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Tuesday, 30 September 2014


ISLAMIC leaders have called on Muslim parents to “dob in” their own children if they suspected they were becoming extremists, as the Australian military prepares to join Middle East bombing raids as early as Sunday. The call came as a Muslim family festival on Brisbane’s southside was cancelled due to escalating safety concerns. And as anti-terror raids were held across Melbourne. Also yesterday, Queensland’s police commissioner revealed his officers were already acting on “intelligence’’ received on potential threats. Brisbane Muslim community activist and spokeswoman Yasmin Khan urged Muslims to come forward with information. “Although it isn’t the Australian way to dob-in other people, this is all about protecting our community,’’ Ms Khan said. “You can’t rely on the person who might have been or is being radicalised to come forward to authorities, so it’s up to parents to do it. “Every parent needs to be aware of what their children are watching online, or if they are possibly doing something wrong. They need to be vigilant and report this to police because it could be too late afterwards.” Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said members of the Muslim community had come forward with “some really factual information”. “They are telling us things they believe are important and raise concerns for them. It’s all intelligence,’’ he said. “We have seen a definite increase in the number of reports through the national security hotline, CrimeStoppers, and Policelink and this has been specifically related to the situation we find ourselves in, since the arrests started a couple of weeks ago.” Mr Stewart, who refused to elaborate on what the intelligence specifically related to, said he was “very grateful for the Muslim community reaching out to us”. Mr Stewart said police had been reinforcing the message within the Muslim community that they needed to be “aware and vigilant”. Commissioner Stewart also urged Muslims to report details of Islamophobic attacks, including graffiti at mosques, verbal abuse and physical threats. “There is a real risk here that this could escalate very quickly and we need to do everything we can to stop that,” he said. A spokesman for the organising committee behind the Islamic Society of Algester’s Eid al-Adha festival said: “It’s a shame that we now have to direct people to celebrate elsewhere.” “We don’t think anything will happen but we cannot afford to have even one fight between just two boys,” he said. It is the first time in more than a decade the event has had to be scrapped. Meanwhile, senior military brass are believed to be preparing a possible October 5 mission start date, with RAAF super hornets and other air support combat on standby for deployment into Iraq. LINK:

Monday, 29 September 2014


Isis (now known as the Islamic State) are now less than 10km (6.3 miles) from Baghdad as clashes with the Iraqi army continue, according to the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq. Fighting with the terror group is taking place on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital with Iraqi forces attempting to halt their advance on the city. Conflicting reports have emerged of the proximity of the radical Islamist group to Iraq's economic and political centre. Fighting has taken place in the key strategic town of Amariya al-Falluja, 40km (25 miles) west of Baghdad but Canon Andrew White, the vicar of Iraq's only Anglican church, has claimed that the militants are now less than 10km (6.3 miles) from the capital. "The Islamic State are on the verge of entering Baghdad. The Islamic State are now within 10km of entering Baghdad. Over a 1,000 Iraqi troops were killed by them yesterday, things are so bad. "As I said all the military air strikes are doing nothing. If we ever needed your prayer it is now," he said. "President Obama is saying that he overestimated the ability of the Iraqi Army. It is so clear they have no ability. A hard thing to say but it's true." An organisation supporting the work of White, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, has claimed that the group are even closer to Baghdad - less than 2km away. "The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad. They said it could never happen and now it almost has. Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well you only need to be hear [sic] a very short while to know they can do very very little," the statement read. The IS advance on the city comes despite the US-led coalition's air strike campaign on the group's positions across Iraq, most recently in Anbar province 80km from Baghdad. US President Barack Obama has conceded that American intelligence did not take the growing threat from the group seriously enough. "Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria," he said in a televised interview. The United States has conducted over 200 air strikes on the group's positions in Iraq since August 2014, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar have joined or supported the strikes in Syria. LINK:


Police have confirmed counter-terrorism raids are underway across Melbourne. Victoria and Australian Federal police launched the raids on homes at five suburbs this morning. "The Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police Joint Counter Terrorism Team can confirm that a number of search warrants are being conducted as part of an operation in the following suburbs - Seabrook, Kealba, Meadow Heights, Broadmeadows and Flemington," an AFP spokesperson said in a statement. "This operational activity is not in response to a threat to public safety nor is it related to last week's incident at Endeavour Hills. "While this activity is continuing no further comment will be made." At least one man has been taken away by police at Seabrook. Teenage terror suspect Numan Haider, 18, was shot dead after stabbing two police officers outside Endeavour Hills police station on September 23. The Melbourne raids come about two weeks after similar operations were carried out in Sydney and Brisbane. Victoria's Premier Denis Napthine says he was briefed by police as the raids started and was told they were part of a long-running and ongoing counter-terrorism operation. "They advised yes, they are counter-terrorism related, but they are not related to the incident last week at Endeavour Hills," he told Fairfax Radio. "They are no threat to public safety. They are raids that are part of an ongoing operation "There is no threat to public safety. They are part of an ongoing effort combined between the AFP and Victoria Police. "I can't say further than that. "They are not about a specific threat or there is certainly no immediate concern for public safety." Dr Napthine said he had not been advised of any arrests stemming from the raids. "There certainly will be intelligence gathering and arrests as appropriate," he said. He said it was a "sad situation", but he had great confidence in authorities conducting the operations. "It is sad. It's a sad situation that we now face, but we can have confidence in the work of ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and the (Victoria Police), they do a terrific job," Dr Napthine said. "They certainly are ahead of the game in terms of protecting public safety and preventing any issues emerging in our society." LINK:


New Zealand's elite Special Air Service (SAS) personnel are not yet on standby for deployment to combat Islamic State militants in Iraq or Syria, Prime Minister John Key says, but he won't rule out sending them if asked "as a last resort". The US State Department has named New Zealand as one of more than 60 countries in the coalition supporting its efforts to counter Isis (Islamic State) but Mr Key yesterday said he hadn't yet received any requests for assistance. However, he said that was probably partly because his Government hadn't yet been sworn in following this month's elections. Asked whether he would send military personnel if requested, Mr Key said: "I can't rule out that there won't be because what you can see around the world is countries being asked to give support." As far as sending SAS personnel, Mr Key said: "I can't rule that absolutely out, but what I can say is that I'll get advice and we'll see how that goes, but it would be my least preferred option." Any commitment of personnel "would be a step I think we should take very cautiously and with our eyes open because history tells you that going into places like Iraq is fraught with difficulty and danger and as we know with Afghanistan, it was a very long-term commitment". Afghanistan had shown such commitments were neither easy nor shortlived and the sophistication of Isis was greater than the al- Qaeda-linked Taliban there. "These are not insignificant people. Their acts of brutality are grotesque and most New Zealanders would be deeply offended by what they see." Mr Key said the SAS, who had intelligence gathering and training roles in Afghanistan, were not on standby for deployment at this time, but 3 News last night reported that a squad of 12 SAS personnel were in "pre-deployment mode" for a possible mission in Iraq. Mr Key again emphasised that involvement in Iraq, where the Government had asked for international help, was more likely than in Syria, where that was not the case. Despite his clear reluctance for New Zealand to get involved in military operations, Mr Key said he was of the view that airstrikes on Isis targets "will only take you so far". He was also taking advice on whether New Zealand would follow Australia and begin publicly notifying its threat level. What is Isis and Isil? Isis (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is one of several names for the former "al Qaeda in Iraq" militant group, which has also gone by the titles Isil (Islamic State in Syria and the Levant) and simply Islamic State.Who are they? According to the CIA, Isis has more than 30,000 fighters, about half of them foreign, including at least 2000 who hold Western passports. What do they want? To establish a caliphate, or strict Islamic state, across northern Syria, Iraq and beyond. Are they succeeding? Isis has made major gains in Iraq, seizing its second-biggest city, Mosul, and threatened to overrun parts of the Kurdish regional government. Why should the world worry? Isis has been accused of ethnic cleansing and committing war crimes, such as public executions and recruiting child soldiers. The group has executed hundreds of local captives, American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines. LINK:


Labor's decision to wave through new laws that grant unprecedented powers to Australia's spy agencies is driven by the party's desire to "pick battles" on national security, and not appear overly obstructionist, sources said. The government's first tranche of national security reforms enable ASIO to access an unlimited number of computers with a warrant and carry penalties of 10 years jail for anyone who discloses details of ASIO "special intelligence operations". The bill passed the Senate last week with the support of the Coalition, Labor and the Palmer United Party and is expected to go to the lower house on Wednesday where it will easily pass. Lawyers, academics, human rights commissioner Tim Wilson and media organisations have warned the new laws will restrict legitimate reporting on security issues. Labor sources said the party would likely have supported stronger protections for journalists if the powerful Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is dominated by Coalition members, had recommended them. The committee made only 17 relatively minor recommendations for change. Labor has decided it must "pick its battles" on national security and does not want to be seen as obstructionist on the the politically-sensitive issue, sources said. The party is prepared to demand changes to the second set of new laws, which will allow the government to declare certain countries "no go zones". Speaking in August shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus described the new penalties for journalists and whistleblowers who disclose confidential information as "an unprecedented overreach of government power which poses a real threat to the freedom of the press". A spokeswoman for Mr Dreyfus said Labor was originally concerned that journalists could be jailed for accidental disclosures but that the laws now only covered "reckless" or intentional disclosures. "We believe changes balance the need to protect the safety of ASIO employees engaged in [special intelligence operations], while ensuring that journalists are not in danger of being penalised for simply doing their jobs," the spokeswoman said. The bipartisan approach to national security appeared to break down on Monday when Labor reacted angrily to accusations by Foreign Minister Julia Bishop that they had underfunded Australia's security agencies when in office. "Regrettably, we didn't have the focus [on national security] in the last few years that we should have," Ms Bishop said at a press conference. "That's why the Australian government has announced $630 million in additional funding to ensure that our intelligence agencies and others have the capability and capacity to deal with a heightened terrorist risk." Mr Dreyfus said the comments were a "cheap political shot" and criticised Tony Abbott for declining ASIO briefings when he was Opposition Leader. Labor increased ASIO's budget by 10 per cent in its last budget, he said. Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt said he will introduce amendments to limit to 20 the number devices ASIO can access with a single warrant. The Greens were prepared to negotiate on the number, he said. Mr Bandt's amendments would also remove criminalisation of whistleblowers for releasing information on special intelligence operations and remove criminalisation of journalists reporting on them. "As the bill stands, the government can access your computer or mobile and even add files to it, despite the fact you're not a suspect. If your computer is on the same network as a suspect's, whether that's at work, university or even the entire internet, the government will be able to access it," he said. Spy agencies and the government have argued they need the new powers as at present a new warrant needs to be filled out for each device that agencies want to gain access to. If a person has multiple devices - at work and home - this can become an onerous task. Mr Bandt said he was concerned the government's new laws would restrict reporting of operations similar to the alleged bugging of East Timor's cabinet room by Australia's foreign spy arm, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. LINK:

Sunday, 28 September 2014


Australia is poised to join air strikes on Islamic State militants in Iraq in a matter of days, while the nation's attorneys-general and police ministers will meet next week to be briefed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the federal police on recent counter-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Sunday the final hurdles to participation in Iraq could be cleared in a matter of days. The national security committee will meet and then the full cabinet will meet early this week to discuss military action. Ms Bishop said on Sunday she expected the legal framework for Australian strikes in Iraq to be agreed with Baghdad shortly. She also said Australia would consider any request to be involved in strikes on IS, also known as ISIL, in Syria but cautioned different considerations would apply. Labor justice spokesman David Feeney backed the government's involvement in Iraq but indicated the opposition opposed Australian military intervention in Syria, for now. A meeting of the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council later this week will discuss the counter-terrorism raids by state and federal police and the death of Melbourne man Numan Haider, who stabbed two police officers last week before being shot dead. ASIO's briefing will focus on the domestic spy agency's national security threat assessment while the AFP will focus on the raids. Justice Minister Michael Keenan told Fairfax Media the meeting was timely as the threat facing Australia was "significant and the threat is real". "It's more important now than ever before that police ministers and lawmakers are at the same table as we strengthen Australia's counter-terrorism measures," he said. "Information sharing is critical, community awareness is a priority, and the commitment from law enforcement leaders and dedication of state and federal officers to work together to keep Australians safe is paramount." In the Middle East, Australia has deployed eight FA-18 Super Hornet jets, early-warning and refuelling aircraft and 600 personnel. Of those 600 personnel, about 200 are said to be military advisers ready to work with Iraqi government forces in the fight with IS. The Foreign Minister said that before Australia acted in Iraq, "we need to have a legal framework ... we want to ensure that we can get the legal framework in place". "I think it would be a question of days [before agreement is reached]. That's why David Johnston was in Baghdad, to meet with the new Iraqi government. "And also to talk about the details of what would be required to support the Iraqi Defence Force because we would be going in at the invitation of and with the consent of the Iraqi government to support their defence forces to be able to defend their citizens and fight back against ISIL." Ms Bishop said strikes in Syria were a step further and that different considerations would apply, pointing to the fact that parts of Syria were ungoverned and that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was illegitimate in Australa's view. Mr Feeney said the government's response to the situation in Iraq and Syria was "appropriate and proportionate – this is a coalition and a cause that Australia should be in", he told Sky News on Sunday. "As long as Australian forces and operations are confined to Iraq then that is an appropriate place for us to be." But he warned that Australian strikes in Syria could be illegal under international law. Mr Feeney said Labor's support for military intervention in the Middle East was based on four factors: that the military campaign is legal under international law; that Australia is acting as part of a coalition, including key regional countries; that there is a clear military strategy; and that it is focused on preventing genocide to persecuted minorities. Read more:

Friday, 26 September 2014


The Danish government has confirmed that it is set to join the US-led coalition to tackle Isis (now known as the Islamic State) in northern Iraq. Copenhagen is to send seven F-16 fighter jets to participate in air strikes against the group in Iraq but not Syria due to Baghdad's request for outside assistance against the terror organisation. Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said that her government has the majority parliamentary support for the deployment of four operational aircraft and three reserve jets including 250 pilots and support staff. "No one should be ducking in this case. Everyone should contribute," she said. A vote in the Danish Parliament is planned to take place but it is widely predicted that the vote will pass in Thorning-Schmidt's favour. No date has yet been set. The Dutch government has also announced the deployment of six F-16 fighter jets to conduct air strikes on IS positions in Iraq but not Syria. "The Netherlands will make six F-16s available for the first phase of the campaign, for one year," said Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher after an emergency meeting at The Hague. In addition to the fighter jets, up to 380 Dutch military personnel could be operational in Iraq with 130 of those being military instructors to support local Iraqi forces. LINK:


MPs have voted in favour of staging air strikes in Iraq to combat Isis (now known as Islamic State) by an overwhelming majority of 481, with 524 voting yes and 43 voting no. Britain will now join the US-led coalition taking part in miltary action against IS, along with France and "partner nations" from the Arab world - Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Belgium and Denmark have also announced they will join the coalition in launching air strikes against the militant group. Earlier, after Cameron had recalled Parliament to discuss how to confront IS, he told MPs military action was the only way to deal with the "psychopathic terrorists that are trying to kill us". He added: "We have to realise that, whether we like it or not, they have already declared war on us. "There isn't a 'walk on by' option. There isn't an option of just hoping this will go away." Cameron also said the result of the 2003 invasion of Iraq should not overshadow the intentions of the coalition in their fight against IS. He said: "This going to be a mission that will take not just months but years, but I believe we have to be prepared for that commitment. And the reason for that is that America, Britain and others are not contemplating putting combat troops on the ground." Cameron told the House of Commons that all military decisions will be a result of "patience and persistence, not shock and awe" — a direct reference to the phrase associated with the invasion of Iraq. Speaking to Commons at the end of the six-hour debate, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged that "we must act" to defeat IS, but must be "mindful of the mistakes and lessons of the past". Labour leader Ed Miliband said people are right to be of wary military action in Iraq following the 2003 invasion but said Britain could not consider the alternative to "turn away". He added: "I know that because of the 2003 Iraq war people will be fearful about this. We're determined we don't repeat the mistakes of the past but equally we don't turn away from the threats that we face." It has emerged Shadow Education Minister Rushanara Ali resigned from Labour's front bench in order to abstain from the vote to decide on military action. LINK:

Thursday, 25 September 2014


New York: Iraq has received "credible" intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States, Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday, but senior U.S. officials said they had no evidence to back up the claim. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he had received the information Thursday morning from militants captured in Iraq and concluded it was credible after asking for further details. The attacks, he said, were plotted from inside Iraq by "networks" of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. "They plan to have attacks in the metros of Paris and the US," Abadi told a small group of US reporters while in New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. "I asked for more credible information. I asked for names. I asked for details, for cities, you know, dates. And from the details I have received, yes, it looks credible." National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the White House had not confirmed any plan to attack the US and French subway systems. "We have not confirmed such a plot, and would have to review any information from our Iraqi partners before making further determinations," she said. Two senior US security officials, contacted following the comments from Abadi, said the United States had no information to support the threat. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said authorities had already begun to beef up security at New York City's mass transit sites before Abadi's comments. The New York City Police Department said it was aware of the prime minister's warning and in close contact with the FBI and other agencies to assess the threat. There had been no credible threats made against Washington DC's rail and bus system, Washington Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said in an email. The United States and France have both launched air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq as part of a US-led campaign to "degrade and destroy" the radical Sunni militant group, which has seized a third of both Iraq and Syria. Abadi disclosed the intelligence while making a case for Western and Arab countries to join that campaign. "We want to increase the number of willing countries who would support this," he said. "This is not military. This is intelligence. This is security. The terrorists have a massive international campaign. Don't underestimate it." In the past, the United States had received threats that various militant groups were targeting transportation systems but there is no recent information about an imminent plan by Islamic State, one US official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Cuomo said the enhanced security in New York was part of a bi-state initiative announced on Wednesday with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, in response to possible threats by Islamic State militants. Abadi also said that Iraq did not want to see foreign "boots on the ground," but stressed the value of providing air cover for the country, saying that the Iraqi air force did not have sufficient capability. He said that Australia was "very interested" in participating, though he did not provide details. He also voiced optimism about a planned British parliament vote on Friday on the matter, saying "they reckon it will be successful." Earlier on Thursday, France said it would increase security on transport and in public places after a French tourist was killed in Algeria, and said it was ready to support all states that requested its help to fight terror. Read more:


France carried out its second round of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq Thursday, a day after an Algerian militant organization with ties to ISIS released a video showing the beheading of a French tourist as punishment for France’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition to dismantle the Islamic State group. The country may also be reconsidering its decision not to join airstrikes in Syria. Thursday's airstrikes mark the second campaign in Iraq for France since the first round of airstrikes on Friday, Sept. 19, when the country joined the U.S.-led coalition. Jund al-Khalifa, an Algeria-based militant group aligned with ISIS, said it beheaded French tourist Hervé Gourdel after France didn’t comply with its demands to back out of the coalition and stop airstrikes within 24 hours. The beheading video was made public Wednesday. Although France previously ruled out airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said “the question is on the table” about hitting ISIS in Syria in the future. "The opportunity is not there today," Le Drian told French radio, according to Reuters. "We already have an important task in Iraq, and we will see in the coming days how the situation evolves." LINK:

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Australians must accept a reduction in freedom and an increase in security “for some time to come” to save lives from the significant threat of terrorism, Tony Abbott has told parliament. The prime minister asked Australians to support a shift in “the delicate balance between freedom and security” as he sought to bolster his case for the biggest overhaul of the nation’s counterterrorism laws in a decade. In an address to parliament on Monday, Abbott also rejected suggestions the domestic terrorism threat would be aggravated by the deployment of 600 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members to the Middle East to fight Islamic State (Isis) militants. The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, broadly supported Abbott’s position on security laws and the Iraq commitment, saying that “keeping our people safe is above politics”. Both leaders made their statements to parliament as MPs prepared to consider two bills this week: one to increase the powers of intelligence agencies and the second to target foreign fighters. Earlier on Monday the attorney general, George Brandis, announced several concessions in response to concerns raised by the Islamic community, the Labor opposition and the Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm. Legal immunities for Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) officers conducting covert “special intelligence operations” would specifically exclude torture, Brandis said. Other contentious measures, such as the new offence of visiting declared “no-go zones” without a legitimate purpose, would expire in 10 years. Abbott said he had three key messages: the government would do whatever was possible to keep people safe; the target was “terrorism not religion”; and Australians “should always live normally because terrorists’ goal is to scare us out of being ourselves”. But he cited the the major anti-terrorism raids across Sydney and Brisbane last week to make a broader point about the need to reconsider the balance between freedom and security. “I can’t promise that hideous events will never take place on Australian soil, but I can promise that we will never stoop to the level of those who hate us and fight evil with evil,” Abbott said. “Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we’re used to, and more inconvenience than we’d like. Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. “There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others. After all, the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets unharmed and to sleep safe in our beds at night. Creating new offences that are harder to beat on a technicality may be a small price to pay for saving lives and for maintaining the social fabric of an open, free and multicultural nation.” Abbott underlined the domestic security threat posed by Isis, saying that at least 60 Australians were believed to be fighting with groups in Syria and Iraq, at least 100 were supporting them, and more than 20 had already returned to Australia. He said it could “hardly be Islamic to kill without compunction Shia, Yazidi, Turkmen, Kurds, Christians and Sunni who don’t share this death cult’s view of the world” and nothing could “justify the beheadings, crucifixions, mass executions, ethnic cleansing, rape and sexual slavery”. He said it was in Australia’s national interest to stand ready to join the US-led coalition to help the new Iraqi government disrupt and degrade the Isis movement. Australia has offered Super Hornet aircraft to contribute to air strikes against Isis targets in Iraq, while special forces military advisers are preparing to help the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities in fighting the group. Cabinet will consider the use of force after Abbott participates in a United Nations security council meeting chaired by the US president, Barack Obama, in New York this week. Abbott specifically rejected claims of a link between Australian and western foreign policy and the terrorist threat, arguing the 11 September, 2001, attacks on the US and the 2002 Bali bombing predated the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Greens have argued that Isis would recruit people to its cause by presenting the latest Iraq conflict “as a western imperialist fight against Islam”. The director general of the MI5 security service from 2002 to 2007, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, has previously told Britain’s Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion “undoubtedly increased the threat” as it had “radicalised” young British citizens. Abbott said groups such as Isis would “cite our involvement but they would attack us anyway for who we are and for how we live, not for anything we have done”. “It’s our acceptance that people can live and worship in the way they choose that bothers them, not our foreign policy,” Abbott said, adding that stopping the advance of Isis should reduce its magnetism for people around the globe looking to join a fight. Abbott told parliament last week’s police raids came after “an Australian [Isis] operative instructed his followers to pluck people from the street to demonstrate that they could, in his words, ‘kill kaffirs’ ”. The prime minister said it was never right to kill or mistreat others in the name of God. Shorten said Labor believed security agencies should have the powers and resources they needed to keep Australians safe from the threat of terrorism, but stressed the importance of “safeguarding fundamental democratic freedoms”. “We must ensure that in legislating to protect our national security, the parliament is careful not to damage the very qualities and liberties that we are seeking to defend from terrorist threat,” Shorten said. Labor supported Australia’s contribution to the mission in Iraq, he said, not as “a matter of jingoism or nationalism” but based on “a calculation of conscience and national interest”. Isis was “intent upon only desecration and destruction” and was murdering innocent people and oppressing and raping women and girls across northern Iraq, Shorten said. He said Labor wanted the ADF to carry out a clearly defined mission at the request of the Iraqi government, but he set some boundaries. Labor would oppose deployment of ADF ground combat units to directly fight Isis, or an extension of the mission to Syria, or continuing it if the Iraqi government forces engaged in unacceptable conduct or adopted unacceptable policies. “Like the prime minister, I clearly reject the assumption that our engagement in Iraq has made us more of a target,” Shorten said. “I accept, however, that Australia must always be vigilant in the face of extremist threats. Very few Australians, poisoned by fanaticism, travelling to this war zone with the intention of participating in this conflict, represent a threat to our national security.” Shorten urged people not to stigmatise Muslim Australians for the crimes of Isis, saying the nation would “not overcome hatred with hatred” or tackle “intolerance by being intolerant”. Abbott thanked Shorten for his support, saying the bipartisanship on national security “let’s our enemies know that they will never shake our resolve” and that “hope is stronger than fear and that decency can prevail over brute force”. LINK:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


The Islamic State (Isis) has called for members to take retribution against the coalition of countries heading to northern Iraq and Syria to fight them, specifically instructing members to kill – without question and by any means necessary – civilians and soldiers in countries including Australia, France, Canada and the US. A lengthy video address and a written English translation attributed to Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was released on Monday, which called for “muwahhidīn in Europe, America, Australia, and Canada” and across the world to defend the Islamic state against the “dozens of nations...gathered against it”. “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” said al-Adnani. “Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers.” The speech is the first release from al-Adnani since his June declaration of the establishment of a caliphate and that Isis would be known as Islamic State. In Monday’s speech he specifically addressed the coalition of nations now seeking to defeat Isis and congratulated followers for the fear the group has created across the world. “Why have the nations of disbelief entrenched together against you? What threat do you pose to the distant place of Australia for it to send its legions towards you?” Last week Australia committed a 600-strong military force to the US-led coalition of more than 40 countries and airstrike campaign against Isis. While prime minister Tony Abbott said there would be no boots on the ground in Iraq, he left open the possibility that the mission could extend into combat operations. Mocking Barack Obama’s air strike campaign, al-Adnani criticised the US and allies for ignoring the deaths of Muslim people in Syria and around the world, until Isis appeared “to defend them.” “America and the crusaders started shedding crocodile tears for the sake of a few hundred rāfidī (shiite) and nusayrī criminal soldiers that the Islamic State had taken as prisoners of war and then executed. The hearts of America and its allies were broken by the Islamic State when it cut off the rotten heads of some agents, spies, and apostates.” In recent months Isis extremists have killed a number of western journalists and aid workers, filming the act and posting it online. Monash University professor Greg Barton said the release is “significant” and speaks to a shift in Isis’s operations. Until now the group has waged a “careful, long-term military campaign” focused on consolidating strength in Iraq and the Syrian civil war. “Al-Adnani doesn’t make these official statements very often,” Barton told Guardian Australia. “They’re lengthy, they’re very eloquent, they’re couched very much as fatwa. They’re not just a normal press release, they’re an inspiring call to join together in action, and they have the sort of tone of religious authority.” Barton said the speech indicated that Isis appeared to be trying to go in the same direction as al-Qaida in encouraging home grown extremism. “This is the first official statement that now is the time for their foreign fighter community, their support base and and anyone who’s listening to them to take on not just the military coalition in Iraq and Syria but also also where they come from, at their source,” he said. The release comes just days after the largest counter-terrorism raids in Australian history, with police arresting 15 individuals over an alleged plot to commit an act of terror. While it was not clear if the accused were members of Isis, Barton said al-Adnani’s release showed that the group is seeking to recruit people from across the world, but in a formalised way. Adnani said “claimants” had entered the ranks of Isis and so it would be necessary to “purify the ranks”. “I think [Isis] is a quite hierarchical structure, it has a very military ethos,” said Barton. “This is a very formal thing, but they are of course hoping to pick people up who are otherwise not yet connected to them but acting in their name. They want to both tap into their support network but also encourage anyone to seize the opportunity and respond.” Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said on Tuesday morning “no one is safe” in the presence of Isis. “Our agencies are treating this threat as genuine and it’s quite apparent [Isis] is prepared to take on anyone who doesn’t share their views,” she told ABC radio. The defence minister, David Johnston, is currently in Iraq and has met with the Iraqi prime minister and senior government officials in Baghdad. “It’s in Australia’s best interests that we stand ready with the world – now in a coalition of more than 40 nations – to help the new Iraqi government to disrupt and degrade the [Isis] death cult and to regain control over its own country,” he said in a statement. The federal government is in talks this week looking at amendments to proposed counter-terrorism laws. Abbott signalled on Monday that there would be increased pressure on Australian citizens and that some freedoms would have to be curtailed to ensure people’s safety. “The delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift,” he said. There may be more restrictions on some, so that there can be more protection for others.” The White House declined to comment on the video. “O (supporters) in Europe, America, Australia and Canada ... you who consider yourselves from amongst its soldiers and patrons. Do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons and troops ... Strike their police, security and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European especially the spiteful and filthy French or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. “Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military.” LINK:

Monday, 22 September 2014


A party-organising company in gay-friendly Tel Aviv has been criticised for using posters with Isis beheading style photos to advertise a nightclub event. Drek, one of the Israeli city's most popular gay party promoters, adopted pictures echoing Islamic State's beheading videos of David Haines, James Foley and Steven Sotloff ahead of club night "Drekistan at the Haoman". In one picture, a black-clad man is seen posing his hand on the shoulder of a kneeled man in orange prison suit. The poster has the Isis flag on the left top corner and Arabic writing as bottom text. Another image shows a bare-chested man branding the Islamists' black flag. The organisers wrote on Drek's Facebook page that "as the new Islamic State gains traction in the Middle East, we at Drek have decided to give in to Sharia law and cheer the stubborn Daesh" according to a translation by Ynet news website. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Isis full former name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham that translates as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis or Isil). Its acceptation is considered derogatory in the Arab world and that is the reason why France has decide to adopt it to refer to the Sunni Islamist group. The founder of Drek, Amiri Kalman, told Ynet: "We are trying to react to current events. We have been doing it for a number of years. But we reject violence in any form and that includes the (execution) videos intended to scare the world. "Therefore we also refuse to participate with this fear and refuse to become hysterical. This is satire, and our way of showing our contempt of them and their videos." The first poster has been taken down after been called tasteless and disgusting by several netizens. LINK:


Islamic militants are using violent video games with scenes of violence and killing to entice young men and women into their ranks. Video game footage was released on YouTube showing rebel fighters wearing black shirts and camouflage trousers shooting and killing unarmed victims. At the start of the video a message appears that reads: 'Your games which are producing from you, we do the same actions in the battelfields (sic)." There are sophisticated scenes using CGI of explosions in desert topography, with trucks being blown up amid machine gun fire. In the background, shouts of "Allah Akbar" - "God is great" can be heard. The Isis logo is displayed prominently throughout the footage. The Isis video is entitled "Grand Theft Auto: Salil al-Sawarem", which roughly translates in Arabic as "the sound of swords coming together". According to Arabic journalists, Isis's media wing stated that the game aims to "raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the Islamic State." "It's ironic that they are using Western games to demonstrate their wrongly guided hatred towards them," said Mufaddal Fakhruddin, an editor at the Middle Eastern branch of video games and entertainment site IGN. The trailer is "clearly aimed" towards a young audience, who might be "attracted" by an "easy and consequence-free violence" shown in video games, Fakhruddin told Al Arabiya News. "What I also fear aside from the terrifying consequences of what this video could do, is the media barking up the 'video games is wrong for children' chant once again," he said. "It is wrong to implicate video games as the bringer of all things evil... it is how, and under what circumstances it is used is where the discussion lies, and not if video games themselves are the culprit." The sophistication and money that Isis have spent on social media and PR has surprised many in the West. A new U.S-based research group, the Counter Extremism Project is soon to release to governments and media outlets a database of information about militants and their supporters. The Counter Extremism Project believes that Isis is generating a great deal of wealth – it's thought to have stockpiled around £1billion - from shady deals with morally compromised companies. Risk management group Maplecroft believes that Isis controls half a dozen oil fields in Syria and four in Iraq, with many officials convinced it's making millions from smuggling barrels to Turkey, Iran and Iraq. LINK:

Sunday, 21 September 2014


The number of refugees fleeing to Turkey from the advance of Isis has hit 100,000, according to an AP report. Dr Fuat Oktay, the head of Turkey's AFAD disaster management agency said the figure relates to Syrians escaping the area near the Syrian border town of Kobani, where fighting has raged between the Isis (Islamic State) and Kurdish fighters. The UN refugee agency recently said that around 70,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey in the past day and that it was preparing for the arrival of hundreds of thousands more. The Syrian refugees, who are mostly ethnic Kurds, are desperate to cross in to Turkey and escape Islamic State fighters who are launching a concerted attack across Syria. On Sunday, violent skirmishes were fought between the Islamic State and Kurdish fighters a few miles from Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab. Islamic State are targeting villagers with heavy artillery fire and multiple rocket launchers said Nasser Haj Mansour, an official at the defence office in Syria. "They are even targeting civilians who are fleeing," Haj Mansour told The Associated Press. Clashes broke out as Kurds surged forward at the crossing from inside Turkey and protested with security forces, who attacked crowds with tear gas, paint pellets, and water. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported Kurdish protesters had hurled stones at the security forces. Joelle Naayem, an Al-Jazeera journalist, said tensions rose as Turkish authorities temporarily closed the border. Mohammed Osman Hamme, a Syrian Kurdish refugee who managed to make his way across, told AP he fled with his wife and small children from the village of Dariya in the Raqqa province 10 days previously when he heard that the Islamic State group was headed their way. The family walked for three days, passing the town of Tell Abiad, near the Turkish border, where they saw four severed heads hanging in the streets, he said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State has taken control of 64 villages in north-eastern Syria since the fighting began there on Wednesday 17 September. The fate of 800 Kurds from these villages is unknown, they said, adding that the Islamic State group had executed 11 civilians. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman, Selin Unal urged the international community to increase its aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey, who already number around 1.5 million. "Turkey is assisting with all needs, but it's huge numbers," she said. LINK:

Saturday, 20 September 2014


The Secret Service has stepped up security at the White House after an intruder managed to enter a door on the residence, the agency said in a statement Saturday, one day after the breach in security. Secret Service director Julia Pierson has ordered enhanced officer patrols and surveillance around the White House complex; the increased security measures went into effect Friday night. Pierson has also ordered a comprehensive review of the event, with the findings to be submitted to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, the statement said. Our original post continues: The Secret Service is looking into how a Texas man was able to get inside one of the world's most secure buildings, after the agency apprehended an intruder who had scaled a fence and opened a door to the White House last night. The man was not armed. The agency says Omar J. Gonzales, 42, ignored warnings from security personnel and was apprehended at 7:20 p.m. Friday — but not before he entered the White House's North Portico doors. The incident, which took place shortly after sunset in Washington, sparked an evacuation and led agents to scramble around the property, some of them with guns drawn. President Obama and his family were not at home when the security breach occurred. "He and his daughters had departed from the South Lawn on Marine One just minutes before to head to Camp David in Maryland for the weekend," ABC News reports. The White House says that Michelle Obama traveled separately to Camp David. Video of the scene shows the man running toward the residence as officers posted at the perimeter tell people to get back from the fence. Citing a Secret Service official, The Washington Post reports, "the official said that at least part of the reason that the man managed to get so far was that he did not appear to be armed or carrying anything. In addition, the official said, first family members were not inside." After he was taken into custody, Gonzales was taken to a hospital for evaluation. CBS News says the episode was immediately criticized: "Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House subpanel on national security oversight, called it 'totally unacceptable' but said the incident was just one of a string of security failings on the Secret Service's watch. "'Unfortunately, they are failing to do their job,' Chaffetz said. 'These are good men and women, but the Secret Service leadership has a lot of questions to answer.' "'Was the door open?' he added incredulously." Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the security breach is "not acceptable to us and it's going to be closely reviewed." He said the review will include a check to be sure all agents followed their security protocols. The AP reports: "It was unclear whether any other fence-jumpers have ever made it into the White House, one of the most highly protected buildings in the world. But Friday's incident was just the latest setback for an elite agency whose reputation has suffered a succession of blows in recent years." LINK:

Thursday, 18 September 2014


Security has been beefed up in Australia's parliament after intelligence officials intercepted conversation indicating that the country's senior political leaders, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, would be targeted in terror attacks. The threat has emerged from one of the militant networks linked to the Iraqi Isis, say Australian authorities. Reports suggest the militants were masterminding a "Mumbai-style" attack on Australia. "As a result of intelligence there was an urgent review conducted a week or so back of security at Parliament House. Parliament House certainly is a potential target. There has been chatter amongst terrorist support networks for some time," Abbott said in a television interview. The security measures are being put in place a day after police and counter-terrorism agencies conducted major raids in Brisbane and Sydney. "As a result of that review, the Australian Federal Police [AFP] will be taking over security, both inside the building as well as outside the building. The advice of our police and security agencies was that an attack of this nature could take place within days," said Abbott. Following the earlier raid, four of the 15 men arrested were charged. It is suspected that one of the accused had planned to snatch innocent members of the public to behead them openly. According to AFP, more arrests are not ruled out in the coming days. Despite Abbott's repeated attempts to pacify the Islamic community, saying they are not being singled out, several Muslims are said to be furious and have embarked on protest rallies. Abbott told Nine Network: "The vast majority of Australian Muslims are absolutely first-class Australians. They are valued and appreciated members of the Australian community and as my friend Prime Minister Najib [Razak] of Malaysia said recently the kind of terrorist attacks that we have seen ... are against God, are against religion, and are against our common humanity." LINK:

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


Fifteen people have been arrested and one has been charged with serious terrorism-related offences in major raids conducted by police in Brisbane and Sydney. The raids that began early Thursday were in response to direct exhortations from a senior Isis militant for "demonstration killings" in Australia. According to intelligence reports, a random, violent attack was being planned. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: "This is not just suspicion, this is intent and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have." Just last week Australia had raised its terror threat level to high amid concerns of a growing number of Australians "working with, connected to or inspired by" Islamist groups, reports BBC. According to police, there are about a hundred or more Australians supporting fundamentalist groups and as many involved in the fighting with jihadist groups in Syria and northern Iraq. A former Sydney nightclub bouncer Mohammad Ali Baryalei, 33, who is suspected to be Australia's senior most member of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, is high on the police watch list, reports SkyNews. An arrest warrant has been issued for him. Sydney is home to around half of Australia's 500,000 Muslims. New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said: "You know it is of serious concern that right at the heart of our communities we have people that are planning to conduct random attacks. "Today we work together to make sure that didn't happen. We have disrupted that particular attack." Abbott had recently announced he was sending 600 troops to the Middle East to assist in the fight against Isis. LINK:

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Ukrainian MPs have granted self-rule to parts of two eastern regions, and an amnesty to pro-Russian rebels there. The law affecting Donetsk and Luhansk regions - which is in line with the 5 September ceasefire - was condemned by some MPs as "capitulation". Meanwhile, Russia said it needed to boost troops in Crimea - Ukraine's peninsula annexed by Moscow in March. The rebels in the east have been battling Ukrainian troops since their seizure of a number of towns in April. Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of backing the separatists with soldiers and heavy weapons. The Kremlin denies doing so. At least 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 310,000 internally displaced in Ukraine, the UN says. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian and European parliaments also voted to ratify a major EU-Ukraine association agreement that aims to bring the ex-Soviet republic closer to the EU. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stressed that the legislation giving the special status to parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for three-years would guarantee the "sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence" of Ukraine, while paving the way for decentralisation. The amnesty affects the rebels, but does not cover the shooting down of the MH17 passenger plane in July. Western leaders believe rebels shot down the Malaysia Airlines jet with a Russian missile - a charge the rebels and the Kremlin deny. The legislation means that pro-Russian separatists taken prisoner in the fighting should now be released. Separatists holding government buildings are now supposed to leave them, hand over captured Ukrainian soldiers and other prisoners and surrender their weapons. Rebels accused of other "grave" crimes will not be covered by the new amnesty either. But some Ukrainian lawmakers described the self-rule law as a sell-off of Ukraine in what they see as a war against Russia. "A capitulation was announced today in this war," Oleh Tiagnybok, the leader of the nationalist Svoboda party, was quoted as saying by the Ukrainska Pravda website. Andriy Shevchenko, an MP in the Batkivshchyna party led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said he was "ashamed of this parliament". He said the law was voted in "a secret regime", violating normal parliamentary procedures. Meanwhile, Andrei Purgin, a rebel leader in Donetsk, told AFP news agency that the eastern region "no longer has anything to do with Ukraine". "Ukraine is free to adopt any law it wants. But we are not planning any federalism with Ukraine." Many rebels are demanding full independence and speak of creating a new state called "Novorossiya", something Russian President Vladimir Putin has also mentioned in speeches. Mr Purgin nonetheless said the legislation was a "positive signal because it marks Kiev's return to reality". The EU-Ukraine agreement ratified on Tuesday lies at the root of Ukraine's crisis. It was former President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign the deal last November that triggered mass protests and his eventual fall from power. The votes ratifying the agreement took place simultaneously, with a live video link-up between the parliaments in Strasbourg and Kiev. Both President Poroshenko and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, called it a historic day. The agreement would make Ukraine compliant with EU standards in the areas of human rights, security and arms control, and would remove trade barriers. But negotiations with Russia last week led to the free-trade part of the agreement being postponed until 2016. Russia says its market could be flooded with cheap EU goods shipped via Ukraine. Still, until 2016 Ukraine will maintain its existing restrictions on EU imports, while enjoying tariff-free access to the EU market for its own exports. In return, Russia has pledged to maintain favourable trade rules in place for Ukraine. The crisis has already severely hit Russia-Ukraine trade ties, with the two neighbours imposing economic sanctions on each other. LINK:


An eruption at Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland over 1,000 years ago may have led to the development of Nordic legend of Ragnarok, an expert has said. Bardarbunga has been erupting for almost a month, with earthquakes taking place regularly at the site. Eruptions are also continuing at Holuhraun. Science journalist Alexandra Witze, writing for the blog The Last Word On Nothing, said stories about Ragnarok – or the Nordic apocalypse – are told across Scandinavia, but they have been mostly recorded as literary works in Iceland. In Ragnarok, the Nordic gods become involved in a great war, and a series of natural disasters result in the world being submerged in water before being born again and repopulated by two human survivors. Descriptions of Ragnarok involve the sun turning black, treacherous weather and the whole planet burning. Witze noted one specific description from 1930, which read: "The sun turns black, earth sinks in the sea. The hot stars down from heaven are whirled; fierce grows the steam and the life-feeding flame, till fire leaps high about heaven itself." She said the description of the winters leading up to Ragnarok could have emerged from a real-life Icelandic eruption. Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, a geologist and historian formally from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said he believes the myth comes from an eruption in the 9th century and proposed this idea in 2002. He said sulphur from a volcanic eruption could cool the climate for many years. He also notes that Iceland experienced a huge eruption around 870, when Vikings first arrived in the country. "The eruption would have been a remarkable blast, and it could have temporarily cooled Iceland's climate. Anyone suffering through those winters would surely have passed the stories down to the next generation," Witze wrote. "And where exactly did this eruption in the year 870 take place? Why, at a volcano called Bardarbunga." LINK:

Monday, 15 September 2014


They see themselves as the kingmakers of Swedish politics and, after polling 13% in national elections, the far-right Sweden Democrats are now difficult for mainstream parties to ignore. Their rise to third place in the polls comes despite a string of pre-election scandals. One local candidate stood down after a picture emerged of her wearing a swastika armband. Another was highlighted for posting racist and anti-immigrant comments online. And yet, the revelations appear to have had little obvious effect on voters, even if the mainstream parties do not want anything to do with the party. They are led by the dapper and clean-cut Jimmie Akesson, 35. Voters also seemed unperturbed by the news that he has gambled half a million kronor (£43,000; 54,000 euros; $70,000) online. "Every crisis the party gets into Mr Akesson handles very efficiently," says Ulf Bjereld, professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg, who sees him as a very skilful politician, if uncharismatic. Any political party would struggle to fend off accusations of racism, he told the BBC, but the party leader simply took them off the list and said they were not welcome. They will now occupy 49 seats in Sweden's 349-seat parliament. By publicly stressing the Sweden Democrats' zero tolerance towards racism for the past two years, he has been careful not to fall out of step with the tolerance that Swedes believe they have towards ethnic minorities. In contrast with other EU countries, Sweden is granting automatic residence to all refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict and some 80,000 people are expected to apply for asylum this year. The Sweden Democrats have carefully refined their 2010 election platform, when their campaign commercial featured an elderly woman pushing slowly towards a welfare desk. "You can choose if you want to save money from the pensions or immigration budgets," ran the commentary, over menacing music. The pensioner is overtaken by a group of women in burqas. The party made it into parliament in 2010 with 5.7% of the vote, five years after Jimmie Akesson took on the leadership. Beforehand the party had been linked for years to neo-Nazis and other extremist groups. In a speech in August, he identified himself as a nationalist but called for his party to show they were "broad and inclusive". But he was forthright on the risks of political Islam. "Islamism is the Nazism and communism of our time. It has to be met with disgust and much stronger resistance than has so far been the case." The anti-immigration rhetoric has been toned down and carefully argued, with a policy of preferring to help refugees in their own countries. There are obvious parallels with France's National Front which, under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, has moved into the political mainstream. The two parties go back many years, and Ms Le Pen visited Jimmie Akesson last year in Stockholm. A few months ago he praised the National Front's "modern, quite fresh direction". That does not mean the Sweden Democrats have shaken off their past but, with two MEPs in the European Parliament, they are now part of the same grouping as the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party - the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group. Swedish voters are attracted to the party, more because it gives a voice to people who dislike the political elite than its stance on immigration, Prof Bjereld believes. And although he argues that party membership will always have a racist element, the main stance is more xenophobic than racist. "One of Jimmie Akesson's skills is that he sends one message to the racists in his party and another to the general public." LINK:


Austria plans to introduce a law banning symbols of the Islamic State group and 18 other extremist groups. The justice and interior ministries announced the initiative earlier today. Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner also says that dual nationals will lose their Austrian citizenship upon joining any foreign paramilitary organization. While international law prohibits taking away passports from people who have a single citizenship, she says Austria will lobby to change that status in such cases. The proposals still have to be approved by parliament, but that is likely to happen. The Interior Ministry says that more than 140 people have left Austria to fight for radical Islamic groups in the Middle East. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old German man has gone on trial in Frankfurt on charges he was a member of the extremist Islamic State group, in the first such case to come to court in Germany. Prosecutors allege that Kreshnik Berisha, who once played for a Jewish football club, travelled to Syria last year and fought with the group before returning to Germany five months later. Berisha, who could face up to 10 years in prison for membership of a foreign terrorist organisation, was arrested at Frankfurt airport in December and has been detained ever since. Heightened security measures are in place for the trial, which is expected to last until at least November. It opens just days after Germany also formally banned Islamic State symbols and any propaganda activity for the group. LINK:


Germany on Friday officially banned Islamic terror group Isis from any activities in the country, warning that the jihadists, who have captured swathes of Iraq and Syria, also posed a threat to Europe. Defence minister Thomas de Mazière announced the ban on flying Isis flags, wearing Isis symbols and all Isis activities at a press conference on Friday morning. "The terror organisation Islamic State is a threat to public safety in Germany as well," de Mazière said. "We are resolutely confronting this threat today. "Today's ban is directed solely against terrorists who abuse religion for their criminal goals," he added. "Germany is a well-fortified democracy, there's no place here for a terrorist organisation which opposes the constitutional order as well as the notion of international understanding." The move will also ban donations to the group, recruiting fighters, holding Isis meetings and distributing its propaganda. Wolfgang Bosbach, from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told broadcaster ARD on Friday morning that the government had been looking at a ban for some time. The ban, however, doesn’t mean Isis has been outlawed as a foreign terrorist organization, as a court judgement is needed to do that. De Mazière's announcement was backed by German police union DPolG. Chairman Rainer Wendt described the ban as "right and necessary". "It would be cynical and irresponsible if we showed tolerance in this situation," Wendt added, warning that otherwise Isis supporters may fly flags on German streets. It comes as the CIA announced that Isis had around 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. Several hundred Germans are also in their ranks. It is unclear whether Isis has any organizational structure in Germany, but young Germans are being recruited by Salafists, who believe in an extreme form of Islam, to fight for the jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Last week, two were stopped at the German-Austrian border. A trial also begins on Monday of a 20-year-old in Frankfurt am Main accused of being a member of Isis. The man, named as Kreshnik B., allegedly travelled to Syria through Turkey and fought against President Bashar Al-Assad’s troops from July 2013 to December 2013. He was arrested on his return to Germany in December in Frankfurt. Prosecutors said on the charge sheet that Kreshnik was trained by ISIS in weapons and fighting before joining battles for them. According to the Frankfurter Allegmeine Zeitung, he was radicalized in the city by Islamic clerics. Friday's Isis ban is part of a series of measures being taken by the government against the extremists. Weapons and aid have been flown to Kurds fighting the terror group in northern Iraq, but on Thursday Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier ruled out German participation in American-led airstrikes against Isis positions in Syria. That was echoed by Chancellor Merkel's spokeswoman on Friday, who told Reuters that while Germany is concerned for the stability of the region, it will not take part in military strikes. Other countries to officially ban Isis activities are the Netherlands, UK, and the world's biggest Muslim country, Indonesia. LINK:

Sunday, 14 September 2014


The UK is experiencing a deficit of Caucasian people in the regions where the majority of the population is made up of immigrants and ethnic minorities. In the last 10 years more than 620 thousand white Brits left the capital of the UK, where Caucasians are now a minority making up only 45% of London’s population. The policy of multiculturalism in Europe is experiencing a crisis, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel admitted, as did UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron. At a meeting with young activists of the Christian Democratic Union in October 2010, Merkel declared that attempts to create a multicultural society in Germany have failed completely. According to The Daily Mail the UK is experiencing the same problem as is evident from the recent Demos studies. Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, claims that regions with a high concentration of ethnic minorities prevent newcomers from integrating and adapting to life in the UK. The situation is no better in France, where a case was recently opened dealing with racism targeting Caucasians. Two young people asked a passer-by for a cigarette and, faced with a refusal, started to verbally assault him in French and Arabic and then beat him up. As a result, the victim was severely wounded. Modern Europe has experienced a fair share of ethnic conflicts, like the Paris unrest in 2005 and the London riots that took place in Tottenham in August 2011. Ethnic tensions in Europe are growing worse with each passing year, political analyst Sergei Mikheyev says. “The policy of multiculturalism in Europe has failed. Immigrants are not integrating into the Western society; on the contrary, they do everything to lead a segregated lifestyle and establish closed communities with their own rules. They use the material luxuries that the Western countries provide, but they want to live according to their own laws and beliefs.” The common belief is that there are two ways to solve this problem: either to accept that the policy of multiculturalism has failed, or try to establish a much stricter European identity. Whether Europe is ready for either option is a big question. It would be very difficult for the EU to overcome this conflict in a smooth way, expert at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Vladislav Belov believes. “Europe needs to limit immigration. There will be resistance, but the government has enough resources for stricter control in situations when resistance surpasses the boundaries of what is deemed civil in the European society.” It seems that today a reverse integration is taking place: it is not the immigrants who adapt to the local way of life, but the natives who try to modify their lifestyles in accordance with the immigrants’ demands. Experts predict that if this trend continues, in 30-50 years Europe as we know it will cease to exist. Read more:


Sweden’s Social Democrats look set to reclaim power after eight years in opposition, as the far-Right made historic gains in a general election that spells the demise of the coalition that has ruled the country since 2006. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats were expected to double their seats in parliament as frustration grows among the 10 million strong population at liberal asylum rules that have resulted in a growing influx of refugees. The Social Democrats and their likely coalition partners, the Greens and the Left Party, would get 44.9 per cent of the vote according to opinion polls. If the poll proves right, Stefan Löfven, the former welder who leads the Social Democrats, looks set to become the next prime minister, although he warned against complacency. “I’ve said all along that this election is going to be incredibly tough,” the stocky 57-year-old told reporters after he cast his vote in Stockholm Sunday. “That’s why we have to work hard right until the end of the campaign and not take anything for granted.” On the eve of the election, Loefven admitted the Sweden Democrats could still throw a spanner in the works, telling Swedish news agency TT on Saturday that they could end up as “kingmakers” in the new parliament. Votes going to the Sweden Democrats were up from 5.7 per cent in the legislative election in 2010. Sweden has been governed by a four-party conservative-liberal coalition headed by Fredrik Reinfeldt since 2006. He has been widely credited with steering the country through the global financial crisis, consolidating Sweden’s position as arguably the healthiest economy in Europe. Even so, the incumbent coalition was predicted to garner only 39.3 per cent of the vote, well below the Social Democrat camp. Analysts say Swedes are tired of the austerity measures the government has been pushing through and are yearning to see fresh faces at the top. “Everyone knows that the centre-right government has been quite behind the opposition, but we have narrowed the gap,” Mr Reinfeldt told reporters after voting in an affluent suburb of the capital Sunday. “We ran a tremendous campaign, I would say. And we have shown that we are ready for four more years.” YouGov’s poll is in line with other recent surveys suggesting that the Sweden Democrats are set to become the third-largest in the parliament of a nation that has traditionally taken pride in its welcoming attitude towards foreigners. “The Sweden Democrats is the only political party that wants to stop immigration,” said Anders Sannerstedt, a political scientist at Lund University, who has studied the party closely. “All the other political parties have a united stance.” Sweden, which has one of Europe’s most generous refugee policies, expects an influx of nearly 90,000 refugees this year - numbers not seen since the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Voters in Stockholm interviewed by AFP early Sunday were mostly hostile to the Sweden Democrats. “This time we have this more or less new party on the very right wing,” said Christina Lindvall, a lawyer, adding she was most likely to vote for the Greens. “Those of us who don’t support them need to show that.” LINK:

Saturday, 13 September 2014


Ukrainian volunteer soldiers have been broadcast on German television wearing helmets with Nazi symbols. The soldiers, reportedly from the Azov battalion, were shown on German public broadcaster ZDF wearing uniforms decorated with Nazi motifs, including swastikas and lightning bolt-like runic symbols of the SS, a World War II Nazi paramilitary organisation. The footage was captured by a camera team from Norway's TV2. Oystein Bogen, a foreign affairs correspondent at TV2 told NBC: "We were filming a report about Ukraine's Azov battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf when we came across these soldiers." A spokesperson for the Azov battalion denied that the force has any fascist tendencies. "We are just Ukrainian nationalists," he said. The Azov battalion is one of the more prominent volunteer units fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine, and was established by the Social-National Assembly, an alliance of far-right and nationalist parties. Neo-nazi accusations Azov battalion fighters have faced repeated accusations of being neo-Nazis. The force uses the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf's Hook) symbol on their banner, and members of the battalion have openly espoused white supremacists and anti-Semitic views. One battalion fighter named "Phantom", a 23-year-old former lawyer, told The Telegraph last month: "Personally, I'm a Nazi. I don't hate any other nationalities, but I believe each nation should have its own country. We have one idea: to liberate our land from terrorists." The battalion's commander Andriy Biletsky, a former history student and amateur boxer, also commented: "The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led untermenschen [sub-humans]." Pro-government Russian media have repeatedly focused on Ukraine's far-right nationalist elements in an effort to discredit President Petro Poroshenko's pro-Western government. Ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine have also cited Kiev's alleged Nazism as a reason to fight to break away from Ukraine. LINK:

Friday, 12 September 2014


Words such as Sharia, Sharia law and Islamic State are intentionally used by the mainstream media and by politicians to promote fear of Muslims, journalist Dilly Hussain, told RT. RT: We've heard about Muslim patrols in the UK, and now they are showing up in Germany. What are the goals of these patrols? Dilly Hussain: We have to look behind the nature of the so-called Sharia patrol. If there is a group of Muslims that are going around implementing Sharia laws on the citizens of Britain or Germany then I believe it has to be done with coordination with the local law enforcement. The issue that we have had in Britain, where three man were prosecuted for carrying Sharia patrols, they were actually going around confiscating drinks, telling some individuals how to dress and how not to dress. Obviously that was breaking the law. However, there were other Muslim Sharia patrols in other parts of England where they coordinated with the police. And I personally believe that there are groups of Muslims or Christians, and we also have Jewish patrols in some parts of London. If you coordinate on work with the local authorities and you are merely advising citizens not to drink or to stay away from certain vice, that is very different to actually implementing Sharia rules or any kind of religious rules on citizens. RT: In your opinion, are those patrols effective? How does the wider public in Europe feel about these patrols? Is there actually anything wrong with these patrols? DH: This is not necessary the case. We, as the Muslims living in Britain or Muslims living in Germany, we are the citizens of that state. We have contact with authorities there. And the issue is to abide by the rules of that land unless it directly conflicts with Islamic law. Now there is a very big difference between implementing and forcing Sharia law and advising general citizens be they Muslims or not Muslims. And I think that is the differentiation that we have to make. If there are groups of Muslims or groups of any people from any religion going round implementing and forcing laws like a vigilante type of police force then others see that goes against the laws of the land, we have a police force to enforce criminal laws, so they shouldn`t be doing that. However, if there are Jews and Christians and Muslims that are going to run their own communities advising citizens not to drink, not to engage in gambling and all the other advice. I don’t see any problem with that. RT: What is the main goal of these Sharia patrols? DH: I wouldn`t necessary say it is representative in the way in which it was carried out in Germany and that one incident in Britain. However, conveying the message of Islam to the wider society is a normal mainstream practice. Muslims are told wherever you reside, be it in the Muslim world or in the West, it is an obligation for us to enjoy God and forbid evil deeds. The differentiation, like I said, is implementing and forcing not advising. So I would like to highlight two incidences in Britain, where in the City of Derby there were groups of Muslim men who informed the police that they were going to be carrying out “patrols.” And what they did was: they advised the youth not to engage in drugs, they advised club revelers to stay away. They did this with the permission and coordination with the police. In another city called Leicester when there was a heavy snowfall there were Muslim groups that were going around and they were helping the elderly to get to their destination, could be shopping etc. These are the kind of positive projects, not giving media spotlight; instead the media will intentionally concentrate on these kinds of Sharia patrols. And these kind of Sharia patrols are not mainstream or representatives of the wider Muslim community. RT: Police and politicians in Germany have already condemned the patrols, but will any real measures be taken? What are they likely to be? DH: Let`s be real about this, base words such as Sharia, Sharia law and Islamic State are intentionallyused by the mainstream media and by our own politicians to instill fear of Muslims in general. And they do it intentionally. So it becomes synonymous with terrorism or extremism or fear. This is not the case. And I agree a Sharia patrol of that nature, the mainstream media and particular politicians will pick up on it and they have a field day out of it. LINK:


"I have nothing against Russian nationalists, or a great Russia," said Dmitry, as we sped through the dark Mariupol night in a pickup truck, a machine gunner positioned in the back. "But Putin's not even a Russian. Putin's a Jew." Dmitry – which he said is not his real name – is a native of east Ukraine and a member of the Azov battalion, a volunteer grouping that has been doing much of the frontline fighting in Ukraine's war with pro-Russia separatists. The Azov, one of many volunteer brigades to fight alongside the Ukrainian army in the east of the country, has developed a reputation for fearlessness in battle. But there is an increasing worry that while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine's most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government, and perhaps even the state, when the conflict in the east is over. The Azov causes particular concern due to the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members. Dmitry claimed not to be a Nazi, but waxed lyrical about Adolf Hitler as a military leader, and believes the Holocaust never happened. Not everyone in the Azov battalion thinks like Dmitry, but after speaking with dozens of its fighters and embedding on several missions during the past week in and around the strategic port city of Mariupol, the Guardian found many of them to have disturbing political views, and almost all to be intent on "bringing the fight to Kiev" when the war in the east is over. The battalion's symbol is reminiscent of the Nazi Wolfsangel, though the battalion claims it is in fact meant to be the letters N and I crossed over each other, standing for "national idea". Many of its members have links with neo-Nazi groups, and even those who laughed off the idea that they are neo-Nazis did not give the most convincing denials. "Of course not, it's all made up, there are just a lot of people who are interested in Nordic mythology," said one fighter when asked if there were neo-Nazis in the battalion. When asked what his own political views were, however, he said "national socialist". As for the swastika tattoos on at least one man seen at the Azov base, "the swastika has nothing to do with the Nazis, it was an ancient sun symbol," he claimed. The battalion has drawn far-right volunteers from abroad, such as Mikael Skillt, a 37-year-old Swede, trained as a sniper in the Swedish army, who described himself as an "ethnic nationalist" and fights on the front line with the battalion. Despite the presence of these elements, Russian propaganda that claims Kiev's "fascist junta" wants to cleanse east Ukraine of Russian speakers is overblown. The Azov are a minority among the Ukrainian forces, and even they, however unpleasant their views may be, are not anti-Russian; in fact the lingua franca of the battalion is Russian, and most have Russian as their first language. Indeed, much of what Azov members say about race and nationalism is strikingly similar to the views of the more radical Russian nationalists fighting with the separatist side. The battalion even has a Russian volunteer, a 30-year-old from St Petersburg who refused to give his name. He said he views many of the Russian rebel commanders positively, especially Igor Strelkov, a former FSB officer who has a passion for military re-enactments and appears to see himself as a tsarist officer. He "wants to resurrect a great Russia, said the volunteer; but Strelkov is "only a pawn in Putin's game," he said, and he hoped that Russia would some time have a "nationalist, violent Maidan" of its own. On one afternoon earlier this week the Guardian travelled with a group of Azov fighters to hand over several boxes of bullets to Ukrainian border guards. During an artillery attack outside Mariupol in the days before, the border guards had come to the rescue of a group of Azov fighters, and the bullets were their way of saying thank you. "Everything in this war is based on personal links; Kiev does nothing," explained the Azov's Russian volunteer, as we sped towards a checkpoint in a civilian Chevrolet; the boot full with the boxes of bullets and rocket-propelled grenade launchers; one of the windows shot out by gunfire during a recent battle. "This is how it works. You go to some hot spot, they see you're really brave, you exchange phone numbers, and next time you can call in a favour. If you need an artillery strike you can call a general and it will take three hours and you'll be dead. Or you can call the captain or major commanding the artillery battalion and they will help you out straight away. We are Azov and they know that if they ever needed it, we would be there for them." For the commanders and the generals in Kiev, who many in Azov and other volunteer battalions see as responsible for the awful losses the Ukrainian army has suffered in recent weeks, especially in the ill-fated retreat from Ilovaysk, there was only contempt. "Generals like those in charge of Ilovaysk should be imprisoned for treason," said Skillt. "Heads are going to roll for sure, I think there will be a battle for power." The Ukrainian armed forces are "an army of lions led by a sheep", said Dmitry, and there is only so long that dynamic can continue. With so many armed, battle-hardened and angry young men coming back from the front, there is a danger that the rolling of heads could be more than a metaphor. Dmitry said he believes that Ukraine needs "a strong dictator to come to power who could shed plenty of blood but unite the nation in the process". Many in the Azov battalion with whom the Guardian spoke shared this view, which is a long way from the drive for European ideals and democracy that drove the protests in Kiev at the beginning. The Russian volunteer fighting with the Azov said he believes Ukraine needs "a junta that will restrict civil rights for a while but help bring order and unite the country". This disciplinarian streak was visible in the battalion. Drinking is strictly forbidden. "One time there was a guy who got drunk, but the commander beat him in his face and legs until he could not move; then he was kicked out," recalled one fighter proudly. Other volunteer battalions have also come under the spotlight. This week, Amnesty International called on the Ukrainian government to investigate rights abuses and possible executions by the Aidar, another battalion. "The failure to stop abuses and possible war crimes by volunteer battalions risks significantly aggravating tensions in the east of the country and undermining the proclaimed intentions of the new Ukrainian authorities to strengthen and uphold the rule of law more broadly," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International secretary general, in Kiev. Fighters from the battalion told the Guardian last month they expected a "new revolution" in Ukraine that would bring a more decisive military leader to power, in sentiments similar to those of many Azov fighters. Despite the desire of many in the Azov to bring violence to Kiev when the war in the east is over, the battalion receives funding and assistance from the governor of Donetsk region, the oligarch Serhiy Taruta. An aide to Taruta, Alex Kovzhun, said the political views of individual members of Azov were not an issue, and denied that the battalion's symbol had Nazi undertones. "The views of some of them is their own affair as long as they do not break the law," said Kovzhun in written answers to questions. "And the symbol is not Nazi. Trust me – some of my family died in concentration camps, so I have a well-developed nose for Nazi shit." As well as their frontline duties, the Azov battalion also functions as "a kind of police unit", said a platoon commander who goes by the nom de guerre Kirt. A medieval history buff who takes part in Viking battle reenactments and once ran a tour firm in Thailand, Kirt returned to east Ukraine to join the Azov. He took the Guardian on an overnight patrol through the outskirts of Mariupol and the villages around the front line. Part separatist hunters, part city cops with no rules to restrain them, they travelled in a convoy of three vehicles, all heavily armed. As midnight approached we set off across the bumpy tarmac roads to the outskirts of Mariupol, and soon came across a parked car by the side of the road that the men found suspicious. Fighters dashed from the front two cars and rushed at the vehicle pointing their guns at it. A startled man got out of the passenger seat, then a sheepish looking woman in a cocktail dress and holding a half-smoked cigarette emerged, smoothing her hair. The Azov fighters apologised, but only after demanding documents and thoroughly searching the car. As we edged closer to the front line, Kirt and the others scanned the skyline with binoculars, on the lookout for snipers and separatists. Later, fighters sprinted towards a suspicious jeep parked on the beach while the sea was scanned for hostile support vessels, but it turned out that again the men had stumbled upon people just trying to have a good time: a group of women drinking sparkling wine out of plastic cups on the beachfront. The Azov have been partially brought into the military and officially function as a special police unit. There are discussions that Azov and other battalions could be integrated into the army or special forces when the conflict is over. Some of them, however, are hoping Ukraine will look very different in the not-so-distant future. And while they may be a tiny minority when it comes to Ukraine as a whole, they have a lot of weapons. President Petro Poroshenko will be killed in a matter of months, Dmitry said, and a dictator will come to power. "What are the police going to do? They could not do anything against the peaceful protesters on Maidan; they are hardly going to withstand armed fighting units."

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


THIS AKL-BASED BLOG STARTED IN MARCH 2014. In SIX months, I've got followers from 54 countries in every continent, but mostly from (in order): New Zealand, USA, Germany, Russia, France, Turkey, Australia, UK, Italy, Poland. This blog is really international. SPECIAL THANKS to the NZ, USA, German, Russian and French Comrades. Just keep following THE FREE VOICE OF AUCKLAND. Suggestions and ideas to improve the blog are welcome. Just e-mail me at: Thanx, Kingsland Wolf HERE THE COMPLETE LIST OF THE COUNTRIES: Canada, USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Chile; Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, UK, Ireland, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania, Spain, Greece; Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Iraq, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan; Morocco, Egypt, Angola, Nigeria; Australia, NZ.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


German politicians have reacted strongly to reports of young Salafists conducting nightly "Sharia police" patrols in the city of Wuppertal, ordering people to stop various activities. The men have been photographed wearing orange hi-visibility jackets emblazoned with the words "Shariah police" on the back. The men reportedly approached passers-by near nightclubs and gambling houses to deter them from un-islamic activities such as drinking alcohol and gambling. Ministers in Angela Merkel's coalition have denounced the youths' actions and said that Germany would not tolerate such Sharia activity. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that the civilians could not patrol the streets instead of German police. "Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil," de Maiziere told the German daily Bild. "Nobody can take it upon themselves to abuse the good name of the German police," he added. Christian Democrat party whip Volker Kauder said that such patrols would never be allowed in the country. "Under absolutely no circumstances can we tolerate self-styled Sharia police officers patrolling our streets and dictating what people should or should not do," Kauder said. The Mayor of Wuppertal and the central council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) both criticised the actions of the patrol. "These people's intention is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology [upon others]," Mayor Peter Jung said. Chairman of the ZMD, Ayman A Mazyek, said: "These few teen yobs do not speak in our name. These people are perverting the name of our religion. With this shrill and foolish action, they are really hurting Muslims." LINK:

Monday, 8 September 2014


A 500-foot, ring-shaped Viking fortress discovered in Denmark may have been used to launch an invasion of England, say historians.The construction unearthed is about 40 miles south of Copenhagen, where ancient roads joined at the turn of the first millennia. "This is the first time for more than 60 years that a new Viking ringed fortress has been discovered in Denmark," explains Nanna Holm, an archaeologist and curator at the Danish Castle Centre. Søren Sindbæk, who is a professor of medieval archaeology at Aarhus University and took part in the excavation added: "The discovery of the new Viking fortress is a unique opportunity to learn more about the battles and conflicts of the Vikings, and gives us a new chance to study the most famous of our Viking monuments." Groundbreaking technology was used to discover the fortress. According to Aarhus University, Helen Goodchild, a University of York researcher used a technique called gradiometry, which involves taking measurements of the Earth's magnetic field found in the soil at the site. By comparing variations from location to location, they were able to detect where humans had altered the Earth and start excavating at these points. "By measuring small variation in the earth's magnetism we can identify old pits or features without destroying anything. In this way we achieved an amazingly detailed 'ghost image' of the fortress in a few days. Then we knew exactly where we had to put in excavation trenches to get as much information as possible about the mysterious fortress," Professor Søren Sindbæk explained. What came to light was evidence of a huge, 500-foot wide circular fortress with four openings—one at each compass point—enclosed by wooden gates that were eventually burned down, possibly during battle. Research is continuing on the analysis of the burned gate posts for an accurate dating of the fortress, and it may date back to King Harald Bluetooth—or the son who deposed him, Sweyn Forkbeard, who ruled at the turn of the first millennia. Forkbeard later became the King of England after invading London in 1013. LINK:

Sunday, 7 September 2014


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has slapped fresh charges against the West, claiming the US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders have imposed sanctions on him because they are afraid of him. Speaking in his rural Zvimba home, Mugabe said on Friday (5 September) that all the white people who are still remaining in the country should go back to England. "The West prefers a weak leader who, they hope, would allow the whites to come back. They think if they intimidate us we will be cowed and allow the whites to come back; that will never happen. Don't they (whites) know where their ancestors came from? The British who are here should all go back to England. We now have aeroplanes which can take them back quicker than the ships used by their ancestors," said Mugabe, as reported by New Zimbabwe News. In July, Mugabe declared that no 'white' person can any longer own land in Zimbabwe under the controversial land redistribution programme. "They can own companies and apartments in our towns and cities but not the soil. It is ours and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States," said Mugabe. Mugabe has also warned Zimbabweans against doing farming partnerships with whites. "If it's contract farming with companies that we know to be genuine we can accept that, but never with individual whites. You have to stop bringing these whites back ... it's a dangerous, dangerous arrangement which we do not want," added Mugabe. Mugabe was left out of the recent US-Africa summit held in Washington, and despite being invited to the EU-Africa summit in the Belgium capital Brussels in April, he boycotted the summit in protest against his wife being denied a travel visa to join him. LINK: