Civilian Death Toll From Coalition Airstrikes in Syria Could Be Single Largest in U.S.-Led War on ISIS


Scores of civilians trapped in Islamic State-controlled territory in northern Syria were reportedly killed Tuesday by airstrikes from Western coalition aircraft.

Source: Civilian Death Toll From Coalition Airstrikes in Syria Could Be Single Largest in U.S.-Led War on ISIS

The Joke of U.S. Justice and “Accountability” When They Bomb a Hospital


American punishment meted out for 42 dead: counseling, letters of reprimand, training courses.

Source: The Joke of U.S. Justice and “Accountability” When They Bomb a Hospital

Defense Contractors Cite “Benefits” of Escalating Conflicts in the Middle East

Lockheed Martin tells investors it will see “indirect benefits” from the war in Syria. Raytheon notes “a significant uptick.”

Source: Defense Contractors Cite “Benefits” of Escalating Conflicts in the Middle East

Israeli Special Forces Assassinated Senior Syrian Official

According to an internal National Security Agency document provided by Edward Snowden, the 2008 assassination of Muhammad Suleiman, a top General and aide to the Syrian president, was an Israeli military operation.

Source: Israeli Special Forces Assassinated Senior Syrian Official

Court To Homeland Security: Wait, No, You Can’t Just Take Anyone’s Laptop At The Border To Bring Somewhere To Search

The government — via the DHS and CBP — has long insisted it should be able to search whatever, whenever, within X number of miles of the border for national security reasons. The DOJ has routinely argued on its behalf, delivering non sequiturs like “Not searching your laptop doesn’t protect your civil liberties” with a straight face.

The security/liberty tradeoff has routinely suffered from the government’s insistence that its Fourth Amendment-skirting efforts are in the public’s best interest, even if the public isn’t nearly as interested in seeing the drawers of their personal computing equipment emptied onto the floor every time they stray too close to the “Constitution-Free Zone.”

The courts have generally upheld the government’s arguments, with a few exceptions. The Eastern District of New York basically said that if you don’t want your stuff looked through for no reason, don’t put so much stuff in your stuff — especially sensitive stuff. The presiding judge, Edward Korman, went so far as to compare the US to countries with severe civil rights issues, like Syria and Lebanon, and declared the US the “winner,” seemingly because citizens enjoy more rights once they move further inland.

Link (Techdirt)

How the FBI Created a Terrorist

Osmakac was 25 years old on January 7, 2012, when he filmed what the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice would later call a “martyrdom video.” He was also broke and struggling with mental illness.

After recording this video in a rundown Days Inn in Tampa, Florida, Osmakac prepared to deliver what he thought was a car bomb to a popular Irish bar. According to the government, Osmakac was a dangerous, lone-wolf terrorist who would have bombed the Tampa bar, then headed to a local casino where he would have taken hostages, before finally detonating his suicide vest once police arrived.

But if Osmakac was a terrorist, he was only one in his troubled mind and in the minds of ambitious federal agents. The government could not provide any evidence that he had connections to international terrorists. He didn’t have his own weapons. He didn’t even have enough money to replace the dead battery in his beat-up, green 1994 Honda Accord.

Osmakac was the target of an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting that involved a paid informant, as well as FBI agents and support staff working on the setup for more than three months. The FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. The bureau also gave Osmakac the car bomb he allegedly planned to detonate, and even money for a taxi so he could get to where the FBI needed him to go. Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man, according to several of the psychiatrists and psychologists who examined him before trial. He became a “terrorist” only after the FBI provided the means, opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has arrested dozens of young men like Osmakac in controversial counterterrorism stings. One recent case involved a rudderless 20-year-old in Cincinnati, Ohio, named Christopher Cornell, who conspired with an FBI informant — seeking “favorable treatment” for his own “criminal exposure” — in a harebrained plot to build pipe bombs and attack Capitol Hill. And just last month, on February 25, the FBI arrested and charged two Brooklyn men for plotting, with the aid of a paid informant, to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State. The likelihood that the men would have stepped foot in Syria of their own accord seems low; only after they met the informant, who helped with travel applications and other hurdles, did their planning take shape.

Link (The Intercept)

Confidential Informant Played Key Role in FBI Foiling Its Own Terror Plot

The FBI Wednesday announced the arrest of three men it alleges planned to help the Islamic State, news that at first appeared to confirm fears that radical extremism is spreading to the United States.

“The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press release announcing the arrests. “We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them.”

Left unmentioned in the FBI statement, however, is the integral role a paid informant appears to have played in generating the charges against the men, and helping turn a fantastical “plot” into something even remotely tangible. It appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.

On Feb. 25, two Brooklyn men were arrested following FBI and New York Police Department anti-terror raids and charged with providing “material support” to the Islamic State. Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, and Akhror Saidakhmetov 19, are alleged to have made arrangements to travel to Syria, and also to have expressed willingness to conduct attacks in the United States “if ordered to do so” by the group. A third man, Abror Habibov, 30, was arrested in Florida and charged with helping provide financial support for their travel plans.

According to the criminal complaint against the three, the FBI first began investigating Juraboev after he made postings on Uzbek-language social media sites in August 2014 praising the Islamic State and offering to pledge allegiance to them. While these postings were made anonymously, Juraboev neglected to conceal his IP address which led to him being quickly identified by authorities.

On Aug. 15, 2014, Juraboev was visited at a Brooklyn residence by FBI agents; he openly expressed his desire to join Islamic State to them. He is said to have told the agents he desired to travel and join the group, but that “he currently lacked the means to go there.” Juraboev is also said to have told the FBI agents in this interview of his desire to kill President Obama, but stated that he does not have any “means or imminent plans to do so.”

Three days after that initial visit, FBI agents visited him again; he reiterated these violent and criminal desires, stating his willingness to kill President Obama if he were ordered to do so by any member of Islamic State, and also telling the agents he was willing to “plant a bomb on Coney Island if so ordered by ISIL”.

Link (The Intercept)