NYT admits fraudulent Syrian human rights group is UK-based “one-man band” funded by EU and one other “European country.”
In reality, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has long ago been exposed as an absurd propaganda front operated by Rami Abdul Rahman out of his house in England’s countryside. According to a December 2011 Reuters article titled, “Coventry – an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist,” Abdul Rahman admits he is a member of the so-called “Syrian opposition” and seeks the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad:
After three short spells in prison in Syria for pro-democracy activism, Abdulrahman came to Britain in 2000 fearing a longer, fourth jail term.
“I came to Britain the day Hafez al-Assad died, and I’ll return when Bashar al-Assad goes,” Abdulrahman said, referring to Bashar’s father and predecessor Hafez, also an autocrat.
One could not fathom a more unreliable, compromised, biased source of information, yet for the past two years, his “Observatory” has served as the sole source of information for the endless torrent of propaganda emanating from the Western media.
Perhaps worst of all, is that the United Nations uses this compromised, absurdly overt source of propaganda as the basis for its various reports – at least, that is what the New York Times now claims in their recent article, “A Very Busy Man Behind the Syrian Civil War’s Casualty Count.”
The NYT piece admits:
Military analysts in Washington follow its body counts of Syrian and rebel soldiers to gauge the course of the war. The United Nations and human rights organizations scour its descriptions of civilian killings for evidence in possible war crimes trials. Major news organizations, including this one, cite its casualty figures.
Yet, despite its central role in the savage civil war, the grandly named Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is virtually a one-man band. Its founder, Rami Abdul Rahman, 42, who fled Syria 13 years ago, operates out of a semidetached red-brick house on an ordinary residential street in this drab industrial city [Coventry, England].
The New York Times also for the first time reveals that Abdul Rahman’s operation is indeed funded by the European Union and a “European country” he refuses to identify:
Money from two dress shops covers his minimal needs for reporting on the conflict, along with small subsidies from the European Union and one European country that he declines to identify.
Photo: From Reuters: “Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, leaves the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after meeting Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in central London November 21, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor” Abdul Rahman is not the “head” of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, he is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, run out of his UK-based house as a one-man operation.
And while Abdul Rahman refuses to identify that “European country,” it is beyond doubt that it is the United Kingdom itself – as Abdul Rahman has direct access to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. The NYT in fact reveals that it was the British government that first relocated Abdul Rahman to Coventry, England after he fled Syria over a decade ago because of his anti-government activities:
When two associates were arrested in 2000, he fled the country, paying a human trafficker to smuggle him into England. The government resettled him in Coventry, where he decided he liked the slow pace.
Abdul Rahman is not a “human rights activist.” He is a paid propagandist. He is no different than the troupe of unsavory, willful liars and traitors provided refuge in Washington and London during the Iraq war and the West’s more recent debauchery in Libya, for the sole purpose of supplying Western governments with a constant din of propaganda and intentionally falsified intelligence reports designed specifically to justify the West’s hegemonic designs.
The IDF has confirmed that light weapons fire and artillery shells were fired from Syria in the direction of one of its border patrols on Friday evening.
There were no injuries or damages in the incident, an army spokeswoman said.
IDF soldiers fired missiles at the source of the artillery fire, recording a direct hit. There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Syrian side.
An IDF spokeswoman said she did not know whether it was Syrian army or rebels who fired at the Israeli troops and whether the fire was stray or deliberate.
The IDF informed the United Nations of the incident.
Fighting from the Syrian civil war has spilled over into Israeli territory on a number of occasions in the past.
Earlier this month a mortar shell fired from Syria fell in the Golan Heights near Tel Fares.
Following the incident, the IDF fired tank shells at the source of shots. The target was accurately struck, the IDF said.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon toured the Syrian border just prior to the April 2 incident and vowed that Israel would prevent the proliferation of weapons “that could threaten us in the future” to radical elements in Syria.
“But we’re not getting involved so long as this does not harm our interests. When it harms our interests, whether through Grad rocket fire from over the border, whether it is intended to hit our territory or not, we respond in order to silence the source of the fire,” Ya’alon added.
April 12, 2013
WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. President Barack Obama said there was a “window of opportunity” to kickstart Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, after a trip to the region by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Speaking after a meeting on Thursday with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Obama said the two “talked about Middle East peace, where there’s at least a window of opportunity for both Israelis and Palestinians to get back to the peace table.”
“We explored how the United States, as a strong friend of Israel and a supporter of the Palestinian state, can work with the United Nations and multilateral bodies to try to move that process forward,” Obama said.
Israeli media reported that Israeli and Palestinian officials have taken issue with a number of parts of Kerry’s plan. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants a full freeze on construction in the West Bank, while Israel is insisting there be no preconditions to talks, according to the reports on Israel Radio.
The comments came two days after Kerry dubbed his talks with Israeli and P.A. leaders this week “very constructive.”
The U.S. secretary of state, however, cautioned that it was more important to find ways of resuming the long-frozen negotiations correctly rather than “quickly.”
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, April 11, 2013 7:41 EDT
Syrian activists on Thursday dismissed as “blatant interference” a weekend call by Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri for an Islamic state to be established in the strife-torn country.
“The Local Coordination Committees in Syria completely reject the statement by … Zawahiri in which he called for the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria,” said the LCC, a network of peaceful activists on the ground.
“The LCC condemns (Zawahiri’s) blatant interference in Syria’s internal affairs,” it added.
The LCC’s statement comes a day after Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, pledged allegiance to Zawahiri but distanced itself from claims of a merger with Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The LCC made no mention of Al-Nusra’s statement, while debate rages among activists over whether the powerful jihadists should be recognised as a legitimate part of Syrian revolutionary forces.
Analysts warn that two years into a revolt that has left more than 70,000 people dead, according to UN figures, sectarianism and extremism could sweep away the ideals with which activists first took to the streets in a popular uprising two years ago.
“Only Syrians will decide their country’s future. The LCC says once again that the Syrian revolution began in order to achieve freedom, justice and a civil, democratic, pluralist state,” the statement said.
By Mariam KarounyPosted 2013/04/10 at 2:14 pm EDT
BEIRUT, Apr. 10, 2013 (Reuters) — Syria’s rebel al-Nusra Front, one of the most effective forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad, pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in an audio recording posted on the Internet on Wednesday.
Abu Mohammad al-Golani also appeared to distance his group from a recently announced merger with al Qaeda’s Iraq branch.
The group’s allegiance to Zawahri would trouble Western nations which support the revolt against Assad and will dismay Syrian moderates who want a civil state but fear the rise of extreme Islamist militancy.
“The sons of Nusra Front renew their pledge (of allegiance) to the Sheikh of Jihad Ayman al-Zawahri and declare obedience,” Golani said in the recording.
Golani’s statement came a day after the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said his group and the Nusra Front would operate under a united leadership called the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
Golani said that his group was not consulted before that announcement and he had first heard about it through the media.
Golani said that while the Nusra Front had received assistance from the Islamic State of Iraq, his group would continue operating under its own banner, with loyalty to Zawahri.
“The banner of the Front will remain the same, nothing will change about it even though we are proud of the banner of the (Islamic) State and of those who carry it,” he said.
The militant Islamist element of the Syrian conflict poses a quandary for Western powers and their Arab allies, which favor Assad’s overthrow but are alarmed at the growing power of Sunni Muslim jihadi fighters whose fiercely anti-Shi’ite ideology has fuelled sectarian tensions in the Middle East.
Security forces arrested an Israeli Arab resident of Taiba on suspicion of fighting with rebels in Syria against the regime of President Bashar Assad, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Wednesday.
The suspect, named as 29- year-old Hichmat Masarwa, was arrested on March 19 by the Shin Bet and Israel Police upon returning from Turkey, after suspicions emerged that he had joined global jihadi groups in Syria and had tried to locate his brother, who traveled to Syria in recent months to fight with the rebels as well.
BEIRUT — The leader of Al Nusra Front, militant Islamist fighters whose role in the Syria uprising has raised concerns in Washington, acknowledged Wednesday for the first time his group’s affiliation with Al Qaeda and the extremist movement’s Iraq affiliate.
In a seven-minute audio message posted online, Abu Mohammed Jolani pledged Al Nusra Front’s loyalty to Al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahiri and acknowledged its ties to the Islamic State of Iraq, or ISI.
However, the Syrian militant expressed surprise at a statement by ISI late Monday of a merger between the the front and ISI.
He said the leadership of Al Nusra Front, or Jabhat al Nusra, “had no prior knowledge of this [announcement] … and was neither consulted nor commanded” in this matter. He added that the union was premature and hasty, although he did not reject it.
Jolani emphasized such a union would change nothing in his group’s policies and behavior. He also added on a more aesthetic note that the “banner of the Jabhat will remain as it is, unchanging, despite our pride in the banner of the ISI.”
The ISI’s leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, had already announced the name of the new organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, that would replace both Nusra and ISI. Baghdadi also described Jolani as “one of our soldiers” and that ISI had given money, manpower and logistical support to the Syrian group.
The Obama administration in December formally designated Al Nusra Front a terrorist organization and has long maintained that it has ties with Al Qaeda.
By Natalie Huet and Arshad Mohammed
LONDON | Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:10pm EDT
(Reuters) – Western and Middle Eastern nations trying to help the Syrian opposition in its war against President Bashar al-Assad will meet in Turkey on April 20, a U.S. official said on Wednesday as G8 foreign ministers gathered in London for a summit.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria “core group” in Istanbul, said the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.
The G8 talks, which began in London over dinner on Wednesday and were due to end on Thursday, will also be the first chance for the ministers to discuss face-to-face the failure of last week’s meeting in Almaty on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
North Korean threats of war also will be high on the agenda of the Group of Eight nations – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – meeting.
Britain was expected to call for more help for the Syrian opposition but there are no signs of a major shift in policy.
Leaders of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) were present on the sidelines of the G8 meeting and were expected to hold talks with those foreign ministers willing to meet them.
During a lunch meeting earlier in the day, Syrian opposition members said they needed more humanitarian assistance and Kerry talked about the importance of the opposition becoming better organized, a senior U.S. official told reporters.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, in a statement issued after the talks, said Britain was committed to finding a political solution to the crisis.
“We discussed what further assistance the UK could provide to save lives in Syria, and how we could work together to ensure this support was channeled most effectively,” he said.
While the Israeli forces may be operating in a non-military capacity, it would be the first time they have been known to set foot in Syria since the 1970s.
GOLAN HEIGHTS — Israeli military personnel are operating in non-combat capacity in an area across Israel‘s border with Syria, GlobalPost has learned.
Israel and Syria have been in a formal state of war since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. There are no diplomatic ties and no contacts, except through UN offices; it is illegal for Israelis to enter Syria, and Syrians entering Israel are considered enemy infiltrators.
UN peacekeeping forces have safeguarded a demilitarized zone along the generally quiet border since the end of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The last Israeli soldiers known to have been in Syria were returned to Israel in an exchange of POWs following the war.
Reports that Israelis may be operating, even in non-combat capacities, in an enemy state can be compared to information indicating that American military personnel are operating in North Korea — if North Korea lay on the American border, and if it was consumed by a civil war in which extremist elements were involved.
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