Category Archives: More Wars

Tear-ups not quite deserving of their own category (yet)

Malians in the middle as al-Qaeda steps up a gear

Picture by May Ying Welsh

“Ansar al Din is a Malian armed group that hosts Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) much as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.”

A rather interesting article on the Al Jazeera website by May Ying Welsh about al-Qaeda in Mali, as flagged up by Andy Morgan.

…Al-Qaeda has based itself in northern Mali for 10 years, as part of an alleged secret agreement with Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), the president of Mali who was deposed in a military coup in March 2012 as northern cities were falling to Tuareg rebels.

During ATT’s presidency, AQIM amassed an outrageous fortune in Mali – collecting up to $250m in hostage ransoms from Western governments for more than 50 European and Canadian hostages kidnapped over the past decade, usually from neighbouring Niger.

At this moment there are still European hostages being held by al-Qaeda in northern Mali pending delivery of a $132m ransom.

The ransom negotiations, which were carried out under the auspices of the presidency, were confirmed by the Wikileaks cables to be a goldmine for the Malian VIPs involved – with each receiving his cut of the jackpot including, according to a former Malian official with knowledge of the deals, the president himself…

…According to numerous northern residents, AQIM fighters have been circulating openly in Tuareg towns, not for the past year, but for the past 10 years; shopping, attending weddings, and parading fully armed in the streets, in front of police stations and military barracks.

Colonel Habi ag Al Salat, a Malian army commander who defected in 2011 to join the [secular Tuareg rebel movement] MNLA, was one of the first to notice the Algerian fighters from the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) entering Tuareg towns of the far north such as Aguelhoc, which was under his command.

But when Habi warned his army superiors they told him to stand down and leave the men alone because they were “not enemies” of Mali. When the GSPC changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, following a pact announced by Ayman Al Zawahiri, that policy did not change.

“Mali opened the field to al-Qaeda – to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people,” says Habi.

“Local people benefitted up to a point from the trickle down of money flowing to al-Qaeda by way of Mali. And this ensnared many of our youths who are unemployed. Mali facilitated al-Qaeda, providing them complete freedom of movement among our families because they believed the presence of this group would impact the Tuareg struggle against the governing regime which has been going on for 50 years”…

…Meanwhile the Tuaregs have a sinking feeling: The fear that they are the ones who will be killed in any coming war, in the name of fighting al-Qaeda.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/2012review/2012/12/20121228102157169557.html

Balkans Scrapbook – remembering the Yugoslav Civil War through news cuttings, photographs and documentaries (plus Bolivian adventurers, Hungarian fascists, Irish bouncers, British spy cops…)

See http://davecinzano.wordpress.com for more info

I’ve long been interested in the Balkans and the break up of the former Yugoslavia, so it’s good to see Balkan Scrapbook, a blog pulling together newspaper clippings, pictures and documentary film on what went down in the early 1990s.

It’s not been up long, but there’s already some interesting content, with new stuff being uploaded all the time. The focus at the moment seems to be on foreign fighters taking part in the conflict, and the death of journalist Paul Jenks near Osijek in east Slavonia, Croatia. Jenks was investigating the earlier death of Swiss reporter Chritian Würtenberg, who himself had joined the International Platoon (PIV) fighting with the Croatian HOS militia whilst looking into links between it and a pan-European fascist network. John Sweeney (he of shouting-at-Scientologists fame) was a colleague and a friend, and he returned to Osijek nearly three years after Jenks’ death to try and uncover what had happened – which made for a riveting documentary film, Dying For The Truth, which opened the Travels With My Camera strand on Channel 4.

The whole torrid tale brought together damaged ex-servicemen in search of excitement, wannabe warriors, and some seriously scary political soldiers – not least Eduardo Rózsa-Flores, a Bolivian-born Hungarian-Spanish Catholic fascist (try saying that in a hurry) who came to lead the PIV. Flores had turned up in Croatia ostensibly to work as a journalist, but soon set up the PIV under the patronage of Branimir Glavaš, a regional powerbroker subsequently convicted of war crimes.

After the deaths of Würtenberg and Jenks, and a third PIV volunteer, Anthony Mann Grant – all blamed on Serbs, but with many unanswered questions hanging in the air – Flores did a runner to Zagreb, before melting away from the Balkans. Ultimately he was involved in a right-wing secessionist movement in Bolivia, and he was shot dead by security forces there in 2009, alongside fellow mercenaries Mario Tadic, a Croatian, and Előd Tóásó, variously described as a Romanian and a Hungarian, plus Irishman Michael Dwyer.

Dwyer had been a security thug working at Shell’s Corrib gas pipeline project in County Mayo, where Integrated Risk Management Services had accrued a reputation for violence against environmental protesters, before he was apparently recruited for the Bolivian adventure by other IRMS goons with a background in Magyar autonomist politics. As if to demonstrate how the world is getting smaller, the Metropolitan Police’s “vancop” agent provocateur PC Mark Kennedy, AKA Mark ‘Flash’ Stone, had previously infiltrated the anti-Corrib activist groups, which were of great interest to Irish and British police as well as business interests and private security groups.

But I digress – if you’re interested in the former Yugoslavia and all that happened there in recent history, then keep an eye on Balkan Scrapbook.

Edited 9 September 2012 to reflect move of blog.

FAIL #001: The Gallic Wars

If there’s one thing that the Asterix books teach us, it’s that no one remembers Alesia. If there’s one thing that cheap ‘documentary’ television teaches us, it’s DON’T LEAVE THE ONSCREEN TITLES TO THE UNPAID INTERNS.

Bristol EDO Decommissioners: Anti-war crime activist trial begins today in Hove

The trial began today of the EDO Decommissioners, a group of people from Bristol who wrought an estimated £180,000-worth of damage on a factory involved in production of bomb release clips used by the Israeli Defense Force to deliver lethal munitions into densely populated areas during Operation Cast Lead, its offensive on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.

The five-strong group from Bristol which carried out the “citizens’ decommissioning” on the night of the 17th January last year is joined in court by three Brighton people who did not take part in the damage. The Decommissioners argue that their actions are lawfully excusable on the grounds that they were preventing Israeli war crimes. One of them, James ‘Elijah’ Smith, has been on remand since the action – seventeen months in gaol without a conviction.

The trial is taking place at Hove Crown Court
in East Sussex, just the other side of Brighton to the Moulsecoomb-located EDO MBM factory which was the subject of the defendants’ actions, and is scheduled to last seven weeks.

Operation Cast Lead led to a United Nations investigation, culminating in the Goldstone Report, which was highly critical of the IDF’s conduct of the war:

We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza.

The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force.

There’s no question that the firing of rockets and mortars [by armed groups from Gaza] was deliberate and calculated to cause loss of life and injury to civilians and damage to civilian structures. The mission found that these actions also amount to serious war crimes and also possibly crimes against humanity.

The Gaza war was marked, amongst other things, by IDF use of white phosphorus.

EDO Decommissioners’ raffle – one day left!

EDO Decommissioners' raffle flyer

Tomorrow is the day of the draw for the EDO Decommissioners‘ fundraising raffle!

The draw takes place at Kebele in Eastville at (I think) 7pm, with prizes including reconditioned bicycles, t-shirts, a veg box, plants, wine and books.

Tickets cost just £1 for a strip of 5 – that’s FIVE CHANCES TO WIN for a mere quid! (Or you can even buy a single ticket for 20p…)

If you haven’t got any but would like some, I still have a few left, just contact me before lunchtime tomorrow to let me know how many you want. I’ll accept pledges if it’s not possible to take your money before the draw, and scan your tickets so you know what numbers are yours.

Wikipediaphile: Alfred Wintle

Alfred Wintle (pic from TIME magazine)

Alfred Wintle

Stop dying at once and when you get up, get your bloody hair cut!

Wintle to Trooper Cedric Mays (Royal Dragoons), who recovered and lived to the age of 95.

Tip o’ the titfer: ITTODBTBIA

Raytheon <3 Tim?

Raytheon

Wonder what about professional killer Tim Spicer the Raytheon bods are interested in?

O_o

Raytheon is the company whose Bristol office roof has been repeatedly occupied over the past few weeks by people protesting against its business – arms manufacture:

Raytheon are 4th largest arms company in the world with a $20 billion turnover per year. They are involved massively in the manufacture or delivery systems of WMD. They are the biggest cruise missile maker (Patriot and tomahawk). Their range of both cruise-missiles and plane-dropped bombs can be loaded with cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons killing civilians and soldiers alike. During the 2006 War on Southern Lebanon, Raytheon were supplying the Israeli military who were using the weaponry on civilian targets and deliberately sprayed millions of bomblets throughout the country. They also manufacture DU depleted-Uranium tipped Bunker Busters bombs, such as the ones that killed hundreds of civilians in the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad. DU has had devastating health effects on civilian population of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on British soldiers. Raytheon munitions were used extensively in the destruction of the city of Fallujah during the second Iraq war. Have the UK contract with MOD for UK inland security and the Olympics, plus are involved with the new military training academy being built at St Athens [sic] in South Wales. They are also researching military technology for civilian control, such as a sinister crowd-dispersal microwave beam called “The Silent Guardian” which causes intense burning effects on the recipients.

(From a report on IndyMedia, included here with all the usual implied caveats, etc.)

There’s also a Smash Raytheon blog, and Anti-METRIX, a blog about the campaign opposing the St Athan privatised military academy.