Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s annual rally to mark the storming of the US embassy and hostage-taking of 1979 had particular significance on Sunday on the eve of renewed sanctions by Washington.
Thousands joined rallies in Tehran and other cities, carrying placards that mocked President Donald Trump, wiping their feet on fake dollar bills, and engaging in the usual ritual of burning the US flag.
This year’s 39th anniversary fell just hours before Washington was set to reimpose sanctions — including an oil embargo — following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this year.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, addressed the crowd from the grounds of the former embassy, now known as the “den of spies”.
He said “economic warfare” was a final bid by Washington to overthrow the Islamic republic after decades of failed attempts.
“With God’s help and the resistance and perseverance of the pious and revolutionary people of Islamic Iran, this last weapon of the enemy — the economic war — which is accompanied by America’s widespread media operation against the nation of Iran, will be defeated,” Jafari said.
“Never threaten Iran,” he warned US President Donald Trump, describing him as America’s “strange president”.
The seizure of the US embassy by radical students was a key stage in the Islamic revolution of 1979, leading to a 444-day hostage crisis that permanently damaged relations between Washington and Tehran.
The students believed the US would launch a counter-coup to return deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power — similar to the CIA-backed coup that overthrew Iran’s elected government in 1953 — unaware that the king was already critically ill with cancer.
Several of the students later regretted the incident, but for the establishment it has become a powerful symbol of Iran’s refusal to be dominated by outside powers, the key driving force of the revolution.
Without the attack on the embassy, “the revolution would not have reached its 40th year,” said Jafari.
Thirty-five years ago, two suicide bombers killed 241 American and 58 French military personnel, as well as six civilians, in Beirut, Lebanon. The attack marked the largest single-day loss for US servicemen since the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive.
playU.S. Marines with the School of Infantry-East Color Guard stand at parade rest during a wreath laying ceremony on the anniversary of the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on Camp Geiger, N.C., Oct. 23, 2015.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by SOI-East Combat Camera Cpl. Andrew Kuppers/ Released)
Thirty-five years ago, two suicide bombers killed 241 American and 58 French military personnel, as well as six civilians, in Beirut, Lebanon. The incident marked the largest single-day loss for the US military since the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive.
The horrific Oct. 23, 1983 attack on the multinational peacekeepers, an attack purportedly perpetrated by the Iranian-funded terrorist organization Hezbollah, was especially devastating for the US Marine Corps, which lost 220 service members. The Corps had not suffered such a loss since in one day since Iwo Jima. Eighteen US Navy sailors and three Army soldiers were also killed in the Beirut barracks bombing, and dozens of others were injured.
The deadly blast, characterized by the FBI as the largest non-nuclear explosion they’d ever seen, came just a few months after the April 18, 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Lebanon, where an extremist killed 63 people, including 17 Americans.
In 1982, the US decided, at the request of the Lebanese government, to send US troops to Lebanon to serve as peacekeepers in the bloody Lebanese Civil War between warring Muslim and Christian factions. The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was deployed to Beirut in the spring of 1983.
US forces, along with their French and Italian counterparts, achieved some initial success in Lebanon, but the Muslim factions in the country began to turn their aggression toward the foreign troops.
playLance Corporal David Chapman of Pennsylvania, right, fires from his sandbagged bunker position at Beirut’s International Airport
At 6:22 a.m. on Oct. 23, 1983, a truck laden with thousands of pounds of explosives slammed into the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine headquarters at the airport in Beirut.
playThe explosion of the Marine Corps building in Beirut, Lebanon, created a large cloud of smoke that was visible from miles away.
(Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort)
The driver, said to be a Iranian national, detonated the explosives, collapsing the four-story barracks.
playRescue workers remove the body of a U.S. Marine from the rubble of the Marine Battalion headquarters at Beirut airport.
American troops were buried in the rubble. “Bodies were lying around all over,” one rescuer reportedly said at the time, “Other people were trapped under the concrete. I could hear them screaming: ‘Get us out. Don’t leave us.’ I just started digging, picking men out.”
playA U.S. Marine looks around as he is pulled from the wreckage of the Marine headquarters near Beirut airport.
The attack claimed the lives of 220 Marines, making it the worst single-day loss for the service in nearly four decades.
playU.S. Marines carry their dead comrades away from the four-story command center that was destroyed in a bomb blast.
(AP Photo/Asaad Jeradeh)
Minutes after the first attack, another suicide bomber hit the French barracks a couple of miles away. French troops managed to kill the driver, but the bomb exploded a few moments later, bringing down the nine-story building.
playA wounded French soldier is attended to by a doctor after he was injured in a huge car bomb attack at a building housing members of the French contingent of the peacekeeping forces in Beirut.
“There are no words to properly express our outrage and I think the outrage of all Americans at the despicable act,” President Ronald Reagan said in response.
playPresident Ronald Reagan condemned the Beirut bombing.
A memorial was built at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and dedicated on Oct. 23, 1986. The names of the fallen, as well as the inscription, “They came in peace,” are written on the memorial.
playThe memorial at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune honors the US service members killed in the Beirut barracks bombings.
(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera)
Memorial services are held annually to remember those who were lost, as well as the cost of freedom.
playA Marine color guard stands in front of the Beirut Memorial in Jacksonville, N.C., during the Beirut Memorial Ceremony Oct. 23, 2014.
(US Marine Corps/Cpl. James Smith)
“I think we all kind of grew up that day because we knew the world had changed,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Tuesday, “It changed the way we saw the world. It changed the way we looked at threats. It changed the way we trained. It changed the way we operated – and those lessons learned carried through the rest of our time as Marines. And that impact of Beirut still shapes us today.”
playU.S. Marines with the Official Marine Corps Color Guard march on the colors during the Beirut Memorial Parade at Marine Barracks Washington, Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 2017.
10/19/2018 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep| ANKARA: An individual who claimed to have links to Daesh (ISIS) extremist group threatened to attack the Iranian Embassy in Ankara, Tehran’s envoy in Turkey said Monday, denying Turkish media reports that he had been evacuated.
“The suicide attack against the embassy was only a threat,” Ambassador Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard said. “Nothing significant has happened and things are under control.”
“The threat was made by someone who introduced himself as linked to Daesh,” Fard said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Turkish media said Fard had been evacuated but the ambassador and Tehran flatly denied the report as a complete fabrication.
“Such a claim is a sheer lie, and the personnel at our embassy are present at their workplace in full health and security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
Earlier Monday, DHA news agency said Iran’s mission in the Turkish capital had been given an intelligence warning about a possible suicide bomb attack. The road by the embassy was shut off and police could be seen searching cars in the area, an AFP photographer said.
Ambassador Fard also said Turkish police “intensified security measures” around Tehran’s mission in Ankara in response to the threat.
In 2015 and 2016, Turkey was hit by a series of terror attacks which were blamed on both Kurdish militants and Daesh.
The last attack blamed on Daesh was in January 2017 when a gunman killed 39 people at an elite Istanbul nightclub on New Year.
10/15/2018 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep CAIRO — Embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions worldwide are often considered places of sanctuary, however, not all have been impervious to horrific incidents.
When Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week it prompted Turkish officials and media to claim he may have been killed and even dismembered by a squad of assassins on the premises. The macabre mystery stirred memories of instances when diplomatic missions turned into places of terror.
Brutal killings, suicide bombings, militant raids and hostage crises — embassies and consulates have seen plenty of tragedy and bloodshed.
Here are just some of many examples:
BENGHAZI, ATTACK ON U.S. COMPOUNDS IN LIBYA
Libyan extremists from the militant Ansar al-Shariah group attacked two U.S. compounds — a diplomatic post and a CIA annex nearby — in the city of Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, setting off a night of rampage that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and gutted the buildings. Last year, a jury in Washington convicted 47-year-old Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khattala on multiple terrorism-related charges for his role in the attacks.
AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY BOMBING IN JAKARTA
Suspected Muslim militants detonated a car bomb outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept. 9, 2004, killing eight people, including an embassy guard, policemen on duty, two embassy workers and a visa applicant.
MYANMAR EMBASSY SIEGE IN BANGKOK
A shadowy group known as the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors stormed the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok on Oct. 7, 1999. They took 38 hostages to demand democracy in their country, also known as Burma. Thailand allowed them to fly to the border, angering Myanmar but ending the standoff without bloodshed.
U.S. BOMBING OF CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE
NATO bombs hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by mistake on May 8, 1999, killing three Chinese reporters. In China, protesters retaliated by attacking U.S. missions.
AL-QAIDA BOMBINGS OF U.S. EMBASSIES IN EAST AFRICA
Al-Qaida launched near-simultaneous truck bombings on Aug. 7, 1998, targeting U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people. Most of the victims were Kenyans but 12 Americans also died. The mastermind behind the attacks, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, eluded capture for 13 years before he was gunned down at a security checkpoint in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, a month after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May 2011.
ISLAMIC JIHAD’S ATTACK ON EGYPTIAN EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN
A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-packed truck into the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad on Nov. 19, 1995, killing 15 people, including the second secretary of the embassy and three Egyptian security guards. Egypt handed down a death sentence in absentia to its citizen Ayman al-Zawahri, who led the militant group and later merged it with al-Qaida, for this attack. Al-Zawahri succeeded bin Laden as al-Qaida’s chief.
JAPANESE EMBASSY HOSTAGE CRISIS IN PERU
Leftist Tupac Amaru rebels seized the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 17, 1996, during a party celebrating Emperor Akihito’s birthday, taking diplomats, guests and government officials hostage and demanding the release of their imprisoned comrades. The rebels held 72 hostages for 126 days before government troops stormed the premises; one hostage, two commandos and all rebels were killed. The story inspired the best-seller “Bel Canto” by U.S. author Ann Patchett.
ATTACKS ON ISRAELI EMBASSY, JEWISH CENTER IN ARGENTINA
A bomb flattened the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 18, 1992, killing 29 people, including four Israelis. Two years later, a Jewish community center in the city was bombed, killing 85 people — the deadliest bombing ever in Argentina. Israel and Argentina have long accused Iran of being behind the bombings. Iran has denied any role in the attacks.
BEIRUT, U.S. EMBASSY BOMBING
A suicide bombing on April 18, 1983, at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. The victims were mostly embassy and CIA staff, but also several U.S. soldiers and a Marine. It was the deadliest attack on an American diplomatic mission up to that time. A shadowy Shiite group calling itself Islamic Holy War took responsibility.
IRAN, U.S. EMBASSY IN TEHRAN
Militant Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and took 52 Americans hostages. The attackers demanded the return of the shah to Iran to face trial. President Jimmy Carter refused and launched a failed commando raid to free the captives. Six Americans who fled the initial takeover and found refuge with the Canadian ambassador later escaped Iran with the CIA’s help. Their escape was dramatized in the 2012 film “Argo.” Iran held the hostages for 444 days, releasing them only after the 1981 inauguration of President Ronald Reagan.
WEST GERMAN EMBASSY SIEGE IN STOCKHOLM
German anarchists of the Red Army Faction shot their way into the West German Embassy in Stockholm on April 24, 1975, demanding the release of their comrades from prisons back home. They took 12 embassy staff hostage, including Ambassador Dietrich Stoecher. During the standoff with the Swedish police, the attackers killed the military and the economic attachés before accidentally blowing up a part of the building.
ATTACK ON SAUDI EMBASSY IN KHARTOUM
The Palestinian terror group Black September attacked the Saudi Embassy in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, during a formal reception on March 1, 1973 and took 10 diplomats hostage. After President Richard Nixon refused to negotiate with the attackers, three Western hostages were killed, including George Curtis Moore, the U.S. chargé d’affaires.
ISRAELI EMBASSY IN BANGKOK HOSTAGE CRISIS
The Black September faction took over the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok on Dec. 28, 1972, and held six Israeli embassy staff hostage. The hijackers agreed after negotiations to leave in exchange for safe conduct to Egypt.
YUGOSLAV EMBASSY IN STOCKHOLM
Two Croatian separatists stormed the Yugoslav Embassy in Stockholm on April 7, 1971, where they held and mortally wounded Ambassador Vladimir Rolovic. The attackers were later caught and convicted in Sweden. One of them, Miro Baresic, was released in 1972 as part of demands by Croatian hijackers of a Swedish domestic flight. He was later extradited from Paraguay to Sweden to serve the remainder of his sentence.
(A journalist being killed and dismembered… We thought this was another Mexico story….)
(ISTANBUL) — Turkish media close to the president published images Wednesday of what it described as a 15-member “assassination squad” allegedly sent to target Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and of a black van later traveling from the Saudi consulate, where he went missing, to the consul’s home.
The release of the photographs and video raises pressure on Saudi Arabia a week after Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to the consulate. Turkish officials fear that the team killed the writer, who was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The kingdom has called the allegations “baseless,” but has not provided any evidence that Khashoggi left the consulate and did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
News channel 24 aired the video, suggesting that Khashoggi was inside of the black Mercedes Vito, which resembled one parked outside of the consulate when the writer walked in on Oct. 2. The channel said the van then drove some 1.2 miles to the consul’s home, where it parked inside a garage.
The Sabah newspaper, which is similarly close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published images of what it referred to as the “assassination squad” apparently taken at passport control. It said they checked into two hotels in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and left later that day.
Khashoggi had written a series of columns for the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Arabia’s assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has led a widely publicized drive to reform the Sunni monarchy but has also presided over the arrests of activists and businessmen.
On Wednesday, the Post published a column by Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. She acknowledged the writer first visited the consulate on Sept. 28 “despite being somewhat concerned that he could be in danger.” He later returned Oct. 2 after being promised needed paperwork so the two could be married.
A surveillance video image surfaced Tuesday showing Khashoggi walking into the consulate in Istanbul’s upscale 4th Levent neighborhood. No evidence of him leaving the consulate has been made public, but Turkish officials also have yet to provide evidence he was kidnapped or killed.
“At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance,” Cengiz wrote. “I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”
She added: “Although this incident could potentially fuel a political crisis between the two nations, let us not lose sight of the human aspect of what happened.”
Khashoggi had sought to become a U.S. citizen after living in self-imposed exile since last year, fearing repercussions for his criticism of the prince, Cengiz wrote.
Trump, who took his first overseas trip as U.S. president to the kingdom and whose son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to Prince Mohammed, said Tuesday he had not yet talked to the Saudis about Khashoggi, “but I will be at some point,” without elaborating.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Tuesday that Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were “open to cooperation” and would allow the consulate building to be searched. It’s unclear when such a search would take place.
Embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil and must be protected by host nations. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to reassure its Western allies and the international community.
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Washington being Washington, the expectation is that books born in this city should focus on matters of high policy. On that front, Prudence Bushnell’s account of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya—and that of its counterpart in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania—on Aug. 7, 1998, does not disappoint. Indeed, her book, Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings, raises important questions about how the Washington policy establishment missed the clues that might have allowed it to foresee, and possibly prevent, those twin tragedies and asks whether a serious inquiry into those events might have avoided an even greater horror—that of 9/11.
But, Washington being Washington, many times books about policy are dry, academic treatises, as often written to showcase an author’s intellectual and analytical prowess as they are to advance an idea. The books in this category are often bloodless. To the extent actual people are featured, they mostly fall into that elite category of policymakers. If other people are discussed at all, it is often not as individuals but as nameless and faceless collectivities—the Afghans, the Europeans, the Africans. To her credit, this is not the book Bushnell, who was U.S. ambassador to Kenya at the time of the bombings, chose to write, a story about an incident that changed her life and should have changed U.S. foreign policy.
Indeed, Bushnell’s account is, first and foremost, about people. Part I begins, appropriately, not with the policymakers at all but with those whose lives were impacted by their decisions and lack of foresight. Principal among this group were the employees, American and Kenyan, who staffed the Nairobi embassy the day a truck bomb drove up alongside it and set off its deadly cargo. This piece of Bushnell’s book is a moving story of individual suffering and loss but also of small and large acts of courage, heroism, and, as the title denotes, resilience. It describes how a community torn apart by a vicious act of terrorism pulled itself back together to grieve for the colleagues who were killed and to help heal the physical and psychological wounds of the many more who had suffered. Further, it documents their efforts to tend to the enormous losses suffered by the larger Kenyan community—more than 200 people killed and an estimated 5,000 injured—all the while pursuing their official duties. This part of Bushnell’s tale is a story about dedicated public servants based far from America’s borders who rarely receive the attention or appreciation they deserve and whose sacrifices on behalf of the country are rarely explained or understood.
What makes this book compelling and unusual is how Bushnell’s modest and restrained writing reveals the example she herself set of leadership and courage. Interwoven with the larger narrative is her personal story, beginning with her growing up in a foreign service family. (Her father, as typical of the era, was the foreign service officer, her mother, a homemaker.) That family bred in her a commitment to public service, Bushnell writes, and nurtured the principles and values, as well as the personal strength that came from them, that led me to ask her to work with me in the years prior to her ambassadorship, first as the deputy chief of mission in Dakar, Senegal, and later as my principal deputy in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. They also formed the foundations of Bushnell’s adult ethical leadership. Those principles and values are on full display in the description of Bushnell’s steady stewardship of her embassy community, both before and after the bombing. They are most evident in her determined efforts, in the months leading up to the bombings, to call Washington’s attention to her embassy’s extreme vulnerability to just such an attack, efforts that earned her admonishments from senior State Department officials for “overloading circuits” and asking for what seemed to Washington not just impossible but unnecessary. Still, she persisted. That same principled leadership was again in evidence in the horrible aftermath of the bombing, when, putting aside her own physical and psychological injuries, she summoned the strength to give both comfort and direction to her shaken embassy team while firmly asserting control over the legions of responders from Washington, whose sudden arrival often brought more distress than help.
Lest this sound like more memoir than policy narrative, the book always brings readers back to policy. In Part II of her book, Bushnell describes the many people—among them, Michael Scheuer, the director of the CIA’s Alec Station, charged with gathering intelligence on Osama bin Laden; his counterpart at the FBI, John O’Neill; and Richard Clarke, who directed counterterrorism efforts at the National Security Council—who, however well-intentioned, had opportunities to foresee and prevent what happened on that fateful August day but who failed. Bushnell documents that history with meticulous and relentless detail: She describes how in the 1980s, U.S. support for jihadi insurgents fighting a Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan sowed the seeds of al Qaeda and radical Islamist groups like it and explains how the failure to analyze and understand the roots of Islamist extremism led the United States to act in ways that spawned further radicalization, as well as how, once the Soviets had been forced out of Afghanistan, these radical groups turned their ire against the United States.
Drawing on official and journalistic reports, Bushnell recounts how affiliates of those groups found their way to the United States itself and how—despite surveillance from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies—they went on to plot and execute a series of fatal attacks against U.S. interests: the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, the October 1993 attack on U.S. forces in Somalia, and eventually the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. To help us understand how this was possible, she ably describes how officials in Washington, mired in bureaucratic turf battles and trapped in organizational stovepipes, failed to share the information that might have allowed them to connect the dots. That same dysfunction prevented essential information from being shared with Bushnell and her team in Nairobi, which may have enabled them to prepare for, and if possible avoid, the disaster. Only later, and largely through the mainstream press, did Bushnell learn that the CIA and the FBI had been amassing information about potential threats to the Nairobi embassy. “I had no idea that the FBI had known about al-Qaeda and had been tracking bin Laden ever since the investigation into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,” she writes.
In effect, in Part II of her book, Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.
Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.
In so doing, she has raised some tough questions: How was it possible for bin Laden’s associates to plan and execute terrorist acts against the United States, even as they were known to and under the surveillance of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies? Why, in the aftermath of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history, did Washington not convene a full-scale inquiry into the events leading up to the bombings? And, had it done so, would the information uncovered—both about the enemies confronted and the weaknesses in its own institutions—have enabled it to avert the tragedy of 9/11?
Here, Bushnell quotes from the 9/11 Commission Report itself: “The tragedy of the embassy bombings provided an opportunity for a full examination, across the government, of the national security threat that Bin Ladin posed. Such an examination could have made clear to all that issues were at stake that was much larger than the domestic politics of the moment.”
“A gripping diplomatic thriller that tells the harrowing saga of the 1998 bombing of Embassy Nairobi. Ambassador Bushnell’s first-person account provides lessons of leadership, crisis management, and policy acumen. The tale dramatically illustrates the terrorism danger diplomats confront daily.”—Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.)
(Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.) 2018-03-02)
“Ambassador Prudence Bushnell is a true professional with the toughness, grit, courage, and compassion that marks the kind of superb leader you want in charge during a crisis. I witnessed her remarkable composure, even when personally injured, and her take-command leadership style. This book is important for many reasons. It vividly presents a profile in courage; an understanding rarely appreciated about our foreign service men and women working in difficult assignments; a set of valuable lessons learned; and a case study in leadership during crisis. Every American should read this book.”—Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
(Anthony C. Zinni 2018-03-01)
“With heroes and villains aplenty, this riveting cold tale of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya has startling relevance. As today’s State Department struggles to survive a gutting by its own government, Prudence Bushnell reminds us just how important and dangerous the job of diplomacy can be.”—Rheta Grimsley Johnson, syndicated columnist and author of Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana
(Rheta Grimsley Johnson 2018-03-01)
“Prudence Bushnell’s name is not household familiar—but it should be. She was at the center of one of the most infamous terrorist attacks on American people and property in history. And she was a woman in the highest ranks of the State Department when such a thing was rare. She tells her story with integrity and intelligence—and gives lessons on leadership based on life experience.”—Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
(Barbara Kellerman 2018-07-30)
“For all readers, Ambassador Bushnell’s searing account of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings provides profound lessons in leadership. She demonstrates time and again her deep commitment to the safety and mission of the people she led. Her willingness to battle paralyzing bureaucracy, both before and after the bombings, exhibits her decency and humanity in the midst of the chaos and evil that the Embassy experienced. She devoted much of her career to improving leadership at the Department of State. She is a role model for future leaders.”—Chris Kojm, director of the Leadership, Ethics, & Practice Initiative, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Prudence Bushnell is an American diplomat who has held a series of leadership positions with the U.S. Department of State, including deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs, ambassador to the republics of Kenya and Guatemala, and dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute. She is retired from the Foreign Service and founder of the Levitt Leadership Institute at Hamilton College in New York. She has earned numerous awards for her leadership and diplomacy, including three honorary doctoral degrees. For more information on the author visit prudencebushnell.com.
Prudence Bushnell was serving as United States Ambassador to Kenya in 1998 when al-Qaeda detonated a car bomb outside the embassy, killing over 200 people. In this memoir, Bushnell examines her actions during and after the attack. She also looks at the history leading up to the attacks, weaving in her own experiences in the State Department, as she attempts to piece together how they happened and how little the U.S. has grown form the experience. The same cannot be said for Bushnell, who candidly includes passages on her own emotional growth following the bombing. This book covers a lot of ground, but Bushnell is a more than capable guide, bouncing easily between the personal and policy sections.
One of the great strengths of this book resides in the fact that Prudence Bushnell is a diplomat, not a politician. Her recollections are sharp, insightful, and, most interestingly, critical. She has no problem examining the failures of the Clinton administration in funding embassy security, nor future administrations’ similar issues. Her frustrations with airing these concerns only to be met with silence is palpable. Similar sections also highlight the problems in Washington surrounding its continued approach to terrorism
In a lesser work, these moments might feel self-serving, but Bushnell carefully backs up her analysis with facts and experience. After all, her security vulnerability predictions proved correct after the bombing attack. Moreover, many of the grievances discussed later in the book about current State Department action, particularly funding, are still evolving, making this a troubling (though necessary) read.
While the bombing always remains at least in the periphery throughout this book, it’s not always the sole focus. Bushnell had a long career with the State Department, and it’s fascinating reading about her experiences maneuvering in such a male-dominated environment, and there’s a lot to be noted here about leadership. It’s insightful and provides a glimpse of how her worldview has developed and how it served her in her career. As well, the sections on serving in Rwanda and her post-retirement private sector careers are standouts.
Bushnell highlights a lot of problems the U.S. has navigating on the world stage. Much of this is disheartening and concerning. However, without spoiler, she ends this book with one of the most inspiring and optimistic passages I’ve ever read and is the real essence of this entire work.
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The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for recent attacks near Washington’s diplomatic presence in Iraq, where the two powers have competed for influence in the latest venue of a decades-long feud sparked by an embassy hostage crisis.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that “Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq” and was “to blame for the attacks against our mission in Basra and our embassy in Baghdad,” adding that his department’s “intelligence in this regard is solid.” Iran has the support of a number of semi-official Shiite Muslim militias across Iraq, and Pompeo cited “repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias” against the two U.S. sites in a Friday statement announcing the closure of the consulate general in the southern city of Basra.
Iran, whose own consulate general in Basra was burned down last month, has rejected these charges. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said Saturday that “the ridiculous justification [provided by Americans] for the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Basra, which came after weeks of propaganda and false allegations against Iran and the Iraqi forces, is a suspicious move aimed at evading responsibility and pinning the blame on others responsibility and pinning the blame on others”
As unrest once again grips Iraq, the ripples of a long-standing dispute between the U.S. and Iran has again highlighted a history of both countries targeting one another’s diplomats.
Poisoned relations between the U.S. and Iran began in 1979. Prior to that, Iran was under the rule of the pro-West Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the U.S. stepped in to protect British oil interests when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh challenged the monarch’s absolute power and tried to nationalize the energy sector. With Mossadegh deposed and imprisoned in a 1953 CIA-sponsored coup, Pahlavi went on to rule for another quarter of a century before he himself was forced to flee the Islamic Revolution, which brought the current revolutionary Shiite Muslim government into power.
Upset over Western meddling in Iranian affairs and demanding that an ill Pahlavi be extradited to face justice at home, supporters of the new clerical administration overran the U.S. Embassy and held 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage. A U.S. Army attempt to rescue the detainees by force ended in failure when a helicopter crashed into a transport aircraft, killing eight soldiers. An Iranian civilian was also killed when U.S. forces bombed the truck he was riding in.
The hostages were ultimately released on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 following extensive negotiations. Although the U.S. would go on to secretly sell arms to Iran while also supporting Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, relations between Washington and Tehran were effectively squashed. Their relationship further deteriorated with growing Iranian support for foreign Shiite Muslim movements such as the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both of whom have been blamed for the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut—an attack that killed up to 63 people, including 17 U.S. officials and soldiers.
The U.S. officially embargoed Iranian trade in 1995 and these sanctions expanded as Iran embarked on a nuclear program, which Tehran always maintained was solely for peaceful purposes. Though Iran was a bitter opponent of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, it also backed Shiite Muslim insurgents targeting U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion that toppled him as it expanded ties with the new majority-Shiite Muslim administration in Baghdad. In January 2007, the U.S. raided the Iranian Liaison Office in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region, accusing five staff members of being agents of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and detaining them.
The local Kurdish government, which had ties to both the U.S. and Iran, vouched for the individuals and prevented the U.S. from detaining other individuals at Erbil’s airport. The five liaison office employees were ultimately released two and a half years later in 2009 as part of the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which sought to establish a framework for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran remained largely frozen until President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani began negotiations to lift international sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to considerably restrict its nuclear activities. A multinational accord endorsed by both parties, along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K., was announced in June 2015.
President Donald Trump, however, has accused Iran of using unfrozen funds to further destabilize the region via support for paramilitary movements and the development of ballistic missiles. Capitalizing on conservative outrage toward the nuclear deal, he demanded that the terms be renegotiated, something that Iran has refused to consider. Even as both the U.S. and Iran devoted assets toward battling the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), relations again declined rapidly and Trump announced that he would leave the nuclear agreement in May.
The Trump administration has continued to press the international community to isolate Iran, even without the support of European allies and major powers China and Russia. The U.S. has increasingly aligned its position with that of longtime Iranian foes Israel and Saudi Arabia, which itself severed ties with the Islamic Republic after protestors responded to the kingdom’s execution of an influential Shiite Muslim cleric by torching Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran in early 2016.
(UPI) — The U.S. government has closed a U.S. consulate in Iraq temporarily and evacuated diplomats over security risks from Iran, administration officials said.
The U.S. consulate in the southern Iraq city of Basra was shut down Friday hours after a rocket attack in the area blamed on Iranian-backed militias.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo ordered the evacuation of diplomats from the consulate, the U.S. U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Iraq announced in a statement.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will continue providing consular service in the area, the statement said.
The southern part of Iraq has faced violent protests against government corruption and lack of basic services since June with arson attacks of several government buildings earlier this month.
“We remain strongly committed to supporting Iraqis in the southern provinces and throughout the country,” U.S. Department of State Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Hours before Pompeo’s decision to close the consulate, rockets or mortars landed near the building, an official said.
The U.S. consulate has faced credible threats from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal.
On Friday, a senior Iran military leader warned the United States against crossing Iran’s “red lines.”
Brigadier General Hossein Salami said the perpetrators of a terrorist attack on a military parade Saturday in southwest Iran that killed at least 29 people were backed by regional elements including the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo denies that the United States had anything to do with the military parade attack.
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MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Three people were killed in a suicide car bombing by Islamist group al Shabaab which hit a European Union armoured convoy in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Monday, police and an emergency service worker said.
The blast struck the convoy around 12:10 PM local time on Industrial Road, a major thoroughfare in the heart of the city.
“We carried two dead locals and four others injured,” Abdikadir Abdirahman of AMIN Ambulance Services told Reuters.
Police said the bomber had also died in the blast.
A Reuters witness saw men towing their damaged vehicle after the explosion hit its rear end. The armoured vehicles had Italian and EU flags on them.
The al Shabaab group, which frequently carries out attacks in the Horn of Africa country, claimed responsibility.
The Italian military said a convoy of five vehicles returning from a training activity had been attacked but that no one was wounded or killed.
“The vehicle, with four soldiers on board, was slightly damaged and able to return to the base,” it said.
Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government and impose its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.
The European Union is one of the major sources of funding for the African Union-mandated peace-keeping force AMISOM which helps defend Somalia’s central government against the Islamists.
Somalia has been engulfed by violence and lawlessness since the early 1990s after the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
Additional reporting Steve Scherer in Rome; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by William Maclean, Ed Osmond
Brazilians are as worried as ever about getting shot while driving, but have less money in a stagnant economy to spend on protecting themselves. Enter the second-hand bulletproof car.
Whether to provide genuinely-needed protection or just to show off, the bulletproofed personal vehicle has usually been associated with the rich, but in Brazil, armored cars are far more common than in most countries.
Industry experts consider Brazil’s $245 million (one billion reais) bulletproofing industry the largest in the world.
But with an economy only just crawling out of recession –- one percent growth in 2017 came on the heels of a steep two year-recession — worried drivers are searching for budget options.
“I like cars, but I don’t feel comfortable spending a lot of money on one,” said lawyer Mauricio Paulo, who drives a second-hand bulletproof Volvo XC 60.
This is the 40-year-old Paulo’s fourth armored vehicle.
He got his first armored car after being robbed while he stopped at a traffic light. The birth of his daughter 18 months ago convinced him he still needs to have one — and stay frugal.
“I need a bulletproof car because of lack of safety,” he said. “I went for a used car because I’m going to spend less money to move around safely.”
To modify a car costs around $13,000 (53,600 reais), pretty much like buying an additional vehicle.
Going for an already used and already armored vehicle gets the price tag down by between 10 and 40 percent, according to varying estimates from dealers and owners.
Armored vehicle capital
Another big market, Mexico, bulletproofed 2,986 cars in 2017, one of the best years the industry there has had. But even in a tough climate last year, Brazil’s armoring industry still put out over 15,000.
Armored private vehicles are especially common among the middle class in the economic hub of Sao Paulo, regardless of the fact that the mega-city is one of the safest parts in an often extremely violent country.
Almost three quarters of bulletproofing work is done in Sao Paulo state, and most of the country’s 150,000 armored vehicles are also in the state, according to the bulletproofing association Abrablin.
Neither Abrablin nor the used car sellers’ body Fenauto keeps track of second-hand armored sales.
But industry experts say it is a real trend here.
“This year, the used car market is hot,” said Fabio Rovedo de Mello, director of a Sao Paulo-based bulletproofing company.
“Because of the situation the country is going through, the demand for used cars has gone up.”
Sales of new cars, in general, plummeted to a 10-year low in 2016 in Brazil. The niche market in new armored cars mirrored the trend, dropping 20 percent last year, compared to 2016.
“When the new market doesn’t sell, there’s higher demand for used cars, because a person can’t afford to buy a new one,” said Abrablin president Marcelo Christiansen, who also heads up a bulletproofing firm.
“Armored cars are a lot more expensive, so the option was to go for a used car that fell within my budget,” said Eliane Wakatsuki, 39, a manager at a hydroelectric firm, who was test-driving a used Mercedes Benz GLA 200 at a luxury bulletproofing outfit. Even those drivers who still buy new cars and get the armoring added are looking for deals.
Last year, the best-selling new car for bulletproofing was the Toyota Corolla, the cheapest and smallest that can handle armor, which can add up to 12 percent to the vehicle’s body weight.
LONDON (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday that Kurdish activists attacked its embassy in Paris and it accused French police of arriving late on the scene.
Paris police confirmed officers had responded to an incident at the embassy on Friday afternoon, but declined to comment on the speed of their response.
Fars news agency reported that about 15 Kurdish activists burned the Iranian flag in front of the embassy during the incident and broke some windows with stones.
They also threw fire extinguishers and computers at the gate
but did not manage to enter the premises, Fars said.
“The French government should take all necessary measures to protect Iranian diplomatic missions in that country,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, the French police did not arrive as expected on the scene on time, although the assailants were members of a terrorist organization,” he said.
Qasemi said some of the attackers were arrested.
Paris police told Reuters that officers had detained a dozen individuals outside the embassy but that they were released when the embassy said it would not seek charges against them.
“A security detail was put in place with the embassy’s full agreement,” Paris police added.
However, Qasemi said Iran has asked France to put on trial and punish the assailants, and to inform the Iranian government of the verdicts.
Tehran has accused France of supporting opposition groups which seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and are classified by Tehran as terrorist organizations. France has rejected Iranian accusations.
Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles at the headquarters in northern Iraq of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community.
Iranian media said at least 11 people were killed.
France has already told its diplomats and foreign ministry officials to postpone indefinitely all non-essential travel to Iran, citing a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France.
France is also investigating a foiled plot to bomb a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group near Paris that was attended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani on June 30.
An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany in connection with that plot.
Any hardening of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran. France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump pulled out of in May.
Turkish police detained two more people on Aug. 24 for their suspected links to the United States Embassy drive-by shooting in the Turkish capital Ankara on Aug. 20, said state-run Anadolu Agency, citing a police source.
The latest detentions on Aug. 24 raise the total number of detainees to four.
The suspects were taken in for interrogation, the source said.
The detention period was extended for suspects Ahmet Çelikten and Osman Gündaş, who were detained on Aug. 20, the source added.
According to the Ankara Governor’s Office, the suspects confessed to their involvement in the attack.
Çelikten, 39, and Gündaş, 38, were detained after six shots were fired from a white vehicle at the U.S. Embassy’s main entrance in Ankara at 5:30 a.m. local time on Aug. 20. Three bullets hit the metal door and glass panel of the security cabin, causing no casualties.
“I had called Osman [Gündaş] that night and we met. We drank and drove around. We talked about the dollar crisis, about the U.S. threats against Turkey and about the recent statements of the U.S. president. Then we got angry and decided to shoot at the U.S. Embassy under the influence of alcohol,” Çelikten said previously in his police testimony.
Three gunmen shot their way into the main regional government building in the city of Irbil in northern Iraq on Monday morning before all three were killed by security forces.
One employee was killed and four security force members were injured during a shootout with the militants, who had taken control of the third floor of the governorate building in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
“We believe that the attackers are from Islamic State because of the tactics they used in breaking into the building from the main gate. Two gunmen used pistols to shoot at the guards,” a security official was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Irbil, which typically enjoys good security, was the site of a major attack on the US Consulate in 2015. The IS-claimed attack killed three people and wounded five others.
BERLIN — An Iranian diplomat is suspected of involvement in a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France. Assadollah Assadi was charged in Germany on Wednesday with activity as a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder.
Assadi, a Vienna-based diplomat, is suspected of contracting a couple in Belgium to attack an annual meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in Villepinte, near Paris, German federal prosecutors said.
He allegedly gave the Antwerp-based couple a device containing 500 grams of the explosive TATP during a meeting in Luxembourg in late June, prosecutors said in a written statement.
Assadi was detained earlier this month near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European warrant after the couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car.
In their statement, German prosecutors allege that Assadi, who has been registered as a diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna since 2014, was a member of the Iranian intelligence service “Ministry of Intelligence and Security,” whose tasks “primarily include the intensive observation and combatting of opposition groups inside and outside of Iran.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of using its embassies to plot extremist attacks in Europe and warned Tehran that its actions have “a real high cost” after it threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.
“Just this past week there were Iranians arrested in Europe who were preparing to conduct a terror plot in Paris, France. We have seen this malign behavior in Europe,” Pompeo said Tuesday in an interview with Sky News Arabia during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called the allegations of a foiled extremist plot a ploy.
Belgian authorities also accuse Assadi of being part of the alleged plot reportedly aimed at setting off explosives at a huge annual rally of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group, or MEK, in neighboring France, and want him extradited.
German prosecutors said their investigation wouldn’t hinder Belgium’s extradition request for the suspect.
Meanwhile, an Iranian who resides in Belgium and was detained in France agreed on Wednesday to be turned over to Belgian authorities, who had issued a European arrest warrant, a French judicial official told the Associated Press.
The suspect, identified as Mehrdad Arefani, 54, will be handed over within 10 days, and go before an investigating magistrate there, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly in an ongoing case and asked not to be identified.
The MEK is an exiled Iranian opposition group based near Paris with some members, in particular, in Albania. The formerly armed group was removed from European Union and U.S. terrorism lists several years ago after denouncing violence and getting western politicians to lobby on its behalf.
WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Monday to see what progress has been made nearly one year after President Trump announced his new “South Asia strategy.”
While he touted successes and said the strategy “is indeed working,” much of the evidence points to the contrary – a continued stalemate nearly 17 years after the U.S. war there began.
Just days before his visit, an American soldier was killed in an insider attack, the third fatality in Afghanistan this year. The Taliban are said to contest control of a majority of Afghan districts, according to analysts. And even Pompeo himself was limited in his travel during his brief time on the ground out of safety concerns.
“My conclusion from this visit is that the president’s strategy is indeed working,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Kabul alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, arguing it “has sent a clear message too to the Taliban: They cannot wait us out. And we are beginning to see the results both on the battlefield where the Taliban’s momentum is slowing and in the prospects for peace with them.”
Trump announced last August he was increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, empowering field commanders to make more decisions, and ending the Obama administration’s timeline for withdrawal in favor of a “conditions-based” approach. There are now about 14,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan, training and advising the Afghan military to fight the Taliban and ISIS and occasionally participating in their own counterterror operations.
But even after that injection of American military power, the shape of the battlefield has not changed. According to the latest report by the government’s own special inspector general for Afghanistan, the Afghan government only controlled about 56 percent of the country’s districts, with nearly 15 percent under Taliban control. The Long War Journal at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, a Washington think tank, puts that number even higher, with the Taliban controlling or contesting as much as 61 percent of the country’s districts.
The opium cultivation also jumped to a record high in 2017 of approximately 328,000 hectares — 63 percent higher than 2016, according to that special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR. That growth fuels the terrorism the U.S. has spent nearly two decades fighting, as the majority of terror groups’ funding comes from the drug trade.
At a NATO summit in Brussels this week, the U.S. is expected to urge member nations to contribute more money for security forces, according to U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison, because “the terrorist network that has grown in Afghanistan has been exported to many of our countries,” she warned. That threat hit the U.S. again on Saturday when an American soldier was killed and two others wounded in an attack by an Afghan soldier they were training. He was the third American killed this year after a soldier was shot by the Taliban in April and by ISIS in January.
“Make no mistake, there’s still a great deal of work to do,” Pompeo said. But he pointed to the growth in size and capability of Afghan security forces, upcoming elections this fall after a two-year delay, and reforms within the Afghan government as signs of the strategy working.
He added, “An element of the progress is the capacity that we now have to believe that there is hope that many of the Taliban now see that they can’t win on the ground militarily.”
But the Taliban continue to publicly eschew peace talks, launch attacks on Afghan and U.S. forces, and campaign to win over Afghan territory militarily and Afghan minds politically. President Ghani’s recent overture for negotiations has gone unanswered, even after a successful, but short-lived ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid in June that saw Afghan and Taliban soldiers taking selfies together.
There may be secret talks ongoing between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The U.S.’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson told reporters in May there was a “robust dialogue” with “tremendous potential,” but State Department officials would not confirm any talks were underway.
“I’m not going to speak to specific diplomacy because, obviously, its potential success is dependent in part on a degree of confidentiality of that type of process,” a senior State Department official told ABC News in June.
Either way, the Taliban has demanded that the U.S. engage it directly in peace talks, but the U.S. has consistently dismissed that idea.
“We can’t run the peace talks. We can’t settle this from the outside. This will be settled by the Afghan people coming together,” Pompeo reiterated Monday.
But Pompeo’s statement that the Taliban realize “the continuation of fighting will lead them to a bad outcome” doesn’t seem to have materialized. As Long War Journal’s Bill Roggio and Thomas Jocelyn wrote in June, the U.S. and Afghan governments have “not beaten back the jihadists in the months since the Trump administration announced its new strategy last August. They have, at best, prevented them from conquering even more ground. Why would the Taliban, which is not close to being defeated, give up now?”
Pompeo’s visit was also overshadowed by his own security concerns. It was not announced in advance, and journalists traveling with him could not report that he was there for hours – a sign of how poor the security situation is at this moment.
He landed not at Kabul International Airport, where the Taliban launched a rocket attack after Defense Secretary James Mattis landed there hours earlier, but at the U.S.’s Bagram Air Base about 30 miles north of Kabul. From there, he took a small plane to Kabul, to catch a helicopter to the U.S. embassy and avoid the streets. After meetings at the embassy, he was driven in a convoy of armored vehicles a few hundred yards to the presidential palace, according to reporters traveling with him.
Upon landing in Kabul, Pompeo was offered a flak jacket and took off his suit jacket to put it on, before U.S. Ambassador John Bass declined one and Pompeo did, too.
When Pompeo’s predecessor Rex Tillerson visited last October, he and his delegation never even left Bagram Air Base. But the U.S. embassy put out a press release about his visit to “Kabul,” and the Afghan president’s office released a photo of Tillerson and Ghani meeting that had digitally altered it to remove a clock with military time and a red fire alarm — two signs the picture was taken at a U.S. facility. The State Department later said the embassy’s error was “a simple mistake.”
After a little over six hours on the ground, Pompeo was out of the country and onward to the United Arab Emirates.
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: El País
By: Javier Garza Ramos, Torreón, Coahuila.
June 18, 2018
The bullet that killed Fernando Purón Johnston , PRI candidate for federal deputy in Piedras Negras, Coahuila on Friday, June 8, was the same one used six days earlier, on June 2, that killed Pamela Terán Pineda, candidate for councilor El Juchitán , Oaxaca, and Juana Maldonado Infante, candidate for local deputy in Jopala, Puebla .
The same bullet was used the next day, on Saturday June 9, which wounded Rosely Magaña, candidate for councilor in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, who died 72 hours later. And it was the same bullet that killed Alejandro Chávez, candidate for mayor of Taretan, Michoacán on Thursday, June 14th.
This same bullet has killed 44 pre-candidates and candidates for election and other 70 officials and political figures in this election process. No ballistic proof is needed to sustain the claim, just follow the path of the bullet of impunity.
Fernando Purón Johnston, PRI Candidate and former Mayor of Piedras Negras, Coahuila
The person who ordered Purón’s murder probably knew that nothing was going to happen to him, because nothing happened to Terán’s murderer , and he knew that Salado’s murderer had nothing happen to him and so goes back in time the long thread of impunity.
I get the impression that we already saw this movie. The sequence of candidates killed in the current electoral process in Mexico is very similar to the list of dozens of journalists killed in Mexico in the last decade. A succession of crimes that alarm at first, but have become normalized.
Candidates and journalists are two high-risk groups in Mexico. Of course, they are not the only ones, they are only two subgroups of rampant unabated violence that last year averaged 20 victims a day and of which there is no end in sight.
While the motive of each murder is particular, in the case of journalists and candidates, a common thread unites them in that the victims may have touched powerful interests that prefer to use violence to end threats because they live in a country with a broken rule of law. Violence is a cheap, fast and easy remedy to perceived threats to institutions.
Throughout this succession of crimes there are those who warn about the gestation of an epidemic but their voices are drowned because nothing ever happens, until a high-profile case arrives that causes greater impact, which raises the volume of the complaints, although the increasing demand for sentencing does not end up solving anything.
The “strong condemnation” that we hear from the authorities is just a placebo that shows its inefficiency. Worse yet, when those high-profile cases are registered in the highest spheres of authority, after having ignored dozens of other cases, things are only likely to get worse.
Fernando Purón was the highest-profile candidate killed in the current electoral process, as he was the first candidate to hold a federal election position, while the previous candidates had been candidates for local positions in small municipalities.
Secretary of Labor Roberto Campa
His death was the first that merited the presence of a member of the cabinet of President Enrique Peña Nieto at the funeral. The Secretary of Labor, Roberto Campa, traveled to Piedras Negras as the presidential representative, but also with the same common promises to deliver justice.
Something similar happened with the case of Javier Valdez, the highest profile journalist killed in Mexico in recent years.
Javier Valdez, award winning and internationally known Journalist and Author of several books
A year ago, when Javier Valdez was gunned down in Culiacán, Peña Nieto spoke for the first time about the murder of a journalist, after having ignored 35 previous crimes committed during his six-year term . The president brought together the security cabinet and the governors, issued instructions to strengthen the protection of journalists and promised that the killing would not go unpunished.
A year later, two of the three men who attacked Valdez on May 15, 2017 have been detained, but accused only of the material authorship of the crime, because until now the intellectual authors enjoy the same impunity enjoyed by those responsible for dozens of previous murders.
It is easy to conclude that if the murder of a nationally and internationally recognized journalist provoked the reaction of the same President of the Republic but the crime still goes unpunished, anyone who is thinking of killing a lesser-known journalist than Javier Valdez can reasonably think he or she will get away with it.
In fact, there were already some who thought about it: in 2017 six more journalists were killed after Javier Valdez and at least four so far in 2018.
Mexican Citizens take to the streets to demand Justice and Freedom of the Press after their beloved brave truth-telling journalists continue to be murdered.
That is why Roberto Campa’s presence at Purón’s funeral involves a challenge in itself: if the murder of a candidate that merited this level of attention is unpunished the fate of others is already cast.
The impunity in the homicide of Purón also carries another risk because it threatens to throw overboard the pacification that the State of Coahuila has had in the last years and in particular the northern zone of the state, in Piedras Negras, ie, where Purón was mayor from 2014 to 2017, a period in which state and federal operatives managed to dismantle the power of Los Zetas, who waged a reign of terror in the area during the previous decade .
The infamous prison near Piedras Negras, Coahuila that Los Zetas turned into a Base of Operations and many call a death camp. The death toll will probably never be known.
Unlike previous municipal administrations, that of Purón did not succumb to the control of Los Zetas. That had been one of the focal points of his speech and it is now one of the lines of investigation into his murder.
It was during the years that Purón was mayor when Piedras Negras managed to overcome the trauma of the massacres and disappearances that have been documented with horrifying detail by El Colegio de México, the government of Coahuila and the Executive Commission for Victim Assistance.
Piedras Negras has made such a remarkable recovery that in the latest surveys of urban security by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics, Piedras Negras appeared among the cities with a better perception of security, data that resulted from the mayoral work of the now dead candidate.
Just a week ago, Pablo Ferri published in this newspaper the chronicle of a trip through Coahuila that ended precisely in Piedras Negras. Noting the horror of recent years, the story also showed a semblance of quiet normalcy within political campaigns.
Two days after the text was published, the story completely changed to one that we already know all too well.
Authorities issue arrest warrants in the murder of candidate Purón..his widow announces pregnancy
Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat ,,,Big thanks to mi Amiga Lacy
Ignacio, ‘El Putrambula’, served as director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, and has more than 81 complaints of homicide, kidnapping, torture, abuse of authority.
Purón was 112th candidate murdered in the past 14 months of Mexico’s bloody election campaign
The young widow announced through her personal Facebook account and confirmed it later in an exclusive interview with Periódico Zócalo. “I feel a lot of happiness, I am eight weeks pregnant and I know in this way that Fernando is giving me the strength to keep going despite his absence,” she said.
This is the second child of Villarreal and her husband, who was killed minutes after leaving a political debate on Friday June 8th. Puron, was running for deputy, (similar to a congressman) of the 11th district of Coahuila.
“Since Fernando became the father of María Constanza, I could see how his life changed, and with the anticipation of our second child, we were very excited, we were already making many plans, like decorating a second room, (… ) I have at the same time nostalgia, but it fills me with illusion to know that a part of Fernando grows inside me,” she said.
In a news conference yesterday, authorities announced they have issued arrest warrants for two men believed to be the authors of the murder, not necessarily the trigger-man.
The names were not revealed yesterday but later revealed by Governor Miguel Riquelme, along with a wanted poster.
The wanted men are brothers Erick and Ignacio Arámbula Viveros, there is a 10 million MP reward offered.
Ignacio was director of public security in Tabasco
Erick was part of the Equitation team of the Secretariat of National Defense (Sena), and even participated in the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara. Ignacio, ‘El Putrambula’, served as director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, and has more than 81 complaints of homicide, kidnapping, torture, abuse of authority. They are from Michoacan.
This kidnapping attributed to Ignacio was caught on video….
From video notes:
2011: The kidnapping of Gino Gritilli by the then chief of public security of tabasco, Ignacio Arambula Viveros. All involved are policemen and are hooded. “A dozen of municipal police officers and the corrupt, legalized professional criminal (a former lieutenant, former military chef) Ignacio Arambula Viveros (el putrambula), director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mex.”
During his candidacy Puron highlighted how Los Zaetas cartel were “ran out of Piedras Negras” and mentioned the same during the debate. Puron was a popular mayor of Piedras Negras before running for the federal office seat. Piedras Negras is a border city adjacent to Eagle Pass Texas
Jalalabad, Afghanistan: A suicide attack in restive eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed at least 14 people and wounded 45, an official said, the second attack in as many days to mar an unprecedented ceasefire.
The explosion happened outside the Nangarhar provincial governor´s office in the capital Jalalabad, his spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.
It was also close to the Indian consulate.
Khogyani said 14 people had been killed and 45 wounded. An Afghan security source confirmed the suicide attack but gave a lower death toll of at least 10.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.
Khogyani said a suicide bomber on foot had targeted Taliban, local elders and civilians as they left the governor´s compound where they had attended a special event for the Eid holiday.
On Saturday, a suicide attack on a gathering of Taliban, security forces and civilians in a district of the same eastern province of Nangarhar killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 others, provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal told AFP.
Daesh group´s Afghanistan franchise claimed responsibility for that attack.
It’s time for Western policymakers to develop a playbook for countermeasures against potential ‘directed energy’ attacks, Robert Bunker writes.
A recent health alert posted on the US Department of State website related to an incident in Guangzhou, China, in which an employee of the US embassy suffered certain ‘bio-effects’. The event can be viewed in the context of earlier incidents, such as that in which US – as well as one or more Canadian – diplomatic staff members serving in Havana, Cuba were similarly affected.
These traumatic brain and bodily injuries to diplomatic personnel have raised concerns over the possibility that an ongoing series of clandestine directed energy attacks have been taking place, and are increasingly drawing news and social media attention.
Three primary reasons exist why a clandestine state entity may intentionally project directed energy at US and allied embassies.
First, such energies can be utilized for sensing and spying activities in an attempt to obtain restricted and secret information either being discussed or transmitted. For instance, listening devices exist that can bounce energy frequencies off the window glass of an office, thus allowing the hearing of a private conversation inside.
Second, directed energy can be deployed in a jamming and harassment role to degrade embassy and staff functioning. This would be akin to disrupting cell phone reception, local area networks (for example from a computer to a printer), or even other more secure forms of communication.
Third, certain electromagnetic frequencies may be utilised in order to injure personnel and destroy specific forms of military equipment. As national militaries increasingly weaponise the electromagnetic spectrum, the use of infra- and ultra-sonic devices, high-powered microwaves (HPM), and lasers are becoming more common
Such advanced technologies are well suited for clandestine use because some of them – particularly certain sonic and HPM technologies – can bypass physical walls and structures. They directly injure targeted individuals with virtually none of the conventional forensic evidence a firearm or explosive would leave behind. China is well aware of these advanced weaponry capabilities and is actively pursuing them developmentally and in field-testing.
Various narratives and counter-narratives, however, have been proposed about these incidents in attempts to dismiss them as non-events. They have been portrayed as a figment of employee imagination, the product of mass hysteria, and more recently – given the preponderance of medical evidence that diplomatic personnel have suffered actual physical damage – as the malfunctioning of electronic eavesdropping equipment.
Within the context of these narratives, disinformation campaigns are actively being waged by Chinese, Russian, and allied authoritarian regimes as a component of their foreign policies, which are directly at odds with liberal democratic governance and individual human rights.
Viewing the incidents as some form of ongoing series of attacks, however, appears more plausible and more in line with US governmental perspectives, especially considering the types and circumstances of the injuries suffered, as well as the concurrent audible noises and other sensory events reported.
Recommendations for policymakers concerning the mysterious incidents in Havana and Guangzhou exist at varying levels of action.
On the declaratory level, restraint must be exercised because no ‘smoking gun’ (or, in this instance, ‘energised device’) exists which directly links any of these incidents to a specific entity or national backing.
With this said, an increasing evidential pattern of incidents and anomalies have taken place within Chinese military activities to warrant concern over the likelihood that the embassy attacks may represent a new component of Chinese clandestine operations carried out against the Western liberal democracies. These include the counter-optical lasing of multiple US military aircraft from the new Chinese base in Djibouti and the use of commercial fishing fleets to harass US warships.
While Western nations are attempting to engage with China, the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping – now its leader for life – has essentially seized the South China Sea, militarised it, and slowly begun to build up the capacity to globally project its military power.
Western political leaders – including those in Australia – should now be on guard for Chinese attempts to fracture democratically based defence agreements and coalitions. It can be expected that such a strategy will be supported by ongoing clandestine measures directed against democratic states for disruptive and propaganda purposes.
At the more specific level of protecting embassies and their staff, this pattern of incidents warrants the creation of a directed energy weapons playbook for incident deterrence, detection, mitigation, response, emergency services, investigation and recovery purposes.
Such playbooks – generally utilised within counter-terrorism programs – are created for countermeasure purposes against known and recognised threats such as active shooters, suicide bombers or weaponised drones. They proactively lay out the identified threat, and detail plans and actions to address that threat before, during and after an incident has taken place. Examples of potential countermeasures include detectors to provide early warning of electromagnetic use, the ability to triangulate back to the point of origin of a suspected attack, and energy frequency dampeners (for example projected anti-frequency fields).
While none of these policy recommendations will immediately end what could be additional, albeit likely sporadic, future directed energy attacks on US embassy personnel, they will begin to help in responding to these incidents along the continuum of deterrence through to recovery. They should be viewed as prudent measures to be used alongside those actions now being undertaken by US intelligence and federal investigative agencies, which are attempting to determine the actual perpetrators of these incidents and if any definitive links to China’s clandestine services exist.
The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
On Monday morning, May 28, an employee at the Moroccan Consulate in Düsseldorf, Germany, received a letter that contained suspicious powder. The latter gave the employee an unpleasant-looking rash, reports German online newspaper Westdeutsche Zeitung.
According to the same source, the police went to the consulate to «determine the nature of the powder». Moreover, WDR rejects the hypothesis, suggesting that the powder was poisonous, indicating that «the tingling was probably due to a heart attack».
According to the same source, the letter also contained a CD. The information was confirmed by the police, without giving further details.