The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Al-Qaeda is creating its most powerful stronghold ever in north-west Syria at a time when world attention is almost entirely focused on the impending defeat of Isis in the east of the country. It has established full control of Idlib province and of a vital Syrian-Turkish border crossing since July. “Idlib Province is the largest... Read More
On Friday, the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, used his first trip abroad to present Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef with the CIA’s highest award for fighting terrorism, the George Tenet Medal. Although the ceremony wasn’t covered by any of the major media, it was picked up on various blogsites where the... Read More
They have done it again. The US, Britain and regional allies led by Saudi Arabia have come together to intervene in another country with calamitous results. Instead of achieving their aims, they have produced chaos, ruining the lives of millions of people and creating ideal conditions for salafi-jihadi movements like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. The... Read More
The Islamist group is receiving support from Sunni tribes, and offering a sanctuary for Western jihadists such as the...
Al-Qaeda in Yemen is becoming more powerful because it provides the troops for a Sunni community that feels under increasing threat from a Shia insurgency that has seized much of the country. Its increased strength has nothing to do with foreign jihadists like Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who killed 12 people in Paris last weekand... Read More
Exhaustion could end Syria's bloody civil conflict, so long as foreign backers really want it
It has been a good week for those who like their hypocrisy neat and straight from the bottle. There was US Secretary of State John Kerry condemning the Syrian presidential election in which Bashar al-Assad was re-elected for a third time against nominal opposition as "a great big zero". But at the same time, the... Read More
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Our foreign correspondent's investigation into the jihadi resurgence
Twelve and a half years after 9/11, al-Qa’ida-type organisations control an area the size of Britain in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Include Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia and the territory they rule is larger in size than the UK. What is so extraordinary – and blameworthy – is that this vast expansion of jihadist groups... Read More
In the final part of his series, Patrick Cockburn explains how Sunni fundamentalist groups are successfully winning...
Since 9/11, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ have justified their mass interception of their citizens’ private communications by claiming that this helps them to identify “terrorists”. At the same time, the US Treasury has made great efforts to detect and block financial donations to al-Qa’ida-type movements across the world. But, given... Read More
In the fourth of his series about the resurgence of al-Qa’ida, Patrick Cockburn examines how Islamists have turned the...
Just after the sarin poison gas attacks on rebel-held districts of Damascus in August last year, I appeared on an American television programme with Razan Zaitouneh, a human rights lawyer and founder of the Violations Documentation Centre, who was speaking via Skype from the opposition stronghold of Douma in East Damascus. She gave a compelling,... Read More
In the third part of his series, Patrick Cockburn looks at the growing influence of Isis, al-Qa’ida’s force in Iraq,...
Events in Iraq are not always what they seem: take two occurrences over the past year illustrating the difference between appearance and the reality in Iraq. The first event took place outside Fallujah after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, aided by tribal militias, took over... Read More
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The role of Saudi Arabia as the jihadists’ greatest ally – will the kingdom be forced to change tack in the face of...
It is a chilling five-minute film made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), showing its fighters stopping three large trucks on what looks like the main highway linking Syria and Iraq. A burly bearded gunmen takes the ID cards of the drivers who stand nervously in front of him. “You are... Read More
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In 2014 al-Qa’ida-type groups are numerous and powerful… In other words, the ‘war on terror’ has demonstrably failed
It is now 12-and-a-half years since the September 11 attacks that put al-Qa’ida firmly on the map of global terrorism. The US has spent billions of dollars on its ‘war on terror’ to counter the threat and succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden three years ago. And yet al-Qa’ida-type groups are arguably stronger than ever... Read More
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How did al-Qaida, a tiny anti-Communist group in Afghanistan that had no more than 200 active members in 2001 become a supposed worldwide threat? How can al-Qaida be all over the Mideast, North Africa, and now much of black Africa? This after the US spent over $1 trillion trying to stamp out al-Qaida in Afghanistan... Read More
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The White House is pushing hard to keep a significant number of American soldiers in Afghanistan contrary to President Barack Obama’s earlier pledge to have then all out by the end of 2014. As the United States President has demonstrated himself to be a habitual liar that failure to connect promises made in 2008 with... Read More
It was 12 years ago today. Historians will register that, according to the official narrative, 19 Arabs armed with box cutters and minimal flying skills pledged to a transnational Terror Inc turned jets into missiles to attack the US homeland, fooling the most elaborate defense system on Earth. Fast forward to 2013. Here's a 15-second... Read More
When the going gets tough, count on the Ministry of Truth to get going. The end of Ramadan was imminent. The jihadi chattering classes of that fuzzy entity, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), went on overdrive. It was jailbreak galore from Libya to Pakistan via Iraq. And all this in perfect synch with two... Read More
Hi, my name is Mostafa and I'll be your moderate insurgent today. I'm addressing you all because we badly need your help. We could have started a Facebook page, like We Need Your Weapons or something, or ask the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to make a YouTube video, but I prefer to speak straight... Read More
PARIS - And now some breaking news coming from the Islamic Emirate of Syriastan. This program is brought to you by the NATOGCC corporation. Please also tune in for a word from our individual sponsors, the United States government, Britain, France, Turkey, the House of Saud and the Emir of Qatar. It all started early... Read More
And the winner of the Oscar for Best Sequel of 2013 goes to... The Global War on Terror (GWOT), a Pentagon production. Abandon all hope those who thought the whole thing was over with the cinematographic snuffing out of "Geronimo", aka Osama bin Laden, further reduced to a fleeting cameo in the torture-enabling flick Zero... Read More
NEW YORK - In David Cronenberg's awesome Cosmopolis (France/Canada, 2012), based on the homonymous novel by Don DeLillo, young billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattison) slowly cruises New York in his white limo, installed in a cushy leather throne with incrusted screens. He feels … nothing; he essentially sucks up the world into his own inertia.... Read More
Once upon a time, early in the previous century, a line in the sand was drawn, from Acre to Kirkuk. Two colonial powers - Britain and France - nonchalantly divided the Middle East between themselves; everything north of the line in the sand was France's; south, it was Britain's. Many blowbacks - and concentric tragedies... Read More
His name is Abdelhakim Belhaj. Some in the Middle East might have, but few in the West and across the world would have heard of him. Time to catch up. Because the story of how an al-Qaeda asset turned out to be the top Libyan military commander in still war-torn Tripoli is bound to shatter... Read More
It may be comforting to learn - once again thanks to WikiLeaks - that the United States State Department knows as much as any AfPak informed observer has known for years; that private donors, non-governmental organizations, madrassas and businesses from Saudi Arabia are ATMs for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. But... Read More
Anyone aware enough to think that Washington's goal is not to "win" the unwinnable AfPak quagmire but to keep playing its bloody infinite war game forever is now eligible for a personal stimulus package (in gold). Let's review the recent evidence. All of a sudden, the White House, the Pentagon and the United States House... Read More
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it … For the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state. - Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels On the same day that United States... Read More
One may be tempted to evaluate American foreign policy as concocted by some deviant disciple of cinema exploitation genius Russ Meyer - of Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill! fame - minus the profusion of breasts, of course. And so as that self-appointed court stenographer Bob Woodward reveals in his latest court opus Obama's Wars - conveniently... Read More
Intricate shadowplay surrounds the (failed) smoking sports utility vehicle Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Earlier in 2010, the Central Intelligence Agency warned al-Qaeda might try an attack inside the US "within the next six months". It did happen - like clockwork - with the added bonus that the alleged perpetrators are even more convenient than... Read More
They were two Chechen “Black Widows” with dark hair, Caucasus features, not older than 25. They were trained by al-Qaeda Arabs, led by Abu Hanifah, in the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan, alongside a bunch of Chechens and Uzbeks who came from Turkey - all part of a long-range al-Qaeda plan to wreak permanent... Read More
Like an ever-profitable horror B-movie franchise, the al-Qaeda myth simply refuses to die. United States intelligence has now focused its lasers on the alleged 300 al-Qaeda jihadis concealed in Yemen's craggy, rural Maarib province - as much as the Pentagon has deployed infinite might to find those maximum 100 prowling the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan.... Read More
HONG KONG - One's got to hand it to failed underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab. He is the real Man of the Year. With a single twitch of his lower parts, the now iconic young Nigerian single-handedly not only forced the Barack Obama administration to unleash tight airport security measures, a new virtual striptease craze... Read More
The United States is in the midst of the most serious unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, and US President Barack Obama is following George W Bush in lavishing trillions of dollars on a few big banks. American taxpayers got nothing. Now, they get the cherry in the cheesecake; Obama escalating his war in Afghanistan.... Read More
Is United States President Barack Obama telling it like it is as far as his new strategy for the Afghanistan and Pakistan war theater - AfPak, in Pentagonspeak - is concerned? There are reasons to believe otherwise. Obama's relentless media blitzkrieg stressed the new strategy is refocusing on al-Qaeda. Washington, we got a problem. Why... Read More
Afghanistan is not only the graveyard of empires; it's a graveyard of misconceptions. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden believed that the mujahideen single-handedly defeated the Soviet empire; so a more compact mujahid band, al-Qaeda, would be the vanguard in defeating the American empire. It was never that simple. In the United States, the myth rules... Read More
WASHINGTON - Seven years after bringing down steel buildings with jet fuel - using planes as missiles - and outwitting the most high-tech air force and the most protected airspace in the world for nearly two hours, the historic al-Qaeda leadership is "celebrating" 9/11 with an hour-and-a-half video special titled "Seven Years of Crusades". Washington,... Read More
WASHINGTON - Seven years after bringing down steel buildings with jet fuel - using planes as missiles - and outwitting the most high-tech air force and the most protected airspace in the world for nearly two hours, the historic al-Qaeda leadership is "celebrating" 9/11 with an hour-and-a-half video special titled "Seven Years of Crusades". Washington,... Read More
WASHINGTON - Al-Qaeda is back - with a vengeance of sorts. Listen to Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed - a senior al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan, in a very rare interview with Pakistan's Geo TV, shot in Khost, in eastern Afghanistan. "At this stage this is our understanding - that there is no difference between the American people... Read More
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama is the man with the plan for Iraq and Afghanistan. Presidential in tone and delivery, quoting Harry S Truman and Dean Acheson, George Kennan and George Marshall - the greatest generation - Obama, in a major foreign policy speech in Washington on Tuesday, outlined what he calls... Read More
In a make-believe world where the green, green grass of the "surge" is alive with the sound of music, the George W Bush administration and US counterinsurgency ace General David Petraeus - not to mention presidential candidate Senator John McCain - keep assuring American public opinion the "surge" (now reconverted into a "pause") is working.... Read More
"And among the most important items contained in [President George W] Bush's speeches since the events of the 11th [September 11, 2001] is that the Americans have no option but to continue the war. This tone is in fact an echoing of the words of neo-conservatives like [Vice President Dick] Cheney, [former defense secretary Donald]... Read More
In 2002, in the runup to the war against Iraq, the George W Bush administration changed the subject from its failure to destroy al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. In 2007, in the run-up to the coming war against Iran, the administration has changed the subject from its abject... Read More
BAGHDAD - The breaking news came around noon, on state-run Al-Iraqiya TV, and it hit the Shi'ite slum, Sadr City, as well as the rest of Baghdad, as a new "shock and awe": Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, popularly known in Baghdad as Abu al-Masri, the Egyptian-born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, had been killed in... Read More
Waterboarding involves being bound upside down to an inclined board, head wrapped in cellophane. Fear of drowning is inevitable and kicks in after just a few seconds. Waterboarding was widely practiced by US-advised military dictatorships in Latin America during the 1970s. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) customers to waterboarding usually don't last more then 14 seconds... Read More
DUBAI - Welcome to the ultimate sociopolitical model for the 21st century: a Blade Runner-esque melting pot of neo-liberalism and "subterranean" economy, Sunni Arab Islam and low taxes, souks and artificial islands, a giant warehouse and a tourist paradise, life in the fast lane and post-modern slavery. The model spells out an apolitical, consumer-mad, citizenship-free... Read More
TEHRAN - A specter haunts the Middle East - at least in the minds of Sunni Arabs, especially Wahhabis, as well as a collection of conservative American think tanks: a Shi'ite crescent, spreading from Mount Lebanon to Khorasan, across Mesopotamia, the Persian Gulf and the Iranian plateau. But facts on the ground are much more... Read More
"This message is the final warning to European states. We want to give you a one-month deadline to bring your soldiers out from the land of Mesopotamia." - Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, July 16 BRUSSELS - The European Union will be waiting, breathlessly, for this deadline set by the al-Qaeda-connected Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades -... Read More
BRUSSELS - The battle over the future of global Islam will be fought and decided in Europe. Whether or not it is responsible for the attacks on London, the al-Qaeda nebula is now configured as a relentless jihadi recruitment mechanism, profiting from the fact that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has been added... Read More
BRUSSELS - It's blowback time. There had to be a day when Baghdad, Fallujah, Najafa and Jenin reached London, and the "collateral damage" was on "our side". If one of the concentric circles in the al-Qaeda nebula really did perpetrate the synchronized London bombings, this spells a failure in the "war on terror". But maybe... Read More
Last Saturday, at 11am Baghdad time, the door of an underground cell was opened and "number 5 and number 6" were ordered to go the toilet - the same ritual they had been following since January 5. But only a few seconds later a guard muttered what they must have interpreted as a magic spell:... Read More
Al-Qaeda and all the other components of the Salafi-jihadi (or Islamist) front are on the verge of scoring a major double blow. Unlike September 11, now their fight not only is being recognized by top Islamic scholars as legitimate, but they have also managed to capitalize on major blunders in the "war on terror" to... Read More
The Bush administration's iron-clad spin is that it is winning the "war on terror". Then comes a problem: the recently created (by a George W Bush executive order) National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) states there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985. So what does the State Department do? Secretary of... Read More
"In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard. It's ... and it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work. We're making progress. It is hard work." -... Read More
PastClassics
How America was neoconned into World War IV
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Our Reigning Political Puppets, Dancing to Invisible Strings