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As Saudi Forces Flee Northern Yemen, Evidence of an Unholy Alliance with Al-Qaeda is Left Behind

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/04/2020 - 7:38am in

The journey from Sana’a to the far northeastern stretches of al-Jawf through the Empty Quarter is an arduous affair. A veritable no man’s land, the region has long-enjoyed the dubious distinction of hosting strongholds of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a group that evolved and blossomed under the sponsorship of nearby Saudi Arabia. The journey crisscrosses what seems like endless valleys of identical dunes with little more than the blazing sun to provide a semblance of direction.

In perfect weather under the flecks of golden sunshine that mingled with the few clouds in the early morning sky, we set off northeast from the capital Sana’a, passing through the Nihm district, the gateway to al-Jawf. After crossing the Fardhah Nihm checkpoint, dozens of burned-out armored vehicles of American and Canadian origin could be seen on both sides of the road.

Life is gradually returning to the area’s villages and shops and restaurants have opened their doors again.

In January 2020, Yemen’s Houthi-allied army, supported by local tribes, launched a retaliatory military operation to recapture Nihm from Saudi Coalition forces. Nihm lies east of Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a, one of the most strategically important battlefields in Yemen. Two thousand Saudi fighters, including members of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other armed groups under the patronage of the Saudi Monarchy, met their end or were captured in the operation. By March, the Yemeni army had successfully subdued Nihm and advanced all the way to al-Jawf and Marib. Now, for the first time in nearly 55 years, al-Jawf and most of Marib Province is under Yemeni control following decades of de facto rule by Riyadh through its various Yemeni proxies.

In their haste to escape the coming onslaught, Saudi forces left behind a slew of both medium and heavy weapons as well as the ammunition required to make them come to life. Whole stores of weapons, unexploded ordnance, and mines were abandoned, often amidst the tattered flags of Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda and in huge tunnels reminiscent of those left behind in the wake of the wars in Syria and Iraq. It wasn’t just weapons that were left behind, the scent of corpses still lingers in the region’s reefs, valleys and rugged mountains.

The residents of Nihm’s sleepy desert towns are beginning to return to their villages. A wary feeling of safety and relative stability accompanies the slow trickle of life as it returns, interrupted by everpresent reminders that the war is far from over, reminders that come in the form of the wild dogs feeding on abandoned corpses, Saudi warplanes that make the occasional visit, and most acutely, a significant number of unexploded ordnances, the remnants of cluster bombs and other munitions still embedded in the ground. Those, according to Adel, a grocery store owner in the roadside village of Khalgah in Nihm, pose the most immediate danger.

Yemen Jawf

Children walk at a camp for people recently displaced by fighting in al-Jawf, March 8, 2020. Picture taken March 8, 2020. Ali Owidha | Reuters

Nihm, like most cities in Yemen, has been hit by a barrage of indiscriminate airstrikes, over 250,000 since 2015 when the war began. According to the Yemeni Army, 70 percent of those airstrikes have hit civilian targets. Thousands of tons of weapons, most often supplied by the United States, have been dropped on hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants and have left unexploded ordnances scattered across densely populated areas.

 

A kidnapping in al-Hazm

After a six-hour drive beneath the watchful eye of the Coalition warplanes that seemed to be constantly buzzing overhead, we were met with horrific scenes in al-Hazm. A simple desert city notorious for its connections to Al-Qaeda, al-Hazm is one of the largest cities in al-Jawf and was home to some of the fiercest fighting in the battle to route Coalition ground fighters. The effects of airstrikes in the city appeared everywhere; digging into the asphalt roads, destroying homes, schools and government complexes. Smoke was still lingering from an airstrike that hit less than a kilometer away from us as we arrived.

It was in al-Hazm that a broken-hearted mother told us of how she allowed herself a renewed sense of hope that the defeat of the Coalition would lead to information about her loved ones. “Two years have passed since they kidnapped my daughter,” she told MintPress, a black niqab covering her face and tears flowing as she recounted one of the worst crimes carried out by the Saudi coalition in al-Jawf. In a case that managed to gain local notoriety for its sheer brutality, her daughter, Samirah Hezam Maharesh, a mother of three young girls, was kidnapped from her home in al-Hazam on July 5, 2018, by armed militants loyal to Saudi Arabia.

Yemen al-Qaeda Jawf

An unidentified militant patrols the streets of al-Jawf, July 30, 2019. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

First, Samirah was taken to a secret prison in the provincial capital and then transferred to another prison. Her whereabouts are still unknown and the only tidbits of hope come from unconfirmed local news stories and occasional rumors.

The kidnapping of Samirah crossed a red line in Yemen’s conservative society, which is heavily steeped in tribal tradition, and sparked dozens of demonstrations throughout the country’s northern provinces. In addition to other atrocities carried out by AQAP, the kidnapping ultimately helped push local residents to risk it all and join the resistance led by the Houthis against the Saudi Coalition and its militant allies.

Residents told us that Samirah was just one of the hundreds of Yemenis who were snatched from their homes or cars at checkpoints in al-Jawf and Marib. During their reign in al-Jawf, Saudi-backed militants, including al-Qaeda, committed horrendous abuses against those it saw as an obstacle to their occupation.

 

An unholy union

Since 2015, when Saudi Arabia announced from Washington D.C. that it had launched a military campaign against the poorest country in the Middle East, it has been an open secret that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had formed an unholy union with al-Qaeda’s branch in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, known colloquially as AQAP, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In al-Jawf, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and AQAP was well underway by 2016 when the Kingdom launched a military campaign to take the province. Saudi and AQAP forces fought side by side, sharing the same weapons, trenches, operations command centers, resting places, and extremist ideals. The only thing they didn’t share was a desire to destroy the United States, a trait exclusive to al-Qaeda according to documents left behind by fallen fighters and the confessions of Saudi soldiers captured in the battle for al-Jawf.

Saudi Arabia ISIS in Yemen

Abandoned ID cards and “official” documents feature the al-Qaeda logo

AQAP has hobbled by in Yemen for years, feeding off the relentless cycle of poverty and hunger and only occasionally emerging from the shadows to claim credit for an attack or seek new recruits. It was not until 2015 when the group began to receive support from Saudi Arabia that it become brazen enough to emerge from its hiding places into the streets of al-Jawf’s towns. Generous Saudi backing meant that AQAP could boost recruitment, build new training camps and promote the organization’s ideology, an offshoot of the official Saudi state religion of Wahhabism. By early 2020, AQAP had a sizable real estate portfolio in al-Jawf and Marib and ran most of the provinces’ large businesses. Sprawling villages in al-Jawf, the second largest governorate in Yemen, turned into strongholds of the organization after residents were forced to flee to other areas. AQAP turned some of the abandoned homes into factories used to manufacture explosive belts, IEDs and car bombs. Others were used to  stock weapons, train fighters and prepare for their “global Jihad.”

 

The secret prison’s of Khazaf and al-Marwan

Finally, we reached two of al-Qaeda’s main strongholds in the far northeastern Khab and al-Shaf districts, near the edge of the expansive Rub’ al Khali Desert (the Empty Quarter). The villages of Khazaf and al-Marwan are little more than dried up oases scattered in the remote desert like the remains of some ancient colony. It was here that humble houses made from dried mud bricks were turned into factories, secret prisons, and centers for the dissemination of extremist Wahhabi propaganda.

Villagers here described bottle dungeons dug into the dirt floors of local houses. Accessible only via small overhead hatches, they were used by militants to keep prisoners, including captured female slaves, as well as dead bodies. Deep below two houses, we were shown complex tunnels systems ostensibly used to hold and torture prisoners. The stench of human death lingered in the dark tunnels mingling with the smell of dust and concrete. The tunnels were also used as corridors to move weapons and supplies from house to house undetected.

Inside one home that turned it into a makeshift AQAP prison, we saw four three-square-meter windowless cells with heavy steel doors. As we made our way from cell to cell, I was struck by the sight of a pile of woman’s clothing, a prayer outfit, and a baby’s diapers, all piled into a morbid testament of the crimes committed here. I also found a note, a scrap of paper with the following scribbled onto it: ” I am Um Assamah, Why did you imprison me and my three daughters?” Samira is rumored to have been held in these same cells.

Residents who participated in the fight against the Saudi-backed militants told us that the place was a women’s prison that “from outside it looked like simple houses but when we entered, we found cells, tunnels, and implements of torture,” a 60-year-old man with a white beard recounted, barely holding back his tears and gripping the rifle slung over his shoulder. In Yemen, a woman’s incarceration is considered a great disgrace.

Other homes in Khazaf were used to make booby traps and explosives. In a small meeting room adorned with AQAP flags, 12 bags of high-explosive TNT lay piled against a wall. A hundred meters away, another home was turned into a makeshift workshop to produce vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. In the yard, a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser lay abandoned, laden with a barrel of TNT in its last stages of preparation. The truck was most likely intended to be used against large gatherings according to local resistance fighters.

 

An attempt to coverup war crimes

There is little doubt that untold war crimes occurred in the forgotten desert villages and in a brazen effort to conceal their involvement, Saudi warplanes hit them hard last week. Khazaf and al-Marwan were pounded by barrages of Coalition airstrikes, it appears, however, that their hail mary may have come too late. Video filmed by local fighters and shared MintPress as well as with Houthi media document many of the crimes that took place as well as the forces behind them.

 
Local fighters told us that they weren’t even aware of the existence of some of the bunkers, laboratories and tunnels until after they were exposed beneath the rubble of the Saudi airstrikes which targeted specific homes.

Now, in a last-ditch effort to revive what’s left of their AQAP allies in al-Jawf, Saudi Arabia has renewed its battlefield campaign in the province of al-Bayda after over a year of relative quiet there. Al-Bayda lies close to Marib, where some of the most extremist militants allied with the Coalition reside. Backed by Saudi warplanes, AQAP carried out two operations in Nate’a and Qaniyah on Wednesday, lasting over 10 hours according to the Yemeni army.

Feature photo | Saudi-allied militants ride on the back of a pick-up truck in an area between Yemen’s northern provinces of al-Jawf and Marib, December 5, 2015. Ali Owidha | Reuters

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post As Saudi Forces Flee Northern Yemen, Evidence of an Unholy Alliance with Al-Qaeda is Left Behind appeared first on MintPress News.

France’s Fingerprints Are All Over Terrorist Groups in Idlib Syria

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 1:41am in

Mideast Discourse — FRANCE 24’s Wassim Nasr, a specialist in jihadist networks, recently spoke via Skype with French recruiter Omar Omsen, the head of the jihadist group Furkat-al-Ghuraba, an Al Qaeda affiliate in Idlib.

There are numerous French terrorists in Idlib today, fighting to establish an Islamic state out of a small piece of secular Syria.  Their dream is a Sunni utopia on the Turkish border, where they can enjoy the full support of the Turkish President Erdogan, who is the head of the AK party which is a Muslim Brotherhood party which has dominated Turkey for about 20 years.

Being on the Turkish border affords them the luxury of being fed and clothed by international aid agencies, such as the UN’s World Food Programme, and other humanitarian groups who distribute supplies to civilians, and their sons, brothers, husband, or father who are on the Al Qaeda payroll financed by Qatar, and some Arab Gulf monarchies.  The humanitarian groups, including the UN, work as enablers, prolonging the suffering of the innocents by continuing the supplies. If the daily needs of the terrorist’s families had been cut off, the terrorists would be forced to flee to Turkey, and eventually Europe, for more of the free benefits offered by “Mother Merkel”, referring to German Chancellor Angel Merkel.

The French terrorists were recruited in France, and not online.  The Sevran network, a terrorist recruitment network in Sevran, near Paris, operated from an informal prayer hall, as they targeted young men with a sophisticated mixture of psychological tactics, and according to some, tactics of hypnosis which were acquired by Al Qaeda during the decades in Afghanistan, which is well known for honed skills of hypnosis which existed before the CIA field agents; but, were used by the CIA in their jihad program to counter the Soviet presence there.

The French jihadist recruiter, Omar Omsen, faked his death in August 2015, only to reappear months later in a TV interview. It is unknown how many terrorists have faked their deaths to wipe their identity clean and re-invent themselves later in Europe, or the US.

Omar Omsen photo

An undated photo of French ISIS recruiter extraordinaire Omar Omsen

The French government began their support of terrorists in Syria beginning in 2011 when the CIA began their first office in Adana, Turkey just over the border from Idlib. French Presidents from Sarkozy, to Hollande, and now Macron have all followed the US ordered ‘regime-change’ project in Syria.  In 2017 US President Trump shut-down the CIA program of support to Al Qaeda in Syria. However, Al Qaeda is fully functioning in Idlib and with very obvious support at the highest levels, such as weapons, ammunition, anti-aircraft missiles, drones, and paychecks.

 

Syria’s Moderate Rebels

In September 2015, Syrian President Assad blamed Europe’s refugee crisis on West’s support for terrorists.  Referring to the viral online photo of a Syrian child washed up on a Turkish beach, he said,

How can you feel sad at a child’s death in the sea and not feel for the thousands of children who have been killed by the terrorists in Syria? And, also for the elderly, for the woman and men? These European double standards are no longer acceptable.”

He added, “The West is supporting terrorists since the beginning of this crisis when it said it was ‘a peaceful uprising’ – as they called it. They said later, it is moderate opposition and now they say these (are) terrorists like al-Nusra and ISIS.”  Jibhat al-Nusra is the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria and is in control of Idlib.

In June 2015 the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same groups the defendant was charged with supporting. The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The French intelligence agents were working hand in glove with the US and UK in Syria.

A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state”.  The western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the 1980’s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original Al Qaeda under CIA tutelage.

 

Sochi 2018

The agreement required Turkey to oust terrorists such as Jibhat al-Nusra, and allowed Turkey to set up 12 observation posts in Idlib to separate the terrorists from unarmed civilians.  However, almost two years after the deal was made, Turkey failed to fulfill its commitments and Moscow openly accused Turkey of aiding the terrorists.  This led to the Syrian Arab Army offensive in Idlib which began in December 2019 to liberate the civilians and clear out all terrorists. This military operation is ongoing and the Syrians, with help from Russian airpower, have made dramatic advancements.

Syria Idlib rebels

Turkey-backed fighters help a fellow fighter wounded by Syrian government forces and their allies in Idlib, Syria, March 1, 2020. Photo | AP

 

France’s ghost trials

In January 2020 a Paris courtroom heard cases against French terrorists in Syria, however, the majority of the defendants were dead.  The French news media have dubbed it a “ghost trial”.

Antoine Ory, one of the defense lawyers, said: “In France, in 2020, we refuse to repatriate the living but we try the dead.”   France has a policy of not taking back its terrorists, even though they have thousands of them in Syria.

 

The staging ground at Hatay

The border between Syria and Turkey is a relatively straight line from east to west until it reaches the Orontes river, then it suddenly dips and heads southwards for about 80 miles.  This obvious missing chunk of Syrian land was given to Turkey by France in 1939 to assure Turkey would fight for France against Hitler’s Germany in WW2.

Liwa Iskanderoun to the Syrians is now called Hatay province, it contains the cities of Antakya and Iskenderun, which were previously known as Antioch and Alexandretta.  This area is on the Turkish side of Idlib.

The area in 1939 was a mixture of nationalities, with Turks, Turkmen, Sunni Arabs, Alawites, Armenians, and Greeks.  Their descendants today still speak Arabic, unlike the rest of Turkey which only speaks Turkish. Before 2011, Turkish President Erdogan and Syrian President Assad had a very close relationship and an agreement was signed to build a $28 million Syrian-Turkish Friendship Dam on the Orontes River. Hatay was transformed into a staging-ground for internationals terrorists, including the French, who flooded into Syria to participate in the US-NATO-EU attack on Syria for ‘regime change,’ and today the world watches as possible open warfare may be declared.

Feature photo | Anti-government rebels prepare to go to a frontline near the village of Neirab, in Idlib province, Syria, Feb. 24, 2020. Ghaith Alsayed | AP

Steven Sahouni is an independent Syrian political analyst and writer based in Lebanon; he has been covering the Syrian crisis since it’s onset in 2011 and has published several articles in numerous media outlets. He is regularly interviewed by US, Canadian and German media.

The post France’s Fingerprints Are All Over Terrorist Groups in Idlib Syria appeared first on MintPress News.

As Houthis Close in on Al-Qaeda in Yemen, US Drone Strikes Target its Leaders

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/02/2020 - 1:32am in

MARIB, YEMEN — An escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen has sparked anger from residents and tribal leaders. The drone strikes, according to the victims’ relatives, not only killed suspected members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) but also killed and injured a number of civilians. The recent escalation comes after the commander of the U.S Central Forces, Joseph Votel, handed ousted former Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi a list of al-Qaeda military commanders and their supporters being targeted by the United States, according to local news outlets close to Hadi.

Last week, a suspected C.I.A. drone targeted a home alleged to contain al-Qaeda leader Qassim al-Rimi in Marib Province, allegedly killing not only al-Rimi but some innocent civilians as well. By Washington’s standards, residents told MintPress, just because they were near the house, those civilians deserved to die alongside al-Qaeda.

The drone strike took place in the al-Hazmah region in the eastern province of Marib on a home that was allegedly used to store weapons. The house, according to local tribal leaders and witnesses, was targeted by more than one airstrike and left no survivors. A local al-Qaeda leader that went by the nickname Qusayleh was also killed in the attack. Many of his bodyguards were killed and injured in another attack that targeted a car near Bin Maieli, outside of al-Hazmah.

Witnesses told MintPress that massive explosions rocked the area in the aftermath of the attack and that al-Qaeda fighters arrived in the area soon after and cordoned it off. The al-Qaeda fighters, according to witnesses, were all Yemeni. According to two local tribal sources who spoke to MintPress on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals, al-Rimi, the intended target of the attack, was not among the dead.

The latest U.S. airstrikes have been widely reported in local media and online and are a regular topic of discussion at weekly qat chewing sessions across the country. They have also forced civilians in the district to flee their homes and farms and have created fear among women and children in the region.

Just as they did in the tribal areas of Yemen’s south, where U.S. drone strikes regularly target suspected al-Qaeda members, the latest attacks in Marib have caused a marked increase in the radicalization of tribesmen and victims’ relatives. Many tribesmen have already joined AQAP not out of support for its ideology, but out of resentment towards the United States. The majority of residents in the region want to see both an end to U.S. aggression and al-Qaeda’s presence.

In the wake of the U.S. attack, tribesmen in the district expressed sympathy with both residents and al-Qaeda. Some even promised to join the terror network. “U.S. drones do not differentiate between civilians and al-Qaeda-linked fighters,” said farmer Ali Hammoud, adding that one of his relatives was killed in the attack. “In the end, you will be killed by plane, whether you are a civilian, or from al-Qaeda. Joining al-Qaeda is what is on my mind now.”

Local al-Qaeda leaders are taking advantage of the anger to attract more recruits and financing from Yemen’s people, especially in al-Qaeda-controlled areas. But the drone strikes do not only make al-Qaeda recruiting easier, they also broaden the social space in which the group can safely function with local support. Furthermore, the death of civilians in U.S. drones strikes gives resonance to al-Qaeda’s claims that their strategies in fighting the U.S. are justified.

Regardless of what leaders in Washington view as valid and legitimate responses to terrorist threats, the reality for Yemenis, including the Houthis, is that the United States is waging an undeclared war on Yemen and that its drone strikes are one of the many ways in which it runs roughshod over Yemen’s sovereignty.

 

A Saudi-backed AQAP resurgence

Yemen’s tribal leaders and residents in Marib, which closely borders Houthi territory but remains largely under Saudi Coalition control, and other eastern provinces blame the United States and the Saudi-led coalition for the proliferation of AQAP in the region. They complain that the global network has been expanded and built dozens of training and military bases supported by the coalition and overlooked by the Trump administration.

A high-ranking tribal leader in Marib who spoke to MintPress on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals claimed that AQAP operative Jamal al-Badawi, accused of bombing the USS Cole in 2000 and killing American soldiers, was receiving significant funds estimated at millions of U.S. Dollars from senior officials in the ousted Hadi government. The funds, he claimed, were transferred via local tribal sheikh and were to be spent on rebuilding al-Qaeda’s presence in the province. MintPress could not independently verify his claim.

The Saudi-led coalition’s support for al-Qaeda in Yemen is no longer a secret. In a recent development, Yemeni media aired footage of dead Saudi troops alongside dozens of al-Qaeda members following an attack by the Houthis. The fighters were armed with western weapons (particularly American and Canadian), armored vehicles, medium and heavy weapons and ammunition.

Al-Qaeda fighters were also a major component of the coalition forces in the Nihm, Marib, and al-Jawf battlefields. Hundreds of them were killed by Saudi airstrikes while trying to escape the incoming Houthi advance. Others were injured or captured by Houthis fighters.

For their part, the Houthis view the recent U.S. attacks as an attempt to dispose of an invoncenviet ally for fear that their strongholds, and the wealth of coalition-supplied weapons within them, could fall into Houthi hands. The Saudi-led Coalition regularly targets its own arms with airstrikes in the wake of withdrawals.

The drone attack against al-Qaeda comes as Houthi fighters are getting closer to capturing the Marib and al-Jawf provinces, areas that have been the most important strongholds of al-Qaeda since 2015, when the war on the country began. But, according to Houthi officials, the mediation by the coalition has successfully slowed the Houthi advance towards Marib and al-Jawf.

Feature photo | A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing US drones strikes in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sana’a. Khaled Abdullah | Reuters

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post As Houthis Close in on Al-Qaeda in Yemen, US Drone Strikes Target its Leaders appeared first on MintPress News.

UK Police Targeting Non-Violent Protest Groups as Terrorists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 10:31pm in

Mike this morning has put up a piece about the police in the south-east of England placing Extinction Rebellion on a list of extremist organisations and ideologies, which should be reported to the authorities running the Prevent programme. This comes from the Guardian, which states that the environmental activist group is included in a 12 page document, Safeguarding Young People and Adults from Ideological Extremism along with Islamism and neo-Nazism. This is, of course, of concern because Extinction Rebellion are actually non-violent, unlike Nazis and Islamists. I think they’re included because of their tactics of direct action. They deliberately try to stop and block traffic. This is an immense pain, and I don’t blame the commuters, who tried to pull one of them off a train they’d stopped to give him a beating, although I don’t approve of them wanting to beat him up. But Extinction Rebellion not violent, and don’t deserve to be treated as terrorists.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/01/10/terrorism-police-listed-extinction-rebellion-as-extremist-why-does-boris-johnson-get-off-the-hook/

But Extinction Rebellion aren’t alone. There is a chapter in The Violence of Austerity by Rizwaan Sabir, ‘Policing Anti-Austerity through the ‘War on Terror’, on the way anti-austerity activists are viewed almost as terrorist groups by an increasingly militarised police. Sabir tells how he obtained copies of the City of London’s police’s ‘Terrorism/extremism communique’ and similar documents through a Freedom of Information request after the communique had appeared on the net in 2011. These documents included UK Uncut, Occupy London and a number of other, peaceful groups, alongside al-Qaeda and the Columbian rebel group, FARC. One of the terrorist attacks the police believed were being planned was a ‘yoga and mediation flashmob’ by the group, Wake Up London.

When queried, the City of London Police claimed that the document’s title was a mistake and that they did not intend Occupy London to be included as a terrorist organisation. Sabir finds this unconvincing, as the information would have to have been collected by Special Branch and the Counter-Terrorism Department, and they’d done this seven times before. It was less of a mistake than a habit. Furthermore, the City of London police had a project to counter ‘hostile reconnaissance’, Servator. This refers to ‘criminals’, including extreme protest groups, organised crime and terrorists’. He also describes how the police used unlawful terror tactics to harass and intimidate protesters and journalists at Climate Camp’s 2008 protest against a power station in Kent.

He concludes that the use of coercive tactics used against activists and campaigners as counter-terrorism measures is neither new nor unique. The police see such activists as terrorists, and so feel justified in using violence and coercion against them. And the blurring of the boundaries between peaceful activism and terrorism leads the public to become indifferent to the criminalisation of protesters and the militarisation of the police. He concludes

Such policing practices undermine the UK’s purported commitment to human rights processes and its claim that it upholds principles of liberal democracy.

But you can’t really expect otherwise from the Tories.