The Trials and Tribulations of Omar Khadr

Written by: Zanab J.S. 

In the twilight hours of July 27th, 2002, Omar Khadr stepped out of his makeshift home in Afghanistan towards a brilliant white light. 

The Beginning (2002)

At 15 years old, Khadr had not yet experienced the growth spurt boys his age hope for, and when the shrapnel of a recently lobbed grenade made its way to him, it would be his left eye and chest that weathered the most damage. Had he been a few inches taller, a few beats quicker, it is possible he would still be able to see with both eyes instead of one. With two quick bullet wounds in his back, Khadr would collapse into the dust, the incendiary light fading around him.

Not knowing at the time he had stepped into the middle of a firefight between Afghan belligerents, and American soldiers, Omar had been shot twice following the detonation of a grenade--an act which would kill one soldier, and an act for which he would be blamed. Khadr would later beg for the American soldiers who caused his injuries to kill him, not knowing at the time his story--the following story--had only begun. 

The next time Khadr would wake it would be in Bagram, Afghanistan, where he would undergo several surgeries. His interrogation and torture would begin before he had a chance to heal, and the surgeries he needed most to recover his vision would be denied as a form of punishment. 

At 15 years old Khadr would be refused painkillers, he would be forced to carry heavy weights to exacerbate the injuries in his shoulder, and would be threatened with rape constantly. His nickname would be "Buckshot," he would be made to work "like a horse", and despite diplomatic requests from Canada, the country of his birth and his first home, he would be sent to Guantanamo Bay. 

Though still a child, Khadr's status as enemy combatant would be that of an adult, and he would be treated as such throughout his imprisonment. Each day constituted a different torture, a different technique, and it would not be until 7 months later that a representative from Canada would travel to meet the young prisoner. 

Expecting help from the country of his birth, Khadr would not realize until a year later that the visits from CSIS officials were interrogations, not interviews for his repatriation. These meetings lightly disguised as consul visits would siphon information from Khadr to those who sought it most at Guantanamo. The highest court of Canada would allow this to continue for two years. 

An unlikely confession of lobbing the grenade--which he himself was injured by--would be extracted from the teenager under extreme duress, violating every known principle of the act of confession. 

From 2003 to 2008, Khadr would face litanies of abuse: from beatings, to threats of rape, to isolation and physical confinement, all aspects of physical and psychological warfare would be expended on Omar. Confidential information shared with his lawyers would be demanded from him, violations of the American constitution and Canadian charter of rights would become frequent. 

In 2004, at the same time as Omar was being kept in complete confinement, without windows in his room or human contact for days, an American lieutenant would boldly lie to the world and say "we no longer hold juveniles in Guantanamo." 

Omar Khadr, at the age of 15 years old//AFP.

Omar Khadr, at the age of 15 years old//AFP.

The Trials (2005-2008): 

The first tribunal to decide the consequences of Omar's standing as a child soldier violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the Geneva Convention almost simultaneously. His testimony and confession received under duress and torture--though inadmissible in most courts--became the beacon for his conviction of major war crimes in this one. Charged with murder at 15 years old, the Canadian child soldier would become a prime candidate for the American death penalty. 

The second tribunal would place even harsher charges on Khadr for his alleged actions on July 27th, and would continue to charge Khadr as an adult rather than a minor. When the presiding judge demanded documentation of evidence from the prosecution, and consequently, evidence which would reveal some of the illegitimate practices of abuse and torture used to extract Khadr's confession, he would be removed from his post and replaced with another judge. 

Illegitimate Actions of the Canadian Government

For years, the Canadian government denied any responsibility to repatriate Khadr. Instead of working to gain his extradition, Canadian officials assisted the United States in seeking his conviction.

Displaying false intentions and lying to Khadr on multiple occasions, Canadian consul members spied on a citizen of their own country to piece together any evidence of his wrongdoing before handing it over to the American army. In a stunning display of betrayal, and a violation of the Canadian charter, Canadian intelligence officials worked to wrongfully prove Khadr guilty, rather than ensuring him the safety and due process which is his birthright. 

The undeniable illegality of these actions would be made public through a federal court ruling in 2007 in which the Harper government was declared in violation of international law. The original trial sought the release of video evidence of Khadr's interrogations, and consequently video evidence of the interrogation torture techniques used by the Canadians. 

The Canadian government, in a desperate attempt to complete their original mission of dumping Khadr to the U.S. once and for all, sought an appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada to deny the turn over of video evidence. 

The SCC ruled in favour of Khadr and the videos of Omar's abuse and tortured were made public to the world. After 5 years, the world was finally about to see the result of illegal collusion between the Canadian intelligence agency, and the American army against a 15 year old child soldier. 

Omar Khadr (left), pictured with Dennis Edney in 2015. 

Omar Khadr (left), pictured with Dennis Edney in 2015. 

Guilty Plea, Repatriation (2009-2015)

What is largely described as an effort to return home, Khadr plead guilty to the crimes positioned against him. The Harper government would continue to deny Omar's repatriation until the SCC's unanimous ruling against the Canadian government and the illegality of their reluctance to protect Khadr. 

It would be another 2 years of hellish imprisonment before Omar would return to his birthplace in a maximum security prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence. The conservative government, true to fashion, would deny his right as a convicted juvenile and keep him under conditions harsher than usual for someone serving his sentence. 

The End (2015-Present)

Omar Khadr completed the remainder of his sentence in Canada. Since 2015 he has lived with his lawyer Dennis Edny as a component of his probation. Khadr is engaged to Muna Abougoush, an advocate who raised awareness for his cause throughout his imprisonment. 

Khadr sued the Canadian government for their violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by colluding to convict Khadr rather than protecting him via extradition. He was awarded 10.5 million dollars in July, 2017, for the mistreatment he suffered for 13 years.


For inquiries regarding this article, tweet Zanab J.S. @zanabism.

ANTIFAS IN NEW JERSEY LABELED DOMESTIC TERROR ORGANIZATIONS BY STATE HOMELAND SECURITY

Inauguration of President Donald Trump

Inauguration of President Donald Trump

New Jersey’s Homeland Security has listed the broader anti-fascist (antifa) movement as a domestic terror group.

This decision follows a series of demonstrations and protests undertaken by a multitude of locally coordinated antifa groups within the country. In New Jersey’s case, there were three chapters in the state (North Jersey Antifa, South Jersey Antifa, and HubCity Antifa) cited as the primary targets of the decision. The official website of NJHS then goes on to list a doxxing campaign carried out by Antifa Action-Nebraska against a figure head of the American Vanguard, a white-nationalist group. This is followed by a few incidents where Trump supporters or white supremacists were caught in a melee with antifa demonstrators/black-bloc protesters.

The reasoning behind NJHS’s decision has left many activists in New Jersey concerned. The department cites the numerous attempts by antifa demonstrators engaging white supremacist groups with violence--not just in New Jersey, but in other states as well--since last year’s election. One would have assumed the NJHS would have cited destruction of property before the attacks on white supremacist groups as a justification for their decision. For some activists, this is indicative of the lengths NJHS will go to misdirect the impact of local antifa chapters.                                                                                           

What does this mean at the federal level? Nothing immediately. The decision made by NJHS currently reflects only the Governorship and what some describe as their hostility towards the “far left”. Taking this move into account, it wouldn’t be surprising to find more and more states enacting this policy as they become increasingly threatened by the existence of demonstrators willing to engage hate groups with violence. If history is an indicator, the state using the label “domestic terrorist” will green light political arrest and sanction the bodily harm of demonstrators and activists defending themselves.

Looking back to previous state action against demonstrators, the beginning of this year saw several legislators attempt to introduce bills to crack down on the increasing number of protests in the country. The suggested legislation ranged anywhere from utilizing anti-racketeering laws, to criminalizing anyone wearing a mask, and even removing the penalties towards motorists that strike protesters.

While all of these attempts have been met with differing levels of success and failure (with some being completely voted down) it demonstrates the willingness of local authorities to not only dissuade the increasingly justified violence (i.e. rioting and physically confronting hate groups), but to confine protest within boundaries deemed beneficial by the state.

Despite the differing rationale, both conservative and liberal political establishments oppose the form of demonstration most often used by antifa groups. With this common ground comes two separate possible outcomes for the protesters; one is harsh and disproportionate punishment in the event of an arrest, and the other suggests setting certain parameters for protestors in an effort to, as mentioned before, confine and control the demonstrations.

#Canada150: What Exactly Are We Celebrating?

Written by Zanab J.S. 

Patriotism is a strange elixir mixed into the proverbial nourishment we receive as residents of any country.

There is an implicit (nowadays explicit) understanding you do not insult your country, bring insult to your country, or allow someone else to insult your country. 

But is understanding the history of your country an insult? Is bringing light to injustices in your country an insult? 

Today, July 1st, will mark 150 years since the confederation of the British Colonies, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into what was then the Dominion of Canada. 

It will also mark 150 years of colonization, genocide, displacement and destruction of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of this nation. 

It is undoubtable the very fabric of what we refer to as "Canadian" society exists only as a product of longstanding, and arguably continuous, genocide of indigenous peoples. From the early poaching of indigenous tribes and their lands 400 years ago, to the abduction and torture of indigenous children in the 19th and 20th centuries, to the horrific mistreatment of indigenous people in 2017, the systemic volatility towards Indigenous citizens has persevered through government changes, treaties and legislative requirements. For whatever reason, we have not been able to honour our promises or provide indigenous people with their full and unconditional rights. 

For many Canadian citizens, Canada's 150th birthday will only be marked by the following: 

140+ Water Advisories and Suicide Epidemics Plague First Nations 

There are currently 100+ Water Advisories in effect throughout Canada on First Nations reserves alone, with some having remained without safe drinking water for decades. 

In 2016, the Canadian government pledged 1.8 billion dollars to repair water safety in these communities within 5 years, but is reportedly not on track to complete their pledge. 

In Quebec, the community of Kitigan Zibi has been without safe water since 1993. While similar pledges have come and gone, and with it the campaigning points of several politicians, there are many reserves like Kitigan Zibi who have been without water for 10+ years. 

In the case of this particular community, uranium was discovered in the tap water approximately 24 years ago, but it was not until 1999 that the government finally declared the tap water unsafe for drinking following reports of residents getting cancer due to the drinking water. 

Similarly, in Ontario, Neskantaga has remained without drinking water for 23 years. The Huffington Post cited testimony from an 18 year old girl who said showering at home left her body with blisters.

In addition to these physical dangers, Neskantaga, like so many other reserves in Canada, have faced the unthinkable reality of suicide epidemics in their communities. The leader of Neskantaga declared a state of emergency in 2013 when several members of their 300-strong community committed suicide. This is a likely reality for several First Nations, many of whom are also in states of emergency due to lack of medicine, food, water and holistic support for physical and mental health. 

Food Insecurity, Lack of Medical Support Continuous in Indigenous Communities 

Paying 105 dollars for a case of water bottles, or 30 dollars for a head of lettuce may be unthinkable for most, but is the reality faced by Inuit people in Nunavut. 

SRC

With Inuit communities making tens of thousands below the average income for non-Indigenous households, food insecurity will remain rampant unless there is active subsidies provided by the government. 

While the Federal government spends 500 million dollars on Canada Day celebrations, indigenous people across Canada are still struggling to feed their family. 

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal declared that Canada discriminates against indigenous children, particularly those living on reserves. 

It was reported by the CBC that First Nations children receive nearly 40% less funding for welfare than their non-indigenous counterparts. 

The tribunal proceeded to describe the result of government neglect towards indigenous communities as dire and dangerous as the residential school system. 

The tribunal ordered the federal government to immediately cease this discriminatory practice of welfare distribution, and remodel the child welfare system to ensure equality for indigenous children.

500+ days have passed since this decision; no legislative changes have yet been made. 

The situation is so notably severe, the United Nations has declared that Canada's treatment of indigenous people is a violation of international human rights. 

Canada's Involvement In Crimes Against Humanity

Canada's 150th birthday will also mark the anniversary of the Liberal Government's decision to sell 15 billion dollars worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, arguably the worst human rights defender in the world, and the leader of the current assault on Yemen.

Though the Trudeau government promised there would be no deal, the decision was granted almost immediately following his election. 

Since then, Saudi Arabia's aerial and ground assault on Yemen has created the worst humanitarian crisis on earth--using weapons supplied by Canada. 

So...What exactly are we celebrating today? 

To those who argue "progress", it may be worthwhile to refer to any one of these examples and ask "how?" 

Can we celebrate progress when reserves in Ontario and Quebec have been without clean water for 24 years? Can we celebrate change and moving forward when our legislation fails to commit to providing sound human rights to the indigenous population of this country? Can we celebrate our rumoured kindness when we contribute to crimes against humanity abroad? 

Like all complicated relationships, our connection to Canada must carry a level of nuance where we can recognize the irreparable harm the birth of this nation has caused, and continues to cause, while remaining vigilant in refraining from celebrating progress before actually progressing. 

As millions of Canadians celebrate with their loved ones the birth of this nation, and the country they love, it is important to remember there are just as many, if not more, Canadians who have every right to dread this day and everything it stands for. 


For inquiries regarding this article, contact Zanab J.S. @zanabism. 

#Canada150: What Exactly Are We Celebrating?

Written by Zanab J.S. 

Patriotism is a strange elixir mixed into the proverbial nourishment we receive as residents of any country.

There is an implicit (nowadays explicit) understanding you do not insult your country, bring insult to your country, or allow someone else to insult your country. 

But is understanding the history of your country an insult? Is bringing light to injustices in your country an insult? 

Today, July 1st, will mark 150 years since the confederation of the British Colonies, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into what was then the Dominion of Canada. 

It will also mark 150 years of colonization, genocide, displacement and destruction of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of this nation. 

It is undoubtable the very fabric of what we refer to as "Canadian" society exists only as a product of longstanding, and arguably continuous, genocide of indigenous peoples. From the early poaching of indigenous tribes and their lands 400 years ago, to the abduction and torture of indigenous children in the 19th and 20th centuries, to the horrific mistreatment of indigenous people in 2017, the systemic volatility towards Indigenous citizens has persevered through government changes, treaties and legislative requirements. For whatever reason, we have not been able to honour our promises or provide indigenous people with their full and unconditional rights. 

For many Canadian citizens, Canada's 150th birthday will only be marked by the following: 

140+ Water Advisories and Suicide Epidemics Plague First Nations 

There are currently 100+ Water Advisories in effect throughout Canada on First Nations reserves alone, with some having remained without safe drinking water for decades. 

In 2016, the Canadian government pledged 1.8 billion dollars to repair water safety in these communities within 5 years, but is reportedly not on track to complete their pledge. 

In Quebec, the community of Kitigan Zibi has been without safe water since 1993. While similar pledges have come and gone, and with it the campaigning points of several politicians, there are many reserves like Kitigan Zibi who have been without water for 10+ years. 

In the case of this particular community, uranium was discovered in the tap water approximately 24 years ago, but it was not until 1999 that the government finally declared the tap water unsafe for drinking following reports of residents getting cancer.

Similarly, in Ontario, Neskantaga has remained without drinking water for 23 years. The Huffington Post cited testimony from an 18 year old girl who said showering at home left her body with blisters.

In addition to these physical dangers, Neskantaga, like so many other reserves in Canada, have faced the unthinkable reality of suicide epidemics in their communities. The leader of Neskantaga declared a state of emergency in 2013 when several members of their 300-strong community committed suicide. This is a likely reality for several First Nations, many of whom are also in states of emergency due to lack of medicine, food, water and holistic support for physical and mental health. 

Food Insecurity, Lack of Medical Support Continuous in Indigenous Communities 

Paying 105 dollars for a case of water bottles, or 30 dollars for a head of lettuce may be unthinkable for most, but is the reality faced by Inuit people in Nunavut. 

SRC

With Inuit communities making tens of thousands below the average income for non-Indigenous households, food insecurity will remain rampant unless there is active subsidies provided by the government. 

While the Federal government spends 500 million dollars on Canada Day celebrations, indigenous people across Canada are still struggling to feed their family. 

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal declared that Canada discriminates against indigenous children, particularly those living on reserves. 

It was reported by the CBC that First Nations children receive nearly 40% less funding for welfare than their non-indigenous counterparts. 

The tribunal proceeded to describe the result of government neglect towards indigenous communities as dire and dangerous as the residential school system. 

The tribunal ordered the federal government to immediately cease this discriminatory practice of welfare distribution, and remodel the child welfare system to ensure equality for indigenous children.

500+ days have passed since this decision; no legislative changes have yet been made. 

The situation is so notably severe, the United Nations has declared that Canada's treatment of indigenous people is a violation of international human rights. 

Canada's Involvement In Crimes Against Humanity

Canada's 150th birthday will also mark the anniversary of the Liberal Government's decision to sell 15 billion dollars worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, arguably the worst human rights defender in the world, and the leader of the current assault on Yemen.

Though the Trudeau government promised there would be no deal, the decision was granted almost immediately following his election. 

Since then, Saudi Arabia's aerial and ground assault on Yemen has created the worst humanitarian crisis on earth--using weapons supplied by Canada. 

So...What exactly are we celebrating today? 

To those who argue "progress", it may be worthwhile to refer to any one of these examples and ask "how?" 

Can we celebrate progress when reserves in Ontario and Quebec have been without clean water for 24 years? Can we celebrate change and moving forward when our legislation fails to commit to providing sound human rights to the indigenous population of this country? Can we celebrate our rumoured kindness when we contribute to crimes against humanity abroad? 

Like all complicated relationships, our connection to Canada must carry a level of nuance where we can recognize the irreparable harm the birth of this nation has caused, and continues to cause, while remaining vigilant in refraining from celebrating progress before actually progressing. 

As millions of Canadians celebrate with their loved ones the birth of this nation, and the country they love, it is important to remember there are just as many, if not more, Canadians who have every right to dread this day and everything it stands for. 


For inquiries regarding this article, contact Zanab J.S. @zanabism. 

After Killing Philando Castile, Police Spied on His Girlfriend

Diamond Reynolds//AFP

Diamond Reynolds//AFP

Written: Zanab J.S., Jibril Ali

On July 6th, 2016, Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile as he sat in the backseat of his car with his 5 year old daughter.

The entire event was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds. Philando Castile had not committed any crime and was fully complying with the requests of Yanez when he was shot several times at close range by the officer. Nearly one year later, on June 16th, Yanez was acquitted of all charges including manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm. 

The livestream of Philando Castile's killing was made available to hundreds of people, and has since been watched millions of times. The recording begins the moment Reynolds, who was driving the car at the time, is pulled over for an unexplained traffic stop and includes footage of when Castile was shot and killed while trying to reach for his registration card. 

The killing of unarmed, or legally armed, African Americans during traffic stops (on street corners, in police cars, in prison cells and during 911 calls for help) are not at all uncommon in the landscape of American police brutality. In fact, to describe such systemic abuse as a component of the system of anti-blackness in America is both reasonable and rooted in the history of policing. 

Looking back to the several videos of police shooting and killing African Americans, the death of Philando Castile, broadcasted live to the world, instills a new kind of terror. 

We have witnessed in full colour the moment where a young, well-respected, kind-hearted, gentle and beloved father is shot and killed by a police officer--for doing exactly what that police officer told him to do. No crime. No threat. No reluctance. Full compliance followed by several fatal gunshots.

 

When such an inconceivable act is committed, and when such an act has been made visible to the world, an unrelenting campaign must be initiated to sway the opinion of the public.

It is not surprising Yanez's first action following the shooting, not even 4 hours later, was to contact a lawyer. For his bosses to have done the same is just as unsurprising. 

The point of growing interest begins later, when Special Agent Bill O'Donnell issues a highly specific, and just as inexplicable, search warrant to Facebook for Diamond Reynolds' personal account history. The warrant, seeking "all information retained" by Facebook, sought all chat messages sent to and from Reynolds' account, as well as any material which may have been deleted. The warrant goes on to request metadata applied to Reynolds' photos and any videos she may have uploaded or had been tagged in. The warrant also includes a gag order, preventing Facebook to go public with details of the warrant. 

One day after the warrant was supplied to Facebook, an identical order was given to Sprint, Reynolds' phone company, for her call logs, text logs and associated metadata. Facebook opposed the gag order and eventually fought off the warrant itself, whereas Sprint complied fully with the request.

The contrast between Facebook and Sprint's interaction with the police order is noteworthy. Both companies receive regular requests for information and search warrants for suspects in criminal investigations. Facebook's policy requires the person in question is informed about the search, whereas phone companies like Sprint do not. 

The request for metadata from Reynolds' and Castile's Facebook accounts spanned July 4th to July 8th, 2 days before and after the shooting. The request for Yanez's phone records spanned only a few hours on July 6th. 

The livestream of Castile's death provided the world with a truth so many victims and families of victims have already tried to explain. 

"He was unarmed."

"She did not break any laws."

"They complied with the officer's request." 

"They were only reaching into their pocket." 

Undeniably, in the face of such bold and irrefutable proof that this killing was, in fact, unnecessary, and the victim was, in fact, innocent, for the officer responsible, and those responsible for the officer to seek cover is predictable, expected. 

What is less clear is why special agents were seeking private information on Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Castile, in the most covert and invasive way possible. What reason could there be for such a thorough and censored investigation into the life of the victim of this tragic, unwarranted act of brutality? 

The answer to this question is explained succinctly in the warrant itself: 

"Your affiant is aware through training and expertise that individuals frequently call and/or text messages to each other regarding criminal activity during and/or after and [sic] event has occurred." 

Investigators were looking for criminal wrongdoing on the part of Reynolds and those intimately involved with Castile for reasons which are not directly stated, but easily interpreted: the police was seeking information which would criminalize Castile, or at least justify his shooting death. 

In moments, Reynolds' records and private phone history were secretly given to the police, all the while not having committed a single crime which would justify such measures. 

Yanez's testimony for why he pulled Reynolds' car over, however, was not as clear as Reynolds' lack of criminal involvement. Yanez originally claimed he could smell marijuana in the car, but neither Castile nor Reynolds had been under the influence at the time. He then claimed he originally pulled them over because of a broken taillight, then claimed it was because Castile matched the description of another suspect. Neither claim was validated. 

According to Reynolds, her treatment by the police following the shooting was always that of a suspect. 

"I was treated like a criminal...I was treated like I was the one who did this." 
--Diamond Reynolds, 24 hours after the shooting of Philando Castile 

Though there has been no comment from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on the matter, the way Reynolds was treated during the case and the attempts made to secure her private information amounts to a troubling reality where law enforcement can access intimate details of victims of police brutality, despite the fact they have done nothing to cause the police shootings. 

This power to unveil private communication without cause reveals the dangerous imbalance between the police, and victims of their brutality. The situation of Diamond Reynolds serves as an example of how powerful law enforcement agencies really are. With police departments being able to uncover unrelated, posthumous accounts of prospective criminal activity with a single warrant, victims of brutality are forever at risk of being smeared and having the public opinion swayed against them. 

There is only one winner on this unlevelled playing field and that is the party least regulated and with the most access. 

For questions regarding this article, contact Zanab J.S. and Jibril Ali @zanabism and @jibrilalpha

102 YEARS LATER, WILL WE RECOGNIZE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE?

[Content warning: rape; genocide; ethnic cleansing; graphic violence; religious persecution; anti-Christian; Christian persecution in the Muslim world]

A.N: elucidation of events comprising the Armenian genocide retrieved from armenian-genocide.org, genocide1915.info and print sources (including but not limited to); Armenia: The Survival of A Nation (1980), The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History (2011), Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide (1993). For complete list of sources, email contact@outsidermag.co.

Written by Zanab J.S. 

In Margadeh, Syria, the bones of Armenian genocide victims dot the desert for miles. For years, farmers in the area crushed and swept away physical remains in order to make room for crops and produce. As Aleksandra Avakian witnessed in 2005 during her trip to document the mass graves, "There was no protection for this neglected and holy place." 

When faced with the question of evidence regarding the genocide, one does not have to look further than Margadeh, where the disrespected remains of Armenians forced to march to their death are still scattered in the dust, each bone a testimony to the destruction faced by Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. 

On April 24, 1915, the planned extermination of 1.5 million Armenians was commenced. Ottoman authorities collected and killed up to 270 Armenian leaders, notable figures, and intellectuals. According to many scholars, this collective murder was the beginning of what is known as the Armenian Genocide. 

The initial phase of the genocide saw the planned extermination of young boys and men. This phase was followed by mass collection and deportation of Armenian women and younger children, the physically disabled, and the elderly to embark on death marches towards the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula in Syria. The death marches were executed by forcing the Armenian people, regardless of physical condition, to walk steadfast towards the desert while deprived of food, water, and medical aid, effectively inducing the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians. Those unable to keep up were killed. Many portions of the death march were paused for the purpose of raping, killing, and abusing the Armenian prisoners. 

In addition to the overwhelming elements of corroboration in the form of witness testimonies and mapped graves across the Turkish border, there is now proof of correspondence between Ottoman officials regarding the genocide. Uncovered only a few days ago by Taner Akcam, a Turkish academic at Clark University, a telegram from the trials convicting officials responsible for the genocide has resurfaced. Turkey has long used the lack of original documentation from the trials as reason for dismissing the genocide. 

In addition to this discovery, after seeing photographs of what can only be described as mass graves, and lesions in the ground used to hold and bury remains, and the many Armenians who have testified over the years as witnesses, it is unimaginable to think that any emoting human being could possibly reject the notion of such a massacre. 

However unimaginable, the denial is overwhelming, pervasive and very obviously a component of foreign policy. 

Only a handful of countries have officially and formally recognized the Armenian genocide at the parliamentary level, while several sub-governmental bodies have acknowledged the genocide independently--all at the diplomatic displeasure of the Turkish government, which still attempts to export its national denial as a component of its international alliance with other countries. 

Of these countries, the United States is not one. Though 45 out of 50 states in the U.S. have recognized the events of 1915-1923 for what they are, the American government has yet to formally recognize the planned extermination of 1.5 million Armenians as perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire. 

Close NATO allies, the United States and Turkey gracelessly dance around the politics of formal acknowledgment and the fact that the majority of the U.S., by definition of states, has already declared its view. American diplomats bite their tongues while Turkey offers its insistent and unscholarly opinion to the world; the genocide did not happen, the remembrance of these events is not rooted in reality. 

The lengths to which this denial is honoured is unnervingly reflected in the choices of the American government. 

In 2006, the American Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, was fired by then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for using the term "genocide" to describe the extermination of Armenians during WWI. 

In 2008, Barack Obama reiterated his criticism of Rice for such an action and stated the following: 

"I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

While the Obama presidency succeeded in 2008, national recognition of the Armenian genocide did not. 

Slowly retracting his statements, Obama eventually cut loose any desire to support resolutions to recognize the Armenian genocide at the parliamentary level in 2009 when he refrained from using the term "genocide" during commemorative speeches. He would continue on to abstain from the term throughout his presidencies.

In strange, and inconsistent fashion, the worldwide consensus of historians, experts of the Holocaust and genocide and international academics was traded in for the contentment of the Turkish government. Naturally, the majority of Turkey's allies have followed suit in their reluctance to formally acknowledge and condemn the extermination of Armenians carried out by the Ottoman Empire. 

In present day, with Donald Trump congratulating Erdogan for his newly established executive powers in Turkey, the premise of Armenian genocide recognition seems intangible. 

It is, at this point, a fallacy to conclude any realistic basis for Turkey's insisted ignorance. With international leaders all but uttering the word genocide, it is obvious this diplomatic formality the Turkish government applies to its allies is embarrassingly symbolic, at best, and not at all related to any factual bedrock of information regarding the events of WWI. 

In 2017, it is unavoidable to acknowledge the significance of such a denial in relation to the reality faced by christians in the muslim world today; as we commemorate the genocide of Armenian christians perpetrated by the muslim Ottoman Empire, a new caliphate seeks the decimation of christians across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and, eventually, the rest of the muslim world. 

The persecution of christians in MENA is historically propagated by muslim empires, and continues today in the form of religious and ethnic cleansing by various terrorist organizations and state governments themselves. 

The topic of this persecution remains largely off the record in the context of western politics where Middle-Eastern christians find themselves caught between an almost unavoidable dichotomy: 

The far right politics of xenophobic and conservative parties which use such information to promote violence against immigrants in the western world, while simultaneously endangering middle-eastern christians. 

And the liberal politics of politicians who water down and belittle the persecution of middle-eastern christians at the hands of muslim states so as to create distance between their parties and those of conservatives, while maintaining favourable relations between allies in the MENA region.

It was only a few days prior to the Palm Sunday terrorist attacks on churches in Egypt carried out by ISIS members that Angela Merkel claimed Egypt's treatment of its Coptic Christian population was fair and that christians in the region lived without persecution. 

When, in 2017, our government is still willing to trade recognition of crimes against christians in the muslim world for positive foreign relations with powerful abusers of human rights, it is unsurprising that 102 years later the world has still yet to value the recognition of the Armenian genocide at the cost of favourable diplomacy with Turkey. 

When so many governments and international bodies have failed to address the crime against humanity enacted on Armenian christians in 1915, and the Turkish government still continues to finance, export and demand the denial of the atrocities committed, it is our responsibility as citizens to ensure the remembrance of the lives so unjustly taken by Ottoman Empire. Take a few moments this week to discuss the events of April 24, 1915, with your friends, family, colleagues and coworkers. Take a few seconds to acknowledge the innocent lives taken, and honour their memory by spreading awareness and information about this horrific campaign. 

As we approach the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide, it is our duty to finally shed light on, and to remember, those so unjustly killed in the Armenian genocide, and to make up for a century of dismissal, disrespect and disregard for the victims of this shameful atrocity. 

In memoriam of the 1.5 million Armenians killed by the Ottoman Empire from 1915-1923 and their loved ones. 

For questions and comments regarding this article contact Zanab J.S. @zanabism. To suggest an amendment, email the writer at contact@outsidermag.co.

UNDERSTANDING BETSY DEVOS: AMERICA'S MOST INEXPERIENCED SECRETARY OF EDUCATION

BY JIBRIL ALI

It’s no surprise that Trump’s administration is lined with some of the wealthiest and most contentious figures from the political far-right domain. Corporate executives, GOP financiers, and runner-ups with minimal history (or in some cases, no history at all) in the department they have been chosen to lead is the general makeup of this administration’s cabinet picks.

Betsy DeVos, is not only considered the most inexperienced among the cabinet nominees, but also the most inexperienced Secretary of Education in American history.

DeVos is widely known as a vanguard for Christian supremacy, and has passionately lobbied for harmful legislation affecting the LGBTQ community. With a familial net-worth of 5 billion dollars, DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, the mercenary group contracted by the U.S. military that carried out the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad. A notorious killing of 17 non-combatant Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 20 more, by the hired soldiers--a fact which has been almost ignored by the media. 

DeVos' notoriety primarily lies, however, in her aspirations to redirect taxpayer dollars from public to private schools and deregulating educational institutions in favour of abolishing accountability measures. Additionally, her recent reluctance to confirm her support for upholding several federal laws has, understandably, elicited confusion and fear. 

As the most inexperienced secretary of education in American history, here is what you can expect from Betsy DeVos. 

Appropriating funds away from public schools.

The fight for redirecting taxpayer dollars from public to private schools is a DeVos hallmark. DeVos has been a staunch proponent of school choice, which stipulates using a publicly funded voucher system for parents to use at the private institution of their choice. These vouchers, which only partially subsidize tuition costs for private schools, would mean parents have to cover the remainder of the cost on their own. This program is likely incompatible with majority of the low income households it claims to persuade.

In addition to financial complication, there are social barriers to consider. 76% of private schools have a religious affiliation dependent on mandatory religious study. To avoid conflicts of interest, would these religiously affiliated private institutions be willing to change or remove their religious curriculum once they receive these federally funded vouchers? Would private institutions be held to the same accountability standards in the case they receive public funds? DeVos has not hinted at any specific proposal during, or since, her confirmation hearing. As of yet, there is no telling what the outcome of her confirmation will be for public schools. 

Impact on College Students

The Obama administration shifted the federal student loan program from private banks to direct loans from the federal government. This switch slightly improved the burden of debt that students must confront once graduating. Many have criticized the former system for greatly benefitting the banks at the cost of taxpayers and students. In contrast, many on the right have considered the switch as inferior, and based on her past political affiliation, DeVos is likely to share and promote this opinion.

On the issue of campus sexual assault, DeVos has brushed off opponents when concerns surrounding the subject have been brought into discussion. Under the Obama administration, Title IX (a federal law that bars sex discrimination), was interpreted to mean schools receiving any form of federal assistance or funding must play a role in preventing sexual assault. DeVos’ noncommital remarks on the subject have added to a growing list of fears and concerns the Trump administration has introduced.

“If confirmed, I look forward to understanding the past actions and current situation better, and to ensuring that the intent of the law is actually carried out in a way that recognizes both the victim ... as well as those who are accused.”
-- DeVos answering Senator Bob Casey’s question about campus sexual assault during her confirmation hearing.

The previous administration took on a number of for-profit colleges on the basis of fraud and predatory lending, laying the groundwork for legislation that would introduce regulatory oversight. ITT Tech being one of the first to shut down. When questioned by Senator Elizabeth Warren, DeVos responded meagrely by stating she would review the current regulation that requires schools to provide evidence they are preparing students for the job market, rather than uphold it as Sec. of Education. The inability to furtively say “yes” when questioned about upholding federal law is, again, troubling, and increases the already-present uncertainty surrounding her role. 

Protecting the most vulnerable in our education system, disabled students.

 

Perhaps DeVos’ most concerning response from the confirmation hearings was during her interaction with Senator Tim Kaine, and later, Senator Maggie Hassan. When asked about upholding the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), she parroted that she believed it would be a matter “better left to the states.” In a follow-up letter she released attempting to clarify her position on IDEA, she states, “I am eager to bring a sense of urgency around all of these issues: implementation and enforcement of IDEA at federal, state and local levels; improving the quality of IEPs; and expanding the conversation about school choice opportunities for parents of students with disabilities.”

In her attempt to elucidate her stance, she claims to be enthusiastic about upholding the federal law, while subsequently plugging the school choice voucher program that comprises her platform--a sentiment that works against the best interests of disabled students. It is widely known that the current state of private schools and their role in serving students with disabilities is less than adequate, and a federally introduced voucher program would only further complicate the matter for disabled students and parents.

Whether it is her inability to commit to supporting pre-existing federal laws which protect disabled students, her political drive to funnel money from the federal government into private schools, DeVos' involvement in lobbying for conservative, religiously motivated Republicans, and or her lack of history and experience within the field she now leads, DeVos' confirmation alludes to a murky, and unstable future for vulnerable students across the nation.  

For further inquiry regarding this article, tweet Jibril Ali @jirilalpha

SAUDI ARABIA'S ASSAULT ON YEMEN: HOW CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY PROFIT THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

WRITTEN BY ZANAB J.S.


The Coalition and Conflict

On March 26th, 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Sunni Arab States commenced an aerial assault on Yemen in reaction to the culmination of the Yemeni Civil War, initiating the currently ongoing Yemen-Saudi War. The Houthis, a Shia muslim religious-political movement were responsible for the forced removal of Yemen's President Abd Rubbuh Mansur Hadi, who then requested military action against the state. President Hadi, loyal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, fled the country the night prior to the beginning of the attacks. The Houthis, allied with the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, fight alongside the Yemeni Republican Guard and the Yemeni Airforce against the Saudi coalition, the pro-Hadi military and other supporting factions. The coalition includes Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Sudan, Senegal, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and, until recently, the UAE. In a non-combat capacity, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Djibouti, Somalia, Turkey and the United States have offered their support to the Saudi coalition. 

Saudi Arabia's Crimes Against Humanity

Since the beginning of the aerial campaign launched by Saudi, up to 4200 Yemeni civilians have been killed by airstrikes alone. Of this number, upwards of 800 civilian deaths are comprised by children under the age of 17. Saudi Arabia was named as the topmost offender in the United Nations' 2015 report on "Children and Armed Conflicts". The Saudi coalition was recognized as the leading cause of child death in the world, accredited with over 60% of violent child deaths caused by armed forces in Yemen. The report explains the coalition's intentional actions in bombing hospitals, schools, bazaars, residential sites and civilian areas where the volume of children, unarmed peoples and non-fighters was known to be high. The list was released earlier this year in June, only to be retracted and rewritten following immense diplomatic pressure from Riyadh 72 hours later.

Ban Ki Moon, the current secretary general of the U.N. condemned Saudi Arabia for the immense pressure placed on the secretariat to remove Saudi Arabia and its Arab counterparts from the blacklist. According to Moon, the coalition, the U.S, and the KSA threatened to defund several U.N. programs that desperately need monetary sustainment, and it was for the sake of those programs the blacklist was rewritten. The public testimony of the secretary general against the political pressures and threats of financial withdrawal introduced by Saudi Arabia and its allies served as the basis for international criticism directed at Saudi Arabia's pattern of void accountability for humanitarian offences. 

“The report describes horrors no child should have to face...At the same time, I also had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would defund many U.N. programs. Children already at risk in Palestine, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and so many other places would fall further into despair...It is unacceptable for member states to exert undue pressure. Scrutiny is a natural and necessary part of the work of the United Nations”
-- Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon at a press conference in Marseilles. 

Moon went on to describe the decision as "one of the most painful decisions I have had to make." 

Saudi Arabia's assault on Yemen has not dwindled since the initial release of the report, and incidents wherein civilians are maimed or killed has remained steadfast.

Only one incident of mass civilian casualties has been considered for investigation by the U.S. and Saudi goverment; last October, the Saudi Coalition attacked a hospital staffed and supported by Medicines Sans Frontrieres (MSF/Doctors Without Borders), killing Yemeni civilians and several staff members. The hospital, which served as the only medical resource centre for 200 000 people in Haydan, was completely unusable following the attack.

Since then, several other attacks on hospitals, schools and marketplaces have occurred.

Following the attack in October, another MSF facility was destroyed in December in Taiz; doctors were in the midst of treating civilians suffering from an airstrike on a public park. Another airstrike on an MSF facility occurred in January, destroying the hospital in Yemen's Razeh district and killing an ambulance driver from MSF. One of the most recent assault on civilians took place in August of this year when a coalition aircraft attacked a U.N. school, killing 10 Yemeni children attending class. 

Perhaps one of the most shocking assaults was the destruction of Sanaa's Oxfam bridge, which is described as the primary gateway for humanitarian assistance into the region. According to UNICEF, this combined with Saudi Arabia's blockade of Yemeni import routes has left nearly 21 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 

Aside from MSF testimony, the International Red Cross has reported upwards of 150 attacks on their facilities, and attacks on Yemeni-administered hospitals is estimated to be even greater than those funded by international charities. 

In addition to the targeting of recognizable "safe spaces" (hospitals, schools, markets), the Saudi coalition has been reported to use weapons and methods of destruction internationally recognized as the subject of war crimes. Human rights groups have documented and provided evidence of Saudi Arabia's continued use of cluster bombs, a type of detonable container that releases smaller, finer explosives once reaching its target. 

The most recent attack against Yemeni civilians occurred only days ago on October 8th in Sana'a when aerial explosives were dropped over a building where funeral processions were taking place. The attack resulted in the death of over 100 people, and wounded nearly 600. The attack has been labeled a warcrime by HRW and other international bodies. 

Silence from Saudi Allies and Financiers

Despite the numerous documented civilian attacks, attributable war crimes, and use of illegal weapons and methods of warfare, powerful countries that are allied with the KSA have remained silent on the subject of Saudi's crimes. 

John Kerry, the secretary of state, dismissed the U.N's analysis of civilian casualties caused by Saudi Arabia, citing responsibility to Houthi rebels, the recipient of Saudi airstrikes, instead. 

The U.S. State Department and White House have historically remained silent on human rights violations commandeered by the Saudi government, and with regards to the Saudi-led coalition, the rules seem to remain the same. Requests for comments and discussion regarding the illegal use of war weaponry, illegal civilian targeting, the destruction of hospitals, schools, safe spaces, and humanitarian resource centres, has been repeatedly redirected to the government of Saudi Arabia in place of an actual response. Regarding condemnation of the destruction of the Oxfam bridge, Elizabeth Trudeau, a representative for the White House emphasized American officials meet with their Saudi counterparts to discuss the reduction of civilian casualties regularly. 

Similar tactics have been employed by representatives in France, whose government has provided continuous support for the coalition in the form of military equipment and logistical guidance since the commencement of the assault. 

British and Canadian governments, also responsible for military and logistical support, have followed suit in muted dialogue regarding Saudi's crimes against humanity and their financial backing for the coalition. 

The minimal response from the State Department raises many questions regarding America's role in the assault on Yemen; how do the interest of the United States align with the progression of this conflict? Why is the support for Saudi Arabia's assault seemingly unconditional? How can the White House elucidate the carte blanche policy being applied to Saudi Arabia's warcrimes? 

Several former American diplomats have come forward to express concerns and discontent with the handling of the assault on Yemen and the decisions made to support it. 

"The American press hasn’t paid that much attention to it. But it’s been a disaster particularly as a result of the bombing and … the lack of outside humanitarian assistance as a result of the fighting. It’s really been tragic for the Yemeni people. The country’s always been very poor but to have your hospitals and your schools and your civilian population bombed and killed and injured on a large scale has added to their tragedy"
Bill Rugh, former ambassador to Yemen 1984-1987
"The Saudis have been implicated, according to U.N. special panels, in war crimes...Given what we in the United States have been doing to support the war effort, we are implicated as well. I think it’s really urgent that we pull back on the support to put pressure on the Saudis to come to terms with the Houthis and to facilitate a Yemeni-Yemeni agreement. I think that would be the best course.”
Nabeel Khoury, Deputy Chief of Mission in Yemen 2004-2007

Furthermore, the aforementioned diplomats interviewed by the Intercept earlier this year went on to deny rhetoric supplied by the White House regarding Saudi's assault against Yemen as necessary for the prevention of terrorism. Diplomats who were interviewed argued that al-Qaeda's presence has only grown stronger since the assault began, allowing AQ to gain more ground in Yemen than ever before. 

“No question about that, no question whatsoever, that the war has turned everyone’s attention away from what concerns us most, and that’s violent extremism and terrorist groups...Al Qaeda has grown in strength, and in numbers, and in resources, and that’s directly related to the turning of attention to the internal instability and ultimately the war in Yemen.”
Gary Grappo, former deputy chief of mission in Saudi Arabia. 

In fact, AQ seized 100 million dollars worth of land and tax assets in Mukalla with zero resistance from Saudi forces in the region. 

Profiting From Crimes Against Humanity

Amongst the HR violations, blatant civilian bloodshed, and silence from Saudi partners, there lies a disturbing reality: non-combatant allies of the coalition, the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France and Turkey have accrued tens of billions of dollars as a result of the war against Yemen. 

The Liberal Canadian government, prior to coming to power in early 2016, promised to make null a 15 billion dollar arms deal between Canada and Saudi Arabia engineered by the previous Conservative administration. However, Justin Trudeau's first days in office were marked by a reversal of this promise and a stamp of approval for the billion-dollar weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. These weapons and equipment are being utilized in attacks on hospitals and civilian zones without restraint or condemnation from the government that decided to sell them. 

Similarly, and without comment, the U.K. has provided nearly 3 billion pounds in weaponry and military equipment to the Saudi coalition since the beginning of the assault last spring. 

France was able to sell 12 billion dollars in weaponry and military equipment to the coalition since June, 2015, providing assets such as fighter jets, artillery, detonable explosives, mines and assault rifles. 

Spain, an unlikely contributor, through Navantia, will sell 2200 navy ships to the KSA by the end of this year, gaining 3.3 billion dollars in the process. 

Ultimately, the United States remains Saudi Arabia's greatest financier and material supporter by selling nearly 20 billion dollars worth in weapons, vehicles, fighter jets, artillery and explosives since 2015 to the coalition. 

The commercial deals and arms sales made by these countries involves them as complicit in the crimes committed by Saudi Arabia. Since the commencement of the assault, over 100 illegal airstrikes have been recorded by HRW. The HR group confirms that Saudi Arabia has not taken any measures to reduce civilian casualties in the region, rather, the coalition intentionally attacks civilian areas. As a result, an arms embargo proposed by HRW has been echoed by several governments in the international community. Directed primarily at Canada, France, the U.K., and U.S., the embargo has been almost completely ignored by Saudi allies. 

While the conflict in Yemen approaches the end of its 2nd year, 4200 Yemeni civilians have been killed with a further 21 000 severely injured. As a country, Yemen has struggled to remain intact while combatting acts of terrorism, insurgency, and crippling poverty. Ignored for years in its decades of humanitarian need, Yemen has become the focal point of generation for hundreds of billions of dollars for western world powers. Stable nations from the "first-world" originally unresponsive to the suffering of Yemeni people now stand to make a fortune through their demise. 

PROPAGANDA WARS: SAUDI'S HIDDEN INVOLVEMENT IN 9/11

WRITTEN BY ZANAB J.S.

Last week 28 formerly classified pages from the 2002 congressional report regarding 9/11 were finally made public by congress for the first time. For the past 14 years, 9/11 analysts, journalists, lawmakers and families of 9/11 victims, have waited patiently for the redacted chapter to be released for public viewing. 

Many theories that have circulated for the past decade and a half regarding Saudi Arabia's involvement in the September attacks were confirmed upon the release of the hidden chapter. For years Saudi Arabia, one of America's strongest allies, rallied against the release of the infamous pages, and denied all involvement in the attack. However, prior to its publication, Saudi officials promised to hand over anyone named as a prospective lead in the attack.

The following is a synopsis of the declassified pages. Please keep in mind these pages are from 14 years ago and no longer reflect the contemporary level of intelligence on Saudi Arabia's involvement. 

PART 1: The Hijackers and Saudi Diplomats

  • An undisclosed number of hijackers (there were 19 in total) received financial and non-financial assistance from individual(s) who are allegedly apart of the Saudi government. 
  • According to the FBI, 2 of those individuals were Saudi intelligence officers 
  • The congressional review confirms the presence of intelligence alleging the relationship of multiple Saudi Arabian officials in America with connections to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations 
  • The FBI and the CIA were unable to confirm the extent of the support received by the hijackers 
  • In accordance with the information provided by the FBI, and at least one CIA draft, a number of the hijackers may have had contact with Saudi Arabian officials while in the United States

DIPLOMATS AND SAUDI EMPLOYEES: OMAR AL-BAYOUMI, OSAMA BASSNAN, SHAYKH AL-THUMAIRY, SALEH AL-HUSSAYEN

  • The report confirms that individuals from the muslim community reached out to the FBI as early as 1999 that al-Bayoumi was a Saudi intelligence officer
  • Al-Bayoumi communicated with and substantially assisted hijackers Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego upon their arrival in 2000. Following his meeting at the Saudi consulate, al-Bayoumi met with the future hijackers publicly.
  • Within this time al-Bayoumi received financial assistance from a company in SA associated with the Saudi ministry of defence. He additionally received a salary from the company despite not having worked there. The financial support from the company increased upon the arrival of the hijackers in San Diego. 
  • Omar Bassnan was a long time employee of the Saudi government and an alleged Saudi intelligence officer by the muslim community 
  • Bassnan provided lodging for both al-Midhar and al-Hazmi until they were able to find an apartment, and possibly paid for their rent 
  • According to CIA reports, Bassnan's wife received direct financial support from Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the American ambassador to the U.S, through his wife, Princess Haifa. 
  • Shaykh Al-Thumairy was a Saudi diplomat and an imam at King Fahad mosque. Al-Midhar and al-Hazmi are reported to have met with him at this mosque, which was funded and built by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdulaziz. 
  • Saleh al-Hussayen, a Saudi ministry employee checked into the same hotel al-Hazmi was residing in September 2001 in Virginia prior to the attack.
  • Senior Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida's phonebook contained the phone number of an employee at the Saudi consulate in Washington. 
  • Mohammad al-Qudhaeein, an employee of the Saudi government, allegedly was involved in a "dry run" to test airline security aboard a flight to the U.S along with an unnamed associate for the purposes of attending a party at the Saudi consulate. During this incident, the pair asked the airline staff several suspicious questions. Al-Qudhaeein tried to gain access to the cockpit two times. 
  • 2 Former naval officers and other military personnel met with the flight 77 hijackers. 
  • One of these individuals may have been the pilot for Osama Bin Laden during his trip from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan. 

PART 2: Saudi Arabia's Corporate Connections to Terrorist Organizations

  • According to the testimony of an FBI representative, the U.S did not investigate allegations against Saudi Arabia due to its status as an American "ally". 

  • The report alludes to another finding which suggests "incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government". 

  • Al-Bayoumi, the diplomat mentioned above, was in contact with several Saudi offices and departments both in Saudi Arabia and within the U.S, as well as at least one individual in a London based Saudi establishment. 

  • An agent testified to al-Bayoumi's actions as an intelligence officer:

[Al-Bayoumi] acted like a Saudi intelligence officer, in my opinion. And if he was involved with the hijackers, which it looks like he was, if he signed leases, if he provided some sort of financing or payment of some sort, then I would say that there’s a clear possibility that there might be a connection between Saudi intelligence and OBL (Osama Bin Laden).
  • Al-Bayoumi was involved with a company "Dallah/Avco", a subsidiary of Al Barakaat Investment and Development Company which reportedly holds links to Osama Bin Ladin.

  • ASPCOL, an umbrella company in Colorado purporting to manage the affairs (including telephone services) of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, was linked to a number found in the phone book of Abu Zubaida. 

  • Sami el-Hussayen, nephew of Saleh el-Hussayen is associated with the Islamic Assembly of North America. Saleh el-Hussayen is a long time financial contributor to IANA, an organization which is in reality attempting to spread Islamic fundamentalism and Salafism. IANA receives funding from Saudi benefactors and extremist preachers. 

  • Prince Bandar Bin Sultan has directly contributed to IANA's financial growth. 

  • Hijackers Marwan al-Shehhi and Mohammad Atta were in contact with an associate of Abdullah Bin Laden, OBL's half brother, and an administrative officer for the SA embassy in DC. ABL is connected to terrorist organizations and is affiliated with false-front organizations laundering money to terrorist outfits internationally. 

  • ABL is the president of World Arab Muslim Youth and the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences, both of which are listed as NGO's in Riyadh and classified as organizations which launder funds and provide logistical support to terrorists in Afghanistan according to the CIA. 

  • Ibn Tamiyah Mosque in L.A. and the Islamic Centre of San Diego were involved in laundering millions of dollars from various non-profits to the Al-Barakaat trading company. 

  • Saudi funded charity: Umm al-Qura Islamic Charitable Foundation (UQ) is  additionally involved in laundering money to terrorist organizations via Saudi embassies abroad. 
  • Couriers from UQ have transported $330 000 from several Saudi embassies including Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. 
  • The al-Haramain Foundation (HIF) is another false-front organization providing funding to Al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia has provided nearly $700 000 to HIF, and Bayoumi is also alleged to have ties to HIF. 
  • The Treasury General Counsel had this to say about HIF
MR. AUFHAUSER: Second, and this is important point, it also rises out of Rick’s testimony, on al-Haramain, the two branch offices that we took a  public and joint action against, al-Haramain really does represent a significant issue for the PCC and for terrorist financing and for the United States policy. It is, of course, the largest, I think the largest Islamic charity in the world. Its name is synonymous with charity in the Islamic world. Its direct overseers are member of the Royal Family; significant contributors are members of the Royal Family. We don’t have a great dal of intelligence on the headquarters, about whether they are knowingly assisting people in al-Qa’ida and others; but in significant branch offices yet to be designated and under current investigation, we have ample evidence that large cash amounts are being couriered to those branch offices, that large wire transfers of money are being sent to those offices, that a great deal of the money is being dissipated through misspending, unaccounted for, and finally, that those offices have significant contacts with extremists, Islamic extremists.

Part 3: Financial Support Received From Saudi Arabia By Hijackers

  • Al-Bayoumi's allowances from the Saudi government increased from $465 per month to over $3700 per month upon the arrival of al-Hazmi and al-Midhar and decreased upon their move from San Diego to $3200 per month until his departure from the U.S, one month before the attacks took place. 
  • Bassnan's wife received a monthly fee from Princess Haifa, wife of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan. Between 1999 to 2002, $74 000 in cheques were made payable to Bassnan's wife. An automated order was placed on Princess Haifa's account to deposit $2000 per month into Bassnan's wife's bank account. 
  • Bassnan directly received one cheque from Prince Sultan in the amount of $15 000 prior to the attack, while his wife received another direct cheque from the prince in the amount of $10 000. 

Part 4: Saudi Arabia's Reluctance to Cooperate in post-9/11 Investigations

  • An FBI agent from New York said: the Saudis have been useless and obstructionist for years and would only act in their self-interest. 
  • In May of 2001, months before the 9/11 attacks, intelligence received by U.S agents indicated that Abu Zubaida was in contact with a Saudi Arabian official who most likely was involved with an upcoming Al-Qaeda operation. The Saudi government refused to cooperate in locating this individual, which, according to another FBI agent, is "typical of the Saudis". 
  • Upon learning that the hijackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia, the government continued to claim they had no records of their passports. 
  • Since 1996, the Saudi Arabian government was unwilling to cooperate in investigations regarding OBL. 
  • A memo from the DCI states: Saudis were uncooperative because OBL had "too much information about official Saudi dealings with Islamic extremists in the 1980's for Riyadh to deliver him into U.S Hands" 
  • Both the FBI and CIA referred to the lack of cooperation from SA in contacting al-Tayyib, a close employee of OBL who managed his expenses. Al-Tayyib was involved with another top Al-Qaeda operative in London who was later arrested. Al-Tayyib moved back to SA and has been living there 1996, but the Saudi government will not allow contact with him by U.S. authorities. 
  • The case is similar with regards to OBL's brother in law, Mohammad Jamal Khalifa. Khalifa was sentenced to death in Jordan for his role in the bombings there, but was returned to Saudi Arabia upon the request of the Saudi monarchy. Khalifa now works freely in Saudi Arabia. 
  • The following is a testimony from the General Counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department: 
There is an almost intuitive sense, however, that things are not being volunteered. So I want to fully inform you about it, that we have to ask and we have to seek and we have to strive. I will give you one-and-a-half examples. The first is, after some period, the Saudis have agreed to the designation of a man named Julaydin, who is notoriously involved in all of this; and his designation will be public within the next 10 days. They came forward to us 2 weeks ago and said, okay, we think we should go forward with the designation and a freeze order against Mr. Julaydin. We asked, what do you have on him? Because they certainly know what we have on him, because we shared it as we tried to convince them that they ought to join us. The answer back was, nothing new.
MR. BEREUTER: Do you believe that?
MR. AUFHAUSER: No, I think that taxes credulity, or there is another motive we are not being told.

The final pages of the report indicated a deep lack of understanding of the ties of Saudi Arabia to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations at the time. Several members of the intelligence community testified to OBL's direct link to Saudi Arabia and personnel in the military and departments of diplomacy, some of whom were in the U.S. 

What is clear from the public report is the following:

1. Key and high ranking Saudi Arabian officials and Saudi royals directly and indirectly financed and communicated with several of the hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks

2. Saudi Arabia continues to play a role in the large scale schemata of global terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism via funding and laundering money through various corporate and hidden NGO assets 

14 years after the initial publication of this report, it is unintelligible and impossible to determine what has changed since 2002 and 2016. Certainly, we are unaware of the new intelligence that has been collected by the CIA and FBI and what has been learned of Saudi Arabia's ties to Al-Qaeda, and their further role in 9/11. Most importantly, we are still heavily unaware of Saudi Arabia's global role  as a funder and propagator for international terrorism. 

The FULL 28 pages can be found here

For inquiries regarding this article, tweet Zanab J.S. @zanabism

SIX OFFICIALS CHARGED IN FLINT WATER CRISIS

WRITTEN BY JIBRIL ALI

Drinking water supplied to residents in Flint, Michigan first became contaminated in 2014. Since then up to 12 000 children have been exposed to the dangerous levels of lead. Ten Flint residents have been killed by Legionnaires disease purportedly tied to the drinking water, and another 77 residents have been diagnosed with the condition. 

As of July 29th, 2016, three Department of Environmental Quality employees and three Department of Health and Human Services employees have been charged by Attorney General Bill Schuette. The charges include; conspiracy, willful neglect, and misconduct in office.

Those who were charged are listed below:

• Liane Shekter-Smith, former chief of drinking water and municipal assistance, of Marshall, MI

Shekter-Smith is the only state employee to be fired for her role in the crisis. Last month, she asserted her 5th amendment right against self incrimination during her court hearing right after Shuette’s team issued an investigative subpoena against her. 

• One count of misconduct in office, a five-year felony

• One count of willful neglect of duty, a one-year misdemeanour

• Adam Rosenthal, DEQ water quality analyst, of East Lansing, MI

Rosenthal was in charge of monitoring Flint’s water testing reports between April 2014 and October 2015 when the city used corrosive Flint River water. Despite knowing the water posed a severe risk to Flint residents, defendant Rosenthal disregarded his public duties and took no affirmative action to protect the public health. 

• One count misconduct in office, a five-year felony

• One count of willful neglect of duty, a one-year misdemeanor

• One count tampering with evidence, a four-year felony

• One count of conspiracy/tampering with evidence, a four-year felony

• Patrick Cook, DEQ specialist for community water drinking unit, of DeWitt, MI

Cook, a water treatment engineer, was in charge of interpreting lead levels and misled the Environmental Protection Agency about how the water was being treated. The evidence further shows that defendant Cook mislead the EPA by sending a knowingly false interpretation of the Flint Water Treatment’s compliance with Safe Water Drinking Act standards.

• One count of willful neglect of duty, a one-year misdemeanor

• One count misconduct in office, a five-year felony

• One count of conspiracy, a five-year felony

• Nancy Peeler, director, program for maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting, of Midland, MI

Scott and Peeler worked together to bury the epidemiologist report by Cristin Larder, showing higher lead levels in the drinking water that would have warranted a further investigation into the crisis. 

• One count misconduct in office, a five-year felony

• One count of conspiracy, a five-year felony

• One count of willful neglect of duty, a one-year misdemeanor

• Robert Scott, data manager for the healthy homes and lead prevention program, of Haslett, MI

• One count misconduct in office, a five-year felony

• One count of conspiracy, a five-year felony

• One count of willful neglect of duty, a one-year misdemeanor

• Corinne Miller, former director of the bureau of epidemiology and state epidemiologist, of DeWitt, MI

Miller, the state’s top epidemiologist, allegedly ordered a DHHS employee to “take no action and disregard Larder’s findings.”

• One count misconduct in office, a five-year felony

• One count of conspiracy, a five-year felony

• One count of willful neglect of duty, a one-year misdemeanor

For the past two years impacted residents have relied on bottled water for their cooking, cleaning and consuming needs. Donations during the crisis peaked in the summer of 2015 and have since plummeted, leaving many without a consistent source of water. In 2016, as the investigation into the crisis brings its first round of charges against city and state officials, Flint still remains without a plan to ensure safe drinking water for its residents. 

For those who want to assist either online or in person, official resources for donations and volunteering are provided below.

For inquiries about this article, Tweet Jibril Ali @jibrilalpha

JASTA BILL: WHAT IT MEANS FOR VICTIMS OF 9/11

WRITTEN BY ZANAB J.S.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, also known as the JASTA bill, was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate earlier in May this year. The bill aims to amend federal laws originally used to protect foreign entities from domestic prosecution practices for acts of terrorism. Should JASTA pass, the families of victims of 9/11 would be able to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in funding the September attacks. 

It amends the federal criminal code to permit civil claims against a foreign state or official for injuries, death, or damages from an act of international terrorism. Additionally, the bill authorizes federal courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over and impose liability on a person who commits, or aids, abets, or conspires to commit, an act of international terrorism against a U.S. national.

JASTA has garnered criticism from several politicians and White House officials as a threat to foreign relations, as well as a point of weakness for future confrontations between the U.S. and other countries. Joshua Earnest, the White House press secretary stated the following regarding the administration's concerns: 

The concern that we have is simply this:  It could put the United States and our taxpayers and our servicemembers and our diplomats at significant risk if countries were -- other countries were to adopt a similar law.  Let me give you one example.  Obviously, the United States is involved in a wide variety of humanitarian relief efforts in countries around the world at any given time.  If somebody decided that they wanted to -- that they were unhappy with the way that those humanitarian relief efforts were being carried out, you can imagine someone in some faraway country would file a lawsuit against the United States for our humanitarian relief efforts.

Earnest has previously stated that President Obama did not support the new legislation and would veto its eligibility upon passing, citing fears that America could itself become victim to such a law should it be adopted by other countries. 

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill, also had concerns regarding the original draft. Graham issued a hold on JASTA citing a need for editing the original proposed legislation. Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, echoed those sentiments:

..."we need to look at it… review it to make sure we are not making mistakes with our allies and that we're not catching people in this that shouldn't be caught up in this."

Caution from both sides regarding the bill is being met positively by Saudi Arabian officials, who have warned financial action against their ally. Abdel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Foreign Minister, has threatened Saudi Arabia would liquify $750 billion dollars in U.S. Treasure securities should the bill be passed. 

Political analysts have criticized the Obama administration's resistance as the intent to protect Saudi Arabia--a recognizable trend considering the Saudi-U.S. partnership and past attempts to prevent exposure of Saudi Arabia such as in the classification of the 2002 congressional 9/11 report which discusses Saudi's involvement in the September attacks. 

JASTA would undermine sovereign immunity as outlined in the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FISA) in an attempt to allow victims of terrorist attacks to sue the governments of countries involved in funding global terrorism. FISA contains only 3 exceptions to sovereign immunity: Iran, Syria and Sudan, which the U.S. State Department designates as state sponsors of terrorism. 

The definition of "state sponsored terrorism" now seems loose as Saudi Arabia, a country that is absent from the U.S. State Department list along with Iran, Syria or Sudan, despite alleged financing of Al-Qaeda and several other global terrorist outfits for years under the guise of humanitarian funds, false-front corporations and diplomatic institutions as alleged in the newly declassified 28 pages of the 9/11 Congressional Report

As such, several families of victims of 9/11 as well as businesses damaged during the attack seek to claim restitution from Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in funding, housing and coordinating with hijackers of Flight 177 and 75. 

Despite its popularity and support both within the Senate and amongst the American people, lawmakers argue JASTA poses a threat to immunity shared by the United States as well. 

Two law professors from the Bush administration, Jack Goldsmith and Curtis Bradley, wrote the following regarding JASTA in an Op-Ed for the New York Times: 

"A nation’s immunity from lawsuits in the courts of another nation is a fundamental tenet of international law [...] were the sovereign immunity rule to weaken, the United States would be subject to many more lawsuits in foreign courts than any other nation and would become an attractive and high-profile target for politicized litigation designed to contest its foreign policy."

Outside of its approval and disapproval from the greater population and the White House respectively, the JASTA legislation poses a precious opportunity for families of victims of 9/11 and the victims of future terrorist attacks in which U.S. citizens are harmed or compromised.

Donna O'Conner, the mother of a woman killed in the 9/11 attacks, says she hopes to hold Saudi Arabia financially accountable for the death of her daughter: 

“I believe there will always be money for terrorism when there is a motive. I am under no illusions that this suit would bankrupt anything. But there should be justice meted out in courts, and those culpable for the manipulation of lives and deaths ought to pay, in every and any way possible." 

As the bill approaches the House of Representatives and the Obama administration approaches its final days in office, the JASTA legislation continues to contribute to an unsteady future for U.S.-Saudi relations, as well as a point of hope for victims of terrorism worldwide. 

For inquiries regarding this article, tweet Zanab J.S. @zanabism