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Signs of the Times for Sun, 29 Jan 2006

Signs Editorial:

SOTT 19/01/2006

In an riveting display of modern technological efficiency that undoubtedly thrilled the editors of Popular Mechanics magazine, last Friday, by way of a Predator Drone aircraft, the CIA fired missiles at a group of houses in a village on Pakistan's north Western border with Afghanistan. Eighteen Pakistani villagers, including women and children, were either blown to pieces, burned to death or crushed as their homes collapsed on top of them as they slept in their beds.

In an riveting display of modern technological efficiency that undoubtedly thrilled the editors of Popular Mechanics magazine, last Friday, by way of a Predator Drone aircraft, the CIA fired missiles at a group of houses in a village on Pakistan's north Western border with Afghanistan. Eighteen Pakistani villagers, including women and children, were either blown to pieces, burned to death or crushed as their homes collapsed on top of them as they slept in their beds.

The official reason for the attack, as reported in the mainstream media, was to rid the world of a few more Islamic terrorists who, as White House Spokesman Scott McClelland reminded us, "continue to seek to do harm to the American people". Somehow, the murder of those eighteen Pakistani villagers means that American's are now tangibly safer.

The remaining Pakistani villagers, who were understandably outraged, refuted the official claim that members of the mythical al-Qaeda were in the village at the time, saying that the dead were all locals. As the story spread, unnamed US government "officials" felt compelled to try and justify the attack by stressing the claim that terrorists were indeed present in the village. But even as the mainstream press dutifully spread these claims far and wide, the farcical nature of the entire affair was becoming apparent.

For example: we were told that the official claim of a terrorist gathering was backed up by "very solid" intelligence and a "knowledgeable source". Sadly however, the knowledgeable source "declined to be identified". A Pakistani official (more than likely a subordinate of the American officials given that the Pakistani government seems to be a branch of the Bush government) claimed that "four or five foreign fighters were killed in the strike". That determination, we are told, was "based on information gathered by investigators" but sadly, the investigators would not elaborate.

Other mysterious U.S. sources said that the remains of about 12 bodies, including as many as eight foreigners, were quickly retrieved by a group of men after the air strike, and taken elsewhere for burial, a claim that is countered by the surviving villagers who asserted that they buried all of the dead as quickly as possible as is required by the Muslim religion.

Even today, almost one week later, the story is still making the headlines, but now American officials seem to have passed off the job of selling the official story to their Pakistani colleagues. An AP story entitled "'Terror chief killed' in Pakistan missile attack" tells us:

An al-Qaeda explosives and chemical weapons expert and a relative of the terror network's No. 2 leader were among three top operatives believed killed in a US missile strike in Pakistan last week, Pakistani security officials said today. Pakistani authorities have said at least four foreign militants were killed in last Friday's attack in Damadola village near the Afghan border that officials say targeted - but missed - al-Qaeda No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri. A security official said three notable al-Qaeda figures were in the village at the time of the attack and that their bodies were believed to have been taken away by sympathisers. He said one of them was Midhat Mursi, an Egyptian. The US Justice Department cites Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar as an explosives expert and poisons trainer who trained hundreds of mujahedeen at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan near the eastern city of Jalalabad.
So far so good. Now all we need is some evidence to back up these claims:
He stressed that their bodies have not been found. "We do not have any evidence to prove that they have been killed, but we have indications that they were there and were among those bodies that were taken away," said the official.
Eh... excuse us for being a stickler for wanting 'official stories' to actually make sense, but how can there be evidence that the 'terrorists' were in one of the houses and that their bodies (i.e. dead) were taken away, yet at the same time there is no evidence that they were killed? Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth! Sounds like this CIA proxy employee was fluffing his lines. Maybe he can clarify the situation with more details?:
"He refused to give further details."
Okay then, what about the Pentagon? Surely they, with all their 'eyes in the skies', know what really happened:
"Pentagon officials said they had no information on the reported identities of the dead and CIA spokesman Tom Crispell said the agency could not comment."
Why is that, when pressed, those people who should be in a position to clarify the situation, (it was a CIA drone after all), reach for the proverbial barge pole? Could it be that the entire story is being made up as they go along? The mystery surrounding the official claims, and just who the Pakistani officials that seem to spreading CIA propaganda are, is deepened when we read the words of the Pakistani government:
"Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said that the government does not know the identities of the foreigners believed killed in the missile strike."

Now just a second here. We were already told that "Pakistani authorities" said at least four foreign militants were killed and that a "security official" said three notable al-Qaeda figures were in the village at the time of the attack and that their bodies were believed to have been taken away by sympathisers. So which is it? Were al-Qaeda members present or not? Were they present and not killed or where they present and killed? Or is it a simple case of pre-meditated murder of innocent civilians by a U.S. government agency in order to:

Provide proof that the "war on terror" is real and justified and that the government is actively pursuing it

Justify budgets

Test new drone craft with missiles

It seems unlikely that we are going to get any clarification through official channels, so let's just use the details that have been given and see where that leads us. The mysterious "Pakistani authorities" tell us that one of the "terrorists" that was in the village at the time, and was killed and taken away (or maybe he wasn't, they aren't quite sure) was an Egyptian by the name of Midhat Mursi. Mursi was a veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war throughout the 1980's when the CIA funneled $billions to the Taliban via Osama Bin Laden and recruited the Islamic fundamentalists that are today known as "al-Qaeda" (and still on the CIA's payroll). The U.S. Justice Department (always a reliable source for juicy details on the wily ways of the evil terrorists), stated that, since 1999, Mursi has distributed training manuals with recipes for crude chemical and biological weapons. Some of these manuals were recovered by US forces in Afghanistan. Hang on a minute, I'm having a flash back...

Tapes shed new light on bin Laden's network

August 19, 2002
Nic Robertson
CNN

A large archive of al Qaeda videotapes obtained by CNN in Afghanistan sheds new light on Osama bin Laden's terror network, revealing images of chemical gas experiments on dogs, lessons on making explosives, terrorist training tactics and previously unseen images of bin Laden and his top aides.

Of course! The little doggie! Who could forget! Like so many other 'al-qaeda videos' from recent years, there were some serious questions surrounding the authenticity of the 'gassing doggies' tape that was exclusively obtained by CNN correspondent Nic Robertson (more on him in a moment). First, there is the fact that the hands seen in the video sequence are not Middle Eastern, S.E. Asian or North African 'brown', but more of a Middle America intelligence agent or hired Russian mercenary 'white'. Then there is the fact that these tapes were somehow "acquired" by pasty-faced CNN correspondent Nic Robertson while he was bravely trekking through the Afghani badlands, Beretta pistol in one hand, CIA handbook in the other:

CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson obtained the tapes from a source in Afghanistan, following a 17-hour drive from Kabul through treacherous terrain to a remote part of the war-torn country. According to the source, the tapes had been found in an Afghan house where bin Laden had stayed.
Hmm... we wonder who took him there, and why? Finally, there is the question of why any Islamic terrorist organisation would want to test the effects of a lethal gas or chemical on small dogs confined in a small space? Were they planning to wreak savage vengeance against the American infidel by attacking a dog pound in West Virginia perhaps? How does knowing the effects of sarin, chlorine, arsenic or tear gas on a puppy in an enclosed room help the alleged terrorist goal of "hurting the American people"? Unless of course we are talking about emotional harm. Interestingly, CNN chose to broadcast the tapes to the public before contacting any government agency, which would seem to run counter to established protocol when dealing with sensitive material related to national security and intelligence gathering. In fact, CNN did not even offer the tapes to the CIA, who, in any case, seemed indifferent about the very existence of the tapes:
"The CIA has not yet been offered the tapes, an official at the agency said. 'If they choose to contact us about this, we'll take a look at them.'" he said.
CNN did however show the tapes to government officials:
"We shared portions of the tapes with officials so they could comment on authenticity and significance, and also out of concern for the safety and well-being of people around the world," said Ali Zelenko, public relations director for CNN. "Copies of all videos will be made available to appropriate officials once they are broadcast."
Are we expected to believe that government officials are better able to comment on the authenticity of "al-Qaeda" tapes than the CIA?? In attempting to investigate the dire implications of the al-Qaeda dog gassing video, CNN turned to renowned "terrorism expert" Rohan Gunaratna:
CNN has shown the tapes to many experts, including Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on al Qaeda who was called on to address Congress, the United Nations and the Australian Parliament following the September 11 attacks. Gunaratna, the author of "Inside Al Qaeda," has interviewed members of the terrorist network and previously viewed more than 200 al Qaeda tapes. But he had not seen the tapes obtained by CNN and believes they were intended only for the eyes of the terror group's leaders. "The collection has al Qaeda videos taken by al Qaeda of events," (sic) Gunaratna said. "Whenever Osama bin Laden met with foreign journalists, he always had his own cameraman. And it is those tapes that are there, because that itself shows that this is the al Qaeda library. This is not the library of someone else ... This is their history, the record room of Osama bin Laden."
Words of terrorist wisdom indeed. Unfortunately, CNN failed to mention that Gunaratna's credentials as a "terrorism expert" were less than convincing. The World Socialist Web Site writes:

Gunaratna’s unstinting support for the US, British and Australian governments’ foreign policy objectives was well rewarded. His contacts in US intelligence and counter-terrorist circles grew and his writings were published in several foreign policy and international security journals. But the biggest coup took place in June 2002: the publication of his book Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror, by Columbia University Press. Promoted heavily in the media, it went on to become a best seller around the world. Inside Al Qaeda received universal media acclaim. "A remarkable new study," enthused the Times (London), "Excellent," declared Peter Bergen from the Washington Post, while Thomas Powers, in the New York Review of Books, called it "a careful and methodical account” that "does the work of many tomes".

But it was not long before several of the book’s claims were vigorously challenged. The Malaysian government attacked the book’s assertions of links between the ruling Barisan National party and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Philippines, and through the MILF to Al Qaeda—and threatened legal action. Interviewed on Singapore television about the controversy, Gunaratna backtracked, changing his allegation to a link “between MILF operatives and a few individuals in the Barisan parties". In one of the book’s more sensational accounts, Gunaratna described in detail an Al Qaeda plot to hijack a British Airways plane on September 11, 2001, and crash it into the houses of parliament. Only the grounding of all aircraft after the bombing of the World Trade Centre supposedly prevented the London attack.

The source was an alleged Al Qaeda member, Mohammed Afroz, who had been arrested in Bombay, India in October 2001. Afroz had also allegedly claimed he had planned to fly a plane into Melbourne’s Rialto Towers. After his release by an Indian court in April 2002, New Delhi police declared the claims to be a fabrication by the Bombay police force. An investigation by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation into the alleged Melbourne plan assessed it "to be lacking in credibility." Inside Al Qaeda also fudged the record of its author. The book claimed he was "principal investigator of the United Nations’ Terrorism Prevention Branch”, and that after the September 11 attacks, he "was called to address the United Nations, the US Congress and the Australian Parliament".

After the Sunday Age conducted an investigation into his biographical details, Gunaratna apparently admitted that there was, in fact, no such position as "principal investigator" at the UN’s Terrorism Prevention Branch, and that he simply "worked there in 2001-02 as a research consultant." According to the July 20 article in the Sunday Age, "He also confirmed that, rather than directly addressing the UN, Congress, and the Australian Parliament, he had actually spoken at a seminar organised by the parliamentary library, given evidence to a congressional hearing on terrorism and delivered a research paper to a conference on terrorism organised by the UN’s Department for Disarmament Affairs." So concerned was the British publisher of Inside Al Qaeda about possible legal repercussions arising out of the unreliability of its assertions, that it published an extraordinary disclaimer under the heading "Publisher’s note" advising the reader to treat the book’s contents as mere "suggestions".

Ah yes, there's nothing like turning to the best in the business to ensure an accurate portrayal of the reality of the "war on terror". As already mentioned, it was ace CNN reporter Nic Robertson who happened to 'stumble' upon the tapes in deepest, darkest Afghanistan. Nic is a fine figure of man, the type of guy that could be expected to go the extra mile when called upon to do his patriotic duty and/or put national security interests above his own needs (or contract obligations). Just as physicians have the Hippocratic oath, the oath taken by journalists is similarly named, but involves a subtle change in spelling. Evidence of Nic's dedication to America's leaders can be found in the fact that, during the buildup to the Iraq invasion, he doggedly continued to disseminate the officially discredited link between alleged al-Qaeda terrorist al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein From the May 25 edition of CNN's 'Wolf Blitzer Reports':

ROBERTSON: Following the September 11th attacks, Zarqawi's camp was bombed. He fled west. According to U.S. officials, he turned up in a jihadi camp belonging to a group called Ansar al-Islam, located in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. By late 2002, he was on the attack. Jordanian officials linked Zarqawi to the assassination in Amman of USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] official Lawrence Foley. In 2003, Zarqawi was dubbed the Al Qaeda link to Saddam Hussein.

It is no surprise then that on Sept. 11, 2001, while America was under attack, Nic was the only western television journalist in Afghanistan. Hmmmm...

So just what was the real point of the CNN 'doggie gassing' tapes? Ultimately, it was CNN that hinted at the real reason for the release of the videos:

"Among the most frightening scenes in the collection of tapes are those of testing of a poison gas on three dogs. The disturbing images show the dying moments of the defenseless, enclosed animals."

All of which suggests that we were correct in our supposition that "al-Qaeda's" real reason for producing these tapes was to emotionally traumatise the American people, and in the process portray Islamic terrorists not only as real, but also as monsters with no respect for human life, which, coincidentally, is exactly what the US government has been trying to do for the past 15 years.

Coincidence?


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