Tag Archives: Foreign Office

Living with choices made

We do that at times, we also endure the bitter fruits that we gained from choices. I made some myself, in two cases I trusted the wrong person and it costed me dearly, an invoice payable over decades. I get that, it was my choice, I was an adult and therefor I accept to live with the choice made. It is partially the reason I go out and expose bullshit artists’ because of the dangers that they represent, as well as their friends who knowingly stand by them. So when I saw ‘UK will not put officials at risk to rescue Isis Britons, says minister‘, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/14/uk-isis-britons-officials-risk-syria-schoolgirl-shamima-begum) gives us “I’m not putting at risk British people’s lives to go looking for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state,” I personally believe that this makes perfect sense. Some might have a bleeding heart when they see: “it was revealed Shamima Begum, one of three pupils from Bethnal Green, east London, who left to join Isis four years ago, told the Times she wanted to return to the UK“, yet there is no way to tell how radicalised she has become. In addition, even as we accept that “Wallace said that as a British citizen, Begum had a right to return home, but anyone who joined Isis should expect to be investigated, interviewed and “at the very least prosecuted” on their return“, we also need to accept that would need to be under scrutiny for some time to come, she is optionally a direct threat to the Britons around her and as such her return also means putting pressure on the budgets of GCHQ and MI5, so there is that to consider. Now, I am not stating that is a reason to keep her out, yet when people state that they are so adult, so well informed and go to places like ISIS Syria, getting married to a Muslim she did not know, have three children with two of them dead is the lifestyle she chose. In addition there is another matter that I had not considered. Even if she is not radicalised, Sir Peter Fahy (former chief constable of Greater Manchester police) gives us: “The biggest challenge if she did come back will be how the police will keep her safe and how she wouldn’t be some sort of lightning rod for both Islamic and far-right extremists“, as an optional catalyst she becomes a new threat on other levels too, as stated, that was something I had not considered and it is important to see that as a matter that could lead its own life. In all the papers and media events we focussed on radicalisation and we forgot that the threat of being a catalyst is actually a larger issue to consider.

And the news is now pouring in from all sides regarding Amira Abase, Shamima Begum and Kadiza Sultana. As all focus on Begum, we know that Kadiza Sultana is dead, the other two were alive in August 2018, and the present status of Amira Abase will be looked at in the near future. My reasons for having the position that I am showing to have is that all need to be held accountable for their actions, not merely governments and large corporations, individuals as well. So when we see “Aqsa Mahmood, a former Scottish university student, has been put under international sanctions for her role as an online recruiter, with other female jihadists including Khadijah Dare and Sally-Anne Jones have called for terror attacks on social media and called on other women to follow them to Syria” (source: the Independent), we need to realise that a governments job is to keep its citizens safe, with the danger of radicalisation and being a catalyst becoming too large a danger, there is everything to be said to leave these people to their fate, so they either become a danger or they die. It seems a simple equation. Yet, we know it is not. The move by more and more Muslim girls (and women) from the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands to step onto the ISIS platform is a given stage for dangers, more than we see at first light. You might think of Robert Ben Lobban Wallace being a softy, think again, he is Sandhurst trained, and a Scots Guard commander with 24 years of intelligence experience. He knows what he is in for and he is more aware of most on the dangers that former ISIS women present. That needs to be taken into consideration before we give rise to: ‘Let Shamima Begum come back, say Bethnal Green residents‘ (the Guardian), ‘British schoolgirl who fled London to join IS pleads to come home to have her baby‘ (News.com.au) and ‘UK schoolgirl Shamima Begum who fled to join Islamic State ‘wants to return home to England’‘ (ABC). you see, the moment she is back and some misguided catalyst event explodes (optionally very literally), we will get all the accusations and all the pointing fingers of a failed police force, yet from my point of view, the people of Bethnal Green will not be allowed to complain. It will be the direct consequence of ‘let her come back‘ and the family members of those victims can ask those people for reparations and grief counselling. So as we see the impact of Shamima Begum (19) mother of three with optionally only one child left alive is seeing the impact of what she thought would be a fairy tale in ISIS. The people who stayed awake have been aware of the danger that ISIS is more than half a decade before she left, she merely listened to the wrong people and it got her family and optionally soon enough her killed. That is the impact of terrorism.

ABC News also gives us: “Independent of this, Home Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to weigh in on whether Ms Begum should have the right to return to the UK, along with intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 and counterterrorism police, who are anticipated to conduct further investigations into potential dangers Ms Begum could pose to the UK“, the issue is not merely that, the words of Sir Peter Fahy are important too, it is not merely what she does, it is what triggers others to do because of her that counts too and that is where the problem begins. This is not merely come algorithm, it is the dimensional impact that others will trigger at her presence, merely via news, or by seeing her. The part that is not about whether she was ISIS, but the part where others see her as a member of ISIS until she is dead, that is the larger issue and there is no way to set that stage in a dependable way. It is like fishing for sharks in the North Sea. You can go to places where they are most likely to be found, yet throwing out bait and a fishing line does not give rise to catching a shark, you could end up with another fish entirely.

It is in that light that I oppose the view of Amina Mohamed, 52, a housewife, who gave us in the guardian: “She was a baby, she didn’t know what was going on there. People played a game with her and brainwashed her. She was a child“, she made a very clear choice, she decided not to listen to her parents, and it is actually that simple. I do not have much on the parents of Shamima Begum, yet the Evening Standard gave us: ‘after deceiving their parents‘, so in all that, it seems to me that a choice was made and as such, they will have to live with the consequences that they created at the age of 15.

The BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47240100) if the sides in all this as even as there are sides that give rise to the responsibility of the British government, the question that we cannot answer is how radicalised has she become? The fact that we see: “She and two friends – Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana – flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after lying to their parents about their plans for the day. Their aim was to join another friend, Sharmeena Begum“, there is a part that is seemingly ignored by a few people. Not only did was she able to get to Turkey (so they had passports and they tend to take a while, and apart from the fact that an unsupervised minor got one), the fact that the BBC gives us: “The trio were picked up by smugglers working for the IS group and taken across the border into the group’s territory in northern Syria” that there was a logistical support system in place that set the stage for minors to get to Syria from Turkey, the costs that is involved (three times £175 plus additional expenses), the fact that Gatwick raised no questions on unaccompanied minors, the smugglers they willingly followed (so waiting at the airport), there is a larger support system in place for this. There was a recruitment drive and there is a financial stage in all this. There are clear reasons that no one on the ISIS side wants her to be able to talk to MI5, so the issue is not that clear and it is a lot more hazardous for those around any of the optional two still alive that make it back to the UK, so from where I stand, I see that Sir Peter Fahy is correct in several ways.

Investigating these elements should be high on the priority list and they might be, yet the coverage I have seen so far does not ask any of those questions, do they?

I do realise that the entire matter is more complex that this, yet the fact that dissemination of information is lacking levels of scrutiny is a larger issue that needs to be addressed. To see this, we need to consider to parts, first a local one. In Australia Jenny McAllister has voted very strongly against more scrutiny of intelligence services & police on several occasions. Now, that is her right and partially it is her duty to vote one way or the other. Then there is the Financial Times two weeks ago who gave us: ‘Foreign Office criticised over scrutiny of UK spy agencies‘ (at https://www.ft.com/content/4a1cc4e6-2619-11e9-b329-c7e6ceb5ffdf) and we see: “The two agencies use section seven of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act, often referred to as the “James Bond clause”, to authorise activities overseas that might otherwise lead to criminal and civil liability under UK law“, yet in the same trend we see a lack of questions when it can be established that 15 year old girls are recruited in the UK, there is a logistical support system to get them to Syria and the media seems to remain oblivious to a much larger degree (it is the people need not know approach) to something much more pressing in all that. I must have forgotten the lessons on common law regarding the recruitment of children for criminal purpose, how did that go again?

So when I see: “Such missions could include MI6 agents breaking into properties in foreign countries to obtain documents or GCHQ infiltrating computers and networks in ways that might otherwise fall foul of UK laws“, which is a larger implication when a 19 year old is having her third child and it raises no questions, especially as the marriage might be seen as illegal?

At that point my question towards Dan Dolan, deputy director at Reprieve, who is so about doing the right ‘thing’, will be about: What should we do? How far are we allowed to go to prevent recruitment and radicalisation of minors straight out of primary school? How far are we allowed to go to keep British children safe? I think that plenty of intelligence operators lost the plot in the Huawei events (which the Financial Times endorses with a photograph), yet when it comes to threats like ISIS the intelligence industry hasn’t even seen the outer limits lights at present, I am not entirely sure if they are able to tell the colour of those lights when asked. the larger issue is that the intelligence operators are not merely walking a tightrope, they are walking one that is covered in razor blades and at any time there is not merely the risk that it cuts into the feet, it is also a risk that it cuts the rope they are walking on, giving rise to additional hazards, Shamima Begum is merely one of several risks at present and it is important to realise that a Queensberry Rules approach is not merely making us human and humane, it is getting us killed with 99% certainty, the opposition does not warrant, endorse of accepts any kind of rules. I do hope that the recruitment of 15 year old girls will suffice as evidence at present.

 

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By what standard

An article appeared several hours ago that brings forth questions. The Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/03/saudi-execution-call-for-west-to-condemn-killing-of-shia-cleric), gives several causes for concern. The first one is in the title ‘Saudi execution: call for west to condemn killing of Shia cleric‘, why? The subtitle ‘UK Treasury minister describes the killing of Nimr al-Nimr as a ‘worrying development’ as tensions escalate‘ is cause for additional concern. In my (simplistic) viewpoint, why is David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury speaking here (read: quoted)? Why is this not voiced by the UK foreign office (and the Home office for that matter)? THEY are spokespeople in this case, well the Foreign Office more than the Home Office in this case, but the home office would be voicing the ‘home front’ feelings. No, it is the financial secretary to the Treasury, whose voice does not count in this situation that is the view that is voiced.

You see, Saudi Arabia is a sovereign nation where the use of capital punishment is based on Shari’ah (or Islamic law). I did not study Shari’ah Law and as such I cannot answer the legality in this, but Saudi Arabia is a sovereign nation with its own set of laws and it is time for people to start understanding that other cultures have other rules and laws. For me, I am still amazed on how capital punishment is not in existence in Commonwealth Law, in addition, I am amazed how targeted killing is still not a legal option, an absence I still believe is more an act of cowardice than anything else (I will address this part later in this article).

So Saudi Arabia has the death penalty, this is not new, it is a given. Yet, what people seem to forget is that when you look deeper into Islamic Banking and Finance that this system is not greed driven, that what is regarded as Sharia compliant finance. It approached the view where Sharia prohibits acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money, whether the payment is fixed or floating, which as I understand it implies any excess compensation without due consideration (absent of time value of money), which implies (without deeper investigation, cannot be stated as for certain by me) that the hedge funds nightmare that Wall Street bestowed upon the world would never have happened under Shari’ah Law, I will let you contemplate that thought by yourself!

Let’s get back to capital punishment! When we look at an article by Elizabeth Peiffer (at http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1132&context=wmjowl), we see the following on page 508 (page 3 of the article), “The harsh punishments required for hudud crimes are intended to deter those who might commit crimes that are dangerous to an Islamic society“, in additional support there is something I should add from the Catholic Education Resource Center (at http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/social-justice/catholicism-amp-capital-punishment.html), where we see “At no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment. In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die” (Matthew 15:4; Mark 7:10, referring to Exodus 2l:17; cf. Leviticus 20:9)“, in addition I offer “The last case of an execution by the Catholic Church was that of the schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoll, accused of deism by the waning Spanish Inquisition and hanged to death 26 July 1826 in Valencia after a two-year trial” (at http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/805877-196/daily-twip—the-spanish-inquisition-executes.html).

We seem to impose ‘our’ values on every nation, yet we do not take responsibility or repair the damage we allow others to make under either a Christian or atheist guise, how just is that?

Let’s get back to the issue that started all this, you see Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was sentenced to death. The BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29627766) gives us “he was found guilty of seeking “foreign meddling” in the kingdom, “disobeying” its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces“, ‘taking up arms against the security forces’ could be seen as insurrection at best and treason at worst, when I point back to the issue shown in the article by Elizabeth Peiffer we get ‘intended to deter those who might commit crimes that are dangerous to an Islamic society’, is that not the case for both insurrection and treason? Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was himself a cleric, so how was the consequence a surprise? Because he was regarded as ‘popular among youth’? The sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia has a set of laws, this is known, so again, why do we read that David Gauke sees this as a ‘worrying development’? Shouldn’t the man be playing with an abacus and solving the UK economy issues (the UK has plenty of those)? In addition, he represents South West Hertfordshire, which is part of Hertfordshire, where less than 1% is Muslim, a county where 90% is either Christian or has no religion (27.3%), so again, what gives, personal interest or unofficial messenger?

The blunt cold issue is that a cleric went against the established order and Shari’ah Law intervened directly and definitively, which I admit is my rather simplistic view on the matter.

In an age where culling over 30% of the planets population could solve food issues, housing issues and several other issues, we seem to embrace the solution that does not get us anywhere. Now it is time to get back to an earlier statement and explain my reasoning. In our day and age, capital punishment should not be seen as a bad thing, we should see this as the ultimate form of accountability. Consider the News in Brisbane where “Cole Miller, 18, was allegedly struck in the head from behind as he walked with a friend through the Chinatown Mall about 3.35am yesterday (AEST)” (at http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/01/03/07/16/young-man-randomly-king-hit-while-walking-through-brisbane-mall-overnight). Why not ‘reward’ Armstrong Renata and Daniel Maxwell with the death penalty for such a cowardly attack? I feel certain that after a few of these executions teens will get hit in the head from behind a lot less. Why was he attacked in the first place? That is still for a court to decide, but too often and for too long the victim and its family gets to suffer whilst the courts ‘go soft’ too often on the transgressors and it is not because there are so many jobs or there are so many apartments available. As stated, it is for a court to decide and there is of course the need for evidence, because we know how it ended, but how did it get started? I do not have the facts, but that is an important element in Common Law, I am just no longer willing to see that the abolishment of capital punishment is a good idea.

I also mentioned cowardice earlier, for this I need to address the issue of targeted killing. You see, the law as is seems to revere ‘non-permanent’ solutions. In all that people are faced with dangers and risks. Consider that 70% lives in a legal way, no crimes committed, now we get 29.9991% that does have a criminal side, for that we have the law, I do not oppose this, they are criminals of all kinds, from pickpockets, to robbers to murderers, for those we have the law. There is a very small group, 0.0009%, this group is so malignant, so violent (read: extremely fanatic or terrorist), that their presence is a direct threat to the people and to our way of life. In all this, we ‘hide’ behind Common Law and its settings, like it is a Golden Calf (I am referring here to Exodus 32:1–6), how dare we revere a book to that level whilst knowingly endangering the people we swore to protect, are those victims in that same view not degraded to simple human sacrifices for the existence of a book of rules? How can we sacrifice those lives and are we not willing to take the lives who are knowingly and intentionally threatening those innocent (and some less innocent) lives? Are we not bound to protect the people in any accountable way we possibly can? It is the word accountable that should have opened the door to targeted killing a long time ago, I am not referring to 9/11; I am referring to events even before that. To the days of Baader Meinhoff and the Rote Armee Fraktion. Italy had the Red Brigade, Japan the Red Army and that list goes on for a while. We seem to focus on Islamic groups, yet we forget that the Ku Klux Klan, White Power groups as Christian groups and most other religions have their terrorist organisations, groups with members focused on extreme violence against a specific group or a nation in general, as such, when that government has a direct responsibility to keep its citizens safe, where is the logic to not pursue these extremists with all options, including terminal ones?

So by what standard are we judging?

We seem to push our standards onto others, whilst in most western European nations we have only succeeded in making a bigger mess, whilst not holding anyone accountable for anything, as I see it, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr decided on a course of action, here (Australia, UK, Canada, sometimes the US too) we all believe in freedom of speech, yet In Islamic nations there seems to be an interpretation that ‘crimes that are dangerous to an Islamic society‘ are strictly dealt with by holding that person accountable. Please consider that I am voicing a view based on the ‘facts’ as I see it published, I am not stating on the ruling of the specific court case of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr as I do not have all the facts on that case. And consider again, why is the voice of David Gauke quoted and not from the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP? In this case it is his voice as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs that sets the tone of how we as a Commonwealth (read: United Kingdom) shall deal with our allies, our connected nations and our enemies, not David Gauke. In Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop stated today that the Australian government is deeply disturbed by Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of 47 people that same approach was taken by Canada where Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion condemns Saudis over Mass Execution (including the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr). So why did the article by Martin Chulov not mention the big names from Canada and Australia within that article? OK, in all fairness, the response from Julie Bishop was only voiced a few hours ago, but the Canadian voice was given yesterday, plenty of time to include that one, it seems to me that the article is about careful ‘voicing’ what does not really matter for the political field that becomes a lot less maneuverable over the coming year, another fact conveniently ignored.

All this regarding the standard a sovereign nations holds. We might not agree and we can voice that, but we must equally accept that every nation has its own rights in dealing with transgressors, even if we are too unwilling to do this ourselves. Consider that hypocrisy is knowingly not practicing what you tell others to do (like having just laws against crime and for victims), now consider that Irony is becoming a judge after illustrating the failure of law.

So is this a mere case of Hypocritical Irony?

 

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Diplomatic Disbelief

Even though the economy is about to take a weird leap, which will be discussed in the next blog, the events as they unfolded on last night’s news by the NOS is taking a weird step to say the least.

So, on Tuesday evening, the NOS decided to release information on events that happened last Saturday. Now, these things happen. Whether it is just average news, or embargoed news, the fact that diplomatic grounds were transgressed upon, whilst as far as it seems with an utter lack of viable reasons is something that seldom happens. It might actually be a Dutch first, but there it is, the Dutch police thought it was to some level a good idea to enter the premises of a member of the Russian Diplomatic Corps.

Since when is that not major news?

So let us go over the facts for as much as we can.

As the NOS reported, on Saturday the Russian diplomat Dmitry Borodin was arrested in his apartment. This was due to neighbour complaints about the safety and danger to his children.

So, here

  • First, diplomatic grounds were violated.
  • Second, the diplomat was taken away, even though, according to his statement, he pointed out his diplomatic immunity.

Subtotal: this fiasco at this point involved the Dutch home office and the Dutch foreign office.

There are additional issues with the Vienna Convention on Relations and Optional Protocol on Disputes, but about that part later.

So let’s look at the time line.

This happened on Saturday evening, which means that the police commissioner should have received a phone call that scared him to death before midnight. He then wakes up the Dutch ministers Ronald Plasterk (Home office), Frans Timmermans (Foreign Office) and Ivo Opstelten (Justice). The simple reason is that when you miscommunicate from the top, you want that list to remain as short as possible. At that point, the arresting officers will get the picture that it will be a long weekend for them, as they get grilled and checked on every piece of paper they create.

The Russian side was simple; the man was released after three hours.

So at this point, it is Sunday, it is way too soon for lunch. Those four individuals are (or should be) earning their pay. However, did this happen? It seems not, as Kysia Hekster, NOS reporter investigates her story, I see none of these matters. The fact, that after the trivial matters that the NOS reported on Sunday and Monday and, this Tuesday story smells like Hamlet, (a foul stench that is coming from the news).

Important to realise that in the first, we do not know whether the policemen were morally wrong, they were definitely legally wrong to enter diplomatic premises. I wonder what their side is on all this, as I would want to hear this. The fact that Sky News did not seem to have picked this up and the Guardian picked it up only after the Netherlands did seems to indicate that several levels of embargo in place.

I have to admit that several facts do not add up. For one that only after arrival at the police station people learned that this was a diplomat. The fact that the address did not raise flags is an issue on several levels. You see, partially I am all for a new cold war. However, it would be nice if we start being clever about it on how we start this and not give away the cheese on these levels of ‘silliness’. The statement by Annemieke Vermeer-Kunzki is acceptable. She stated that ‘the Dutch are likely wrong’. She is holding out for space as she might not have all the facts. There are of course issues if the children were clearly in danger. I am not claiming that fact to be true or false, I just do not have viable data on that claim.

What is, however really clear, is that this circus, which started on Saturday, is only now getting into the visible light of newscasting. So interesting to see how this evolves, especially as news agencies, who are always claiming ‘the people have a right to know‘ seem to remain to be in the dark on these events? I reckon that at present it sucks to be a minister (one of the three mentioned that is).

There are more considerations. No matter how right or how wrong, President Putin will not take kindly to this. The Russian Diplomatic Corps is his shiny horse and officials messing with this will get the wrong side of the lime light. It will be interesting to see what Director Bartholee of the AIVD (Dutch version of MI-5) will do. No matter how morally right the policemen might have been, they might be in hot waters in more than one way. The response on NOS news by Foreign office minister Timmermans is also out of bounds (to some extent). It is nice to ‘await the report‘, however when this information is released three days after the event, then it is time to ask questions in these matters, especially with such an international event. In addition, the NOS was really not that active in asking the ministers involved the questions that needed to be asked, especially when most of the ‘news’ is about budget meetings that are not moving forward (about that part more in my next blog).

We will see this unfold, yet the lack of visibility whilst CNN reports on a couple who survives a near-fatal hike, how BBC world release information on 4 Spanish members released in Mexico. It seems to me that there was nothing on this event on any of those stations. Even Sky News seemed to have nothing, just that a ‘New Dreamliner is on its way‘. In a time when our privacies seem to be blowing in the wind, as we see a headline like ‘Regulation will be imposed on press as politicians reject self-regulation’, where the quote “Tom Harris, a former minister, warns on Wednesday that his party is undermining freedom.” and at the same time, those Journalists do not act on a story of diplomatic trespass gives more than one indication that the PRESS seems to have lost view on the things that should matter.

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