I have found little credible evidence that this is a Muslim vs. infidel fight in Côte d'Ivoire. However, an article from FrontPage Magazine suggests it might be. France Enables an Islamist Takeover of Ivory Coast, April 12, 2011, says in part:

The French, the former colonial rulers in the Ivory Coast, forced the surrender of former president Laurent Gbagbo to forces loyal to president-elect Alassane Ouattara, who the international community had recognized as the victor in last year's presidential election.

Ouattara is a Muslim, who prevailed in this election over his Christian opponent Gbagbo on the strength of masses of illegal immigrants who had emigrated over the last several decades from the neighboring Muslim states of Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. It is estimated that nearly one fifth of the 21 million people now living in Ivory Coast are illegal immigrants, most of whom are Muslims.

Neighboring Burkina Faso, which borders that part of Côte d'Ivoire that was a base for Ouattara's rebel forces, is known as a transshipment point for smuggling illegal arms. As I address elsewhere, the entire Sahara/Sahel region is known for movement of goods, most emphatically including contraband, as well as people.

If Ouattara's Muslim supporters are sprinkled with Islamists, it is a safe bet they are connected with other Islamic militants in the area. Furthermore, terrorists worldwide, especially since the end of the Cold War, have increasingly financed terrorism with money earned from organized crime, major components of which include arms- and narcotics-trafficking. Consequently, Ouattara is likely connected to this.

If it is true that Gbagbo's regime, at the highest levels, was honest in this regard, then one aspect of placing Ouattara in power is likely a move by organized crime to facilitate the flow of drugs and guns through the region - likely cocaine eastward and up to Europe, and military-grade weapons and Afghan heroin westward to the Americas.

Senator Inhofe decries French colonialism. Undoubtedly, money is involved, as I have addressed elsewhere. Also, cocoa and other natural resources come to mind. If caught, these will be the fall-back positions of the French and US administrations.

But, if we dig down deeper, organized crime networks, especially those associated with Islamic terrorists, will be found to be connected to senior officials in the US and French governments.

Another aspect of this is the issue of national sovereignty.

The article is not as accurate as one might hope, but the headline points to the issue of concern.

It is irrelevant if Obama is eligible according to US law. It is also irrelevant if those who vote for him are legally eligible to vote in US elections. And, it is irrelevant if Obama even wins a fraudulent election.

They key is that there is the facade of a "democratic" election. With that in place, the international community, controlled by shadowy groups on both sides of the law, now has a precedent to send troops in to impose Obama on America through force of international arms.

And, there is a big movement to disarm law-abiding American people. Now, I wonder why that is?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Seat of the Shah, Part 5

Previous parts of this series are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Especially in Part 3 and Part 4 we began looking hard at piracy from Somalia.

We now consider an April 15, 2011, article entitled Somali pirates get ransom, free ship but keep Indian hostages:

MOGADISHU, Somalia — In a move that could change the pirate-hostage equation, Somali pirates on Friday took in a multimillion-dollar ransom, then released the ship and some of the crew but kept all the Indian crew members as hostages.


"We decided to keep the Indian because India is holding our colleagues," the pirate, Hassan Farah, said. "We released the other crew members who sailed away from our coast. We will keep these Indians until the Indians release our colleagues."

Farah said the pirates in the stronghold of Haradhere have taken that collective decision. The Indian hostages are to be moved to land.


Friday's pirate action marks a major departure from the standard pirate business model of release-for-ransom and could complicate international military efforts against the piracy trade.

Earlier this year pirates killed four American hostages while U.S. Navy warships were shadowing the hijacked yacht, the first time pirates had done that.

Overall, analysts say pirates are becoming increasingly aggressive, violent and hostile.

The problem of pirates based in Somalia is spreading, too.

From Pirate attacks hit an all-time high worldwide, April 14, 2011:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Piracy hit an all-time high worldwide in the first three months of 2011 led by a surge in incidents off the coast of Somalia, a maritime watchdog said Thursday.

The International Maritime Bureau said a record high of 142 attacks in the first quarter came as Somalian pirates become more violent and aggressive.

The International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center said 97 of the attacks occurred off the coast of Somalia, up sharply from 35 in the same period last year.

It said attackers seized 18 vessels worldwide, including three big tankers, in the January-March period and captured 344 crew members. Pirates also murdered seven crew members and injured 34 during the quarter.

The Kuala Lumpur-based center's director Pottengal Mukundan said Thursday that there was a "dramatic increase in the violence and techniques" used by Somali pirates to counter increased patrols by international navies.

A little background can be found in articles reprinted in the Somaliland Times. From For a Somali pirate, it's all about skill, contacts and luck, April 7, 2011 (reprinted at Somaliland Times):

HARGEISA, Somalia // Ahmed Mohammed Adan knows that every Somali pirate who sets out to sea is taking a big gamble.

An attempt to hijack one of the giant cargo ships or oil tankers passing through the Indian Ocean or Arabian Sea could end in capture, death - or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Adan, six feet tall, broad-shouldered, and 23 years old, speaks with some authority on the subject, having been convicted of piracy in a local court more than a year ago. He is now in a prison in Hargeisa in northern Somalia.

Though he denies ever hijacking a ship, or even trying to, he is still able to detail the life of a pirate. Despite its great risks, piracy continues to lure thousands of young Somali men like him because of the prospect of great rewards.

"There's a lot of people who are actually interested," he said, sitting in a prison office in his crisp yellow uniform. "But you have to be well-connected."

Skipping down:

The booming piracy industry, which is centred in the Horn of Africa, has gone far beyond the ragtag days of three or four years ago. Sophistication has replaced improvisation, with successful pirates required to know how to fire a rocket-propelled grenade and an AK-47, as well as use a satellite telephone and read a GPS system, an official with the United Nations counter-piracy programme said.

Equally important, an accomplished pirate must also belong to the right clan, the critical circle of trust in Somali society.

These prerequisites are no guarantee of success, Adan said. Weapons break. Engines fail. Navies stand more prepared than ever to protect the sea lanes with force.

It was the last pitfall that ensnared Adan. Along with six others, he was arrested in Somaliland by the regional coast guard, tried by a local court and sentenced to 15 years in jail. The sentence was reduced to two years on appeal.

Despite the risks, however, for an impoverished young Somali whose prospects are dim, the lure of piracy can be irresistible.

According to Adan, a team of pirates typically includes a veteran leader and fresh recruits. A group of investors, usually about five, supply the team with a boat, fuel, ladders and weapons. A deal is struck, sometimes in writing. The investors usually get half the profits and the negotiator a quarter. The crew splits the rest.

A typical piracy operation in the Indian Ocean lasts two weeks and costs $3,000, Adan said. If the team fails to seize a ship in that time, they return to port, refuel and set sail again, he said. When they succeed in capturing a ship, they dock it, keep the kidnapped crew alive and wait for their negotiator to secure a ransom.

Commander Stein Olav Hagalid, a Nato representative, said pirates succeed about every one in four attacks. While ransom negotiations are more arduous now, lasting an average of about seven months, ransoms are rising, too. The average payment now tops $5 million, Commander Hagalid said.

So, after perhaps as few as four attempts, costing $3000 each, the pirates can expect success, worth millions. One quarter of the ransom gets split among the pirates, so a pirate could easily have $100,000 after just a few attempts at hijacking a ship. At that point, the pirate need not go to sea, but can become an investor:

Even with their relatively small split of the profits, that means that after just one, two or perhaps three successful missions, a pirate can become an investor, recruit others to carry out the dangerous work and relax, Adan said.

"Once they get some money, they don't want to take chances - they send another crew to go," he said.

With tens of millions of dollars in ransoms streaming in, Adan's hometown of Galkayo is thriving. More of its residents are opening small businesses, driving big cars and building homes.

So... the pirates help the local community develop job skills, then reinvest the profits back into the local community, generating a localized economic boom.

No wonder... from Unrepentant pirate shows how far world has to go to curb growing scourge, April 7, 2011 (also found at Somaliland Times):

HARGEISA, Somalia // Farah Ismail Idle has only one regret about being a pirate: getting caught.

Idle, who has three years left to serve in prison after being convicted of piracy, said he cannot wait to head back to sea, a desire he reiterates every chance he gets, whether to his cellmate or the prison guards.

"When I finish my sentence in prison, I will go back and resume my business," he says.

The resolve of Idle and other convicted pirates suggests that the international community will have to offer far more carrots - and wield a far larger stick - if it is to stem the growing problem of piracy. Pirates have seized 14 ships and 250 crew so far this year. All told, they now hold 28 vessels and 587 crew hostage, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

But, why, besides money, are they doing this? Skipping down:

Nevertheless, Idle, the unrepentant pirate, illustrates how far the international community has to go in order to curb the growing scourge.

Before he was caught by Somaliland's coast guard, convicted and jailed, Idle, 38, spent four years trolling the Indian Ocean for ships. He organised men, food, ladders, pistols, AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, he said. He denies actually hijacking a ship.

But like many Somalis, Idle justifies piracy as an answer to foreign firms that he said overfished Somali waters and polluted them with toxic waste.

"I call them 'pirates' because they invaded my sea," he said.

By hijacking ships, Somalis seek revenge and international attention to their languishing fishing industry, he said.

"Our plan was twofold: first to hijack them, then ask for ransom. And the world would be alert - would know why we are doing this."

The collapse of a government in Somalia made Somalian waters a haven for predatory international business - deplete the fishstocks, dump toxic waste - and now some elements feel justified in retaliating against these international predators.


Now, Idle is keen to serve out his sentence and resume work in what he describes as a booming business.

"The people who are going to the field are getting more," he said. "In the beginning the ransom was around $500,000, but day-by-day it's increasing."

"I am not giving up," he said. "More pirates, more happiness."

Farther to the south, in the part of Somalia bordering Kenya, the economic situation is deteriorating due to environmental conditions. From Drought Hits Villagers And IDPs Fleeing Fighting, April 15, 2011:

Nairobi — A severe drought in and around Somalia's southern town of Dobley is taking its toll on thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs), some of whom have been displaced several times by fighting.

As a result, lack of water, food and shelter has worsened the condition of an already weak population, according to local sources.

The displaced include hundreds of families who fled the capital, Mogadishu, and had to flee again when Dobley recently became a battle-ground between the Islamist opposition Al-Shabab and a pro-government militia, the Raskambone Group.


Mohmamed Muhumud Hassan, a traditional elder, told IRIN on 14 April that many of those displaced from Dobley did not even have utensils. "These are people who fled for their lives, taking with them very little. They are now stranded in villages ravaged by drought," Hassan said.

Food, water and shelter were a priority for both the displaced and the locals, he added.

"Almost all the cattle, sheep and goats have been lost due to the drought," he said. "They [the villagers] cannot help anyone; they need help."

How long until these people join terrorists, a militia, a group of pirates... or perhaps decide to hire out as mercenaries in some place like Libya?

Back on March 2, 2008, Dobley - the Somali town mentioned above - was the target of a US strike aimed at Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists who, in turn, are establishing outreach to local communities. From Somalia: "Oh My Gosh, Pirates!" dated April 29, 2008:

Islamist al-Shabaab militants in southern and central Somalia are combining their military operations with political outreach. Ultimately, the rise and consolidation of an Islamist movement pursuing a regional and international agenda will create a growing threat to the rest of the Horn of Africa.

And, as I mentioned in Part 4, the terrorists were "the first to have a local TV station in a place where only terrorists and pirates can afford a TV. :)"

Piracy, Islamic terrorism, environmental disasters... funny how these things interact.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Standing There on Freedom's Shore, Part 2

There is much more than meets the eye to the unrest throughout North and West Africa. In Part 1 I pointed out how the Sahara Desert can be viewed as a barrier separating different places, but also as a sea of sand connecting places for those travelers properly equipped.

South of the Sahara is the Sahel, a region so-named because its appearance is that of a coast or shore next to the sea of sand that is the Sahara.

Across this sea of sand and its coast flow contraband.

From an excerpt from a 1988 Ivory Coast Country Study dealing with Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali:

Relations with Burkina Faso, a traditional source of agricultural labor, were historically cordial, but they degenerated sharply in the wake of the coup that brought Thomas Sankara to power in August 1983. Sankara soon made common cause with the Rawlings government in Ghana, further raising suspicions in Abidjan. Following Libyan deliveries of military equipment to Burkina Faso, Ivoirian authorities investigated alleged arms trafficking between Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire.

More recently, according to information taken from 2001 US government sources and found in an article entitled Arms Transfers and Trafficking In Africa, Burkina Faso continues to be a major transshipment point for contraband, including arms; this had not been stopped:

In particular, there has been no UN action against countries like Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; all are major transshipment points for arms shipments to west, central, and eastern Africa. The UN Register of Conventional Arms, which has been in operation since 1993, has received data about weapons sales from 153 nations. However, the response by African states is among the lowest in the world.

Skipping down:

There are at least 8 million small arms in West Africa, according to some estimates, with more than half in the hands of insurgents and criminals. Criminal elements in Ghana alone reportedly possess some 40,000 small arms.

Notice the mention of Ghana. Another series that I began late last year begins to address Ghana; you may read Warrior King, Part 1, and I will hopefully get more parts posted soon. :) In that post, I pointed out how Ghana was becoming a major transshipment point for cocaine moving from South America to Europe, and for South Asian (Afghan) heroin moving west.

We now consider the beginning of Fighting the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms, from May 13, 2005:

According to experts on illicit black markets, clandestine business has broken through the constraints once thought to be imposed by regulatory institutions and has spread throughout the international socio-economic environment, with a high level of technical and commercial sophistication. "From recreational drugs to counterfeit credit cards, from fake designer watches to stolen diamonds, it is no longer a case of the operation of this or that isolated black market, but rather the emergence of an international underground economy. That economy consists of a set of interrelated black markets supported by their own systems of information, their own sources of supply, their own distribution networks, and their own modes of financing."[1]

This trade encompasses illicit trafficking in small arms, the exchange of weapons for money, drugs and other commodities that crosses national borders and spans the globe. These arms are not only the weapons of choice in the majority of today's regional conflicts but also for many terrorists and terrorist groups operating around the world. This fact makes them central to the U.S. global war on terror, and shutting down the global network, or at least limiting its reach, would provide a tangible achievement in an otherwise nebulous fight.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that between 25 and 30 non-state groups spread throughout the world possess shoulder-fired missiles,[2] and small arms, in general, are ubiquitous. The proliferation of these weapons contributes to violence and lawlessness, which create conditions of chaos that allow terrorist networks to emerge and thrive.

Recall how I mentioned that cocaine flows east through Ghana to markets in Europe and elsewhere.

How do you think that cocaine is paid for?

Often, there is a certain degree of barter going on: cocaine for heroin and weapons.

Consequently, when the Obama Administration says that most of the firearms used in what we could call Mexico's civil war against drug cartels are from the United States, we know that is not true. Is the Obama Administration that incompetent? Or, is it lying? Perhaps with an agenda to disarm Americans? Either option is very believable; we know they're not telling us the truth.

Another key aspect to this conundrum is the interaction of these illegal activities with terrorism.

Back in the Cold War, the Soviet Union supported terrorist organizations that destabilized the West. When peace broke out, terrorist organizations had to find other sources of support.

Narcotics was a prime candidate. Narcotraffickers and terrorists have the same enemy - the government. Terrorist and guerrilla groups could provide security for narcotraffickers in exchange for money.

The relationships evolved.

Now, it is hard to separate illegal terrorist activities from other kinds of illegal activities, such as trafficking in arms needed to commit terrorist acts, and selling drugs to fund the acts.

In the case of Islamic terrorists, the drugs serve a two-fold purpose. Not only do they finance the terrorist activities, but they destroy infidel societies from within - a recipe direct from Allah. :)

Consequently, any counterterrorism program that does not address trafficking in arms, drugs and other contraband (including human-trafficking) is just a charade.

But, an important charade it is, because if you start following the money, it finds its way to important government officials, who get corrupted.

As Sibel Edmonds said regarding her case in Former FBI Translator Sibel Edmonds Calls Current 9/11 Investigation Inadequate by Jim Hogue, May 7, 2004:

JH: Here's a question that you might be able to answer: What is al-Qaeda?

SE: This is a very interesting and complex question. When you think of al-Qaeda, you are not thinking of al-Qaeda in terms of one particular country, or one particular organization. You are looking at this massive movement that stretches to tens and tens of countries. And it involves a lot of sub-organizations and sub-sub-organizations and branches and it's extremely complicated. So to just narrow it down and say al-Qaeda and the Saudis, or to say it's what they had at the camp in Afghanistan, is extremely misleading. And we don't hear the extent of the penetration that this organization and the sub-organizations have throughout the world, throughout their networks and throughout their various activities. It's extremely sophisticated. And then you involve a significant amount of money into this equation. Then things start getting a lot of overlap -- money laundering, and drugs and terrorist activities and their support networks converging in several points. That's what I'm trying to convey without being too specific. And this money travels. And you start trying to go to the root of it and it's getting into somebody's political campaign, and somebody's lobbying. And people don't want to be traced back to this money.

So, we have established fairly direct connections between terrorists and various kinds of organized crime, but, since organized crime has government officials - even in high levels of the US government - on its payroll, the connection between terrorists and government officials, though less direct, is no less real.

We now consider events in the African nation of Niger, just less than twice the size of Texas and located in the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions along the banks of the Niger River, from which it derives its name. From NIGER: New Touareg rebel group speaks out, dated May 17, 2007:

DAKAR/NIAMEY, 17 May 2007 (IRIN) - A string of armed attacks in the north of Niger this year were provoked by feelings of neglect among people in the region and throughout Niger, the spokesperson for a new Touareg-led rebel group that claims responsibility for the violence told IRIN on Wednesday.

"The movement was created because nothing has been done by the government," Moktar Roman, spokesperson for the Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice (MNJ) said. "There is no work, no schools, not even drinking water in all Niger. It's terrible, it's a genocide, and the government is corrupt, taking money from people and leaving them to live in poverty," he said.

That is the direction the US is heading in.

The group is fighting for development in what the United Nations considers the poorest, least developed country in the world, Roman said. "It is not just a Touareg movement," he said.

However, the government of Niger has refused to even call the fighters rebels, accusing them instead of being bandits trafficking drugs, guns and people in a vast region that is difficult to police.

To reinforce its claim, government officials cite a seizure of drugs and weapons the army made in the north in April. They also cite data from the UN Development Programme which shows that five times more cannabis was seized in Niger in 2006 than in 2004.

Roman denies that his group is involved in drug or arms trafficking. "There are traffickers and they work with the government and the presidency. The Sahara is being turned into a transit route by them, we don't have the means to do it," he said.

He and other members of the group also strongly deny that their movement has connections to Islamic terrorist organizations which some analysts believe are establishing strongholds in the Sahara's isolated corners.

It seems quite evident that certain Islamic militants are establishing themselves in the Sahara, and have even begun to move beyond it.

Notice that Roman points out that the Sahara is not so much a barrier as a transit route. Notice also that, while the government blames the rebels for narcotics trafficking, the rebels blame the government.

Regardless, it doesn't take long until both sides have cut their deals with the devil.

Skipping down:

More fire power

The group has asked for talks with the government but the Nigerien Prime Minister Hama Amadou and senior defence officials have repeatedly ruled that out.

"Rebellion?... We cannot speak of political demands. For us the attacks signify 'leave us to prosper from our illicit trafficking of drugs and arms,'" Mohamed Ben Omar, minister of communication said last month on Nigerien national television.

However the Nigerien government this week authorised 30 billion CFA (US$60 million) for ramped-up army operations in the north. The investment is 9 billion CFA ($18 million) more than what the government and donors spent on food security for Nigeriens in 2006.

"Security today is one of our main priorities," Salifou Madou Kelzou, minister for institutional relations, told Niger's parliament on Wednesday.

The rebellion among the Touareg is also a problem for neighboring Mali. From there, refugees fleeing fighting between Malian troops and Touareg rebels have gone into Burkina Faso (see BURKINA FASO-MALI: Hundreds of Touareg refugees flee escalating violence, May 29, 2008).

Finally, last month there were elections in Niger. But, the backdrop had changed little. From Briefing: In Niger, soldiers out and civilians in, March 11, 2011:

There has yet to be any definitive resolution of the conflict pitting government troops against Touareg insurgents in the north. A rebellion that began in 1990 was fuelled by longstanding Touareg grievances, including a loss of grazing rights, and alleged discrimination by national and local authorities. Despite a ceasefire in 1995, the conflict flared up again in 2007. Accords brokered by Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2009 have been rejected by Touareg factions in Niger and neighbouring Mali.

There is also mounting concern over the activities in Niger of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's (AQIM), which claimed responsibility for the abduction of two French nationals from a restaurant in Niamey in January, both subsequently killed in clashes between insurgents and French and Nigerien troops.

Hmmm... so Libya's Gaddafi, whom we want out of Libya, was part of the solution, attempting to broker a peace between the Touareg rebels and government forces in Niger.

And, in the absence of peace, not only is the area being used for moving contraband arms and drugs, but Al Qaeda is moving in.

Now, which side are we on again?