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Behind Drone Issue in Yemen, a Struggle to Control Covert Ops


By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Nov 10, 2010 (IPS) - The drone war that has been anticipated in Yemen for the last few months has been delayed by the failure of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda there.

That failure has given the CIA a new argument for wresting control of the drone war in Yemen from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which now controls the drone assets in the country. But some key administration officials are resisting a CIA takeover of the war in Yemen, as reported by the Washington Post Nov. 7.

The struggle between the CIA's operations directorate and SOF officials over management of a drone war in Yemen has been a driving force in pushing the war against al Qaeda and affiliated organisations into many more countries – along with President Barack Obama's eagerness to show that he is doing more than his predecessor on terrorism.

Both the CIA covert operations directorate and SOF brass regard the outcome in Yemen as the key to the larger struggle over control of a series of covert wars that the Obama administration approved in principle last year.

The CIA directorate and the two major figures in the Iraq- Afghanistan wars, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, lobbied Obama in 2009 to expand covert operations against al Qaeda to a dozen countries in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia.

In spring 2009, McChrystal, then director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, persuaded the White House to give U.S. combatant commanders wider latitude to carry out covert military operations against al Qaeda or other organisations deemed to be terrorists, according to a May 25 report by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic.

Based on the Obama decision, on Sep. 30, 2009, Petraeus issued an order creating a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force to plan and execute covert intelligence gathering in support of later covert military operations throughout the CENTCOM area.

The Petraeus order was followed within weeks by an influx of surveillance equipment and as many as 100 SOF trainers, as well as additional CIA personnel in Yemen, according to the Post Nov. 7 report.

With the support of McChrystal and Petraeus, who was then still CENTCOM chief, JSOC was given control of the covert operation in Yemen.

But JSOC stumbled badly and failed to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda targets, as the Post reported Nov. 7.

On Dec. 17, less than three months after the Petraeus order, a cruise missile was launched against what was supposed to have been an al Qaeda training camp in Abyan province in south Yemen.

But the strike, which was supposed to have been attributed to Yemen's tiny air force, was based on faulty intelligence. The Yemeni parliament found that it had killed 41 members of two families, including 17 women and 23 children. It was known almost immediately to have been a U.S. strike.

By all accounts, it was major political gift to AQAP, which has its sights set on toppling the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. AQAP seized on videos of the carnage to step up its attack on Saleh as a U.S. stooge.

Al Qaeda has also been able to justify targeting the United States as revenge for the Dec. 17 attack. In June and July, the AQAP announced that it was planning a "catastrophe for the enemies of God" in response to the Abyan attack, according to Gregory Johnsen, a Princeton doctoral candidate who has done research in Yemen.

That may have been a reference to the two parcels from Yemen to an address in Chicago intercepted Oct. 29, one of which was discovered to have "explosive material".

On May 27, another cruise missile strike killed a popular deputy province chief who was apparently mediating between the Yemeni government and al Qaeda officials. Local tribesmen retaliated by attacking an oil pipeline in the vicinity.

After that strike, the CIA went on the offensive to get the administration to take control of the drones away from the SOF. A series of articles in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press in mid- to late August cited unnamed officials referring to the possibility of CIA drone operations in Yemen.

Col. Pat Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East with operational experience in Yemen, told IPS the CIA had benefited from JSOC stumbling.

"The agency has taken advantage of every criticism of the performance of the SOF as an argument to regain control over cover operations," said Lang.

"The competition between the military clandestine services and the CIA is greater than ever before," Lang told IPS.

But according to U.S. officials quoted in Sunday's Post, ever since the errant late May strike, U.S. drones have been present in the skies over Yemen searching for AQAP targets. The Post reported that the drones are still under the control of JSOC, operating under the overall command of the chief of the Central Command.

The Post article quoted a "senior Obama administration official" as hinting strongly that the CIA's operations branch is lobbying the White House hard for control over the drones in Yemen but not convincing some key officials.

"There are a lot of people who are really feeling good about what they're doing in certain parts of the world," said the official. That was an apparent reference to the drone war in Pakistan, which is run by the CIA's operations directorate.

"But that doesn't mean that, oh, if you'll just let us do this over here, you're going to have a different picture or different results" than the past in Yemen, the official said, clearly referring to the lack of actionable intelligence.

The report suggests that key officials now realise that neither JSOC nor the CIA is going to be able to obtain actionable intelligence on al Qaeda under present circumstances.

Former DIA intelligence officer Lang agrees. He believes the Yemeni Intelligence Service, which is a "very effective secret police force" with "considerable penetration capability", is not fully sharing the intelligence it has on al Qaeda with U.S. officials.

"I'm sure Saleh is concerned about AQAP," Lang said, "but he can't allow himself to be seen as serving the United States." And Saleh may figure that AQAP has penetrated his intelligence service as well, according to Lang.

For the time being, it appears the drone war in Yemen is abeyance. But powerful bureaucratic forces will be continuing to make the case that they can justify the beginning of drone strikes there.

AQAP leaders are hoping to see the U.S. use more military force in Yemen, according to Johnsen. "They would like nothing better than for the U.S. to invade Yemen," Johnsen told IPS. "The more they can show active U.S. intervention, the better it is for them."

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.

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Gareth Porter's article is considerably fine, and he's right about the JSOC-CIA feud being about control of covert ops, covert "black" ops, that is; but, some of the articles I'm providing links and excerpts from will certainly add to what his piece for IPS says.

This post is not for articles about Yemen, but they present relevant questioning and information. My second post, further below, has articles specifically about Yemen. The last three articles referred to in the second post are definitely important, but when getting to the article by F. William Engdahl, then I'd suggest reading the last two (by WSWS writers), first. F. Wm Engdahl's piece provides a more thorough analysis of why the US elites are intensely interested in Yemen.

Check the articles in the second post, first, if wanting to read the articles in the order that's most immediately related to the one by Gareth Porter. The articles of this post are more general in terms of so-called al-Qaeda. Otoh, the first two in this post are short and worth reading before going to my second post. The last article in this post and which is by Peter Chamberlin is of a different order of analysis and can be recommended for reading after having read the others or simply later; but it's definitely worth getting around to reading it.

"To get things right you will need to blame all of Iraq’s calamities on al-Qaeda"

by Fatih Abdulsalam, Azzaman.com, Nov. 8th, 2010

www.uruknet.info/?p=m71641

To blame the latest upsurge in violence in Baghdad on al-Qaeda it means that we are back to the same mantra: you have no right to discuss, no right to criticize or even to interpret because we have nothing to do with it.

No Iraqi official or side is allowed to accuse anyone but al-Qaeda even if terrorist operations were carried out by some other group which had officially claimed responsibility for them.

Everyone in Iraq, including its U.S. occupiers, have locked on one target when it comes to shouldering the responsibility for what is happening in the country. They have al-Qaeda there to blame and accuse of all the dirty policies and actions perpetrated by the various intelligence organizations and the notorious Iraqi sectarian factions.

Let us suppose that al-Qaeda, which has not flinched from bearing full responsibility for horrendous operations, is the organization which has issued the threat against Iraqi Christians.

But we all know that al-Qaeda is an international organization and is present almost everywhere. Why have not we heard of threats to drive Christians out of other Arab or Muslim countries?

Why does not al-Qaeda, which is headed by Ayman al-Dhawahiri, himself an Egyptian, takes revenge on Egyptian Copts, who are Christians, and focuses its attention to force Iraqi Christians to flee the country instead?

We are just hypothesizing and not at all trying to provoke.

But we must admit that there is chaos in the ranks of the government in Iraq and in the direction of the bloody play: that is the church massacre in Baghdad.

The statement the authorities issued about the massacre in the church said: "Five or seven terrorists stormed the church of the Lady of Salvation and all of them were killed in the operation."

We have seen graphic pictures of the hostages on television screens, but we have so far no inkling about these terrorists. Was not it wise to show us their pictures, too. Are not they terrorists? I do not think any human rights organization would have objected to having their pictures shown on television.

Eyewitnesses who escaped the mayhem said the attackers were silent; they did not speak any language; had big bodies armed with weapons; their guns were laser-guided so that they would not miss their targets.

Al-Qaeda admitted in a statement that five of its operatives attacked the church and also claimed responsibility for the subsequent anti-Christian threats.

How come that al-Qaeda is still so strong after five years of its being chased by U.S. and Iraqi troops.

Does not this mean that whatever the government has been saying about its security achievements is hollow?

It is a pity to see that there is not a single person in Iraq with the ability and authority to reveal the details of what has happened.

"Al-Qaeda admitted in a statement ...." Really? Truly Al-Qaeda, which is just a name meaning database, rather than being an actual organization?

"TTP blames US Blackwater for Darra mosque blast"
by Pakistan Observer, PakObserver.net, Nov. 9th, 2010

www.uruknet.info/?p=m71657

Peshawar -- Former spokesman of the banned Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Azam Tariq has denied involvement of his organization in the attack on a Mosque in Dara Adamkhel and alleged that US and Blackwater were responsible for the dastardly act in which many innocent worshippers were perished and sustained injuries. Azam Tariq, who hailed from Dara Adamkhel, in telephones to news agencies from an undisclosed location, denied that the blast was the handiwork of any Pakistani militant group or the banned TTP.

"It is the work of Blackwater," Tariq said in reference to the US security firm renamed Xe. Azam Tariq was active in Dara Adamkhel, his native town but was forced to flee the area after military operation and was presently hiding in Taliban sanctuary in Upper Orakzai and working under the direct command of Chief of TTP Hakimullah Mehsud, the successor of Baithullah Mehsud.

TTP’s second in Command Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud said that Blackwater was behind most of the incidents wherein innocents were targeted. "Blackwater is doing its job of destabilizing Pakistan by targeting Masajids and killing innocent people and putting the blame on the shoulder of Taliban." Wali also blamed media for its partial behavior. "Most of the calls of responsibility of the attacks were fake," Wali said. He said through fake calls, Taliban were held responsible for certain attacks which have nothing to do with the objective of Taliban. (my emphasis added) Wali also urged the media to cover both sides of the incidents and shun its biased policy towards TTP. Elders of Dara Adamkheil said that residents of the area where the blast occurred were pro-government and participated in the military operation against the militants and they suspect Taliban hand in the attack. Defence and security analyst Brig Rtd Mehmood Shah speaking to a private TV channel said that as security forces were conducting search operations in Upper Orakzai against the militants, retaliatory attacks cannot be ruled out.. Shah also said that Azam Tariq might be behind the coward attack. The United States has condemned the two terror attacks on mosques in Darra Adamkhel and Peshawar on Friday, adding that US will continue to work with the government of Pakistan to combat violent extremism and terrorism.

We can definitely expect such statements by the "leadership" of the US, for they've been making war [of] terrorism for the past nearly ten years; actually longer, but I'll keep the post a little shorter by not referring to the earlier part of this history.

If the US really is behind these attacks, then they're covert "black" ops and the US "leadership" is definitely not going to admit to this in public. They'll always publicly use words of condemnation for crimes they're really and most responsible for.

The US is extremely guilty for the death squads in Iraq, while the US and UK are also extremely guilty for covert "black" ops in Iraq. See the posts I've been repeatedly referring to on these two topics about the war on Iraq, posts 3 and 4 in the following page (last article of post 2 is also about death squads).

http://warisacrime.org/content/afghanistan-war-weekly-october-25-2010#co...

Either a lot of what the US war-making and continuing leadership has blamed on so-called al-Qaeda in Iraq, or else every incident the war leadership has blamed on that phantom group, has been part of covert "black" ops by the US.

I don't know how much of the following article is true, for Peter Chamberlin speaks of [many] child suicide bombers and that's something I haven't read, before his piece; having read of many so-called suicide car bombings in Iraq, some suicide bombings in Afghanistan, some in Israel, also, but these were not children bombers. However, if what he says about US history of psychological and/or psychiatric methods to control minds, and everything he says related to that "science" being used for luring socio-psychologically vulnerable people into "black" psyops training to turn people into terrorists or suicide bombers unwittingly, if this is true, then it or a lot of it is probably verifiable. He seems to be truthful about that and the method developed and employed for brainwashing and mind-controlling subjects for them to become terrorists or suicide bombers anyway includes the use of one or more drugs that make subjects highly prone to suggestion and indoctrination.

He provides plenty of links for supporting articles and documents, but some for articles are linked to Uruknet pages that aren't found. I tried Web searches for a couple of those invalid links using the titles that he provides and the articles are found at what perhaps is his Web site or blog. Some of the documents are at US military Web sites, btw.

"Who Is Responsible for Suicide-Bomber Academies?"
by Peter Chamberlin, Nov. 8th, 2010

www.uruknet.info/?p=m71628

That article has embedded videos in it, as well.

One important thing his article strikes me as being missing is the fact that the US has a history of very "black" covert ops in which US forces, f.e., are employed to commit very violent acts that the war leadership of the US always blames on "enemies" of the US and/or West. And while I find the considerably repeated mention of children used for suicide bombings odd due to having hardly heard of this, before, he doesn't say that the "black" psyops program(s) of the US is or would be used only with children. Also, what does he mean by children; what age group is he talking about? Maybe he's speaking of 15-year-olds, who aren't children "in my book", but many Americans even called US troops children during the present war on Iraq.

I'll excerpt a little from the article.

(snip)

Who really is behind the world epidemic of suicide-bombers that plague not only Pakistan, but much of the world? If it was true that the Pakistani Army was really responsible for most of the "Islamic" suicide-bombers as some people claim, then most of the bombings would not be happening there. Whoever perfected the art of suicide-bomber training transplanted the science to multiple countries from a central source.

The frequency of these attacks over the past two or three years has given the Pakistani Army ample opportunity to capture dispatched bombers before they could push their doorbell buttons to Nirvana. They recently captured a bomber training camp in Swat, giving them loads of evidence about the mind-control technicians who ran the camps and the methods that they were using to convince countless Pakistani boys to surrender their precious lives in acts of mass-murder against fellow Muslims. Such was the power of the mind-science being deployed against the boys and through them, against all of Pakistan.

If he is right about most of these bombings happening in Pakistan today and as of recently, then who benefits? The US war-making and profiteering leadership. We know that they've expanded the war into Pakistan and that they clearly have no intention of stopping. Most suicide bombings happening in Pakistan serves their strategic political "need" of "justifying" the US expanding the war into and escalating it in that country. They always need some excuse to give to Americans in order to gain whatever little public support that they can gain for their wars.

(snip)

The next report came from the actual President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov:

He claimed to have proof that that there were only between 50-70 Islamist militants in the entire country and that more than half of them were foreign mercenaries–"Azeris, Turks, Ukrainians, Georgians and Arabs."

Kadyrov made the following specific claims (Google trans.):

"They have formed the Riyadh-Salikhin conditions…."

"They are given some pills, and after the adoption of a man is like a robot, do not think." "They brought the pills from overseas [administered by] highly trained staff of Western specialists that work against Russia."

To state the obvious at this point, all of the previous examples of suicide-bomber training took place in countries targeted by the United States. That is no coincidence, since it was the CIA which perfected the original "Islamist" indoctrination program which is at the core of all these brainwashing programs. The Mujahedeen Textbooks (SEE: A is for Allah, J is for jihad) were the first source to provide the Wahabbi "Islamist" logic, the "logic trap," to the boys of Afghanistan, but in the beginning, there was little need for suicide-bombers with the great abundance of thousands of men and boys in both Pakistan and Afghanistan who were reacy to lay-down their lives for God’s Holy War.

Kadyrov made some important points with his warning. Riyad-us-Saliheen is a condensed version of the Hadith, the oral traditions of Islam; it is also the name of a suicide-bomber Wahabbi cult which plagued Chechnya in the past.

The religious literature is a 1900 verse teaching manual on Shariah Law, the second most popular Muslim book, after the Quran itself. Its popularity suggests that in remote regions it may sometimes be considered a substitute for the Quran, which has only 6236 verses. It may be the source of the flawed fundamentalism taught to jihadis. There has to be a super-condensed version of a Shariah book, which is the one that is memorized by students of the suicide acadamies. This could be it.

The Riyad-us-Saliheen Brigade was a small force of Chechen suicide bombers who were responsible for nearly all of the major terrorist bombings and suicide missions staged in Russia and the Caucasus since 1999, including the Beslan attack. ...

Kadyrov claimed that captured members of this brigade had confessed that Western specialists had given them mind-control drugs, "pills from overseas," which had the effect of making them like robots, who "do not think." This is, once again, another revival of the charge that the CIA is in the wholesale business of mass-producing "Manchurian candidate," terrorist/assassins trained to carry-out planned subversion and destabilization, only this time the reports are coming in from all over the world. Everywhere that you have the phenomenon of militant "Islamists" who stage Shariah-enforcing attacks, you also find reports of the use of special drugs that are being given to the soldiers to pump them up for war.

There are two streams of information which link the United States to the wave of suicide-bombing in Eurasia, the historical record of the creation of the International Islamist Front (otherwise known as "al-Qaeda") and the clinical history of the American G.I. psychological reconditioning programs. Between these two resources, it can be proved beyond doubt that the US military has developed a very effective mind-control science program.

(snip)

Behind closed doors and in the hands of more advanced trainers, grown men have had portions of their own minds erased, as they were transformed into fearless killing machines with the wills of the most psychopathic killers, willing to follow any orders, even those which violate their deepest personal beliefs. My father was one of those guys they tried to fforce into their molds they called, "Real Men," during the Korean War. He was one of the boys whose minds could be destroyed, but their wills could not be easily broken. The damage they did to my father and to thousands of others just like him was just more "collateral damage" on the road to constructing the perfect killing machine.

The Army’s own records provide the evidence of just how far the Army would go in its attempts to create those physically and psychologically enhanced abilities in its forces, even in its covert forces. From the preceding evidence, it seems apparent to me just who to blame for the global network of suicide-academies.

"Al Qaeda in Yemen is "Western-made"
Declaration of Yemeni Prime Minister
"

by Trend News Azerbaijan, Nov. 7th, 2010

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21803

Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Muhammed al-Mujawar said Saturday that al-Qaida was originally a Western-made group and was never created by his country, Xinhua reported according to the state-run Saba news agency.

(snip)

"Al-Qaida was essentially a Western-made group and was never created by Yemen, it is alleged by those who seek to propagate this view internationally about Yemen," Saba quoted Mujawar as saying.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Friday claimed responsibility for the bomb parcels that targeted the United States.

It also said it was behind downing a UPS cargo plane by exploding one of its experimental bomb packages aboard the plane immediately after it took off from Dubai International Airport on Sep. 3, 2010.

According to Saba, Mujawar called on the international community to support his government's continuing efforts to fight al-Qaida regional wing.

Yemen has been exerting efforts to curb terrorist groups, which raised international security concerns again after two parcel bombs were found on U.S.-bound cargo flights from the Arabian peninsula country last week.

As people who read the article by Bill Van Auken at the end of this post will learn, the PM of Yemen is a figure to be deservedly hated and deserves absolutely no support from any other governments!

Re. "The Yemen-based al-Qaida ... on Friday claimed", see the second article quoted in my above post about what the TTP said about US claims that anti-US al-Qaeda and/or Taliban claimed this-that-and-the other bombings in Pakistan, et cetera.

"US 'knew' of al-Qaeda parcel plot"
by AlJazeera, Nov. 4th, 2010

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21764

(snip)

US authorities have said that they knew of al-Qaeda's plans to use international cargo systems several weeks before last week's foiled parcel bomb plot, Al Jazeera has learned.

The authorities are reported to have intercepted packages shipped by the group in September.

"Several weeks ago, we identified packages in transit that appeared to have a connection to al-Qaeda," a US official told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

"We looked at them very closely, and determined they did not contain explosives. We obviously took this earlier event into account in dealing with last week's cargo threat."

The parcel bombs, addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were discovered at a UK airport and in a cargo terminal in Dubai on Friday.

Qatar Airways said the Dubai parcel had been transported on two of its passenger planes from Sanaa via Doha.

Theresa May, Britain's interior minister, said the package intercepted in the UK was powerful enough to bring down the aircraft, while other officials said the device was so sophisticated that it nearly slipped past investigators despite a tip-off.

So she said, but they're only words. As usual, we aren't provided any actual proof that supports her claim. And there are two good articles from WSWS writers ending this post that'll illustrate my criticism about what Theresa May said.

Highly explosive

(snip)

A leading al-Qaeda fighter in Yemen who surrendered to Saudi Arabia last month provided the tip that led to the thwarting of the mail bomb plot, according to Yemeni security officials, The Associated Press (AP) news agency reported on Monday.

The officials said Jabir al-Fayfi, a Saudi who had joined al-Qaeda in Yemen, had told Saudi officials about the plan.

The Yemeni officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the press.

Several tribal leaders with knowledge of the situation, who similarly spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed al-Fayfi's role, AP said.

As always, we're provided [no] proof whatsoever. All of this could be fabrication, meaning not by any real groups or persons opposed to the US and UK crimes against Islam. It definitely is to be expected with this [phony] war supposedly on terrorism while actually being a war of terrorism for global dominance, control of rich energy resources, and so on. Et cetera.

The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan on Monday cited Saudi security officials saying that the kingdom gave US investigators the tracking numbers of the packages.

"The latest announcement about al-Faifi brings to the fore two major issues," Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Sanaa, said.

"One, that Saudi Arabia enjoys unlimited influence and leverage in Yemen. Number two, is it shows that Saudi managed to infiltrate Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

Ahelbarra said that this was something unheard of in the history of al-Qaeda.

(snip)

In a sense, sort of, Hashem Ahelbarra's mistaken about this infiltration being unheard of in the history of al-Qaeda. It was created by the US. It's not quite infiltration, but it's stronger.

But with that said, what's the "major issue" about Saudi Arabian forces having infiltrated so-called al-Qaeda there?

Well, if they did really infiltrate a real al-Qaeda sort of group in Yemen, then Saudi Arabia would've surely been feeding information gained to the US. But it also might not be at all true; the whole above story could be a somewhat sophisticated fabrication while AlJazeera wouldn't know this.

Anyway, we don't know for a [fact] that anything said about so-called al-Qaeda in Yemen or anywhere else is other than a fabrication of the war-making and profiteering elites of the US and allied governments. And another issue can been stated in question form, "Who on Earth ever said that the rotten, criminal government of Saudi Arabia can be trusted about most of its claims and actions?".

There were important articles over the past year or so about Saudi Arabia's crimes in Yemen against Yemenis in a northern part of the country; instead of acting against any so-called al-Qaeda people who were said to be found only in southern Yemen, definitely not in the northern part of the country where Saudi Arabia carried out murderous and destructive military strikes. And the articles said that whatever there was for any al-Qaeda present in southern Yemen, these people, if they really were present there, were relatively few. There were such articles at globalresearch.ca and surely some also at Uruknet.info, probably informationclearinghouse.info, OnlineJournal.com, and some other Web sites.

The following is an article that is definitely to be recommended when referring to the US in and near Yemen.

"The Yemen Hidden Agenda: Behind the Al-Qaeda Scenarios, A Strategic Oil Transit Chokepoint"

by F. William Engdahl, Jan. 5, 2010

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16786

The next is a current article providing analysis.

"Unanswered Questions in the Yemen Terror Scare"
by Barry Grey, WSWS.org, Nov. 1, 2010

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21736

... It is impossible to determine how much is fact and how much is fiction in the ever-expanding claims being made regarding two packages from Yemen allegedly containing high explosives and addressed to two synagogues in Chicago. (my emphasis added)

But the very fact that the decision was made, undoubtedly at a very high level, to give such massive media coverage to the alleged plot — before any concrete details were being reported and entirely on the basis of unsubstantiated claims made by, for the most part, anonymous officials — is sufficient reason to adopt a highly skeptical attitude.

... no trust should be placed in any of the information being given out.

(snip)

Aside from the unsubstantiated character of the claims, a number of contradictions and anomalies remain unexplained. On Friday, MSNBC was deriding the bombs said to have been concealed within toner cartridges as crude and amateurish. CNN was reporting that no explosives of any kind were found in the packages. By Sunday, the US government and the media were describing the bombs as highly sophisticated — the work of professionals.

(snip)

The press is uniformly citing US officials who state that the bomb maker is Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who is named as the chief target of US reprisals, i.e., assassination. Yet in its account, the Times reports, without evidently sensing the contradiction, that this “expert” bomb maker built the “rudimentary” devices used by last year’s unsuccessful Christmas Day bomber in Detroit and a Yemeni suicide bomber who tried and failed to assassinate the head of Saudi intelligence, Mohammed bin Nayef, earlier in 2009.

On Sunday, Brennan said he agreed with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that the package bombs were meant to explode in the air, not at the designated Chicago synagogues. No one, however, has explained why supposedly expert terrorists would flag their own bombs, (my emphasis added) designed to blow up airplanes, by sending them from Yemen to Jewish groups in the US!

Then there is the striking coincidence that the terror scare erupted just two days after the Financial Times carried a front-page article headlined “Chairman of BA Attacks US on Airport Security.” The article cited British Airways Chairman Martin Broughton angrily denouncing US demands for “completely redundant” airport checks and urging the British authorities to stop “kowtowing” to the Americans.

(snip)

It is impossible to know with any certainty whether there is any basis for the official claims, or, if there is a kernel of truth, where fact ends and exaggeration and lies begin. But ... “Who benefits?”

Apart from US air carriers eager to place ever more onerous requirements on their foreign competitors, there are a number of parties that have much to gain from whipping up public fear in general and animus toward Yemen in particular.

It was the Saudis, in the person of intelligence chief Nayef, who reportedly tipped off Washington Thursday about the explosive packages from Yemen. The Saudi sheikdom considers Yemen, with a weak government and a Shia rebellion in its northern regions bordering Saudi Arabia, to be a mortal threat to the stability of its regime. As the Times reported: “The Saudis consider the Qaeda branch in Yemen its biggest security threat and Saudi intelligence has set up both a web of electronic surveillance and spies to penetrate the organization.”

It would therefore be quite possible for Saudi spies to orchestrate the terror scare in order to push Washington to step up its covert operations in Yemen — a country of great strategic interest to the US because it straddles the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea and borders vital oil shipping routes.

As for the US, the sudden emergence of supposed terror threats has become a standard means of disorienting the American people and maintaining social control. In announcing this threat on the eve of an election, Obama is taking a page from the Bush playbook. The Bush White House used terror scares in an attempt to manipulate public opinion on the eve of the elections of 2002, 2004 and 2006.

This year, there is all the more need to distract public attention under conditions of a worsening economic crisis and growing frustration and anger against the entire political establishment. There are, moreover, specific domestic and foreign policy objectives that coincide with the creation of an atmosphere of fear and insecurity.

(snip)

The rest and whole of what the above article says is important information. And regarding what it says about the strategic interest the elites of the US have about Yemen, [see] the article by F. William Engdahl linked further above.

"Obama prepares to expand military attacks in Yemen
by Bill Van Auken, Nov. 2nd, 2010

www.wsws.org/articles/2010/nov2010/yeme-n02.shtml

The Obama administration is preparing to escalate its intervention in Yemen, placing US military units under CIA control to facilitate intensified drone attacks and death squad killings.

Citing unnamed government officials, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the administration has responded to the alleged airplane mail bomb plot by stepping up its consideration of “military options” inside Yemen.

(snip)

What this means in practice is that making the growing intervention in Yemen a CIA operation would allow the Obama administration to cloak in even greater secrecy its escalation in yet another front in the “global war on terrorism.” It would be able to operate with less congressional oversight, while concealing its actions from the American people.

Equally important, placing the operation under the command of the US spy agency would circumvent the need for explicit approval by Yemen’s government. ... the covert character of CIA’s activities would provide both Washington and the corrupt and autocratic regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh with “deniability.”

Popular hostility in Yemen to US operations is overwhelming, forcing Saleh to publicly declare his opposition to foreign military intervention and to refuse permission for some US missile strikes.

(snip)

The Obama administration ordered an increase in US attacks in Yemen following the abortive Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound US passenger jet last December. Now it is invoking the reported discovery of explosives in packages sent from Yemen aboard international air carriers to justify a further escalation.

Both alleged plots have been blamed publicly on the Yemen-based group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Yet both are surrounded by unanswered questions and anomalies.

(snip)

What is suggested in both cases is that these alleged terrorist attempts were staged or allowed to unfold to further the aims of either Washington or another regime in the region. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia, each for its own purposes, want to see a greater US military intervention in Yemen.

In terms of US strategic interests, Yemen’s importance lies in its geography, with the country bordering both Saudi Arabia, the number one oil exporter, and the Bab al-Mandab strait, through which three million barrels of Middle East oil pass daily, bound for Europe via the Suez Canal.

To secure US interests, Washington has aligned itself with one of the most reactionary regimes in the region. Widely hated by the Yemeni people, President Saleh’s government is waging a war in the north of the country against dissident Shia tribes in which thousands of civilians have been killed and over 130,000 driven from their homes. Saudi Arabia, which has backed this military campaign with air strikes and funding, has joined with Saleh in making unsubstantiated claims that Iran is somehow behind the Shiite revolt.

In the country’s south, the government is waging a similarly repressive campaign against a secessionist movement. Until 1990, Yemen was divided into two countries, with the south enjoying the backing of Moscow. With the Stalinist bureaucracy’s move to dissolve the USSR, this support ended, leading to unification. The Saleh government’s ruthless repression of protests against the dismissal of southern government officials and military personnel and other forms of regional discrimination provoked an armed insurgency.

It is largely to secure US backing for these repressive campaigns that Saleh has collaborated with the US “war on terrorism,” directed against Islamist elements with whom the president was formerly allied. The Yemeni government has invoked terrorism as a justification for suppressing all opposition, with the imprisonment, torture and disappearance of political dissidents, journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates.

(snip)

Also provoking opposition and generating support for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the US intervention in the country. Hundreds of US special operations troops and intelligence operatives are deployed in Yemen, carrying out assassination missions and training Yemeni security forces.

US missile attacks, which are apparently now to be escalated, have sparked public outrage. ...

(snip)

In a statement given to the Yemen Observer last Thursday, Sheikh Ibrahim al-Shabwani, brother of the deputy governor killed in the US drone attack, reported that US drones are now flying daily over Marib province.

“The drones are flying over Marib every 24 hours and there is not a day that passes that we don’t see them over Wadi Abida,” said al-Shabwani. ...

The New York Times on Monday quoted unnamed US officials as saying that the Al Qaeda group in Yemen “might pose the most immediate threat to American soil.” Such claims are the likely precursor to a major US military attack.

(snip)

The rest and whole of what the above article says is also important.

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