This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Authentically Counterfeit

"I don't deny that doors opened up for me. The way I was raised was that I have to work two or three times as hard as anyone else would to walk through that door now that it was opened."
"And I think Canadians get that. There's an awful lot of people who sort of shrugged and said, 'Oh, he has nothing but a name to go on', and found themselves slightly bewildered as I left them in the dust."
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
CDA CHOGM 20151127
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks with his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau as they arrive at the Commonwealths Heads of Government meeting in Valletta, Malta on Friday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

What this man worked at was introducing the Canadian public to the fact that he was making himself available to the Liberal Party of Canada and the position that his father before him held. At a time when he was paid as an elected Member of Parliament to sit in the House of Commons he chose to leave that post and to travel widely within Canada, familiarizing voters young and old with his charisma, his smiling face, his approachability, willing and eager to be embraced and to be photographed.

He was engaged in a campaign to trade on his family name to remind Canadians that his father's oldest son was prepared to take over the political leadership of a country that adored and repudiated Pierre Elliot Trudeau in equal measure. The elder Trudeau was self-assured and certain that whatever his decisions were they were good for Canada. On the international stage he was noticed, a result of his individualistic persona. He, at least, despite the raffishness he affected was intellectually astute even while afflicted with leftist idealism.

His son believes that the 'hard work' required of him to qualify for the position of Prime Minister of Canada was solely to engage people with his personality, a light-hearted and light-on cerebral matter application of celebrity quotient to which people flocked, believing that this Dauphin was ready to assume his position of authority and guide the country into the near future. No 'hard work' associated with intellectual rigour, academic attainment and immersion in a profession that might lead to a high place in the political order of the elite lawmaking type was required of him.

This is a man who believes that the high fees he commanded as a public speaker were justified by his own sterling qualities; he could speak, after all, of the rewards of guiding students enrolled in a private school in the theatrics of emoting and pretending to be what they were not. In this he excels because of the thespian character of his personality. That it is his hallowed name and his father's reputation that fascinates people and gives him an unearned air of authority and command is never acknowledged.

While a Member of Parliament he saw fit to accept speaking engagements with charitable organizations and public institutions that operate on tax funding, charging them top dollar; the very same source that paid his handsome salary as a parliamentarian, and he saw nothing amiss in that kind of engagement. His utterances of vapid nonsense more than adequately demonstrating his lack of knowledge and the nuances involved in international affairs bothered thinking people but not celebrity worshippers.

Like his father and his mother before him, he is given to public demonstrations illustrating the narrow dimensions of his character. Kissing and nuzzling his wife during the solemn ceremonies attending the recall of sacrifices made by the Canadian military during the world conflicts that Canada was engaged in during Remembrance Day observances rather inappropriately pointed to the antics of the self-absorbed in the crowd, a party of two.

This man who cites his 'sunny' outlook on life engages in spiteful observations of the 'mean' character of his predecessor, a man capable of running formidable circles of intelligent conclusions around a fumbling opponent, but it was the fumbling opponent who succeeded in gulling enough Canadians to vote him into majority territory, some 40% voting Liberal who, when the same 40% voted previously for a majority Conservative-led government under Stephen Harper were said not to represent Canada.

"We were not aware of any promotional uses", commented the Prime Minister's Office spokesperson: "Ms. Gregoire-Trudeau would like to use this particular spotlight [the world stage] to promote Canadian designers around the world", and so she did, accepting an irresistible offer from Birks jewellers to wear pricey jewellery to meet with British royalty. Some might consider this shabby decision-making born of either naivete or greed, perhaps combined.

In contrast, former Prime Minister Harper's wife Laureen Harper is a bright, personable woman who used her position to aid charitable foundations, not only as a high-profile fundraiser, but as a volunteer who gave her time and her assistance to the Humane Society and the felines that she loved. The arts community gained as well with her commitment to furthering the well-being of the National Arts Centre as its guiding National Chair. She devoted time and energy to charities like Meals on Wheels Calgary, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, and the CIBC Run for the Cure.

Mrs. Trudeau, on the other hand exhibits tawdry behaviour not only by shilling for jewellery stores but as well her wardrobe provides lucrative publicity for favoured clothing manufacturers. One of her friends, related to an earlier Conservative prime minister, has been enabled to advertise the availability of top fashion at the retailer she represents, thanks to her connections. This entire family, from the gushingly loquacious, self-promoting Margaret Trudeau to her son and daughter-in-law are an embarrassment to Canada.

Surely on the salary of a prime minister, his wife need not depend on 'donations' of clothing and jewellery to make her mark on the world stage; presumably her position and personality should do the trick, but from a husband who sees nothing amiss in trading on his name while denying it to be a factor in his election outcome, and a mother who promotes her son as 'golden', to advance Canada into the future, we're stuck for four long years.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Islamism is the Problem -- Where is the Solution?

The world has a problem. One of monumental proportions. Of course there are always problems, threatening one part of the world or another. Or, in the instance of a problem as universal as Climate Change, a problem whose dimensions are difficult to grasp, let alone for nations to agree on whether and how, when and why each will pledge to restrain their use of energy that carbonizes our atmosphere interfering with nature and causing implacably dangerous weather systems to arise.

And, as it happens, there is a link to greenhouse gas emissions and the vulnerability of our environment to forces both natural, repetitive and cyclical and the way that humans manipulate our environment, corrupting it and endangering all of life. For it seems that the more we advanced our technologies to enable us to extract natural resources the more we compromised our habitat.

There are countries whose vast natural store of fossil fuels enriched them beyond imagination, countries which were entirely devoid of any economic mechanism and recognized resources as well as initiatives to further themselves economically to advance into the future. This is where countries of the Middle East like the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia in particular derived their financing and their power; from the exploitation of their vast stores of oil and natural gas.

And it is Saudi Arabia upon which the focus should be held. For this is a puritan country of elites in the Arab/Muslim world, a country that sees itself as the exemplar-devotion of divine faith as the acknowledged protectors and stewards of the two most sacred sites in the world's second-most-followed religion, Islam. Mecca and Medina, which the Prophet Mohammad conquered in the 7th Century, through bloodshed and appropriation is what motivates the House of Saud.

President Barack Obama (R) and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud laugh as they speak to the media after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House June 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama and Abdullah spoke about the peace process in the Middle East.

Their vast stores of oil have lent them authority and power and fabulous wealth. They have used all three to monumentalize themselves as the custodians of the faith. The country is zealous with an epic strain of religious bigotry, celebrating and spreading a 'pure' form of Islam that dates from its founding, Wahhabism. Non-Muslims are not permitted entry to those sacred cities, and nor is any religion other than Islam officially permitted to be worshipped in Saudi Arabia.

It is a country, like other Islamic countries that is Islamist in its form and function and purpose, and it looks to the Koran and Sharia law to address due punishment for crimes against Islam. Apostasy is a crime deserving death. But then, in Sharia law many 'crimes' against Islam and against the state are seen to be deserving of death. And the most common death sentence carried out in Saudi Arabia is by beheading, grotesque and grisly, a cultural/religious practise that has gained huge notoriety for a Wahhabist offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but preferentially ignored for Saudi Arabia.

With its vast wealth, the rulers of the country set about ensuring that their Islamist brand of Islam would prevail. When the Muslim Brotherhood was rejected in Egypt where it was born over 80 years ago, it found an appreciative home in Saudi Arabia. Salafist Islam is a stern, medieval, unrelenting form of Islam. Sunni Muslims are in the majority of roughly 80% in the community of Islam, the ummah, and Shiite Islam is the minority. The standard-bearer for Shia Islam which reveres descent from Mohammad is Iran, whose own Islamist credentials rival Saudi Arabia's.

Queen Elizabeth ll and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia arrive at Buckingham Palace following a ceremonial welcome on October 30, 2007 in London, England.

The West views Wahhabist and Salafist Islam as 'radical', but it is Islam itself that practices an excess of manipulation of humanity, whose values are most often directly opposed to human rights in favour of total submission to the will of Allah. And the will of Allah is, needless to say, the human-imagined will of an all-powerful spirit whose expectations are that human beings live for the sole and singular pleasure of worshipping the divine.

All gods are jealous gods competing for human devotion and all inform their faithful of their obligation to convince others that theirs is the only way to salvation. Wahhabist Saudi Arabia does this by funding madrassas throughout the world; schools of religious teaching whose mandate is to transform people into Islamist fundamentalists. Of course, social tradition and culture has its part to play, as well; the madrassas formalize all of that, emphasizing jihad as the tool by which non-believers can be convinced they should believe in Islam.

President Barack Obama (R) and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud laugh as they speak to the media after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House June 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama and Abdullah spoke about the peace process in the Middle East.

Out of Wahhabism has come the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and Islamic State. And these are the nemesis of liberal democracies whom they decry as decadent insults to the sacredness of Islam. The pervasive nature of Western culture, Western values and Western goods is seen as inimical to Islam, weapons that the west uses in its war of ideas and possessions over the pure and selfless self-vision of Islam; a clash that is interpreted as an existential war.

Should the West succeed, they will diminish Islam. Should Islam succeed, it will destroy the West. Fanatical Islamism is the culture common to Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab/Muslim states, most of whom view the values and culture of the West as degraded and vulgar and a threat to Islam. To decry the violence that oozes out of Islam is to be labelled Islamophobic, a handy shaming tool for sensitive Western consciences.

Queen Elizabeth ll and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia arrive for a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on October 30, 2007 in London, England.

And so, the West, out of a sense of colonialist guilt and sheer politeness, side-steps the questions that should be asked of Islam; that if it is as it insists, a religion of peace, how can it be that it is the foremost instigator of, and fount of institutionalized violence, human-rights abuses, slander, corruption and oppression, not only targeting its own, but impressively in its sheer savagery, non-Muslim democracies in regular paroxysms of raging psychopathy?

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Thursday, November 26, 2015


"Turkish planes violate the Syrian border daily, either for reconnaissance flights or for anti-IS operations."
"In the same way that Turkey argues it has rules of engagement, Russia could also declare its own rules of engagement, saying it has the right to protect the skies of its ally."
Ozgur Unluhhisarcikli, director, German Marshall Fund, Ankara
An S-400 air defence missile system is deployed for a combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase to provide security of the Russian air group's flights in Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov
An S-400 air defence missile system is deployed for a combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase to provide security of the Russian air group's flights in Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov / Sputnik

Possible, one must admit, but perhaps, under the circumstances, not entirely likely. Let us, after all, hope not. We are speaking of two hot heads, two strongmen, neither of whom are known to back down from any positions they take. They may act precipitously at times, with the result coming back to haunt them, but admissions of regret simply have no place in their behavioral DNA.

Moscow may demand an apology from Ankara, but Ankara is not likely to oblige. More to the point, Ankara is more likely to demand an apology from Moscow. And how likely is that to stem the tide of rage?

Russia's grim-faced response to Turkey's deliberate missile-strike at a Russian military jet has been to state its intentions to deploy long-range air defence missiles to its Syrian base. Any target  henceforth that may even appear to pose a threat to any of its warplanes will be destroyed. In other words, should a situation arise where the reverse occurs and Mr. Putin authorizes the shooting down of one of Mr. Erdogan's jets, NATO faces a huge problem.

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So, in come the S-400 missiles to the Hemeimeem airbase in Latakia, 50 kilometres from Turkey's border. These missiles have quite the capacity, capable of striking targets with precision, in a 400-kilometre range. This is a potentially deadly prospect. And no one is emerging from this situation with anything resembling a smile.

Russia's military moved their navy missile cruiser Moskva closer to shore in another aid to Russian warplanes. It is equipped with a long-rate Fort air defence system. "It will be ready to destroy any aerial target posing a potential danger to our aircraft", noted Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. All military ties with Turkey have been severed. Russian bombers henceforth are to be escorted by fighter jets on their combat missions over Syria.

The Guards Missile Cruiser "Moskva" © Vitaliy Ankov
The Guards Missile Cruiser "Moskva" © Vitaliy Ankov / Sputnik

So much for the "strategic partnership" between Russia and Turkey, eclipsed by the passions of anger and resentment evinced by Recep Tayyip Erdogan over colleague Putin's decision to place Russia front and center in support of Bashar al-Assad, whom Erdogan detests in about equal measure to his regard for Turkish Kurds. The war that will now proceed on the economic collaboration front will be even more painful for Turkey.

When perceived threats are made against any Muslim nation the Organization of Islamic Cooperation snaps to attention, and to them Erdogan declared as Islamists are wont to do, that Turkey is interested only in "peace, dialogue and diplomacy". Strange, isn't it, that Vladimir Putin could, with a straight face, make a similar declaration for Russia. "No one should expect Turkey to stay silent to border violations or the violations of its rights", asserted the sanctimonious Erdogan.

Of a situation where he insists that a Russian bomber strayed a mile into Turkish airspace for an entire 17 seconds before it was blasted to oblivion. On the other hand, what that bomber and its companion bomber were doing was blasting Turkomen rebels and their towns into oblivion. Ethnic counterparts to their Turkish brethren. And although Muslims routinely slaughter one another, no authority on Earth can urge a non-Muslim country to target Muslims with impunity.

It's a tribal, sectarian, ideological, religious pact of togetherness in defiance against a world of kuffars whose hatred for Islam transcends all reason since, needless to say, Islam itself is an exemplar of peace.

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Cybercrime Response

"I think we've been consistent in recognizing that we are very respectful of the charter and people's charter rights and nobody is recommending that we go any further. But there needs to be some sort of administrative access to basic subscriber information."
"[Children are] being hurt at a pace and a frequency that is alarming. Technology is fuelling that. So now these people can encrypt their communications and they can exploit children for sexual purposes and it's a little harder to get at them from a police point of view."
"Your safety, your family's safety, your financial integrity is at risk and so we need to start having the conversation now. Because fundamentally, ladies and gentlemen, it's hard to keep people safe on the Internet right now. The best advice we can give people is, 'Don't go [on the Internet], which is not really working', or if you go, be really, really, really careful'." 
"And if something bad happens, hopefully we'll be able to help you, but there's no guarantee."
"I'm all for warrantless access to subscriber info. If I had to get a judge on the phone every time I wanted to run a licence plate when I was doing my policing, there wouldn't have been much policing getting done.""
"In the information-management world where privacy now is driving a lot of the concerns around the state wheeling into a community's information, we're just simply not trusted, the police are not trusted to manage that information."
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, seen here at a security conference put on by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries in Ottawa on Wednesday, says he advocates an administrative scheme that would give police ready access to a customer's name and address while respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, seen here at a security conference put on by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries in Ottawa on Wednesday, says he advocates an administrative scheme that would give police ready access to a customer's name and address while respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

An Ottawa security and defence industry conference was the venue where RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson spoke of the explosion in Internet crime. He spoke as well of the handcuffing of police by laws that restrict online criminal investigations by police. In 2014 the [social activist] Supreme Court of Canada ruled that police require judicial authorization to enable them to take possession of subscriber data with links to online activities. We're speaking of such basics as an individual's name, telephone number and Internet Protocol address.

Law-enforcement agencies routinely submitted hundreds of thousands of warrantless requests for Internet data to Telecoms, and most voluntarily complied. Now, Telecoms, banks and rental companies among other service provideers demand to see court approval for all such requests from authorities during investigations seeking basic identifying information. Previous to the Supreme Court ruling the requested data was made available without demur. Now, unless a warrant is presented through an approach to a judge, nothing is available.

All of this understandably hampers police work, making it awkward, time-consuming, frustrating and close-to-impossible to obtain a warrant in any but the most egregious concerns. But while the police are hampered in this way Internet crime goes on unabated. According to Commissioner Paulson, criminals now livestream child sexual assaults to avoid leaving digital evidence on the web. Moreover, billions in criminal proceeds are laundered through the Internet by multinational criminal organizations for whom the Internet has become a way of action.

Bank frauds, identity theft, credit-card frauds, extortion, drug trafficking, whatever criminal activities that can be imagined, are conducted through the Internet. The Commissioner alluded to his time as an RCMP patrolman in Chilliwack, British Columbia. "I couldn't keep those people safe if I didn't know who they are, if they went about their business day in and day out with masks on, or driving vehicles with licence plates covered up, or leaving phone numbers that could never be looked up, or living in houses that didn't have addresses, on streets without names, I couldn't do the job of policing in that context."

And 'that context' is precisely what he compares the situation that investigators now face, hamstrung by privacy laws that are meant to protect people's privacy, and in so doing protect the profits of crime and the conduct of criminal offences victimizing the unaware. And when they're victimized, police are hampered in their ability to come to grips with the situation because the data they require is denied them unless they go through the time-consuming legal hoops required, producing a cold case.

What is rather droll about the entire situation is that we live in an Internet world, where the wide-open web is where people post all the details about their lives, accessible to anyone with the curiosity to look at what they write about themselves. This is also a world where people appear on popular television programs to tell all about their lives, irrespective of how badly it reflects upon them for revealing their values or lack of them.

But even though people must have a presence on Facebook and so many other social platforms to prove they exist and whatever occurs to them must be posted for others to see, the minute they are informed that authorities might wish for some benighted reason to acquire the fundamental information identifying them, screams that their civil and human rights are being violated resound from the rooftops.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The stench of death will not leave their noses as long as they remain at the forefront of the Crusaders’ campaign, dare to curse our prophet, boast of a war on Islam in France, and strike Muslims in the lands of the caliphate with warplanes that were of no use to them in the streets and rotten alleys of Paris."
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
AP Photo/Thibault Camus
AP Photo/Thibault Camus   Rescue workers and medics work by victims in a Paris restaurant, Friday, 13 November.

The Paris prosecutor has been working overtime to find answers to a puzzling lapse in vital intelligence. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, thought to be the mastermind representing Islamic State's determination to score international news through an audacious series of attacks in France, has been discovered through telephone analysis to have returned to the scene of the crime/s, so to speak.

Somewhat like pyromaniacs, so enjoying the conflagration that they themselves set, they are irresistibly drawn to return, to witness the flames throwing themselves at the sky while they consume the setting.

In Abdelhamid Abaaoud's case, it seems he remained in the area and returned to the vicinity within mere minutes of President Francois Hollande's sympathetic visit in offer of support to victims and police even before the terrorists were destroyed by police at the Bataclan theatre. That piece of information should give ample reason for startled pause to both authorities and French intelligence relating to the usefulness of their vigilance.

There was the main villain, skulking in the background among the throngs of stricken Parisians even while police were still in the process of freeing hostages on November 13, a day that will be forever recalled in the annals of the Republic's defence of itself. Not having sufficiently partaken of the deep, dark pleasures inherent in viewing the destruction that his plans had executed, it seems he also went along to the area where he and two others fired on people in cafes and restaurants at the 10th and 11th arrondissements.

The massacres completed on schedule and hugely successfully, it seems this man strolled about unconcernedly, taking pleasure in the scenes that he helped to create; lakes of human flesh and blood, and traumatized people still dashing about hoping to be spared. The Paris prosecutor, Francois Molins, stated that Abaaoud had taken a Metro in his return to downtown Paris. He was tracked through the telephone he was using, detected in the 10th, 11th and 12th districts.

That tracking found him as well, through his telephone, at the Bataclan concert hall at the very time that the attacks were ongoing. "He revisited the area while the BRI [elite police unit] was still on the scene", said Mr. Molins. Is that brazenly cool-headed, or is it not?

This man, his immediate task completed, retired to plan another day's events, it would seem. Investigators seem convinced that Abaaoud and another man as yet unidentified but who died along with the major culprit during a police raid on a Saint-Denis apartment days after the attack, were in the final stages of planning another spectacular attack in Paris. This time targeting the capital's La Defense business district, and November 18 or 19 the dates chosen.

FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images   People hug each other before being evacuated by bus, near the Bataclan concert hall.

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That Stab In The Back

"Today's loss was a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists. Our pilots and our aircraft never threatened the territory of Turkey."
"We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today."
"If ISIL has such money, and we're talking about tens, hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars from oil revenues, plus protection from the armed forces of an entire country [Turkey presumably], then it is understandable why they are so audacious, so blatant, why they murder people in the most horrendous ways, why they carry out terrorist attacks across the world including in the heart of Europe."
Russian President Vladimir Putin

A Russian Su-24 front-line bomber jet takes off at Latakia airport, Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov
"I have previously expressed my concerns about the implications of the military actions of the Russian Federation close to NATO borders."
"As we have repeatedly made clear, we stand in solidarity with Turkey, and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally Turkey."
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general
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"When I found out [about the Russian warplane shot down by Turkey] I was very grateful. I had asked God to destroy these Russian planes. They are bombing Syrian civilians, killing children, every day."
Abu Ibrahim, Turkoman Syrian border resident
Well, there it is, Vladimir Putin spitting mad at the fact that a trading partner, a regional sometimes-ally, an energy-dependent country representing the gateway of the Middle East to Europe, has spurned their common history to submit to a tactic that smacks of vengeance. In other words, counterfeited Moscow's own tactics, for doesn't Mr. Putin remind the Baltic countries that shrink in fear of his volatile nature that should they not take care to treat their ethnic Russian citizens with tender care, Russian troops will take care of them, as has been done in Georgia and Ukraine?

This is just the equally calculating and volatile Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looking after Turkey's ethnic brethren who live across the border in Syria and who have been the targets among other rebel Sunni groups of their bloody tyrant, the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. That Mr. Putin chose, in his manipulative wisdom to back and protect the Syrian regime against its Syrian rebels has infuriated Mr. Erdogan just as much as Mr. Putin is infuriated over the downing of the Sukhoi-24 jet.

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Presumably, Mr. Erdogan is also aware of the now-fragile nature of his country's economy, with Russian tourists no longer a dependable source of national income. And that an onerous increase in charges for gas and oil from Russia will become a reality. The same for Russian wheat imports. That, at the very least; a smarting Kremlin may yet seek other punitive measures to ensure that their erstwhile ally becomes very, very cognizant of just how seriously Moscow takes this incautious move by Turkey.

Two Russians dead, after all, one of the warplane's pilots, and a Russian marine from a helicopter tasked to search for the two bailed-out pilots, both of whom were shot at by the Turkic rebels in retaliation for the obvious fact that the warship was targeting them. As for NATO members 'standing in solidarity' with quick-off-the-trigger Erdogan, perhaps not quite in solidarity, since a more measured response would appear to have been warranted; say for example, Turkish planes escorting the Russian plane out of Turkish airspace.

On the other hand, Moscow's gross impertinence on so many occasions in the past few years -- including a Russian submarine spotted off the coast of Ireland recently that Britain is asking member-countries of NATO to help them track -- appears to have come home to haunt it. Russian planes buzzing NATO allies, flying into national airspaces, sending warships to closely monitor other nations' activities, and for reasons that owe much to belligerent mischief challenging the targets to 'do something about it'.

Well, no Western alliance or single nation has 'done anything about it', from Moscow's decision to challenge Georgia for two of its provinces, and later with arrogant confidence, capturing the Crimean Peninsula into the Russian Federation, thumbing its nose at the outrage of the international community. On this occasion, Mr. Putin effects a stance of outraged disbelief that an ally would attack a Russian jet in the process of attacking Islamic State.

When in fact, the attacking jets were nowhere near ISIL targets, focusing as they mostly do on the Western-backed, trained and equipped Syrian Sunni rebels in the interests of protecting their stake in Syria through both the deep-water port and the airfield they've sequestered, and to ensure they have those sites covered, the protection of the Alawite Shiite regime is a requirement. Just incidentally making common cause with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the foremost supporter of terrorist jihadi groups in the world today.

The unfolding crisis ensured that an emergency NATO meeting was paramount, as well as a United Nations Security Council meeting to ponder this new twist in the most gruesomely bloody conflicts now wracking the Middle East impacting on Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and lesser conflicts in Yemen and Libya. Persian Shiite Iran on one hand, has its fingers in all of those pies, and Islamic State is the proxy response of the surrounding Arab Sunni countries.

That Russia has another stake in the ISIL menace is clear from the many Chechens that have joined their ranks, along with Salafist Muslims from Dagastan, Russia. The widespread geographic region from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, the numerous 'Stans, North Africa, the Middle East and Russia itself is heavy with menace and doom. And ordinary civilian Muslims are caught in the maw of an ideological-religious-political chimera that is slowly destroying their lives.

In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, men attend a Friday prayer at the mosque on Kotrova street in Dagestan's regional capital Makhachkala, Russia. (Sergei Grits/AP)
In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, men attend a Friday prayer at the mosque on Kotrova street in Dagestan's regional capital Makhachkala, Russia. (Sergei Grits/AP)

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Suffering Humanity

"We're allowing a level of destruction we will never have the means to address. They're wiping one city after another off the map."
Peter Harling, International Crisis Group

"We had nothing to stay for. Every house here is damaged. In every house there is the smell of war."
"People are only living here because they don't have any choice and because they suffered too much as refugees."
Abdullah Kurdi, former resident of Kobani, father of Aylan, 3, Ghaleb, 4: dead.

"Aleppo is by far the most devastated thing any of us have ever seen. I call it Stalingrad."
"You have large urban areas that are just gone. They are flattened to all intents and purposes."
Lars Bromley, analyst, satellite imagery, UN Institute for Training and Research
Wreckage left by fighting on a street in the center of the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ain al-Arab, on January 28. Kurdish forces recaptured the strategic town on the Turkish frontier on January 26 in a symbolic blow against ISIS jihadists who have seized swaths of territory in a brutal onslaught across Syria and Iraq -- Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

The devastation is mind-boggling; it is so all-encompassing, to be unimaginable to any sane mind. That anyone would set out with the purpose and the determination to destroy the total infrastructure on which people in any civilized society depend to live their daily lives, in a gesture of hatred for their sect, their tribal allegiance, their demands as a majority for equality of opportunities that accrue to the ruling minority, is beyond reason and enters the realm of psychotic savagery.

But this is precisely what the Alawite Shiite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad set out to do when he responded to the peaceful protests over four years ago of Syrian Sunnis who were aggrieved at their lack of opportunity to advance their interests in a country that was their own, ruled by a political-ideological group that oppressed them. Their president took their protests under advisement by arresting and torturing children and other vulnerable people incautious enough to assault his policies.

From there he steadily progressed to starving out through isolation whole communities, by sending helicopter gunships to target bread lines, by having his military commit nighttime chemical bombings, by authorizing the use of barrel bombs whose deadly shrapnel tore people apart. And by creating an atmosphere where fully half of the population of 22-million Syrians fled the terror, to become migrants within the country and refugees outside it.

They are there in their millions, in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, living in squalid despair with bare accommodation and nothing for children's needs. Ill-treated through the resentment of the surrounding indigenous population, some among them venture to return to their bombed-out villages in Syria rather than live without dignity among those who view them with contempt.
Aleppo, Syria - whole neighbourhoods have been destroyed during the war.
Aleppo, Syria - whole neighbourhoods have been destroyed during the war. Photo: Jacob Simkin/NurPhoto/Corbis Photograph: Jacob Simkin/NurPhoto/Corbis

An estimated 2.1-million homes, half of the country's hospitals, and over seven thousand schools have been destroyed in the ravaging conflict, according to United Nations figures. Damage to the country's infrastructure is estimated to be $270-billion; rebuilding is felt to run to over $300-billion, according to Abdallah al-Dardari, a former Syrian government minister now heading the National Agenda for Syria program at the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

The United States, by comparison, spend $30-billion in reconstruction in Iraq. Mr. Dardari vented his opinion: "I don't know who will fund this", in view of the fact that any government would discover itself "ruling over a pile of rubble". One million people have been wounded in the civil war, while 7.6-million have been displaced within the country and four million have become external refugees. That, with the implacable fact that over a quarter of a million Syrians have died over the period of conflict.

The destruction is incredibly dire, but it continues. And the greater the number of buildings destroyed, the more homes lost, the increasing numbers of shops and businesses are flattened, the less people have to leave behind as they run for their lives. Of course, should they wish to return if and when the war is over, there will be nothing for them to return to. When Mr. Kurdi returned to his hometown of Kobani after the death of his wife Rayhan and their two sons by drowning as they left Turkey to attempt to reach Greece, he discovered his family's home entirely destroyed.

The Islamic State terrorists had challenged the Kurds for possession of Kobani. The U.S.-led air bombing mission ultimately aided the Kurds in their battle to re-possess Kobani. President Obama speaks of that victory in ousting Islamic State and restoring Kobani to Kurdish hands as a great victory, one of the greatest triumphs of the war, as outnumbered Kurdish fighters defeated the vicious Islamist invaders. Kobani is a name of a place that once was, now, a town utterly destroyed.

And as such it is a reflection of cities, towns and villages across the country. One of Syria's major cities, Aleppo, has seen over 14,000 buildings destroyed, and other major Syrian cities reflect as well an unforgiving war by a tyrant against his own people. What Islamic State has destroyed is not in quite the same ball park. The threat that ISIL represents because of the visibly proud presentation of the atrocities they commit concerns the world. The threat that the regime has proven itself to be toward humanity is interior and hidden.

But it, largely, is responsible for Europe being flooded with the desperation of refugees, their plight inciting other downtrodden migrants who suffer from dreadful governments in conflict zones and areas of general dysfunction leading to horrendous privation and loss of hope, to join the Syrian hordes, inflating their numbers by haven-seekers from Asia and Africa, countless countries on three continents with one thing in common: the prevalence of Islam.

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The Syrian Refugee Conundrum

"My counsel would still be to the prime minister [Justin Trudeau] that we ought to just suspend the [December 31] deadline [for Syrian refugee intake]. We don't have to stop the initiative, but we shouldn't be working toward a deadline."
"Let's just make sure we're driven ... to ensure good settlement results for the refugees themselves in the communities to which they're moving -- and also from a security perspective."
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall

"There's no way [the government can meet a Dec.31 deadline] without shortcuts]."
"If they don't do [all] the processing abroad and end up doing  it in Canada, like we did with the Kosovars, there is a risk because once they're in Canada, quite frankly it's too late."
"[If a terrorist arrives in Canada], he will disappear and end up in the woodwork and the next time we hear of him, either here or in the States, will be because he's been nabbed or because of some other violent act that will make it all apparent that a mistake was made."
Gerard Van Kessel, former director-general Canada's refugee resettlement program
A refugee, holding his son and daughter, cries tears of joy after their boat arrived on the Greek island of Kos on Saturday, August 15. The island in the Aegean Sea has been overwhelmed by Syrian refugees. More than 744,000 refugees and migrants have escaped to Europe this year, the U.N. refugee agency said. Click through to see images from the migration crisis in Europe.
A refugee, his son and daughter, arrive on the Greek island of Kos -- CNN

It seems now that the new Canadian Liberal government which had pledged during the recent election that it would commit to taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of 2015 has not been dissuaded from that line of action. The soberingly fearful attacks that took place in Paris aside, with the message that two to three of the attackers had infiltrated refugees streaming into Europe through Greece, the new government is determined to proceed with its election promise.

It normally takes an average of two years to process refugee applications; in some instances when the need is urgent, that time is pared down considerably, but always for far lesser numbers than that committed to by this new government determined to do things far differently than their predecessors did, although in actual fact, the previous Conservative government had announced a similar number of refugees to be taken in, but over a much more reasonable length of time. The Liberal government has extended the time-frame to February of 2016.

Security concerns have been highlighted, sufficiently so that the Canadian public feels great unease at the prospect of that many refugees being brought into the country on such short notice. It is a given that they will all require medical assistance of some kind; preliminary medical checks aside and that alone will be costly in time and funding to an already overburdened public health care system. Their need for housing, for food, for language assistance and social orientation all bespeak a deep and broad commitment by both government and private sponsoring groups.

The focus, it now appears, will be on the most vulnerable of the refugees among the millions who are languishing in refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Women and children and families are given priority, and so are single, gay men. There is no conversation on whether they should be Christians escaping murderous persecution, or Yazidis who have been targeted the same, or Sunni Muslims running from a murderous Shiite tyranny. These are people living in a culture and a society that is unforgivingly inhumane.

Syrian Christians and Yazidis and gay men tend to try to separate themselves from Muslim groups because even in the refugee camps they represent a persecuted and threatened minority. In an effort to protect themselves these minorities try to remain out of the refugee camps. And of course, there lies the rub; mainstream Sunni Syrian refugees while themselves being among the oppressed and the persecuted turn around and vent their hatred on the others among them who are not of them, and this traditional enmity is migrating with them.

The political pressure for tight security in absorbing refugees from among the teeming tide of Syrians in camps awaiting a hoped-for return of some semblance of normalcy in their lives and the harrowing conditions in which they live after having fled barbaric assaults on their humanity call for action from other people whose lives have never been tarnished by such degrees of human depravity. Yet in doing so, there's a gamble that all being absorbed will be innocent of being a part of the problem.

Photo essay: "Where Syrian refugee children sleep" by Magnus Wennman, an award-winning photojournalist from Stockholm

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Taking the Lead: If Not Now, When?

"There hasn't been a great enthusiasm [evident among allied European or Arab nations in support of ground operations against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]."
"I think they [Arab nations] would have the credibility and, frankly, come without some of the baggage of western forces to be on the ground."
General Joseph Dunford, U.S. chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
More than 11,500 Iraqi soldiers and volunteers have received US training [Reuters]
More than 11,500 Iraqi soldiers and volunteers have received US training [Reuters]
"We're hitting some targets, but air strikes alone are not going to win here. We've got to take that territory away from them."
"It's been a year [since the U.S.-led air strikes began]. They're still in Mosul, they're still in Ramadi, they're still in Raqqa, those are areas we have to go after in order to be able to defeat [ISIL] ultimately."
(former) U.S. Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta
It's a matter of both scorn and general agreement that the U.S.-led air strikes against ISIL haven't been a great success. There have been some battles won with the air strikes enabling the Iraqi military for example, and the Kurdish militias as other examples, in taking back territory from Islamic State or stopping them from acquiring new territory, but the terrorist jihadis are more than holding their own. Their position may have been pared back here and there, but it remains robust and belligerently active. The war is nowhere near being won.

Of the two, the Iraqi military and the Kurdish Peshmerga, it is the Kurds who have been more dauntless and determined. But it is in their interests to remain in their Kurdish-administered territory, to keep it secure from the predations of Islamic State, and leaving the far less successful Iraqi regime's business of retaining their geography to themselves. And the Iraqi military has been notoriously lacking in both courage and military precision in stopping Islamic State's advance.

During its eight-year occupation of Iraq, the US spent $25bn training and rebuilding the Iraqi military [Reuters]

In acknowledgement of this, Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari insisted his country has no wish to see foreign ground troops fighting ISIL. Iraq, after all, has Iran's Republican Guard to give military aid and Shiite militias under Iran to help mount those battles against ISIL. What Iraq wants from the west is commitment to train Iraqi troops. Iraq also wants assistance with logistics, troop training and reconstruction. Oh, and of course, equipment.

All of which the Iraqi administration seems to feel is funding well spent on the part of the West, and since all of this does not represent a direct Iraqi financial investment, it can be readily dispensed with, as in instances where the Iraqi military flees in panic when faced with oncoming hordes of ISIL fighters, leaving technically advanced, expensive military munitions and vehicles behind as a gift to the jihadists who know how to use them, and do so.

The other inconveniences such as the level of corruption in Iraq's military, echoing what prevails in the general society up to and including the government, along with poor leadership, all serve to complicate the responsibilities heaped on the West to solve problems that are relevant to, and roil the Middle East. Yet Mr. Al-Jaafari insists his forces require training in intelligence-gathering and help with the improvised explosive devices so beloved of jihadi terrorists.

The fortifications that ISIL has constructed around those cities and towns that have fallen to it mean that Western combat engineers are required to teach the Iraqi military best-practise methodology in breaching those fortifications. The one country whose troops in appropriate numbers have in the past attempted to bring a semblance of order to an otherwise-unruly Middle East is no longer interested in mounting such on-the-ground enterprises.

The U.S. has instead been attempting to convince Europe and Arab nations to bolster resources for a ground war against ISIL. The United States has, after all, thrown $500-million to the winds of frustration, an investment that paid off with a bare handful of Syrian forces to fight Islamic State. Testimony in September by General Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command informed a Senate armed services committee that "We're talking four or five" actively going on to fight, after that exorbitant amount of funding had been spent/wasted.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visits a training exercise in Baghdad [Reuters]   

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Monday, November 23, 2015

A Pathology of Murderous Psychopathic Disorder

"The young woman was stabbed numerous times in the head, chest and the area of the heart."
Dr. Ofer Merin, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

"I must say that we are showing such awareness [Israeli citizens on 'maximum alert'], with considerable resourcefulness and courage, and this is deserving of all praise."
"We are still fighting and will continue to do so."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

How does a population prepare for attacks coming out of everywhere, with no sign of anything impending, people just walking along a street, going about their business, never suspecting that death stalks them, until suddenly being confronted by another person with intentions to murder. A knife will do, and its symbolism has exerted a powerful draw on those nursing hatred and a wish for vengeance against those they have been convinced want to destroy them, but have not and do not and will not.

She was 21, and fully alive. After being attacked by a Palestinian with a knife on Sunday in the West Bank she is no longer alive. And nor is her attacker who was shot and killed by soldiers who had been nearby when the man sought and succeeded in killing an innocent young woman, unprepared for the morbid catastrophe that would overtake her life. She was studying at a seminary in the Bat Ayin settlement near Gush Etzion. She had recently returned to Israel from six months in India.
Embedded image permalink

Her name was Hadar Buchris, from Safed in the north of Israel, killed yesterday while awaiting the arrival of a bus, in Gush Etzion, West Bank. Her assailant was a 34-year-old man from nearby Beit Fajar, Atzam Tuabata. He is said to have been a father of three children. What a viral disease, that level of hatred, that he would take the life of someone he didn't know, and leave his children fatherless.

Ah, presumably he achieved martyrdom. And the celebration of that martyrdom would be a point of pride for his children when they grow up. To repeat the cycle.

The day before, a thirteen-year-old girl was among four Israelis who were stabbed and wounded in the southern city of Kiryat Gat. Israel, it should be recalled, had a purpose in its establishment as a nation, to become a place of universal refuge for Jews who would find solace and haven there should they care to become one with the nation. Of course, becoming an Israeli would also mean acceptance of the fact that those who live there know they have chosen to live in a very rough neighbourhood.

Also on Sunday a woman stopped at the entrance of a military base and approached civilians there, pulling out a knife in her possession. As that was occurring, a man from a West Bank settlement veered off the road to strike the woman who was then fired at by a soldier, and died for her troubles. Tragedy strikes and like a pebble thrown into a lake, the ripples fan out and in this instance, left the parents of this woman grieving her choice and her loss.

She was sixteen. Taha Qatanani explained that his daughter had left for school as  usual. Two hours later he heard that she was dead. "She talked about stabbing to her brother the day before but no one took her seriously", he said. What parent would? It is incomprehensible. It is a virus of dementia of psychopathic dimensions whose purpose eludes rationality.

Also in the West Bank on Sunday, a Palestinian behind the wheel of a taxi attempted to ram into Israelis, east of Jerusalem. After his car crashed he emerged holding a knife, and attempted to stab people. He too was shot dead, but by a bystander, and before anyone else was harmed. Israelis with licenses to own and carry guns have been encouraged to take them with them in response to this situation of mass madness.

Back again to Saturday; that night a Palestinian stabbed four people in the town of Kiryat Gat. A manhunt followed, with police finding the man, an 18-year-old, hiding in the yard of a home nearby where the attack took place.

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The New Islamic Republic of Iran

'We consider Iran a big country with huge natural gas reserves and high technical capabilities."
"Iran is a major country in supplying natural gas and we are seeking to buy gas from Tehran under suitable conditions."
"We will continue negotiations until the conditions for Engie presence in Iran are prepared for the company and will start activities as soon as international restrictions are removed from Iran."

French multinational Engie Company spokesman
Islamic Republic News Agency

Europe and Asia are champing at the bit to enter into business deals and investment with Tehran, now that the nuisance of the nuclear agreement has been formalized and the international community has conveniently set aside any nigglingly-inconvenient thought that the world's foremost supporter of terrorism might be setting a course for the manufacture of a nuclear weapons arsenal. Iran, so formidably skilled in denials if ill intent and feinting innocence has managed to manipulate events to its purpose.
French President Francois Hollande (L) welcomes his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for a meeting

The world wanted to believe that with the departure of Iran's sinister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country was prepared to abandon its embrace of state-sponsored terrorism and its destabilization of the Middle East, its frequently stated intention of destroying Israel, its stark domestic oppression of its population, and above all, the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran's insistence that it had a right to become a nuclear power, despite its violent Islamist threats.

This wishful thinking served to consider the incoming president -- Hassan Rouhani, who was the leading candidate for the presidential election approved by the ruling Ayatollahs, and himself a former nuclear negotiator of high ranking who had boasted that he had succeeded in putting Iran's adversaries off scent in earlier negotiations -- as a 'moderate', whose ascension would bring a newer, more cordial and human-rights-observing Iran to the fore.

But while President Rouhani's name is always elaborated in the news with the appendage "moderate", during his time in power state executions have increased markedly. In any event, it is not the president of Iran who has the ultimate power, but rather Grand Ayatollah and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. And along with him, the Republican Guard Corps' hierarchy. Yet world leaders have expressed a sigh of relief that the nation that has gulled them on previous occasions has done so again.

And those same world leaders, eager to take advantage of another source of energy, from the world's fourth-leading source of oil and leading gas reserves, are eager to do business and in so doing enhance the ability of Iran to emerge stronger than ever, an influential power-broker in the Middle East and beyond. China has recently stated through its foreign ministry spokesman that the admission of Iran to the BRICS group of emerging economies that include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is imminent.

Economic cooperation with Iran is of great attraction to so many countries, heedless with a reckless determination of what exactly they are dealing with. A country that has supported a vicious civil war in Syria, prolonging it with its al Quds Republican Guards and Hezbollah terrorist militia and Shiite militias aligned with Iran helping Bashar al-Assad to butcher his own people, and create a mass migration of Syrians frantic to escape into neighbouring countries and to Europe.

As the global petrochemicals market opens its door wide in welcome for Tehran, its export targets will go to the Asia-Pacific, to China, India, Japan and South Korea, and countries like France are confident that their business leaders will be investing in Iran to make the most of the new opportunities opening up at huge benefit for all. A conference is set to take place in London in February where Tehran is set to provide details of new oil and gas schemes.

But nothing has changed in the political/ideological sphere for Iran. Its opposition to the Arab countries in the Middle East, and relations with Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia remain fixed in amber. Iranian financial and military support for militant terrorist forces like Hamas, Hezbollah, Yemen's Houthi rebels and Iraqi Shia militias remains a constant.

Iran remains what it has always been since the Iranian Revolution, a Persian-power-in-waiting. And nothing will dissuade it from its goals.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Defunding Islamic State

"[How critical? About $3-billion flows into ISIL-controlled coffers annually] mainly derived from illicit proceeds from its occupation of territory [in Iraq and Syria but increasingly from] new and emerging technologies."
"ISIL has manipulated social media, physical and virtual social networks, encouraged donations and conducted a marketing campaign in a manner that is consistent with industry standards established by major crowdfunding companies."
Financial Action Task Force report

"If there was a global commitment, we would pull the plug on terrorist financing in a day, and [ISIL] would be incapacitated in a month because no terrorist organization is a financial island."
Christine Duhaime, terrorist financing expert, Vancouver

"In Mosul [northern Iraq] alone, the Islamic State has implemented taxes on a variety of commercial activities. [There is even a] protection tax (jizya) levied on non-Muslims."
"In total, the extortion/tax system imposed in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria could generate as much as $30-million per month for [ISIL]."
Jean-Charles Brisard/Damien Martinez, terrorism experts
Islamic State fighter on the march in Raqqa Photo: AP

There are two battlefields to be addressed in the war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; one on the military side, the other on the financial side. One without the other will express an incomplete victory against the organization's wide operational territory. Terrorist financing is global; the stretch of Islamist jihad is as wide as the Internet can reach and that is universal.

Funding is steady and it's reaching Islamic State coffers through a wide variety of sources, not the least of which is 'donations' trickling in from just about every country in the Western world where Islam has made its signature presence. From among the masses of Muslims living peaceful lives in democratic countries of the West there is a relative handful who are complicit with the rise of Islamist jihad and they see themselves required to fund the global caliphate.

The money is gratefully received and it is used to massacre people innocent of any crime but their mere existence. There are other activities; extortion, theft, smuggling, human trafficking, kidnapping, fund-raising exploits hiding behind the shield of representing charitable enterprises. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was "self-sustaining", able to raise between $70-million and $200-million annually by 2006, according to U.S. government files.

Islamic State brings funding to a whole new level, leaving its predecessors in the dust of small-change in comparison. Many experienced military commanders who had served proudly with Saddam Hussein before 2003 are now in the controlling cadres of ISIL. They are well served by thousands of combatants who have the use of heavy weapons; artillery, armoured vehicles, tanks and other armaments, courtesy of the United States.

Those weapons, provided to the Iraqi armed forces and abandoned in their haste to remove themselves from the direct vicinity of Islamic State fighters, obviated the need to procure them through ISIL's financial resources; another economic benefit to the caliphate. There is no shortage of Kalashnikovs. A rocket launcher, over a dozen handguns, bulletproof vests, combat gear and allied military hardware was found in the possession of the Paris attackers, all ISIL comrades-at-war.

ISIL has the manpower and the funding it requires and as such the group "represents a new form of terrorist organization where funding is central and critical to its activities", according to an independent, inter-government body supported by Canada, the United States, Britain, France and other democracies with a horse in this race to destroy the potential represented by Islamic State's rise to power and its irresistible attraction to many Muslims living in the West.

Twitter has been an invaluable aid, attacting ISIL sympathizers, happy to contribute to ISIL's appeal. Alternatives to traditional banking and money-transfer systems embrace electronic crowd-funding actions from the democratic countries of the west. That's the easy targets; to stem the flow from those sources; not quite easy, but it can be done. As for the most lucrative sources of revenue; stolen assets such as oilfields and banks, that's another thing.

Localized funding sources like "taxes" are immune to being impeded as long as Islamic State is in control of territories it has gained over the past several years. But ISIL supporters in the West, and they are there and in ample numbers, should and can be cut off from raising or transferring funds directed toward terrorism under the guise of charitable donations. The most unfortunate transfer of funds are those instances when governments succumb under wraps to paying ransom for abducted citizens.

Funds directed to "terrorist hot spots" need more close scrutiny at the point of transfer; which is to say using routine banking services to transfer funds from client accounts in the West to accounts controlled by ISIL must be cut off. Wire transfers should be viewed with suspicion and time taken to verify their legitimacy -- or lack of. Governments must see the need to toughen up enforcement. Financial institutions should be working with intelligence authorities.

Much depends upon it.

Abu Rafiq -- ISIL resister, Raqqa

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Allahu Akbar : Al-Qaeda Proposes and Disposes

"I saw that there was a chaos situation there. Some people had arrived in a diplomatic car. When they arrived, the security that was at the hotel fled away and those people got the time to get in the hotel with their weapons."
Salim, Bamako, Mali

"We were evacuated -- there were many people inside the hotel at that stage. I saw corpses in the lobby."
"I hid in my room and there was knocking at my door saying the security forces had arrived and it was over."
Hotel guest, Radisson Blu hotel, Bamako

"We, in the group of the Mourabitoun, in cooperation with our brothers in Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, the great desert area, claim responsibility for the hostage-taking operation in the Radisson hotel in Bamako."
"[A...cease-fire and release of the hostages] predicated on the release of all the imprisoned mujahedeen in the prisons of Mali and the cessation of the aggression against our people in the north and center of Mali [can be arranged]."
Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, chief of Al Mourabitoun
Security officials pose in front of the Radisson hotel in Bamako holding a jihadist flag they say belonged to attackers. (Joe Penney/Reuters)

They're jostling anxiously to take credit for this newest massacre, the group calling itself Al Mourabitoun, an al-Qaeda breakaway (which came to wide public notice when it mounted a large terrorist attack on the In Amenas oilfields in Algeria in 2013 which left 40 hostages and 29 attackers dead), and another jihadi group, the Saharan Emirate of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb led by Yahya Abu Hammam, whose favourite enterprise is the kidnapping of Westerners for profit.

When Islamist terrorists took advantage of Libya's disintegration after its civil war and the resulting availability of the country's weapons arsenals, Mali became a target, and France, its former colonial master, rode to the rescue to try to rescue the ousted democratically elected government. They succeeded to a degree but the jihadis remain in Timbuktu, and the AQIM operates with virtual impunity from that ancient city.

The collaboration between the two groups to effect the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel, considered to be the most heavily guarded in Mali and where foreign visitors, diplomats and newspeople tend to stay, resulted in the killing of about 27 people. The assault which began in the early morning went on for hours, sending the 170 guests in the hotel at the time into a panic of fear. French commandos aided local security forces to eventually clear the hotel of guests, floor by floor, and it took a full dozen hours to do so.

France retains 1,450 troops in Mali; the largest group of Western expatriates in Bamako are French citizens. Driving a vehicle with diplomatic license plates, the attackers exited the car and three gunmen fired weapons killing two hotel security guards, influencing the remainder to flee for their lives and leaving the hotel guests and personnel to fend for themselves. Security forces surrounded the hotel in short order.

"In response to a request by the Malian authorities, the defence minister has decided to send a unit of special forces" stated a French government official of the special forces unit arriving from a base in neighbouring Burkina Faso. Paramilitary officers from Mali's gendarmerie and local security forces prepared to enter the hotel, while inside, the gunmen, moving from floor to floor challenged hotel guests to recite the invocation of Muslim faith. 

Those who failed the test were shot. The lobby, hallways, or rooms of the hotel held the dead. 

Malian forces and the French decided they would enter the hotel under siege and by noon they were inside, themselves going "floor by floor", to clear the hotel of its guests. As the security forces were busy escorting guests out of the hotel the attackers continued their prowling of the upper floors. There were foreign guests from China, France, the United States and Russia. 

Four Belgians were also registered at the hotel, and Geoffrey Dieudonne, a government official, there to help train Mali's civil service, was among the dead.

According to a Guinean guest, the attackers were heard to speak English, with Nigerian accents. "I heard them say in English, 'Did you load it?', 'Let's go'", said Sekouba Diabate. 

Fighters from Boko Haram, the terrorist group spreading chaos and slaughter in Nigeria are known for having gone to Mali to join al-Qaeda. The jihadis find great appeal in gravitating toward the groups known to have realized the greatest success. The challenge among the premier groups in Islamist jihad is for each to demonstrate that they represent the more successful threat to the West.

Al-Qaeda is differentiating itself from Islamic State. It boasts that it slaughters only non-Muslims, while ISIL takes no such care. When the assaults took place on the Kenyan university and the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya, as well as the Algerian gas plant by affiliates, an element of care was taken to differentiate Muslims from non-Muslims, and to spare the lives of Muslims, in contrast to ISIL's proclivity to murder whomever it pleases.

This tactic elicits praise and admiration from its online supporters. One response to the querying of Muslims and the demand they recite Quranic verses and sparing their lives was a praise of the "lions" who engage in this separating out of the faithful "to protect the inviolable blood of Muslims". Another supporter stated: "This is how Muslims SHOULD act"; the Islamic State "should learn a thing or two and drop their crooked creed and methodology", leaving the slaughter for non-Muslims alone.

Dreadfully encouraging. This is Islamic honour at its finest.

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