18/02/2015 - 00:00
Surveillance, Targeting and the Criminalisation of Kurds in the UK: Part III

The Kurds and 'Others': 'Easy' and 'Convenient' Targets?

Scandalous surveillance and targeting operations against Kurdish (as with many 'Othered') asylum seekers and diasporic communities continues. What is evident is that the 'penology of risk management' identified by James Banks (identified in the previous two articles of this investigative series) is still being aggressively promoted in the UK. Indeed, for Banks, “Britain’s lack of a formal constitution has enabled parliament’s retainment of sovereignty by providing no limits to its passage of restrictive asylum law. As Poggi notes ‘Britain is the only country in Europe without a written bill of rights, which is a superb irony considering England’s invention of modern constitutionalism’ (1990: 54-7) …

“Executive closure ... also serves to [attempt to] contain social unrest by identifying a deviant population” - 'Muslims', Kurds, Tamils, Baloch and 'Othered' diasporic communities form part of this targeted 'deviant' population - “and addressing it with a punitive response whilst diverting attention away from pressing concerns and the real reasons for such ills”[i] - namely, an unethical and highly problematic foreign policy; questionable engagement in overseas wars that have not been of a humanitarian nature (despite the rhetoric – see retired Lt. Commander RNR Frank Ledwidge's devastatingly frank 'Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan');[ii] a corrupt and publicly unaccountable political system; support for a US backed 'War on Terror/Long War' around the world and within the UK itself that engages in publicly unaccountable surveillance and targeting of 'Others' whilst engaging in questionable rendition and extra-judicial murder operations and domestic policies that are socially, morally and financially bankrupt.

UndercoverInfo provides us with insights into these 'pressing concerns' and 'ills'. On 6th February 2015, it reported on the:

landmark decision [in which] a tribunal declared that the mass snooping of citizens by GCHQ in conjunction with the NSA was unlawful.Previously, we revealed how former heads of GCHQ had gone on to work for a specialist communications firm that supplied equipment to the Assad regime. Last week, there werefurther revelations about how British-controlled territory Diego Garcia was used as a US interrogation centre and as a staging post for rendition flights; also, that MI5 admitted that its role in the rendition of Libyan opposition leaders to the Gaddafi regime may have assisted Al-Qaeda. All in all, these illegal activities and policy failures point to an intelligence and security community given free rein to run riot with our liberties: in short, they are our ‘enemy within’.

British intelligence services acted unlawfully in accessing millions of people’s personal communications collected by the NSA, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled today. The Tribunal stated: “The regime governing the soliciting, receiving, storing and transmitting by UK authorities of private communications of individuals located in the UK, which have been obtained by US authorities … contravened Articles 8 or 10 of the European convention on human rights” … PRISM and UPSTREAM, which have been in existence for nearly a decade, were made public in June 2013 by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.[iii]


According to UndercoverInfo:

Through PRISM, the NSA has gained access to the data and content handled by some of the world’s largest Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. With UPSTREAM, the NSA intercepts bulk data via fibre optic cables that carry the world’s communications. The scope of this surveillance is unprecedented. For instance, the top five programmes within UPSTREAM created 160 billion interception records in one month. In one day, the NSA was able to collect 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers. Source:Privacy International (with additional hyperlinks from UndercoverInfo.)

Now consider this… If the ordinary person learnt there was a secretive organisation in Britain spying on the entire population and targeting journalists as well as lawyers, that person may be forgiven for thinking that that organisation could only be considered as ‘an enemy within’. And if that organisation managed to persuade internet companies to weaken their encryption facilities, so making everyone vulnerable to hacking or fraud, there would naturally be alarm. The organisation is, of course, GCHQ (acting in collusion with MI5, MI6 and special police units) – whose activities could be characterised as subversive, and a threat to the very well-being of us all.

{Note: Two years ago it was revealed that Finmeccanica, a security and military communications company, whose UK operations were led by former head of GCQH Sir Kevin Tebbit, had supplied equipment to the Assad regime. Selex Elsag, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, sold the communications equipment to Syria in May 2011, even though the EU had imposed an arms embargo on the regime. The equipment included Tetra, which was intended for the Syrian police and military. In February 2012, Selex Elsag engineers visited Syria to provide training (Another Finmeccanica senior administrator – non-executive – and former director of GCHQ was Sir David Ormond).[iv]


UndercoverInfo's February 2015 report further alerts us to:

The Interception of Communication Commissioner’s Office's … report that revealed how 19 police forces in Britain over a three year period made more than 600 applications to uncover 242 confidential sources and 82 journalists ... The commissioner, Sir Anthony May, admitted that police forces “did not give due consideration to freedom of speech” and Home Office guidelines do not sufficiently protect journalistic sources. 43% of information sought was for traffic data, including telephone call records, resulting in the snooping of confidential sources. Under Ripa, police can request data on phone numbers a ‘suspect’ has called and whom the suspect has emailed. The commissioner’s report stated that the police acted against Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights and did not give consideration to journalists’ rights to freedom of expression under article 10 of that convention.

It was also revealed that details of journalists and their sources who were spied on were entered into the Domestic Extremism Database. The National Domestic Extremism Database is a database of individuals associated with protests.[v]


More about this in a follow-up article in this series which will detail why it is extremely likely that many Kurds will have been 'profiled' in it. What UndercoverInfo details is worthy of concern:

It is managed by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) within the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU) but managed by the Metropolitan Police Service - specifically its Counter Terrorism Command and with links to the National Special Branch Information System (NSBIS – codename Fairway). There are three related databases, as follows: CO11 Protester Database is run by the Metropolitan Police’s Public Order Unit (CO11) with much of the information provided by the Forward Intelligence Teams; the Commander’s Archive, which contains sensitive documentation not stored in Special Branch records; CrimInt contains information on criminals, suspects and protesters.


Police have also been criticised for monitoring talks and meetings at UK universities. In May 2013, Umut Ertogal, the ‘head of open source intelligence with the UK Police National Domestic Extremism Unit’, revealed in a private report to the Australian police (then preparing for the Brisbane G20 Summit), that the unit used a software tool called SOCMINT to monitor social media sites to gauge public mood. It was apparently extensively used [even] during the London 2012 Olympics and for ‘predicting hotspots during the 2010 student protests’ … It was also revealed that at the time, SOCMINT (which stands for ‘Social Media Intelligence’, a name given to this open source intelligence gathering technique) was being run by a staff of 17 people working around the clock, scanning Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other public forums used by UK citizens. Ertogral reportedly said that YouTube effectively acted as CCTV [for it] and Google Glasses were ‘another channel for us to explore and look at’.[vi]


Concerning the publicly unaccountable actions of 'our' British intelligence agencies:

[In February 2015], Ian Cobain revealed in the Guardian that a senior US official admitted that the US base on ['British territory'] Diego Garcia was used as an interrogation centre, that the island was also a staging post for rendition and that it would stretch incredulity if the British had not been aware of what was going on. The evidence of Britain’s role in rendition is overwhelming: this includes details of numerous rendition flights via the UK and  Diego Garcia.


Then there is the matter of the rendition of Sami al-Saadi and Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his family to the Gaddafi regime, where they were tortured: apparently, MI5 now regrets its part in this debacle. Of course, this all happened at a time when the Blair Government was conducting a very dubious strategy of courting the Libyan leader in order to get his assurance that he would not manufacture weapons of mass destruction. This was pure theatre, for Gaddafi did not have the capacity to manufacture WMD. In truth, this rapprochement was all about – yes, you guessed it – oil … Documents later found in Libya showed that Britain was directly involved in rendition and fully aware of the kind of torture and intense interrogation rendition victims faced in Libya.[vii]

Owen Jones, in 'The Establishment', buttresses Bank's point that 'executive closure ... also serves to [attempt to] contain social unrest by identifying a deviant population and addressing it with a punitive response whilst diverting attention away from pressing concerns and the real reasons for such ills':

The status quo may be treated as common sense now, but future generations will surely look back with a mixture of astonishment and contempt at how British society is currently organised: the richest 1000 individuals worth £520 billion, while hundreds of thousands of people have to queue to eat in food banks; a thriving financial elite that helped plunge Britain into a vortex of economic collapse, which was rescued by over £1 trillion of public money but continues to operate much as before; a reigning dogma that treats the state as an obstacle to be eradicated and shunned, even as the state serves as the backbone for private interests; a corporate elite, dependent as it is on state largesse, that refuses to contribute money to the state; a [mainstream] media that does not exist to inform, educate as well as challenge all those with power, but which serves as a platform for the ambitions, prejudices and naked self-interest of a small number of wealthy moguls. More startling to our descendants will be how this was passed off [by so many as] normal, as entirely rational and defensible, and how institutions run by the elite attempted, with considerable success, to redirect people's anger to those at the very bottom of society.[viii]

For Jones, “the Establishment is … shielded by the deflection of popular anger directed at those at the bottom of society, rather than those at the top. Low-paid workers are encouraged by the media and politicians to envy the supposedly luxurious conditions of benefit-claiming unemployed people, rather than resent their employers for paying them insufficient wages. Private sector workers with no pensions are encouraged to envy public sector workers whose pensions are still intact. Those who cannot get council housing – because governments have refused to build it – or get secure jobs – because politicians of all stripes have allowed them to be stripped from the economy – are encouraged to envy immigrants” - and diasporic Kurdish and 'Othered' communities - “supposedly getting what is rightfully theirs”.[ix]

And, “above all, UKIP has helped drive the issue of immigration to the top of the nation's political agenda, shifting blame for Britain's endemic social problems away from those responsible at the top – and to the age-old scapegoat of the foreigner”[x] - and diasporic and migrant communities. US basedPaul Krugman shares some of Owen's concerns:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's [2014] Autumn Statement, which lays out the alleged fiscal plans of British Prime Minister David Cameron's government, has provoked a fair bit of incredulity among commentators. Never mind the macroeconomics - the plans envisage sharp cuts to public spending that would presumably be devastating in their impact on public services, but with no specifics. "What the hell is he playing at?", asked the economist Chris Dillow in a recent blog post. The answer is obvious if you've been paying any attention on this side of the Atlantic.[xi]

As Krugman points out:

Mr. Osborne is playing at being Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee. It's exactly the same play-book: Claim, often and loudly, that you're deeply concerned about the deficit, while offering budget proposals whose concrete elements involve savaging aid to the poor and cutting taxes for the rich, which would do little to reduce the deficit (or, in Mr. Ryan's case, would actually increase it). Meanwhile, you continue to claim that you're bringing deficits down, because you pencil in huge spending cuts without any explanation of what they will involve, or how they can take place.

And what's the goal? Basically, a war on the welfare state - the implausible spending cuts are only there to snooker the Very Serious People (or what the economist Simon Wren-Lewis, who shares my analysis, calls "media-macro") into believing that it's really about reducing the deficit. And it works! … Mr. Osborne produces a ludicrous budget, and even commentators who acknowledge that it's ludicrous give him credit for showing "a keen understanding of the constraints facing the country", as Stephanie Flanders, a market strategist at JPMorgan, recently did in The Financial Times.

Think about that: Someone says that 2+2 = 5, and gets credit because it shows that he recognises how hard it is to live within the constraint of 2+2 just equalling 4. Give this man an award! So, to British commentators puzzled by the combination of hard-heartedness, intellectual dishonesty and self-righteousness on display: Welcome to my world.[xii]

In this 'world', soft targets become 'easy' and 'convenient' targets that 'deep political' circles seek to exploit – the welfare state, asylum-seeking and diasporan Kurds and 'Others' as well as investigative journalists, whistle-blowers and social and environmentalist and anti-war 'Othered activists'.

Targeting initiatives against 'failed' Kurdish asylum seekers from Iraq and restrictions in place against Syrian (inclusive of Kurdish, Christian and 'Other') refugees and asylum seekers

Brutal surveillance, targeting and deportation measures against 'failed' Kurdish and 'Othered' asylum seekers from Iraq and other countries have been evident for years. The following situations described are symptomatic of wider trends. On 19th November 2005, “Hawar was taken to a centre ready for deportation ... He was alone in a room, and the officers brought a paper that they wanted him to sign to give his consent to deportation. He refused. Four security men were brought into the room; Hawar was physically beaten and put into handcuffs. He was pushed into a van with about 40 other Kurdish Iraqi men, and driven to an airport. At the airport, 15 of these people including Hawar were separated from the others and were forced onto an aeroplane. Once they were secured, they were told that they were going back to a safe environment, they would be looked after and they would be given a house. The plane had a stop-over, maybe at Cyprus, where the men were forced to change from their clothes into army uniform”,[xiii] an outrageous act in itself. “The second aeroplane took them to Erbil. In Erbil, they were seen by a GP and checked in by the KDP, the political party that has control in that area. Hawar was” then merely “put on the street with $100. This is not his city. His city is Mosul”.[xiv]

In November 2010, Frances Webber confirmed even the “Iraqi authorities’ refusal to accept three-quarters of the Kurdish passengers on the first forced-removal charter flight from the UK to Baghdad in October 2009. The head of immigration services in Baghdad was reported as saying that the Kurds would be at physical risk in Baghdad and he would not be responsible for their safety. It seem[ed] wholly unrealistic to expect any Kurd to volunteer for return to such conditions – yet the government’s efforts to induce Iraqi Kurds to return to central Iraq, by hook or by crook, continue[d] unabated”.[xv] Of the ten asylum-seekers kept in Baghdad, “witnesses on the flight said the 10 men were given $100 (£60) each by the British embassy then left to fend for themselves in the Iraqi capital. In the few weeks [prior to the flight], dozens of civilians ha[d] been killed by bomb blasts and violence on the streets of Baghdad”.[xvi]

According to Verkaik: “'K', one of the 10 failed asylum-seekers left in Baghdad, said that he did not go voluntarily and wanted to be returned to Britain. Speaking from the Iraqi capital he said: 'They forced 10 of us to get off in Baghdad. They said the British embassy would help us but they just gave us $100 and left us. I’m too scared to go to where I used to live. Everything they told us is a lie'”.[xvii] “Some of the [returned] men have made allegations that they were violently assaulted and racially abused by the British security guards, from security firm G4S accompanying them. ‘S’, who has asked not to be named, told the Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq: ‘They got my head in a headlock, beat it, put a blanket over it, pushed me down to the floor then dragged me around. I’ve had bad headaches since, I can’t move my neck properly, I have swollen wrists and I can’t sleep’ … Campaigners claim[ed] that at least one man [wa]s … held in solitary confinement in Brook House after he protested and was allegedly assaulted during the return flight’s stopover in Italy. It has previously been alleged that on a mass deportation flight to Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2008, deportees were beaten by the security guards, with one man’s head hit against a window of the plane, smashing it”.[xviii]

Speaking by telephone to the Guardian, Kawa Ali Azad “said he had been put on a bus and driven to Stansted airport. 'It was like a kidnapping. We had no food for 12 hours. We were kept out of sight at the airport, then put on an Italian charter flight. When we arrived in Baghdad, there was an Iraqi officer with sunglasses and eagle decorations on his shoulders. [The British immigration official] started to talk to him but his English was not good, so I went to help translate. The British officials didn’t have an Arabic translator'. [The airport commander] said he had received a message from his boss there was an Italian flight but was never told it was transporting deported Iraqis – otherwise, he would not have let it land. He said to the immigration official he had two hours to refuel the plane and leave or he would take further action.

“He would not take responsibility for the Iraqis because of the danger of kidnapping and bombs. The immigration officer asked what 'further action' meant and he said would burn the plane with all the people on board if it didn’t leave. When most of the Iraqis were put back on the plane – only 10 were let into Baghdad – relations with the security guards, who had remained on the plane, deteriorated. 'The security guards were white English. I was called all sorts of words … I started crying and said I hadn’t done anything', said Azad … '[But] they slapped me on the mouth and handcuffed me. I still have the bruise. I was also spat at. When the plane stopped in Italy, we had to swap aircraft. I heard them talking to Italian security and they said we were a group of terrorists being transported. They put a jacket over my head and I received kicks'”.[xix]

'Other' Iraqis were targeted alongside Kurds in a shameful and utterly inhumane fashion. In June 2010, the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) again planned to deport 70 Iraqis. “The operation, deporting them via the central provinces of Iraq”, was “in direct contravention of United Nations guidelines. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees oppose[d] forced returns to the area because of continuing suicide bombings and violence. The UN guidance was explicitly restated [in] autumn 2009 after the UK attempted to deport 44 men to Baghdad. That abortive operation resulted in Iraqi airport officials refusing to admit all but 10 of the men. The rest were told to re-board the plane and were flown back to the UK … The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), which has spoken to failed asylum seekers detained, … said that some of the men who refused to cooperate with the process felt they had been threatened … Dashty Jamal of the IFIR said: 'This is another tactic by the UK government and the Iraqi government to legitimise their deportation police. The Liberal Democrats promised to sort out the problem of refugees but now they are supporting this inhuman policy and are working with the tribal, religious and nationalist militia groups in Iraq to play with lives of innocent people who tried to escape from the killings, massacres, sectarian violence and war but are now threatened with forcible deportation'”.[xx]

On arrival, the Iraqi refugees were subjected to violence and “claimed they were beaten by British security staff and Iraqi police. The violence allegedly erupted when the refugees refused to leave a charter flight after it touched down in Baghdad … The UN[HCR] ... rebuked the UK and several Scandinavian countries for removing failed asylum seekers to the five central governorates of Iraq, which it sa[id were] unsafe due to attacks by al-Qaida sympathisers. More than 60 failed asylum seekers were put on board the ... UK charter flight accompanied by an even larger number of security guards. 'When we arrived in Baghdad we refused to get off the plane', one of the failed asylum seekers, Sabar Saleh Saeed, said … 'One Iraqi policeman came on and said if we did not come down, they would make us go down by force. We stayed where we were but the security guards forced handcuffs on us and started to beat us when they were dragging us off the plane. They were swearing at us, beating us. Four of them grabbed me to force me off the plane. They grabbed my neck and punched me. My eyes went dark. I could not see any light. I saw many other refugees with blood running down their faces'”.[xxi]

One of the deportees sent to Baghdad in June 2010, Sherwan Abdullah, a Kurd, “told the BBC he and others had been beaten by UKBA personnel to force him off the plane in Baghdad. 'They was grabbing us, they told us if you don't come down, we're gonna beat you badly, and we're gonna take you out', said Mr Abdullah. Asked if this happened on the plane, he said: 'Yes on the plane. If somebody wasn't willing to come out, they grabbed them, they grab the neck, they nearly killed them, they nearly kill them, these people cannot breathe'. Mr Abdullah also said that all his money had been stolen by the Iraqi police at the airport … 14 of the deported all told the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, that they had been beaten by UKBA employees both to get them on the plane in London, and off it in Baghdad”.[xxii]

Kurdish asylum seekers from Turkey have been scandalously targeted (as will be detailed in follow-up articles in this investigative series). Kurds from Syria have also had their asylum appeals questionably processed for a number of years, even pre-dating the recent Syrian civil war. In March 2009, for example, even as UK authorities continued to reject the overwhelming majority of asylum applications of Kurds fleeing Syrian government persecution and state terrorism, the Kurdish Yekiti Party in Syria made the following appeal via its UK Branch Report for the period January 2008 - March 2009:

We want to open hearts and minds to the dangerous situation for Kurds in Syria. We believe that there is a creeping genocide, a planned programme that will lead to the ethnic cleansing of Kurds from our homelands and we ask for your help to stop this happening. This is our cry ... The Syrian authorities have no intention of making our lives any easier and the events of the past year confirm that the situation is actually becoming worse for Kurds in Syria, of whom 400,000 are stateless ... [For example], in January 2008, we learned of the Syrian Arab Republic directive that was sent at the end of 2007 to Army officers to discredit Kurds serving in the army, and to raise suspicions amongst Syrians that Kurds ... would betray Syria ...

On 9th March 2008, we sent out a report regarding the death of Idris Mohmood Moussa in the hands of the Syrian authorities. We were worried that this may be the resurgence of criminal activity, similar to what happened after the 'uprising' in Qamishli in 2004. Kurdish people in the army at that time disappeared unexpectedly, and their bodies were found showing marks of torture … Kurds celebrating Newroz ['New Year'] in the streets of Qamishli on 20th March 2008 were fired on by Syrian authorities and three were shot dead ... Our report of 8th June 2008 contained information that ... the son of a previous Deputy President of Syria declared that anyone who uses the term ‘Kurdistan of Syria’  is the enemy of the fatherland, and that this is a crime. He also said that Kurds in Syria are immigrants ...

We [also] sent out a report ... following the killing of prisoners in Sednaya prison in Damascus to alert our contacts of this atrocity ... Along with four other Kurdish organisations, we sent out a call on 23rd July 2008 for action regarding the disappearance of Mohammed Moussa  ... On 23rd August 2008, we notified our contacts of the arrest and disappearance of Mr. Mashaal Nehayet al-Tamo from Qamishli.  He is one of the Kurdish opposition leaders against the Syrian regime ... and he is also a representative on the Revitalizing Civil Society Committees ... [And] on 10th September 2008, we wrote with great concern about the introduction of Decree 49 and the anticipated disastrous effects. The aim of this decree is to progress ethnic cleansing and genocide ... There was a demonstration against Decree 49 on 2nd November 2008. Kurds taking part were arrested in great numbers ... We wrote on 14th September 2008 to the British Parliament, European Parliament, Human Rights organisations and individuals to advise them of our concern ... We consider that the Syrian Government feels able to commit human rights abuses without concern … and it is using this position to target the Kurdish opposition.

More recently, away from the public gaze and propaganda campaigns by the British government suggesting that it was and is doing 'absolutely everything' to assist civilians being targeted in the ever-escalating conflict in Syria (which it was and still is in part responsible for, given its support for highly questionable 'rebel' forces that were and are known to be committing human rights atrocities), Amnesty International revealed the following situation in a December 2013 report, An International Failure: The Syrian Refugee Crisis:

European Union (EU) member states have only offered to open their doors to around 12,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria: just 0.5 per cent of the 2.3 million people who have fled the country. “The EU has miserably failed to play its part in providing a safe haven to the refugees who have lost all but their lives. The number of those it’s prepared to resettle is truly pitiful. Across the board European leaders should hang their heads in shame”, said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

The closest European capital - Nicosia - lies a mere 200 miles from Damascus. Yet collectively, EU member states have pledged to resettle just a very small proportion of Syria’s most vulnerable refugees. Amnesty International’s briefing breaks down the figures.

  • ·Only 10 EU member states
  • Germany is by far the most generous – pledging to take 10,000 refugees or 80 per cent of total EU pledges.
  • Excluding Germany, the remaining 27 EU member states have offered to take a mere 2,340 refugees from Syria. France offered just 500 places or 0.02 per cent of the total number of people who have fled Syria. Spain agreed to take just 30 or 0.001 per cent of refugees from Syria. Eighteen EU member states – including the UK and Italy – offered no places at all.

As winter approache[d], conditions for the 2.2 million people who ... fled Syria to neighbouring countries [were] deteriorating rapidly. With only 12,000 places offered by EU member states for resettlement or humanitarian admission, others attempt[ed] the journey under their own steam. Tens of thousands ... reached Europe, trying to claim asylum having risked life and limb in arduous journeys, on boats or across land. Amnesty International’s research reveal[ed] that, first, they ha[d] to break through the barricades of Fortress Europe. Many ... [were] faced with violent push-backs by police and coastguards, or [were] detained for weeks in deplorable conditions.[xxiii]

In an April 2013 report by Amnesty International UK and Still Human Still Here, the following was revealed:

80% of the decisions [rejecting asylum seekers applications from all countries to the UK were] overturned on appeal [as they] were down to flawed credibility assessments, where case workers would dismiss an asylum application on a minor inconsistency or lack of certain documentary evidence. An example cited in the report was of a Syrian farmer's application being rejected  ... It was [only] overturned when a judge found it plausible … Amnesty and Still Human's report urges a change in approach is needed to stop cases like this happening in the future and recommends increased flexibility and guaranteed access to legal representation for all asylum applicants.[xxiv]

Apart from its pitiful resettlement contribution, the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed in January 2014 that the UK had accepted just 1,500 asylum applications during the previous year [although this was projected as an impressively honourable and generous number of people to accept].[xxv]In October 2013, it was reported that “British border police ... turned away 60 Syrian asylum seekers at the French border port of Calais that were ‘desperately’ trying to enter Britain due to their mistreatment by French authorities. A team of three British border patrol officers denied entry to the Syrian asylum seekers …

“The Syrian refugees ... were disappointed by the rejection at the border point. Two men joined two others already perched on a port building and threatened to jump but all four later came down. The protest [saw] ... 20 people go on hunger strike … [even as] 50 French anti-riot police officers moved in”, at one point, “to try and clear the protesters from the footbridge”.[xxvi]

In March 2014, Ylenia Gostoli reported how, “when British Prime Minister David Cameron was trying to convince parliament to bomb Syria, … he said: 'By any standards, this is a humanitarian catastrophe… Doing nothing is a choice. It's a choice with consequences'. Weirdly, his call to do 'something' about the humanitarian disaster didn’t extend to accepting Syrian refugees into the UK. Until January [2014], that is, when the combined do-gooding pressure of coalition partner Nick Clegg and various civil society groups convinced Cameron to resettle a whole 500 of them, despite the objections of Home Secretary Theresa May. 'Sadly, we cannot provide safety for everyone who needs it, but we can reach out to some of those who need it most', said Clegg when the resettlement plan was announced. 'We are one of the most open hearted countries in the world, and I believe we have a moral responsibility to help'”.[xxvii]

For Gostoli:

Sadly, Bassel (not his real name) - a Syrian refugee I spoke to - has found Britain’s “open heart” to be a little cold. “I thought this was the country of freedom, where they help refugees … Then I came and I was shocked”, he said. He spoke to me from one of the UK’s immigration removal centres, where he has now been detained for over a month ... “They told me it would be a fast procedure, but I'm still waiting”. Waiting is all he can do. Waiting for lunch, waiting for a phone call from his brother or his caseworker, waiting for his anti-depressants, waiting for his room to be locked at 8:30pm every evening. “Sometimes I read, but most of the time I don’t feel like doing much”, he says. The practice of detaining asylum seekers for administrative purposes could lead to them spending anything from a few weeks to years in detention. The majority tend to be held for less than two months, but it's not uncommon for detentions to span between two and six months, and there's no time limit restricting how long asylum seekers can be kept in detention facilities …

“I was ashamed to tell my mother and father that I was detained here", says Bassel. "I’d been talking to them about freedom, telling them that they should try to come, no matter what. I came without any crime, fled from the war to join my family and I’ve been detained. It really looks like a prison. There are officers. I was shocked". It’s not the first time he’s been in detention. Back in Syria, Bassel was thrown in jail twice. The first time, he was stopped at a government checkpoint ... The second time, he was kidnapped by what he believes was an Islamist group ... He never knew the reason for his detention. He suffers from mental health problems, which have worsened since being locked up again, this time by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).[xxviii]

The UK governmental stance in grudgingly accepting “no more than 500” of the most desperate Syrian refugees in January 2014 was hardly a generous one, many feel, for it is conditional on the following: “The government has struck a deal with the United Nations that will allow Britain to take in” less than 500 refugees “without having to host a UN-imposed quota. The compromise ends weeks of resistance by the government to becoming involved in the UN refugee programme and [came only] before a Labour-tabled debate in the Commons” that was “designed to put pressure on the government to do more to take refugees from the battle-torn country”[xxix] (Note: Even here, Labour “had called on the Government to accept [just] 400-500 Syrians, including torture victims, women and girls at high risk and people with family links to the UK”).[xxx]

“In an agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the government ... decided to provide refuge for some of those most traumatised by the crisis, such as vulnerable women and children. Coalition sources” proudly confirmed that absolutely “no more than about 500 refugees” - in number representing less than an eightieth of the attendance of a regular Chelsea FC home match [Chelsea vs. Aston Villa on 27th September 2014 drew a crowd of 41,616, for example] - “would be permitted entry” into the UK, “including family members, but” even then, away from the public gaze and the cameras promoting the government's generous stance, “their precise citizenship status, determining the right of other family members to come to the UK, had yet to be agreed.

“The Home Office has persistently resisted taking UN-supplied refugees, arguing that the British government is fulfilling [enough of] its duties by leading the effort to supply aid to refugees in camps on the Syrian borders with Jordan and Turkey … The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg”, without a hint of embarrassment, said: “We are one of the most open-hearted countries in the world and I believe we have a moral responsibility to help … Sadly, we cannot provide safety for everyone who needs it, but we can reach out to some of those who need it most. On top of that, we’ll continue to support the peace talks currently taking place in Geneva” - which explicitly and scandalously sought to exclude the Kurdish Syrian PYD as a separate and legitimate party to the talks - “because only a political resolution between the Assad regime and the” specifically selected highly questionable US-UK backed “Syrian opposition will provide a permanent end to the suffering. Britain has a long and proud tradition of providing refuge at times of crisis. This coalition government will ensure it lives on".[xxxi]

As I have reported elsewhere, the Syrian ‘opposition’ that the US-UK was/is supporting was/is one that was/is infiltrated at the highest levels by religious extremists who have viewed Kurds, Christians and ‘Others’ as necessary targets to be removed or genocidally ‘cleansed’ from Syria and the newly emerging ISIS-backed ‘Sunni state’. As Nafeez Ahmed has concluded: "Missing from the chorus of outrage" over ISIS "has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form 'ISIS', the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS). Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly co-ordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by long-standing but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East".[xxxii]

Ahmed informs us that, "according to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: 'I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business ... I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain, not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria'. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway".[xxxiii]

And with a command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, which UK and NATO authorities surely will have been aware and appraised of, "military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports", Ahmed confirms, "show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander ... said: 'Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us' ... Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that 'most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups... are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West [ostensibly] wants to bolster'".[xxxiv]

Equally chillingly, Ahmed notes that by the Washington DC Syrian Support Group's (SSG) "own conservative estimate, as much as 15% of rebel fighters” – whom the US-UK governments have been supporting in their ‘fight’ against Assad – “are Islamists affiliated to al-Qaeda, either through the Jabhut al-Nusra faction, or its breakaway group ISIS. But privately, Pentagon officials estimate that 'more than 50%' of the FSA is comprised of Islamist extremists".[xxxv] Despite this, as the Sunday Times revealed on 19th August 2012, a Syrian opposition official confirmed that the British authorities "'know about and approve 100%' signals intelligence from their Cyprus bases being passed through Turkey to the rebel troops of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). 'British intelligence is observing things closely from Cyprus. It's very useful because they find out a great deal ... The British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans and we [at the FSA] are getting it from the Turks'".[xxxvi]

On 24th August 2013, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, in Global Research further stated that: "If we look at various media reports, including CNN but it is also acknowledged in Israeli media, the rebels, namely Al-Nusra, are in possession of chemical weapons but, moreover, it is acknowledged that western forces are actually training Al-Nusra rebels in Jordan and Turkey and this is confirmed by a December 9th CNN report. We had subsequently the report of the United Nations independent mission which confirms that rebel forces are in possession of sarin nerve gas and the United Nations human rights investigators actually made a statement to that effect ... In fact, what they said is that the rebels were in possession of chemical weapons. Then, we also had a Turkish police report, which essentially confirmed these previous reports, the fact that the Al-Nusra terrorists who are supported by the Western military alliance, they were arrested with sarin gas in their possession".[xxxvii]

A 9th December 2012 CNN report confirmed that the Western military alliance (of which the UK is a core member) had also sent in military contractors and special forces to train the rebels in chemical weapons related issues. John Glaser also noted in an article that "the US decision to hire unaccountable defence contractors to train Syrian rebels to handle stockpiles of chemical weapons seems dangerously irresponsible in the extreme".[xxxviii] As Chossudovsky concluded on 17th June 2013 in Global Research: "Let's be under no illusion. This is not a rebel training exercise in non-proliferation of chemical weapons. While president Obama accuses Bashar Al Assad, the US-NATO military alliance is channelling chemical weapons to Al-Nusra, a terrorist organisation on the State Department blacklist. In all likelihood, the training of Al-Nusra rebels in the use of chemical weapons was undertaken by private military contractors ... The forbidden truth, which the Western media has failed to reveal, is that the US-NATO-Israel military alliance is not only supporting the Al-Nusra Front, it is also making chemical weapons available to its proxy 'opposition' rebel forces".[xxxix]

"According to security analyst Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter terrorism intelligence officer, the crisis across Iraq and Syria cannot be resolved without first addressing the extent to which western policies created the crisis in the first place ... Shoebridge pointed out that the US and UK in particular, 'through the covert work of MI6 and the CIA', appear to have 'played a key role in facilitating the flow of arms and jihadist fighters to Syria from such places as Libya, the Caucuses and Balkans, with the aim of militarily boosting those fighting Assad ... It should also be noted in this respect that the "moderate" rebels the US and UK support, themselves openly welcomed the arrival of such extremists. Indeed, the Free Syria Army (FSA) backed by the West'” – inclusive of the British government and its intelligence agencies –“'was allied with ISIS, until ISIS attacked them at the end of 2013. Still today, ‘moderate’ rebels backed by the US and UK are allied with Syrian al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra, despite the US and UK having banned this group at home'".[xl]

Just as scandalous is the knowledge that UK authorities enabled the 'terror funnel' network of people travelling from the UK to Syria to fight for the religious extremist 'terrorist/extremist' groups. Shoebridge contends that, "since 2006, UK authorities have tacitly allowed this terror-funnel to consolidate and expand, until it began to grow out of control last year. Britain, he told [Nafeez Ahmed], 'turned a blind eye to the travelling of its own jihadists to Syria ... It's notable that only towards the end of 2013 when ISIS turned against the West's preferred rebels, and perhaps also when the tipping point between foreign policy usefulness and MI5 fears of domestic terrorist blowback was reached, did the UK authorities begin to take serious steps to tackle the flow of UK jihadists'".[xli]

Patrick Cockburn also informs us of a “second and little-regarded theme”[xlii] addressed in Seymour Hersh's April 2014 article 'The Red Line and The Rat Line: Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian Rebels', published in the London Review of Books. It relates to “what the CIA called the rat line, the supply chain for the Syrian rebels overseen by the US in covert cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The information about this comes from a highly classified and hitherto secret annex to the report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee on the attack by Libyan militiamen on the US consulate in Benghazi on 11th September 2012, in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. The annex”, Cockburn confirms, “deals with an operation in which the CIA, in cooperation with MI6, arranged the dispatch of arms from Mu'ammer Gadaffi's arsenals to Turkey and then across the 500-mile long Turkish southern frontier with Syria.

“The annex refers to an agreement reached in early 2012 between Obama and Erdogan with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar supplying funding. Front companies, purporting to be Australian”, it reveals, “were set up, employing former US soldiers who were in charge of obtaining and transporting the weapons. According to Hersh, the MI6 presence enabled the CIA to avoid reporting the operation to Congress, as required by law, since it could be presented as a liaison mission”.[xliii] In such 'dirty' ways has UK's MI6 assisted such covert and publicly unaccountable missions that have provided arms to 'rebels' that have been murderously targeting 'Others' and forcing them to become refugees seeking asylum in Rojava and other countries (including the UK, where there is a policy aimed at strictly keeping 'them' away as far as is politically and practically possible).

In this MI6 linked Libyan operation,  if Jerome Corsi's reports on the matter are to be treated seriously, Kevin Shipp, a former CIA counter-intelligence expert who “worked on the seventh floor at Langley as protective staff to then-CIA Director William Casey, again speaking for himself in his interview with WND”,[xliv] agreed  that:

the gun-running operation Stevens managed is a secret the Obama White House and Clinton State Department have sought to suppress from the public. “The shocking part, maybe even a violation of international law that the Obama administration has been terrified to have fully revealed, is that Stevens as part of his duties as a State Department employee was assisting in the shipment of arms first into Libya for the al-Qaida-affiliated militia, with the weapons shipped subsequently out of Libya into Syria for use by the al-Qaida-affiliated rebels fighting Assad”, Shipp told WND.

“Very possibly, these gun-running activities could be looked at even as treasonable offences”, he said. Shipp further noted that in gun-running operations in which the CIA wants deniability, the CIA generally involves a third party. “The way the CIA works is through a ‘cut-out’, in that you get Qatar to transport the weapons and you facilitate the transport. So now the third party is to blame”, he explained. “Qatar probably would have been able to pull this off without any attribution to the CIA if the Benghazi attack had not happened. The attack basically shed the light on this operation the White House, the State Department and the CIA were trying to keep quiet”, he said. “The attack on Benghazi was a big ‘oh no’ moment”.[xlv]

According to Katie Kieffer, writing as early as April 2013:

We now know that President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus were likely behind a mishandled gun-trafficking programme that ended up arming the radical jihadist rebels who stormed the US consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya on that fateful day. Our CIA is still playing the role of vetting which Syrian rebel groups will obtain arms including machine guns, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenades. While Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are directly purchasing the weaponry, the Obama administration is aiding the Arab governments in shopping for these arms and transferring them from Libya to Turkey and finally into Syria.

Unfortunately, the CIA has “vetted” shady intermediaries (including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood) and shady recipients of thousands of tons worth of military equipment and millions of rounds of ammo. Consequently, weapons have fallen into the wrong hands. In the case of Benghazi, anti-tank weapons appear to have landed in the hands of terrorists. Now, Clinton is denying even knowing about the programme, although the evidence indicates it was largely her idea. Of course, everything happened under Obama’s watch and the buck stops with him. The story of Obama’s gun-running programme in Benghazi is long and multifarious ...

May 26, 2012: Stevens arrives in Tripoli, the capitol city of Libya and sets up camp at the US embassy.

Last summer, Clinton first proposed a plan to then-CIA Director David Petraeus to partner on a gun-trafficking programme to arm the Syrian resistance and “vet the rebel groups, and train fighters who would be supplied with weapons”, according to The New York Times.

June of 2012: The New York Times reports that the CIA is operating a secret arms transfer programme that sounds exactly like the plan Clinton developed with Petraeus. Suddenly, there is “an influx of weapons and ammunition to the rebels”.

September 5, 2012: A Libyan ship called Al Entisar (“The Victory”) docks in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, carrying 400 tons of cargo including many weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades (RPG's) and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) destined for Syrian rebels 35 miles away from Iskenderun. The ship’s captain told the Times of London that the Muslim Brotherhood and the free Syrian Army broke into a fight over the arms.[xlvi]

Concerning the armed attack against the US consulate in Benghazi, Kieffer reports how:

It is odd that the annex was attacked with same sort of weapons on the Libyan ship and that Stevens was reportedly in Benghazi to manage some sort of arms transfer. Senator Rand Paul said on Aaron Klein Radio: “First of all, with regard to Benghazi, I think it’s important [to determine more about the apparent gun-running programme] because it may have something to do with why the compound was attacked. If we were involved with shipping guns to Turkey, there was a report that a ship left from Libya towards Turkey and that there were arms on it in the week preceding this [attack]; there were reports that our ambassador was meeting with the Turkish attaché, so I think with regards to figuring out what happened at Benghazi, it’s very important to know whether or not the CIA annex had anything to do with facilitating guns being sent to Turkey and ultimately to Syria”.

With regard to arming the rebels, just [during the fourth week of April 2013], in the armed services committee, General Dempsey, the [Chairman of the] Joint Chiefs of Staff said that we were no longer able to distinguish who the 'good guys' were from the 'bad guys' and that sounds pretty worrisome if we are actually arming [such] people who in the end may be enemies of America, …enemies of Israel, … enemies maybe of the Christians who live within Syria, [as well as all the 'Others' including Kurds who have been targeted, often genocidally, and] … sending arms to a rebel force to that may include Al-Nusra and other radical jihadists”.

Here’s my concern: Obama’s gun-running programme [which, if Seymour Hersh is right, was provided 'cover' and assisted by MI6], failed to properly vet the rebels. Clinton most likely launched the gun programme, expected Stevens to oversee it and then her weapons likely landed in the hands of al-Qaida affiliates ... This is a tragic failure of foreign policy and diplomacy under Obama’s [and, one also has to add, Cameron's] watch.[xlvii]

Seymour Hersh's article, lest we forget, also noted the following about the CIA-MI6 gun-running operation after the US consulate attack:

Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists’, the former intelligence official said, [yet it continued with the programme]. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels … In spring 2013, US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency [the same MIT that has been intimately involved in facilitating and shaping the shaky Turkish-Kurdish peace process behind-the-scenes] and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability.

‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare’, the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists, it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies'.[xlviii]

Yet, there has been no open condemnation of Turkey's role in all of this from the US-UK governments, apart from the brief informal acknowledgement by Vice President Joe Biden that was retracted hours later after anger by the US' allied governments and no doubt its intelligence agencies concerning what he had admitted. More here from Sandboxer on 4th October 2014 about the hypocritical position taken by Biden:

The US vice president, speaking at the John F. Kennedy Jr Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics ... told his audience – point blank – that America’s Sunni allies are responsible for funding and arming Al Qaeda-type extremists in Syria. And he named names: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, specifically. Others – like Qatar – are undoubtedly complicit too, but Biden’s comments were made off-the-cuff during the question and answer period following his prepared statement.

Of course, much of what Biden said has been suspected [or, indeed, known] for years by Syria watchers, but to acknowledge this outright during the early days of President Barack Obama’s much-vaunted ISIL-busting Coalition – featuring these very same Sunni Arab partners – is a jaw-dropping concession. But that’s not all. Biden also managed to fundamentally undermine his administration’s efforts to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels today, by claiming there is no “moderate middle (in Syria) because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers”.

Keep in mind now that just two weeks [prior to this speech], Congress approved - at the request of this White House - $500 million dollars to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels. Obama’s second-in-command is saying there are none of those, so who exactly are US forces teaching to fight with heavy weapons in Saudi training camps today?[xlix]

In exploring this, Sandboxer asks us to:

go directly to the Q&A session following Biden’s speech. Here is an unedited version taken from the audio recording released on the White House's YouTube channel:

Question: In retrospect, do you believe the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, and if not, why is now the right moment?

Biden: The answer is ‘no’ for 2 reasons. One, the idea of identifying a moderate middle has been a chase America has been engaged in for a long time. We Americans think in every country in transition, there is a Thomas Jefferson hiding beside some rock – or a James Madison beyond one sand dune. The fact of the matter is the ability to identify a moderate middle in Syria was – there was no moderate middle because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers – they are made up of people who, in fact, have ordinary elements of the middle class of that country. And what happened was – and history will record this ...

And what my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies – our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends – and I have the greatest relationship with Erdogan, which I just spent a lot of time with – the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. Now you think I’m exaggerating – take a look.

Where did all of this go? So now what’s happening? All of a sudden, everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden – I don’t want to be too facetious – but they had seen the Lord. Now we have – the President’s been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbours, because America can’t once again go into a Muslim nation and be seen as the aggressor – it has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organisation. So what do we have for the first time?

The audio clip ends there. While you are taking a moment to readjust your world-view and re-categorize the ‘good guys’ and bad guys’, … before you allow Biden to transfer all blame for the radicalism in Syria onto the convenient Muslims-du-jour, consider for a moment the US’s role in all of this.[l]

Sandboxer confirms that:

We have press reports that the CIA [with the collaboration of MI6, according to a number of accounts] was a major conduit for the transfer of weapons from Libya to Syria – a role, no doubt, facilitated by US Ambassador Christopher Stevens who was killed in Benghazi by unknown extremists. We are also told that the US assisted in the logistics of delivering a Saudi-bankrolled transfer of Croatian weapons in 2012 to Syrian ‘rebels’. According to the BBC: “The CIA is also reported to have been instrumental in setting up the alleged secret airlift of weapons from Croatia. And here is The Telegraph's take on things: “The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours”.

These weapons were later caught on video in the hands of Ahrar al-Sham, which today is a target of US air-strikes inside Syria. The New York Times goes further: “With help from the CIA, Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders”.

“From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity”. [So] exactly how does that exonerate Americans [and, one might add, MI6 given some of the above related revelations] from delivering weapons to “Al Nusra and Al Qaeda?”[li]

The respected analyst Wayne Madsen, in an investigative three part series published in September 2014 (entitled 'ISIL/ISIS: Another contrivance brought to you by Mossad, MI6, and the CIA'), arrived at the following disturbing conclusions that we also need to seriously reflect upon:

As President Barack Obama prepares to announce what could be a long and drawn-out US military strategy to defeat the Islamic State jihadists who have seized control of large portions of Syria and Iraq, it is important to highlight the roots of this organisation. The insurgents, who are considered more dangerous than Al Qaeda by many Pentagon and US intelligence specialists, have disturbing links to intelligence services of the United States, Israel, and Britain. The deeper one digs into the operations surrounding the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL), or, as it is variably called, “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” (ISIS), “Al Dawlah” (the State), or “Da’ish” (a concatenation of “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham”, the more the Islamist insurgent group’s links to Western and Israeli intelligence are revealed …

While Zarqawi was hyped as one of America’s most dangerous enemies, the man who eventually succeeded him as the head of ISIL in Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, became one of America’s trusted allies. Al-Baghdadi, along with the leaders of the Al Nusra Front, initially placed their forces under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. In May 2013, US Senator John McCain, a chief water carrier for the neocon interventionists and Israeli interests, covertly met with Syrian rebel leaders after crossing into rebel-held Syrian territory from Turkey. McCain was accompanied by General Salem Idris, the head of the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council, as he met with the commanders of a number of Syrian rebel units.[lii]

“One of these rebel commanders”, Madsen contends:

was none other than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current head of ISIL. McCain’s office has denied that Al-Baghdadi was present at the meetings but photographic evidence of the ISIL chief’s meeting with McCain and the US-supported Free Syrian Army officials is overwhelming … America’s response to ISIL’s threat to turn Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and other countries into an Islamic Caliphate are as perplexing as American indifference over proclaimed caliphates by initially US-supported Islamist radicals in Libya and by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Ansar Dine in Mali. The lackadaisical attitude by the CIA and the White House over these groups, which kidnap, rape, torture, burn, bomb, and behead their way into international headlines is exactly what would be expected from a scenario in which radical Islamist groups were created by the CIA, Mossad and MI6 to create permanent conflict situations between the West and 'Islam' and between Muslims themselves.[liii]

Now, as “the civil war in Syria has escalated”, UnderCoverInfo in February 2014 reports that “hundreds of thousands of civilians have been slaughtered,, millions made refugees, [whilst] Britain washes its hands and allows a mere 90 Syrian refugees into the UK. Meanwhile, those Europeans who have gone to the conflict zones to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian civilian refugees or to help the resistance against ISIS and Assad are being criminalised because European authorities are too lazy (or stupid)” - or much worse, given 'deep political' and publicly unaccountable agendas of the kind explored in this investigative series - “to be able to work out who are the ‘good guys’ and who the bad. British foreign policy has clearly proved disastrous … This failure in foreign policy is compounded by what can only be described as an identity crisis within the intelligence community, which seems more and more intent on spying and instilling fear on the very population it purports to protect”[liv] and in assisting with the criminalisation of diasporic communities such as the Kurds and Tamils (amongst many 'Others').

The British government has also not publicly voiced it's concern over the above or taken an official stance publicly protesting at (or seeking to immediately halt) the following oil-related actions being undertaken under the auspices of the EU, which arguably are directly helping to finance ISIS related 'terrorist' fronts (given a lack of public disclosure on the matter, one is also not entirely sure where the British government stands on this issue itself and/or whether any British firms are benefiting from this questionable action). According to Nafeez Ahmed: “In the same month that al-Qaeda’s control of Syria’s main oil regions in Deir al-Zour and Hasaka was confirmed, the EU voted to ease an oil embargo on Syria to allow oil to be sold on international markets from these very al-Qaeda controlled oil fields. European companies would be permitted to buy crude oil and petroleum products from these areas, although transactions would be approved by the Syrian National Coalition”.[lv]

Significantly, “due to damaged infrastructure, oil would be trucked by road to Turkey where the nearest refineries are located. 'The logical conclusion from this craziness is that Europe will be funding al-Qaeda', said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. Just two months later, a former senior staffer at the Syria Support Group in DC, David Falt, leaked internal SSG emails confirming that the group was 'obsessed' with brokering 'jackpot' oil deals on behalf of the FSA for Syria’s rebel-run oil regions. 'The idea they could raise hundreds of millions from the sale of the oil came to dominate the work of the SSG to the point no real attention was paid to the nature of the conflict', said Falt, referring in particular to SSG’s director Brian Neill Sayers, who before his SSG role worked with NATO’s Operations Division. Their aim was to raise money for the rebels by selling the rights to Syrian oil”.[lvi]

Consequently, “even as al-Qaeda fighters increasingly decide to join up with IS, the ad hoc black market oil production and export infrastructure established by the Islamist groups in Syria has continued to function with, it seems, the tacit support of regional and western powers … In early September, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybášková, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that 'several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria' ... She, however, 'refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times'”.[lvii]

Whilst these types of questionable actions (identified above) have been taking place (some of which involve and implicate British authorities and intelligence agencies), as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees noted towards the end of June 2014, almost exactly four months after Nick Clegg's proud boast regarding the 500 Syrians he was willing to 'allow in' to the UK:

The Syrian maelstrom of death, destruction and displacement rages on, and shows no signs of abating. When histories are written about the humanitarian cost of Syria’s civil war, Europe’s response to the crisis of a generation might be summed up in a single phrase: never was so little done by so many for so few. More than three years after the conflict began, almost three million refugees have fled their shattered homeland in fear of their lives. A dispassionate observer might imagine that, by virtue of wealth and geography, many would seek safe harbour just a few kilometres to the west, in the peaceful and prosperous countries of the EU.

The reality is dramatically different. In response to the largest forced displacement crisis in the world, taking place only a short boat ride away, Europeans have provided refuge to a grand total of ... less than 4% of all Syrian asylum seekers. Lebanon, by contrast, a country with a population of around 4.4 million, is host to 1.1 million Syrians in exile. These are just those who have registered as refugees. That is 10 times as many, in a country with less than 1% of Europe’s population.

In other words, person for person, the wealthy EU is offering refuge to 1,000 times fewer Syrians than cash-strapped LebanonOf course, it is not as simple as that. Many Syrian refugees still hope to return one day and don’t want to travel too far. Their neighbours share a religion, in most cases a language, and are easier to reach. But from some of the rhetoric in Europe, the concerns raised about a tide of refugees battering at the gates, one would never realise that it is carrying so little of this burden, even as a regional humanitarian catastrophe rages at its doorstep.

But these stark facts do not tell the full story. More than half of all new Syrian asylum applications in Europe are absorbed by only two countries: Sweden and Germany … Most of all, more politicians need to step up and recognise this crisis for what it is: a massive, multi-regional disaster that is not going away, which is causing the protracted suffering of millions next door and which Europe can do far more to alleviate.[lviii]

Even by the first week of December 2014, the Church Times reported the following desperate situation:

Immigration figures showed that Britain had taken [just] 90 Syrian refugees under the Government's Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, announced in March. "The UK has been miserably mean in receiving Syrian refugees, many of them Christians facing the prospect of forced conversion or death", the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said … "We must recognise the desperate plight of so many minorities in Syria. Such refugees have the sort of resilience, faith, and resourcefulness which would make them model citizens. We have nothing to fear in allowing a greater number to come to this country if they wish to do so".

"The repeated assertion that the UK stands ready to consider genuine requests for refuge and resettlement ... looks pretty hollow", the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said … The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said that his call in August to increase admittance "seems to have fallen on deaf ears" (News, 8 August) …Research by Amnesty International highlighted destitution among 1.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey; those attempting to enter faced being pushed back and subjected to live fire at the border. The response of the international community to the "world's worst refugee crisis in a generation" had been "an abject failure", the charity said. The [British] government appears unlikely to improve its [dismal] commitment to resettlement.[lix]

But how can it be expected to act any differently given its scandalous stance on asylum and 'Othered' communities, where it has a 'penology of risk management' in place that is 'tasked' with the imperative of 'herding' what is considered to be 'a specific population' – or populations [and here, 'Kurdish' and 'Syrian populations' immediately come to mind] - 'that cannot be ... transformed but only maintained — [as] a kind of waste management function' (as detailed in earlier parts of this investigative series).


Recall Malcolm Feeley and Jonathan Simon's assertion that what we have in place is a 'new penology' that 'is about identifying and managing [perceived] unruly groups'. We also need to reflect upon James Bank's' contention that our asylum policy increasingly seeks to process large aggregates, such as groups of specific nationalities – and here, 'Kurds' and 'Syrians' are considered 'groups' - in such a collectively discriminatory fashion as to disadvantage individuals from being assessed individually and fairly. Questions of providing sanctuary to people claiming asylum from genocidal situations do not really seem to be at the forefront of governmental decision-making. If this were the case, why would the UK and other EU governments act also in the ways described in this article (and the previous two in this linked investigative series) and in the following manner identified by Statewatch?:

More than 19,000 people were apprehended during 'Mos Maiorum', the Europe-wide joint police and border guard operation that took place over two weeks in October 2014. More than a quarter of the people who encountered the authorities were Syrian, according to a leaked copy of the final report. "Syrian nationals (5088 people) were the most detected irregular migrants", ... says the report, authored by Italian officials. 11,046 people requested asylum "during or after their interception" …

According to the report, all EU Member States [i.e. inclusive of the UK] except Croatia, Greece and Ireland participated in Mos Maiorum. Norway and Switzerland also took part, and Frontex "supported the Italian authorities by providing a final analytical assessment concerning the illegal border crossings at the EU's external borders” ...

It is uncertain that police officers and border guards participating in the operation complied with the requests to "fully respect human dignity" and "avoid discriminatory treatment". Reports submitted to the Map Mos Maiorum! project, set up to track the work of law enforcement agencies at the time of the operation, included:

"National Police stopping people only by their colour of skin (all black)" - Zaragoza, Spain.

"2 Police cars standing on Urbanstrasse / Kottbusserdamm. Stopping cars 'randomly'; obviously racial [i.e. ethnic] profiling. More police cars than usual driving around in the area" - Berlin, Germany.

"Police did not control the several rooms but checked the passports of people who had breakfast in the kitchen. They said they are looking for refugees ('People from Afghanistan & Syria')" - Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

"Special Police at the Central Station. When asked, they say they are looking for illegal refugees with 'dark skin-colour'" – Germany.

"In Grenoble, at noon, about twenty persons were arrested in the area of the train station, handcuffed and afterwards brought to the police station of Grenoble. There were a number of identity checks based on profiling in the same area, undertaken by about twenty police officers with dogs" - Grenoble train station, France.

While the majority of reports submitted to Map Mos Maiorum! were not independently verified, the prevalence of claims of profiling and apparently discriminatory activity is striking …

The report also says: "For unknown reasons, the Joint Operation 'MOS MAIORUM' captured the attention of the mass media that labelled it as an operation aiming at arresting migrants even if its aims were to target the criminal networks that facilitate the irregular migration and to monitor/check the most used routes followed by them. These goals were achieved (as a total of 257 facilitators were apprehended)"(p.52).

One of the "unknown reasons" may be that one of the objectives stated in the original proposal was to "apprehend irregular migrants and gather relevant information for intelligence and investigative purposes" … Meanwhile, two MEP's have used an Open Letter to criticise the "buck passing of responsibilities" over the operation.[lx]

Desmond Fernandes is a member of the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) and the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign. He was a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Genocide Studies at De Montfort University (UK) and is the author of The Kurdish and Armenian Genocides: From Censorship and Denial to Recognition? (Apec: Stockholm, 2007; Peri, Istanbul, 2013), The Struggle for Kurdish Language Rights in Turkey (Peace in Kurdistan, London, 2011), Zana's Wait for Me, Diyarbakir, the Kurdish Genocide, Turkish State Terror and US-NATO inspired Torture (Apec: Stockholm, 2015, forthcoming) and co-author of The Targeting of “Minority Others” in Pakistan (BPCA: London, 2013) and The Education System in Pakistan: Discrimination and the Targeting of the Other (BPCA, London, 2014). His articles have appeared in a number of journals and magazines, including Genocide Studies and Prevention (the official journal of the International Association of Genocide Scholars); Kurdistan Aktuell, L’Appel du Kurdistan, Armenian Forum, the Thailand Environment Institute Journal, the International Journal of the Sociology of Language; Peace News; Law, Social Justice and Global Developmentand Variant: Cross Currents in Culture.

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[viii]         Jones, O. (2014) The Establishment. Allen Lane: London, p. 297.

[ix]          Jones, O. (2014) The Establishment. Allen Lane: London, p. 294.

[x]           Jones, O. (2014) The Establishment. Allen Lane: London, p. 299.

[xi]          Krugman, P. (2014) 'Intellectual Dishonesty on Display in Britain', Truthout, 30 December 2014 (accessed at:

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[lii]          Madsen, W. (2014) 'ISIL/ISIS: Another contrivance brought to you by Mossad, MI6, and the CIA – Parts I-3, Milfuegos Blogspot, 16 September 2014 (accessed at:;

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[lviii]        Guterres, A. (2014) 'Europe must give Syrian refugees a home', The Guardian, 22 July 2014 (accessed at:

[lix]          Davies, M. (2014) 'UK should resettle more Syrian refugees, bishops argue', Church Times, 5 December 2014 (accessed at:

[lx]          Statewatch (2015) 'A huge number of migrants: over 19,000 people apprehended during joint police operation Mos Maiorum', Statewatch, 23 January 2015 (accessed at:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of