About The Stranger

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Trump Funneled Money Intended for Kids’ Cancer Treatment to His Own Businesses

from June 6, 2017 at 06:36PM http://bit.ly/2t9QDR8

Photo Credit: a katz / Shutterstock

In a detailed report at Forbes, Dan Alexander reveals that the Eric Trump Foundation redirected money raised through its annual charity golf tournament back into Trump’s own businesses.

Even though Eric Trump had originally set up the golf tournament so that all money raised would go directly to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, sources tell Forbes that the elder Trump grew furious that his younger son let his foundation’s charity use the Trump National Golf Course for free.

“In the early years, they weren’t being billed [for the club]–the bills would just disappear,” Ian Gillule, who used to serve as membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester explains to Forbes. “Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not — everybody gets billed.’”

Because of this, the Eric Trump Foundation had to start paying its own way to hold its annual golf tournament on Trump properties.

Things got really interesting, however, when the Donald J. Trump Foundation made a $100,000 donation to Eric’s foundation to help offset the costs of paying to use the golf course for its annual charity event.

However, Forbes has found that this $100,000 “passed through the Eric Trump Foundation–and wound up in the coffers of Donald Trump’s private businesses.”

Another interesting development is that the costs for hosting the golf tournament have exploded in recent years, going from a mere $59,000 in 2012 to a whopping $322,000 in 2015, the most recent year on record.

“Even if the Eric Trump Foundation had to pay the full rate for literally everything, Forbes couldn’t come up with a plausible path to $322,000 given the parameters of the annual event (a golf outing for about 200 and dinner for perhaps 400 more),” Alexander writes. “Neither could golf tournament experts or the former head golf professional at Trump National Westchester.”

In total, Forbes found that “the Trump Organization received payments for [Trump National’s] use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization.”

Despite this, Eric Trump still claims that all the money raised for the tournament goes directly to St. Jude Children’s.

“We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” he tells Forbes.

The whole report is worth reading and can be found here.

 

 

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at

Sadly, No!

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Read more at: Alternet http://bit.ly/1nDoAlo

Accused Portland killer Jeremy Christian’s excuses sound an awful lot like alt-right rhetoric

from June 8, 2017 at 07:06PM http://bit.ly/2rf1tZV

Jeremy Christian

Jeremy Christian (Credit: AP/John Bazemore)

Jeremy Christian, the man accused of murdering two people and seriously injuring another during a May 26 knife attack on a Portland, Oregon, train, is saying things that will sound awfully familiar to anyone who has followed the rise of the “alt-right” in recent months. Specifically, I mean the racist, right-wing factions who have focused on organizing confrontational and sometimes violent street protests on the West Coast.

Christian’s court appearances have been marked by much shouting by him, and much of what he’s saying sounds like he’s directly channeling the talking points promulgated by groups like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, Patriot Prayer and fans of Kyle Chapman, known to his followers as “Based Stickman.”

During a court appearance on Wednesday, Christian started ranting about how he’s “not guilty of anything but defending myself against violent aggression by Micah Fletcher,” the lone survivor among the three men Christian allegedly stabbed after they intervened during his racist tirade against two women on the train.

Read more at: Salon.com http://www.salon.com

This Is the Second Time Trump Has Screwed Over Dying Children by Diverting Charitable Donations

from June 8, 2017 at 07:33PM http://bit.ly/2r89ITn

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

According to Forbes, Donald Trump redirected more than $1 million in charitable donations intended for kids with cancer to the Trump Organization, making himself and his cronies richer. Turns out, that’s not the first story proving even terminally ill children are no match for Trump’s greed and cruelty.

Earlier this year, Michael Skolnik appeared on the Politically Re-Active podcast, where he relayed a similar story about then-citizen Trump (it starts at about 28:20). Skolnik is a longtime business partner of Def Jam founder and billionaire Russell Simmons, who had a high-profile falling out with Trump during the presidential campaign:

“I sat next to Donald at a dinner one time at the Waldorf-Astoria for a charity event,” Skolnik recounted. “This is three or four years ago. It was for a very rare children’s disease. The guy whose table it was, who was a friend of Donald and a friend of Russell’s, got onstage and pledged a million dollars to this charity and said to the audience in the Waldorf, ‘Who’s going to match me?’ And—I’ll go under oath, [swear on] my grandfather’s grave, may my grandfather rest in peace—Trump was sitting right next to me and he raised his hand. He was like, ‘A million bucks. I’m in!’” And the whole place exploded in craziness. Here was $2 million raised in 15 seconds for this amazing charity. And David Fahrenthold from the Washington Post saw a picture of me at the event and called me during the election and said, ‘Do you remember what happened?’ I said, ‘Yeah, Donald pledged a million bucks, check it out.’ And he went and looked at it and Donald gave nothing. Literally zero dollars.”

Withholding charitable donations from dying children is generally considered among the lowest of the lows humanity can reach, so it should come as no surprise that Donald Trump has touched the bottom. More than once, apparently. While the details of the Skolnik story differ from the findings of the Forbes investigation, the theme of Trump’s selfishness and power-grubbing remain the same.  

In the case examined by Forbes, Trump overcharged his son’s charity for use of his golf club and other amenities in order to turn a profit. Eric Trump’s foundation held its inaugural golf tournament in 2007. The Trump scion assured donors—who paid anywhere “from $3,000 for a single all-day ticket to $100,000 for a pair of VIP foursome”—they didn’t have to worry about funds being misused, since the facilities and services were free, gifted by his father. Forbes found that wasn’t exactly true, but in the early years, costs were at least on par with standard expenditures for charity events, at about $46,000 each year. That figure reportedly jumped threefold once the elder Trump realized his son’s charity was getting a major discount from his club, meaning the Trump Organization wasn’t profiting off the cancer-stricken kids it was meant to benefit. From Forbes:

[I]n 2011, things took a turn. Costs for Eric Trump’s tournament jumped from $46,000 to $142,000, according to the foundation’s IRS filings. Why would the price of the tournament suddenly triple in one year? “In the early years, they weren’t being billed [for the club]—the bills would just disappear,” says Ian Gillule, who served as membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester during two stints from 2006 to 2015 and witnessed how Donald Trump reacted to the tournament’s economics. “Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not—everybody gets billed.'”

The Forbes investigation also turned up evidence that the Donald J. Trump Foundation used Eric’s charity to create an appearance of giving while profiting. According to the article, the DJT Foundation “donated $100,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation—a gift explicitly made, according to Gillule, to offset the increased budget.” That money ultimately “passed through the Eric Trump Foundation—and wound up in the coffers of Donald Trump’s private businesses.” Forbes compares the deceptiveness of the whole operation as being on par with “a drug cartel’s money-laundering operation.”

Forbes attempted to make mathematical sense of the sky-high costs Eric Trump’s charity was billed by his father’s company in recent years. IRS records indicate those charges rose to $230,000 in 2013, and continued climbing, hitting $322,000 in 2015. The outlet talked to Eric Trump himself, who stuck with his story that nearly every good and service, from drinks to appearances by entertainers to the rental of the golf course itself, had been donated free of charge. When Forbes asked for an itemized budget that might explain the costs the club imposed, the Eric Trump Foundation “declined to respond.”

From Forbes:

Thus it’s hard to figure out what happened to the money. All the listed costs are direct expenses: Items like overhead and salaries appear elsewhere in its IRS filings. Even if the Eric Trump Foundation had to pay the full rate for literally everything, Forbes couldn’t come up with a plausible path to $322,000 given the parameters of the annual event (a golf outing for about 200 and dinner for perhaps 400 more). Neither could golf tournament experts or the former head golf professional at Trump National Westchester. “If you gave me that much money to run a tournament, I couldn’t imagine what we could do,” says Patrick Langan, who worked at the club from 2006 to 2015. “It certainly wasn’t done that way.”

Forbes points to a shift in board membership at the Eric Trump Foundation as a possible starting point for when the fuzzy accounting began. The magazine notes that a group that was previously comprised of friends of Eric suddenly became filled with employees of the senior Trump’s business. Langan, the golf club employee, told Forbes that the charity and Trump’s bottom line became so entwined that the two causes essentially became one.

“You’re dealing with people talking about the event and the charity who also at the same time are thinking about it as a corporation and as a business,” Langan told Forbes. “It’s a for-profit club. You know, they’re trying to make money.”

Eric Trump shut down his charity back in December after questions arose around many of the same issues. A Daily Beast report from months earlier concluded that “the Eric Trump Foundation [paid] hundreds of thousands over the last 10 years to host lavish fundraising events at Donald Trump’s golf courses.” The suspension of activity came after the charity tried to auction off an event headlined “Enjoy Coffee with Ivanka Trump in NYC or DC.” The bidding had climbed nearly to $78,000 before negative press led to the listing being pulled.

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

Read more at: Alternet http://bit.ly/1nDoAlo

House Republicans pass major banking deregulations that would undo Dodd-Frank reforms

from June 9, 2017 at 03:00AM http://bit.ly/2rPnLjz

On Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to passed a major banking deregulation bill that would roll back major financial Dodd-Frank regulations and would be a boon to the big banks who plunged America into the 2008 financial crisis.

  	

The Financial Choice Act, supported by President Donald Trump, would implement a number of measures that weaken the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed by President Barack Obama’s administration to rein in the big banks. The measure passed along strict party lines: Only one Republican broke ranks to vote no, while no Democrats voted yes.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would have its powers reduced and its director would be required to report directly to the president, thereby making it less independent. Similarly the Financial Stability Oversight Council, an interagency group led by the Secretary of the Treasury, would have less power to increase regulations on non-banking financial firms that it decides are “too big to fail.”

In addition, the Financial Choice Act would allow banks that increase their emergency financial surpluses to avoid many of the new regulations imposed by the Obama administration. The Volcker Rule, which limits the risking financial practices in which banks can engage, will be repealed, which is expected to increase profits at big banks by more than $2 billion. Similarly, it would make it so that banking and financial industry executives don’t have to disclose how much they earn compared to their average employees.

That said, the bill is unlikely to maintain all of its current provisions by the time it gets through the Senate.

As Sean Tuffy, who works on global regulatory intelligence for Brown Brothers Harriman, told CNBC, the vote was “a symbolic victory for the House Republicans. The Senate’s been pretty clear that they’re going to pursue financial regulatory reform, but on their own terms.”

Read more at: Salon.com http://www.salon.com

ISIS Recruiter Who Radicalized London Bridge Attackers Was Protected by British Intelligence

from June 9, 2017 at 07:38PM http://bit.ly/2srahvq

From collusion to blowback.

This article was produced in partnership with AlterNet and Insurge Intelligence. Learn more about Nafeez Ahmed and how to support his work.

The terrorists who rampaged across London on the night of June 3 were part of a wider extremist network closely monitored by MI5 for decades. The same network was heavily involved in recruiting Britons to fight with jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Police have confirmed that Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were the three terrorists shot and killed after participating in a brutal van and knife attack in the London Bridge area.

According to press reports, both Butt and Redouane were longstanding members of the proscribed extremist network formerly known as al-Muhajiroun. After 9/11, the group operated under different names such as Shariah4UK, Muslims4Crusades and Islam4UK. Originally founded by Lebanese firebrand, Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was banned from returning the UK after the 7/7 attacks, the network was later run by Bakri’s deputy, Anjem Choudary.

Red flags, missed

Choudary was convicted in 2016 for supporting and encouraging support for ISIS. Yet the press has largely ignored the extent to which Choudary’s uncanny freedom to operate in Britain, and to send British Muslims to fight in foreign theaters, was linked to his opaque relationship to Britain’s security services.

Khuram Butt was known to counter-terrorism police and MI5, who investigated him in 2015. The official line is that he was deprioritized as no evidence of attack planning was found. Anonymous British counter-terrorism sources, however, told CNN that Butt was the subject of a “full package” of investigatory measures, as he was believed to be “one of the most dangerous extremists in the UK.”

After September 2014, when ISIS began calling for attacks on the West, British security services grew “increasingly concerned that al-Muhajiroun members who had remained in the UK would carry out terrorist attacks.” The sources said that “One of those they were most concerned about was Butt.”

According to the Telegraph, Redouane fought with the Libyan Islamist militia unit Liwa al-Ummah to topple Muammar Qaddafi. Libyan security and diplomatic sources told the paper this militia sent foreign fighters to Syria after the NATO-backed revolution, many of whom “went on to fight alongside Al-Qaeda extremists in Syria.”

As British foreign policy analyst Mark Curtis reports: “The Liwa al-Ummah was formed by a deputy of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former emir of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.” Belhaj went on to become a military commander for the NATO-backed National Transition Council in Tripoli to bring down Qadafi in 2011. And in 2012, Liwa al-Ummah fighters in Syria merged with the main rebel force, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — which received direct military and logistical support from the US and UK militaries, as well as the Gulf states and Turkey.

Metropolitan Police denied that the third attacker, Zaghba, was known to the authorities, describing him as “not a police or MI5 subject of interest.”

An Italian national of Moroccan descent, Zaghba had also come on the radar of Italian intelligence in March 2016. Authorities stopped him at Bologna airport while trying to take a flight to Turkey to reach Syria, and had passed information on his movements to Moroccan authorities, as well as MI5 and MI6 — noting that he had told authorities in Bologna that he wanted to become a terrorist.

Despite being placed on an EU-wide watchlist, he managed to enter Britain without problems.

ISIS recruiters

Several sources who spoke to me on condition of anonymity said they knew of both Butt and Redouane, describing them as notorious “trouble-makers” who were shunned by wider Muslim communities.

“Yeah, I knew these guys, they used to hang out down the road from me in Barking,” said one Muslim resident of east London. “They were known as open ISIS supporters. They used to recruit people to go Syria and fight. It was hardly a secret.”

The source was familiar with Khuram Butt but did not know the other London attackers. “He was part of the al-Muhajiroun network. They were Anjem Choudary’s boys. When the Syrian war first broke out, these guys were organising a lot of people to go there and fight. They did it under humanitarian cover, pretending they were going to give aid and stuff.”

Another source based in north London knew both Butt and Redouane as followers of Anjem Choudary. He said that they had joined al Muhajiroun after 9/11, and whenever he would bump into them they would talk “all about fighting infidel shia, they worse than Jews, etc.”

He said that they openly campaigned in support of ISIS: “Man, these guys were loud and clear. They thought of Iraq and Syria as land of the caliphate. As before they loved Taliban but criticized them for not making it caliphate. They always invited people to join jihad and Syria. Nothing new there.”

MI5’s open door

According to an investigation by Middle East Eye, from 2011 to around early 2013, MI5 operated an "open-door" policy for Britons to travel and fight in Libya and Syria. Foreign fighters told MEE that their travels had been facilitated by Britain’s security services.

After traveling back to Libya in May 2011, one British fighter “was approached by two counter-terrorism police officers in the departure lounge who told him that if he was going to fight he would be committing a crime.”

The fighter provided them the name and phone number of an MI5 officer. Following a quick phone call to him, he was waved through.

“As he waited to board the plane, he said the same MI5 officer called him to tell him that he had ‘sorted it out’…

Another British citizen with experience of fighting in both Libya and in Syria with rebel groups also told MEE that he had been able to travel to and from the UK without disruption.

‘No questions were asked,’ he said.”

The open-door policy was designed to augment U.S. and British support to opposition forces seeking to overthrow Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Funneled through our allies, the Gulf states and Turkey, the bulk of this support went not to secular rebels but to hardline Islamist groups, including both al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Under this open door, as Curtis observes, “at least one London attacker and the Manchester bomber were able to travel to Libya to fight in Britain’s war.”

Since 2011, the primary figure responsible for recruiting Britons to fight in the Middle East and North Africa was Anjem Choudary.

Of the 850 Britons who went to join various insurgent groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya, most of them — fully 500 — had been recruited by Choudary to fight with ISIS. Choudary had also been linked to as many as 15 terror plots since 2001. These astonishing figures were revealed by the police after Choudary was convicted last year.

Sensitive ISIS documents corroborate the former al-Muhajiroun network’s crucial role in this British-ISIS terror funnel. The documents, leaked in early 2016, identified Choudary’s mentor, Omar Bakri Mohammed , as a sponsor of Britons trying to be inducted into ISIS. Choudary’s role as a key instigator in the recruitment of British Muslims to join the ISIS jihad in Syria, occurred at precisely the same time that Britain’s security services were operating an open-door policy to augment the anti-Gaddafi and anti-Assad rebellions.

These activities were well-known to British police and intelligence. Earlier this year, a group of extremists connected to Choudary were jailed for supporting ISIS and urging people to fight in Syria, after a 20 month-long undercover police operation.

This raises the question as to whether the reason nothing was done to shut down Choudary’s activities was his utility to MI5’s open door to Libya and Syria.

MI5 and ISIS recruiters, sitting in a tree

The official explanation of the failure to prosecute Bakri and Choudary for so long despite this track record is that the two were notoriously clever at appearing to staying on the right side of law. Supposedly, this meant that counter-terrorism officials found it difficult to build a case against them.

This narrative is problematic. Security sources speaking outside of official press statements have pointed to a somewhat different reality: that both Bakri and Choudary had ties to MI5.

In his book The Way of the World, reporter Ron Suskind recounts how he was told by a senior MI5 officer that Bakri had long been an informant for the security service, who “had helped MI5 on several of its investigations.”

Bakri confirmed the same in an interview with Suskind.

“Bakri enjoyed his notoriety and was willing to pay for it with information he passed to the police,” wrote Suskind. “It’s a fabric of subtle interlocking needs: the [British authorities] need be in a backchannel conversation with someone working the steam valve of Muslim anger; Bakri needs health insurance.”

Bakri’s ties with British intelligence to support foreign operations, moreover, go back decades.

As I wrote in the Independent on Sunday, “According to a former US Army intelligence officer, John Loftus, three senior al-Muhajiroun figures — Mr Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza and Haroon Rashid Aswat — were recruited by MI6 in 1996 to influence Islamist activities in the Balkans.”

But the connection did not stop there.

In 2000, Bakri admitted training British Muslims to fight as jihadists abroad, boasting: “The British government knows who we are. MI5 has interrogated us many times. I think now we have something called public immunity.”

A year later, the private security firm set up by Bakri in cohorts with Abu Hamza, Sakina Security Services , was raided by police and eventually shut down. Speaking in Parliament at the time, Andrew Dismore MP claimed the firm sent Britons “overseas for jihad training with live arms and ammunition.” Bakri was not arrested, let alone charged or prosecuted.

In short, Omar Bakri’s utility to British state operations in foreign theaters such as the Balkans appeared to grant him immunity in extremist recruitment at home.

To this day, it is not widely known that Bakri and his al-Muhajiroun network played a key role in facilitating the recruitment, radicalisation and logistics behind the 7/7 London bombings. The ultimate suppression of crucial evidence of this from government narratives, despite being mandatory reading for all legal counsel during the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest, has granted the group virtual free rein.

Thus, Omar Bakri’s acolyte and deputy, Anjem Choudary, led a similarly charmed life.

Days after Choudary’s terrorism conviction, Will Geddes — a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officer who had investigated Choudary — revealed that prior to the proceedings, Choudary too had been protected by MI5.

The Telegraph reported that despite being at “the forefront of radical Islam in Britain” for 20 years:

“The security services repeatedly prevented Scotland Yard from pursuing criminal investigations against hate preacher Anjem Choudary… Met counter-terror officers often felt they had enough evidence to build a case against the radicalising cleric, only to be told to hang fire by MI5, because he was crucial to one of their on-going investigations.”

It was only in August 2015, after Choudary posted YouTube videos online that openly documented his support for ISIS, that he was eventually prosecuted. Prior to that, the police believed they had a watertight case, but the decision not to prosecute had come from MI5.

Geddes himself told the newspaper:

“I am gobsmacked that we allowed him to carry on as long as long as he did. He was up to his neck in it but the police can’t do full investigations on people if the security service say they are working on a really big job, because they have the priority. That is what they did constantly. While the police might have had lots of evidence they were pulled back by the security service because he [Choudary] was one of the people they were monitoring. It was very frustrating and did cause some tension but we were told we had to consider the bigger picture.”

The bigger picture: war

Geddes did not respond to a request for comment asking whether the bigger picture might include Britain’s foreign policy goals in Syria.

According to Charles Shoebridge, though — a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer — “nothing was done by UK authorities” to stop UK citizens “joining jihadist groups in Libya and Syria.”

This was despite the fact that these Britons “made no secret on social media of the fact, even sometimes posting evidence of their participation in acts of terrorism and war crimes.” There was an “obvious risk of terrorism blowback were such trained and experienced extremists to return to Britain.”

Shoebridge had pointed out at the time that “this ‘turning a blind eye’ was actually consistent with the UK government position of intensive overt and covert support of rebel groups in Libya and Syria in attempting to topple Gaddafi and Assad.” Turning a blind eye, he added, was also consistent with “a long record of the UK government allowing, using and facilitating Islamist extremists to destabilise ‘enemy’ states, from Soviet occupied Afghanistan in the 80s, through Bosnia and Chechnya, to Libya and Syria today…

“It was only in 2013 when groups such as ISIS started to harm US and UK interests in Syria and Iraq, and kill US and UK citizens, that any action at all was taken to stop British jihadists from traveling, or arresting and charging those who returned. At this time it’s likely a tipping point was reached in the inherent conflict between MI6 priorities in furthering UK govt policy to overthrow Gaddafi and Assad, and MI5’s stated priority of keeping the UK safe from terrorism — indeed, it’s likely a tipping point was also reached internally within MI5 itself. In any event, from 2013 action started to be taken, which suggests government policy changed.”

The official defence for all this is that before 2013, the legislation necessary to tackle traveling jihadists did not exist. Shoebridge dismisses this as nonsense: “First, it’s been illegal to take part in terrorist related activities abroad since 2006 and, second, the new legislation introduced since 2013 has itself barely been used.”

In fact, it was only around 2014 that British counter-terrorism officials moved more aggressively to take down al-Muhajiroun.

I asked the Home Office to confirm whether Choudary was indeed an MI5 informant, and whether British authorities were aware of his recruitment of Britons to Syria , including the role of any of the London attackers as "foreign fighters."

A spokesperson said: “We are not commenting on the individuals named while that investigation continues or responding to speculation.”

But if Geddes and Shoebridge are correct, then when Anjem Choudary —Britain’s top ISIS terror recruiter —was dispatching Britons to Syria, he was, in Geddes words, “allowed… to carry on” by Britain’s security services.

The decision not to prosecute Choudary was to have fatal consequences. In February, about half of the British fighters who had traveled to Iraq, Syria and Libya returned.

In November 2014, as Home Secretary Theresa May said that JTAC, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, had raised the threat level for international terrorism from substantial to severe, indicating that an attack on the UK was believed to be “highly likely.” May’s announcement clarified that the threat level was lifted primarily due to the threat from 500 British nationals who had largely fought with ISIS:

“The decision to change the threat level was based primarily on developments in Syria and Iraq, where the terrorist group ISIL controls swathes of territory. We believe more than 500 British nationals have travelled to Syria and Iraq, many of them to fight… ISIL and its western fighters now represent one of the most serious terrorist threats we face.”

Collusion

It was Theresa May’s own open-door policy toward Britons fighting in foreign theaters that directly facilitated the expansion of this threat.

Under that policy, the chief coordinator of the British-ISIS corridor, Choudary, had active ties to MI5 which prevented counter-terrorism police officers from prosecuting him.

This draws a direct connection between Choudary’s impunity in Britain until 2015, and Britain’s short-sighted foreign policy goals in Syria.

“When the U.S. and British militaries were working with the Turks to train various Syrian rebel groups, many military officers knew that among those we were training was the next round of jihadists,” said Alastair Crooke, a former 30 year senior MI6 officer who dealt with Islamist groups across the Muslim world. “But the CIA was fixated on regime change. We knew that even if at any moment ISIS was eventually defeated, these Islamist groups would move against secular and moderate forces.”

This collusion between Western security services and Islamist extremism, Crooke told me, has very long roots in an intelligence culture that went back as far as the 1920s, “when in the attempt to gather control of the Arabian peninsula, King Abdulaziz told us that the key is Wahabism.”

This alliance culminated in the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, which was “the first clear use of fired-up Islamist radicals to provoke Russia into an invasion. This set the scene ever since. From then, our intelligence services have had a deeply entwined history with Islamist groups based on the belief that Saudi Arabia had the power to turn them on and off at will.”

Islamist groups have been used by British and American intelligence services, said Crooke, essentially “to control and contain the Middle East” against different forces, Nasserism, nationalists, and more recently Baathists.

Perhaps Crooke’s most damning insight was how these operations led to British intelligence becoming heavily dependent on Gulf state intelligence services to conduct regional operations.

“In the 1980s, Saudi began paying for operations with large sums of money — which was considered acceptable in the interests of landing a blow on the USSR’s influence in the region. As a result, though, our intelligence services became increasingly dependent on Saudi funding. If they wanted to avoid Congressional or parliamentary oversight, and to continue expanding difficult and sensitive off-the-books operations, they would go instead to their Gulf partners.”

The impact of this on the integrity of the U.S. and British intelligence community has been devastating:

“The assumption is that this doesn’t affect the integrity of intelligence, but clearly it does. The Gulf states have become paymasters for increasing expenditures on intelligence operations that the security services would prefer not be disclosed.”

This “incipient influence directly into the intelligence services,” said Crooke, is “supplemented by huge subsidies to think-tanks in Washington and London which create a specific cultural atmosphere. It has led many in the U.S. and Europe to uncritically absorb the Gulf kingdoms’ narrative of the region — one in which it is seen as absolutely fine to use fired-up Sunni Islamism to overturn governments like that of Gaddafi or Assad, without any sort of reflection.”

For Crooke, this mindset is responsible for the persistence of such failed policies, and explains why in the early days of the Arab Spring, Western policymakers believed they could “use Islamists of all sorts as useful tools to bring about change, and that our Gulf allies could control all this.”

I asked Crooke what should be done , especially now, in the unprecedented wake of three terrorist attacks in Britain over three months:

“We should start by surfacing these matters into consciousness. Only then can we begin the conversations needed to resolve them. We need to understand that the tension between fighting a ‘war on terror’ while at the same time in some ways being in bed with terrorists, has produced a disaster.”

For Shoebridge, the biggest elephant in the room is intelligence reform: “Repeatedly, MI5 has made decisions not to deploy its substantial physical and electronic surveillance resources against extremists who were well known to it, and who then went on to commit or attempt terrorist attacks — Manchester being a prime example.”

One explanation of this, he said, could be that the decision-making processes by which MI5 prioritizes the deployment of its resources are “defective.” Another could be that some extremists “were actually working as informants for MI5, regarded as under control or trustworthy, and therefore not needing to be watched.”

How can we really ever know?

“Only a fully empowered and totally independent inquiry could establish the truth of the matter however — and there’s no sign that this is likely to happen anytime soon.”

Read more at: Alternet http://bit.ly/1nDoAlo

Kansas Man Accused Of Hate Crime In Death Of Indian Citizen

from June 10, 2017 at 03:39AM http://bit.ly/2sbIXkb

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man accused in a bar shooting in suburban Kansas City that left one Indian national dead and another wounded was indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crime charges, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.

The indictment against Adam Purinton, 52, of Olathe, Kansas, comes after a Feb. 22 shooting at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas. Witnesses have said Purinton, who is white, yelled “get out of my country” at two 32-year-old Indian nationals, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, before he began shooting. Kuchibhotla died and Madasani was injured. A third man, Ian Grillot, was wounded when he tried to intervene.

The shooting raised fears of more attacks on immigrants following President Donald Trump’s election and his call for a ban on immigrants from some countries. Officials in India also expressed concern about their citizens’ safety in the U.S., where many work in technology and other industries.

Kuchibhotla and Madasani had come to the U.S. from India to study and worked as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin.

An affidavit released in March said Madasani told detectives that the gunman asked if their “status was legal” before he opened fire.

The indictment announced Friday alleges Purinton shot the two Indian men because of their “actual and perceived” race, color, religion and national origin. The indictment also alleges Purinton committed the crimes after premeditation and planning, attempted to kill more than one person and created a grave risk of death to others at the scene. The indictment also accuses Purinton of violating federal firearms laws.
After the shooting, Purinton drove 70 miles east to an Applebee’s restaurant in Clinton, Missouri, where he allegedly admitted the shootings to a bartender, who called police.

The Justice Department said in a news release Friday that it would determine later whether Purinton should face the death penalty.

Purinton was a Navy veteran who was a regular customer at Austin’s. Neighbors in the quiet Olathe cul-de-sac where he lived told The Associated Press that Purinton had become “a drunken mess” after his father’s death about two years ago and had physically and mentally deteriorated before the shooting.

Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland said in a statement that the hate crime charge was appropriate.

“The intent of this one act was to spread hate. It failed miserably,” Copeland said. “It has spread love, and it has brought this community even closer together.”

Police Chief Steve Menke said he hoped the charges would bring some comfort to Kuchibhotla’ loved ones and friends and to the survivors of the shooting.

Purinton is jailed in Johnson County, Kansas, on $2 million bond on murder and attempted murder charges.

His public defender, Michael McCulloch, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Grillot, who was hospitalized for 10 days after the shooting, was honored by Indian dignitaries for his efforts to stop the shooting. Three officials from the Consulate General of India in Houston traveled to Kansas City to meet Grillot in the days after the shooting. Consul General Anupam Ray told Grillot that his bravery was more representative of America than the violence at Austins, the hospital said.

In March, Grillot received a $100,000 check at a gala in Houston from The India House and three donors, with the money to be used toward buying a house.

A message left Friday with the Consul General’s office was not immediately returned. A message to the Indian Embassy in Washington D.C. also was not immediately returned.

Read more at: All TPM News http://bit.ly/1kKyqV3

Trump’s Justice Department ruled that the president can accept foreign payments

from June 10, 2017 at 08:16AM http://bit.ly/2t9q1zX

The Trump administration argued in a 70-page legal brief this week that the president is legally allowed to profit off payments from foreign governments, The Washington Post reported.

Responding to a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal watchdog group, the Justice Department wrote that revenue from foreign governments at Trump businesses would not constitute emoluments as defined in the Constitution.

“Neither the text nor the history of the Clauses shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a President’s private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power,” the administration wrote.

“Were Plaintiffs’ interpretation correct, Presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited ‘emolument,’” the legal brief added.

Crew filed the suit against President Donald Trump in January, right after he was inaugurated. The group maintained that Trump violated the emoluments clause because his properties collect rent and receive other payments from foreign governments. As of result, the group argued that the president had made himself susceptible to pay for play politics, The Post reported.

The emoluments clause holds that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

The clause was included in the Constitution in order to ensure that the politicians could not create a conflict of interesti with foreign powers.

Read more at: Salon.com http://www.salon.com

Immigration Judge Frees Mexican Activist U.S. Trying To Deport

from June 10, 2017 at 04:36AM http://bit.ly/2rjV0rR

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Mexican woman was released from custody Friday while the U.S. government seeks to deport her after a judge rejected arguments she should wear a monitoring device because she was arrested twice while demonstrating in support of people in the country illegally.

Claudia Rueda, 22, plans to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started in 2012 under President Barack Obama that shields immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children from being deported. Her case has drawn attention because she has no criminal record and is an immigration activist.

The immigration judge, Annie S. Garcy, said holding Rueda without bond was “unduly severe” and allowed her to be released on her own recognizance. She noted Ruedas’ academic and other achievements and was incredulous when a government attorney asked that Rueda be required to wear a monitoring device.”Wow, an ankle bracelet? Really?” said Garcy, who is on temporary assignment from Newark, New Jersey, under an administration effort to give higher priority to cases along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The government attorney, Matthew Hanson, responded that Rueda was arrested twice, once for trespassing and once for disorderly conduct.

Her attorney, Monika Langarica, said those arrests occurred during peaceful demonstrations to support people in the country illegally. She was charged in only one case and it was dismissed.

Rueda, a student at California State University, Los Angeles, was arrested on immigration charges May 18 outside a relative’s Los Angeles home in connection with what the U.S. Border Patrol said was a drug smuggling investigation.

Her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, was arrested on immigration violations in April in connection with the same investigation and later released from custody. Neither Rueda nor her mother was arrested on drug charges.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would comply with the order to release Rueda and will consider any additional requests by her attorney.

Langarica submitted legal arguments in support of Rueda that included letters from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, a Los Angeles Democrat.

President Donald Trump has upheld Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals while expanding the scope of immigrants subject to deportation beyond people with criminal convictions.

During Trump’s first 100 days in office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it arrested more than 41,000 people on immigration charges, an increase of nearly 40 percent from the same period a year earlier. Nearly 75 percent had criminal convictions.

Rueda did not apply for the Obama-era program to shield young immigrants from deportation because she could not afford $465 application fee, Langarica said. A scholarship fund has since agreed to pay the fee, which is now $495.

The hearing was held under tight security at a privately-run detention facility in San Diego, where Rueda has been held.

A band played Mexican-style ranchera and dance music outside the detention center for a small crowd of supporters.

Read more at: All TPM News http://bit.ly/1kKyqV3

Shockingly, Trump aligns the U.S. with ISIS over terror attack in Iran

from June 10, 2017 at 08:04PM http://bit.ly/2t9lCwW

Iran

(Credit: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

AlterNet

President Trump now has his own war. The two terror attacks in Iran that left 12 people dead are its opening shots.

ISIS took credit for the attacks, which served its goal of stoking sectarian war. Not coincidentally, the attacks also advanced Trump’s goals of escalating U.S. hostility toward Iran.

Trump inherited wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and a cold peace with Iran based on the international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Trump is abiding by the agreement while searching for ways to turn the cold peace into a hot war. His method: commit the United States to take sides in the long-standing political struggle between the Sunni and Shia traditions of Islam.

The Sunni cause is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, the region’s richest nation, which just bought $110 billion worth of U.S. weapons and relegates women to second-class citizenship. The Shiites are led by anti-American Iran, which has the region’s largest population, 17 women in parliament, and a democratically elected moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.

Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month was not a joke about a glowing orb. It was a war council, in which Trump allied the United States with the Sunnis and declared war on the Shiites. And what vital U.S. interest is served by taking sides in a religious civil war waged thousands of miles from American territory? The answer remains obscure and undiscussed in Washington.

In his May 22 scripted remarks in Saudi Arabia, Trump cited terrorism: “For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin from many leaders and nations in this very room.”

But all of the terrorists who attacked in Manchester, Paris, New York and Washington were Sunni fundamentalists. None of them were connected with Iran. Iran’s attacks on Americans and Westerners occurred mostly in the 1980s and ’90s. Since 2000, more than 95 percent of terrorist casualties worldwide have been inflicted by Saudi-influenced militants. Trump’s policy is based on a false premise.

ISIS gets a pass

An ignorant and embattled commander-in-chief has aligned the United States with Saudi’s theocratic monarchy and its international brigade of Sunni foot soldiers, known as ISIS. The militants of ISIS are Wahhabists, devotees of a Saudi fundamentalist tradition, which abhors Shiism, democracy and women’s rights as contrary to the wishes of Allah. ISIS loathes the heretics of Iran even more than it despises the infidels of the West.

As ISIS lost ground in Iraq and Syria earlier this year, it promised (via a video) to strike in Iran for the first time. Now ISIS has made good on its threats — and the militants, whom Trump likes to describe as “radical Islamic terrorists,” get a pass from the White House.

After ISIS took credit for killing children at a pop music concert, Trump tweeted his rage. After ISIS attacked Iranian tourists and parliamentarians, Trump tweeted about his trip to Cincinnati. The White House later issued a statement that did not mention ISIS or “radical Islamic terrorism,” but did say “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote,” which is pretty much what Osama bin Laden said after the 9/11 attacks.

The president may be morally bankrupt, but his political message is consistent: don’t criticize Saudi allies who are taking the fight to Iran, at least not by name.

War is spreading

Trump’s escalation promises more war in a region already punished by armed conflict. Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against Iran’s allies in Yemen, waged with U.S.-supplied weapons, has created a humanitarian disaster. The same holds true for Bashar al-Assad’s cruel war on his own people and Saudi-funded ISIS rebels.

Oblivious to the region’s complex realities, Trump fans the flames of war via Twitter.

Yesterday, Trump took credit for the decision of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations to sever diplomatic ties and air travel with Qatar, a tiny wealthy emirate of only 200,000 people. Qatar is the only country in the Gulf that maintains relations with Iran. The goal is to force Qatar to abandon Iran, the better to unify the Sunni countries for the coming conflict.

About Qatar’s isolation, Trump declared grandly:

Not quite. Hours later, ISIS struck in Tehran.

Flashpoints to Watch

The Sunni-Shiite conflict is already spreading to flashpoints where the United States could be drawn into the religious civil war. Two stand out. Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar: The largest U.S. military base in the region is now hosted by a sovereign government with whom the United States, following the Saudi lead, is now virtually at war. The State Department, under the hapless leadership of Rex Tillerson, appeared to be surprised by this development. The U.S. military says its flights in and out of the Combined Air Operations Command will be “unaffected” by the sense of crisis pervading the region. The reality is the United States feels the need to issue reassuring statements because the stability has given way to uncertainty under Trump’s provocative policy. Was Trump unaware his actions would raise the threat level facing U.S. forces? Or did he intend to put U.S. forces on war footing? No one knows because we have little information about how Trump made his decision. Both possibilities are disturbing. El Tanf in Syria: This city, located on the Syrian-Iraq border, is home to an American base. On Tuesday, U.S. military reported that it attacked allies of the Syrian regime, including Iranian militias, for the second time in three weeks after they ignored warnings to move away from the U.S. base. American commanders on the ground want to prevent the Iranian militias from using the road to El Tanf as a supply line from their Shiite allies in Iraq. That would strengthen their position as they press the fight on ISIS in northern Syria. In other words, the United States is now stepping up attacks on the front-line Iranian forces that are fighting ISIS. To wage war on Iran, Trump’s actions relieve pressure on ISIS. This is new. Before Trump came to office, the U.S.-led coalition focused on ISIS (also known in the region as ISIL or Daesh) and did not initiate fighting with Iranian militias also fighting ISIS. That is now changing, thanks to the influence of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis, both of whom are hawkish on Iran. Barbara Slavin, Middle East correspondent for Al-Monitor newspaper, stated what is obvious to the region.

Far from coincidence, the Tehran attacks were the result of the U.S.-Saudi understanding forged last month. While Congress bickers, Trump inflames a religious war and terrorism breaches another frontier.

Read more at: Salon.com http://www.salon.com

Emails Expose How Saudi Arabia and UAE Work the U.S. Media to Push for War

from June 10, 2017 at 08:12PM http://bit.ly/2reRm77

The UAE’s man in Washington enjoys a cozy relationship with a top Beltway pundit.

A highly influential top Emirati diplomat heaped praise on a prominent Washington Post columnist for writing pro-Saudi propaganda, a leaked email shows.

Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, applauded journalist David Ignatius for his writing on Saudi Arabia. Ignatius is notorious for fawning coverage of the kingdom, promoting its supposed efforts at reform and taking its line on regional conflicts without a shred of skepticism.

The relationship between the UAE’s man in Washington and one of the Beltway’s top pundits is especially notable in light of the conflict that has erupted in the Persian Gulf. A steadily escalating rift between the Gulf states erupted into an all-out media war this June, leading to the alleged hacking of Qatari state media source and the hacking of Otaiba’s personal email account. Before long, the conflict became a siege as Saudi Arabia and its ally, the UAE, suspended diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, and even imposed a de facto blockade on the country.

With the Trump administration alternating between support for the siege and halting opposition to its escalation, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are demanding Qatar to cut off support for the Muslim Brotherhood and to break its ties with Iran. President Trump took credit for the policy, which he implied was an intentional U.S.-led strategy.

Saudi Arabia has used the political turmoil to deflect from its own complicity in supporting Salafi-jihadist group, portraying violent Islamist extremism as a uniquely Qatari problem. (U.S. government intelligence, on the other hand, has acknowledged that both of its Gulf clients Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported ISIS and al-Qaeda.)

One of the key points of contention between the Gulf states is Al Jazeera, the state-sponsored cable and online news titan that has acted as an arm of Qatari soft power. Though the UAE has no such network to boast of, the emails from Yousef Otaiba — one of the Beltway’s slickest operators — show how the UAE launders its message behind influential sources in Washington.

Doing ‘everything’ for the Saudi crown prince

Both al-Otaiba and Ignatius have huge sway in Washington, D.C. and had the ear of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Both men have gone out of their way to portray the monarchy in Saudi Arabia in a positive light.

On April 20, Ignatius published an article in the Washington Post, titled, “A young prince is reimagining Saudi Arabia. Can he make his vision come true?” Ignatius personally sent al-Otaibi an email on April 21 with a link to the piece. Al-Otaiba replied later the same day, extolling Ignatius. In his reply, al-Otaiba bcc’ed the UAE’s foreign affairs minister, Abdullah bin Zayed, at his official government email account.

"Thank you for taking the time to go out there and meet with MBS," al-Otaiba wrote, using an acronym for Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, who is calling many of the shots in the kingdom. It is widely speculated that his father, King Salman, is ill.

"It looks from how you wrote this piece," al-Otaiba continued, "that you are beginning to see what we’ve been seeing for the last two years. Change!”

Al-Otaiba noted the Post article will be very useful in the attempt to rebrand the draconian Saudi regime.

"I’m relieved to find that you saw what we’ve been seeing and frequently trying to convey," wrote the Emirati ambassador. "Your voice and your credibility will be a huge factor in getting reasonable folks to understand and believe in what’s happening."

"Our job now," al-Otaiba concluded, "is to [do] everything possible to ensure MBS succeeds."

This email is part of a larger leak that appears to be a politically motivated hack in response to attempts by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to isolate Qatar.

Emails obtained by other media outlets show the UAE ambassador collaborating with the right-wing, pro-Israel think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies to develop strategies against Iran.

President Trump’s recent Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh has put the Saudi monarchy under renewed scrutiny, highlighting its projection of extremist Wahhabi state ideology throughout the world and its support for Salafi-jihadist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda from Syria to the southern islands of the Philippines.

The UAE, however, has gotten much less attention. The Gulf state is a key ally of the U.S., collaborates militarily in Yemen and pours money into Washington, D.C. think tanks. And Yousef al-Otaiba is the UAE’s voice in Washington.

Shilling for the Saudi Regime

Fellow journalists have taken David Ignatius to task for his long history of penning PR for the Saudi regime.

In a profile for the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Adam Johnson detailed how “For almost 15 years, Ignatius has been breathlessly updating U.S. readers on the token, meaningless public relations gestures that the Saudi regime—and, by extension, Ignatius—refer to as ‘reforms.’”

Ignatius has published more than a dozen Washington Post columns recycling hackneyed Saudi regime talking points, echoing members of the royal family and even rationalizing the beheading of peaceful dissidents from the kingdom’s Shia minority.

Ignatius’ April 20 profile on Mohammed bin Salman was enthusiastically endorsed by numerous Saudi figures, including the mission to the European Union; the new pro-regime, Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Arabia Foundation; and Nasser al-Biqami, who was appointed secretary-general of Riyadh’s new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.

Ignatius influencing Hillary Clinton

Ignatius’ writings have a strong influence not just on the U.S. public, but on the government itself. His columns’ impact on the administration of President Barack Obama and on his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was evident in the tranche of emails released from Clinton’s hacked private server. Ignatius was mentioned 40 times in the Clinton emails.

Soon after Clinton was appointed to the head of the State Department, she had two private meetings with Ignatius, itineraries from May 2009 emails show.

Clinton aides and State Department officials regularly forwarded David Ignatius’ writings to the secretary of state, including articles like “Plotting a post-Assad road map for Syria.” Jake Sullivan directly recommended that Clinton read Ignatius. Sidney Blumenthal, an outside advisor, likewise shared several of Ignatius’ Middle East columns with the secretary.

Even Clinton herself spoke with State Department officials about Ignatius’ work and asked about him. A State Department official drafted a response to one of Clinton’s emails referencing the Washington Post columnist, and added, “I suggest you call David Ignatius sometime next week laying this out.”

Ignatius was so chummy with Clinton’s staff, he sent Jake Sullivan a message in 2011 asking for a phone call and inviting Sullivan to speak to his class at Harvard University.

How Otaiba influenced Clinton and Trump

Otaiba also enjoyed close personal ties to Clinton during her time as secretary of state. A 2010 email shows he reached out to Hillary Clinton to personally wish her a happy birthday.

The Emirati diplomat is mentioned 22 times in the emails released from Clinton’s time as former secretary of state. Al-Otaiba regularly emailed Clinton’s aide Jake Sullivan, who then forwarded the messages to her. Some of the messages show itineraries with private meetings between Secretary Clinton and al-Otaiba. The messages also reveal the casual nature of Otaiba’s relationship with top U.S. officials.

Under the Trump administration, Otaiba’s influence has grown. He is especially close to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been tapped as a diplomatic jack-of-all-trades despite have entered Washington with no experience in government. Kushner, whose family has forged close ties to Israel’s Likud Party, has been described as Otaiba’s student, relying on him as a guide to the Middle East.

Top influence peddler

Yousef al-Otaiba is the son of the oil tycoon Mana al-Otaiba. Mana served as oil minister for the UAE — a formidable position in a country whose entire economy and political system depends on fossil fuels. Al-Otaiba senior was also president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) a record six times.

A 2015 profile of Otaiba in the Huffington Post details how the diplomat plays politicians and the media like a virtuoso. The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee told the Huffington Post, “I’ve spent probably more time with Yousef than I have anybody.”

Otaiba exerted his influence on a private 2014 Pentagon meeting on ISIS strategy held by the U.S. Defense Policy Board. He was the only foreign politician invited, save for Britain’s ambassador, joining former top U.S. foreign policy honchos like Madeleine Albright and Zbigniew Brzezinski. At the meeting, Otaiba was the most vociferous proponent of regime change in Syria and violently toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad.

This was consistent with Otaiba’s history of pushing the U.S. toward massive military escalations. In 2010, he used his voice to amplify calls from the pro-Israel lobby and hawkish members of Congress for an attack on Iran. At a conference at the Aspen Institute, Otaiba declared, "I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the UAE."

Read more at: Alternet http://bit.ly/1nDoAlo