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Tuesday :: November 18, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

I'll be in court almost all week. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: November 17, 2014

Report: U.S. Flew Imprisoned ISIS Higher Up to Qatar

When Iraq announced last week that airstrikes had killed and wounded some ISIS leaders in Mosul and al Qaim, possibly including ISIS Caliph al-Baghdadi, articles began to re-surface identifying ISIS leaders.

Most of the information cited seems to come from a disclosure in June, 2014, days before ISIS took Mosul. Iraqi forces arrested an ISIS member named Abu Hajjar. Under interrogation, he caved, and not only told him about the planned takeover of Mosul, but gave up the location of the safe house being used to plan it. Iraqi police intelligence went out to safe house, and the raid ended with the shooting death of ISIS military commander Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi who was in charge of the operation. During a subsequent search of the safe house and al-Bilawi and Hajjar's homes, Iraqi police recovered 160 thumb drives with incredibly detailed information about ISIS, including financial information, military operations information and even the names of its leaders and fighters. Intelligence agencies have been pouring over the data ever since. (It didn't prevent the takeover of Mosul, which went off as planned, mostly because the Iraq forces ran off.)

Yesterday, as I was re-reading reports on ISIS leadership, I came across an interesting article, "The Islamic State Prisoner and the Intelligence Chief" published November 1, a week before the recent strikes that supposedly hit ISIS leaders, by Paul McGeogh, chief foreign correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, who just days before, had interviewed the still incarcerated Abu Hajjar at a secure Baghdad jail facility. [More...]

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Sunday :: November 16, 2014

ISIS Executioner Beheads Peter Kassig and Many More

All day Saturday, ISIS supporters were teasing the release of a new video with English translations. They finally released it sometime after midnight. It's called "Although The Disbelievers Dislike It" and is 15 1/2 minutes long. I've watched it, and will not link to it, so please don't include a link in comments. I found a copy on Daily Motion. Here's my recap:[More...]

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Saturday :: November 15, 2014

Saturday Open Thread

It's cloudy, snowing and really cold in Denver, and supposed to stay this way all weekend. I'm going to check out the Black Friday sale sites and then catch up on the news.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: November 14, 2014

From Stingrays to Dirt Boxes: Evolving Surveillance Techniques

Last week I wrote about deceptive law enforcement techniques, focusing on new details about law enforcement's use of stingray devices. The devices are small enough to fit in an undercover vehicle. The device creates a very strong but fake cell tower signal which causes phones nearby (perhaps in the whole neighborhood) to connect to it. When the phones connect, the device then captures a lot of personal information. This is particularly helpful to police when they suspect a certain person of say dealing drugs, and know where he is, but don't know his phone number, because he gets a new throw-away phone every few weeks. But it's problematic because the device is capturing the same personal information from all phones in the area. It's a dragnet.

Move over, stingrays. The Wall St Journal reports similar devices called "dirtboxes" are being used by agents on airplanes, allowing them to capture the data on thousands of cell phones during the course of a single flight. [More...]

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DOJ Sends Dozens of Prosecutors Abroad to Help Prosecute Terrorists

Attorney General Eric Holder today said that DOJ has been sending dozens of prosecutors to countries in the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa to assist those countries in prosecuting returning and/or captured terrorists from ISIS and other terror groups.

"These personnel will provide critical assistance to our allies in order to help prosecute those who return from the Syrian region bent on committing acts of terrorism."

The cooperation includes "information sharing, investigations and prosecutions, and countering violent extremism."

According to another DOJ official, so far 70 prosecutors have been dispatched. [More...]

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Thursday :: November 13, 2014

Thursday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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Details of Obama's Planned Immigration Changes

The New York Times has details of Obama's planned executive action on immigration. It will:

....protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits...

...One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.

It's the right thing to do. More details below: [More...]

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Mexico Arrests Another Son of Ismael Zambada-Garcia

The Mexican army has arrested "El Mayito Gordo", aka Ismael Zambada-Imperial, son of Sinaloa co-leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia.

This is the third son of Zambada-Garcia to be arrested. Serafin Zambada-Ortiz, was arrested in Arizona in November 2013, and charged in San Diego. He recently pleaded guilty. Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla was charged and pleaded guilty in Chicago. Both are awaiting sentencing.

Zambada-Garcia's brother, Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia, was arrested in 2008 and ultimately pleaded guilty in the District of Colombia. (He was also charged in the Eastern District of New York and proceedings were transferred to D.C. for his guilty plea.) His son was also arrested but later died while at a safe house, presumably a suicide.

El Mayito Gordo's Twitter account, dormant since July, is here.

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ISIS Leader al -Baghdadi Releases New Speech

ISIS leader al-Baghadi has released an audio and written version of a new speech, titled, "Even if the Disbelievers Believe Such." The English written version is here.

In the speech, he refers to Obama's decision to send 1,500 more advisers to Iraq. Assuming he is the speaker, it appears he is alive.

Obama who has ordered the deployment of 1,500 additional soldiers under the claim that they are advisors because the Crusaders' airstrikes and constant bombardment - day and night - upon the positions of the Islamic State have not prevented its advance, nor weakened its resolve.

He also urges more beheadings of the enemy: [More...]

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Wednesday :: November 12, 2014

Obama Reviewing Syrian Stance as Stalemate Seems Likely

President Obama wants Congress to fund his request for additional training and weapons in Iraq. What will he have to give up to get it, from those in Congress and at the Pentagon who think his plan isn't hawkish enough? Without Congressional approval, apparently there will be no funding for arming and training since executive authority doesn't cover that. That may not be easy:

Some Democrats have said they’re concerned that U.S. forces will become mired in ground combat in Iraq, despite Obama’s pledge that won’t happen. Some Republicans say Obama should take more aggressive action, such as moving more quickly to arm non-Islamic State rebels in Syria and enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria near the Turkish border.

From news reports, it sounds like Obama is under pressure to modify his "Iraq first" policy, under which helping the rebels fight Assad takes a back seat to defeating ISIS in Iraq. Obama is asking his advisers to review U.S. policy on Syria. But the two cited unnamed sources seem to say different things:
[More...]

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Michael Baden to Testify Before Ferguson Grand Jury

Forensic pathologist Michael Baden, who conducted an autopsy on Michael Brown at the request of his family's attorney, has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury investigating Brown's shooting death.

According to the lawyer for Brown's parents:

Baden had only limited access to information and has asked to review several other pieces of evidence before he testifies.

Among the items Baden did not have access to when he performed his autopsy:

Baden said there was no gunpowder residue on Brown's body, indicating he was not shot at close range, though he said at the time he wasn't given access to Brown's clothing and the residue could be there.

It's not known when the grand jury will be finished. The prosecutor has said "sometime this month."

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New NarcoDrama: En La Boca del Lobo

Monday night, Unimas began airing the Colombian narcodrama "En La Boca del Lobo" (In the Mouth of the Wolf.) It's the story of the guy who took down the Cali Cartel in Colombia and is based on the book with the same name, written by Cali cartel journalist William C. Rempel.

Ricardo is known as Richard in the world of the mafia and became Chief of security of one of the kingpins of the Cali Cartel. After the death of his best friend and his family, Ricardo has nothing more to lose. In search of redemption in a very corrupt world, he is willing to give the Cali Cartel to the CIA. But when the operation fails, Ricardo is seen 'in the mouth of the Wolf' and must fight for their survival, "reads a statement from the chain.

[more...]

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Wednesday Open Thread

It's a jail day for me, which means an open thread for you. All topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: November 11, 2014

Iraq (not U.S.) Provides Arms to Anbar Tribes

Iraq's Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Salim Al-Jabour, traveled to the Ain Asad military base in Anbar and gave a speech to the assembled tribal leaders and members. Shorter version: We gave you the arms you asked for, now do your part.

"We have honored our promise by providing you with arms as we are also confident of your abilities to free Anbar within days," Al-Jabouri said in a special conference held at Ain Asad military base in Anbar. "We are also confident of your solidity and resilience in using these weapons to defend yourselves, your country, and the world from this evil group, and avenge the innocent who were killed by IS, particularly victims of Al-Bunimr tribe and others.

50 U.S. military personnnel arrived at the Ain Asad base in Anbar yesterday. They are not there to fight ISIS, but to assess the facility's capabilities for future "assist and training" operations. They do have the means to defend themselves, if attacked.

The U.S. says it is not arming the tribes in Anbar: [More...]

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