Leaflets with the oath of loyalty to the military wing of al-Qaeda
According to American intelligence agencies, in the recent six months the influx of new recruits from post-Soviet states of Eurasia to Syria, who want to fight for the establishment of the Caliphate, has significantly reduced. It has occurred after the fall of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and also after a significant weakening of positions of the jihadist group Hay’at Tahrir Al –Sham associated with al-Qaeda.
However, al-Qaeda, via its groups in Central Asia and Caucasus, which are fighting within Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, has developed and actively used new tactics of recruitment and distribution of the radical ideology of jihadism. Since March 2018, two terrorist groups from Central Asia, Katibat Imamal Bukhari and Katibat al Tawhidwal Jihad have started to actively distribute photocopies of leaflets via social media supporting the jihadist line of al-Qaeda.
The leaflets in Russian, Uzbek, Kazakh, Uighur and Tajik advocating the support of pro-al-Qaeda groups in Syria and calling on the continuation of the “jihad to protect Islam” have been regularly published on a Telegram channel. The geography of such leaflet distributors is rather broad. For reasons of security, the leaflets don’t contain full names or surnames of the new supporters of al-Qaeda. Instead, they contain only a region, country, town or village of the leaflet senders. The senders’ addresses imply that the senders reside in Western Europe, Russia, Caucasus, Central Asia and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China.
Despite the fact that leaflets are written in various languages and sent from various regions of the Eurasian continent, the contents of such leaflets are identical.The fundamental idea behind the leaflets is to support the jihadist groups fighting in Syria and to become a member of the main Sunni terrorist organization al-Qaeda.
Thus, March 4, 2018, the Telegram page of Central Asian militants of Katibat al Tawhidwal Jihad contained the leaflet with the following content in Uzbek, “Dear Muslims mujahideen Ahlu al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah! We support the holy struggle pursued by the brave warriors of Allah Hay’at Tahrir Al –Shamon the blessed land of Sham (Syria) against atheists. Your actions are meant to establish the sharia laws on earth. May Allah be pleased with you. Soon we will come to you to support you. Allahuakbar! Tajikistan, Hudjont, 03.04.2018.”
Another leaflet said that “the Muslims in On Adyr micro-district, Osh, Kyrgyzstan, support the mujahideen of Hay’atTahrir Al –Sham. Let Allah give you victory in the war against the crusaders.” Also a leaflet from Dagestan, Russia, has been published with a call to “support the mujahideen of Hay’at Tahrir Al –Shamand a prayer for the early establishment of the caliphate.” Tawhidwal Jihadon his Telegram page has published the photocopies of over 100 leaflets calling to support jihad under the leadership of pro-al-Qaeda groups in Syria. These leaflets have been sent from Moscow, Chelyabinsk of Russian Federation; Jizak, Ferghana, Namangan regions of Uzbekistan, Chimkent, KyzylOrda of Kazakhstan; Uzgen, Osh, Aravan, Nookat, Jalal-Abad of Kyrgyzstan; Ukraine (no town specified), South Korea (no town specified), Western Europe (no state specified) and Jeddah of Saudi Arabia.
The leaflets have been written mainly in Uzbek and Russian by hand by an ordinary pen. There’s no doubt in the authenticity of these leaflets. The grammar of presentation, the authors’ handwriting and the time of publication in the Telegram indicate that the leaflets have been written by different people, at different times and in different countries.
Among the numerous leaflets published by Katibat al Tawhidwal Jihad on the Telegram channel, we have paid attention to those sent from Turkey and Egypt. The leaflet from Turkey was in the form of an Islamic flag of al-Qaeda and contained the promise that “we will soon arrive in Sham and together with the Mujahideen Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham we will sing Takfir (devotion to Allah). And then the dead bodies of the kafirs will lie under our feet.” The leaflet from Cairo was written by hand in literate Arabic, in which the support of al-Qaeda is expressed on behalf of the Mujahideen of Egypt.
Katibat al Tawhidwal Jihad is affiliated with the Jabhat Al-Nusra group and its ancestor Al Qaeda. The leader of the group is the Uzbek jihadist, Abu Saloh. His real name is Sirojiddin Mukhtarov, born in the Osh region of Kyrgyzstan. According to the Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies, in 2014 Abu Saloh was wounded in the eye in fighting against the Syrian governmental forces and then was treated in Turkey. Abu Saloh jointly with the Uighur terrorists from the Turkestan Islamic Party organized the explosion in the Bishkek-based Chinese embassy in August 2016. Also, the Federal Security Service of Russia accuses him of organizing an explosion in the metro of St. Petersburg on April 3, 2017, which killed 15 people, and wounded more than 50 others. The bomb was blown up by a suicide bomber, Akbarjon Jalilov, a 22-year-old native of Kyrgyzstan.
Another jihadist group from Central Asia Katibat Imam al Bukhari, close in its ideological doctrine to al-Qaeda, has also published on its Telegram page many dozens of leaflets. It should be emphasized that the main core of militant groups are nationals of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, who are fighting today in the Syrian province of Idlib in alliance with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham against the regime of Bashar Assad. The leader of Katibat Imam al Bukhari is a native of Tajikistan, ethnic Uzbek, Abu Yusuf Muhojir, who is known for his deep religious knowledge in the field of jihad and devotion to the idea of al-Qaeda. He has trust-based relations with the leadership of the Taliban movement. Some of the militants of the Uzbek group help the Taliban in Afghanistan. But Abu Yusuf Muhojir himself is now in Syria, and he leads the group there.
A leaflet with the al-Qaeda emblem decorated with an Arabic engraving “Allah is Great” was published on the Telegram page of Katibat Imam al Bukhariat the bottom of which is written in Kyrgyz,“By the will of Allah, we love, respect and support the brave lions of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. Soon we will follow the path of jihad, and we will fight shoulder to shoulder with you against the enemies of Islam. Kyrgyzstan, Osh, Nookat. 03.04.2018.”
Similar leaflets in support of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham positions have been widely published on the Telegram by the media structures of Central Asian jihadists JihodShamoli (Wind of Jihad), Sham Ovozi (Voice of Sham) and Tavhid Xabarlari (News of Tawhid).
Tactics of Survival of al–Qaeda
We have quoted the leaflets in detail and tried to reveal their deep meaning so that the counterterrorism experts could understand the ideological tactics pursued by the main Sunni terrorist organization of al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups Hay’at Tahriral-Sham, Katibat Imamal Bukhari and Katibat al Tawhidwal Jihad.
As the analysis shows, the content and ideological platform of all these leaflets are identical. This campaign aims to, first of all, consolidate al-Qaeda supporters in Western Europe, Russia, Central Asian countries, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China and the Middle East.
Internet and social media have become the main tool of virtual consolidation and recruitment for Salafi-jihadi groups, affiliated with al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda recruiting strategy in the regions of Central Asia and Caucasus accepts only ideologically verified people who are directly related to the factions of Katibat al Tawhidwal Jihad, Katibat al-Imam Bukhari, Turkestan Islamic Party and Katibat al-Ghuraba.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is known to strictly observe all the requirements of secrecy (no cell phone, no social media usage, no internet usage, and no emails). Therefore, the ideologists of the leaflet campaign have decided not to mention al-Qaeda in leaflets directly, rather they have organized public and mass support of his fighting wing, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. Despite the latest tactical differences between Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the ideological position of the Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham group today fully corresponds to the position of al-Qaeda.
The new ideological tactics of al-Qaeda proves the statement of the Council on Foreign Relations of the US that“in recent years, al-Qaeda has been quietly rebuilding and fortifying its various branches, systematically implemented an ambitious strategy and discreetly consolidated its influence wherever the movement has a significant presence.”
The wars in Syria and Iraq have shown that al-Qaeda and ISIS have different tactics for using militants from Central Asia in a real battle. ISIS is known for using the militants from Central Asia as cannon fodder, neglecting human lives. In the protection of Mosul and Raqqa, Tajik and Uzbek jihadists have been massively used as suicide bombers who blew themselves up in the name of Allah as martyrs. According to the study of The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, in the ISIS ranks, people from Central Asia were leading in terms of the number of suicide bombers. As a result, more than 80% of the Central Asian militants in the ISIS were destroyed. The surviving militants have managed to move to Afghanistan and rejoin ISIS-Khorasan. Some of them have returned to their countries and surrendered to law enforcement agencies, as a result, many of them were sentenced to prison.
Unlike ISIS, al-Qaeda follows the doctrine of its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who said, “We should adapt to the practical reality wherever it is. We would take into account the circumstances of each jihadist arena and what achieves its interests”.Due to this tactics, al-Qaeda has managed to survive and maintain the efficiency of its groups in Syria, including Katibat Imamal Bukhari and Katibat al Tawhidwal Jihad from Central Asia. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, in Syria alone, al-Qaeda now has upwards of twenty thousand men under arms, and it has perhaps another four thousand in Yemen and about seven thousand in Somalia.
Due to the strategy of adoption to the practical reality, al-Qaeda has survived from unmanned aircrafts, ground clashes with the Assad forces and won in the tough competition with ISIS for the leadership in the global jihad. ISIS no longer can compete with al-Qaeda in terms of influence, coverage of territories, militant force or solidarity. The only trump card of ISIS is its ability to launch transnational terrorist strikes in Europe and USA. Today only due to “lone wolves” ISIS can still maintain its menacing brand and hold intelligence services on western countries in suspense.
Purpose of Leaflet Campaign
The leaflet campaign in support of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham group pursues the three aims that comply with the strategic task ofal-Qaeda.
First, as we have already mentioned, this is a consolidation of supporters and distribution of the al-Qaeda ideology in the post-Soviet territory. Compared to the Arabic countries of the Middle East, African Maghreb, and Southern Asia, the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia and Muslim republics of Russia remain the least exposed to the radical ideology of al-Qaeda. Therefore, al-Qaeda thinks that it’s time for the deeper invasion in the Eurasian region.
Second, the recruitment of new members for Salafi-jihadi groups affiliated with al-Qaeda is an important aim of this leaflet campaign. After the fall ofISIS, many of its supporters and potential jihadists in Central Asia have become confused. In this situation, al-Qaeda has decided to fill in the gap and convert the former ISIS members to their side. Moreover, the war in Syria and Iraq has shown that Central Asia has a good potential for the recruitment of jihadists.
Third, al-Qaeda is intending to open another branch in the post-Soviet area of Central Asia in addition to the five existing branches. These tactics supports the ambitions of al-Qaedato become the leader of the global jihad. After the defeat of ISIS, Ayman al-Zawahiri has turned into a powerful leader able to set strategic tasks and to implement them successfully step by step.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that the main target of al-Qaeda is, according to the will of Bin Laden, the USA and its allies. Therefore, western countries at the head of the US should take the “leaflet campaign” of al-Qaeda seriously because it has far-reaching goals and poses a serious threat to the interests and partners of the USA all over the world.
How AlQaeda and ISIS Teach Central Asian Children: Different Methods, Common Goals
Some Western countries mistakenly think that the al Qaida-linked Salafi-jihadi groups from Central Asia and Chinese Xinjiang are fragmented, weak and less dynamic; therefore they do not pose a big threat compared to the Islamic state.However, in-depth study of their activities and ideological doctrine shows that the Central Asian al Qaida ally groups today are actively engaged in the ideological education of children and youth, which in the future will become faithful fighters of the global jihad.
The following comparison covers the methods of ideological education of Central Asia’s children and youth, and their use by ISIS and al Qaeda to achieve their goals.
It is known that during the bloody reign of the Caliphate, more than 10 thousand citizens from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and the Uyghurs from northwest China fought on the side of ISIS.Many of them made a Hijrah (the migration of Muslims for Jihad) to Iraq and Syria to “protect the values of true Islam” and brought their families with small children there.Subsequently, some of these children entered the battalion ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’ and became protagonists in the Islamic State’s Propaganda.
According to my statistical research, in 2013-2018, more than 55 video, audio, and text materials were released by the Islamic State’s media wings with the participation of Central Asia’s children in Arabic, Uygur, Uzbek, Russian, Kyrgyz, and Tajik.After the fall of the Caliphate, propaganda videos with the participation of Central Asian children almost ceased.But the ideological “virus” ISIS continues its mutation among the youth of the former Soviet republics.
With the diminishing possibilities of the Islamic state’s media resources, the propaganda and ideological activity of the al Qaida-linked Central Asian Salafi-jihadi groups have recently increased in contrast.As is already known, the Uzbek militants of Katibat al-Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) and Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), as well as Uyghur jihadists of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP)from the Chinese province of Xinjiang are affiliated with al Qaeda.All three groups regularly publish propaganda videos of children from the Syrian province of Idlib where they are fighting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.Since 2013, al Qaeda has posted about 30 videos, audio and text materials in which Central Asia’s children made up the main plot.
It should be noted that in Syria and Afghanistan about 200 Uyghur and Uzbek children are now being raised, whose parents are associated with al Qaeda.Many of them came to the Middle East with their parents. However, among them, there are those who were born already in Syria.
Common aspects of the ideological school of al Qaeda and ISIS
Based on a comparative analysis of video, audio and text materials regarding the participation of Central Asian children, it is possible to point out the common and specific aspects of the alQaeda and ISIS ideological schools, and what different methodologies they use in raising children and youth.
The main common characteristic of the curriculum in al Qaeda’s and ISIS’ madrasas is learning the Quran by heart, Tawhid (monotheism), Fiqh (jurisprudence), Salat (prayers), Aqidah (creed), Hadith, and Sura (life of Prophet Muhammad).
The second common feature in the education of Central Asian children in alQaeda and ISIS’ camps is the call to Jihad.The doctrine of Jihad is the main place in the ideology of both Sunni terrorist groups, and accordingly, in the madrasas and training camps, children are brainwashed from early childhood with ideas of holy Jihad.Imams explain to children in detail about all forms of Jihad and the sacred purpose of the Shahid (martyr).As a result, children after training in such religious schools, as a rule, replenish the “reserve fund” of ideologically hardened jihadists.
The difference between alQaeda and ISIS in the education of children and youth
A sharp ideological confrontation between the two main Sunni groups has escalated into armed conflict, which also affects the education of the younger generation of Islamists.To achieve victory in the struggle for hegemony in the global jihadist movement, the ideologists of al Qaeda use all means, including children’s education in madrasas.
Al Qaeda-sympathized Uzbek and Uyghur imams in madrasas in Syria tell children about the enemies of Islam, which they ranked on a par with the “Kafir regimes” of the USA, Russia and China also the Kharijites (those who defected from the Ummah and rebelled against the Caliph) of the Islamic state and its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
KTJ and TIP opened several madrasas to teach their children in Uzbek and Uyghur languages on the territory of the so-called “Liberated land of Sham”, which is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), former al-Nusra Front.KTJ on the Internet often disseminates information about the activities of two madrasas: the Abdullah ibn Abbas Madrasa and the Umar ibn al-Khattab Madrasa.
Also, the Uyghur Salafists of TIP own several madrasas in in Jisr al-Shugur in northwestern Syria.This was possible thanks to the fact that the Uyghur and Uzbek jihadists live compactly and separately in last major rebel stronghold of Idlib.In accordance with the guiding doctrine of al Qaeda, they have skillfully adapted to local conditions, and have virtually no conflicts with the local Arab population.
As is known, during the ideological confrontation, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri accused ISIS of excessive cruelty towards other Muslims, an unjustified using of Takfir (accusation of apostasy), ignoring the high goals of the Shari’a, which split the Mujahideen ranks.In 2015, the ideologues of al Qaeda even published a special book entitled “The Islamic State is the succession of tyranny and corruption,” in which they raised the problem of excessiveness in Islam (Ghulu fid-deen) and called al-Baghdadi to moderation.Zawahiri brought to mind him the Hadith, in which Prophet said: “Beware of ghulu (excessiveness) in religion, for indeed, what devastated those before you was ghulu in religion.”
ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani replied that the Caliphate did not swear al Qaeda because it was not appropriate for the State to swear organizations. As a result, ISIS began to use mass executions and public beheadings with incredible cruelty.Unlike ISIS, al Qaeda advocated a more gentle approach to convince local Muslims to accept its views and not force them to do.Ayman al-Zawahiri noted that it is impossible to unite Muslims, trying to impose their power on them with the help of violence.
Indeed, during the peak of his reign in 2015–16, ISIS released dozens of videos with the participation of Central Asian children, who not only taught the Quran in the madrasas, but also cut off the heads of prisoners, executed “kafirs”, and blew themselves up as martyrs. Central Asia’s children were integrated into the military machine of the Caliphate as cruel executioners and suicide bombers, becoming an ideological tool in the struggle for leadership in the global jihad.
The ideological differences between the Islamic state and al Qaeda manifested themselves with the example of teaching children in madrasas.The Uyghur and Uzbek jihadists of TIP, KTJ and KIB, in organizing the teaching of children in the madrasas, took into account the recommendations of their spiritual leader Zawahiri to show a sense of practicality, pragmatism and not to demonstrate excessive cruelty.
When analyzing video plots, the “peaceful nature” of the educational process stands out and the excessive cruelty of the students of the madrasa does not appear.For example, in the Abdullah ibn Abbas Madrasa, in addition to studying the Quran, children also study mathematics, Arabic and Uzbek languages, military science and sports.Imam says that the madrasa is fully equipped with books and textbooks, and books on the Uzbek language brought from Central Asia.According to him, the goal of training is to bring up a new generation of educated and highly intelligent warriors of Allah so that in the future they can resist the technological know-how of the West and defeat the enemies of Islam.
Another video shows the educational process in the Umar ibn al-Khattab Madrasa, where the Uzbek children study among local Arab children. For Uzbek children, a bus-service has been organized that to take and pick children up from Madrasa.
On October 29, 2018, TIP published a video entitled “Protectors of the Quran”, where Uighur children demonstrate excellent knowledge of the Quran, social science classes, swimming in the pool, exercise and military training.The Imam tells them about the atrocities of the Chinese authorities against the Uyghur Muslims and sets the task that they must liberate the lands of East Turkestan from the yoke of Beijing in the future.An analysis of these videos shows that in madrasas, the learning process is organized according to the concept of al Qaeda and the upbringing of children is conducted according to its ideology.
The USA is the main enemy for al Qaeda-backed Central Asia’s jihadists
The fall of the Caliphate revealed that Ayman al-Zawahiri had strategically calibrated the priorities of al Qaeda and its affiliated groups from Central Asia, and managed to implement an action plan that allowed them to survive in the struggle for leadership of the global jihad.For him, it is important not the seizure of territories or the creation of his own state with Sharia rule, but the process of jihad against the USA and its allies, and the widespread of al Qaeda ideology in the Islamic world.
Al Qaeda’s tactic is that it tries not to draw enemy’s fire, slyly and prudently leads the game on its own survival, fundamentally creates its own ideological infrastructure and persistently teaches the next generation of jihadists.
The activities of TIP, KTJ and KIB showed that over the past five years the influence of al Qaeda among the Salafis of Central Asia has increased significantly. There is not only the rejuvenation of al Qaeda militants, but also the ideology of global jihadism is rejuvenating.
In his manifest address named General Guidelines for Jihad, Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined al-Qaida’s priority task of fighting against the far enemy – the United States and its allies.According to him, the local regimes and other Islamic movements (Rawafidh, Ismailis, Qadianis, and deviant Sufis, etc.) are nearby enemies for Al Qaida. He urged not to attack the “nearby enemies”, but instead focus on fighting the “far enemy.”
There is no doubt that TIP, KTJ and KIB will firmly adhere to the strategic line designated by Zawahiri.For them, the main priority remains a blow to the US and its military, diplomatic missions near the conflict zones in the future.But they are not in a position to carry out such an operation now and so far securely hide their true intentions.Therefore, the US should not underestimate the potential threat posed by the al Qaeda-affiliated Central Asian Salafi-jihadi groups
The relations between Malta and Libya and economic crimes inside Libya
Since the beginning of hostilities against Gaddafi, operations – carried out mainly by the French intelligence services -started from Malta to send weapons, intelligence, instructors and trainers to the “rebel” forces in Cyrenaica who were fighting the Rais.
The French military reached the coast of Benghazi with two nuclear submarines and the Brigade Action of the intelligence services, while the links had already been established abroad, and sometimes just outside Rome – even with the help of the United States.
I also watched the first internal documentaries of the anti-Gaddafi rebel forces, trained with materials and means which were usually available to the best hit squads of the Western intelligence services.
It was hard to believe how the Libyan “rebels” were so able to use very refined weapons.
The French agents also used “covert” flights to monitor the arrival and distribution of weapons, especially to avoid they could end up in the hands of the wrong people. Since the first attacks in Tripoli, the French agents had also provided to their “rebels” as many as 9.1 billion US dollars of weapons and had later continued to supply other weapons to their local champions, for large sums of money and always using Malta as a base.
The preferred channel of the French agents was General Abdul Fatah Younis Al Obeidi, who had been the Head of the Libyan National Liberation Army, a force of Cyrenaica made up of approximately 13,000 soldiers originated from a tribal rebellion within Gaddafi’s army.
Yunis Al-Obeidi, however, had been murdered on July 28, 2011 near Benghazi.
As reported at the time, he had probably been killed by jihadists, who had already penetrated the pro-Western “rebel” armies – a 1968-style stupid terminology that immediately reveals what the operational and intelligence culture of Western politicians is.
Nevertheless, according to Wikileaks data, the United States also knew that Yunis was a very secret contact with Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, while it was very likely that the 9 billion US dollars for the French weapons sold to Malta came from Gaddafi’s frozen accounts in Belgian banks – accounts not yet fully investigated.
On the one hand, France was afraid that – after the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, the various Libyan “revolutionaries” could carry out a series of terrorist actions directly in France, but hence why promoting the anti-Gaddafi insurgency? We will never know.As Ennio Flaiano used to say, also stupidity has its mysteries and unfathomable depths.
On the other hand, France heavily controlled the migrant networks, already active at the time, and finally selected their forces of reference mainly to avoid the US hegemony in the fight against Gaddafi.
Nevertheless, everything started from Malta, which always acted as a support base and a remote intelligence and economic control area.
In fact, since its establishment, the Government of National Accord (GNA) secretly granted to France 35% of Libyan oil to thank it for its support in the “liberation” struggle. A 35% which added to the already used 15% of oil processed regularly by Total, much more linked to the French intelligence services than ENI is to the Italian ones.
France officially supports the National Transitional Council of Libya (NTC) (as well as Khalifa Haftarin Cyrenaica) and, in fact, believes that the issue of migrants – which financially also takes place in Malta – shall be central to Libya’s future economy: in fact, France believes that the issue must be solved only on the spot, namely in Libya.
This means that the refugees present on the Libyan territory, who possibly passed through the areas controlled by the French Armed Forces to Agadez and elsewhere between Chad, Niger and Mali, can be divided as it still happens today: since 2011 as many as 696,000 migrants have fled to neighbouring countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Chad, Algeria and Sudan, while other 30,000 ones have left, by sea, to Italy or to Malta.
The migration issue that is solved on its own and to Italy’s detriment – this is the French strategic idea.
Many other migrants have reached Italy through other ways, often certainly not unknown to many of its traditional allies in Europe.
Great Britain, the other actor of the anti-Gaddafi conflict besides France, carried out a set of military actions between Zilla and Southern Libya – starting from Malta and with a series of forward bases along the coast – to collect and expatriate mainly non-British oil workers – the imaginary core of some hit squads active in the anti-Gaddafi “revolution”.
Coincidentally, the airlift – useful for 150 foreign operators in the Libyan desert – was always based in Malta.
The Libyan oil smuggling from the coast of Tripolitania and Sirte to many small ports in Malta continues – a trafficking that, under the cover of the Sicilian Mafia and of some Maltese politicians and members of Parliament, has permitted annual earnings of over 82 million euros.
This was exactly what the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had been dealing with before being killed in a car bomb attack – a technique well known to the Sicilian Mafia clans.
The oil is supposed to come from the port of Zuwara, mainly with the support of Ben Khalifa’s Libyan militia, but the oil hidden in vessels suitable for fishing and later sent off Malta’s coast – with ship-to-ship transfers – arrives at the ports controlled by the same Maltese company and is distributed throughout Europe in a traditional way.
The Maltese fishermen of Marsaxlokk have often noted how the ship-to-ship exchange of oil cargoes has never been stopped by the Maltese maritime police authorities, while the (fake) certificates held by the oil traffickers refer to products originating from “Saudi Arabia”.
Moreover, the Italian law enforcement agencies have well-grounded reasons to believe that the fake certificates have been regularized by a Maltese notary public and also signed by a Director of the Maltese Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
All this in favour of well-known Mafia families and clans from Catania.
According to local insurance experts, oil smuggling costs Libya at least 750 million US dollars a year, which is equivalent to the commercial tampering of 35-40% of the Libyan oil extracted every year.
Another issue to be analyzed in depth at the next conference on Libya.
Furthermore, the Italian and non-Italian investigators report that the Maltese smugglers, jointly with many Libyan ringleaders, always devise new traffic routes and new methods to conceal their trafficking, with a route that currently prefers the small ports in Southern Spain so as to later head for Cyprus.
Initially, until 2011 hashish left mainly from the Moroccan coast, with small ships (as is currently the case for migrant trafficking) and arrived directly on the Southern or Eastern-Southern coasts of Spain.
After the famous “revolution” against Gaddafi, currently all hashish leaves from Tobruk, where the big stacks of hashish for smoking are stored and protected by local militiamen.
Then the Sicilian Mafia clans distribute these loads in Italy and in the rest of Europe.
Nowadays, however, there is still something new: while, in the past,drugs were brought to Europe by large ships, often owned by Syria, now the small loads of drugs are transferred from the Libyan to the European coasts by Italian or Maltese fishing vessels, which later leave their royalties in the Maltese banks.
The mechanism is always the same: on the high seas, hashish is transferred from smaller to larger ships.
The same holds true for the illegal trafficking of cigarettes- an old Mafia business which, however, is always a source of excellent profits.
In this case, the third port used by smugglers is still the port of Bar in Montenegro.
It was the area where Slobodan Milosevic was hidden, while everyone was looking for him elsewhere, although NATO knew where he was.
In the past, smuggling – somehow permitted by Gaddafi for his most trusted friends – was mainly related to lawful goods, but rare on the Libyan market, while – after 2011 – smuggling has been no longer focused only on goods not available on the Libyan market, but rather on clearly illegal goods (weapons, drugs) and migrants.
The Libyan economy, however, is still a war economy, where the predatory and violent actions prevail over all the others.
Nevertheless, it is above all the smuggling of migrants that is still essential for Libya’s internal economy, regardless of the area considered.
In fact, in 2017 the Libyan factions obtained almost one billion US dollars from migrant trafficking, while in the current year they have already gained 985,000 dollars of net income, by using other routes and other methods.
According to the Libyan offices, 30% of the oil used for transport is traded illegally, with as many as 105 phantom distributors, while the oil for other types of consumption is traded illegally via Darfur or South Sudan to the sub-Saharan rich marketnot covered by large distributors.
Diesel is usually stolen at sea and later sold to Italian and other European distributors by people in contact with the Libyan gangs.
Every year 18% of the proceeds from Libyan oil is hence left in the hands of smugglers.
With specific reference to drugs, after 2011 Libya has become a point of transit, but also of consumption (as is currently the case with Afghanistan), particularly for heroin and cocaine, while there are signs that the internal market for methamphetamines is spreading, which are widely traded also towards Italy and the Spanish ports.
Moreover, the executives of the Central Bank of Libya in the Tobruk Parliament have accused as many as 24 foreign companies and 44 Libyan companies of being involved in currency trafficking from the areas for cash collection in Libya to the Maltese banks and, sometimes, to Cypriot and Spanish banks.
Hence this is the link between the EU illegal economies and the criminal economies of Libya, divided into factions fighting one another at military, but above all at economic levels, while the State disappears or is divided into two parts.
Cyber Terrorism and its Securitization in Pakistan
One of the biggest threat of 21st century is terrorism, all states whether developing or underdeveloped are equally getting affected by it. The alarming new component of terrorism is its spread in cyber space. Cyber space is a virtual world where all essential sectors of national life of state have presence and thus, it makes it an attractive target for terrorist groups which are driven by political agenda. The common difficulty in identification of terrorist is that they blend in with general population and are thus harder to identify. This benefit of anonymity is also present in cyber space that terrorist are utilizing all over the world to spread their ideology, carry out their recruitment process and to generate funding.
In this era of globalization cyber space allows a person sitting in one end of the world to carry out action in other part of the world without even being identified. All person might need to carry out such an action is access to information technology and knowhow. Owning to the fact that information technology is easily accessible and its knowhow is not some secret, makes it excellent medium for state and non-state actors to carry out malicious activities against other states and non-states actors. Threat of terrorism or cyber terrorism is from which no country is safe, even most secure countries with world largest armies. However, countries such as Pakistan which are unfortunate to be located in a region that is prone to all types of conflicts whether they are traditional or non-traditional; are more exposed to threats like cyber terrorism. According to scholars cyber terrorism could be defined as “Cyber terrorism is socially or politically illegal attack on computers, network systems and stored information for political gains”. Although, there are no mass events of cyber terrorism reported in Pakistan but according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Pakistan is the second most spied on country and NSA has intercepted more than 13.5 billion pieces of information from Pakistan. But, if one talks about cyber terrorism specifically in Pakistan, many terrorist organizations are running their recruitment pages and financial set-up electronically.
These groups and their online presence is serious issue because through these pages, websites, blogs and video they spread hate, sectarianism, violence and messages to overthrow the governments. Absence of strong filters and blocking mechanisms is helping these organizations to carry on their malicious activities. Pakistan is already fighting against terrorism by conducting military operations on state level. In future when it would become harder for terrorists to launch physical activities against state they will move towards the unguarded territory of cyber space. So, it is necessary for Pakistan to nip the evil in the bud.
So far to stop the cyber terrorism different govt. in Pakistan have taken few actions but most of these actions are to regularize different crimes that are taking place in realm of cyber space. Such initiatives include Pakistan Telecommunication Reorganization Act 1996, Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002, Payment systems and Electronic Fund Transfer Act 2007, Electronic Crime Ordinance 2007, Cyber Security Strategy Bill, Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill and National Action Plan.
However, due to lack of proper institution handling emerging threats in cyber space implementation of these legislative measures is very weak reason being the politicization of the issue of cyber security rather than its securitization. It is true that security measures taken by states in arena of cyber security fall under the grey area where they step on the human liberties but security comes with the price. To securitize Pakistani society from the evil of cyber terrorism it is necessary that strong executive measures shall be taken, separate institutions shall be made to handle all threats emerging from cyber space because one small branch under one federal investigation authority is not dynamic enough to handle threat of cyber terrorism.
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