Threats, bullying and cowardice: The inside story of the Tower Hamlets mayor election fraud
Parallells with Channel Four's Dispatches - Undercover Mosque here. Don't move against the perpetrators (hate speech in the West Mindlands - Electoral Fraud in the East End) move against the complainants. From the Sunday Telegraph
But it wasn’t the former mayor or any of his associates. The suspect the Met wants to talk to is Andy Erlam, the lead petitioner in the court case against Mr Rahman.
“I was sitting in court, listening to the judge read out the ruling, when I got an email from a CID officer asking me to attend an interview this coming Tuesday,” said Mr Erlam. “It is Kafkaesque.”
As Mr Erlam read this on his phone, the judge, Richard Mawrey QC, was giving his verdict on the “ruthless”, “manipulative” and “lying” Mr Rahman, praising the “exemplary courage” of Mr Erlam and his three fellow petitioners, calling them “vindicated” in their claim that last May’s election was stolen.
But the road to victory was strewn with potholes. Now the case is over,the Telegraph – involved from the start– can tell the full story of the threats, bullying and official cowardice which protected Mr Rahman and discouraged his opponents. Disturbingly, some of that bullying has come from the Metropolitan Police.
At 7am on Jan 27, six days before the election trial was due to start, three Met officers arrived on Mr Erlam’s doorstep to arrest him for “perverting the course of justice”. Mr Erlam spent the last week before the case living away from home to avoid the Met. “To my mind, the clear intention of the police was to discredit me just as the case started,” he said.
His alleged offence, with another petitioner in the case, Azmal Hussain, was to have intimidated a witness, Abdul Latif Khan, into signing a false statement. But the supposed victim had already told police that the “crime” never happened. “I was put under absolutely no pressure by Mr Erlam or Mr Hussain,” he said. “I have made no complaint against either of them.”
According to emails seen by The Telegraph, the judge was “angry” at police behaviour and wrote to them saying the election trial should take precedence. Now it is over, the Met has swung back into action. “I’m not going to the interview,” said Mr Erlam. “They’ll have to arrest me. I will insist on handcuffs and I want a picture.”
Mr Khan, meanwhile, has written to the police, demanding they investigate those who were really intimidating him – Mr Rahman’s supporters.
“Our witnesses have been subjected to massive and genuine intimidation, but the police have pretty clearly chosen a side in this case,” said Mr Erlam. “I think there’s actual corruption here– there’s a pattern of behaviour that doesn’t make sense any other way.”
Some of the intimidation has been more like Chicago in the 1930s than London in 2015. For many years, it can now be revealed, Mr Rahman has benefited from a group of “enforcers”, individuals attached to youth organisations heavily funded by his council. Any Bangladeshi speaking against the mayor could expect a doorstep visit.
During the election trial, it stepped up. According to Mr Erlam and Mr Hussain, at least 12 of their 80 witnesses suffered serious pressure. The wife of a witness against Mr Rahman was told by four men that they would burn down her house, killing her and her children, if he testified.
Another witness was assaulted by two of Mr Rahman’s supporters inside the Royal Courts of Justice itself. . . The police took no action in the second case. In my day the RCJ Tipstaff would have taken action independently; his job was the security and peaceful running of the Law Courts.
As the judge put it, “witnesses whose command of English turned out in the witness box to be rudimentary nonetheless produced polished English prose in their witness statements containing words that appeared to baffle them in cross-examination. The occasional witness claimed to have typed out his witness statement himself, oblivious to the fact that its appearance was absolutely identical to that of other (allegedly unconnected) witnesses. The nadir came when one witness gave a graphic account of how he had attended a polling station to cast his vote and found it a haven of tranquillity, only to be confronted with absolutely incontrovertible evidence that [he] had, in fact, voted by post.”
Evidence from the Telegraph – whose reporter testified – was crucial in substantiating a key plank of the case. As the judge explained, it was not necessary for the petitioners to prove enough votes were faked to change the election’s outcome. “One bogus vote, if arranged by the candidate or someone who is in law his agent, will unseat the candidate, however large his majority.”
We revealed that at least three of Mr Rahman’s council candidates – all of them “agents in law” for Mr Rahman – had themselves cast bogus votes, from fake addresses where they did not live. . . At least one of the fake addresses has been known to police for years.
Mr Mawrey’s judgment makes clear his incredulity at the “blatant” and “bare-faced” lies told by Mr Rahman and his “hatchet-man”, Alibor Choudhury, in the witness box. Mr Choudhury, Mr Rahman’s election agent, was described by the judge as “arrogant, indeed cocky”. It is easy to see why. The reason misconduct in Tower Hamlets became so blatant and institutionalised is that over many years no one in authority held its perpetrators to account.
At election after election, journalists would reveal irregularities. The police and Electoral Commission refused to investigate seriously, doing enough to say they had looked into it but failing to follow leads or interview key witnesses.
The Met sometimes went further for Mr Rahman, at least twice issuing misleading statements which helped him. During the election Scotland Yard said there was “no credible evidence” of vote-buying in the council’s grants programme, and it would not investigate.
Not only has this now been disproved by the election court, it was known to be false even then.
The mayor and his team thought they could get away with anything. In Judge Mawrey, they met their match. Mr Rahman’s supporters were last night calling him the victim of a racist “coup”, and may well play the race card with a new candidate in June’s mayoral by-election.
The police investigation into Mr Erlam rumbles on, but no new investigation has yet been launched into Lutfur Rahman or the other guilty men of Tower Hamlets.
How? Let me count the ways. Why? There are all kinds of reasons, but I hadn't heard this one from Mary Wakefield in The Spectator, at least not in so many words:
My worry about Islam, as a religion but also as a growing influence on our culture, isn’t that it’s violent but that it doesn’t believe in original sin.
Now I can see that this isn’t going to be a popular camp. Most sensible types revolt at the thought of original sin. It’s medieval. It conjures in the public mind a picture of some spittle-flecked pervert in a dog collar making children cry. The idea that Adam and Eve screwed up so badly that their descendants are all fatally flawed seems both unpleasant and unfair. In Islam’s creation story, Adam makes a blunder, but is forgiven and restored to God’s right hand. Islamic man is therefore born not weak and fallen but perfect, a suitable companion for Allah. This, to a 21st-century mind, might seem the better way.
I disagree. I’m not evangelising, or lobby-ing for a literal interpretation of Genesis. But it seems to me that a nation, a civilisation, which has at its heart the idea that we’re all fallen is gentler than one that doesn’t. Moreover, as creation stories go, I think it’s a far better explanation for humanity; for the way we all behave.
Original sin puts us all in the same boat. It means that no one gets too big for their boots, because we all know we’re riddled with besetting sins. It means that we should care for the weak not just because we’re told to, but because there but for the grace of God goes everyone.
The Muslim idea of man as perfect or perfectible is, by contrast, a real bore. Instead of tending towards peace, or the great ‘oneness’ that Islam aims for, it ends up being divisive. If man can be perfect, there’s no excuses for those who have hit the buffers. Worse, it means, inevitably, that some will cast themselves as sinless and set up as judges of the rest. In Islam, because man is perfect, there are those without sin who can cast the first stone, and no one will dare tell them otherwise. You’d need original sin for that.
"Some"? Like Mohammed. And what is perfect may not be questioned. Because Mohammed said so, and his followers will kill you if you do. No conscience will prevent them -- a concscience is only for the consciously flawed. And you need original sin for that.
In January, President Al Sisi of Egypt called for a ‘religious revolution’ in Islam. He said: ‘Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible… I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.’ This was seen as a very progressive speech.
But Sisi’s difficulty is that there really isn’t much in the Quran to suggest that Allah gives a hoot for non-believers. Muslims are encouraged to forgive one another, but it is not required to forgive infidels, the apostate or people who blaspheme. We’re not all in it together.
I’ve been reading some imams online who use the idea of original sin as a proof of Christianity’s idiocy. Look, say the imams, these Christian fools believe that babies are sinful. How stupid is that? But it’s far from stupid, the idea that we’re all flawed. In fact I’d say it’s both a spiritual and a scientific fact.
Allah requires slaves, not children, and Islam, like all totalitarian ideologies, requires blind obedience. There is no argument, no development, no love and absolutely no jokes. And no tunes. Talking of which, is your Sin Oringinal? A teaching moment from Tom Lehrer - see what I did there?
He has insisted in court his interest in extremism was for "research purposes".
Islam said he was experimenting on the teenager to see if he could radicalise and "brainwash" him in the same way Stonehouse man Reilly was.
Reilly, who has Asperger's Syndrome, became a Muslim at a mosque in Plymouth at the age of 16.
But he is said to have been radicalised in 2008 in a matter of weeks by two men in Pakistan via the internet who gave him step-by-step instructions on how to make bombs.
Islam told the Old Bailey he tried to brainwash Mr Thomas, who also has Asperger's, as an "experiment" to see if the same could be done.
He said: "When I saw what he [Reilly] had done I wanted to conduct an experiment to see how this individual had become radicalised.
"Previously he had no belief, no religious convictions, and I wanted to know how he became brainwashed and radicalised and this made me choose Harry to be a placebo to conduct the experiment. That's a nasty and cynical act that could have destroyed a life no less than the proposed murder.
"I just wanted to see if he would succumb to it. I was waiting for him to say if he had made purchase of the materials that were discussed and had he done so, I would have told him 'no', I would have told him what I was doing."
Islam, 18, from East London, denies preparing to commit acts of terrorism.
Giving evidence in his defence, he said his interest in extremism was "purely for research purposes and to understand the political side of my religion".
He added: "I was studying the reasons behind it. It was mainly the illegal occupation, as extremists would put it, of Muslim lands in Iraq, Afghanistan."
He said he wanted to find out why Fusilier Rigby had been murdered outside Woolwich Barracks in May 2013.
Asked why he downloaded a document called "How to make Semtex", Islam said: "I was doing research. I was looking at terrorist atrocities, foiled plots in the UK. I was studying about how easily accessible these materials are - I did not have the intention of making it."
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors told the jury how Islam befriended and then "ruthlessly exploited" Mr Thomas in a bid to persuade him to buy ingredients for a pipe bomb and kill two British soldiers. The trial continues
It is hard to avoid the sinking feeling that former NDP federal secretary and national campaign chairman Gerald Caplan was speaking for his party and its current leader, Thomas Mulcair, in the Globe and Mail on April 17. Caplan wrote that our only problem with Muslim terrorists is their objection to America’s dispute with Saddam Hussein, after he seized Kuwait in 1990, was expelled from it, and defied 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions in support of the ceasefire at the end of the Gulf War. Caplan cited Osama bin Laden, entirely neutrally, when he denounced the “hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who died from lack of food and medicine due to American sanctions;” the founder of al Qaeda, he explained, “resented the deployment of American forces throughout the Gulf states, particularly in his homeland, Saudi Arabia.”
Caplan further claimed that “Canadians were given the same reasons by Michel Zihaf-Bibeau, who murdered Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial in Ottawa [that] his actions were spurred by Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Of course, that isn’t the same thing at all. Bin Laden was speaking in 2001, in the wake of the attacks he directed against the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon, at which time there was no Canadian (or American) military involvement in Afghanistan; Canada’s only involvement in Iraq had been ten years before in an operation approved by the United Nations, NATO, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and the Palestinian Authority (led by Yasser Arafat, who purported to donate blood to assist victims of bin Laden’s terrorist assault on the U.S.).
Apart from the fantastic exaggeration of the effect of international sanctions on Saddam Hussein, imposed by an almost unanimous United Nations for his violations of international law (hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children did not die, and food and medicine were largely exempted from the sanctions, which were porous anyway); and apart also from the Swiss cheese of inconsistencies created by Caplan’s explication of the motives for these massacres of innocent people (as bin Laden acknowledged them to be), are we to understand the former NDP campaign chairman attaches some credence and approval to these motives? Practically the only country that dissented from the eviction of Iraq from Kuwait was Jordan, whose opposition was based on King Hussein’s desire not to antagonize his Iraqi neighbour, not any approval of Saddam’s seizure of Kuwait.
Caplan is on safer ground alleging the hostility of Islamist militants to various longstanding U.S. policies, including recognition (along with the rest of the United Nations Security Council and most of its members) of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, as well as a modest American military presence in the Middle East, invariably at the request of the governments of the host countries, including several of the Gulf states, most conspicuously Saudi Arabia. The countries that requested Americanf military collaboration did so because they felt threatened by the ideological and sectarian soul mates of bin Laden, which was understandable given the attempted assassination of the Saudi royal family at the principal mosque in Mecca in 1979, and many other infiltrations. If Caplan believes that the United States has no right to defend what it considers to be its strategic interests when asked to do so by sovereign governments in the Arab world, and has no right to avenge itself against groups that have murdered thousands of its civilians in vile acts of terrorism, he is enunciating a version of pacifism that is entirely original.
Even Gandhi accepted the legitimacy of military action in certain circumstances (he had little objection to the great Japanese offensive in the Pacific starting in 1941), as did Nelson Mandela, former commander of “The Spear of the Nation.” Caplan has a point to the extent that he regards as simplistic the George W. Bush-Stephen Harper imputation of objections to democracy as the Muslim terrorists’ sole motive in their terrorist attacks on the West. But I believe it is widely understood that bin Laden and other terrorists have vehemently objected to any Western cultural influence in the Muslim world and have disputed the right of the Arab powers to develop military relations with the West, the U.S. in particular.
The readership of the Globe and Mail, and the democratic world generally, are not truth-starved and were not gasping in ignorance of this point awaiting enlightenment from the former NDP campaign chairman. Neither Bush nor Harper have denied this, and while I am not an apologist for them, they are entitled to mention other factors, and their record in countering terrorism has been very defensible. Caplan might wish to recall the bloodthirsty and blood-curdling videos that bin Laden released in the year following the 9/11 assault, promising much more of the same. Instead, despite his professed desire to die righteously and go to his reward in paradise, terrorist attacks in the West have been comparatively few, and bin Laden hid like an animal until he was found and executed by American forces in Pakistan. Doubtless, bin Laden objected to that American action too.
Caplan goes on to quote, again with matter-of-fact neutrality, Richard Reid, the shoe bomber who tried to blow up a commercial airliner bound from Paris to Miami in 2001 “to help (expel) the oppressive American forces from the Muslim lands,” and one of the terrorists who blew up 202 tourists in Bali in 2001 in “revenge” for “what Americans have done to Muslims.” (The Bali bombs killed 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 27 British citizens, and seven Americans, so it was a rather poorly targeted act of vengeance on Americans.)
Caplan even dredges up Mir Aimal Kasi, who attacked several people in front of the CIA headquarters in 1993 as “retaliation” for “American support of Israel.” He quotes the Guardian, a more anti-American news outlet even than Al Jazeera, to ascribe the evolution of the Houthi movement — bankrolled and supplied by Iran in the Yemeni civil war — from peaceful coexistence to its present militancy, because of the “2002 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.” Finally, the punch-line: ISIS (a “brutal movement”), is responding to “the humiliation that Muslims have suffered at the hands of foreign powers and local dictators ever since the First World War.” And: “Are there hard lessons here for Canada and its allies?”
I don’t think so. I think we knew all that, but the humiliations did not begin in 1918; they started with the expulsion of the Moors from France after the Battle of Tours in 732, continued through the expulsion from Spain, the repulse of the Turks from the gates of Vienna in 1529 and 1683 (all defeats of naked Muslim aggression), the French and British seizure of Egypt in the Napoleonic Wars, the colonization of North Africa in the Nineteenth Century, and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and Anglo-French carve up of Arabia after 1918. The same sense of humiliation assimilated the British, American, and French discovery of oil in the Middle East cheerfully enough, but has never really accepted the Maronite Christians of Lebanon, nor other Christians in the Muslim world, much less a Jewish state.
We know all that too, and Stephen Harper and even George W. Bush know that. The solution for these antagonisms and the violence that results from them is better government in most of the Muslim world. But does Caplan, a learned authority on the Rwanda genocide, recommend Western appeasement of terrorists, the abandonment of the Muslim world to its most extreme inhabitants and the renunciation of any legitimate Western interest in it, including its Christian and Jewish minorities? Has he similarly no concern for the fate of nuclear non-proliferation, the region’s pro-Western governments, Europe and Japan’s oil supply, or the existence of a Jewish state in any borders? Where, if at all, do humanitarian considerations fit into this world view?
What is Caplan’s plan of action for all these problems, and will the real Thomas Mulcair please stand up with him and stop waffling about helping refugees and avoiding mission creep? These criminally diseased Islamist lunatics are attacking all civilization, including Muslim and Western civilization. We can’t just dump it on the Americans and respond with blankets, spam, pamphlets, rosewater, and sanctimonious obfuscation.
Former Iranian Negotiator Saeed Jalili: Beware Those In Iran Who Want a Relationship with America
He's willing, and urges others, to stand up for Iranian values -- which are not "democracy and peace and nuclear disarmament." Stand up for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
And watch out for the Americans, who apparently have "values" permanently inimical to the Islamic Republic of Iran. For the Islamic Republic of Iran has its values, too, which have nothing to do with "democracy and peace and nuclear disarmament."
Yesterday (Australian time) was Anzac Day: and this year it was the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli, the landing and subsequent fierce but ultimately unsuccessful months of struggle that are particularly remembered on that day, though it has also become a day to remember and honour all Australians who serve and have served and died in our armed forces.
Despite the very recent discovery and foiling of a plot by Australia-resident Muslims to carry out a jihad murder rampage at an Anzac Day ceremony, and the real possibility - borne in mind particularly by those of us Aussies who have spent the last ten years and more informing ourselves about Islam and becoming the more intelligently alarmed the more we learn - that there might be other Muslims around the ridges harbouring similar intentions, people turned up at Anzac day ceremonies and marches all over the country in record numbers.
In Australia's capital city, Canberra, 120 000 people - not a few of them travelling from interstate to be there - got up very early to attend the dawn ceremony at the National War Memorial. (By the way: the total population of Canberra was, at last count, 381 000, so the number of people at the ceremony was equivalent to just under a third of the city's population).
"A record crowd of 120,000 have gathered for the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra marking the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. Seating was full at the parade ground by 5 am, with tens of thousands of people packing in to view the solemn service.
"An indigenous sailor (and it should be noted that Aboriginal Australians, "Black Diggers", have served in the Australian Armed Forces ever since the Sudan and the Boer War, with many enlisting to fight in World War One and World War Two - at a time when they were not even officially counted as citizens - and others serving in later conflicts such as Korea and Vietnam; they have a long and proud tradition of distinguished service, and a high rate of enlistment per head of population. - CM) broke the silence and began the service playing the didgeridoo in commemoration of the Anzac sacrifice. The sound of Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Alan Paaterson's didgeridoo split the dawn and echoed across the parade ground on a mild Canberra morning....
"Chief of the Army Lieutenant General David Morrison gave an emotive address on the value of the Anzac soldiers in Australia's national history.
"He paid tribute to the generation that served in World War I...".
In Sydney, 30 000 people gathered in Martin Place.
'Anzac Day 2015: Dawn Service Draws Thousands to Martin Place in Sydney."
'Up to 30,000 people have gathered in Sydney's Martin Place (the same place where a murder-minded Muslim, Man Monis, took people hostage in the Lindt Cafe late last year, bringing about the deaths of two people - one by his own hand and one killed by shrapnel as police broke the siege - and wounding of others - CM) for the dawn service commemorating the centenary of Anzac Day...
'Some regular Anzac Day attendees told the ABC today was the biggest turnout that they had ever seen...".
'A number of the people at the service said they felt that it was especially important to attend this year.
'One man said he had commemorated every Anzac Day since he joined the Air Force in 1957. "I remember a lot of our friends who are not with us any more. It's one of the greatest things in a serviceman's life...remembering our mates, because we're all like family," he said...
"Dawn services are also taking place in various cities around the state.
'In Wollongong, thousands gathered at McCabe Park where 75 school children held glow sticks to represent the 75 local soldiers who were killed at Gallipoli....".
In Melbourne - the very city where the recently-foiled Muslim plot to attack an Anzac Ceremony was hatched - an enormous crowd turned up, despite chilly rain; one wonders how many of the attendees were doing so as an act of defiance.
'Anzac Day 2015: Rain Fails to Deter Massive Crowd at Melbourne's Dawn Service'
"Tens of thousands of people have turned out for the Anzac Day dawn service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance to mark 100 years since the landings at Gallipoli.
'Shots rang out as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Royal Australian Air Force band played 'Abide with Me' to the crowd of thousands.
'The rain did not deter the huge crowd which filled the service...
'Charlie, who was named after his great-grandfather who served in World War I at Gallipoli, is at the service for the first time. "We brought down some pictures of him, and I just want to come down here to remember him", he said.
"Police are out in force after two teenagers (sic: Dear ABC, that should be "two young Muslim men" - CM) were charged earlier this week over an alleged (sic: why "alleged"? - CM) plot to attack officers and the public at an Anzac commemoration.
'Authorities said there was now no specific threat to the event....".
Melbourne, I should add, hosted one of the most vivid and beautiful memorial installations, possibly inspired by the waterfall of poppies that was created in London for last year's Remembrance Day.
Federation Square in Melbourne - was blanketed with some 250 000 red poppies, each crocheted by hand and each "accompanied by a story of love, loss or gratitude for servicemen and women". Click on the link to see pictures.
'Brisbane's Anzac Square packed as young and old attend dawn service to mark Anzac centenary.
'Thousands of people have packed Brisbane's Anzac Square and nearby vantage points for the dawn service...
'Crowds spilled out of Anzac Square and onto the city's streets...
'Screens were set up in the square and in nearby Post Office Square, King George Square and the Queen Street Mall, to offer a view to the large crowds assembled.
'The scene was repeated at ceremonies across suburban Brisbane and in cities around the state as unprecedented crowds gathered to remember the launch of a military failure 100 years ago that has so marked the Australian psyche. In central Brisbane, after a long roll of drums, the lights of Anzac Square were extinguished and the crowd was led in a prayer of remembrance.
'Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey then delivered a moving speech outlining the extent of Queensland's sacrifices in World War I...
'Governor De Jersey told those assembled that 58,000 men, nearly 40 percent of Queensland's male population aged 18 to 45, signed up and fought in WWI...
"The cream of the nation was lost a century ago...".
'Suzanne Walpole said she attended the service every year in memory of her father. "My father was in the 2/9th Battalion, and we also had an uncle who died in Gallipoli, so I really come to honour past servicemen", she said.'
It was a similar story of huge turnouts in the other states.
In Tasmania, where thousands gathered in Hobart and Launceston
'Anzac Day 2015: Tens of Thousands Gather in WA to Remember Lives Lost in WWI'.
(And not only in WWI; many who attend Anzac Day ceremonies are also thinking of Aussie soldiers who were killed in action in later wars such as WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan... - CM).
'Tens of thousands of West Australians have gathered in Perth's King's Park (where, by the way, one may also find the memorial commemorating those Australians of West Australian extraction who were murdered by the Muslim jihad attack on the Sari nightclub in Bali in 2002 - CM) in the cool air of a clear morning to commemorate 100 years since Anzac troops landed on the shores of Gallipoli.
'Familes, veterans, young people and the elderly began streaming into the park from the early hours of the morning.
'Some had arrived on Friday night to stake their claim on a good vantage point, including Matthew Charlton, who arrived at 3.30 pm on Friday with his sleeping-bag and chair. "I have grandparents who participated in World War II, so I wanted to show my respects to the family and all those who fought in wars and conflicts", he said. "I figured this was the absolute least I could do, to spend a night out in the cold, when they'd been in the trenches."
'As the sky began to lighten over the city, the Last Post rang out, followed by a minute's silence.
'Crowd numbers have not been confirmed, but the RSL (Returned Servicemen's League - CM) had said it expected crowds of betwen 65000 and 75000 people, a significant increase on the 45 000 to 50 000 people it usually attracts...
'RSL WA president Graham Edwards said before the event that public safety had been prioritised. "The concern is that with increased crowds, more traffic and that sort of thing, and with people walking down roads where there's no light and it's dark, that it just creates risk issues to the public", he said. "There's no information or intelligence that would suggest in any way that Anzac Day in WA will be targeted, but yes, we will have sufficient security there".
'Mr Edwards said Anzac Day had a special resonance in WA because of the number of young West Australian men who enlisted. He said at least a quarter of the Anzac forces fighting at Gallipoli came from WA..". END.
I could finish this Anzac Day roundup with the words of the traditional "Ode", source of the words, often heard on Anzac Day, "lest we forget".
But instead I'm going to finish with a rather wobbly and very, very Australian clip of a country singer performing Brendan Walmsley's ballad "Bottle Tree Lane", about a young woman in a country town and her young man who went off to War. The "bottle tree lane" of the title is to be seen in the outback Queensland town of Roma.
Here are the words:
"Bottle trees lining the lane where she met him
"The place where her dreams had finally come true
"Flickering sunlight the dance of the branches
"They walked beneath each afternoon
"In a world going crazy, skies couldn’t be clearer ‘
"Til war was declared and her eyes filled with tears
"The boy enlisted, she cried when he kissed her
"And he whispered these words in her ear
" Remember the good things the good Lord has given
"Remember that love will remain
"Here’s to the wonderful life that we’re living
"We owe it to Bottle Tree Lane
"Don’t forget Bottle Tree Lane ."
"Once more they walked through the trees in the evening
"The only one smiling, the man in the moon
"They promised each other forever
"The sun came up too soon
"The whole town turned out for their boys at the station
"Waving their flags as they boarded the train
"He heard her voice as she ran down the platform
“Come back to Bottle Tree Lane.”
"Time marches on she became an old lady
" The ANZAC parade made its way down the lane .
"The diggers passed by recalling the fallen
'Cause each bottle tree bears a name .
"Everyone knew why she stood where she did
" Beside the same tree on that day every year
"And her grandchildren don’t take for granted the reason
"They’re able to play without fear."
REPEAT CHORUS x 2: Lest we forget Bottle Tree Lane."
The Jewish Brigade, La Brigata Ebraica -- consisted of 5,000 volunteers who came from Mandatory Palestine --- and fought with the Allies to lilberate Italy. That's why in Milan today the Brigata Ebraica participated in the march.
Meanwhile, Muslim Arabs screamed at, and tried to attack, those marching as representatives of the Brigata Ebraica, because, after all, Jews are Jews, and deserve nothing. It is Muslims to whom the world -- all of it -- rightfully belongs. The Qur'an and Sunnah have taught them that. Who are you to take issue?
Free to stroll through Britain’s cities, this is the al-Qaeda cleric suspected of radicalising “Jihadi John”.
Security services are understood to be investigating links between Hani al-Sibai and his influence on the west London terror network in which Jihadi John - unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi - operated.
It is claimed that al-Sibai, a charismatic preacher, had “captivated” a number of young Muslim men who subsequently went abroad to fight jihad.
In a court case last year, he was accused of having “provided material support to al-Qaeda and conspired to commit terrorist acts”, an allegation he denies.
Despite being officially identified as an affiliate of the notorious terror network, al-Sibai, citing his human rights, has thwarted government attempts to deport him for more than 15 years.
Instead, the Egyptian-born cleric lives in a leafy street in fashionable west London in the same neighbourhood where Emwazi and his fellow jihadists in the London Boys terror cell hung out.
The London Boys was the name given to a “sleeper cell”, set up by Osama bin Laden, whose members were sent to traini ng camps in Somalia and ordered back to the UK to carry out attacks.
From his home, al-Sibai, also known as Hani Youssef, runs an effective al-Qaeda propaganda machine, that includes the al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies. In recent months he has used various internet sites to praise bin Laden and glorify al-Qaeda for waging war against “the Crusader-Zionists”.
He has been described as a “long-time ally” of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over control of al-Qaeda following bin Laden’s death.
His alleged links to al-Qaeda have led to his bank accounts and assets being subjected to freezing orders by the United Nations, the UK Treasury and US Treasury.
Last year, in a publicly funded court case, al-Sibai went to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to try to get his status as an al-Qaeda affiliate overturned and allow him access to bank accounts and other financial assets.
In court documents unearthed by The Telegraph, the European Commission’s sanctions committee alleged that al-Sibai “has provided material support to al-Qaeda and has conspired to commit terrorist acts”.
Robin Simcox, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society think tank and co-author of Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections, said: “The US Treasury has listed al-Sibai as an al-Qaeda associate and outlined his connections to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, yet the UK has been powerless to deport this dangerous individual.
“Al-Sibai’s case shows the very clear national security threat that exists when the UK cannot deport preachers such as al-Sibai. He is able to radicalise others who go on to commit acts of violence, as seems to be the case with Mohammed Emwazi. The consequences can be devastating.”
Greg Hands, a Conservative minister who raised concern over al-Sibai around nine years ago, said: “It is amazing that someone with these views is still being of influence today. This highlights again the need to repeal the Human Rights Act.”
What Happened In Milan At The Festa Della Liberazione
"La festa è stata interrotta dalla contestazione alla Brigata Ebraica ad opera di un gruppo di manifestanti palestinesi. Pronto l’intervento delle forze dell’ordine in cordone e tra i cittadini per far procedere i rappresentanti dello Stato d’Israele oltre il presidio dei dimostranti che in coro urlava «assassini» e «vergogna». Nel mirino dei centri sociali è finito anche il Pd, che quest’anno ha deciso di «proteggere» la Brigata che ha sfilato subito prima dei rappresentanti del partito del governo.Il presidente del Consiglio, Matteo Renzi, ha esprime la sua solidarietà a chi ha sfilato a Milano con le insegne e nel ricordo dei partigiani della Brigata Ebraica di fronte agli insulti ricevuti. «Il 25 aprile è festa di tutti», sottolinea Renzi, «festa di liberazione nel ricordo di chi ha combattuto per la nostra libertà e la democrazia, festa di unità e non di divisione e di polemica».
A Ceremony To Mark The Liberation Of Italy From Nazi-Fascists Disrupted By Nazi-Fascists
They objected, you see, to any supporters of Israel appearing -- apparently unaware of, or more likely eager to overlook, both the role of Jewish members of the anti-Fascist movement (such as the Rosselli brothers, murdered by Mussolini) and in the Resistance, and also wishing to efface any Italian memories of the racial laws, of why Enrico Fermi and Franco Modigliani and Cesare Segre and so many others ended up in America (always the beneficiary of such things), and of course not wishing to discuss how the leader, for decades, of the "Palestinian" Arabs -- really then just the local Arabs --- Amin El Husseini, met with Hitler, urged him on in his noble task, and contributed to the fulfilling of that task by raising, among Bosnian Muslims, the Hajjar Brigade for the S.S.
You can continue the limerick, with or without the inspiration supplied by Gershon Legman.
The point is not prosodic, but that this doctor's views, apparently, were well hidden from view. And if his best friends were amazed at what they saw as his sudden metamorphosis -- he's in Raqqa now, urging others to join him -- how can the security services possibly know what Muslims are thinking, including those we think, because they do not go off to the Islamic State, or display the Black Flag of Islam, must surely be "moderate" -- and what, for god's sake, does that word "moderate" mean? Does it mean that they don't take Islam fully to heart? Is that what a "moderate" Muslim is -- someone who is not completely a Muslim, whcih shows that we understood that the full message of Islam is dangerous? And if we understand that, and we also know that there is no permanent barrier between the "moderate" Muslim and the real, or full, or immoderate one, so that any "moderate" can become, for any number of reasons, a direct threat, why should we not regard the "moderate" Muslims as themselves a danger, forming the inland sea in the Western world, in which the immoderates can swim?
Could the Hezbollah Drone Air Strip in Lebanon Launch Conventional and BW Attacks Against Israel?
Hezbollah Drone Airstrip Lebanon
Source: IHS Jane’s
April 23, 2015 IHS Jane’s revealed satellite photos of what appeared to be an airstrip in Northern Lebanon making note of Hezbollah active drone program ostensibly used against Syrian rebels. The Washington Timesreported:
Satellite imagery suggests that Hezbollah has constructed a drone airstrip in Lebanon, roughly 10 miles from Syria’s border, to fly Iranian-made drones.
The global risk company IHS reported Thursday on the existence of a site used for unmanned aerial vehicles in the northern Bekaa Valley. The images, now available on Google Earth, indicate that the airstrip was created between February 2013 and June 2014.
Hezbollah sources confirmed the organization is using UAVs to support operations against rebel forces in Syria, “particularly over the mountainous Qalamoun region on Lebanon’s eastern border,” IHS reported.
Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, was responsible for a drone that was shot down over Israel Oct. 6, 2012, The Telegraph reported Friday.
IHS Jane’s reported that the organization may be operating Iranian-made Ababil-3 or Shahed-129 aircraft at the site.
Iranian Ababil-3 "Swallow" Drone
According to a report from Army Recognition website the Ababil-3 “Swallow, is capable of flying a top speed of 200 kilometers per hour has a night vision capability, enabling it take and transmit high definition imagery from targets day and night. The drone has a flying range of 100 kilometers, ceiling of 5,000 meters, and flight duration of 4 hours and a top speed of 200 kilometers per hour. The Shahed -129 is a fully capable UCAV capable of undertaking missions attacking targets with missiles. The Aviationist in a report on the Shahed-129 caught on video flying near Damascus in April 2014 noted:
A “Shahed 129″, type of drone based on the Israeli Hermes 450 model or the Watchkeeper 450 model, but larger than those types, was spotted over Syria on Apr. 10.The Shahed 129 is a remotely piloted vehicle claimed to have an endurance of 24 hours and an operative range up to 2,000 kilometers. Noteworthy, in September 2013, Tehran unveiled a version of Shahed 129 domestically modified to carry weapons, making the Iranian drone a real UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle).
Watch this Army.com video of the 2013 introduction of the Shahed 129:
Both Iranian proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, have used Iranian supplied Ababil drones in surveillance of targets in Israel, as well. In October 2012, the IAF shot down a Hezbollah drone in the Negev that presumably was headed for Dimona, Israel’s nuclear development center. That was the latest such interception of drones over Israel by the IAF. Iran has a sophisticated Drone program as evidenced by its ability to allegedly reverse engineer a CIA Sentinel RQ -170 drone that crash in Northeastern Iran in 2011. An alleged Iranian copy of the RQ-170 was displayed in November 2011. The full repertoire of Iranian drone developments can be found in this report, “Iran’s Many Drones” by The Drone Center.
Unmanned aerial vehicles have similar flight characteristics to cruise missiles, but are under active human guidance and thus are more flexible. They would be especially attractive for biological weapons delivery.
The merging of Syria’s biological weapon program with Hezbollah and/or Iran’s UAV programs could create an international public health emergency more catastrophic than a natural outbreak.
Iran is believed to have supplied Hezbollah with 12 Ababil UAVs.3 The Ababil carries an 88 pound conventional payload, with a range of approximately 150 miles. Given the unique characteristics of UAV’s it is conceivable that Hezbollah, under orders from Iran, and provided with advanced technology could deploy biological weapons utilizing this platform.
To put the threat Hezbollah’s potential BW program poses and the possible use of their current UAV stockpile as a deployment platform into clearer focus, in 2005, France's Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, at an Interpol bio-terrorism conference held in Lyon, emphasized that nowadays terrorists are highly likely to use weapons of mass destruction including biological weapons. Given Hezbollah’s possible laboratories, they could easily maintain an advanced BW capability. Hezbollah’s state sponsorship by both Syria and Iran vastly increase their ability to successfully deploy BW using UAV’s.
Weaponizing biological agents suitable for a UAV payload requires stabilization and field testing techniques which are available to nearly all national military defense laboratories such as those that exist today in Syria and Iran. Technical thresholds such as stabilization, field testing and dispersal are factors which determine not only kill ratios of a weaponized agent, but the success rate a terrorist group or organization is likely to achieve. Hezbollah’s BW capability should be considered as synonymous with that of Iran. In this sense it would be far more lethal, more likely to go global and produce pandemic disease.
On the technical side, Hezbollah has been trained by Iran’s Quds forces in Sudan on BW. The type of BW is likely to be highly advanced, not a homemade version of anthrax collected from soil samples. Additionally, BW received from Syrian programs running at the SSRC in Damascus, is technically very sophisticated. Iran would have the capability to provide Hezbollah with technical mounting of UAV’s with BW. Moreover, in contrast to a conventional payload which may present issues of accuracy, a biological payload does not.
The discovery of the Hezbollah drone airstrip raises the question of its capability to launch not only surveillance/intelligence mission over Israel, but as Dr. Bellamy has pointed out, possible UAV attacks against Israel equipped with bio-warfare payloads.
The stage has been set for George Galloway to fight to replace Britain’s ousted first Muslim mayor if he fails to keep his seat in parliament. The timetable for electing a replacement for Lutfur Rahman was published yesterday, leaving a week after the general election result for candidates to be nominated to the mayoral post.
Mr Galloway was given an enthusiastic welcome by local voters when he spoke out in praise of the beleaguered mayor at a public meeting last year.
Galloway has said that he will run for the post of Mayor of London if he is not re-elected in Bradford next month. However that was before the mayoralty of Tower Hamlets became vacant,and he remains popular in certain circles in the borough. The budget is £1 billion, providing education, housing, social care to a quarter of a million people. So who knows. Rahman may appeal via a Judicial review. I doubt he will get very far.
A document published by ISIS reveals the prices the terrorist organization uses to sell Christian and Yazidi women and children abducted by the jihadists.
It shows not only that the younger they are, the higher their value, but also that the market for these women and children has apparently declined. The lower prices means less money is going to the radical Islamists known as the Mujahideen. Those who don't go along with the prices set by ISIS will be killed.
The subject heading of the Islamic State document obtained by some local media outlets reads, "Prices stipulated for the selling of spoils [women and children who have been abducted]."
It says that "the market for selling these spoils has declined precipitously." The tumbling market for the sales of the women and children has had an effect on Islamic State revenues and their ability to finance the operations of the Mujahideen, according to the document.
In order to benefit the Islamic State, "financial institutions must consider setting up controls and prices with regards to the prices at which these spoils are to be sold," and vows that anyone violating these controls and prices will be put to death, the document reads.
Here are the prices the Islamic State has set for Yazidi and Christian women and children, according to the document:
Women 40 to 50 years old are to be sold for 50,000 dinar, or $42 in U.S. dollars.
Yazidi and Christian women 30 to 40 years old are 75,000 dinar, or $63 in U.S. dollars.
Women 20 to 30 years old are 100,000 dinar ($85).
Women and children 10 to 20 years old are 150,000 dinar ($127).
Children ages 1 to 9 are 200,000 dinar ($169 in U.S. dollars).
The document stated that no one is allowed to buy more than three women or children from the list — with the exception of Turks, Syrians, and those from the Gulf states. They are permitted to buy more.
Still more, here: Andrew Bostom's "The Jihad Genocide of the Armenians", which refers to two of the most important accounts of the genocide, by the scholar Vahakn Dadrian, and by an earlier researcher, Reverend Kai Balakian (author of "Hai Koghota", Armenian Golgotha).
From that article - "Six thousand four hundred Armenian [Christian] children, young girls and women from Yozgad were decamped by their Turkish [Muslim] captors at a promontory some distance from the city. Then (this is from Balakian's eyewitness account) "To save shell and powder, the gendarmerie commander-in-charge of this large convoy had gathered 10,000 to 20,000 Turkish [Muslim] peasants and other villagers, and armed with "hatchets, meat cleavers, saddler's knives, cudgels, axes, pickaxes, shovels", the latter attacked, and for some four to five hours mercilessly butchered the victims while crying "Oh God, Oh God" (Allah, Allah).
"In a moment of rare candour, this gendarmerie commander confided to the priest-author [i.e. Balakian], whom he did not expect to survive the mass murder, that after each massacre episode, he spread his little prayer rug and performed the namaz, the ritual of worship, centred on prayer, with a great sense of redemption in the service of Almighty Allah." [end quote].
And here, a brief account of the heroism of a small Armenian Christian community who fought back against their Muslim would-be mass-murderers: the story that inspired a Jewish researcher, Franz Werfel, to write the book "Forty Days of Musa Dagh" (1933).
More about the book - and the utterly despicable Turkish Muslim attempts, spanning some eighty years, to bully and threaten and generally manipulate western governments into 1/ suppressing the book and 2/ squelching its transformation into the blockbuster movie that it ought to have become, years ago. The Turkish - and Kurdish and Arab - Muslims flatly and brazenly deny that what happened was a genocide and was evil; not only have they tried to suppress the story of Musa Dagh, they are still threatening and throwing tantrums should any Infidel political or religious leader dare to call the jihad mass-murder of the Armenian (and Assyrian and Greek) Christians what it was - genocide.
May the day soon come when, one after another,all our religious and political leaders may find the courage to defy Turkish Muslim bullying and nonsense and lies and call things by their right names.
In the meantime: may the memory of the martyrs never be forgotten; may the little nation of Armenia, miraculously existent in despite of everything, blossom and flourish and be blessed by the true and living God; and may the richness and beauty of traditional Armenian Christian culture become known to many.
Here is just one small sample of that Armenian Christian culture which was so very nearly annihilated by the murderous Nothing that is Islam. A simple lullaby, "You are a plane tree", "Chinar es", which is surely one of the most beautiful songs ever created.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville swingers club has undergone a conversion — it says it's now a church — in order to win city approval so it can open next to a Christian school.
The story began last fall, when a fixture in downtown Nashville called The Social Club sold its building and purchased a new one in a run-down office park several miles to the east.
The new building is geographically isolated at the end of a dead-end street, but it is near the back of Goodpasture Christian School, a large private school serving pre-school through high school children.
It might have been years before school officials and parents learned what was going on inside The Social Club — its website says it is "a private club for the enjoyment of both men and women ... to engage in any sexual activity" — if someone had not sent anonymous letters to the school president and the local councilwoman. Both say the person who tipped them off claimed to be a concerned club member, although they don't know that for sure.
Parents and religious leaders were called on to pack the Metro Nashville Council chambers to support a zoning change to prevent the club from opening. That's when the club, which had spent $750,000 on the building and begun renovations, suddenly transformed into a church.
The United Fellowship Center's plans are nearly identical to those of The Social Club but with some different labels. The dance floor has become the sanctuary. Two rooms labeled "dungeon" are now "choir" and "handbells." Forty-nine small, private rooms remain, but most of them have become prayer rooms.
Larry Roberts is the attorney for the club-turned-church. He previously vowed to take the city to court. Now, he says, it's the city that will have to sue.
"The ball is in Metro's court ... We've now gotten a permit to meet as a church, and a church is something that cannot be defined under the U.S. Constitution," he said.
It's time we did start to define religion and church - not by belief, but rather by what they do for (or to) society. Defining true religions for First Amendment purposes could be easily done in neutral language and religions and religious sects could be subject to a simple test.
Is love, the progressive experience of God, encouraged?
Are the fruits of the spirit, (truthfulness, joy, peace, loyalty, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance) encouraged?
Is loving service to humanity, without prejudice, encouraged?
Are hatred, selfishness, intolerance, intemperance, deceit and violence discouraged?
Is violent coercion employed?
U.S. Courts would not be required to prove or disprove the validity of any set of religious beliefs [see U.S. v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1943)] but it can set standards on what true religion should do for mankind and judge the fitness of different religions to come under the protection of the First Amendment.
I don't think the sex club could possibly pass and remain a sex club. I doubt their ruse will work in any case.
Italian police said on Friday they had dismantled an Islamist network they have linked to Osama bin Laden, one of Pakistan's deadliest attacks and, more loosely, a possible plot to bomb the Vatican.
A total of 18 people were ordered arrested following a six-year investigation that began with a probe into an illegal immigration racket allegedly run from the island of Sardinia. Only nine of the suspects had been detained by Friday afternoon.
Prosecutor Mauro Mura told a press conference in Cagliari, Sardinia that members of the network had been in contact with two potential suicide bombers who came to Italy in 2010 and discussed the possibility of attacking the Vatican, when Pope Benedict XVI was head of the Roman Catholic Church,
Mario Carta, an officer in the DIGOS anti-terrorism unit that carried out the investigation, acknowledged there was no firm evidence of a conspiracy to kill the pope, only "strong suspicions" based on wiretapped conversations in which the suspects had spoken "in ironic terms" about the leader of the world's Catholics.
The extremist network may have been planning to launch a suicide bomber against the Vatican. Police intercepted telephone conversations between the suspects which gave “signals of some preparation for a possible attack” against the Holy See, he said.
In the wiretaps, the suspects discussed launching “a big jihad in Italy”, said Mario Carta,They also used the word “baba” – a possible reference to the Pope.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi played down the significance of the incident. "This concerns a 2010 scenario that didn't materialise. It has no relevance today and there is no reason for particular concern," he told reporters.
Pietro Paroli, who as Vatican secretary of state is the de facto prime minister of the tiny sovereign country, said: “We are all exposed and we are all afraid but the Pope is very tranquil in this, you just have to see him meeting people with great serenity. The biggest fear is that innocent people may be affected. But I don’t seem to perceive great concern in the Vatican, although of course you have to be careful.”
The alleged key figures in the network were Khan Sultan Wali, a shopkeeper and long-term resident of Olbia, Sardinia and Zulkifal hafiz Mohammed, an imam who carried out missionary work in Brescia and Bergamo in northern Italy, according to sketchy details provided by prosecutors at a press conference. The arrest warrants accuse the suspects of belonging to "an organisation dedicated to transnational criminal activities inspired by Al-Qaeda and other radical organizations pursuing armed struggle against the West and insurrection against the current government of Pakistan."
He is Pakistani, and arrived in Italy six years ago.
He has no record of employment.
He has six children, and a wife, whom somehow were supported.
He owned his own dwelling.
He had time to gather funds, apparently, money spent on plots to attack the Western Infidels from within.
Among the targets: the Vatican.
He hates Infidels, and the West in which he has been allowed to settle, and to procreate, supported at every turn by Italian taxpayers, unaware or if aware, feeling hopeless about remedying this situation.
He teaches his children -- they are still small -- exactly what he believes. They are growing up in an atmosphere suffused with Islam. This can mean nothing good for the Italians among whom they have been allowed to live and obtain support.
It is the same all over Western Europe and North America, among the advanced countries, whose principles, laws, customs, understandings, are flatly contradicted by the tenets and teachings of Islam.
How and why has this been allowed to happen, and keep happening? Why is it not stopped? Where are the political figures who will state the truth, and protect us in our own countries, that is in our homes?
USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71 and USS Normandy (CG-60) Arabian Sea April 21, 2015
Source: Reuters/US Navy
On the morning of April 21, 2015, newspapers and media reporters trumpeted a headline that the Saudis were ending their month long air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The halt reflected concerns of the Obama Administration over the deteriorating situation in Yemen and the increasing role of Iran. The operation, named “Decisive Resolve”, allegedly led by the Saudi coalition with US administration backing, had destroyed a missile base, armored vehicles, and planes held by Houthi forces. The Houthi militias were allegedly allied with Yemeni strongman and former president of Yemen for over thirty years, 73-year old Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh, who has survived political isolation, sanctions, civil war, and assassin attempts, created an alliance with the Houthis, his former enemies, in a bid to return to power in Yemen. Latest reports indicate that Saleh has left Yemen, perhaps to join party members in discussions with Saudi Arabia and coalition members of the Gulf Cooperation Council about resolving the conflict.
Since the Saudi air strikes began on March 26, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed. The Saudis were seeking to restore the internationally-recognized and US-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who served as president of Yemen from February 2012 until January 2015, when he was forced to resign after Houthi rebels raided his home and put him under house arrest. He subsequently escaped and fled to Saudi Arabia just as the Kingdom-led coalition began an air campaign against Houthi rebels on March 26, 2015.
Only hours after the first announcement of the cessation of Saudi air strikes, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir appeared at an Embassy press conference to announce the resumption of limited air attacks. The Ambassador told reporters:
The Houthis should be under no illusion that we will continue to use force in order to stop them from taking Yemen over by aggressive action. We are determined to protect the Yemeni people and counter any aggressive moves that the Houthis may undertake. When the Houthis or their allies make aggressive moves there will be a response. The decision to calm matters now rests entirely with them.
In view of continued Houthi fighting in the central city of Taiz and against secessionist forces in Aden on the southern coast. This phase of the Saudi operation in Yemen was named “Renewal of Hope”, and was launched amid reports that the Houthis have surrounded the city of Aden on three sides. In a later press conference on April 22nd, al-Jubeir said, "We will not allow them to take Yemen by force."
The Houthis quickly put out a statement seeking the lifting of Saudi air and naval operations, and offering to hold political talks under UN auspices. The defiant Houthi threatened to invade Saudi Arabia if the bombing continues.
A flotilla of nine Iranian vessels, seven commercial vessels escorted by two Iranian frigates, exited the Persian Gulf slow steaming down the Sea of Arabia towards a rendezvous in the Gulf of Aden. Nine US vessels were already positioned there. Nevertheless, that group has been joined by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), an aircraft carrier capable of carrying 90 F/A-18 fighter jets and helicopters. The Roosevelt was accompanied by the USS Normandy (CG-60), a guided-missile escort ship. They came from the Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain in the Gulf, presumably to shadow the Iranian flotilla.
The Saudis, with the aid of Egyptian naval vessels, have established a virtual blockade of Yemen preventing deliveries of food, civilian goods, and weapons from Houthi ally, Iran. The UN Security Council passed a resolution barring the supply of advanced missiles to Yemen.
Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter made his first comments on the dispatch of the US carrier and guided missile cruiser to the Arabian Sea while on a trip to California. Carter told them that “he was not prepared to say whether the U.S. would be willing to forcibly stop and board one of the Iranian ships if it tries to cross into Yemen.” Further, he said:
We have options. We're not at that point. We're at the point of trying to get the parties back to the table.
Still, he said the U.S. is making it clear to Iran that "obviously fanning the flames or contributing to it by any party is not welcome to us."
Right now, their ships are in international waters. What we've said to them is that if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that's a problem. And we're not sending them obscure messages -- we send them very direct messages about it.
On the other hand, senior defense and military officials told NBC News that American warships were prepared to intercept the convoy of Iranian ships, because they were suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi rebel forces in Yemen.
Several versions of their mission have already been floated by various government offices. The White House, Pentagon and State Department have issued statements to the effect the US carrier battle group is there to monitoring sea lanes. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said, “the principle goal is to maintain freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea”.
On the other hand, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren suggested that there could be a flight of refugees across the narrow Bab al Mandab that separates Yemen from the horn of Africa. The US naval vessels might be conveniently positioned to prevent a disaster similar to the one last weekend in the Mediterranean that witnessed over 700 people attempting to flee from war-torn Libya, drowned when the overloaded fishing boat capsized.
The stories may be inconsistent, but one thing is clear. If history is any measure, the Iranian flotilla is certain to be carrying weapons and supplies to aid the Houthi forces, not the humanitarian assistance they claim is to alleviate the Saudi and Egyptian blockade of Yemeni ports. The US administration has been clear that the shadowing US naval forces have not been given orders to enable them to hail and board Iranian vessels. They are concerned that boarding the Iranian ships might create an incident that could threaten a successful outcome in the ongoing nuclear in which President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have invested so much effort. The negotiations the Administration appears committed to closing a deal offering so-called signing bonuses of $30 to 50 billion in release of oil revenues.
These statements by Pentagon and Administration spokespersons reflect the quandary in which the Administration now finds itself, and they can’t seem to get their story straight. In the midst of problematic negotiations on a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, which the Administration appears to want to complete at all costs, the US is also allegedly backing Saudi Arabia with both intelligence and weapons in the fight against the Iran-backed Houthi. The American position in this conflict is far from clear.
One possibility not mentioned in any of the media is the possibility that the American presence is neither to stop the Iranian ships, nor to board them, but to keep the other countries’ naval officers from boarding them. The purpose of this mission would be to maintain our nuclear negotiations with Iran moving forward without the suggestion of our threatening them in another theater.
The situation in the region is extremely complicated and America’s mission there is uncertain. While appearing to support the Saudi position, the US has also provided intelligence to the Houthi, ostensibly to ward off threat of a resurgent AQAP. And while appearing to be a deterrent to Iranian arms delivery to the Houthis, the massive American presence on the scene may be, in fact, a deterrent to other ships whose mission is to board the Iranian cargo ships should they approach the port in Aden.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is existentially concerned about Iranian expansion of its hegemony into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, where Iranian Quds Force and Revolutionary Guard “consultants’ have been active in expanding their control. In Iraq, they have been training Shia militia in the war against the Islamic State.
In response to the Iranian threat, Saudi Arabia has undertaken action to subjugate the restive Shia majority in Bahrain, home port for the US Fifth Fleet, and in the oil rich Eastern Province with a large Shia population. The Saudis are spending billions to complete security fences on its northern and Southern borders, and the Kingdom has reportedly mobilized 150,000 troops for possible action in Yemen.
The situation is the Arabian Sea is fluid. The latest reports indicate that despite the strong words from Iran, their ships have now turned around and are heading back toward the Strait of Hormuz. At this writing, they are reported to be heading east in the Arabian Sea, south of Salalah, Oman.
Failed US Policy Less than a year ago, President Obama hailed Yemen as a foreign policy ‘success’ story in its drone campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But with the fall of Yemen’s capital Sana’a to Houthi forces and the flight of ousted President Hadi to Saudi Arabia, the vacuum in the country has been filled by open conflict between Sunni tribes loyal to AQAP, those units loyal to Hadi, and secessionist forces in Aden. America’s precipitous and humiliating departure from Yemen was more than proof that our policy had been anything but successful.
Effectively Yemen is a failed state. When the mobs attacked it, the US Embassy closed in panic, leaving 4,000 American citizens stranded in a country that was rapidly falling into chaos and bloody fighting. The US special operations contingent decamped to Camp Lemonnier across the Bab al Mandab at AFRICOM headquarters in Djibouti. The former US special ops Yemen bases were overrun and destroyed. Without local intelligence from within Yemen, the counterterrorism drone campaign against the AQAP was effectively been shut down.
The current game of chicken on the high seas in the Gulf of Aden is a dangerous one, not the least because it is difficult to understand what the end game is supposed to be. The problem now is that the Iranian Ayatollah and his Revolutionary Guards commanders may relish such a confrontation with the US, Saudi and Egyptian naval contingents to see who would blink first in the game of chicken. Some might consider the Iranian flotilla as a possible causus belli. After all the UN Security Council adopted a resolution barring the shipment of missiles into Yemen.
The dangerous confrontation seems, for the moment, to be averted. Iran’s ships have turned back, perhaps temporarily. We don’t know why, or what their long range game plan may bring.
The irony the Administration found itself in over the looming confrontation in the Gulf of Aden was that the US might have had to rely on the Saudis and the Egyptians, both of whom America had supplied weapons to, but over whom the US now has little to no control. The looming question is whether a satisfactory denouement with Iran would even be possible were Iran already a nuclear state.
That Iran is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons is no longer the question. All evidence points to this being the case, ongoing talks with P5+1 and the so-called 13 year ‘deal’ notwithstanding. Latest reports say that Iran is on the ‘nuclear threshold’ with less than three months before it has full nuclear weapons capability. The Iranian nuclear threshold concerns the Saudis, Gulf Emirates, Egypt, and Israel. Israel has not been diffident in the past about intercepting and boarding commercial vessels carrying illicit cargoes of missiles from Iran supplying proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.
In the game of chicken still being played out in the Arabian Sea, it remains to be seen whether the Obama Administration has the resolve to stare down this latest move by Iran, or is the President more than likely blink first?
Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst, specializing in Islamic and related sources of terrorism and their impact on the Western world. Jerry Gordon is a Senior Editor at the New English Review