|Idlib: Russian planes strike Uighur jihadis, jihadi missiles get devastating Syrian Army response|
Russian Air Force strikes jihadist rebels in southwest Idlib
The Russian Air Force continued their heavy bombardment of the Idlib Governorate, today, after taking a short hiatus overnight to concentrate on the Hama province.
Russian Sukhoi jets reportedly unleashed several airstrikes along the Turkish border this afternoon, hitting a number of jihadist targets inside the strategic district of Jisr Al-Shughour.
According to a military source in western Syria, the Russian Air Force primarily targeted areas that had a large presence of jihadist rebels from the terrorist group known as the Turkestan Islamic Party.
With the Syrian Arab army preparing offensive northwestern Syria the Russian Air Force has intensified their aerial campaign against the jihadist rebels.
Jihadist rebels attack Syrian Army stronghold near southwest Idlib (video)
On Tuesday, the Russian Air Force carried out a large number of airstrikes against the jihadist rebels in the Northwestern provinces of Syria.
Using their Sukhoi jets, the Russian Air Force hammered the jihadist rebels with airstrike after airstrike in order to weaken their resolve in northwestern Syria.
In response to the Russian attack, the jihadist rebels unleashed flurry of missiles towards the Syrian government stronghold of Joureen in the Al-Ghaab Plain this evening.
According to a military source, the jihadist missiles that targeted Joureen missed the Syrian army’s positions and hit the surrounding farms.
The Syrian Army then retaliated by firing several ground to ground missiles at the jihadist defenses in the area.
|-Lurid Crime Tales-|
|Horizon Air worker takes plane from Sea-Tac Airport, crashes on island in south Puget Sound|
|[SEATTLETIMES] A Horizon Air worker took off Friday night in one of the airline’s Q400 turboprops at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and crashed on an island in south Puget Sound after being coaxed by air-traffic control to try to land and trailed by two fighter jets, officials said.|
"Can you fly a plane, Rich?"
"I dunno. I never tried."
The plane was taken by a 29-year-old Sumner man about 8 p.m. and crashed on Ketron Island, near Steilacoom, about 90 minutes later, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. No passengers or crew appeared to be aboard the 76-seat plane.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the mechanic speaking. I''m going to take her up and do some loop de loops, so either fasten yer seatbelts or bail now!"
The Sheriff’s Department said it was “not a terrorist incident.” The plane crashed either while the man was doing stunts or because of a lack of flying skills, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Or both. You be de judge.
“A joyride gone terribly wrong,” Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said during a news conference in Steilacoom, which is about 3 miles from the island.
Joy rides often do.
No injuries were reported on the ground, Pastor said, as the plane crashed and started an intense fire on the wooded, 230-acre island, which has a population of 20. He said it appeared the man who took the plane died.
Whatcha got there, Herb? Strawberry jam?
Pilot, I think.
That his lung?
I think so.
Didn't smoke, did he?
"Not tobacco, he didn't."
Horizon Air COO Constance von Muehlen said in a late-night video that “our hearts are with the family of the individual onboard as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees.”
What's she gonna say? "Great job?"
On a live air-traffic control feed, the person flying the plane could be heard talking with an air-traffic controller who addressed him as Rich and Richard. Rich seemed excited as he spoke, though also carefree and wild.
"Whoo hoo! I got this baby in the air!"
"Now y'gotta get it back on the ground, Rich! Landing's always the hard part!"
At one point he explained he had put some gas in the plane “to go check out the Olympics… and uh, yeah.”
Stuff like this is why they used to give drug tests.
Later, he began to worry about his fuel. “I’m down to 2,100 (pounds),” he told the ATC. “I started at 30 something. … I don’t know what the burnage is like on takeoff, but it burned quite a bit faster than I expected.”
One gallon of jet fuel at 60 degrees Fahrenheit = 6.7 pounds. 3000 pounds of jet fuel = 447.75 gallons. Jet A costs about $5.71 a gallon, meaning Rich would have had $2556.72 coming out of his pay check for this little jaunt.
The air-traffic controller responded calmly, seeming not to want to upset Rich as the conversation continued and he tried to coax Rich into landing somewhere. “There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the controller told him. “That’s McChord” (meaning the military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord).
"Unidentified aircraft! Stop immediately and state your business! I repeat: Stop or we'll shoot!"
“Oh man,” Rich immediately responded, “Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there. I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn’t want to do that. They probably have anti-aircraft.”
"I'm so confused! Who're you? Where am I? Are you from Noo Joisey? I'm from Noo Joisey!"
"Captain! I think he's losing it!"
"Not on my runway, he's not! It's just been washed! You in the aircraft! This is Captain Vader! [Dum dum dum de dum!] Stop the plane and come out with yore hands up!"
“They don’t have any of that stuff,” the air-traffic controller said.
"I sense a lack of faith!" [Dum dum dum de dum!]"
"Gug gug gug gug!"
“We’re just trying to find a place for you to land safely.”
"What'd he mean when he said 'Stop the plane?'"
“I’m not quite ready to bring it down just yet,” Rich said. “But holy smokes, I got to stop looking at the fuel, because it’s going down quick.”
"If I don't look at it, it don't burn, right?"
“Could you start a left turn and we’ll take you down to the SE, please,” the air-traffic controller then asked.
"You're trying to kill me, aren't you?"
"There are rebel aircraft approaching the area!"
[Single sideband:] "Red Leader One, enemy aircraft at 3110, doing barrel rolls!"
[Single sideband:] "Blue Leader One, I'm on him!... Almost there!... Almost there?... Almost there... [KABOOM!]"
[Single sideband:] "Red Leader Two, Again?"
“This is probably jail time for life, huh?” said Rich. “I would hope it is for a guy like me.”
"Don't worry about it! It's only $2556.72 for the jet fuel. And $32.2 million for the plane..."
At another point, Rich said, “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it, until now.”
"Do you know where the parachute is on this thing?... A sign! I see a sign!"
"What's it say, Rich?"
"Area 52. Do not enter under penalty of... I can't make it out!"
"You're not low enough!"
An exchange between Rich and the controller not long before the plane crashed, perhaps the final exchange, was recorded by Aviation journalist Jon Ostrower at 8:47 p.m. and posted to his Air Current website. “I feel like one of my engines is going out or something,” Rich says.
"Why do you think that?"
"It's not moving!"
“OK, Rich,” the controller responded. “If you could, you just want to keep that plane right over the water. Keep the aircraft nice and low.”
"Not that low... Oh, the hell with it!"
|'Eradicate the tumours': Chinese civilians drive Xinjiang crackdown|
Four months after the Communist Party sent the "work team" to Akeqie Kanle, a fifth of its adult population -- over 100 people -- had disappeared into detention and re-education centres.
The team -- comprising staff from a regional university -- was among more than 10,000 such groups that poured into rural Xinjiang last year as part of the government's battle against separatism and "religious extremism" in the region, home to several Muslim ethnic minority groups.
|Turkistan Islamic Party highlights joint raids with the Afghan Taliban|
|[FDD's LongWarJournal] The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a largely Uighur jihadist group that is affiliated with al Qaeda, released a new video over the weekend highlighting its joint operations alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is unclear where the video was filmed, but the locales featured appear to be in northern Afghanistan.|
The video, dated for December 2017, primarily highlights the group’s combat operations, with sections dedicated to showing the overrunning of several remote Afghan military outposts in mountainous terrain. TIP and Taliban fighters are shown killing or capturing at least two dozen Afghan troops. Additionally, the two groups seized copious amounts of weapons and ammunition and several US-made Humvee vehicles. In some scenes, the jihadists are seen using captured Humvees in the assaults.
The TIP fighters are shown fighting under the Taliban’s flag and appear to be taking battlefield direction from Taliban field commanders. At least one child fighter is shown in the video. In separate scenes, some of the top TIP leaders are seen giving speeches. This includes Abdullah Mansour, who is the global deputy emir of TIP. Some of the video is also dedicated to anti-Chinese propaganda, as the TIP’s ultimate goal is an Islamic state within Xinjiang, China.
Several fighters who were killed during battle were also given eulogizes at the end of the video. It is unclear when these fighters were killed.
The Turkistan Islamic Party, commonly referred to as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM>ETIM), is an al Qaeda-linked Uighur jihadist group that operates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, China, and Syria. In Syria, it played a pivotal role in the capture of Idlib Province in 2015. It has also set up numerous training camps in Idlib for its fighters, as well as for children.
Outside of Syria, it has been blamed for several terrorist attacks within China. Additionally, in mid-2016, a suicide bombing occurred in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In its investigation, Kyrgyz authorities placed blame on the TIP’s Syrian branch. The investigation also shed light on a network of Syrian-trained Central Asian militants, which includes members of the TIP. The network appears to use Syria as a launching pad for external attacks.
Relations between the TIP and al Qaeda and the Taliban
TIP has served as an affiliate of al Qaeda and remains a close ally with the Taliban. TIP fighters have fought alongside the Taliban and other jihadist groups against Coalition and Afghan forces since the US first invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
|China’s latest move in the graveyard of empires|
|[ATimes]The latest plot twist in the endless historical saga of Afghanistan as a graveyard of empires has thrown up an intriguing new chapter. For the past two months, Beijing and Kabul have been discussing the possibility of setting up a military base alongside Afghanistan’s border with China.|
“We are going to build it [the base] and the Chinese government has committed to help financially, provide equipment and train Afghan soldiers,” Mohammad Radmanesh, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, admitted to the AFP.
On the record, the Chinese Foreign Ministry only admitted that Beijing was involved in “capacity-building” in Afghanistan, while NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, led by the United States, basically issued a “no comment.”
The military base will eventually be built in the mountainous Wakhan Corridor, a narrow strip of territory in northeastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from Pakistan.
It is one of the most spectacular, barren and remote stretches of Central Asia and according to local Kyrgyz nomads, joint Afghan-Chinese patrols are already active there. True to Sydney Wignall’s fabled Spy on the Roof of the World ethos, a great deal of shadow play is in effect. Apparently, this is basically about China’s own war on terror.
Beijing’s strategic priority is to prevent Uyghur fighters of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), who have been exiled in Afghanistan, crossing the Wakhan Corridor to carry out operations across Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China. There is also the fear that ISIS or Daesh jihadis from Syria and Iraq may also use Afghanistan as a springboard to reach the country.
Even though the jihad galaxy may be split, Beijing is concerned about ETIM. As early as September 2013, the capo of historic al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, supported jihad against China in Xinjiang.
Later, in July 2014, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh said: “Muslim rights [should be] forcibly seized in China, India and Palestine.” Then, on March 1, 2017, Daesh released a video announcing its presence in Afghanistan, with the terror group’s Uyghur jihadis vowing, on the record, to “shed blood like rivers” in Xinjiang.
At the heart of the matter is China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or the New Silk Road, which will connect China with Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
For Beijing, the stability of one of its links, the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is seriously compromised if terror threats abound in Central and South Asia. It could also affect China’s sizable investments in Afghanistan’s mineral mining industry
|The Media has stopped Reporting the Russian Collusion Story|
After all, the release last week of a less-redacted version of Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s January 4 letter showed that the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to search the communications of a Trump campaign adviser based on a piece of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Fourth Amendment rights of an American citizen were violated to allow one political party to spy on another.
If the press did its job and reported the facts, the argument goes, then it wouldn’t just be Republicans and Trump supporters demanding accountability and justice. Americans across the political spectrum would understand the nature and extent of the abuses and crimes touching not just on one political party and its presidential candidate but the rights of every American.
That’s all true, but irrelevant. The reasons the press won’t cover the story are suggested in the Graham-Grassley letter itself.
|US forces in Afghanistan attack anti-China militants|
|[AlAhram] U.S. forces in Afghanistan have attacked networks of anti-China in an action that is likely to please Beijing, which had called for Western cooperation in its fight against a group it says wants to split off its Xinjiang region.|
The strikes in the northern province of Badakhshan destroyed training camps which support operations in Afghanistan as well as operations by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in the border region with China and Tajikistan, Afghanistan's -led mission said in a release on Thursday.
"The U.S. strikes support Afghanistan in reassuring its neighbours that it is not a safe sanctuary for who want to carry out cross-border operations," it said.
The force gave no more details about the attacks or any estimate of casualties but it said the ETIM was behind attacks both inside and outside China and two of its members had been involved in a 2002 plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan.
"They pose a threat to China and enjoy support from the Taliban in Badakhshan and throughout the border region," the force said.
The group is drawn from members of China's mostly Uighur minority, who speak a Turkic language and live in Xinjiang in China's far west.
In Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry said he did not have information about the issue, but that fighting ETIM was a "core counter-terrorism concern" for China.
"Striking against terrorism is the responsibility of all countries in the world," Geng Shuang told a news briefing on Friday.
In 2016, Beijing was angered at a U.S. State Department report that said there was a lack of transparency or information from China about incidents it called terrorism, and that cooperation on the problem was limited.
The United States has since urged China to play a bigger role in combating global terrorism.
In the past, some Western countries have been reluctant to share intelligence with China on terrorism issues, citing concern about possible abuses in Xinjiang.
China has long been worried that instability in Afghanistan could spill over into Xinjiang.
Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in recent years in Xinjiang. Beijing blames the bloodshed on Islamist and separatists, though rights groups say the unrest is more a reaction to repressive Chinese policies.
The United States, and the have listed the ETIM as a terrorist group.
|US launches airstrikes on Taliban training camps|
|[LWJ] The US military launched a series of airstrikes on Taliban training camps located in Afghanistan’s remote northeastern province of Badakhshan, which borders Tajikistan. The camps were used by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other terrorist groups.|
“Over the past 96 hours, US forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others,” Resolute Support announced in a press release.
According to Resolute Support, the airstrikes also “destroyed stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.”
Badakhshan, once a peaceful province, has become a Taliban hotbed since the US withdrew the bulk of its forces after the troop surge ended in 2012. Of Badakhshan’s 28 districts, LWJ assesses three to be Taliban controlled and another nine to be contested.
ETIM’s emir has served on al Qaeda’s shura, and it has operated a training camp that was sponsored by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. After the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan in 2001, the ETIM established training camps in Pakistan.
ETIM fighters have fought alongside the Taliban and other jihadist groups against Coalition and Afghan forces since the US first invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
The US has previously targeted ETIM leaders inside Pakistan in its drone campaign. In Aug. 2010, the US thought it killed Abdul Haq al Turkistani, the emir of the ETIM, in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan. Turkistani later re-emerged in a video in 2015, and said he was severely wounded in the 2010 drone strike. Abdul Haq issued another in 2016 that took al Qaeda’s side in its dispute with the Islamic State.
The US was also thought to have killed Emeti Yakuf (a.k.a. Abdul Shakoor Turkistani), in a drone strike in Pakistan in Aug. 2012. Yakuf took control of the ETIM as Turkistani was recovering from his injuries, and also took control of al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2010.
|BRICS names Pak terror groups|
|[THEHANSINDIA] For the first time, Pakistain-based terror groups like the LeT and the JeM were named on Monday for causing violence in the region by the BRICS Summit that also asserted that those responsible for committing, organising or supporting terror acts must be held accountable. |
In a significant diplomatic win for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President , Brazilian President Michael Temer and South African President Jacob Zuma in strongly denouncing terror activities of such groups, as they expressed determination to collectively fight the scourge.
The 43-page 'Xiamen Declaration', adopted at the end of the five-nation BRICS plenary, stressed on the need for immediate cessation of violence in Afghanistan.
It expressed "concern" over the security situation in the region and the violence caused by the , ISIS, al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the , , , Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP) and . Significantly, the ETIM is active in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China and seeks to establish a separate "East Turkistan".
According to officials, Modi raised the issue of terrorism strongly at the BRICS Summit and was joined by other leaders, who expressed willingness to fight this menace. "For the first time, specific listing of terror organizations has been made (in the BRICS declaration)," Secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry Preeti Saran told s.
The inclusion of Pakistain-based terror groups in the declaration is also significant as it indicated a slight shift in the Chinese view towards terror groups operating out of Pakistain.
During the last BRICS Summit in Goa, China did not allow the inclusion of Pakistain-based terror groups in the declaration despite the fact that the Summit was taking place within weeks of the Uri terror strike carried out by a Pakistain-based group.
|-Land of the Free|
|Jesse Jackson back at Amazon stockholders’ meeting, crusading for workforce diversity|
|[SEATTLETIMES] It’s 2017, and much has changed since Jackson marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. But some old problems remain unresolved — like access to good jobs.|
...and Jesseh's hunger for cash he didn't earn. Give him a beer distributorship and he'll go away...
|-Lurid Crime Tales-|
|Fourth man accuses Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of paying him for sex|
|[SEATTLETIMES] In a handwritten declaration from jail, a fourth man has accused Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of paying him for sex. A Murray spokesman denied the latest allegations, calling them a “sensational media stunt.”|
|Why is China 'protecting' the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group?|
|[DeutscheWelle] China blocked a recent Indian move to blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad's chief Masood Azhar at the UN. In a DW interview, Siegfried O Wolf, a South Asia expert at the University of Heidelberg, explains why China is protecting the Pakistain-based group's head.|
DW: China blocked a recent Indian move to blacklist chief Masood Azhar at the UN. In April, Beijing put a similar move on hold. Why is China protecting Azhar?
Siegfried O. Wolf: China's diplomatic support for Pakistain-based is multi-faceted. Therefore, one must look at Beijing's latest action at the UN in a larger context.
China's protection of Masood Azhar is only one component of the Chinese campaign to provide Pakistain its diplomatic support, which includes informal "lobbying work" to prevent Pakistain from being listed as a state that sponsors terrorism. The possible sanctions would not only have immense political and economic implications for Islamabad, they will also reflect poorly on Beijing as Pakistain is widely seen as a close China ally. Therefore, Chinese authorities try to undermine all Indian attempts to officially name Pakistain as a state-sponsor of terrorism on international platforms like BRICS or the Heart of Asia conference.
Beijing is now also drawing on Islamabad's improved relations with Moscow. China is increasingly involving Pakistain in multilateral dialogues on regional cooperation and security in relation to the Afghanistan-Pakistain region and Central Asia in an attempt to minimize Pakistain's international isolation.
Another dimension of China's move to block the Indian effort to designate Azhar as a terrorist is the threat that anti-Indian groups like the JeM could turn against the Pak state. This would have dangerous implications for China, especially for its massive investments and development initiatives in the South Asian country, including the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistain Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. We must not forget that international terror groups like al Qaeda, " " (IS) and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) oppose Beijing for its alleged anti- policies against the Uighurs in its western Xinjiang province. China doesn't want an additional confrontation with Islamist groups.
Finally, there is no doubt that the India-China rivalry might also be a factor in Beijing's support for Islamabad and Pakistain-based terrorists. In this context, China's major development projects like "One Belt, One Road" to link China with Europe and the Middle East, and several other infrastructure projects show that Beijing considers Afghanistan an important country for its economic, security and geopolitical interests.