Batirashvili’s battlefield successes, including orchestrating the capture of Syria’s Menagh Air Base after two years of failed attempts, “helped to legitimize ISIS in militant circles, including in the North Caucasus,” Cecire said.
“Batirashvili’s ability to demonstrate ISIS’ tactical prowess attracted fighters in droves from other factions and tipped the scales in foreign fighter flow and recruitment,” Cecire said. “In the North Caucasus, young people no longer wanted to fight in Syria with the increasingly marginalized Caucasus Emirate (groups), but wanted to fight with the winners – ISIS.”
Batirashvili’s story also was compelling, Cecire said: “A man with a modest background, sickly and impoverished before he went to Syria,” becomes “a great battlefield commander defying the world” . . . a “seemingly emulable, rags-to-riches story.”
In Syria, he’s known as Abu Omar al Shishani, commander in several major victories.
September 16, 2015
Abu Omar al Shishani, whose real name is Tarkhan Batirashvili, appears with other Russian-speaking Islamic State fighters in an Islamic State video, from which this image was captured. Ethnic Chechens, who have fought two wars in a failed effort to achieve independence from Russia, are among the largest groups of Islamic State foreign fighters. (Screenshot from ISIS Video.)
KILLIS, Turkey – The 15 Chechens looking to cross the border from Turkey to Syria didn’t strike Abdullah as particularly important or unusual.
It was early summer in 2012, and as a smuggler based in the Turkish border town of Killis, Abdullah, who’d fled his home village in Syria because of fighting on the outskirts of Aleppo, was used to secretive groups of foreigners – journalists, aid workers and many recently aspiring jihadists – hiring him to cross Turkish military lines at the border while avoiding what was then still a significant Syrian government presence in northern Syrian.
“In 2012, everyone was coming to Syria and we had too much work leading all kinds of people across the border,” he explained over lunch in Killis, a Turkish town just a few miles from the rebel-held Syrian city of Azzaz. “A lot were Muslims who had come to support the revolution against Bashar Assad from every country. So many from Europe, Russia, Germany, France. . . .”
The 15 men had reached Abdullah through a network of contacts that were funneling new fighters to northern Syria, and Abdullah recalled they said they were going to Syria to assist in the fight against Assad. They were quiet, disciplined and for the most part spoke only a bit of crude formal Arabic.
Only later did Abdullah realize that the network that funneled these men to him was the beginnings of the Islamic State, and that one of the 15 would turn out to be the most important non-Arab figure in the Islamic State hierarchy, a former American-trained noncommissioned officer in the special forces of the nation of Georgia, who’d led his men heroically during the 2008 Russian invasion of his homeland.
Abu Omar al Shishani, as he’s now known, had been born Tarkhan Batirashvili 27 years earlier in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, a tiny enclave of ethnic Chechens, known locally as Kists, whose roughly 10,000 residents represent virtually all of the Muslims in predominantly Orthodox Christian Georgia. But analysts of extremist groups said Batirashvili’s impact has been far greater than the small numbers of Muslims in Georgia would suggest. Since he swore allegiance to the Islamic State in 2013, thousands of Muslims from the Caucasus have flocked to Syria to join the extremist cause.
“More than anything else, Batirashvili has legitimized ISIS in the Caucasus by the power of his exploits, which is amplified by slick ISIS propaganda,” said Michael Cecire, an analyst of extremism for the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
aving won nearly 60% of first-round votes to become the British Labour Party’s new leader, the anti-war, anti-austerity, and pro-refugee Jeremy Corbyn now faces new smears as a ”threat to national security.” David Cameron, the Tory prime minister, is orchestrating the charge, accusing the mild-mannered Corbyn of undermining the United Kingdom’s defenses._ _ _ _ _ _ _
. . . The attacks foreshadow a parliamentary debate expected next month over David Cameron’s desire to join the United States and France in a major bombing campaign against Islamic State (ISIS) forces in Syria. Pushing for this authority for a long time, Cameron has acted without parliamentary approval in the targeted assassination by drone of two British citizens fighting for ISIS. His government has also deployed 5 pilots on airstrikes in Syria, embedded with other British personnel in “coalition forces.”
Cameron again proposed airstrikes last week as a response to the influx of refugees, though bombing would almost certainly increase the number of Syrians fleeing to Europe. From media reports, most of the current Syrian refugees appear to come from areas under barrel-bombing and ground attacks by the government of President Bashir al-Assad, who is receiving substantial support from Russia and Iran. Increased bombing of ISIS areas by NATO allies will only add to the refugee flood while increasing the likelihood of British boots on the ground.
And in honor of this past 9/11's sad national memorials . . . .
For those wanting to honor the victims of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, one 9/11 Truth movement activist urges: “Take a stand and research 9/11.”
By Derrick Broze
September 16, 2015
NEW YORK — The 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was marked by somber memorials and moments of silence at “Ground Zero” in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the Flight 93 National Memorial officially opened to the public.
Family members of the victims, President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter delivered speeches commemorating those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and asking the nation to “never forget” what happened on that day.
Carter told the Pentagon workforce: “Today, we remember far more than how these men and women were taken from us. Most of all, we remember and honor what they gave to us through their example of service and leadership, friendship, dedication to this nation and to its defense.”
But another set of family members and politicians throughout the nation marked the anniversary with calls to do more than remember the events of 9/11 — they’re imploring the public to investigate the details of what happened that day and question the official U.S. government narrative.
In New York, activists, researchers, and others interested in an alternative to the U.S. government’s official narrative on 9/11, united for the 14th anniversary to host a screening of the documentary “Firefighters, Architects, Engineers: Expose the Myths of 9/11” on Friday. On Saturday, a symposium, Declassify the Truth – 9/11 Transparency On The Rise, featured experts pursuing different areas of research into the 9/11 attacks.
Politicians also took the anniversary as an opportunity to call for more transparency around the events of that day. Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie called for the release of 28 classified pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.
Those 28 pages were redacted by former President George W. Bush shortly after the 838-page report was released in 2002. Former and current government officials who have seen the documents have stated that the information relates to financing of the terrorists, and points a finger at members of the Saudi government and possibly Saudi royalty. (Saudi Arabia continues to deny any connection to the financing of the 9/11 attacks and continues to fight lawsuits from family members of the 9/11 victims.)
Despite President Obama’s repeated assurances that they would be released, they have still not been made available to the public.
“As a Congressman, I had access to the documents, and while reading them I had to stop every few pages to rearrange my understanding of history for the past 14 years and the years leading up to the attack,” Massie wrote on Facebook. “It challenges you to rethink everything.”
In addition to challenging the notion that the release of the 28 pages would hurt national security interests, he challenged his colleagues “to read the pages on behalf of their constituents and co-sponsor this resolution.”
‘Take a stand and research 9/11’
Bob McIlvaine’s son, Robert “Bobby” McIlvaine Jr., was an assistant vice president of media relations for Merrill Lynch & Co. before he died in the World Trade Center’s North Tower on Sept.11, 2001.
For those wanting to honor the victims of the tragic events of Sept. 11, Bob McIlvaine urges: “Take a stand and research 9/11.”
McIlvaine has been independently investigating the 9/11 attacks since his son’s death and calling attention to what he says are discrepancies in the government’s narrative of the events of that day.
The government version of events claims that Osama bin Laden directed 19 hijackers to fly four planes into high-profile locations across the United States, including the two planes that hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one that hit the Pentagon, and one that was reportedly headed to Washington which ultimately crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The planes that hit the twin towers created a fireball of explosions which weakened the internal steel columns within the buildings, causing three of the towers to fall at nearly free-fall speed, including one which was not hit by a plane. The public is told that the attacks stemmed from the “jihadists’” disdain for American freedoms.
McIlvaine and other survivors, family members, activists, architects, engineers, firefighters, and researchers are part of what is sometimes known as the “9/11 Truth movement.” These skeptics include groups like the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Firefighters for 9/11 Truth and Unity, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, the 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism, Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice, and a long list of local activist groups and individuals from around the globe.
There is no official position within this loose-knit movement. Instead, it’s a mix of opinions, theories, and ideas, which sometimes conflict with one another. Despite the wide-ranging theories, members of this movement generally agree that the official bin Laden narrative promoted by the U.S. government is full of holes.
Independent scientific inquiry in the 9/11 Truth movement
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth have presented a body of evidence which they say proves the presence of nano-thermite, a military grade incendiary capable of assisting in a controlled demolition, in the dust of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
They are joined by other researchers, including physicist Steven Jones and theologian David Ray Griffin, who say there is ample evidence to convince an independent panel of investigators that the impact of the planes or the spilled jet fuel that melted the steel beams aren’t what ultimately caused the buildings to collapse.
Rather, they say, the evidence points to the use of incendiary devices within the buildings’ internal steel columns to cause a uniform collapse, similar to what one might see when a building is brought down by controlled demolition.
In presentation after presentation, Richard Gage, a member of the American Institute of Architects and founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, has attempted to bring the attention of his colleagues, the media, and the public to discrepancies between what the National Institutes of Standards and Technology claims was the cause of the collapse of the buildings and what can be observed by studying video of the collapsing structures.
Gage and over 2,300 architects and engineers have signed a petition stating that the government’s scientific explanations do not add up and that the buildings could not have fallen at the speed they did without the uniform removal of the support structures from the lower half of the building.
Gage has been touring the country for years working to change the conversation on the science behind the collapse of the buildings.
“I want to encourage everybody to do something. We are all subject to the call of action by our conscience,” Gage told "MintPress News" on the sidelines of the events in New York. “It doesn’t take much to send out emails, and blog, and call your congressman.”
Gage and Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth point to acceleration at or nearly free-fall speed, eyewitness accounts of explosions in the basements and lobbies of the buildings, the presence of thermite incendiaries in the dust of the building, as well as video which shows air being forced out of the building as it collapses.
In a documentary titled “9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out,” Gage claims that the air escaping is the result of “squibs,” or miniature explosive devices, placed throughout the building. “Videos show clouds of debris pulverized in mid-air and isolated explosive ejections, as many as 60 stories below the so-called ‘crush zone,’” Gage says in one clip.
The organization focuses on the collapse of the twin towers as well (as) the collapse of World Trade Center 7, the 47-story building that fell later in the day despite not being hit by a plane.
Indeed, much of the 9/11 Truth community sees the collapse of Building 7 as the smoking gun which reveals the presence of explosives used to bring the buildings down. According to NIST, the building collapsed due to fires that spread throughout it. The 9/11 Truth community disputes the claims that fires were raging through the building, pointing to dark, black smoke which signals oxygen-starved fires.
‘Firefighters, Architects, Engineers: Expose the Myths of 9/11’
On Friday, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth partnered with the recently revived Firefighters for 9/11 Truth and Unity for the debut of a documentary presentation called “Firefighters, Architects, Engineers: Expose the Myths of 9/11.”
Firefighters for 9/11 Truth and Unity is made up of former and current firefighters from fire departments around the nation who question the official version of events.
Erik Lawyer, the firefighter who founded the group in 2008, told "MintPress" that it was difficult to question the official narrative at first.
“I was having a hard time connecting to people. I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere, there was so much apathy around me,” Lawyer said. “I became a survivalist, started to shut down. I began a downward spiral so I stepped away from the Truth movement.”
He stepped away from the organization for five years, and during this time he says he had a “spiritual transformation.” Lawyer uses the fire department as a metaphor for building a conscious movement of critical thinkers. He aims to create “fire departments” that can address “fires” of the mind and help create solutions to the world’s problems, including uncovering the truth of 9/11.
“When I was invited to come back into the Truth movement I was only interested in doing so if we could focus on what we are for, and creating systems and uniting people,” Lawyer said.
Lawyer hosts monthly synchronized prayer events, as well as documentary screenings about his journey into the world of 9/11 Truth and the evidence for the controlled demolition theory.
The new documentary features the former firefighter giving a presentation on how he used the National Fire Protection Association’s own guidebook to prove that NIST’s investigation was incomplete.
The NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigation sets the national standard for how a fire investigation should be conducted. “Based on the damage we saw and the witness testimony, there should have been tests for explosives. NIST refused to test for explosives,” Lawyer told MintPress.
‘Declassify the Truth’
On Saturday, New York City activists partnered with Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth to co-host a symposium called “Declassify the Truth – 9/11 Transparency On The Rise,” which was slated to “evaluate legislation in Congress that seeks to declassify 28 pages of 9/11 evidence and the political repercussions approaching the next presidential election.”
Some of the topics covered by the panels included the anthrax attacks which began the week after Sept. 11, 2001, the efforts to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 report, ideas for building a grassroots movement questioning the official narrative on the 9/11 attacks, and methods for creating a legal case for investigating 9/11. A panel of psychologists also discussed why individuals might be afraid to re-examine the events of that day and how they can deal with the possibility of losing friends or family over challenging official narrative.
Speaking publicly for the first time was Henry Pavlak, a survivor of the North Tower. Pavlak recently published “One-Way Elevator,” a novel exploring his experience in the North Tower and what lead him to question the government’s official 9/11 narrative.
Pavlak describes feelings of guilt for surviving the terror attacks, and he says that guilt initially prevented him from questioning the official story of 9/11. In his book, Pavlak’s character finds a book that claims “9/11 was an inside job” which leads him to explore the 9/11 Truth movement.
“When people say there has been so much investigation into 9/11 and that these theories have been debunked, I say, ‘No, they have not,’” Pavlak told "MintPress." “We have new investigations on Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s emails, why not 9/11?”
He says a new investigation would honor the dead, including the over 3,000 first responders who have died from illnesses since 9/11.
“Honor the families by getting the truth. After 9/11, everyone was grieving or in shock. It’s so simple to fall into your daily routine,” he said. “I feel guilty for not getting involved earlier. I want to get involved now and see what happens. If enough people do it, we will get those 28 pages released.”
‘I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid’
Much like the redacted 28 pages of the joint inquiry report, Freedom of Information Act requests related to a number of different aspects of the 9/11 attacks have yielded similarly redacted and censored results. One of the people leading this fight is Vance Green, whose sister, Diane, was working in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
“I am not ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ of the 9/11 Truth movement. I have spent the last six years now doing my own independent research and fact-checking everything the Truth movement has been saying,” Green told "MintPress."
His FOIA requests were the result of examining the arguments of the 9/11 Truth community and government claims.
“When I have both sides of the story, I have a fuller picture,” Green said. “And the evidence does not match, the people whose story does not match is, unfortunately, the government. Especially when we found out that some of the alleged hijackers were found alive.”
Several of the hijackers were found to be alive shortly after the 9/11 attacks. In September 2001, the BBC reported that the identities of four of the men were uncertain because they had turned up alive. “Looking into the hijackers was the beginning of cracking this shell around my head that kept me insulated from this inconvenient truth,” Green stated.
Shortly after he began his investigation he started filing FOIA requests on a number of government agencies. He focused on reports of military exercises taking place during the summer of 2001 and on Sept. 11, 2011. Green has documentation of a number of exercises involving agencies including NORAD, the New Jersey Air National Guard, and the National Reconnaissance Office, among others. These exercises have names like Amalgam Virgo, Global Guardian, and Vigilant Guardian.
Green is not the first person to reveal the existence of exercises that simulate scenarios eerily similar to the 9/11 attacks, including Amalgam Virgo, a June 2001 exercise which imagined hijackers commandeering an airplane under the direction of Osama bin Laden.
“Nobody had to die. Someone was thinking: bin Laden, plane, terrorism. They should have been prepared because they were training for this exact scenario,” he said.
One of the more controversial theories of 9/11 research is the idea that a plane did not strike the Pentagon, but that a missile or similar weapon was shot into the outer walls of the Pentagon. The only publicly available footage of the attack on the Pentagon has not convinced all of the 9/11 Truth community that a plane hit the Department of Defense’s headquarters.
“Amalgam Virgo also shows a missile being launched from a freightliner,” Green said. “I am not saying that’s what happened. We know the Pentagon was involved in the exercises (-) to what degree we do not know because it’s been redacted. Where the exercises were and what agencies were involved is all classified.”
Green’s goal is to continue compiling documents and putting together pieces of a puzzle that he hopes will reveal more about what exactly went happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
“My intent with getting these documents is to get into court, but I guess that involves a public awareness campaign,” Green said. “That’s only going to happen by explaining to people, reminding them why this is important.”
Putting science over emotion, looking ahead
At this year’s 9/11 Truth events in New York, Bob McIlvaine was less optimistic than Vance Green. McIlvaine, whose son died in the attacks, says he will continue to speak at 9/11 Truth events despite his pessimism about getting to the bottom of the attacks.
When asked how his family members have responded to his 9/11 Truth activism, he said: “Indifference.”
Then he added: “I almost got into a fight down at Ground Zero. One of the other family members asked my wife, ‘How can your husband think like this?’”
He insists that he will not give up his efforts to bring the whole truth about 9/11 to light.
“My wife, for the first time, she came out and watched the documentary [“Firefighters, Architects, Engineers: Expose the Myths of 9/11”]. It takes the emotion away from our son’s death, to see the science behind how it happened,” he said. “My wife said, ‘Now, if you die, I will talk about this.’”
September 16, 2015
They’re pretty much f*cked, so…