Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lone Nuts In a Tux


By Russ Baker

Small, bad things seem to (almost) happen to Obama; they get little sustained attention from reporters or the public. But there’s something odd about them, and they’re worrisome for the White House. Of course, the corporate media will dismiss it as nothing at all. Yet there’s a disturbing military/security thread running through it all—and as we approach the 50th anniversary of JFK’s demise, we’d be smart to err on the side of caution.

Here’s a crazy story that has gotten little attention in the United States: During Barack Obama’s recent visit to Canberra, the Australian capital, a reporter happened upon a classified booklet containing security information about the presidential trip.
The highly sensitive booklet was…lying in a gutter.

What in the world can that be about?

We’ll come back to that in a bit, but first, let’s consider how a political leader such as Obama would react to such an incident, which was reported in an Australian newspaper.

In all probability, he would assume it was the result of spectacular carelessness. These cases surface from time to time, as when a scientist leaves top secret papers in the back seat of a taxi cab. But, knowing the complex machinations of the political and spook worlds, it would be understandable if, for a brief second, Obama might at least contemplate the possibility that such a “blunder” could be deliberate.

And he would realize that if it were deliberate, someone would either be trying to cause him harm, or to send a message of some sort.

A host of ill-fated leaders—from the early 20th century Mexican President Venustiano Carranza to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat—learned too late that their own security forces were fully capable of betraying their masters. Indeed, history is replete with examples of treachery.

When it comes to the safety of US presidents, the line between reckless accidents and deliberate acts is not so clear. In the case of John F. Kennedy, the stunning inadequacy of Secret Service protective measures on November 22, 1963 have been the subject of broad speculation and debate for half a century.

Apparently, this was not the result of a one-day lapse. In his book, The Echo From Dealey Plaza, former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden reveals not only the reckless behavior of his fellow agents charged with protecting Kennedy—but also their personal animosity toward the president and the policies he implemented.


When it comes to Obama, he’s got other reasons to feel nervous. American tradition has it that lone nuts are always lurking, ready to go to great lengths to make a name for themselves. While Obama was away in Australia, bullets struck the White House near the residential quarters. A man was arrested and charged with attempting to assassinate the president. He was, of course, characterized as yet another lone nut. But not so obviously disturbed that people had previously noticed. As the New York Times reported: People here say that the only thing that could have motivated Mr. Ortega was mental illness — but that they did not realize the severity of it until it was too late.

The defendant, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, is described by The Times as having started acting very, very strange only recently: The family reported Mr. Ortega missing on Oct. 31, eight days after he left on what he said was a vacation to Utah; instead, it was a trip to the East Coast. His family never heard from him, and still has not.

Family members and others said that while Mr. Ortega was behaving increasingly strangely — he read a 45-minute speech at his 21st birthday party in October that veered from supporting marijuana legalization to detailing the threat of secret societies to expressing frustration with American foreign policy in oil-producing countries — he never seemed violent.

A bit later, The Times quotes an expert on Ortega’s new ailment: Mr. Ortega’s behavior and the age at which it appears to have begun to suggest that he has “a textbook case” of schizophrenia, said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, who researches the disease and is the founder of theTreatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Va.

Dr. Torrey recalled working at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, a psychiatric treatment center, in the 1970s and 1980s.

“These folks often end up in Washington as what we used to call ‘White House cases,’ ” he said. “A White House case classically is someone who comes to the guard at the White House and says they have a special message for the president, or they try to go over the wall. We’ve seen dozens. They almost always have paranoid schizophrenia, and they almost always respond to medication.” Among the patients being treated there is John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Hinckley, it should be noted, was the son of close friends of Vice President George H.W. Bush, who would have become president if Reagan had died. When one considers that Bush and Reagan had just been rivals for the Republican nomination the previous year, the Hinckley-Bush connection was just too weird to even contemplate. So, the media by and large did not mention it, and certainly did not explore it.

Another person who suddenly became mentally ill was a fellow named George de Mohrenschildt. I devote a chapter to him in my book, Family of Secrets. Like Hinckley, he was a longtime friend of the Bush family. De Mohrenschildt had, coincidentally, been a close friend of the former marine, Lee Harvey Oswald, another “deranged loner.” In 1976, de Mohrenschildt had written a letter to then CIA director George Bush, saying that he believed that some unknown parties, possibly FBI, were following him and tapping his phone, perhaps because of some things he was trying to write about Oswald. Bush wrote back that he had nothing to worry about. Shortly thereafter, de Mohrenschildt was forcibly treated for a period in a psychiatric institution—and within a year, he was dead, from what police said was a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.

Coincidentally, 1976 was in the period in which Congress was holding hearings on terrifying covert CIA experiments, including using LSD on unsuspecting citizens as part of tests on mind control—the so-called MKULTRA program. (For more on mind control experiments on unwitting and unwilling subjects, see ourarticle on MKULTRA.)
It would be revealed that the CIA had effectively partnered with various hospitals in the research.

Now back to Dr. Torrey, the psychiatrist who told The Times that the recent White House shooter was likely schizophrenic. The following is from a Wikipedia entry on him:
He has been criticized by a range of people, including federal researchers and others for some of his attacks on de-institutionalization and his support for forced medication as a method of treatment. He has also been described as having a black-and-white view of mental illness and as being iconoclastic,dogmatic, single-minded and a renegade.
It’s worth taking a look at St Elizabeth’s where Dr. Torrey once worked, and where Hinckley is being treated. It came under criticism in an investigation by the Justice Department for a wide variety of practices.

St Elizabeth’s is especially interesting for its strong connections to the military, intelligence agencies, and historical association with mind control experiments. Its director in the 1940s, Winfred Overholser, headed a “Truth Drug Committee” and oversaw extensive testing of mind-altering substances in association with the intelligence services. One goal was to see if false personalities could be imposed on victims to make them susceptible to commands. Such cooperation between St. Elizabeth’s and the government continued over the years. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is converting much of St Elizabeth’s “campus”— which is only now partially used by the hospital—as its new headquarters. (For more on St. Elizabeth’s and its role in mind control and “personality profiling,” see the book Search for the Manchurian Candidate, by John Marks.)

It is therefore interesting to note that the person the New York Times quoted identifying the White House shooter as a lone nut, Dr. Torrey, was himself associated for nine years with a hospital historically involved with experiments on the ability to make people do things they might not otherwise do. Dr. Torrey is an advocate of involuntary treatment and critics have contended for years that he exaggerates the threat that mentally unstable people represent for the rest of us.

The fact that Dr. Torrey’s own privately funded institute is in Arlington, near the Pentagon, brings to mind another fellow who seemed fine and then became increasingly deranged in recent years: Jared Lee Loughner, the young man who opened fire at a political event in Tucson earlier this year, killing several, including a federal judge, and badly wounding Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Loughner, like Ortega, is described as having listened to “conspiracy” type radio shows. Loughner had apparently tried to enlist in the military but been rejected. We never did see any releases of military files on the exact nature of his interactions with the Army that resulted in his rejection—or whether those grounds would have drawn interest of the authorities. Such disclosure is of course crucial in public assessment of the particulars behind such seemingly demented people involved in politically destabilizing events.


The military angle brings to mind yet another event that shook up Obama and gave him a reason to worry about his safety and the quality of the protection he’s given.
In a well-known incident in 2009, shortly after he took office, a couple managed to get into a White House state dinner without an invitation, and got so close to Obama they were able to get their picture taken with him. Michaele and Tareq Salahi were characterized as essentially harmless publicity hounds, but Obama took the breach seriously.

As the Washington Post reported at the time: On the eve of the president’s major speech on Afghanistan policy, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday was inundated by reporters’ questions about the Salahis and the security breach at the state dinner.

“Look, the reason there’s an investigation is the president and the White House has asked for that to happen,” Gibbs told reporters…. “So I think, suffice to say, the president is rightly concerned about what happened last week.”

So were others. Here’s ABC News’s website, at the time: “What concerns me the most is that someone was able to walk in off the street to a White House event, without the proper credentials, without the proper vetting, and get next to the president,” said Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The Secret Service, red-faced, later apologized for sloppy procedures that enabled the couple to pass through two checkpoints.

Curiously, there were again military connections—two of them. For one thing, the Salahis had been encouraged via e-mails to believe they might gain access to the White House by Michele S. Jones, special assistant to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates—and Pentagon liaison to the White House

As reported by the Washington Post: The e-mails apparently do not contradict that version of events, but are described as having given the Salahis the confidence to get dressed up, mingle with some of the most powerful Washington players and post snapshots of their presence at the party on their Facebook page

The e-mail exchange is said to include assurances from Jones that she was trying to score an official invitation, complete with seats at the dinner, for the couple. By the time they arrived in line, the couple believed that Jones had succeeded in getting them approved only for the cocktail reception and a handshake with the president, sources said.
Jones presumably had pull with the White House. A high-ranking African-American military backer of Obama, she’d delivered a speech on his behalf at the 2008 Democratic convention. How she came to be hired as Gates’s special assistant is not clear. It’s an intriguing issue—as is the very fact that Obama had asked Gates, who served as George W. Bush’s defense secretary, to stay on as his. Gates had a long track record as a Bush family retainer, serving as CIA director under George HW Bush and then as chief of the elder Bush’s presidential library in College Station, Texas; he also served on corporate boards with Bush connections.

Why did Gates’s assistant even know the Salahis? She declined to say. As the Post reported: …Asked how she knows the Salahis and why she would have tried to get them into the White House, she said: “I am not going to say anything at this point at all. In fact, I am going to terminate the call right now because I am not sure what in the world is going on here.”

As for the Salahis, they too have clammed up. Appearing before the Committee on Homeland Security, Tareq Salahi read a statement: “We reiterate that, on advice of counsel, we respectfully invoke our right to remain silent and will decline to answer any questions surrounding the circumstances around the events of November 24, 2009.”
Yet another curious military element must be mentioned, for it surely crossed Obama’s mind when he learned that the security breach had been enabled via the Pentagon. At the time of the state dinner, Obama had been embroiled in a vicious secret battle with the military over Afghanistan policy. I wrote about the battle, which was characterized in part by leaks to the Pentagon’s favorite journalist Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, here and here and here. Obama was in the process of a review of Afghan policy that the military feared would result in a withdrawal from that country. (Eventually, Obama’s hand would be forced, and not only would he not remove troops—he would actually approve a substantial increase in the boots on the ground.)

As the Post reported in October, 2009:The Obama administration’s plan to conduct a strategic review of the war in December has touched off maneuvering between U.S. military leaders seeking support for extending the American troop buildup and skeptics looking for arguments to wind down the nation’s role.

What was at stake in Afghanistan? Besides the publicly argued issues about the Taliban’s brutality and tolerance of Al Qaeda, Afghanistan has become a crucial profit center for military contracting industries in the United States. As interesting, however, is the revelation that Afghanistan harbors nearly a trillion dollarsin untapped mineral deposits. The New York Times reported that estimate in a 2010 article claiming the Pentagon had just discovered this information.

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion….

..American officials…recognize that the mineral discoveries will almost certainly have a double-edged impact. Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country….

At the same time, American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth…The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency…..

So let’s review what happened here. Just as the president was under severe pressure not to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, an aide to Gates [perhaps inadvertently] creates a security scare for Obama. This all may be coincidental, and probably is, but the facts stand. Obviously, if Obama was “rightly concerned” and personally asked for an investigation that means he thought there was more going on than just a screw-up on an invitation.

It’s important to note that it was only after Obama folded to the military pressure, in other words, after the die was cast in Afghanistan, that the military leaked a story about the tremendous mineral wealth lying underneath that country. Suddenly, although public support for keeping American troops in Afghanistan was declining, there was a new “realistic” reason to retain a U.S. presence. ,. Again, all this was perhaps only coincidental, but leaks are carefully calculated for intended purposes—and as students of the so-called “Deep State” know, not even the participants in a leak may fully understand deeper intents behind acts in which they are asked to participate.

Creepily, the Salahis’ uninvited entry into the White House was not their first effort to get close to Obama. Four weeks before crashing the state dinner, they crashed a Congressional Black Caucus event at which Obama appeared. Surely not lost on Obama was the poetic touch that Tareq Salahi, a Palestinian, entered the event through the kitchen, as the lone nut Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan also did prior to purportedly shooting Robert Kennedy. (Sirhan’s guilt, like that of Lee Harvey Oswald, is the subject of intense ongoing controversy—and his attorneys have recently presented a federal court with reports from experts contending that Sirhan was programmed by hypnosis to create diversionary gunfire to mask the actual killer.)

The Salahis, it must be emphasized, are not just some goofy types. They were long on people’s radar as folks who would go for any cozying gambit –and a couple with powerful friends. One was the person who played some kind of role in encouraging the idea that they might hope to attend a White House gathering: Michele S. Jones.

It’s hard to figure out why Defense Secretary Gates gave Jones the job of special assistant and Pentagon liaison to the White House.What we do know is that Gates was perhaps the military-industrial-oil complex’s chief person keeping an eye on Obama. Gates had been CIA director under George HW Bush and later was in charge of the elder Bush’s library and papers, before becoming Defense Secretary to both George W. Bush and Democrat Obama. That Gates’s special assistant had some kind of hand in introducing this security risk to the president deserves scrutiny.

Jones, who was public in her support of Obama’s candidacy (and even made a speech for him at the 2008 convention), is African American, as is the Salahis’ lawyer, Paul W. Gardner II. Gardner has donated several times to Hillary Clinton—but, notably, not to Obama. Jones was a Facebook friend of Gardner’s, though it is not clear how she knew him, or exactly how or why he served as a link to her.

A few months before the scandal, Jones was guest of honor at a DC event the Salahis hosted called America’s Polo Cup. In her remarks to the crowd, she declared, somewhat obscurely, “This game is a true reflection of the relationship we have around the world.”
What exactly did Jones do to make the Salahis imagine they could get into the White House?

In relating their email exchanges on the day of the state dinner, ABC reported:
In the last email from Jones, sent at 8:46 a.m., Nov. 24, she said she still had not gotten them tickets.

“The arrival ceremony (was scheduled to be outdoors) was canceled due to inclement weather,” Jones’ email said. “They are having a very small one inside the WH, very limited space. I am still working on tickets for tonight’s dinner. I will call or e-mail as soon as I get word one way or another.”

So, was their gate-crashing a simple misunderstanding, easily explained? As noted above, the Salahis, who might be able to clarify matters, refused, “on advice of counsel, …to answer any questions surrounding the circumstances around the events of November 24, 2009.”

Meanwhile, we can find no further mention of the grand jury investigation that was once said to be underway. . As for Pentagon official Jones, a story asserted that she had padded her resume prior to joining Gates’s staff by claiming employment with a non-existent entity. That story got little attention, though it raised a host of interesting questions.
A year after the Salahi incident, the Pentagon quietly reassigned Jones, moving her from Gates’s office to a lower-ranked post.

It is against this murky, suggestive backdrop that we must consider both the recent shooting into the White House—and the fact that someone dumped confidential documents relating to Obama’s security into a Canberra gutter.

As reported by the Australian newspaper The Age, A CLASSIFIED booklet containing President Barack Obama’s Australian schedule down to the minute, as well as details of his security convoy and the mobile phone numbers of dozens of senior US and Australian officials, was found by The Age on a Canberra street yesterday morning. The booklet, Overall Program and Orders of Arrangements, for Mr Obama’s visit, was found by this reporter in a gutter about 100 metres from the front entrance to Parliament.

I asked Bolden, the ex-presidential security man turned critic and author, about these events and his former employer, the Secret Service. He replied: “It shows a pattern that they haven’t changed much since 1961—there’s still laxity and carelessness. I see a pattern of…disturbing negligence within the organization that needs to be looked into. They have much more training now, a much larger organization now than in 1961, so you would think they would become more professional. I see them relying more on the armoring [of vehicles], but I don’t any more sophistication in the protection or the attitude since the assassination of President Kennedy.”

As noted earlier, ties between security services and either overt participation or willful ignorance of mortal threats to politicians is not unheard-of. A recent example is the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Even in modernized Western democracies like Sweden and France, elements in the military or intelligence services have been widely suspected of, at minimum, covering up the true sponsorship of assassination plots.

In the United States, key institutions, in particular academia and the media, rigorously maintain the position that it could not happen here. A search of the Nexis-Lexis database of articles from principally American media sources turns up more than 3000 articles that include the term “assassination” and “conspiracy theory” (or some variation.) Deaths of politicians, witnesses and whistleblowers in small airplane crashes, suicides and other conflagrations are automatically toted up to the “accident” category.

Few politicians, however, believe that. And as I documented extensively in my book Family of Secrets,presidents either play ball with the national security state or bad things happen to them (see specifics on the downing, physically or otherwise, of Kennedy, Nixon, and Carter, and warnings from Ike and Truman that the security complex was badly out of control.)

At a minimum, American presidents’ very real awareness of their fragile position and safety risks probably explain in part the lack of bold, dramatic action against perceived power centers, be it the military, the intelligence establishment, or the financial, industrial and resource extraction interests that ultimately shape American policy.

This is scary stuff. The easy, and default position for the establishment—from the media to academia—is to pooh-pooh such concerns and to paint those who raise them as fantasists or worse. But then, that’s why they call it the establishment. It has no incentive to dig into these matters. And plenty of disincentives.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lebanon Sheikh Killed by Gadhafi

Lebanon Shiite leader was 'liquidated' in Libya
(AFP) – 7 hours ago

BENGHAZI, Libya — Revered Lebanese spiritual leader Musa Sadr, who went missing in Libya in 1978, was "liquidated" at the time, a former aide to Moamer Kadhafi said Wednesday.

The fate of the Iranian-born Shiite cleric has been unknown since he vanished during a trip to Libya aimed at negotiating an end to Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

Ahmed Ramadan, one of the most influential people in Kadhafi's entourage, said Wednesday on Al-Aan television that Sadr disappeared following a meeting with the late Libyan dictator soon after arriving in Tripoli.

"I bear witness that (Sadr) came... he arrived in Libya," Ramadan said on the Dubai-based channel, adding the meeting had lasted for two and a half hours.

Two officials then "took the guests," including the cleric and those who accompanied him, and "100 percent, what we heard is that he was liquidated," said Ramadan.

Ramadan said it was "possible" that Kadhafi had given the orders for Sadr to be killed because after the meeting, "He said: 'Take him'."

He said he received the information from "some sources at the time" as well as from one of the three officials involved who had since died, and that his statements could be corroborated by "complete files."

The remains of the cleric, who would have been 83 in April, were likely to be located in either Janzur, a suburb east of Tripoli, or the southern region of Sabha, he said.

Officially invited to Libya, he arrived there on August 25, 1978, with two companions Sheikh Mohammed Yacoub and journalist Abbas Badreddin. They were seen for the last time on August 31, 1978.

His disappearance had been a source of tension between Lebanon and the Kadhafi regime, which always maintained that the cleric had left Libya for Italy.

According to an indictment against Kadhafi issued by Lebanese authorities, Kadhafi ordered Sadr to be "taken away" after the pair got into a heated argument.

Abdel Moneim al-Honi, a former colonel who took part in the 1969 coup that brought Kadhafi to power, revealed in February that Kadhafi had ordered Sadr killed during his visit and that the cleric was buried in the southern region of Sabha.

Kadhafi was killed in his hometown of Sirte on October 20 after an eight-month armed rebellion inspired by a wave of pro-democracy protests that swept the Arab world.

Assassination Backlash

Assassination Backlash

By Andrew Cockburn, Los Angeles Times
06 November 11
It's been a banner year for targeted killings, but are they an effective way to fight terrorism?

There is no denying that 2011 has been a banner year for taxpayer-funded assassinations - Osama bin Laden, Anwar Awlaki, five senior Pakistani Taliban commanders in October and many more. Given the crucial US backup role in Libya, and the ringing exhortation for the Libyan leader's death issued by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton just before the event itself, we can probably take a lot of credit for Moammar Kadafi's messy end too.

Once upon a time, US officials used to claim that we were merely targeting "command and control centers," rather than specific individuals, as in the hunt for Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Persian Gulf War or the raid on Kadafi in 1986. Nowadays no one bothers to pretend. Successful assassination missions, whether by elite special forces or remote-controlled drones, are openly celebrated.

Clearly, the sentiment prevalent among our leaders is that eliminating particular enemy leaders is bound to have a beneficial effect. Thus in our recent wars, the US has made the pursuit of "high-value targets," the principal objective of so-called human network attacks, a priority. "The platoon's mission is to kill or capture HVTs," recalled Matt Cook, a sergeant in the 101st Airborne based in northern Iraq in 2005. "That is all we do."

By 2008, according to a US Strategic Command study, our military was simultaneously engaged in no fewer than 285 human network attack programs.

So, now that assassination is an official tool of US foreign policy, along with trade embargoes and overseas aid, it is surely time for an open debate on whether it is indeed effective. Surprisingly for some, evidence based on hard numbers demonstrates unequivocally that the answer is no.

The numbers are derived from a study conducted in Iraq during the "surge" campaign of 2007-08 that enabled the US to declare victory and wind down the war. Key to the surge was an intensive and ruthless hunt for key individuals in the "IED networks" that were organizing homemade bomb attacks against US troops. Cause and effect - more dead network leaders leading to fewer bombs - seemed so self-evidently obvious that nobody bothered to check.

Early in 2008, however, Rex Rivolo, an analyst at the Counter-IED Operations/Intelligence Center attached to US headquarters in Baghdad, briefed his superiors on some hard realities of the campaign. With access to any and all information relating to US military operations in Iraq, he had identified about 200 successful missions in which key IED network individuals had been eliminated. Then he looked at the reports of subsequent bomb attacks in the late insurgent leader's area of operation. The results were clear: IED attacks went up, immediately and sharply. One week after the hit, on average, incidents within about three miles of the dead leader's home base had risen 20%.

Why, with the commander dead, did the enemy fight with such reinforced vigor? Eliminated enemy commanders, intelligence revealed, were almost always replaced at once, usually within 24 hours. "The new guy is going to work harder," Rivolo told me. "He has to prove himself, assert his authority. Maybe the old guy had been getting lazy, not working so hard to plant those IEDs. Fresh blood makes a difference."

Once posited, this consequence may appear obvious, but Rivolo's study, so far as I am aware, was the only time that anyone with access to relevant data had looked at the consequences of our principal national security strategy in a systematic way. However, even as he submitted his conclusions, the same strategy was being exported to Afghanistan on a major scale. Ever-increasing special forces "night raids" have indeed subsequently succeeded in killing large numbers of insurgent commanders (along with many civilians), but the consequences have been depressingly predictable.

"I used to be able to go talk to local Taliban commanders," a journalist long resident in Afghanistan told me, "but they are all dead. The ones who replaced them are much more dangerous. They don't want to talk to anyone at all."

Nongovernmental groups similarly report that the new breed of Taliban leadership is unwilling to allow the free passage of aid workers permitted by their assassinated predecessors. Neither in Afghanistan nor Pakistan, where high-value targets are the responsibility of the CIA's burgeoning killer-drone bureaucracy, is there any indication that the enemy's military capability has been diminished.

As Matthew Hoh, the foreign service officer who quit in protest at the futility of the Afghan war, told me recently, "War is a breeding ground for unintended consequences."
President Obama should think about that.

Andrew Cockburn is an investigative journalist and author. His article, "Search and Destroy: The Pentagon's Losing War Against IEDs," appears in the November issue of Harper's magazine.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Assassination of Gadhafi

An aide has told of Muammar's Gaddafi's last stand in Sirte, writes Kareem Fahim in Misrata.

AFTER 42 years of absolute power in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi spent his last days hovering between defiance, anger and delusion, surviving on rice and pasta his guards scrounged from the emptied houses he moved between every few days, says an aide captured with him.

Under siege by the former rebels for weeks, Colonel Gaddafi grew impatient with life on the run in the city of Sirte, the aide, Mansour Dhao Ibrahim, the leader of a network of loyalist volunteers and informants, said. ''He would say: 'Why is there no electricity? Why is there no water?'''
Mr Dhao, who stayed close to Colonel Gaddafi throughout the siege, said that he and other aides repeatedly counselled him to leave power or the country, but that Gaddafi and one of his sons, Muatassim, would not consider the option.

Although some of his supporters portrayed him as bellicose to the end, armed at the front lines, he actually did not take part in the fighting, Mr Dhao said, instead preferring to read or make calls on his satellite phone.

Mr Dhao, who knew Colonel Gaddafi for decades and became a member of his trusted inner circle, spoke in a conference room that served as his cell.

Colonel Gaddafi fled to Sirte in a small convoy on the day that Tripoli fell.

''He was very afraid of NATO,'' said Mr Dhao, who joined him about a week later.

The decision to stay in Sirte had been Muatassim's, who reasoned that the city, long known as an important pro-Gaddafi stronghold and under frequent bombardment by NATO air strikes, was the last place anyone would look.

Apart from the phone, which Colonel Gaddafi used to make frequent statements to a Syrian television station that became his official outlet, he was largely ''cut off from the world'', Mr Dhao said. He did not have a computer and, in any case, there was rarely any electricity.

Colonel Gaddafi, who was fond of framing the revolution as a religious war between devout Muslims and the rebel's Western backers, spent his time reading the Koran, Mr Dhao said. He refused to hear pleas to give up power. He would say, according to Mr Dhao: ''This is my country. I handed over power in 1977,'' referring to his oft-repeated assertion that power was actually in the hands of the Libyan people.

''We tried for a time, and then the door was shut,'' Mr Dhao said.

For weeks, the rebels fired heavy weapons indiscriminately at the city.

''Random shelling was everywhere,''he said, adding that a rocket or a mortar shell struck one of the houses where Colonel Gaddafi was staying, injuring some of his guards.

A chef who was travelling with the group was also hurt, so everyone started cooking, Mr Dhao said.
About two weeks ago, as the rebels stormed the city centre, Colonel Gaddafi and his sons were trapped in two houses in a residential area called District No.2. Colonel Gaddafi decided it was time to leave and planned to flee to one of his houses nearby, where he had been born.

On Thursday, a convoy of dozens of cars was supposed to leave at about 3am, but disorganisation by the loyalist volunteers delayed the departure until 8am.

In daylight, the NATO warplanes and rebel fighters found them half an hour after they left.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Death of Col. Mummar Gadhafi - Oct. 20 2011

Murder of Hells Angel in Vegas

San Jose Hells Angels leader killed during shootout in Nevada casino
By Sean Webby
Posted: 09/24/2011 06:36:35 PM PDT
Updated: 09/25/2011 10:31:52 AM PDT

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• Sep 26:
• Police: Casino video shows Nevada shooting

The president of the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club -- and a San Jose city employee -- was killed Friday night during a shootout inside a Nevada casino with a rival outlaw motorcycle club, officials said.

Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew, 51, worked for 20 years as a heavy equipment operator for the city's Department of Transportation. But San Jose police know him as the charismatic local leader of the notorious biker club that law enforcement has long identified as one of the most powerful and influential criminal motorcycle gangs.

Local police and other gang experts predicted that Friday's homicide, which sources said has been attributed to members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club, could presage further bloodshed.

"In the outlaw motorcycle gang culture, Jeff Pettigrew was a local icon in San Jose, a very well-respected member within the ranks of the Hells Angels," said San Jose police Sgt. Larry Day, who has investigated biker clubs.

"This incident could definitely result in retaliation against the Vagos, and a full-blown war that may result in deadly violence in San Jose and throughout California."

The shootout on the casino floor of John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks recalls the infamous motorcycle club gunfight at Harrah's Casino & Hotel in Laughlin, Nev., in 2002. In that showdown, members of the Hells Angels and the Mongols motorcycle clubs fought each other, leaving one Mongol and two Hells


Angels dead on the casino floor.
Friday night's bloodshed began at 11:26 p.m., during the annual five-day "Street Vibrations" biker festival in which thousands of bikers from across the country ride into Reno and nearby cities to celebrate.

Sparks police said they responded to a fight involving a large group armed with guns inside the casino. Police said that as their units were on their way to the fight, shots were fired.
Inside the casino, officers found three male gunshot

victims. Sparks police identified Pettigrew as the dead man. Vagos Motorcycle Club members Leonard Ramirez, 45, and Diego Garcia, 28, were in stable condition at a hospital after suffering gunshot wounds. Both were identified only as California residents.

In connection with the shooting, Hells Angels member Cesar Villagrana, 36, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a stolen firearm. Police said he was videotaped shooting into the crowd, but could not verify if any of his shots hit the victims. No other suspects have been arrested.

As a result of that shooting and a separate shooting Saturday morning, the Sparks' part of the Street Vibrations event was canceled Saturday afternoon. Police would not say if the shootings were related.

Law enforcement experts said members of the Hells Angels and Vagos clubs are blood enemies.
"There's going to be hostilities," predicted Jorge Gil-Blanco, a former San Jose police officer who is familiar with outlaw motorcycle clubs.

"When you have a situation where one member gets killed by another gang, then something is going to happen," he said. "It might be right away or it might be down the road."

The editor of Ride Rag, an influential biker publication, said that law enforcement and media were misinterpreting a rare act of violence.

"Unfortunate events are prevalent in every culture and subculture," said the editor, who goes by the name Yve.

"As a motorcycle club advocate," she added, "it is our position that motorcycle clubs are, in essence, families, and as such our respective 'communities' should be able to exercise the right to reserve comment and reflect on the situation without outside opinion or condemnation."

Hells Angels member killed at funeral for fellow biker

Los Angeles Times
Published: Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 - 1:00 am

LOS ANGELES -- A Hells Angels member was fatally shot Saturday at the San Jose funeral for a fellow biker who was killed last month at a Nevada casino, police said.

The victim, who police have not identified, was shot shortly before 1 p.m. and taken to a hospital where he died about an hour later, said San Jose police spokesman Jose Garcia. No suspect has been arrested and the shooting remains under investigation.

The shooting occurred at the funeral for Jeffrey Pettigrew, 51, president of the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels, authorities said. The service was held at the Oak Hill Funeral Home & Memorial Park and drew an estimated 4,000 people.

Pettigrew was attending a motorcycle festival last month when he was shot four times in the back by a member of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang during a brawl at a casino in Sparks, Nev. Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez of San Jose was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Ten Vagos members were arrested earlier this month on suspicion of drug trafficking and a rash of violence during law enforcement raids throughout the Inland Empire.

Garcia said he couldn't speculate whether the San Jose shooting was related to rivalries between the motorcycle gangs.

Anticipating a large turnout, police were in the area around the cemetery as a precaution, patrolling and helping with traffic. Garcia declined to say whether police were at the funeral.
"We had no credible information suggesting there would be violence," he said.

UCSF police take man into custody in connection with Hells Angels homicide

By Lisa Fernandez and Sean Webby

Mercury News

Police have arrested a member of the Vagos gang in San Francisco on charges that he killed the president of the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels.

A University of California San Francisco police sergeant spotted Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, of San Jose at 8:20 p.m. Thursday and took him into custody. Sparks, Nev., police will come to retrieve him, according to UCSF Police Chief Pamela Roskowski.

Gonzalez is wanted in connection with the killing of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew, 51, the iconic president of the motorcycle club in San Jose, who also worked for the city's Department of Transportation. Pettigrew was shot in the back four times last Friday at John Ascuaga's Nugget casino in Sparks.

said Gonzalez was spotted in a rented 2011 Chevrolet Malibu parked near Treat Street, a block away from Mission Center's campus police headquarters.

Sgt. John Gutierrez of the campus police department was on routine patrol when he saw Gonzalez acting "suspiciously," Roskowski said. Apparently, Gonzalez was leaning over the steering wheel and "shuffling around" in the driver's seat of a car with Washington state license plates.

The sergeant asked for identification, and when he ran Gonzalez's name, realized he was wanted in connection with the Hells Angels homicide.

"We're extremely proud of our actions," Roskowski said. "Sgt. Gutierrez is an outstanding police officer."

Roskowski said her department was working with

Sparks police to move Gonzalez there.

During last week's casino shootout in Sparks, two other Vagos were wounded and a third was shot in the stomach the next day by a gunman in a passing car a few blocks from the Nugget. Sparks Police Sgt. Greta Woyciehowsky said Friday authorities have no new leads or evidence to definitively connect the shootings. But she said the circumstances indicate they were linked.

"We had an individual that was dressed out in Vagos attire, in the color green, riding on a motorcycle, and the people come up next to him in a car and shoot at him five times,' " Woyciehowsky said a news conference. "I think you can reasonably assume that was an act of retaliation."

Cesar Villagrana, 36, of Gilroy, a Hells Angels member who was with Pettigrew when he was shot, is charged with three felonies: assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon illegally and discharging a firearm within a structure.

He did not enter a plea at his arraignment Thursday in Sparks Justice Court.

Investigators say they were able to track Gonzalez in part by matching up casino surveillance footage with photographs the California Highway Patrol took of a number of Reno-bound motorcycle gang members in the hours leading up to the casino gun battle.

Gonzalez appears in pictures with other Vagos members at a gas station in Applegate, along Interstate 80 between Reno and Sacramento.

He was wearing the same clothing as when he was captured on the casino security video -- a green long-sleeve shirt, a black Vagos vest, black jeans and black sunglasses, Sparks Police Detective John Patton said in an affidavit.

Patton wrote in the affidavit made public Thursday that those photos were taken Sept. 24 -- the day after the casino shooting. But Woyciehowsky told reporters Friday that date was an error and in fact the photos were taken a day earlier, on Sept. 23.

Sparks detectives traveled to San Francisco late Thursday to assist in the investigation and begin to lay the way for Gonzalez's extradition to Nevada.

Gonzalez must appear in court in San Francisco to face a charge of being a fugitive from justice before the formal extradition process can begin, Woyciehowsky said. She said she didn't know when that would be or whether Gonzalez would fight it.

Woyciehowsky added authorities haven't ruled out making additional arrests in the case. Investigators continue to interview witnesses, though some are reluctant to talk, she said.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Political Assassinations in the Arab Revolutions


Dubai – Jan 9, 2010 – Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, senior Hamas military commander

Political Assassination in the Arab Revolutions –

Libya – NTC military leader, Gadhafi defector - Abdul Fatah Younis, commander-in-chief of the armed forces of NTC - Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade

Syria – Saria Hassoun son of Syria’s Grand Mufti Shiekh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun / Kurd Mashaal Tammo "Now Tammo has become a flame of the revolution."
In Arabic, Tammo's first name, Mashaal, means flame.

Pakistan - Osama bin Laden / Shahbaz Bhatti,Federal Minister for Minorities of Pakistan

Afghanistan –Ahmed Wali Karzai, half-brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai
/ President Burhanuddin Rabbani

Yemen – USA CIA Preditor kills al Qaeda leaders Anwar al-Awlaki


The Assassins (Persian: حشیشیون Hašišiyun (UniPers), Arabic: الحشاشين‎ Ḥashshāshīn, alsoHashishin, Hassassin, or Hashashiyyin, ) were an order of Nizari Ismailis, particularly those ofPersia (and Syria) that existed from around 1092 to 1265. Posing a strong military threat toSunni Saljuq authority within the Persian territories, the Nizari Ismailis captured and inhabited many mountain fortresses under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah.

The name 'Assassin', from the Arabic Hashishin or "users of hashish",[1] was originally derogatory and used by their adversaries during the Middle Ages. The modern word 'assassin' is derived from this name. However, Amin Malouf states that "The truth is different. According to texts that have come down to us from Alamut, Hassan-i Sabbah liked to call his disciples Asasiyun, meaning people who are faithful to the Asās, meaning 'foundation' of the faith. This is the word, misunderstood by foreign travelers, that seemed similar to 'hashish'".

The Masyaf branch of the Assassins was taken over by the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in 1273. The Mamluks however, continued to use the services of the remaining Assassins: Ibn Battutareported in the 14th century their fixed rate of pay per murder. In exchange, the higher authorities allowed them to exist. The mention of Assassins were also preserved within European sources, such as the writings of Marco Polo, they were depicted as trained killers, responsible for the systematic elimination of opposing figures.

The origins of the Assassins trace back to just before the First Crusade around 1080. It is difficult to find out much information about the origins of the Assassins because most early sources are either written by enemies of the cult or based on legends. Most sources dealing with the order’s inner working were destroyed with the capture of Alamut, the Assassin's headquarters. However, it is possible to trace the beginnings of the cult back to its first Grandmaster, Hasan-i Sabbah. A passionate believer of the Isma’ili beliefs, Hasan-i-Sabbah was well liked throughout Cairo, Syria, and most of the Middle East by other Isma’ili, which led to a number of people becoming his followers. Using his fame and popularity, Sabbah founded the Order of the Assassins. While his motives for founding this order are ultimately unknown, it has been speculated that it was for his own political and personal gain and to also exact vengeance on his enemies. His motivation for political power probably came through what he thought to be dealings with other Muslims in the Middle East, particularly Sunnis, but because of the unrest in the holy land caused by the calling of the Crusades, Hasan-i-Sabbah found himself not only fighting for power with other Muslims, but also with the invading Christian forces.

After creating the Order, Sabbah searched for a location that would be fit for a sturdy headquarters and decided on the fortress at Alamut in what is now northwestern Iran. It is still disputed whether Sabbah built the fortress himself or if it was already built at the time of his arrival. Whether he created it himself or not, Sabbah adapted the fortress to suit his needs of not only defense from hostile forces, but also indoctrination of his followers. After laying claim to the fortress at Alamut, Sabbah began expanding his influence outward to nearby towns and districts, using his agents to gain political favour and intimidate the local populations.
Spending most of his days at Alamut working on religious works and doctrines for his Order, Sabbah was never to leave his fortress again in his lifetime. He had established a secret society of deadly assassins, one which was built in a hierarchical format. Below Sabbah, the Grand Headmaster of the Order, were those known as “Greater Propagandists”, followed by the normal "Propagandists", the Rafiqs ("Companions"), and the Lasiqs ("Adherents"). It was the Lasiqs who were trained to become some of the most feared assassins, or as they were called, "Fida’i" (self-sacrificing agent), in the known world.[3]

It is, however, unknown how Hassan-i-Sabbah was able to get his "Fida’i" to perform with such fervent loyalty. One theory, possibly the most well known but also the most criticized, comes from the observations from Marco Polo during his travels to the Orient. He describes how the "Old Man of the Mountain" (Sabbah) would drug his young followers with hashish, lead them to a "paradise", and then claim that only he had the means to allow for their return. Perceiving that Sabbah was either a prophet or some kind of magic man, his disciples, believing that only he could return them to "paradise", were fully committed to his cause and willing to carry out his every request.[4] With his new weapons, Sabbah began to order assassinations, ranging from politicians to great generals. Assassins rarely would attack ordinary citizens though and tended not to be hostile towards them.

Although the "Fida’i" were the lowest rank in Sabbah’s order and only used as expendable pawns to do the Grandmaster’s bidding, much time and many resources were put in to training them. The Assassins were generally young in age giving them the physical strength and stamina which would be required to carry out these murders. However, physical prowess was not the only trait that was required to be a "Fida’i". To get to their targets, the Assassins had to be patient, cold, and calculating. They were generally intelligent and well read because they were required to possess not only knowledge about their enemy, but his or her culture and their native language. They were trained by their masters to disguise themselves, sneak in to enemy territory and perform the assassinations instead of simply attacking their target outright.[3]

As tensions in the Middle East grew during the Crusades, the Assassins were also known for taking contracts from outside sources on either side of the war, whether it was from the invading Crusaders or the Saracen forces, so long as the assassination fit in to the Grandmaster's plan.
Rashid ad-Din Sinan the Grand Master of the Assassins at Masyafsuccessfully alarmed Saladin not to assault the realms of their sect.

The Assassins were finally linked by the 19th century orientalist scholar Silvestre de Sacyto the Arabic hashish using their variant names assassin and assissini in the 19th century. Citing the example of one of the first written applications of the Arabic term hashish to the Ismailis by 13th century historian Abu Shama, de Sacy demonstrated its connection to the name given to the Ismailis throughout Western scholarship.[Daftary 1] The first known usage of the term hashishi has been traced back to 1122 CE when the Fatimid caliph al-Āmir employed it in derogatory reference to the Syrian Nizaris.[Daftary 2] Used figuratively, the term hashishi connoted meanings such as outcasts or rabble.[Daftary 3] Without actually accusing the group of using the hashish drug, the Caliph used the term in a pejorative manner. This label was quickly adopted by anti-Ismaili historians and applied to the Ismailis of Syria and Persia. The spread of the term was further facilitated through military encounters between the Nizaris and the Crusaders, whose chroniclers adopted the term and disseminated it across Europe.

During the medieval period, Western scholarship on the Ismailis contributed to the popular view of the community as a radical sect of assassins, believed to be trained for the precise murder of their adversaries. By the 14th century CE, European scholarship on the topic had not advanced much beyond the work and tales from the Crusaders.[Daftary 4] The origins of the word forgotten, across Europe the term Assassin had taken the meaning of "professional murderer".[Daftary 5] In 1603 the first Western publication on the topic of the Assassins was authored by a court official for King Henry IV and was mainly based on the narratives of Marco Polo from his visits to the Near East. While he assembled the accounts of many Western travelers, the author failed to explain the etymology of the term Assassin.[Daftary 6]

According to Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf: their contemporaries in the Muslim world would call them hash-ishiyun, "hashish-smokers"; some orientalists thought that this was the origin of the word "assassin", which in many European languages was more terrifying yet. ...The truth is different. According to texts that have come down to us from Alamut, Hassan-i Sabbah liked to call his disciples Asasiyun, meaning people who are faithful to the Asās, meaning "foundation" of the faith. This is the word, misunderstood by foreign travelers, that seemed similar to "hashish".[5]
Another modern author, Edward Burman, states that:

Many scholars have argued, and demonstrated convincingly, that the attribution of the epithet 'hashish eaters' or 'hashish takers' is a misnomer derived from enemies of the Isma'ilis and was never used by Muslim chroniclers or sources. It was therefore used in a pejorative sense of 'enemies' or 'disreputable people'. This sense of the term survived into modern times with the common Egyptian usage of the term Hashasheen in the 1930s to mean simply 'noisy or riotous'. It is unlikely that the austere Hassan-i Sabbah indulged personally in drug taking. ...there is no mention of that drug hashish in connection with the Persian Assassins – especially in the library of Alamut ("the secret archives").[6]

Map of the crusader states, showing the area controlled by the Assassins around Masyaf, slightly above the center, in white.

Their support and involvement with a series of killings of famous scholars, Imams and other noble personalities has given them title of one of the very first terrorist organizations in the world. Some of the famous killings and events in those dark centuries by Assassins included the following;[7]

1. 1092: The famous Seljuq vizier Nizam al-Mulk was murdered by an Assassin in Baghdad. He becomes their first victim.
2. 1094: Al-Mustansir dies, and Hassan does not recognize the new caliph, al-Mustali. He and his followers transferred their allegiance to his brother Nizar. The followers of Hassan soon even came at odds with the caliph in Baghdad too.
3. 1113: Following the death of Aleppo's ruler, Ridwan, the Assassins are driven out of the city by the troops of Ibn al-Khashab.
4. 1110's: The Assassins in Syria change their strategy, and start undercover work and build cells in all cities around the region.
5. 1123: Ibn al-Khashab is killed by an Assassin.
6. 1124: Hassan dies in Alamut, but the organization lives on stronger than ever. — The leading qadi Abu Saad al-Harawi is killed by an Assassin.
After the death of Hassan some notable events included the following;
1. 1126 November 26: Emir Porsuki of Aleppo and Mosul is killed by an Assassin .
2. 12th century: The Assassins extend their activities into Syria, where they could get much support from the local Shi'i minority as the Seljuq sultanate had captured this territory.
3. The Assassins capture a group of castles in the Nusayriyya Mountains (modern Syria). The most important of these castles was the Masyaf, from which the "The Old Man of Mountain", Rashideddin Sinan ruled practically independent from the main leaders of the Assassins.
4. 1173: The Assassins of Syria enter negotiations with Amalric I, King of Jerusalem, with the aim of converting to Christianity. But as the Assassins by now were numerous and often worked as peasants, they paid high taxes to local Christian landlords, that Christian peasants were exempted from. Their conversion was opposed by the landlords, and this year the Assassin negotiators were murdered by Christian knights. After this, there was no more talk of conversion.
5. 1175: Rashideddin's men make two attempts on the life of Saladin, the leader of the Ayyubids. The second time, the Assassin came so close that wounds were inflicted upon Saladin.
6. 1192: Conrad of Montferrat, King of Jerusalem, is stabbed to death by Assassins before his coronation.
7. 1256: Alamut fortress falls to the Mongols under the leadership of Hülegü. Before this happened, several other fortresses had been captured, and finally Alamut was weak and with little support.
8. 1257: The Mongol warlord Hülegü attacks and destroys the fortress at Alamut. The Assassin library is fully razed, hence destroying a crucial source of information about the Assassins.
9. Around 1265: The Assassin strongholds in Syria fall to the Mamluk sultan Baybars I

Artistic rendering of Hassan-i Sabbah.

In pursuit of their religious and political goals, the Ismailis adopted various military strategies popular in the Middle Ages. One such method was that of assassination, the selective elimination of prominent rival figures. The murders of political adversaries were usually carried out in public spaces, creating resounding intimidation for other possible enemies.[Daftary 7] Throughout history, many groups have resorted to assassination as a means of achieving political ends. In the Ismaili context, these assignments were performed by fida’is (devotees) of the Ismaili mission. They were unique in that civilians were never targeted. The assassinations were against those whose elimination would most greatly reduce aggression against the Ismailis and, in particular, against those who had perpetrated massacres against the community. A single assassination was usually employed in favour of widespread bloodshed resulting from factional combat. The first instance of assassination in the effort to establish an Nizari Ismaili state in Persia is widely considered to be the murder ofSeljuq vizier, Nizam al-Mulk.[Willey 1] Carried out by a man dressed as a Sufi whose identity remains unclear, the vizier's murder in a Seljuq court is distinctive of exactly the type of visibility for which missions of the fida’is have been significantly exaggerated.[Willey 2] While the Seljuqs and Crusaders both employed assassination as a military means of disposing of factional enemies, during the Alamut period almost any murder of political significance in the Islamic lands was attributed to the Ismailis.[Daftary 8] So inflated had this association grown, that in the work of orientalist scholars such as Bernard Lewis, the Ismailis were equated to the politically active fida’is and thus regarded as a radical and heretical sect known as the Assassins.[9]

The military approach of the Nizari Ismaili state was largely a defensive one, with strategically chosen sites that appeared to avoid confrontation wherever possible without the loss of life.[Willey 3] But the defining characteristic of the Nizari Ismaili state was that it was scattered geographically throughout Persia and Syria. The Alamut castle therefore was only one of a nexus of strongholds throughout the regions where Ismailis could retreat to safety if necessary. West of Alamut in the Shahrud Valley, the major fortress of Lamasar served as just one example of such a retreat. In the context of their political uprising, the various spaces of Ismaili military presence took on the name dar al-hijra (Arabic: مركز دار الهجرة الاسلامي‎; land of migration, place of refuge). The notion of the dar al-hijraoriginates from the time of Muhammad, who migrated with his supporters from intense persecution to safe haven in Yathrib(Medina).[10] In this way, the Fatimids found their dar al-hijra in North Africa. Likewise during the revolt against the Seljuqs, several fortresses served as spaces of refuge for the Ismailis.

The last Grand Master of the Assassins atAlamut Imam Rukn al-Din Khurshah (1255–1256) was executed by the Hulagu Khan after a devastating siege.

The Assassins were eradicated by the Mongol Empire during the well documented invasion of Khwarizm. They probably dispatched their assassins to kill Mongke Khan. Thus a decree was handed over to the Mongol commanderKitbuqa who began to assault several Hashshashin fortresses in 1253 beforeHulagu's advance in 1256. The Mongols besieged Alamut on December 15, 1256. The Assassins recaptured and held Alamut for a few months in 1275, but they were crushed and their political power was lost forever.

The Syrian branch of the Assassins was taken over by the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in 1273. The Mamluks continued to use the services of the remaining Assassins: Ibn Battuta reported in the 14th century their fixed rate of pay per murder. In exchange, they were allowed to exist. Eventually, they resorted to the act of Taqq'iya (dissimulation), hiding their true identities until their Imams would awaken them.

According to the historian Yaqut al-Hamawi, the Böszörmény, (Izmaleita or Ismaili/Nizari) denomination of the Muslims who lived in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 10–13th centuries, were employed as mercenaries by the kings of Hungary. However following the establishment of the Christian Kingdom of Hungary their community was vanquished by the end of the 13th century due to the Inquisitions ordered by the Catholic Church during the reign of Coloman, King of Hungary.[11]
View of Alamut besieged.

The legends of the Assassins had much to do with the training and instruction of Nizarifida’is, famed for their public missions during which they often gave their lives to eliminate adversaries. Misinformation from the Crusader accounts and the works of anti-Ismaili historians have contributed to the tales of fida’is being fed with hashish as part of their training.[12] Whether fida’is were actually trained or dispatched by Nizari leaders is unconfirmed, but scholars including Vladimir Ivanov purport that the assassination of key figures including Saljuq vizier Nizam al-Mulk likely provided encouraging impetus to others in the community who sought to secure the Nizaris from political aggression.[12] In fact, the Saljuqs and Crusaders both employed assassination as a military means of disposing of factional enemies. Yet during the Alamut period almost any murder of political significance in the Islamic lands became attributed to the Ismailis.[Daftary 9] So inflated had this association grown, that in the work of orientalist scholars such as Bernard Lewis the Ismailis were virtually equated to the politically active fida’is. Thus the Nizari Ismaili community was regarded as a radical and heretical sect known as the Assassins.[9] Originally, a "local and popular term" first applied to the Ismailis of Syria, the label was orally transmitted to Western historians and thus found itself in their histories of the Nizaris.[10]

The tales of the fida’is’ training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polo's account, in which he described a "secret garden of paradise".[Daftary 10] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida’is would awaken. Here, they were told by an "old" man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause.[10] So went the tale of the "Old Man in the Mountain", assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, an 18th century Austrian orientalist writer responsible for much of the spread of this legend. Until the 1930s, von Hammer's retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[Daftary 11]

Modern works on the Nizaris have elucidated the history of the Nizaris and in doing so, dispelled popular histories from the past as mere legends. In 1933, under the direction of the Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III, the Islamic Research Associationwas developed. Historian Vladimir Ivanov was central to both this institution and the 1946 Ismaili Society of Bombay. Cataloguing a number of Ismaili texts, Ivanov provided the ground for great strides in modern Ismaili scholarship.[Daftary 12]

In recent years, Peter Willey has provided interesting evidence against the Assassin folklore of earlier scholars. Drawing on its established esoteric doctrine, Willey asserts that the Ismaili understanding of Paradise is a deeply symbolic one. While the Qur'anicdescription of Heaven includes natural imagery, Willey argues that no Nizari fida’i would seriously believe that he was witnessing Paradise simply by awakening in a beauteous garden.[Willey 4] The Nizaris' symbolic interpretation of the Qur'anic description of Paradise serves as evidence against the possibility of such an exotic garden used as motivation for the devotees to carry out their armed missions. Furthermore, Willey points out that a courtier of Hulagu Khan, Juvayni, surveyed the Alamut castle just before the Mongol invasion. In his reports about of the fortress, there are elaborate descriptions of sophisticated storage facilities and the famous Alamut library. However, even this anti-Ismaili historian makes no mention of the gardens on the Alamut grounds.[Willey 5]Having destroyed a number of texts of the library's collection, deemed by Juvayni to be heretical, it would be expected that he would pay significant attention to the Nizari gardens, particularly if they were the site of drug use and temptation. Having not once mentioned such gardens, Willey concludes that there is no sound evidence in favour of these fictitious legends.

In the Assassin's Creed series of historical action-adventure video games, the first game followed a fictional version of the Syrian wing of the sect, while subsequent games and Assassin's Creed media would depict its successor organizations opposed to a Templar conspiracy. The series imagines the Assassins as being active in various eras and locations: from 12th-century Syriaduring the Third Crusade (this incarnation depicted in the first game and the one recorded by the Polos in-universe), to 15th-century Renaissance Italy and Turkey, up to the 21st century.

The Hashahsins also appeared in Prince Of Persia the Sands of Time movie, saying that they were active much in the ancient world.

[Friedrich Nietzsche

The 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche gives prominent focus to what he terms "the order of Assassins", in section 24 of On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche's signature work is to point to the worthlessness of religion, and to attempt at the transvaluation of values, that is, to transcend the inherited Jewish and Christian politics, psychology and ethics of ressentiment or guilt. He aims at going beyond the categories of good and evil since they suppress the full potential of the strong and talented. Nietzsche heralds the arrival of the so-called 'free spirits' who no longer believe in truth.[13] Thus, they alone are capable of redeeming the world of the modern ills of comfort, mediocrity, and nihilism.

Importantly, Nietzsche attacks the false spirits who are the host of self-describing 'unbelievers' of modern times who claim to reject religious deception as scholars and philosophers and yet retain the traditional beliefs in good and evil, and truth. Nietzsche compares the genuine free spirits with the Assassins: "When the Christian crusaders in the Orient came across that invincible order of Assassins – that order of free spirits par excellence whose lowest order received, through some channel or other, a hint about that symbol and spell reserved for the uppermost echelons alone, as their secret: "nothing is true, everything is permitted". Now that was freedom of the spirit, with that, belief in truth itself was renounced."[14]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

General Abdul Fattah Younis

In-Depth Look at the Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis

By Clay Claiborne
August 9, 2011 at 19:31:19

This article first appeared at the Daily Kos asthis Clay Claiborne diary and is probably the most thorough examination of the death of General Younis to date.

Abdul Fattah Younis came over to the side of the Libyan revolution while it was still in its infancy. The General defected from the Colonel on February 23, 2011, less than a week after the February 17th "Day of Rage" kick-off. Before the revolutionary army could even walk, he brought with him 8,000 Libyan soldiers, among them 3,000 Special Forces. It was a great victory for the uprising at a critical juncture in it's development.

Abdul Fatah Younis helped Muammar Qaddafi take power in the 1969 coup that ousted King Idris. For forty years he was his friend and close adviser. He was Qaddafi's security chief and later the Libyan Interior Minister and a Major General of Libyan Special Forces. He was a big fish. He topped a week of cascading defections from the Qaddafi regime and he brought an army with him. In one stroke, Qaddafi's hopes of quickly crushing the rebellion in the East evaporated.

Abdul Fattah Younis was from Benghazi. The story is that after the barracks were seized by protesters, he was sent back to his hometown by Qaddafi "with instructions to arrange a Tiananmen Square-style massacre of the demonstrators."

Libyan State TV was reporting that Abdul Fattah Younis had been kidnapped by "gangs" in Benghazi. Then he came on free Libyan TV and made a statement. He said that Qaddafi was planning to attack civilians on a wide scale and that he resigned after hearing that 300 unarmed civilians had been killed in Benghazi

He said then that he had just survived an attempt on his life that Qaddafi intended to use to stoke tribal infighting:

"Gaddafi's men came to shoot me but the bullets missed me. Those who shot at me were Gaddafi's men, the bullet missed me but hit one of my relatives. Gaddafi, that dirty man, wanted to say that I was killed by protesters so that my tribe, the Obeidat will stand by him."

"I am not a traitor. I was a close friend. I was surprised by what Gaddafi did. I stood by him for many years. We undertook (the 1969) revolution for the people of Libya, not to turn around & start shooting at them."

"I wish Gaddafi had said a prayer for the fallen martyrs rather than his long speech."
"I gave orders to my men in Benghazi not to shoot at protesters, not one of my men shot at protesters."

"Many tribes pledged to me that they have joined the protesters including the Tuareg (mentioned many other names)."

"From my knowledge of Gaddafi, he won't leave, he will stay to the end, but he will stay alone. Gaddafi's speech was very clear to any one who has a brain. He is nervous, he is stubborn. He may commit suicide."
"To Gaddafi I tell him: Please end your life by praying for the martyrs, ask for God's forgiveness & the people's."

"To Libyan people, you are a brave people, stand courageously, Libya will become a strong country."

"Gaddafi is a stubborn man but its finished. Everything is collapsing now. I am sad for all what has happened."

"The people are now in charge. We have crossed the point of no return now."

Thank you to Sultan Al Qassemi for his translation on Twitter @SultanAlQassemi

John Simpson, World Affairs Editor of the BBC was one of the first journalist to interview him after he came over to the revolution. He remembered:

When I went to interview Gen Younes in Benghazi the next day, he was extremely nervous. He had managed to hang on to his personal bodyguards and they were nervous too.

Gen Younes was an engaging man, well turned out and self-indulgent. He frankly admitted his friendship with Col Gaddafi; they had been friends, he said, ever since they were at officer training college together, before the revolution of 1969.

But he maintained that Col Gaddafi was now seriously mentally unstable and that Libya had become deeply corrupt. For these reasons, as well as for sheer self-preservation, he felt justified in switching sides.

Simpson also had something new to say about how the general came to join the revolution. While this has not been verified by other sources, according to Simpson, Younis volunteered because he got caught. He was on his way to Benghazi to take command,

But the demonstrators struck first and captured him. Gen Younes immediately announced that his plan all along had been to come to Benghazi in order to join the rebels.

The rebel leaders guessed that this was a fiction, but they could see the advantages in going along with it.

Whatever the combination of factors that led Abdul Fattah Younis to come over to the side of the revolution, it was a great victory for the Libyan people when he did. No doubt anyone that could have been regarded as Qaddafi's second-in-command for so long had a dark side. Abdul Fattah Younis has done many bad things in the past but supporting the people's struggle against the dictatorship was not one of them. At the time it was a big blow to Qaddafi and a great boast to the uprising.
His death last week was a great loss which will be overcome. His assassination has many lessons which will strengthen the revolution.

Abdul Fattah Younis with front line troops @ Brega on the day before he was murdered.

HOW HE DIED - a Timeline

There has been a lot of confusion in the media about the circumstances surrounding the general's murder. As best I can make out, the time line is this:

1.) The Transitional National Council issued a warrant for the general's arrested.
2.) The general was arrested at Ajdabiya, near the Brega front line, and brought back to a detention center at Benghazi safely on Wednesday.
3.) The general was assassinated on Thursday by rogue elements among the rebel security forces as he was leaving the detention facility at Benghazi after being released.

It was not as the NY Times said:

Shortly before his death the rebels issued a subpoena for the general to return from the front lines for questioning by a panel of judges, reportedly about charges of treason.

But instead of relying on a legal process, a group of rebel soldiers sent to retrieve him killed him along with two guards, then dumped their bodies outside the city, Mr. Tarhouni told reporters Friday night.

Once again the New York Times has got its facts all screwed up. It's a bit more complicated than that.

From the Associated Press we have this report on the initial arrest:
a rebel special forces officer under Younis' command told The Associated Press that Younis was taken before dawn on Wednesday from his operations room at Zoueitina, just east of the main front with Gahdafi's forces.

Fighters from a rebel faction known as the February 17 Martyr's Brigade came to the operations room and demanded Younis come with them for interrogation, said the officer, Mohammed Agoury, who said he was present at the time.

The general's family told a similar story to the Globe and Mail :

In their first interview with a Western journalist since his death, the general's family offered new details about the events of July 28 ... They described a well co-ordinated operation to arrest the general from his headquarters in Ajdabiya and escort him 150 kilometres up the highway to Benghazi, blocking side roads and opening checkpoint gates for a huge posse of armed men. They say he arrived safely in Benghazi and his vehicle was not damaged...

The convoy's final destination was the Garyounis Military Camp at the edge of town, where a rebel judiciary committee apparently wanted to ask the general about recent operations on the front lines.

His family also told more about the arrest warrant, although not specifically about the content:
When the posse of rebels arrived in Ajdabiya to detain the general, they presented an arrest warrant with signatures of the deputy head of the rebel council, Ali Essawi, and a judge named Jomaa al-Jazwi.

General Younis called both men before surrendering himself, the family says, and got assurances that the paperwork was legitimate.

"Jomaa al-Jazwi said, "You should present yourself for justice, and I will be responsible for your safety,'" Moatasem Younis said, citing conversations with men who witnessed the scene. "So the general dismissed his guards."

Sometime that morning he is reported to have done a telephone interview with the website Libya Revolution in which he claimed that the reports of his arrest were false and that he still held the position of chief -of-staff. He was still near Brega at the time of this call. [English]

The 150 kilometres trip was uneventful and Abdel Fattah Younis is reported to have been delivered safely to Benghazi:

The last time the general's son spoke with him was about 2 a.m.; at that point, he had not yet departed Ajdabiya and seemed relaxed, telling his son he was sitting with his own people and everything would be okay.

The general was not handcuffed, and climbed into the back of a bulletproof sport-utility vehicle along with his trusted aides, Colonel Muhammad Khamis and Major Nasir al-Madhkur. Riding shotgun in the front seat was a rebel named Mustafa Rubaa, a member of the Union of Revolutionary Forces who had been entrusted with the sensitive task of arresting the powerful general.

Fawzi Bukatif, a senior commander who acts as a co-ordinator for the Union of Revolutionary Forces, confirmed that Mr. Rubaa accepted the assignment as an "individual" and not as a representative of the Union. He said that Mr. Rubaa safely delivered the general to Benghazi, as instructed.

Because of his long history with Qaddafi and questions surrounding the circumstances of his conversion to the revolution, some elements in the opposition never really trusted Abdel Fattah Younis, according to John Simpson, and while his rank and reputation earned him the title of chief-of-staff, he was never given a field command. This is fortunate now because his death hasn't much delayed developments on the battlefield.

His death and the warrant for his arrest have also been accompanied by unconfirmed rumors of treason and continuing ties to Qaddafi. For example, the Hadeel al-Shalchi and Rami al-Shaheibi of
AP reported:

An officer with the rebels' internal security forces -- the official security force of the National Council -- told AP that the council ordered Younis' arrest after a letter arose earlier this week connecting the commander to Gadhafi. But he suggested the killing had not been authorized by the council and was instead an act of vengeance by rebels.

He said Younis was brought back to the Benghazi area Wednesday and held at a military compound until Thursday, when he was summoned to the Defense Ministry for questioning.

He then goes on to describe the assassination, which was carried out by two men when they were leaving the detention facility in the morning:

As they left the compound, two men from the security team escorting the detainees opened fire from their car on Younis with automatic weapons, said the officer, who was at the compound and saw the shooting. He said the two men were members of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade.

"The men's leader was shouting 'Don't do it!' but they shot Younis and his two aides, and took their bodies in their car and drove away," the officer said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the events.

On Saturday, July 30, 2011, Al Jazeera correspondent Tony Birtley reported on a press conference held by Mustafa Abdel Jalil:

Finally after a gap of about three days we've been getting further details about the killing of Abdul Fatah Younes, and it appears that there was a warrant signed by Mustafa Abdel Jalil's deputy, who ordered the arrest of General Fatah Younes and men were sent down there to get him and they brought him back. Apparently he was questioned and when he was released, according to Jalil, then he was killed by two men. They fled with the bodies in a car. We were told that they were dumped in a valley and their bodies burned, but he stressed that the throats had not been cut, which he was suggesting that this was not the work of Islamists.

We're told that these two fighters who killed him have now disappeared. They're holding their commander, but also, previously the finance minister ... said definitely it was two rebel fighters who were sent down to arrest General Fatah Younes who killed the general. He said that quite clearly.

Now at the press conference today Jalil inferred that this was the work of pro-Gaddafi agents seeking to create divisions within the opposition.

And that is what is known about the assassination based on eyewitness reports. It was done by two men who were part of the security detail.

There has been much speculation in the media about the connection between the assassination and radical Islam or the part played by tribal animosities, but few shreds point in those directions. It should go without saying that any man who has spent 40 years as Qaddafi's sidekick, and his security chief to boot, has a very long list of suspects when he turns up murdered. And number one on that list is Mummar Qaddafi himself. He certainly had the most to gain from it and had long promised revenge against the person he considered a traitor.

There is an old cop saying "never believe in coincidences," and only a few days before his assassination Libyan State TV promised "good news" can be expected to be heard about General Younis within 48 hours.

The Qaddafi people and Libyan State TV have also long been promoting the legend that Younis had gone back to Qaffadi. Enes Senussi speaks of :

the repeated false claims made by Gaddafi TV about Younes siding with Gaddafi. Old footage of Younes present with Gaddafi was shown on more than one occasion to allude to viewers that Younes had gone back to Gaddafi's side. Vicious rumours were spread by Gaddafi's 5th column and regime informers about Younes allegedly being overheard speaking to Gaddafi on the phone by saying "yes sir" which he is reported to have only ever said to Gaddafi. Other rumours claimed that he had smuggled arms to Gaddafi's troops as well as giving deliberate reckless orders resulting in many casualties coming under heavy fire; and the list goes on to this effect.

These stories even continue post-mortem. A few days ago Saif Qaffadi was claiming that he had met with General Younis several times recently in Italy but a check on Italian air space records indicated that no Qaddafi flights had taken place.

It is just possible that Qaddafi's people were behind this assassination from top to bottom. For while I doubt they were in a position to tell the TNC to issue an arrest warrant, they were certainly in the position to fabricate the evidence that would cause them to do so, a letter from Qaddafi for example, and in the undisciplined atmosphere of the current rebel army, they could have seen to it that their agents "volunteered" for the arrest detail.

About 1:13PM on July 28, The TNC held a press conference and announced that Abdul Fatah Younis, Naser Almadkoor & Mahammed Kameais had been assassinated.
The Transnational National Council appointed Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi to replace Younis as new leader of the liberation army and promised an investigation. There were a number of immediate arrests. The Globe and Mail wrote:

Those under investigation include Mustafa Rubaa, a rebel fighter who was entrusted with the responsibility of detaining Gen. Younis and bringing him in front of a panel of judges last week; the second man is Ahmed Bukhattalah, a long-bearded rebel from the coastal city of Darnah.

Neither man has been charged with any crime, and rebel officials emphasized that they are only beginning to unravel a series of plots in Benghazi. Over the last four days, the rebel stronghold has witnessed the high-profile assassination of Mr. Younis, two major jailbreaks, and a seven-hour gun battle between rebel factions on the outskirts of the city.

However many people in the opposition, especially the general's family have been suspicious of the role of the TNC in the general's death and impatient with the progress they have made in cracking the case. The family told Rania El Gamal of Reuters:

"The investigation committee has not yet been formed, there has been no decision about the members of this committee," said Mohammed Hamed Younes, a nephew of the dead general.
His family called on the TNC to reveal the truth behind the killing, which they called a conspiracy that has served Gaddafi.

The pro-Qaddafi forces and their friends in the media have been working every angle to use this story to discredit the rebellion and sow divisions in it's ranks. They have spread many stories and rumors in the hopes of using this tragedy to their advantage.

One of these stories is that at his father's funeral, Ashraf Younis spoke in favor of Gaddafi's rule and even called for a return of Gaddafi's green flag. As Enes Senussi writes:
Here are three examples of the intimate accounts as reported by left, right and alternative news sources:

The Guardian:

At Younis's funeral, his son Ashraf called for Gaddafi's return to bring stability back to Libya. "We want the green flag back," he shouted to the crowd, referring to Gaddafi's national banner. It was a risky display of emotion in a region so supportive of the rebels.

The Telegraph:

Sobbing uncontrollably as his father's body was lowered into the ground, Ashraf Younes began to shout repeatedly: "We want Muammar to come back! We want the green flag (of the Gaddafi regime) back!"

Digital Journal:

At the funeral Younes had a 300 gun salute and his son broke down crying to the crowd,"We want Muammar Gaddafi to come back! We want the green flag back!"

As it happens the BBC reported the funeral procession in video and no such events were either caught on camera or noted in the accompanying text.

Aside from this alleged event not appearing on the BBC's footage, or on any other footage recorded to that matter, endless accounts by eye witnesses present at the funeral have unreservedly denied the occurrence of any such display not just by Younes' son but by any funeral goers.

The Globe and Mail talked to the family and came away with this version:

Despite their anger, the family has not turned against the rebel movement.

Mohamed Hamid stood in front of thousands of mourners who thronged to the main square in Benghazi on Friday, and his speech emphasized that the family still supports the leadership of Mr. Jalil.
Family members say they felt troubled by incorrect media reports that quoted one of the general's sons, Ashraf, saying at the funeral that he "wants the green flag back," a reference to Col.
Gadhafi's flag that was interpreted as nostalgia for the old regime. They now agree that Ashraf did not speak those words, remains loyal to the rebels, and had perhaps been misunderstood amid the shouts and clatter of gunfire at the graveyard.

The Militias and the Fire Fight in Benghazi...
One of the things that gave credence the the thesis that the wheels were coming off the revolution's cart in the aftermath of the assassination of Abdul Fattah Younis was a five hour fire fight that took place on Sunday morning, July 31 in Benghazi. At first it was reported that differences within the rebel ranks had broken out into open warfare and that is the way much of the media played it. We now know that a pro-Qaddafi fifth column, operating as as tribal based militia had been discovered and destroyed. The Globe and Mail reported:

Another militia, the so-called Nida Libya Brigade, apparently spent months recruiting, training and fortifying an old licence-plate factory in an industrial zone as its headquarters. When other rebels stormed the headquarters in the early hours on Sunday, they claimed to find an enclave of pro-regime sentiment: green flags, portraits of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, target lists of rebel leaders to be killed, and large amounts of explosives.

The fight to take over the Nida headquarters killed eight and injured 20, and among those who surrendered were a handful of prisoners who had escaped during a pair of jailbreaks in Benghazi on Thursday evening. Rebels now suspect that the Nida militia took advantage of the disarray after Gen. Younis's assassination to break out dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of captives from their jails

63 Qaddafi supporters were arrested in the raid. A Revolutionary Youth Movement member who lives in Benghazi gave more details:

On the day before the raid, NTC security forces went to the warehouse. They gave the men a warning [On July 31, NTC President Moustapha Abdeljalil ordered all militias present in Benghazi to give up their arms and join the rebels]. They asked these men to join Benghazi's army or fight on the front lines in western Libya. It was their last chance to join the rebellion, but they refused. Sunday morning, shortly after midnight, the rebels launched an attack on the warehouse. People who live nearby told me that the attack was very violent, and that they were told not to leave their homes. I heard that some neighbours helped the security forces arrest the loyalists, who, in attempts to hide, climbed over garden walls.

RYM video shows rebels insulting prisoners taken during the raid.

The Globe and Mail goes on to describe the loose organization of the fighting organizations developed by the uprising:

At the beginning of the war, rebel groups were either loosely organized youth volunteers, or uniformed ex-military units that had turned against the regime. During months of battle, the youth groups coalesced into bigger units, sometimes called battalions or brigades. They gave themselves colourful names: the Abu Salim Brigade was named after the notorious jail in Tripoli, the Omar Mukhtar Brigade took the name of a national hero who fought colonialism.

On paper, the various militias fell under the umbrella of the Union of Revolutionary Forces, which answered to the rebels' minister for defence. But the loose supervision of the militias came under harsh scrutiny in the days after Gen. Younis's assassination; one of the suspects, Mr. Bukhattalah, is described by rebel officials as belonging to the Obeida Ibn al-Jarrah Brigade, alleged to have ties with radical Islamism.

But this militia and tribal based organization of the liberation army has exposed a serious weakness in the aftermath of the death of Abdul Fattah Younis:

When asked why dangerous militias such as the Nida group could have been allowed to muster their forces in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Mustafa El-Sagezly, the rebels' deputy minister of the interior, blamed the tribal structure of Libyan society. He said the Nida militia claimed to represent a powerful tribe, although he declined to name the specific tribe involved.

"Since the issue of the tribes is sensitive, we did not want to stop them," he said.

So the Qaddafi forces were able to use these tribal divisions and tribal sensibilities to operate a secret cell carrying out sabotage and murder in the liberated area.

Even when other rebels surrounded the Nida headquarters in the middle of the night, they hesitated before attacking. They called on elders of Werfalla, the biggest tribe in Libya, who spent three hours negotiating with their fellow tribesmen inside the building. Only when those talks broke down, witnesses say, did the killing start.

In an effort to quell any hard feelings after the raid, a delegation of Werfalla tribal elders held a news conference wearing traditional robes.

"We know some Werfalla were involved," said Sheikh Nasr Gemali, leader of the tribe for eastern Libya. "But we want stability. Our hands will not be stained with the blood of the martyrs."

Just as maintaining unity with the family is important to the revolution, maintaining the unity of the tribes is paramount. The opposition knows that and so they deal very delicately with tribal issues and the Qaddafi forces know that to, so at every turn they try to exacerbated tribal issues, stir up differences between the tribes and maintain a Libya based on tribal differences because that is a Libya he can rule.

On Saturday, August 6 TNC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil claimed that Qaddafi was behind the assassination of AF. "Soon the investigation will reveal the offender and the details of the incident." He also said:

I would like to send a message to all Libyans in the liberated areas: we need to focus all our resources on the battle for freedom.

We need to unite now for a bigger cause.

The chaos has given a strong push to those within the rebel movement who have been trying to consolidate their militias into a more formal structure.

"All those groups will disappear, and they will become one unit," said Brigadier-General Ahmed Qutrani, a senior rebel commander in Benghazi. "None of the commanders can disagree. Anybody who dares will be crushed."

I hope that the unification of the revolutionary army can be achieved in the spirit of resolving differences among friends and without crushing anyone.

But it is essential to the success of the revolution and the future of Libya that the various fighting organizations that have been organically developed and have served the uprising so far, be forged into a unified liberation army with a single command structure under the authority of the Transitional National Council.

It must be an army for all of Libya. It's organization along ethnic or tribal lines should not be encouraged and it must be a disciplined army in which everybody cooperates in carrying out the task of overthrowing the Qaddafi regime because that is the immediate task at hand.

Many a brave solider dies in a war. That is its tragic reality. Many freedom fighters have given their lives in the struggle to overthrow Qaddafi, and the death of this general can not stop it.
But the death of this general has also taught some very valuable lessons. If they are learned by the resistance this past week will be seen as one in which the revolution lost a leader but gained new unity and strength and moved forward.

UPDATE Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 7:19 PM PT: The Washington Post just published this,
Libya rebels fire cabinet after general's killing

BENGHAZI, Libya -- The rebel government here has dismissed its entire cabinet in the wake of the unsolved killing of a powerful military leader, who was slain almost two weeks ago after he was ordered to appear before a board of inquiry about his handling of the war effort.

As the investigation into the mysterious assassination of Abdel Fattah Younis proceeds, the leaders of the revolution in the Transitional National Council, the rebels' governing body, sacked its 15-member cabinet Monday.

The cabinet includes the ministers of oil, finance, defense and foreign relations -- all posts vital to the running of the state.

Rebel officials say that the Transitional National Council has asked the outgoing head of the cabinet, Mahmoud Jibril, to form a new board of ministers as he departs.

Bio of Clay Claibonre:

Clay Claiborne has been a computer hacker and political activist for more than 40 years. He founded Linux Users Los Angeles [LULA] in 1996 and served as it's president for 8 years. He is also a filmmaker who produced and directed Vietnam: American Holocaust and other documentaries. He writes regularly about the uprising in North Africa and the Middle East, the Internet and pretty much anything. His principle website is Linux Beach, his most recent writings can be seen there or at the DailyKos and WL Central. On Twitter he is clayclai.