The American Kafir

2010/06/24

House passes DISCLOSE Act, fight moves to Senate

Source is from Email

This afternoon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced the free-speech limiting DISCLOSE Act through the House of Representatives.

Because of the heroic efforts of gun rights activists like you, the DISCLOSE Act barely passed with a vote of 219 to 206.

YOUR pressure — your phone calls, your e-mails — turned the easy passage of this measure into a tough and expensive political battle for the anti-gunners in Congress and the White House. (Click here to see how your Congressman voted.) (Copy of the vote below)

Thank you for your commitment to this important fight — you are making a difference!

The DISCLOSE Act was written simply to protect the anti-gun Establishment status quo in Washington D.C.  If passed into law, it could silence virtually every state and national conservative group in the country, including the National Association for Gun Rights and any state level gun organizations you may belong to.

The DISCLOSE Act is a direct attack on your First Amendment right to petition Congress and mention legislation or voting records during the election season.

You and I both know that election season is the best time to hold politicians accountable for their anti-gun votes. The DISCLOSE Act is designed to silence grassroots activists LIKE YOU and protect the Establishment politicians in Washington.

The DISCLOSE Act will affect every political organization you belong to, on any and every issue.

The NRA has joined an unholy cabal with liberal special interests like the Sierra Club, AARP and labor unions to gain exemptions from the onerous restrictions of the DISCLOSE Act.

I strongly encourage you to contact the NRA at (800) 672-3888 and let them know just how you feel about this betrayal of your rights.

Now, until this week, the DISCLOSE Act appeared doomed, but the NRA struck a deal with anti-gunners Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer (the Senate sponsor) and Harry Reid.  In exchange for exemptions from the bill’s outrageous and expensive disclosure requirements, the NRA now tacitly supports the anti-free speech DISCLOSE Act.

In fact, Capitol insiders say Harry Reid may be the driving force for this exemption. Reid is in a very tough re-election race in Nevada, but the NRA has all but endorsed him (see the latest NRA magazine, with flattering pictures and flowery praise of Harry Reid).  If he’s held accountable for his bad votes on the gun issue, he will almost certainly lose – which is why he’d like to silence all of the pro-gun groups except the one that’s supporting him.

The fight against the free-speech infringement that is the DISCLOSE Act must now be taken to the U.S. Senate.

Without a doubt, our right to free speech hangs in the balance — and today’s vote is step in the wrong direction.

However, I am still optimistic.

If gun rights activists like you and me can keep the pressure up in the U.S. Senate, we still have a chance of killing this awful legislation.

Please, call both your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and demand that they publicly oppose the DISCLOSE Act.

Tell them that any vote to restrict free-speech will be considered a vote against gun owners.

You can also help the National Association for Gun Rights by chipping in $5 or $10 to help us keep up the fight against the DISCLOSE ACT.

For liberty,


Dudley Brown
Executive Director


FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 391

(Democrats in roman; Republicans in italic; Independents underlined)
H R 5175 RECORDED VOTE      24-Jun-2010      4:29 PM
QUESTION: On Passage
BILL TITLE: Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act or the DISCLOSE Act

Ayes Noes PRES NV
Democratic 217 36 2
Republican 2 170 6
Independent
TOTALS 219 206 8


—- AYES    219 —

Ackerman
Adler (NJ)
Altmire
Andrews
Arcuri
Baca
Baird
Baldwin
Becerra
Berkley
Berman
Berry
Bishop (NY)
Blumenauer
Boccieri
Boswell
Boucher
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Brown, Corrine
Cao
Capps
Capuano
Cardoza
Carnahan
Carney
Carson (IN)
Castle
Castor (FL)
Chandler
Chu
Clay
Cleaver
Clyburn
Cohen
Connolly (VA)
Conyers
Cooper
Costa
Costello
Courtney
Crowley
Cuellar
Cummings
Davis (AL)
Davis (CA)
DeFazio
DeGette
Delahunt
DeLauro
Deutch
Dicks
Dingell
Doggett
Doyle
Driehaus
Edwards (TX)
Ellison
Ellsworth
Engel
Eshoo
Etheridge
Farr
Fattah
Filner
Foster
Frank (MA)
Garamendi
Giffords
Gonzalez
Gordon (TN)
Grayson
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Grijalva
Gutierrez
Hall (NY)
Halvorson
Hare
Harman
Heinrich
Higgins
Himes
Hinchey
Hinojosa
Hirono
Hodes
Holt
Honda
Hoyer
Inslee
Israel
Jackson (IL)
Jackson Lee (TX)
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Kagen
Kanjorski
Kaptur
Kennedy
Kildee
Kilroy
Kind
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Kissell
Klein (FL)
Kosmas
Kucinich
Langevin
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Levin
Lewis (GA)
Lipinski
Loebsack
Lofgren, Zoe
Lowey
Luján
Lynch
Maffei
Maloney
Markey (CO)
Markey (MA)
Matheson
Matsui
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McMahon
McNerney
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Melancon
Michaud
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Mollohan
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy (NY)
Murphy, Patrick
Nadler (NY)
Napolitano
Neal (MA)
Oberstar
Obey
Olver
Ortiz
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor (AZ)
Pelosi
Perlmutter
Perriello
Peters
Pingree (ME)
Polis (CO)
Pomeroy
Price (NC)
Quigley
Rahall
Rangel
Reyes
Richardson
Rodriguez
Ross
Roybal-Allard
Ruppersberger
Ryan (OH)
Salazar
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sarbanes
Schakowsky
Schauer
Schiff
Schrader
Schwartz
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Serrano
Sestak
Shea-Porter
Sherman
Shuler
Sires
Skelton
Slaughter
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Space
Speier
Spratt
Stark
Stupak
Sutton
Tanner
Teague
Thompson (CA)
Tierney
Titus
Tonko
Towns
Tsongas
Van Hollen
Velázquez
Walz
Wasserman Schultz
Watson
Waxman
Weiner
Welch
Wilson (OH)
Woolsey
Wu
Yarmuth


—- NOES    206 —

Aderholt
Akin
Alexander
Austria
Bachmann
Bachus
Barrow
Bartlett
Barton (TX)
Bean
Biggert
Bilbray
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Boehner
Bonner
Bono Mack
Boozman
Boren
Boustany
Boyd
Brady (TX)
Bright
Broun (GA)
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Buchanan
Burgess
Burton (IN)
Butterfield
Buyer
Calvert
Camp
Campbell
Cantor
Capito
Carter
Cassidy
Chaffetz
Childers
Clarke
Coble
Coffman (CO)
Cole
Conaway
Crenshaw
Critz
Culberson
Dahlkemper
Davis (IL)
Davis (KY)
Davis (TN)
Dent
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Djou
Donnelly (IN)
Dreier
Duncan
Edwards (MD)
Ehlers
Emerson
Fallin
Flake
Fleming
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Fudge
Gallegly
Garrett (NJ)
Gerlach
Gingrey (GA)
Gohmert
Goodlatte
Granger
Graves (GA)
Graves (MO)
Griffith
Guthrie
Hall (TX)
Harper
Hastings (FL)
Hastings (WA)
Heller
Hensarling
Herger
Herseth Sandlin
Hill
Holden
Hunter
Inglis
Issa
Jenkins
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jones
Jordan (OH)
Kilpatrick (MI)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kingston
Kirk
Kline (MN)
Kratovil
Lamborn
Lance
Latham
LaTourette
Latta
Lee (NY)
Lewis (CA)
Linder
LoBiondo
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lummis
Lungren, Daniel E.
Mack
Manzullo
Marchant
Marshall
McCarthy (CA)
McCarthy (NY)
McCaul
McClintock
McCotter
McHenry
McIntyre
McKeon
McMorris Rodgers
Mica
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Minnick
Mitchell
Moran (KS)
Murphy, Tim
Myrick
Neugebauer
Nunes
Nye
Olson
Owens
Paul
Paulsen
Payne
Peterson
Petri
Pitts
Platts
Poe (TX)
Posey
Price (GA)
Putnam
Radanovich
Rehberg
Reichert
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Rooney
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Royce
Rush
Ryan (WI)
Scalise
Schmidt
Schock
Sensenbrenner
Sessions
Shadegg
Shimkus
Shuster
Simpson
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Stearns
Sullivan
Taylor
Terry
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiahrt
Tiberi
Turner
Upton
Walden
Waters
Watt
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Wolf
Young (AK)
Young (FL)


—- NOT VOTING    8 —

Barrett (SC)
Blunt
Brown (SC)
Hoekstra
Pence
Rothman (NJ)
Visclosky
Wamp

Pakistani Province Gives $1 Mln To Terrorism-Linked Charity

Source: Newsmax

By: Ashish Kumar Sen

The government of Pakistan’s Punjab province has given more than $1 million to institutions run by an Islamic charity that is on a U.N. terrorism blacklist and affiliated with a group the U.S. considers a foreign terrorist organization.

Budget documents presented in the Punjab assembly last week revealed this financial assistance to a mosque, a hospital and schools (known as madrassas) operated by Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD), the charity wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The U.S. and India say LeT was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed, and the State Department has designated LeT a foreign terrorist group.

Pakistani officials deny any money has been given to JuD.

A Pakistani official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said his government has taken control of educational institutions run by JuD and integrated them into the mainstream.

“There is a misperception, that the government is giving money to Jamaat ud Dawa. The curriculum at these institutions is now in the hands of the government of Punjab,” the official said, adding that the decision had been made by the federal government in Islamabad.

However, Ayesha Siddiqa, a Pakistani analyst at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, said, “The reality is that Jamaat ud Dawa is still running their own show.”

While the government of Punjab claimed to have taken over some JuD madrassas after the Mumbai attacks, Ms. Siddiqa said the curriculum at those institutions essentially remained the same.

“The religious curriculum being taught at JuD-run madrassas represents the Wahhabi extremist ideology that did not change. Adding English to the curriculum doesn’t make it secular,” she said. “This was nothing more than an eyewash.”

JuD’s headquarters at Muridke, located outside Punjab province’s capital of Lahore, continue to provide militant training to students, including women, according to Ms. Siddiqa, who said she has met students who were trained there.

JuD was put on the U.N. terrorism blacklist in December 2008 and is considered a front for LeT.

However, JuD, which is led by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, a founder of LeT, denies it has links to the terrorist group.

“It’s hard to imagine a more dangerous problem than the Punjab government, the Sharif brothers’ government, now providing direct assistance to Lashkar-e-Taiba to run its school system,” said Bruce Riedel, who headed President Obama’s review of U.S. policy in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It is very likely the Sharifs will be back at the national level in Pakistan’s next election: Shahbaz Sharif is currently chief minister of Punjab, and his brother, Nawaz Sharif, is a powerful former prime minister.

Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institution said the Pakistani government has restricted its handling of radical madrassas to “sporadic and limited actions during crisis moments when strong pressure on the government has prevented it from turning a blind eye.”

She added that, since the 1980s, Pakistani governments have relied on religious parties sponsoring and affiliated with the madrassas for political support.

“Many of the madrassas go unregistered and unmonitored; nor have promises to the madrassas to deliver aid for reform and beef up the curriculum been upheld,” she said.

Some madrassas in Pakistan continue to provide recruits for militant groups fighting and killing Pakistani troops and even U.S. forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Ms. Felbab-Brown said while particular madrassas are “feeders for specific militant groups, others simply produce radicalized individuals.”

Rep. Nita M. Lowey, New York Democrat and a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, said at a panel discussion Wednesday that the current public education system in Pakistan is in “shambles” and that this fuels support for militancy.

“Expanding access to education can help reduce the risk of all conflict,” she said. “The violence and extremism that embroils parts of Pakistan has far-reaching regional and international security implications.”

This week, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, admitted trying to detonate a bomb in New York’s Times Square. Shahzad said he received training and financial assistance from the Pakistani Taliban.

Madrassas are not the only institutions that produce potential terrorists, as many well-known terrorists have had a college education.

“There’s nothing peculiar about that to Islam. College students have often been the leading force in revolutionary, terrorist or communist groups and movements around the world,” Ms. Felbab-Brown said.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said insurgent activity would be taking place even if madrassas didn’t exist. “But if there’s a connection between the two, it would most likely be found in the tribal areas where the government doesn’t exercise much control,” the official said.

Rebecca Winthrop, who has co-written a new report on madrassas in Pakistan for the Brookings Institution, said at the discussion Wednesday that while some madrassas do contribute to increasing militancy in Pakistan, their numbers are small.

“There is no steep rise in madrassa enrollment this is not a growth industry,” Ms. Winthrop said. “We do need to take the militant madrassas issue very seriously in all likelihood they should probably be shut down.”

New Leader, Same Mission in Afghanistan

Source: Heritage Foundation

By Amanda J. Reinecker

There’s been a change of command in Afghanistan.

After his disparaging remarks about the President and his staff were published in Rolling Stone magazine, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was summoned to The White House to face his boss, Commander in Chief Obama. The outcome from their meeting: McChrystal is no longer in charge.

During his Rose Garden press conference, the President explained his decision to remove McChrystal from his post:

The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that us at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.

Shortly thereafter, Obama tapped Gen. David Petraeus to succeed McChrystal. Petraeus, who orchestrated the turnaround in Iraq, currently heads the U.S. Central Command, which includes all of South Asia and the Middle East.

As the American commander in Iraq, Petraeus changed the course of the war by implementing the troop “surge.” Though he faces confirmation by the Senate (the hearing is expected to take place no later than next Tuesday), there is no question that Gen. Petreaus is qualified for the job.

“Naming the very able Gen. David Petraeus to replace Gen. McChrystal may help heal this sad state of affairs, and we hope it does,” argues Heritage vice President Kim Holmes. “But the drama behind Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s firing masks a far greater and troubling issue: Is the Obama administration fully committed to victory in Afghanistan?”

President Obama insisted that McChrystal’s dismissal “was a change in personnel, not in policy.” But the President has also established an arbitrary deadline for removal of forces – a bad policy, especially considering the poor conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.

“The timeline,” Heritage President Ed Feulner explains, “appears to be putting tremendous unnecessary pressure on our armed forces to accomplish their task: victory on the ground. We don’t need an artificial timeline for withdrawal. We need a strategy for victory.”

June has become the deadliest month for coalition forces over the almost nine-year conflict.  And U.S. and NATO casualties are expected to rise as we move deeper into the Kandahar offensive. The stakes are very high. Victory – not meeting arbitrary deadlines – should be our objective.

As Holmes explains, “winning in Afghanistan is directly related to preventing another ‘9/11’ and it truly is the central front in the war on terrorists.” Victory can only be achieved once Afghanistan is a stable nation capable of governing itself and defending itself from the Taliban and other terrorists. If we pull out before this is achieved, than we face a danger far greater than anything we’re seeing now.

Gen. Patraeus is a good man for the job, and we have every shred of confidence in his ability to lead. But as Heritage national security expert James Carafano argues, this war isn’t about the man. It’s about the mission. And the mission has to be victory. However long that might take.

Criminal Intent and Militant Funding

By Scott Stewart

STRATFOR is currently putting the finishing touches on a detailed assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the al Qaeda-inspired jihadist franchise in that country. As we got deeper into that project, one of the things we noticed was the group’s increasing reliance on criminal activity to fund its operations. In recent months, in addition to kidnappings for ransom and extortion of businessmen — which have been endemic in Iraq for many years — the ISI appears to have become increasingly involved in armed robbery directed against banks, currency exchanges, gold markets and jewelry shops.

This increase in criminal activity highlights how the ISI has fallen on hard times since its heyday in 2006-2007, when it was flush with cash from overseas donors and when its wealth led the apex leadership of al Qaeda in Pakistan to ask its Iraqi franchise for financial assistance. But when considered in a larger context, the ISI’s shift to criminal activity is certainly not surprising and, in fact, follows the pattern of many other ideologically motivated terrorist or insurgent groups that have been forced to resort to crime to support themselves.

The Cost of Doing Business

Whether we are talking about a small urban terrorist cell or a large-scale rural insurgency, it takes money to maintain a militant organization. It costs money to conduct even a rudimentary terrorist attack, and while there are a lot of variables in calculating the costs of a single attack, in order to simplify things, we’ll make a ballpark estimate of not more than $100 for an attack that involves a single operative detonating an improvised explosive device or using a firearm. (It certainly is possible to construct a lethal device for less, and many grassroots plots have cost far more, but we think $100 is a fair general estimate.) While that amount may seem quite modest by Western standards, it is important to remember that in the places where militant groups tend to thrive, like Somalia and Pakistan, the population is very poor. The typical Somali earns approximately $600 a year, and the typical Pakistani living in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas makes around $660. For many individuals living in such areas, the vehicle used in an attack deploying a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) is a luxury that they can never aspire to own for personal use, much less afford to buy only to destroy it in an attack. Indeed, even the $100 it may cost to conduct a basic terrorist attack is far more than they can afford.

To be sure, the expense of an individual terrorist attack can be marginal for a group like the ISI or the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, for such a group, the expenses required to operate are far more than just the amount required to conduct attacks — whether small roadside bombs or large VBIEDs. Such groups also need to establish and maintain the infrastructure required to operate a militant organization over a long period of time, not just during attacks but also between attacks. Setting up and operating such an infrastructure is far more costly than just paying for individual attacks.

In addition to the purchasing the materials required to conduct specific terrorist attacks, a militant organization also needs to pay wages to its fighters and provide food and lodging. Many also give stipends to the widows and families their fighters leave behind. In addition to the cost of personnel, the organization also needs to purchase safe-houses, modes of transportation (e.g., pickup trucks or motorcycles), communications equipment, weapons, munitions and facilities and equipment for training. If the militant organization hopes to use advanced weapons, like man-portable air defense systems, the costs can go even higher.

There are other costs involved in maintaining a large, professional militant group, such as travel, fraudulent identification documents (or legitimate documents obtained through fraud), payment for intelligence assets to monitor the activities of government forces, and even the direct bribery of security, border and other government officials. In some places, militant groups such as Hezbollah also pay for social services such as health care and education for the local population as a means of establishing and maintaining local support for the cause.

When added together, these various expenses amount to a substantial financial commitment, and operations are even more expensive in an environment where the local population is hostile to the militant organization and the government is persistently trying to cut off the group’s funding. In such an environment, the local people are less willing to provide support to the militants in the way of food, shelter and cash, and the militants are also forced to spend more money on operational security. Information about the government must also be purchased or coerced, and more “hush money” must be paid to keep people from telling the government about militant operations. In an environment where the local population is friendly, they will shelter militants and volunteer information about government forces and will not inform on militants to the government.

Sponsorship

One way to offset the steep cost of operating a large militant organization is by having a state sponsor. Indeed, funding rebel or insurgent groups to cause problems for a rival is an age-old tool of statecraft, and one that was exercised frequently during the Cold War. During that period, the United States worked to counter communist governments around the globe, and the Soviet Union and its partners operated a broad global array of proxy militant groups. In terms of geopolitical struggles, funding proxy groups is far less expensive than engaging in direct warfare in terms of both money and battlefield losses. Using proxies also provides benefits in terms of deniability for both domestic and international purposes.

For the militant group, the addition of a state sponsor can provide an array of modern weaponry and a great deal of useful training. For example, the FIM-92 Stinger missiles that the United States gave to Afghan militants fighting Soviet forces greatly enhanced the militants’ ability to counter the Soviets’ use of air power. The training provided by the Soviet KGB and its allies, the Cuban DGI and the East German Stasi, revolutionized the use of improvised explosive devices in terrorist attacks. Members of the groups these intelligence services trained at camps in Libya, Lebanon and Yemen, such as the German Red Brigades, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), the Japanese Red Army and various Palestinian militant groups (among others), all became quite adept at using explosives in terrorist attacks.

The prevalence of Marxist terrorist groups during the Cold War led some observers to believe that the phenomenon of modern terrorism would die with the fall of the Soviet Union. Indeed, many militant groups, from urban Marxist organizations like the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Peru to rural based insurgents like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), fell on hard financial times after the fall of the Soviet Union. While some of these groups withered away with their dwindling financial support (like the MRTA), others were more resourceful and found alternative ways to support their movement and continue their operations. The FARC, for example, was able to use its rural power in Colombia to offer protection to narcotics traffickers. In an ironic twist, elements of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a right-wing death squad set up to defend rich landowners against the FARC, have also gone on to play an important role in the Colombian Norte del Valle cartel and in various “bacrim” smuggling groups. Groups such as the PIRA and its splinters were able to fund themselves through robbery, extortion and “tiger kidnapping”.

In some places, the Marxist revolutionaries sought to keep the ideology of their cause separate from the criminal activities required to fund it following the loss of Soviet support. In the Philippines, for example, the New People’s Army formed what it termed “dirty job intelligence groups,” which were tasked with conducting kidnappings for ransom and robbing banks and armored cars. The groups also participated in a widespread campaign to shake down businesses for extortion payments, which it referred to as “revolutionary taxes.” In Central America, the Salvadoran Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) established a finance and logistics operation based out of Managua, Nicaragua, that conducted a string of kidnappings of wealthy industrialists in places like Mexico and Brazil. By targeting wealthy capitalists, the group sought to cast a Robin Hood-like light on this criminal activity. To further distance itself from the activity, the group used American and Canadian citizens to do much of its pre-operational surveillance and employed hired muscle from disbanded South American Marxist organizations to conduct the kidnappings and guard the hostages. The FMLN’s financial problems helped lead to the peace accords signed in 1992, and the FMLN has since become one of the main political parties in El Salvador. Its candidate, Mauricio Funes, was elected president of El Salvador in 2009.

Beyond the COMINTERN

The fall of the Soviet Union clearly did not end terrorism. Although Marxist militants funded themselves in Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere through crime, Marxism was not the only flavor of terrorism on the planet. There are all sorts of motivations for terrorism as a militant tactic, from white supremacy to animal rights. But one of the most significant forces that arose in the 1980s as the Soviet Union was falling was militant Islamism. In addition to the ideals of the Iranian Revolution, which led to the creation of Hezbollah and other Iranian-sponsored groups, the Islamist fervor that was used to drum up support for the militants fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan eventually gave birth to al Qaeda and its jihadist spawn.

Although Hezbollah has always been funded by the governments of Iran and Syria, it has also become quite an entrepreneurial organization. Hezbollah has established a fundraising network that stretches across the globe and encompasses both legitimate businesses and criminal enterprises. In terms of its criminal operations, Hezbollah has a well-known presence in the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, where the U.S. government estimates it has earned tens of millions of dollars from selling electronic goods, counterfeit luxury items and pirated software, movies and music. It also has an even more profitable network in West Africa that deals in “blood diamonds” from places like Sierra Leone and the Republic of the Congo. Cells in Asia procure and ship much of the counterfeit material sold elsewhere; nodes in North America deal in smuggled cigarettes, baby formula and counterfeit designer goods, among other things. In the United States, Hezbollah also has been involved in smuggling pseudoephedrine and selling counterfeit Viagra, and it has played a significant role in the production and worldwide propagation of counterfeit currencies. The business empire of the Shiite organization also extends into the narcotics trade, and Hezbollah earns large percentages of the estimated $1 billion in drug money flowing each year out of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

On the jihadist side of militant Islamism, jihadist groups have been conducting criminal activity to fund their movement since the 1990s. The jihadist cell that conducted the March 2004 Madrid Train Bombings was self-funded by selling illegal drugs, and jihadists have been involved in a number of criminal schemes ranging from welfare fraud to interstate transportation of stolen property.

In addition, many wealthy Muslims in Saudi Arabia the Persian Gulf states and elsewhere saw the jihadist groups as a way to export their conservative Wahhabi/Salafi strain of Islam, and many considered their gifts to jihadist groups to be their way of satisfying the Muslim religious obligation to give to charity. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Pakistan saw jihadism as a foreign policy tool, and in some cases the jihadists were also seen as a tool to be used against domestic rivals. Pakistan was one of the most active countries playing the jihadist card, and it used it to influence its regional neighbors by supporting the growth of the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as Kashmiri militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for use against its archrival, India.

After 2003, however, when the al Qaeda franchise in Saudi Arabia declared war on the Saudi government (and the oil industry that funds it), sentiment in that country began to change and the donations sent by wealthy Saudis to al Qaeda or al Qaeda-related charities began to decline markedly. By 2006, the al Qaeda core leadership — and the larger jihadist movement — was experiencing significant financial difficulties. Today, with Pakistan also experiencing a backlash from supporting jihadists who have turned against the state, and with the Sunni sheikhs in Iraq turning against the ISI there, funding and sanctuary are becoming increasingly difficult for jihadists to find.

In recent years, the United States and the international community have taken a number of steps to monitor the international transfer of money, track charitable donations and scrutinize charities. These measures have begun to have an effect — not just in the case of the jihadist groups but for all major militant organizations. These systems are not foolproof, and there are still gaps that can be exploited, but overall, the legislation, procedures and tools now in place make financing from abroad much more difficult than it was prior to September 2001.

The Need to Survive

And this brings us where we are today regarding terrorism and funding. While countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua play around with supporting the export of Marxism through Latin America, the funding for Marxist movements in the Western Hemisphere is far below what it was before the fall of the Soviet Union. Indeed, transnational drug cartels and their allied street gangs pose a far greater threat to the stability of countries in the region today.

Groups that cannot find state sponsorship, such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Nigeria, will be left to fund themselves through ransoms for kidnapped oil workers, selling stolen oil and from protection money. (It is worth noting, however, that MEND also has some powerful patrons inside Nigeria’s political structure.) And groups that still receive state funding, like Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas as well as Shiite militant groups in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region, will continue to get that support. (There are frequent rumors that Iran is supporting jihadist groups in places like Iraq and Afghanistan as a way to cause pain to the United States.)

Overall, state sponsorship of jihadist groups has been declining since supporting countries realized they were being attacked by militant groups of their own creation. Some countries, like Syria and Pakistan, still keep their fingers in the jihadist pie, but as time progresses more countries are coming to see the jihadists as threats rather than useful tools. For the past few years, we have seen groups like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb resort to narcotics smuggling and the kidnapping of foreigners to fund their operations and that trend will likely increase. For one thing, the jump from militant attacks to criminal activity is relatively easy to make. Criminal activity (whether it’s robbing a bank or extorting business owners for “taxes”) requires the same physical force — or at least the threat of physical force — that militant groups perfect over years of carrying out insurgent or terrorist attacks.

While such criminal activity does allow a militant group to survive, it comes with a number of risks. First is the risk that members of the organization could become overly enamored with the criminal activity and the money it brings and abandon the cause — and the austere life of an ideological fighter — to pursue a more lucrative criminal career. (In many cases, they will attempt to retain some ideological facade for recruitment or legitimacy purposes. On the other hand, some jihadist groups believe that criminal activities allow them to emulate the actions of the Prophet Mohammed, who raided the caravans of his enemies to fund his movement and allowed his men to take booty.) Criminal activity can also cause ideological splits between the more pragmatic members of a militant organization and those who believe that criminal behavior tarnishes the image of their cause. And criminal activity can turn the local population against the militants — especially the population being targeted for crimes — while providing law enforcement with opportunities to arrest militant operatives on charges that are in many cases easier to prove than conspiring to conduct terrorist attacks. Lastly, reliance on criminal activity for funding a militant group requires a serious commitment of resources — men and guns — that cannot be allocated to other activities when they are being used to commit crimes.

As efforts to combat terrorism continue, militant leaders will increasingly be forced to choose between abandoning their cause or possibly tarnishing its public image. When faced with such a choice, many militant leaders — like those of the ISI — will follow the examples of groups like the FARC and the PIRA and choose to pursue criminal means to continue their struggle.

Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence at the beginning or end of the report, including the hyperlink to STRATFOR:

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

McChrystal Debacle Reveals Growing Rift Between Military and Obama

Source: Newsmax

McChrystal Debacle Reveals Growing Rift Between Military and Obama

By: David A. Patten

The man handpicked by President Obama to rescue the flagging American war effort in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, must wage a critical battle on two fronts: Taking on the Taliban while quelling bureaucratic rivalries in Washington that present a serious threat to military morale.

The Pentagon brass joined with members of Congress in universally condemning ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s sharp criticisms of his civilian superiors, which led to his forced resignation. The choice of Petraeus also received widespread bipartisan approval on Capitol Hill.

But several military experts and commentators say disenchantment with how the administration is fighting the Afghanistan war transcends the loose-lipped McChrystal.

Support for Obama among front-line soldiers and officers has dropped precipitously, according to military journalist, author, and former Special Forces soldier Michael Yon.

In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Yon says while about half of the troops supported Obama during his presidential campaign, lately that’s changed.

“Now I do see that there is a shift away, and I’m talking low level to high, there has been definitely a shift away from Obama,” Yon tells Newsmax. “That much is clear.”

Several analysts believe the McChrystal run-in reflects a growing distance between the Obama administration and some in the military. In part the friction appears to stem from infighting among Obama’s own advisers.

Eric Bates, the executive editor of the Rolling Stone magazine whose article touched off the furor, said McChrystal’s remarks stem from “enormous frustration” that some officials involved in Afghanistan “just don’t get it.”

Bates told the media Tuesday that McChrystal’s comments indicate “deep-seated differences in how to prosecute this war.”

As military analyst and retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey told MSNBC: “Yes, I think there is a real substantive issue with the people on the ground in Afghanistan. There are too many free agents rotating around — Ambassador Holbrooke, [Ambassador Karl] Eikenberry, and others. And I think the president has to clarify the chain of command.”

How bad is the bureaucratic in-fighting? The New York Times reported European allies in the war effort are weary of Obama advisers whispering behind backs and sniping at each other.

Bruce O. Riedel, a Brookings Institution senior fellow, tells The Times: “This flap shows once again that [Obama’s] team is not pulling together, but is engaging in backbiting.”

In February, national security adviser Gen. James L. Jones reportedly wrote a note to Ambassador Eikenberry, telling him not to worry about his differences with Richard C. Holbrooke, the president’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Using an unsecured channel, Jones indicated Holbrooke would soon be fired.

In the Rolling Stone story, McChrystal’s staff described Holbrooke as “a wounded animal.” One McChrystal aide said: “Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous.”

President Obama alluded to the infighting in his remarks announcing that Petraeus would replace McChrystal.

“I’ve just told my national security team that now is the time for all of us to come together,” the president warned. “Doing so is not an option, but an obligation. I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division.”

It appears division is precisely what Petraeus will have to overcome if he is to succeed in Afghanistan. But the growing divide goes beyond political differences and involves the counterinsurgency strategy that the administration is counting on to prevail.

That strategy is based on winning the hearts and minds of everyday Afghanis by adopting strict rules of engagement – the orders that spell out the methods U.S. fighting personnel are permitted to use when attacked — in order to minimize collateral damage, including civilian casualties.

Yon tells Newsmax that McChrystal was unpopular with his troops for precisely that reason.

“They are not happy with him. They think the rules of engagement are so strict they are costing a lot of lives, which is true,” Yon says.

The journalist and author adds that troop morale in Afghanistan has been plummeting.

“It’s been hurting morale. I’ve never seen morale flag like this before. It’s actually starting to go down. Hopefully we’ll see a turnaround, now that Petraeus is coming onboard,” Yon says.

Obama critic Frank J. Gaffney, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, tells Newsmax that the U.S. policies in Afghanistan are “in danger of failing.”

“I think the problem … is that we are not pursuing in a coherent way the defeat of our enemies in the war that I call ‘the war for the free world,’ which happens to have a number of different combat theaters, and other theaters of a non-kinetic kind, including here in the United States,” Gaffney tells Newsmax.

“I would start with the fact that the administration has no clarity whatsoever who the enemy even is, let alone how to defeat it,” he adds. “And to the extent it is trying to defeat it, it is doing so in a feckless and half-hearted way.

And that’s what I believe we’re seeing play out in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
The switch to Petraeus comes at a key moment in the war.

“There is a growing doubt in Washington the success of this strategy, whether it’s the right strategy,” Fox News host Chris Wallace reported. “A lot of people are questioning the president’s decision to set this timeline … of July 2011, 13 months from now, and whether that raises issues in Afghanistan among our allies and our enemies about our commitment to this war….”

Despite those reservations, Obama’s choice of Petraeus to replace McChrystal was widely touted by liberal politicians and the media as “a masterstroke” Wednesday.

The left’s embrace of Petraeus seemed curious, considering that Petraeus’ role in the Obama White House had been much-reduced compared to what it was in the Bush era.

Petraeus, rumored to be a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2012, appeared to keep a relatively low profile to avoid bruising other White House egos.

In September 2007, when Petraeus was testifying on the progress of the surge under the Bush administration, the George Soros-funded MoveOn.org group spent $75,000 to run an ad in The New York Times headlined: “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”

The controversial ad campaign was widely denounced as a vicious attack on the patriotism of a general credited with implementing the Bush strategy that avoided a serious military setback in Iraq.

Now, Obama’s selection of that same general to lead the war in Afghanistan is widely being heralded as a stroke of genius.

Coming Soon to a Food Supply Near You

Thanks Nan

Coming Soon to a Food Supply Near You

by Nancy Matthis at American Daughter

The toxic chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 was pumped into the Gulf to counter the oil spill. Now it appears to have gassified, entered the atmosphere, and rained down on inland farmers, damaging crops and killing songbirds:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

One month ago, on May 24, The European Union Times wrote about a report prepared by Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources for President Medvedev — Toxic Oil Spill Rains Warned Could Destroy North America:

A dire report prepared for President Medvedev by Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources is warning … that the British Petroleum (BP) oil and gas leak in the Gulf of Mexico is about to become the worst environmental catastrophe in all of human history threatening the entire eastern half of the North American continent with “total destruction”.

Russian scientists are basing their apocalyptic destruction assessment due to BP’s use of millions of gallons of the chemical dispersal agent known as Corexit 9500 which is being pumped directly into the leak of this wellhead over a mile under the Gulf of Mexico waters and designed, this report says, to keep hidden from the American public the full, and tragic, extent of this leak that is now estimated to be over 2.9 million gallons a day.

The dispersal agent Corexit 9500 is a solvent originally developed by Exxon and now manufactured by the Nalco Holding Company of Naperville, Illinois that is four times more toxic than oil….

A greater danger involving Corexit 9500, and as outlined by Russian scientists in this report, is that with its 2.61ppm toxicity level, and when combined with the heating Gulf of Mexico waters, its molecules will be able to “phase transition” from their present liquid to a gaseous state allowing them to be absorbed into clouds and allowing their release as “toxic rain” upon all of Eastern North America.

Even worse, should a Katrina like tropical hurricane form in the Gulf of Mexico while tens of millions of gallons of Corexit 9500 are sitting on, or near, its surface the resulting “toxic rain” falling upon the North American continent could “theoretically” destroy all microbial life to any depth it reaches resulting in an “unimaginable environmental catastrophe” destroying all life forms from the “bottom of the evolutionary chart to the top”….

By June 10 the San Fransico Chronicle reported crop damage — BP oil spill Corexit dispersants suspected in widespread crop damage

:

….It seems like damage brought by the oil gusher has spread way beyond the ocean, coastal areas and beaches. Collateral damage now appears to include agricultural damage way inland Mississippi.

A mysterious “disease” has caused widespread damage to plants from weeds to farmed organic and conventionally grown crops. There is very strong suspicion that ocean winds have blown Corexit aerosol plumes or droplets and that dispersants have caused the unexplained widespread damage or “disease”….

The warning on the Corexit 9500 label is clear enough:

“Keep container tightly closed. Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing. Do not take internally. Avoid breathing vapor. Use with adequate ventilation. In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice. After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of soap and water. Wear suitable protective clothing.”

Now the stuff is raining down on us!

Corexit warning label

It has been well-known in the oil industry since the 1980s that oil-eating microbes can clean up the oil with no lasting environmental impact. They were developed at the behest of the Texas Land Office and the Texas Water Commission, and used successfully in 1990 to clean up a large oil spill in Galveston (see Business InsiderAn Oil-Eating Microbe That’s Been Around Since 1989 Could Single-Handedly Clean Up BP’s Entire Oil Spill).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So why is Corexit 9500 being used in the Gulf of Mexico? Back on May 30 blogger Jo Anne Mor published a Bombshell Expos� based on meticulous and lengthy research that she had performed showing that Democrat party bigwigs including Warren Buffett, Maurice Strong, Al Gore, and George Soros reaped huge profits from the sale of Corexit. Not only that, but her findings show that some increased their holdings preceding the disaster:

There is big money and even bigger players in this scam. While they are letting the oil blow wide open into the Gulf, the stakes and profit rise.

The Dolphins, Whales, Manatees, Sea Turtles and fish suffocate and die. The coastal regions, salt marshes, tourist attractions and the shore front properties are being destroyed, possibly permanently. The air quality is diminished. The Gulf of Mexico fishing industry is decimated.

All to create a need for their expensive and extremely profitable poison.

By now an outraged public has become aware of the microbes, which were warehoused in large quantities and available for use in the Gulf. But it is too late to use them now that Corexit has depleted the oxygen in the water. The microbes need oxygen to live long enough to eat the oil.

The European Union Times report sums it up best:

…the greatest lesson to be learned by these Americans is that their government-oil industry cabal has been just as destructive to them as their government-banking one, both of which have done more to destroy the United States these past couple of years than any foreign enemy could dare dream was possible.

But to their greatest enemy the Americans need look no further than their nearest mirror as they are the ones who allowed these monsters to rule over them in the first place.

H/T: Serg N of Common Sense Patriots

Related reading:

JoAnneMorBombshell expos�. The real reason the oil still flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

[Note: Jo Anne Mor represents the best of the Blogosphere, an ordinary blogger whose dedicated work uncovers hidden evils that endanger us and makes them public knowledge.]

The Next RightBP’s strange Democrat bedfellows

One of the top media consultants for British Petroleum gave free rent to a politician who became White House Chief of Staff. And, no, this was not Karl Rove giving a freebie to Andy Card. No, the recipient of the favor was Rahm Emanuel and the benefactor was Stanley Greenberg….

© Nancy Matthis, all rights reserved, published with permission.