Content about War

December 22, 2013

The Muslims of America, Inc.
www.IQOU-MOA.org info@iqou-moa.org
TERRORIST ARRESTED AFTER ATTEMPT TO COMMIT MASS MURDER OF
AMERICAN MUSLIMS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Matthew Gardner
Public Relation
(434) 825-2283
Email: Public.relations@iqou-moa.org

December 22, 2013

(York, SC) A gunman trespassed onto the property of The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA), in York County, South Carolina, during the night of December 21, firing his weapon towards the homes of peaceful residents. The man began shooting from the woods nearby, causing innocent men, women and children to seek cover as bullets flew by. The property is hosting the Muslim Scouts of America (MSA) who were concluding their first day of activities with dozens of youth when the incident took place.
Shocked and terrified, the scouts and residents watched as the man brazenly came forward screaming obscenities at the crowd he had just attempted to murder. The man was clearly identified as a neighbor who lives only yards away from long time resident Hadia Rashid, who could barely speak, thinking of what may have happened as her grandchildren often freely come and go within firing range of the assailant.
Law enforcement was immediately contacted. An investigation at the home of the gunman confirmed with his wife that he was the aggressor. Authorities also discovered the bullet casings supporting eyewitness claims; therefore, the intoxicated man was arrested and charged with unlawfully discharging a firearm and trespassing. “This is an act of terrorism and attempted murder!” exclaimed resident Ramadan Shakir. “Had the tables been turned the entire county of law enforcement would have descended upon us and terrorism would have been the first charge. We demand equal justice under the law.”
This is not the first time The Muslims of America have been subjected to similar attacks. In November of 2012, unknown aggressors fired thirteen gunshots onto their property in Virginia with no regard for the life of residents sleeping nearby. This past summer, at TMOA headquarters in Hancock, New York, several instances of criminal trespassing took place with one particularly frightening incident that included two eastern European men driving up in a van with strange equipment loaded in the back. Days after, two other men were arrested in nearby Albany for building and testing a weapon of mass destruction, specifically a powerful X-Ray gun mounted to the back of a van meant to kill Muslim victims with lethal amounts of radiation.
As police were arresting the man in South Carolina, residents could hear the criminal’s taunting statements as he yelled, “You have no idea what you started…better call damage control…cause this is blowing up…terrorists!” It is well known that comments such as these are a product of the rise of Islamophobia in America, but the violence will not be met with retaliation.
The Chief Executive of The Muslims of America, Mr. Hussein Adams confirmed, “We will not be provoked to retaliate with violence, but instead will seek justice in the courts by pressing for this assault to be registered as terrorism and a hate crime.”
Without such charges, the man could be released soon, returning to the property to exact his revenge.
The Muslims of America are in the middle of a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the Christian Action Network, based in Virginia, whom they say propagates hate that serves to provoke similar responses from its supporters. Members of TMOA stress that there is no enmity between Muslims and Christians. Mr. Adams explains, “Organizations such as CAN hide behind the word “Christian” when in fact they are intolerant extremists who do not practice the peaceful tenets of Jesus, son of Chaste Mary. As American Muslims, we follow centuries of examples of Christians and Muslims living in absolute peace and tranquility.” Pointing to a recent report from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Adams elaborated on an incident where Hindus destroyed a church, but initially the crime was blamed on Muslims.
The Prime Minister gave half million rupees to each family to help rebuild the church. Justice was served. The Muslims and Christians live like brothers, with Christian towns having one hundred percent freedom and independence. “We ask for no less in our own country, which was built on religious freedom,”said Mr. Adams. A court date is set for early January, but the victims are exploring terrorism and hate crime charges.

[End]

December 11, 2013

A specter is haunting Israel; it’s the specter of democracy. In Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, the American journalist Max Blumenthal holds up a mirror to Israeli society and reveals the specter of a failed democracy now hurtling toward fascism.

In 73 chapters and 410 pages, Blumenthal documents the racism that pervades Israeli society and institutions and traces its origins to the Zionist movement’s settler-colonial project to create an ethnocratic state bent on excluding and dispossessing the indigenous Palestinian population. Others have done this before, but several things make Blumenthal’s book unique.

Based on four years of research, much of it spent in Israel and the occupied West Bank, Goliath may be the most comprehensive survey yet of contemporary Israeli society and politics. At the same time, its ability to link the past to the present shows a continuum of racism and authoritarianism throughout Israel’s history.

Unlike some critiques that focus mainly, if not exclusively, on the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Blumenthal confronts the Nakba — the forced displacement of Palestinians before Israel’s establishment in 1948 — to illustrate liberal Zionism’s hypocrisy. He excoriates its embrace of the two-state solution as a means of preserving Jewish supremacy and avoiding the “demographic nightmare” of Palestinian babies.

Moreover, Blumenthal provides a profile of Palestinian activists and legislators and an emerging anti-Zionist, Jewish Israeli left that is rarely, if ever, found in the mainstream corporate media.

Blumenthal tells his story in vignettes that detail just how openly racist Israel has become. These stories underscore the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians, not just in the West Bank and Gaza but also within Israel itself, showing the growing popularity of the far right with its hate-mongering rhetoric aimed not just at Palestinians but also asylum-seeking Africans.

 

 

December 11, 2013

A specter is haunting Israel; it’s the specter of democracy. In Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, the American journalist Max Blumenthal holds up a mirror to Israeli society and reveals the specter of a failed democracy now hurtling toward fascism.

In 73 chapters and 410 pages, Blumenthal documents the racism that pervades Israeli society and institutions and traces its origins to the Zionist movement’s settler-colonial project to create an ethnocratic state bent on excluding and dispossessing the indigenous Palestinian population. Others have done this before, but several things make Blumenthal’s book unique.

Based on four years of research, much of it spent in Israel and the occupied West Bank, Goliath may be the most comprehensive survey yet of contemporary Israeli society and politics. At the same time, its ability to link the past to the present shows a continuum of racism and authoritarianism throughout Israel’s history.

Unlike some critiques that focus mainly, if not exclusively, on the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Blumenthal confronts the Nakba — the forced displacement of Palestinians before Israel’s establishment in 1948 — to illustrate liberal Zionism’s hypocrisy. He excoriates its embrace of the two-state solution as a means of preserving Jewish supremacy and avoiding the “demographic nightmare” of Palestinian babies.

Moreover, Blumenthal provides a profile of Palestinian activists and legislators and an emerging anti-Zionist, Jewish Israeli left that is rarely, if ever, found in the mainstream corporate media.

Blumenthal tells his story in vignettes that detail just how openly racist Israel has become. These stories underscore the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians, not just in the West Bank and Gaza but also within Israel itself, showing the growing popularity of the far right with its hate-mongering rhetoric aimed not just at Palestinians but also asylum-seeking Africans.

 

 

November 16, 2013

In Guardian interview, Robinson says he will talk to police to help them investigate dangerous racists in far-right group

The former leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, has apologised for causing fear among British Muslims and for issuing bigoted, anti-Islamic statements during his time with the group.

In an interview with the Guardian, Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said he was sorry for helping to create a culture of "us and them" and for frightening the UK Islamic community.

Pressed as to whether he now believed it was wrong to blame "every single Muslim" for "getting away" with the 7 July bombings, and for calling Islam a fascist and violent religion, he held up his hands and said: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

Robinson, 30, who this week dramatically quit as leader of the extreme rightwing group known for thuggish street protests and openly racist followers, also said he would now talk to police to help them investigate dangerous racists in the organisation.

"I apologise for [creating] that fear," he said, "but there's fear in my house too." The people he had represented in the EDL and his home town of Luton were afraid of what they perceived to be growing Islamic radicalization, he said.

Explaining past inflammatory statements, Robinson said they had often been fuelled by alcohol and the adrenaline rush of "leading the biggest street protest movement in Europe", as well as by anger over the murder of drummer Lee Rigby.

Sitting beside Maajid Nawaz, a former prominent member of the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, Robinson said he had been sobered by his stint in prison and would now work to stem such angry and "ill-judged" outbursts.

Nawaz, who heads the deradicalization think tank the Quilliam Foundation, and is also a prospective Lib Dem MP, said he had refused to sit with Robinson after being approached during the filming of a BBC documentary last week.

"I shook his hand and said I'm sorry, I'm not going to sit with you … until you're ready to talk about leaving the EDL. I can't give legitimacy to the EDL."

Nawaz revealed that, off-camera, Robinson indicated that he was willing to depart, and last weekend they began a series of lengthy conversations.

"We spent the weekend talking over the phone, and then he came in [to the foundation] all day Monday and all day Tuesday."

That Tuesday night, Quilliam held a hastily arranged press conference at which Robinson announced his departure. However, until Thursday's Guardian interview, Robinson had refused to express any remorse for his past behaviour.

Asked to define the concept of "Englishness" he had professed to defend during city street protests that often descended into brawls with police, Robinson said it was a feeling that people had about being attached to the nation and that he was passionate about his country.

Prompted by Nawaz, Robinson appeared to agree with a vision of multiculturalism inclusive of a variety of ethnic and religious groups, but said he did not want to see some groups receiving "special treatment".

Nawaz said he would work to introduce Robinson to his own contacts in government and the Home Office in an attempt to procure government funding. Robinson said his future work would involve taking on radicalism on all fronts, although he could not support anti-fascist groups because they also subscribed to "communism" or were "anarchists".

When pressed as to whether he would work with the police to root out criminal racists in the group he helped form four years ago, he agreed he would now talk to the authorities.

Robinson, whose financial assets have been frozen because of ongoing criminal proceedings for public order offences, said he did not doubt he would be successful again in any endeavour he pursued as long as he was passionate about it. (The Guardian)

November 16, 2013

In Guardian interview, Robinson says he will talk to police to help them investigate dangerous racists in far-right group

The former leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, has apologised for causing fear among British Muslims and for issuing bigoted, anti-Islamic statements during his time with the group.

In an interview with the Guardian, Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said he was sorry for helping to create a culture of "us and them" and for frightening the UK Islamic community.

Pressed as to whether he now believed it was wrong to blame "every single Muslim" for "getting away" with the 7 July bombings, and for calling Islam a fascist and violent religion, he held up his hands and said: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

Robinson, 30, who this week dramatically quit as leader of the extreme rightwing group known for thuggish street protests and openly racist followers, also said he would now talk to police to help them investigate dangerous racists in the organisation.

"I apologise for [creating] that fear," he said, "but there's fear in my house too." The people he had represented in the EDL and his home town of Luton were afraid of what they perceived to be growing Islamic radicalization, he said.

Explaining past inflammatory statements, Robinson said they had often been fuelled by alcohol and the adrenaline rush of "leading the biggest street protest movement in Europe", as well as by anger over the murder of drummer Lee Rigby.

Sitting beside Maajid Nawaz, a former prominent member of the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, Robinson said he had been sobered by his stint in prison and would now work to stem such angry and "ill-judged" outbursts.

Nawaz, who heads the deradicalization think tank the Quilliam Foundation, and is also a prospective Lib Dem MP, said he had refused to sit with Robinson after being approached during the filming of a BBC documentary last week.

"I shook his hand and said I'm sorry, I'm not going to sit with you … until you're ready to talk about leaving the EDL. I can't give legitimacy to the EDL."

Nawaz revealed that, off-camera, Robinson indicated that he was willing to depart, and last weekend they began a series of lengthy conversations.

"We spent the weekend talking over the phone, and then he came in [to the foundation] all day Monday and all day Tuesday."

That Tuesday night, Quilliam held a hastily arranged press conference at which Robinson announced his departure. However, until Thursday's Guardian interview, Robinson had refused to express any remorse for his past behaviour.

Asked to define the concept of "Englishness" he had professed to defend during city street protests that often descended into brawls with police, Robinson said it was a feeling that people had about being attached to the nation and that he was passionate about his country.

Prompted by Nawaz, Robinson appeared to agree with a vision of multiculturalism inclusive of a variety of ethnic and religious groups, but said he did not want to see some groups receiving "special treatment".

Nawaz said he would work to introduce Robinson to his own contacts in government and the Home Office in an attempt to procure government funding. Robinson said his future work would involve taking on radicalism on all fronts, although he could not support anti-fascist groups because they also subscribed to "communism" or were "anarchists".

When pressed as to whether he would work with the police to root out criminal racists in the group he helped form four years ago, he agreed he would now talk to the authorities.

Robinson, whose financial assets have been frozen because of ongoing criminal proceedings for public order offences, said he did not doubt he would be successful again in any endeavour he pursued as long as he was passionate about it. (The Guardian)

November 16, 2013

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

Straight away the Western media took up the issue. Western politicians spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted made me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala's case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations, the wars - all seem justified now, "See?  We told you. THIS is why we intervene to save the natives."

The truth is that there are hundreds and thousands of other Malalas. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world. Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt, also known as the white man's burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala, yet he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives. The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.

Malala's message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child, but Malala has been used as a tool by the West. It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq. It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorize men, women and children in Pakistan's border regions.

The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man. Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them. NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message here.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men. It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organizations. Amnesty International's poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to 'keep the progress going!' in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them. Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi - how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name? She was the 14-year-old girl violated by five US soldiers, then she and her family, including her six-year-old sister were murdered. There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don't see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused. Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala's message. The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have. The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets. The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of. So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

November 16, 2013

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

Straight away the Western media took up the issue. Western politicians spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted made me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala's case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations, the wars - all seem justified now, "See?  We told you. THIS is why we intervene to save the natives."

The truth is that there are hundreds and thousands of other Malalas. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world. Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt, also known as the white man's burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala, yet he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives. The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.

Malala's message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child, but Malala has been used as a tool by the West. It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq. It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorize men, women and children in Pakistan's border regions.

The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man. Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them. NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message here.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men. It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organizations. Amnesty International's poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to 'keep the progress going!' in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them. Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi - how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name? She was the 14-year-old girl violated by five US soldiers, then she and her family, including her six-year-old sister were murdered. There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don't see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused. Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala's message. The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have. The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets. The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of. So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

November 8, 2013

WASHINGTON - Pakistani survivors of American drone strikes who live in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northwest Pakistan, spoke to members of the US Congress Tuesday, and called for an end to killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiqur Rehman; his son Zubair (12); and daughter Nabila (9) told a packed room in the Rayburn House Office Building that Momina Bibi, who perished on October 24, 2012, while working in a field near their home in North Waziristan, was “the string that held the pearls of our family together, and that string has been broken, and we are all lost”.

Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat, invited Rafiq to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed his 67-year-old mother who, he said, was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized CIA drone executed Momina in front of her grandchildren on Oct 24, 2012.

The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rafiq said during the Tuesday morning panel. “Only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rafiq said in an emotionally choked voice. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”

Speaking before members of Congress, Rafiq thanked Congressman Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government were willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

If he has the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama, Rafiq said, he will ask him to “find a peaceful end to the war in my country, and end these drones.”

Rafiq said he has seen people living peacefully in the United States and wants a similar peaceful environment in North Waziristan and dreams that his children would be able to complete their education and help rebuild Pakistan.“We can achieve peace through education,” he said.

The US and Pakistan should work together to resolve the problem, he said.

“I am a teacher, my job is to educate,” said Rafiq. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rafiq’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

“As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear (a) drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. “I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream...I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

They were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the US because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. “We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Congressman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”

November 8, 2013

WASHINGTON - Pakistani survivors of American drone strikes who live in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northwest Pakistan, spoke to members of the US Congress Tuesday, and called for an end to killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiqur Rehman; his son Zubair (12); and daughter Nabila (9) told a packed room in the Rayburn House Office Building that Momina Bibi, who perished on October 24, 2012, while working in a field near their home in North Waziristan, was “the string that held the pearls of our family together, and that string has been broken, and we are all lost”.

Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat, invited Rafiq to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed his 67-year-old mother who, he said, was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized CIA drone executed Momina in front of her grandchildren on Oct 24, 2012.

The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rafiq said during the Tuesday morning panel. “Only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rafiq said in an emotionally choked voice. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”

Speaking before members of Congress, Rafiq thanked Congressman Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government were willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

If he has the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama, Rafiq said, he will ask him to “find a peaceful end to the war in my country, and end these drones.”

Rafiq said he has seen people living peacefully in the United States and wants a similar peaceful environment in North Waziristan and dreams that his children would be able to complete their education and help rebuild Pakistan.“We can achieve peace through education,” he said.

The US and Pakistan should work together to resolve the problem, he said.

“I am a teacher, my job is to educate,” said Rafiq. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rafiq’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

“As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear (a) drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. “I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream...I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

They were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the US because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. “We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Congressman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”

November 5, 2013

  Muhammad Tanvir was asked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, to spy on his Pakistani community. He refused, and so he remains on the No-Fly List--and he can’t visit an ailing mother.
Tanvir is now taking action, along with other Muslims, against the FBI’s attempt to coerce them into spying on their own community in exchange for getting off the No-Fly List. Tanvir, a resident of the Bronx, recently testified in court against the FBI for its no-fly practices.
Tanvir’s lawsuit, which the Center for Constitutional Rights, also referred to as CCR, has taken on, is putting the FBI on the hotseat. “Mr. Tanvir has been prevented from flying despite the fact that he does not present any threat to aviation security,” the CCR suit reads, according to the Courthouse News Service. “Instead, defendants sought to exploit the draconian burden posed by the No Fly List, including the inability to travel for work, or to visit family overseas; in order to coerce him into serving the FBI as a spy within American Muslim communities and places of worship.”
The No-Fly List, instituted after September 11, arbitrarily puts thousands of people on a list that prevents them from traveling. Tanvir is not the only one to have been pressured by the FBI.
A separate American Civil Liberties Union suit filed in 2010 represents other Muslims trying to get their names off the No-Fly List. One of them is Nagib Ali Ghaleb, a Yemeni-American. In 2010, Ghaleb flew to Yemen to see his family and meet with U.S. consular officials about delayed visa applications for his wife and children. But on his way back, while awaiting to board a plane in Germany, an FBI agent questioned him. According to a recent ACLU report, Ghaleb “was directed to submit to an interview with FBI agents, who questioned him about his mosque and the San Francisco Yemeni community. The FBI agents asked him to become an informant for the FBI in California, but Mr. Ghaleb said he did not know any dangerous people and would not spy on innocent people in mosques.” Ghaleb remains on the No-Fly List.
The practice of pressuring Muslims to become informants in their own communities in exchange for law enforcement help is one clear example of an apparatus running roughshod over the rights of Muslims in the U.S. It’s also a practice familiar to Muslims in New York City, who have to deal with a police department that has implemented a surveillance dragnet with the help of Central Intelligence Agency officials.
After 9/11, CIA officials strategized with the New York Police Department on how best to collect intelligence to prevent the next terrorist attack. The NYPD’s Intelligence Division ended up creating an operation where informants and undercover agents infiltrate mosques and student groups. The NYPD has labeled at least a dozen mosques as “terrorism enterprises” in order to infiltrate them. And in order to employ informants able to infiltrate Muslim communities, they usually strike a deal with people in trouble with the law. In exchange for spying on their community, the informant gets help from the NYPD in avoiding punishment for crimes.

November 5, 2013

  Muhammad Tanvir was asked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, to spy on his Pakistani community. He refused, and so he remains on the No-Fly List--and he can’t visit an ailing mother.
Tanvir is now taking action, along with other Muslims, against the FBI’s attempt to coerce them into spying on their own community in exchange for getting off the No-Fly List. Tanvir, a resident of the Bronx, recently testified in court against the FBI for its no-fly practices.
Tanvir’s lawsuit, which the Center for Constitutional Rights, also referred to as CCR, has taken on, is putting the FBI on the hotseat. “Mr. Tanvir has been prevented from flying despite the fact that he does not present any threat to aviation security,” the CCR suit reads, according to the Courthouse News Service. “Instead, defendants sought to exploit the draconian burden posed by the No Fly List, including the inability to travel for work, or to visit family overseas; in order to coerce him into serving the FBI as a spy within American Muslim communities and places of worship.”
The No-Fly List, instituted after September 11, arbitrarily puts thousands of people on a list that prevents them from traveling. Tanvir is not the only one to have been pressured by the FBI.
A separate American Civil Liberties Union suit filed in 2010 represents other Muslims trying to get their names off the No-Fly List. One of them is Nagib Ali Ghaleb, a Yemeni-American. In 2010, Ghaleb flew to Yemen to see his family and meet with U.S. consular officials about delayed visa applications for his wife and children. But on his way back, while awaiting to board a plane in Germany, an FBI agent questioned him. According to a recent ACLU report, Ghaleb “was directed to submit to an interview with FBI agents, who questioned him about his mosque and the San Francisco Yemeni community. The FBI agents asked him to become an informant for the FBI in California, but Mr. Ghaleb said he did not know any dangerous people and would not spy on innocent people in mosques.” Ghaleb remains on the No-Fly List.
The practice of pressuring Muslims to become informants in their own communities in exchange for law enforcement help is one clear example of an apparatus running roughshod over the rights of Muslims in the U.S. It’s also a practice familiar to Muslims in New York City, who have to deal with a police department that has implemented a surveillance dragnet with the help of Central Intelligence Agency officials.
After 9/11, CIA officials strategized with the New York Police Department on how best to collect intelligence to prevent the next terrorist attack. The NYPD’s Intelligence Division ended up creating an operation where informants and undercover agents infiltrate mosques and student groups. The NYPD has labeled at least a dozen mosques as “terrorism enterprises” in order to infiltrate them. And in order to employ informants able to infiltrate Muslim communities, they usually strike a deal with people in trouble with the law. In exchange for spying on their community, the informant gets help from the NYPD in avoiding punishment for crimes.

October 27, 2013

Residents of the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan are still struggling to dig out of the rubble left by two recent major earthquakes in September. The central government, meanwhile, is being accused of dragging its feet in allowing international aid to reach the disaster zone.

Islamabad has been involved in an intense struggle to crush the separatist aims of the province's Baluch population. This has heightened the complications of providing relief following the quakes that hit on September 24 and 28, killing nearly 700 people and leaving some 1,000 injured.

The central government has maintained tight control over the relief effort amid the continuing insurgency and, with their safety in mind, has denied the involvement of outside aid agencies.

Local aid workers acknowledge that there have been some cases of insurgents attacking security forces following the disaster. But aid workers, they say, have not been targeted.

“We will not allow army or FC (paramilitary Frontier Corps) here, only NGOs or local officials are allowed to come here,” Balochistan National Movement’s Dr. Manan Baloch  told Agence France Presse (AFP).

In 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross scaled down its operations in the country, including ending its activities in Balochistan, following the death of one of its staff members.

Only a small number of local organizations have ongoing operations in the province. One of them is the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, whose local network on the ground enabled it to be among the first responders in the quake’s aftermath.

Provincial officials have stated that international aid workers cannot be allowed in until their security can be ensured. Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, the province's top elected official, has nevertheless written to Islamabad requesting that international aid agencies be allowed to participate in the relief effort. But weeks after the quakes, with government agencies were on leave to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday, Minister Baloch is still awaiting a reply.

Help Desperately Needed

Zahid Ali is a local aid worker participating in relief efforts in Awaran district, which is located at the epicenter of the September quakes. He paints a grim picture of utter destruction. He says that more than 90 percent of the traditional mud-brick houses in the region have collapsed and remaining ones have been damaged so badly that they are not usable.

He says that aid in the form of food, medicine, and tents has reached disaster-hit areas, but a lot of work remains to be done. "I request that international agencies, the United Nations in particular, come here quickly because the people need them urgently," Ali says. "We need their aid in the form of food items and non-food items. We need blankets because the winters are approaching. We require lots of daily-use utensils for cooking. Above all, we need a lot of medical assistance."

Ali says that Minister Baloch spent five days in Awaran following the earthquakes. At the time, Ali says, the chief minister pledged to push Islamabad to appeal to the United Nations for help.

Minister Baloch's spokesman, Jan Muhammad Bulaidi, accused the insurgents of hampering the delivery of aid to the very people they claim to be fighting for. "The separatists should curtail their activities in the aftermath of the disaster. They should allow aid workers and state agencies to help people," he said.

"The separatists need to change their attitude. They need to be aware of the problems of their people. They should allow aid organizations to go to the affected regions and help people," Bulaidi said. "Aid workers would go there only if they can be assured of their security by the authorities."

Agencies At The Ready

International aid organizations cite Islamabad's reluctance as the main hurdle to them reaching quake victims. Many aid workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they are ready to go to Awaran as soon as they get a nod from Islamabad.

In particular, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is only awaiting a green light from Pakistani authorities. MSF was one of the first organizations to publically call on Islamabad to allow humanitarian access to Awaran. "It's crucial that the authorities allow impartial humanitarian assistance into the Awaran area in order to respond to any unmet needs," the international aid agency's operations manager, Chris Lockyear, said in an October press statement.

The magnitude 7.7 and 6.8 earthquakes that struck in late September left more than 100,000 people homeless and affected more than 300,000 people. In addition to Awaran, they jolted the nearby districts of Kech, Khuzdar, Kharan, Gwadar, Panjgur, and Chaghi.

These regions are a stronghold of Baluch separatists who have waged many violent insurgencies against Islamabad over the past six decades. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in the latest rebellion, which erupted after the 2006 killing of prominent Baluch politician Nawab Akbar Bugti. Many hard-line Baluch factions now claim to be fighting for a separate homeland.

Resource-rich Balochistan has experienced a few major earthquakes. In April, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake across the border in Iran killed at least 35 people in Balochistan. In 1935, a major quake killed 60,000 people.

October 27, 2013

Residents of the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan are still struggling to dig out of the rubble left by two recent major earthquakes in September. The central government, meanwhile, is being accused of dragging its feet in allowing international aid to reach the disaster zone.

Islamabad has been involved in an intense struggle to crush the separatist aims of the province's Baluch population. This has heightened the complications of providing relief following the quakes that hit on September 24 and 28, killing nearly 700 people and leaving some 1,000 injured.

The central government has maintained tight control over the relief effort amid the continuing insurgency and, with their safety in mind, has denied the involvement of outside aid agencies.

Local aid workers acknowledge that there have been some cases of insurgents attacking security forces following the disaster. But aid workers, they say, have not been targeted.

“We will not allow army or FC (paramilitary Frontier Corps) here, only NGOs or local officials are allowed to come here,” Balochistan National Movement’s Dr. Manan Baloch  told Agence France Presse (AFP).

In 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross scaled down its operations in the country, including ending its activities in Balochistan, following the death of one of its staff members.

Only a small number of local organizations have ongoing operations in the province. One of them is the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, whose local network on the ground enabled it to be among the first responders in the quake’s aftermath.

Provincial officials have stated that international aid workers cannot be allowed in until their security can be ensured. Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, the province's top elected official, has nevertheless written to Islamabad requesting that international aid agencies be allowed to participate in the relief effort. But weeks after the quakes, with government agencies were on leave to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday, Minister Baloch is still awaiting a reply.

Help Desperately Needed

Zahid Ali is a local aid worker participating in relief efforts in Awaran district, which is located at the epicenter of the September quakes. He paints a grim picture of utter destruction. He says that more than 90 percent of the traditional mud-brick houses in the region have collapsed and remaining ones have been damaged so badly that they are not usable.

He says that aid in the form of food, medicine, and tents has reached disaster-hit areas, but a lot of work remains to be done. "I request that international agencies, the United Nations in particular, come here quickly because the people need them urgently," Ali says. "We need their aid in the form of food items and non-food items. We need blankets because the winters are approaching. We require lots of daily-use utensils for cooking. Above all, we need a lot of medical assistance."

Ali says that Minister Baloch spent five days in Awaran following the earthquakes. At the time, Ali says, the chief minister pledged to push Islamabad to appeal to the United Nations for help.

Minister Baloch's spokesman, Jan Muhammad Bulaidi, accused the insurgents of hampering the delivery of aid to the very people they claim to be fighting for. "The separatists should curtail their activities in the aftermath of the disaster. They should allow aid workers and state agencies to help people," he said.

"The separatists need to change their attitude. They need to be aware of the problems of their people. They should allow aid organizations to go to the affected regions and help people," Bulaidi said. "Aid workers would go there only if they can be assured of their security by the authorities."

Agencies At The Ready

International aid organizations cite Islamabad's reluctance as the main hurdle to them reaching quake victims. Many aid workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they are ready to go to Awaran as soon as they get a nod from Islamabad.

In particular, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is only awaiting a green light from Pakistani authorities. MSF was one of the first organizations to publically call on Islamabad to allow humanitarian access to Awaran. "It's crucial that the authorities allow impartial humanitarian assistance into the Awaran area in order to respond to any unmet needs," the international aid agency's operations manager, Chris Lockyear, said in an October press statement.

The magnitude 7.7 and 6.8 earthquakes that struck in late September left more than 100,000 people homeless and affected more than 300,000 people. In addition to Awaran, they jolted the nearby districts of Kech, Khuzdar, Kharan, Gwadar, Panjgur, and Chaghi.

These regions are a stronghold of Baluch separatists who have waged many violent insurgencies against Islamabad over the past six decades. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in the latest rebellion, which erupted after the 2006 killing of prominent Baluch politician Nawab Akbar Bugti. Many hard-line Baluch factions now claim to be fighting for a separate homeland.

Resource-rich Balochistan has experienced a few major earthquakes. In April, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake across the border in Iran killed at least 35 people in Balochistan. In 1935, a major quake killed 60,000 people.

October 8, 2013

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies--a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics--has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology--the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957--that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed, in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week. But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation.

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in an attempt to address the growing achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. It was a controversial piece of legislation from the start, mainly because of its “one size fits all’” approach: It uses annual standardized tests to determine how well students are performing in reading and math and then uses those scores to determine the amounts of federal funding schools receive.

Besides the obvious criticism that low-performing schools--arguably the ones that need the most increase in funding--are disproportionately punished for their low scores, critics also believe that No Child Left Behind has narrowed the curriculum. Since the standardized tests focus exclusively on English and math, and those scores determine the bulk of a school’s federal funding, schools have been forced to increase time and resources in these subjects at the expense of all others, including social studies.

A 2007 study from the Center of Education Policy supports this allegation: 62 percent of elementary schools, and more than 20 percent of middle schools, increased time for English language arts and/or math since No Child Left Behind passed.  At the same time, 36 percent of schools decreased the time allocated to the social studies. According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, this adds up to a net loss of four weeks of social studies instruction per academic year.

This devaluation of social studies as a core subject in the K-12 curriculum has troubling economic, political, and social implications. For one, social studies at all grade levels encourages students to develop skills in critical thinking--one of the top traits employers look for in a candidate. It also requires students become strong written and oral communicators who know how to structure and articulate their opinions. Unfortunately, a survey of employers done by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that these are the exact skills today’s entry-level workers are lacking. Without the skills gained from social studies, students are less attractive to employers.

Perhaps even more troubling, however, is that reducing students’ exposure to a solid curriculum in social studies leads to what a growing number of experts are calling a “civic achievement gap”. Closely related to the general achievement gap between affluent, mostly white students and low-income minority students, the civic achievement gap has made it increasingly difficult for those who grow up in low-income households to participate in civic affairs. According to data from Associate Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000.

Many experts agree that a stronger curriculum in social studies could help close this gap.  A study from the Carnegie Corporation of New York found that students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives.

Fortunately, policymakers have begun to acknowledge the shortcomings of the recent decade of educational policy. “President Obama and I reject the notion that the social studies is a peripheral offering that can be cut from schools to meet [Adequate Yearly Progress] or to satisfy those wanting to save money during a fiscal crunch,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011 in Social Education, a journal published by the National Council for Social Studies. “Today more than ever, the social studies are not a luxury, but a necessity. We need to fix [No Child Left Behind] so that school leaders do not feel forced to ignore the vital components of a good education.”

While the Obama Administration has pledged to revisit certain components of No Child Left Behind, it has kept its fundamental model of high-stakes standardized testing with new programs such as Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standard Initiative. Like No Child Left Behind, both of these programs focus primarily on English and math.

It’s clear that something has to change when only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of government.

October 8, 2013

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies--a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics--has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology--the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957--that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed, in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week. But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation.

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in an attempt to address the growing achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. It was a controversial piece of legislation from the start, mainly because of its “one size fits all’” approach: It uses annual standardized tests to determine how well students are performing in reading and math and then uses those scores to determine the amounts of federal funding schools receive.

Besides the obvious criticism that low-performing schools--arguably the ones that need the most increase in funding--are disproportionately punished for their low scores, critics also believe that No Child Left Behind has narrowed the curriculum. Since the standardized tests focus exclusively on English and math, and those scores determine the bulk of a school’s federal funding, schools have been forced to increase time and resources in these subjects at the expense of all others, including social studies.

A 2007 study from the Center of Education Policy supports this allegation: 62 percent of elementary schools, and more than 20 percent of middle schools, increased time for English language arts and/or math since No Child Left Behind passed.  At the same time, 36 percent of schools decreased the time allocated to the social studies. According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, this adds up to a net loss of four weeks of social studies instruction per academic year.

This devaluation of social studies as a core subject in the K-12 curriculum has troubling economic, political, and social implications. For one, social studies at all grade levels encourages students to develop skills in critical thinking--one of the top traits employers look for in a candidate. It also requires students become strong written and oral communicators who know how to structure and articulate their opinions. Unfortunately, a survey of employers done by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that these are the exact skills today’s entry-level workers are lacking. Without the skills gained from social studies, students are less attractive to employers.

Perhaps even more troubling, however, is that reducing students’ exposure to a solid curriculum in social studies leads to what a growing number of experts are calling a “civic achievement gap”. Closely related to the general achievement gap between affluent, mostly white students and low-income minority students, the civic achievement gap has made it increasingly difficult for those who grow up in low-income households to participate in civic affairs. According to data from Associate Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000.

Many experts agree that a stronger curriculum in social studies could help close this gap.  A study from the Carnegie Corporation of New York found that students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives.

Fortunately, policymakers have begun to acknowledge the shortcomings of the recent decade of educational policy. “President Obama and I reject the notion that the social studies is a peripheral offering that can be cut from schools to meet [Adequate Yearly Progress] or to satisfy those wanting to save money during a fiscal crunch,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011 in Social Education, a journal published by the National Council for Social Studies. “Today more than ever, the social studies are not a luxury, but a necessity. We need to fix [No Child Left Behind] so that school leaders do not feel forced to ignore the vital components of a good education.”

While the Obama Administration has pledged to revisit certain components of No Child Left Behind, it has kept its fundamental model of high-stakes standardized testing with new programs such as Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standard Initiative. Like No Child Left Behind, both of these programs focus primarily on English and math.

It’s clear that something has to change when only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of government.

October 8, 2013

A shocking report prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) circulating in the Kremlin today says that the mainstream propaganda media organs in the United States are continuing to keep covered up the Obama regimes freeing of what Russian intelligence agencies claim is, perhaps, the most dangerous CIA spy-operative ever to have lived and who nearly caused World War III.

According to this report, former US Army veteran and current CIA operative Eric Harroun [man in forefront] was ordered released recently by US District Judge Claude Hilton after Harroun’s guilty plea to a felony count of conspiring to violate American arms-control laws and who further ruled that this sentence was appropriate and that “certain documents” would remain under seal for three months during this highly secret proceeding, a feat which would not have been possible without Obama’s blessing.

Harroun was first arrested on 28 March after a ten-page criminal complaint was filed against him by the FBI charging him with using a weapon of mass destruction outside of the United States. This charge carries the penalty of either death or life imprisonment if convicted.

He then appeared in court with his public defender in a hearing on 8 April in Alexandria, Virginia and was denied bail. At the hearing, US Federal Prosecutor Carter Burwell said it would be illegal for an American to travel to Syria and take up arms against Assad’s regime with any opposition group. This echoes what he was previously told by the FBI officer at the US consulate – leading Harroun to previously remark that it was ……….. ; that an American couldn’t fight in Syria.

He was indicted by a US Federal grand jury on the additional charge of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group (which carries the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison) on 20 June. He appeared in court again on 8 July, and was ordered by the Judge to remain in detention, pending trial.

From Harroun’s arrest, which was widely trumpeted by the Obama regimes mainstream media lapdogs, to his “silent release” this past Thursday, this report continues, clearly shows that America’s military establishment and intelligence agencies are at war with each other with no clear winner, as of yet, being able to be determined.

Not since the 1961 CIA-backed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba incident that precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the MoFA report says, has the world been brought closer to a nuclear apocalypse than it has due to Harroun’s actions in Syria on behalf of his CIA and Saudi Arabian “paymasters.”

What has made Harroun particularly dangerous, Russian intelligence analysts contributing to this report say, was his trafficking to Syrian rebels of US captured Soviet era chemical weapon missiles from the former weapons depots of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

After Gaddafi’s fall from power, the report says, the CIA began a massive arms smuggling operation in Benghazi, Libya to their al-Qaeda rebel factions in Syria.

So dangerous was this operation to the Obama regime, reports London’s Telegraph News Service, the CIA began subjecting its operatives, like Harroun, to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of their arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its Ambassador, Christopher Stephens, was killed by a terrorist attack in the city last year.

Important to note is that Russia had delivered, this past July, to the United Nations a 100-page report detailing the rebels use of chemical weapons in Syria, a finding confirmed by UN inspectors this past May who confirmed Syrian rebels used Sarin nerve gas, not Assad’s regime.

Even worse, in May, this year, Turkish police arrested Syrian rebels caught in the act of carrying weaponized Sarin gas into Syria.

October 8, 2013

A shocking report prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) circulating in the Kremlin today says that the mainstream propaganda media organs in the United States are continuing to keep covered up the Obama regimes freeing of what Russian intelligence agencies claim is, perhaps, the most dangerous CIA spy-operative ever to have lived and who nearly caused World War III.

According to this report, former US Army veteran and current CIA operative Eric Harroun [man in forefront] was ordered released recently by US District Judge Claude Hilton after Harroun’s guilty plea to a felony count of conspiring to violate American arms-control laws and who further ruled that this sentence was appropriate and that “certain documents” would remain under seal for three months during this highly secret proceeding, a feat which would not have been possible without Obama’s blessing.

Harroun was first arrested on 28 March after a ten-page criminal complaint was filed against him by the FBI charging him with using a weapon of mass destruction outside of the United States. This charge carries the penalty of either death or life imprisonment if convicted.

He then appeared in court with his public defender in a hearing on 8 April in Alexandria, Virginia and was denied bail. At the hearing, US Federal Prosecutor Carter Burwell said it would be illegal for an American to travel to Syria and take up arms against Assad’s regime with any opposition group. This echoes what he was previously told by the FBI officer at the US consulate – leading Harroun to previously remark that it was ……….. ; that an American couldn’t fight in Syria.

He was indicted by a US Federal grand jury on the additional charge of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group (which carries the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison) on 20 June. He appeared in court again on 8 July, and was ordered by the Judge to remain in detention, pending trial.

From Harroun’s arrest, which was widely trumpeted by the Obama regimes mainstream media lapdogs, to his “silent release” this past Thursday, this report continues, clearly shows that America’s military establishment and intelligence agencies are at war with each other with no clear winner, as of yet, being able to be determined.

Not since the 1961 CIA-backed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba incident that precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the MoFA report says, has the world been brought closer to a nuclear apocalypse than it has due to Harroun’s actions in Syria on behalf of his CIA and Saudi Arabian “paymasters.”

What has made Harroun particularly dangerous, Russian intelligence analysts contributing to this report say, was his trafficking to Syrian rebels of US captured Soviet era chemical weapon missiles from the former weapons depots of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

After Gaddafi’s fall from power, the report says, the CIA began a massive arms smuggling operation in Benghazi, Libya to their al-Qaeda rebel factions in Syria.

So dangerous was this operation to the Obama regime, reports London’s Telegraph News Service, the CIA began subjecting its operatives, like Harroun, to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of their arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its Ambassador, Christopher Stephens, was killed by a terrorist attack in the city last year.

Important to note is that Russia had delivered, this past July, to the United Nations a 100-page report detailing the rebels use of chemical weapons in Syria, a finding confirmed by UN inspectors this past May who confirmed Syrian rebels used Sarin nerve gas, not Assad’s regime.

Even worse, in May, this year, Turkish police arrested Syrian rebels caught in the act of carrying weaponized Sarin gas into Syria.

October 8, 2013

The European Times wrote about hockey fans in Washington state who had more to worry about during a recent hockey game than avoiding a puck to the face; the Department of Homeland Security, DHS,  tested their facial recognition system during the game, a technology that’s raising concerns among privacy advocates.

DHS utilized a sophisticated scheme of cameras to collect pictures of attendees in real-time from as far away as 100 meters and then match them up with images of faces stored on a database.

The exercise marked the latest drill for the DHS’ Biometric Optical Surveillance System, or BOSS, and when it’s fully operational it could be used to identify a person of interest among a massive crowd in the span of only seconds.

With assistance from researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PNNL, DHS attempted to quickly compare faces caught on camera with the biometric information of 20 volunteers. The other faces in the crowd — potentially 5,980 hockey fans — existed as background noise to see the accuracy of BOSS when it comes down to locating a person of interest.

Facial recognition technology has been around for almost three decades. The mobile and social   revolutions are rapidly driving the field forward, along with digital photo proliferation, cloud computing power acceleration and software capabilities advancing.

According to Charlie Savage of the New York Times, earlier testing proved unsuccessful because it took operators roughly 30 seconds to identify a person caught on camera with its database of photographic mug shots. Biometric specialists who spoke to the Times told Savage that 30 seconds “was far too long to process an image for security purposes.”

As surveillance cameras continue to become pervasive in American cities, fixed on buildings and in traffic lights, facial recognition technology  could soon be used to pick people out of crowds randomly for essentially anything.  

“This technology is always billed as antiterrorism, but then it drifts into other applications,” Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told Savage. “We need a real conversation about whether and how we want this technology to be used, and now is the time for that debate.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hopes that it will have its state-of-the-art Next Generation Identification program, also known as NGI, rolled out in 2014, which will ideally provide the FBI with a database containing the biometric information of millions of Americans. Law enforcement will then be able to use that trove of data to compare persons of interest caught on film with images already used on state drivers’ licenses and other governmental files.

A lawsuit against the FBI filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, over the NGI program is currently pending. In the complaint filed earlier this year, the organization wrote;

The proposed new system would also allow law enforcement to collect and retain other images, such as those obtained from crime scene security cameras and from family and friends, and would allow submission of civil photographs along with civil fingerprint submissions that were collected for non criminal purposes.

“Facial recognition blows up assumptions that we don’t wear our identities on our person; it turns our faces into name tags,” said Ryan Calo, director of privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. “It can be good and helpful, or it can be dangerous.”

October 8, 2013

The European Times wrote about hockey fans in Washington state who had more to worry about during a recent hockey game than avoiding a puck to the face; the Department of Homeland Security, DHS,  tested their facial recognition system during the game, a technology that’s raising concerns among privacy advocates.

DHS utilized a sophisticated scheme of cameras to collect pictures of attendees in real-time from as far away as 100 meters and then match them up with images of faces stored on a database.

The exercise marked the latest drill for the DHS’ Biometric Optical Surveillance System, or BOSS, and when it’s fully operational it could be used to identify a person of interest among a massive crowd in the span of only seconds.

With assistance from researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PNNL, DHS attempted to quickly compare faces caught on camera with the biometric information of 20 volunteers. The other faces in the crowd — potentially 5,980 hockey fans — existed as background noise to see the accuracy of BOSS when it comes down to locating a person of interest.

Facial recognition technology has been around for almost three decades. The mobile and social   revolutions are rapidly driving the field forward, along with digital photo proliferation, cloud computing power acceleration and software capabilities advancing.

According to Charlie Savage of the New York Times, earlier testing proved unsuccessful because it took operators roughly 30 seconds to identify a person caught on camera with its database of photographic mug shots. Biometric specialists who spoke to the Times told Savage that 30 seconds “was far too long to process an image for security purposes.”

As surveillance cameras continue to become pervasive in American cities, fixed on buildings and in traffic lights, facial recognition technology  could soon be used to pick people out of crowds randomly for essentially anything.  

“This technology is always billed as antiterrorism, but then it drifts into other applications,” Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told Savage. “We need a real conversation about whether and how we want this technology to be used, and now is the time for that debate.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hopes that it will have its state-of-the-art Next Generation Identification program, also known as NGI, rolled out in 2014, which will ideally provide the FBI with a database containing the biometric information of millions of Americans. Law enforcement will then be able to use that trove of data to compare persons of interest caught on film with images already used on state drivers’ licenses and other governmental files.

A lawsuit against the FBI filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, over the NGI program is currently pending. In the complaint filed earlier this year, the organization wrote;

The proposed new system would also allow law enforcement to collect and retain other images, such as those obtained from crime scene security cameras and from family and friends, and would allow submission of civil photographs along with civil fingerprint submissions that were collected for non criminal purposes.

“Facial recognition blows up assumptions that we don’t wear our identities on our person; it turns our faces into name tags,” said Ryan Calo, director of privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. “It can be good and helpful, or it can be dangerous.”

October 6, 2013

The controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones was arrested Wednesday in Polk County, Fla., before he could burn almost 3,000 Qurans.

The county's Board of County Commissioners had denied on Tuesday Jones's request for a permit to burn 3,000 Qurans — the holy book of Islam — in a local park to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Florida pastor Terry Jones has been charged with the unlawful carrying of fuel for allegedly planning to burn almost 3,000 Qurans, one for every victim of the 9/11 attacks. He has been taken into custody and faces felony charges.

Jones was arrested on felony charges after a traffic stop, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

According to NBC Miami, Jones was riding in a pickup truck with kerosene-soaked Qurans inside the truck bed. Additional bottles of kerosene were found in the truck bed.

He faces charges of unlawfully transporting fuel and openly carrying a firearm, NBC Miami reported.

Jones's website said he wanted to burn 2,998 Qurans at 5 p.m. "in memory of the 2,998 victims of Islamic jihad who were murdered on September 11th, 2001."

Jones, 61, is a pastor of Dove World Outreach Center. He was arrested along with another pastor, Marvin Wayne Sapp, Jr.

His church has famously staged Quran burnings in the past, the move at one point earning Jones the condemnation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. (NBC News)

October 6, 2013

The controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones was arrested Wednesday in Polk County, Fla., before he could burn almost 3,000 Qurans.

The county's Board of County Commissioners had denied on Tuesday Jones's request for a permit to burn 3,000 Qurans — the holy book of Islam — in a local park to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Florida pastor Terry Jones has been charged with the unlawful carrying of fuel for allegedly planning to burn almost 3,000 Qurans, one for every victim of the 9/11 attacks. He has been taken into custody and faces felony charges.

Jones was arrested on felony charges after a traffic stop, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

According to NBC Miami, Jones was riding in a pickup truck with kerosene-soaked Qurans inside the truck bed. Additional bottles of kerosene were found in the truck bed.

He faces charges of unlawfully transporting fuel and openly carrying a firearm, NBC Miami reported.

Jones's website said he wanted to burn 2,998 Qurans at 5 p.m. "in memory of the 2,998 victims of Islamic jihad who were murdered on September 11th, 2001."

Jones, 61, is a pastor of Dove World Outreach Center. He was arrested along with another pastor, Marvin Wayne Sapp, Jr.

His church has famously staged Quran burnings in the past, the move at one point earning Jones the condemnation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. (NBC News)

October 4, 2013

Israel’s consistently rogue refusal to comply with any international  mandate ( in particular, signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty against producing nuclear weapons) that it has been issued since its inception has once again been broached on the international forum.  

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani requested that Israel be compelled to sign and become a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as he spoke for a second time at the United Nations General Assembly. “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists,” Rouhani said, citing the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Rouhani  called for a “nuclear-free zone” in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has not and will not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel would use nuclear weapons if it felt it was threatened by any nation in the Middle East.

The nuclear capability of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) defensive capabilities just reached another plateau this past April. It purchased its 5th nuclear submarine that can be deployed anywhere in the world with first strike capability. The Israel News Agency reported that Israel purchased a fifth Dolphin class submarine called the “INS Rahav” from Germany. In the article headlined “Israel Launches Ninth Submarine, Ready To Strike Iran Nuclear Weapons,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”

The submarines are equipped with Israeli-designed Popeye missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and it is no secret that Israel has nuclear weapons. Some estimates suggest that Israel has between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons.

Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli technician at the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert, exposed Israel’s nuclear program to the world in the 1986 Sunday Times (UK). The Times report cited that Vanunu was kidnapped in Italy by Mossad agents and brought to Israel to face an Israeli court. He was convicted and imprisoned for more than 18 years at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, Israel. Half of his prison term was in solitary confinement. He was eventually released in 2004. Since then, Vanunu has been arrested and even imprisoned for violating his parole. He was also arrested for trying to leave Israel at one time. Former Israeli Prime Minister and Noble Peace

Prize winner Shimon Peres said “he was a traitor to this country”.

Since Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Dimona Nuclear Research center is not subject to inspections from the international community such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the Federation of American Scientists in a 2007 report, Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, but some estimates have their  nuclear warheads at less than 200. It is also known that Israel has the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles, the Jericho III missile named after the biblical city of Jericho, various aircrafts and of course submarines.

The report stated the following:

“By the late 1990s, the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided”

Israel’s nuclear program began after World War II. David Ben-Gurion wanted to establish a Jewish State with a military force that would repel an attack by any of its adversaries, especially in the Arab world.

Ben-Gurion’s speech to the elected assembly of Palestine Jews on October 2nd, 1947 made it clear on the intentions of a new Jewish state:

“Political developments have swept us on to a momentous parting of the ways – from Mandate to independence. Today, beyond our ceaseless work in immigration, settlement and campaign, we are set three blazing tasks, whereof fulfillment will condition our perpetuity: defense, a Jewish State and Arab-Jewish Cupertino, in that order of importance and urgency. Security is our chief problem.

Between the years of 1955 and 2007 more than 130 United Nations Resolutions have been issued against Israel related to injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people which were all abjectly ignored by Israel.  Among these are Security Council Resolution 242, Nov. 22, 1967 , which declared the occupation of Palestine illegal, Security Council Resolution 446, March 22, 1979, which declared Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal. There has been no action on the part of the UN to bring Israel to book and conform to its mandates, including, as the Iranian president insisted, declaring its Nuclear arsenal. Iran has endured years of sanctions and has no nuclear weapons.

October 4, 2013

Israel’s consistently rogue refusal to comply with any international  mandate ( in particular, signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty against producing nuclear weapons) that it has been issued since its inception has once again been broached on the international forum.  

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani requested that Israel be compelled to sign and become a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as he spoke for a second time at the United Nations General Assembly. “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists,” Rouhani said, citing the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Rouhani  called for a “nuclear-free zone” in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has not and will not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel would use nuclear weapons if it felt it was threatened by any nation in the Middle East.

The nuclear capability of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) defensive capabilities just reached another plateau this past April. It purchased its 5th nuclear submarine that can be deployed anywhere in the world with first strike capability. The Israel News Agency reported that Israel purchased a fifth Dolphin class submarine called the “INS Rahav” from Germany. In the article headlined “Israel Launches Ninth Submarine, Ready To Strike Iran Nuclear Weapons,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”

The submarines are equipped with Israeli-designed Popeye missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and it is no secret that Israel has nuclear weapons. Some estimates suggest that Israel has between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons.

Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli technician at the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert, exposed Israel’s nuclear program to the world in the 1986 Sunday Times (UK). The Times report cited that Vanunu was kidnapped in Italy by Mossad agents and brought to Israel to face an Israeli court. He was convicted and imprisoned for more than 18 years at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, Israel. Half of his prison term was in solitary confinement. He was eventually released in 2004. Since then, Vanunu has been arrested and even imprisoned for violating his parole. He was also arrested for trying to leave Israel at one time. Former Israeli Prime Minister and Noble Peace

Prize winner Shimon Peres said “he was a traitor to this country”.

Since Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Dimona Nuclear Research center is not subject to inspections from the international community such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the Federation of American Scientists in a 2007 report, Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, but some estimates have their  nuclear warheads at less than 200. It is also known that Israel has the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles, the Jericho III missile named after the biblical city of Jericho, various aircrafts and of course submarines.

The report stated the following:

“By the late 1990s, the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided”

Israel’s nuclear program began after World War II. David Ben-Gurion wanted to establish a Jewish State with a military force that would repel an attack by any of its adversaries, especially in the Arab world.

Ben-Gurion’s speech to the elected assembly of Palestine Jews on October 2nd, 1947 made it clear on the intentions of a new Jewish state:

“Political developments have swept us on to a momentous parting of the ways – from Mandate to independence. Today, beyond our ceaseless work in immigration, settlement and campaign, we are set three blazing tasks, whereof fulfillment will condition our perpetuity: defense, a Jewish State and Arab-Jewish Cupertino, in that order of importance and urgency. Security is our chief problem.

Between the years of 1955 and 2007 more than 130 United Nations Resolutions have been issued against Israel related to injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people which were all abjectly ignored by Israel.  Among these are Security Council Resolution 242, Nov. 22, 1967 , which declared the occupation of Palestine illegal, Security Council Resolution 446, March 22, 1979, which declared Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal. There has been no action on the part of the UN to bring Israel to book and conform to its mandates, including, as the Iranian president insisted, declaring its Nuclear arsenal. Iran has endured years of sanctions and has no nuclear weapons.

October 4, 2013

The commander of one of El Salvador's notorious death squads, active during the 1979-92 civil war, could soon become the first top-ranking Salvadoran officer to face trial for murder. But if so, he will be tried in Spain, not his own country, where amnesty protects even those guilty of atrocities against civilians.

Inocente Orlando Montano was quietly working in a sweet factory in Massachusetts in May 2011, when he and 19 others were indicted by a Spanish court for their alleged role in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter.

Five of the priests - outspoken critics of El Salvador's military regime - were Spanish. Spain asked for Montano to be extradited - and soon afterwards he was indicted by the US for having lied about his entry date and military past to obtain papers giving him the right to work in the US.

He pleaded guilty in September last year to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury and will soon be sentenced.

As vice-minister of public security, Colonel Montano had been one of El Salvador's top three military leaders. He was also commander of the feared Belloso Battalion.

In an expert report prepared for Montano's prosecution, political science professor Terry Karl argues that at least 1,169 human rights abuses - including 65 extra-judicial killings of named individuals, 51 reported disappearances and 520 torture victims - were carried out by units under Montano's command.

"The Jesuit massacre was not an aberration," she writes.

"Throughout Col Montano's 30-year military career, he ordered, abetted and assisted, and/or commanded troops that participated in a strategy of disappearance and arbitrary detention, rural massacres of civilian non-combatants, the forced disappearance of children, and the toleration of military-led death squads operating inside units under his command."

The US federal judge has indicated that Montano's sentence will reflect the gravity of his alleged human rights record - detailed in Karl's report and in testimonies from priests and civilian survivors of torture.

The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), which helped trigger the indictment by filing a criminal complaint in Spain four years ago, expects the extradition process to begin while Montano is in US custody.

Up to now, no top-ranking Salvadoran commander has faced criminal prosecution for any civil war offence.

Two others who "retired" to Florida - Generals Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova - have been fighting deportation proceedings brought under a post-9/11 law intended to stop human rights violators residing in the country.

Both have also been sued in the civil courts. In 2002, a West Palm Beach jury found them guilty of torturing three civilians and awarded $55m, $300,000 of which has so far been paid.

But the immigration proceedings against Montano have already arguably done more to raise hopes among civilian victims that justice may one day be done, by legally dissecting several atrocities for the first time.

One is the El Calabozo massacre, in which 200 to 300 campesinos, or peasant farmers, were killed on 22 August 1982 by the Belloso Battalion under Montano's command, and the equally feared Atlactl Battalion.

El Calabozo was a scorched-earth operation carried out by the US-trained mobile death squads against alleged guerrilla supporters. The soldiers killed unarmed civilians, kidnapped children for illegal adoptions, bombed homes and destroyed crops.

The Salvadoran government has never officially recognized that the massacre took place.

Chunguita Realegeno, 58, who lost her whole family except one son in the massacre, says: "I hid with my baby for three days without food or water because we couldn't keep walking; I never saw my family again, I only found their bones. I suffer every day and night knowing those who killed my people are still free."

Prof Karl testified in court on August 22nd - the 31st anniversary of the massacre - as did General Mauricio Vargas, who Montano has called as an expert to challenge the allegations.

"A case like Montano's immigration prosecution provides a glimmer of hope that some truth and accountability will emerge from decades of lies, denial and impunity.," says Esther Major, Amnesty International's El Salvador researcher. "Evidence is being reviewed, massacres recognized as having happened, victims and survivors' words matter."

At one point, it seemed that El Salvador itself might repeal the amnesty law for former combatants, passed in 1993 in defiance of the terms of the peace agreement signed the previous year.

In 2000, the former rebels FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) won a legislative majority against the military-allied Arena party - the sort of political change which preceded the collapse of amnesties in Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and Honduras.

The successful prosecutions around this time of Gen Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Col Byron Disrael Lima Estada in Guatemala - both of which had once seemed impossible - caused reverberations in El Salvador.

Montano entered the US in 2001, just when it seemed the Jesuits massacre would be reinvestigated. But it was only in 2009 that an FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, became president, and he has not made repealing the amnesty law a legislative priority.

Not surprisingly, Montano has volunteered to return to El Salvador after serving his sentence in the US. The country's Supreme Court has already rejected Spain's request for the extradition of 17 of Montano's co-accused in the Jesuit massacre case, including former president Alfredo Cristiani.

Of the remaining two accused, one is dead and the whereabouts of Lt Hector Cuenta Ocampo, who occupied a prominent position in the National Intelligence Service, is unknown. His last known address was in San Francisco.