The latest video from ISIS presented by John Cantlie

The actions of anyone held captive — especially someone being held by captors who have a habit of beheading their prisoners — are never acts of freewill. The “Lend me your ears” series of videos featuring the British journalist John Cantlie are no exception. Even so, I have my doubts about whether Cantlie is merely following a script.

The delivery of his message is a bit too natural, the language too fluent, and the message itself too plausible to simply view him as an instrument of ISIS propaganda. In the first video Cantlie said:

You’re thinking: “he’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner he’s got a gun at his head and he’s being forced to do this,” right? Well, it’s true.

I am a prisoner, that I cannot deny. But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hand of the Islamic State I have nothing to lose. Maybe I will live and maybe I will die, but I want to take this opportunity to convey some facts that you can verify, facts that if you contemplate might help in preserving lives.

Author? Co-author? Editor? To some extent we may never be able to determine, Cantlie seems to be using his own words — at least that’s my impression.

This is his latest video which includes quotes from former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer that come from here and here.

The New York Times reports:

A freelance journalist who has worked for The Sunday Times of London and The Telegraph, Mr. Cantlie was traveling with James Foley, an American reporter, when they were kidnapped on a Syrian road just 25 miles from the Turkish border on Nov. 22, 2012.

They were the first of nearly two dozen foreign hostages abducted over the next 14 months who ended up in the same jail in Raqqa, Syria, the capital of the Islamic State. They included 19 men and four women, and starting in March, the Europeans were released for ransoms averaging two million euros, or about $2.6 million, per captive, according to one former hostage.

Britain, like the United States, is one of the only countries that has held to a strict, zero-concessions policy, and by June, the only prisoners left in the jail on the outskirts of an oil installation in Raqqa were three British and four American citizens.

The U.S. and Britain have argued that their refusal to make concessions makes Britons and Americans less attractive targets for kidnapping, but that’s an argument that’s hardly likely to resonate with the remaining prisoners who for obvious reasons must feel that they have indeed been abandoned by their governments.

This is a transcript of the latest video:

“Hello there, I’m John Cantlie the British citizen abandoned by my government and a long term prisoner of the Islamic State.

In this programme we’ll see how the Western governments are hastily marching to all out war in Iraq and Syria without any heed for the recent past and how they are using the persuasive approach to lure the public back into the conflict.

So, let’s get straight to the point with a quote from former CIA chief turned vigorous anti-intervention campaigner Michael Scheuer:

“President Obama does not have the slightest intention of defeating the Islamic State” he says “which would require the aerial slaughter and boots-on-the-ground demolishing of the mujahedin”.

Michael Scheuer, whose knowledge of the Muslim nations and the complexities of their society is considerable, adds “18 years into our war with the Islamists, the US has given no public signs that it has the slightest awareness of what its enemies are fighting for”.

Now, there are two solid points here. The Obama administration is so perplexed as they march back into Iraq but they’re tap dancing around the issue in a “we’re getting involved but we’re not really getting involved” kind of way. You know, air strikes only, no troops on the ground, limited operation time, no mission creep. All those pre-combat agreements that tend to get forgotten after the first six months of the nasty tough stuff.

The pre-9/11 Afghans are already back in control of large areas of Afghanistan, while the full might of the American war machine couldn’t destroy the Islamic State in Iraq before.

So, now the State is far stronger than ever it was – what is this latest ill-advised foray really supposed to achieve?

And Scheuer’s second point is aptly made. As ever, the entire reason as to why we’re at war with the Islamists and what they’re fighting for is brilliantly avoided by all.

Senior US politicians seem content to call the Islamic State nasty names: awful, vile, a cancer, and insult to our values. But such petty insults don’t really do much harm to the most powerful Jihadist movement seen in recent history.

That the Western governments were caught napping by the sheer speed of the Islamic State’s growth is now a given. “Intelligence officials failed to anticipate the emergence of the Islamic State”, says Tom Keen, a former new jersey governor. “We certainly didn’t anticipate them going across the border into Iraq and declaring themselves a Caliphate.”

Obama and his allies were well and truly caught by surprise.

The president once called George Bush’s Iraq conflict “a done war” and couldn’t wait to distance America from it when he came into power. Now he’s being inexorably drawn back in, but he’s at pains to point out that this is not the equivalent of the Iraq war. Indeed, it’s far more complicated and prone to failure.

There is a newly elected pro-American/Iranian regime in Iraq. They await eagerly for further American intervention to strengthen the Iranian crescent in the Middle East.

But the appointment of a new puppet is an important piece of the puzzle in America’s “Gulf War III” as it allows them to get involved quickly via a proxy. Iraq’s leaders should know that “the United States will stand should-to-shoulder with Iraqi’s as they implement their national plan” gushed John Kerry on 9 September. Meaning our national plan to tackle the Islamic State.

Everyone now is getting involved: Denmark and France have sent air power; Britain is arming the Kurds; Iran is sending troops; contractors are being sought in Iraq; and even Bashar al-Assad, until earlier this year the most hated in villainised tyrant in the Arab world, is being approached for permission to enter Syria.

“Can the Islamic State be defeated without addressing that part of their organisation that resides in Syria?” asks General Martin Dempsey. The answer is no.

It’s all quite a circus. Air strikes, the creation of last minute puppet governments, advisory teams on the ground, wooing previous enemies to join in, and trans-border incursions into a country that has been in a state of civil war for three years. All the while completely underestimating the strength and fighting zeal of the opponent. Not since Vietnam have we witnessed such a potential mess in the making.

Current estimates of 15,000 troops needed to fight the Islamic State are laughably low. The State has more mujahedin than this. And this is not some undisciplined outfit with a few kalashnikovs.

We started with Michael Scheuer, so let’s give him the final word for now:

“Think what you will of the Islamists and their brand of war-making”, he says, “but they been in the field fighting since 1979 and their movement has never been larger, more popular, or as well armed as it is today”.

Join me again for the next programme.”


The root cause of extremism among British Muslims is alienation

Afua Hirsch writes: Britain has a problem with terrorism. Nothing focuses the mind more than the image of an apparently British man addressing the world in high definition as he brutally beheads a fellow Brit. But while the numbers of violent extremists are, by all accounts, relatively small, the issues underlying their reasons for turning towards terrorism are widespread.

I’ve been talking to young Muslims for a documentary on the root causes of extremism, and it’s clear there are a series of common complaints. Primarily, even though David Cameron may have said the killers of David Haines “are not Muslims, they are monsters”, young Muslims still have a profound and consistent sense of being demonised by society, and as creating a source of fear.

Further, many people still fail to distinguish between the different motivations for Brits travelling to the Middle East. It struck me how many young Muslims want to travel to Syria to help with the desperate humanitarian situation, or to join rebels trying to bring down President Assad – a goal that until recently was in line with Britain’s own foreign policy. However, the people I spoke to fully expected to be welcomed back to the UK by being arrested, slapped with a TPim and stripped of their passport.

For a passionate teenager, watching the suffering in Syria and believing that they are barred from contributing because of double standards driven by Islamophobia can create extreme feelings of alienation. And for those who are converted to extremism, there are usually other factors: contact with a seductive and effective hate preacher, indifference towards or a desire for violence, a sense of purposelessness – in some cases the same factors that attract young people to criminal gangs.

For a generation of non-Arabic speaking Muslims for whom the complexities of their faith can be lost in translation, recruiters from groups such as Islamic State (Isis) can play on this vulnerability. [Continue reading...]


5 reasons to be cheerful — even if you voted Yes for Scottish independence

Alex Andreou writes: Very few political issues have made me vacillate as much as the Scotland independence referendum. I started as an instinctive no, but by the end of the campaign significant strands of my thinking had moved so completely over to yes that I woke up this morning feeling both relieved and disappointed. There are, however, reasons to be universally cheerful, even for people who campaigned for and voted yes.

1. Hope is a vote-winner

Some have concluded that the result means that “fear works”. The truth is quite the opposite. Remember, this was supposed to be a cake-walk for the Better Together campaign. Instead, the government had to cobble together a contingency-plan in a panic two weeks ago. For a message of optimism to have narrowed the gap to that from 20 points a year ago is a tremendous victory. In fact, Better Together only pushed against that momentum when they themselves made positive promises for future devolution. It is a vision for the future, not fear, that ultimately worked.

2. Wider political engagement is possible

The unprecedented turnout of 85% – but also the astonishing sophistication of the debate at every level – means that the voting public are neither congenitally apathetic nor impenetrably thick, as the ruling classes would have us believe. Apathy results from the choices on offer being indistinguishable from each other and an electoral system where individual votes do not matter. [Continue reading...]


British Muslim leaders unite to call on ISIS to release Alan Henning

The Independent reports: Over one hundred Muslim leaders today make an unprecedented joint appeal to the kidnappers of Alan Henning to release the aid worker unharmed or commit the “worst condemnable sin” against Islam.

The joint statement to The Independent has been signed by dozens of Imams from across the UK as well as community leaders and other prominent Muslims. It has been passed on to Mr Henning’s family.

Among those signing the letter are representatives of all strands of Islam from Shia to Sunni to Salafi, Sufi, and Deobandi.

The Muslim Council of Britain an umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations including mosques, charities and schools is also a signatory. [Continue reading...]


Iran leader says U.S. anti-ISIS effort ‘pointless’

Bloomberg reports: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State is “pointless,” as members of the alliance met today to coordinate efforts against the militant group.

“Actions that were carried out in Iraq and broke the back of Islamic State were not the deed of Americans but those of the army and people of Iraq,” Khamenei said today in comments on his official website. He said the coalition is “pointless, superficial and has an agenda.”

While U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets helped Kurdish and government forces recapture some of the territory lost to the al-Qaeda breakaway group, Iranian-backed militias have also aided the fight against the Sunni extremists. [Continue reading...]

AFP reports: British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Monday urged Iran to cooperate with an international coalition to fight jihadists in Iraq even if Tehran did not join the group.

Hammond made the call in Paris after a major conference on Iraq as Iran refused to join an anti-jihadist coalition.

“It was always unlikely that Iran would become a fully-fledged member of the coalition but I think we should continue to hope that Iran will align itself broadly with the direction that the coalition is going,” Hammond told reporters.

He also said he hoped Iran would be “cooperative with the plans that the coalition is putting in place, if not actively a part of the coalition.” [Continue reading...]


England is dysfunctional, corrupt and vastly unequal. Why would Scotland want to be tied to such a country?

George Monbiot writes: Imagine the question posed the other way round. An independent nation is asked to decide whether to surrender its sovereignty to a larger union. It would be allowed a measure of autonomy, but key aspects of its governance would be handed to another nation. It would be used as a military base by the dominant power and yoked to an economy over which it had no control.

It would have to be bloody desperate. Only a nation in which the institutions of governance had collapsed, which had been ruined economically, which was threatened by invasion or civil war or famine might contemplate this drastic step. Most nations faced even with such catastrophes choose to retain their independence – in fact, will fight to preserve it – rather than surrender to a dominant foreign power.

So what would you say about a country that sacrificed its sovereignty without collapse or compulsion; that had no obvious enemies, a basically sound economy and a broadly functional democracy, yet chose to swap it for remote governance by the hereditary elite of another nation, beholden to a corrupt financial centre?

What would you say about a country that exchanged an economy based on enterprise and distribution for one based on speculation and rent? That chose obeisance to a government that spies on its own citizens, uses the planet as its dustbin, governs on behalf of a transnational elite that owes loyalty to no nation, cedes public services to corporations, forces terminally ill people to work and can’t be trusted with a box of fireworks, let alone a fleet of nuclear submarines? You would conclude that it had lost its senses. [Continue reading...]


Disillusioned British jihadists seek amnesty

The Times reports: Dozens of British jihadists have become so disillusioned with fighting in Syria that they have contacted Britain begging to come home.

One jihadist, claiming to represent 30 Britons, approached an intermediary to complain of growing despondency among the men in his group. They had gone to fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but were instead engaged primarily in fierce combat with rival rebel groups, he said.

The man contacted researchers from the International Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London in the past two weeks. He effectively sought amnesty, saying the group feared long prison terms but would be willing to enrol on a deradicalisation program and submit to surveillance.

The militants are from a group affiliated with Islamic State. More than 500 British citizens are believed to have travelled to the region since 2011. Most have joined Islamic State.

The British man told researchers: “We came to fight the regime and instead we are involved in gang warfare. It’s not what we came for, but if we go back we will go to jail.

“Right now we are being forced to fight — what option do we have?”

Shiraz Maher, who runs a research unit at ICSR that is in intermittent contact with about 50 British jihadists, said the man regretted being involved in the conflict. [Continue reading...]


Leading British Muslims issue fatwa condemning ISIS

The Sunday Times reports: Some of Britain’s most influential imams have condemned British Muslims fighting alongside Isis extremists in Iraq and Syria.

They have issued a fatwa, or religious decree, describing them as “heretics”.

The fatwa ”religiously prohibits” would-be British jihadists from joining “oppressive and tyrannical” Isis, also known as Islamic State. The imams order all Muslims to oppose Isis’s “poisonous ideology” , especially when it is promoted within Britain.

The fatwa, the first of its kind issued by British Muslim scholars, follows the elevation of Britain’s terror threat from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.

Senior officials revealed last night that the prime minister would announce plans tomorrow for laws to prevent British jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria from re-entering Britain. Passports of UK citizens suspected of terrorist activity will be cancelled.

The fatwa has been issued after criticism that British Muslim leaders have not done enough to condemn aspiring jihadists who have travelled to fight for Isis, or those supporting its ideology in the UK.

It says Muslims have a “moral obligation” to help the Syrian and Iraqi people but “without betraying their own societies”.

It says: “British and other EU citizens are bound by their duties to their home countries according to Islamic theology and jurisprudence: it is therefore prohibited (haram) to travel to fight with any side in Syria.” The fatwa was written by Sheik Usama Hasan, a former imam at the Masjid Al-Tawhid Mosque in east London.

Six senior Islamic scholars from Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester and London have endorsed it. [Continue reading...]


Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings be upon His final messenger Muhammad.

Due to recent events in the Middle East and their impact on some people in Britain, we as imams and scholars based in the UK, would like to issue the following clarifications in the form of a fatwa:

1. There is no doubt that President Assad’s regime in Syria is oppressive, unjust and brutal, and has committed numerous atrocities against its own people.

2. The same is true of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) or self-styled “Caliphate,” formerly known as “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”: it is an oppressive and tyrannical group.

3. By murdering prisoners of war, journalists and civilians, including mosque imams who refused to endorse their campaign, and by enslaving the women and children of their opponents, ISIS has violated international agreements such as the Geneva Conventions and conventions on slavery that everyone, including Muslims, have signed up to. God says in the Qur’an, “Believers, fulfil your covenants!” (5:1)

4. The IS persecution and massacres of Shia Muslims, Christians and Yazidis is abhorrent and opposed to Islamic teachings and the Islamic tolerance displayed by great empires such as the Mughals and Ottomans.

5. Based on all of the above: IS is a heretical, extremist organisation and it is religiously prohibited (haram) to support or join it; furthermore, it is an obligation on British Muslims to actively oppose its poisonous ideology, especially when this is promoted within Britain.

6. British and other EU citizens are bound by their duties to their home countries according to Islamic theology and jurisprudence: it is therefore prohibited (haram) to travel to fight with any side in Syria, including non-state actors, since this is forbidden by laws in EU countries.

7. It is a moral obligation upon British Muslims to help the Syrian and Iraqi people without betraying their own societies: “If they ask for your help in religion, you must help, except against a people with whom you have a treaty.” (Qur’an 8:72)


Britain ‘deplores’ Israel decision to seize West Bank land

Reuters reports: The British government said on Monday it deplored an Israeli decision to appropriate a large swathe of land inside the occupied West Bank, saying the move would seriously damage Israel’s international reputation.

On Sunday, Israel announced the appropriation of land in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem, a move which an anti-settlement group said was the biggest such claim in 30 years.

“The UK deplores the Israeli government’s expropriation of 988 acres (1.54 square miles) of land around the settlement of Etzion,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement which echoed U.S. calls to reverse the decision.

“This is a particularly ill-judged decision that comes at a time when the priority must be to build on the ceasefire in Gaza. It will do serious damage to Israel’s standing in the international community.”

Some 500,000 Israelis live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Middle East war.


Treating all foreign fighters as terrorists risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy

Shiraz Maher writes: In yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, [Mayor of London] Boris Johnson proposed that all the British fighters in Syria should be presumed guilty unless proven innocent. Based on our extensive research and contacts with Western foreign fighters that are currently in Syria and Iraq, this is a dangerous and counterproductive proposal that would increase – rather than diminish – the terrorist threat to our country.

For the last 18 months our research unit at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London has been conducting interviews with foreign fighters. We now maintain a database of more than 450 fighters currently in Syria and Iraq.

Their motivations for travelling to Syria are diverse, and it is wrong to think of them as a homogenous group. Some of them will pose a significant national security threat, and some will turn to international terrorism. For them, there must be a strong punitive approach, involving arrest and prosecution.

But tougher laws and blanket punishment shouldn’t be the only approach.

The only authoritative study of the issue, based on nearly one thousand jihadist returnees from previous conflicts showed that one in nine former fighters subsequently became involved in terrorist activity. This does leave a majority who do not wish to become involved with terrorism, for whatever reason. In many cases they are disillusioned, psychologically disturbed, or just tired.

While it is the most ideological, vicious and bloodthirsty fighters who attract the headlines, many have found the reality to be far different from what they were led to believe. “We were pumped up with propaganda,” a foreign fighter, Abu Mohammed (not his real name) told us yesterday.

Abu Mohammed has explained that he, along with scores of other British fighters wants to return to the UK. When he first travelled out there, he said “it was all focused on Assad,” he said. “But now it’s just Muslims fighting Muslims. We didn’t come here for this.” [Continue reading...]


More opposition to ISIS among Gazans than Europeans

Max Fisher writes: 85 percent of polled Gazans said they oppose ISIS. That’s awfully high, especially considering that Europeans were much less likely to say they held an unfavorable view of the group:

Though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been arguing that ISIS is indistinguishable from Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza (he is wrong for a number of reasons), it turns out that at least Palestinians in Gaza see a strong distinction. While the Gaza poll did not ask for Hamas approval/disapproval, it did return favorable-sounding results on two questions: “Was the Palestinian resistance prepared for this aggression [by Israel against Gaza],” to which 58 percent said yes; and “do you support disarming the Palestinian resistance,” to which 93 percent said no and 3 percent said yes.

Again, Gazans and Europeans were asked slightly different questions by different polling agencies, but it is still awfully striking that more Gazans gave the anti-ISIS response than did Western Europeans.


MI5 zeroes in on James Foley’s murderer

“I remember when I was young, I had big dreams, I wasn’t just your usual thug…”

This is a line from the British rapper “L Jinny” singing “Dreamer.” His real name is Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a young Londoner who has emerged as one of the leading suspects in the murder of James Foley.

The Daily Mail reports: Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 23, is a former musician whose music has been played on BBC Radio 1.

For more than a decade he lived with his mother Ragaa in a £1million house in Maida Vale, West London, which is owned by Westminster Council.

He walked out of the family home in 2013 to fight in Syria, saying that he was ‘leaving everything for the sake of Allah’.

He later boasted online about the battles he had fought.

Friends said Bary – an aspiring rapper on the ‘grime’ music scene – grew increasingly radical and violent after mixing with thugs linked to hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

Bary is one of six children of Egyptian militant Adel Abdul Bary, who was granted political asylum in the UK in 1993.

In 2012 he was extradited to the US, where he was wanted in connection to the 1998 United States embassy bombings in East Africa which killed hundreds of people.

The Independent adds: He came to national attention earlier this year, when he posted a picture of himself holding a severed head on Twitter after resurfacing in Syria.

The gruesome picture, believed to have been taken in the Isis stronghold of Raqqa, was captioned: “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him.”


Britain ‘will not work with Assad’ to combat ISIS

AFP reports: Britain will not work with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to combat Islamic State (IS) fighters in the country and his permission would not be needed for any military intervention, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Friday.

Hammond also said Britain had no plans to arm moderate fighters in Syria’s civil war, and insisted that Western troops on the ground in Iraq would only make the situation worse.

Responding to comments made by former army chief Richard Dannatt, who argued that Britain should consider some kind of alliance with Assad, Hammond warned that it would deepen sectarian rifts in the region.

“We may very well find that we are fighting, on some occasions, the same people that he is but that doesn’t make us his ally,” Hammond told BBC radio.

“One of the first things you learn in the Middle East is that my enemy’s enemy is not necessarily my friend.

“It would poison what we are trying to achieve in separating moderate Sunni opinion from the poisonous ideology of IS,” he added. [Continue reading...]


James Foley: U.S. and U.K. try to identify ISIS militant with British accent

The Guardian reports: Prof Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, said the militant was chosen to front the video to cause maximum impact in the west. “This is significant because it signifies a turn towards threatening the west. They are saying we’re going to come after you if you bomb us,” he said.

Neumann said British fighters had been carrying out “horrific acts” like beheadings, torture and executions for a year and a half, but this appeared to be the first with a western victim. He added: “They clearly wanted someone who spoke fluent English because they wanted it to create maximum impact, especially in the US, and because there are not that many Americans it was probably the best second option. They want this to have maximum impact on the west and for parts of it to be streamed on American television networks they needed an English speaker, so it was more about the English language than the nationality.

“It’s not significant that British fighters have been beheading and torturing because that’s been happening for a year and a half. That sort of horrific stuff is something British jihadis have been doing for some time. You will find a number of instances of British jihadis executing, torturing and beheading other people – and we know it’s not just Brits but other Europeans doing it – and occasionally this has come to the surface. Most people beheaded before were not westerners so that’s why this is different. The significant thing is that this was an American and was connected to a direct message that ‘we are targeting you’.”

Leading figures in the counter-terrorism field said it would be possible for intelligence services to identify the militant, despite it being filmed in an unknown location with the fighter dressed head to toe in black. Dr Claire Hardaker, a linguistics experts at Lancaster University, studied the clip and said the man’s vowels marked him out as likely from the south-east of England, but most likely from London. “We’re definitely looking at a British accent, from the south and probably from London, Kent or Essex. He does something interesting when he says ‘Muslims’. You typically get ‘Muzlims’ but he says something closer to ‘Musslims’.”

Dr Afzal Ashraf, of the Royal United Services Institute, said many of the estimated 500 British fighters in Syria and Iraq had left criminal pasts in the UK so were likely to be known to police. Intelligence agencies would also be using linguistics technology to track down the man, he said. [Continue reading...]


Nun removes ‘jihadi’ flag from gates of East London housing estate

The London Evening Standard reports: A nun has taken down a black flag similar to those flown by jihadist fighters in Iraq and Syria after it was spotted flying at the gates of an east London housing estate.

The controversial flag sparked outrage after it was pictured flying above the Will Crooks estate in Tower Hamlets, alongside a number of Palestinian flags and slogans in support of Gaza.

But when council officers went to the site, in Poplar High Street, they were told the flag had been removed by Sister Christine Frost, a Roman Catholic nun who runs a charity supporting vulnerable residents in the area.

A spokesman said: “The council can confirm that following reports this morning of a flag erected on the Will Crooks Estate, council officials took steps to remove it but found it had already been taken down by Sister Christine Frost, a well-known local activist and promoter of community cohesion.

“The flag was removed following concerns that it could cause community tension.”

Sister Christine is believed to have gone on a day-trip to Clacton-on-Sea today after taking the flag down overnight. A source said she may have travelled to the seaside with the youths who had erected the flag.


The CIA must tell the truth about my rendition at 12 years old

Khadija al-Saadi writes: Two very different flights landed at Mitiga military airport in Libya just over a decade ago. The first was organized by the CIA and MI6. On board were a family of six surrounded by guards, the frightened children separated from their parents, the father chained to a seat in a rear compartment with a needle stuck in his arm. The second flight, only a couple of days later, carried Tony Blair in comfort, on his way to shake hands and do business with Colonel Gaddafi.

I know about the first flight, because I was one of the children. I know about the chains and the needle because Sami al-Saadi — a long-time political opponent of Colonel Gaddafi — is my father and I saw him in that state. I was 12 years old, and was trying to keep my younger brothers and my six year-old sister calm. The guards took us to see our mother once on the 16-hour flight. She was crying, and told us that we were being taken to Gaddafi’s Libya. Shortly before the plane landed, a guard told me to say goodbye to my father, at the front of the plane. I forced myself ahead and saw him with a needle in his arm. I remember guards laughing at me. Then I fainted.

We were taken off the plane and bundled into cars. Hoods were pulled over my parents’ heads. Libyans forced my mother, sister and I into one car, my brothers and father another. The convoy drove to a secret prison outside Tripoli, where I was certain we were all going to be executed. All I knew about Libya at that time was that Colonel Gaddafi wanted to hurt my father, and that our family had always been moving from country to country to avoid being taken to him. Now we had been kidnapped, flown to Libya, and his people had us at their mercy. [Continue reading...]


UK Tory campaign chief tells Cameron to ‘ignore Muslims’ reports: David Cameron should ignore Muslim voters at the next general election, the Conservatives’ election chief has reportedly told him.

Lynton Crosby believes the prime minister has nothing to gain from taking a harder line against Israel, because the Muslim vote will not be “decisive” in 2015.

“Lynton says there are hardly any of our marginal seats where the Muslim vote will be a decisive factor” a senior Tory told the Times.

A Conservative spokesperson today denied that any such conversation with Crosby had ever taken place.

However, this is not the first time that he has been reported to have made similar comments.

In 2012 Crosby reportedly told Boris Johnson to ignore “the fucking Muslims” in his attempt to be re-elected as London Mayor.

“Lynton’s view was that chasing the Muslim vote and other ethnic groups was a waste of time,” a campaign source told the Daily Mail.


Baroness Warsi: Why I quit over #Gaza