Category Archives: Books I recommend

Dread Pirate Roberts & The Silk Road

Dread Pirate Roberts

 

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Ross Ulbricht

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The Silk Road

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Silk Road was an online black market and the first modern darknet market, best known as a platform for selling illegal drugs. As part of the dark webit was operated as a Tor hidden service, such that online users were able to browse it anonymously and securely without potential traffic monitoring. The website was launched in February 2011; development had begun six months prior.

 Initially there were a limited number of new seller accounts available; new sellers had to purchase an account in an auction. Later, a fixed fee was charged for each new seller account.[

In October 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the website and arrested Ross Ulbricht under charges of being the site’s pseudonymous founder “Dread Pirate Roberts”.

On 6 November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 came online, run by former administrators of Silk Road.

It too was shut down, and the alleged operator was arrested on 6 November 2014 as part of the so-called “Operation Onymous“. Ulbricht was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road in the U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

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The Silk Road: who was the real Dread Pirate Roberts

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History

Operations

 

Silk Road was founded in February 2011. The name “Silk Road” comes from a historical network of trade routes started during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) between Europe, India, China, and many other countries on the Afro-Eurasian landmass. Silk Road was operated by the pseudonymous “Dread Pirate Roberts” (named after the fictional character from The Princess Bride), who was known for espousing libertarian ideals and criticizing regulationTwo other individuals were also closely involved in the site’s growth and success, known as Variety Jones and Smedley.

In June 2011, Gawker published an article about the site  which led to “Internet buzz” and an increase in website traffic. Once the site was known publicly, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked federal law enforcement authorities to shut it down, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice.

In May 2013, Silk Road was taken down for a short period of time by a sustained DDoS attack. On 23 June 2013, it was first reported that the DEA seized 11.02 bitcoins, then worth a total of $814, which the media suspected was a result of a Silk Road honeypot sting.

 

The FBI has claimed that the real IP address of the Silk Road server was found via data leaked directly from the site’s CAPTCHA, but security researchers believe that the PHP login page was manipulated to output its $_SERVER variable and real IP following site maintenance reconfiguration.

Henry Farrell, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, analyzed Silk Road in an essay for Aeon in 2015.

He noted that Ulbricht created the marketplace to function without government oversight but found it difficult to verify anonymous transactions. To sustain a steady stream of revenue, he started increasing oversight to ensure low transaction costs. To do this, he added measures to ensure trustworthiness with implementation of an automated escrow payment system and automated review system.

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The dark Web, Silk Road

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Arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht

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Thanks in part to off-duty research conducted by IRS criminal investigator Gary Alford, Ross Ulbricht was alleged by the FBI to be the founder and owner of Silk Road and the person behind the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR). He was arrested on 2 October 2013 in San Francisco  at 3:15 p.m. PST

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in Glen Park Library, a branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Ulbricht was indicted on charges of money launderingcomputer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and attempting to have six people killed.Prosecutors alleged that Ulbricht paid $730,000 to others to commit the murders, although none of the murders actually occurred. Ulbricht ultimately was not prosecuted for any of the alleged murder attempts.

The FBI initially seized 26,000 bitcoins from accounts on Silk Road, worth approximately $3.6 million at the time. An FBI spokesperson said that the agency would hold the bitcoins until Ulbricht’s trial finished, after which the bitcoins would be liquidated.

In October 2013, the FBI reported that it had seized 144,000 bitcoins, worth $28.5 million, and that the bitcoins belonged to Ulbricht. On 27 June 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service sold 29,657 bitcoins in 10 blocks in an online auction, estimated to be worth $18 million at current rates and only about a quarter of the seized bitcoins. Another 144,342 bitcoins were kept which had been found on Ulbricht’s computer, roughly $87 million.

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What are bitcoins?

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Tim Draper bought the bitcoins at the auction with an estimated worth of $17 million, to lend them to a bitcoin start-up called Vaurum which is working in developing economies of emerging markets.

Ulbricht’s trial began on 13 January 2015 in Federal Court in Manhattan. At the start of the trial, Ulbricht admitted to founding the Silk Road website, but claimed to have transferred control of the site to other people soon after he founded it.  Ulbricht’s lawyers contended that Dread Pirate Roberts was really Mark Karpelès, and that Karpelès set up Ulbricht as a fall guy.

However, Judge Katherine B. Forrestruled that any speculative statements regarding whether Karpelès or anyone else ran Silk Road would not be allowed, and statements already made would be stricken from the record.

In the second week of the trial, prosecutors presented documents and chat logs from Ulbricht’s computer that, they said, demonstrated how Ulbricht had administered the site for many months, which contradicted the defense’s claim that Ulbricht had relinquished control of Silk Road. Ulbricht’s attorney suggested that the documents and chat logs were planted there by way of BitTorrent, which was running on Ulbricht’s computer at the time of his arrest.

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What is BitTorrent?

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On 4 February 2015, the jury convicted Ulbricht of seven charges, including charges of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and computer hacking. He faced 30 years to life in prison.  The government also accused Ulbricht of paying for the murders of at least five people, but there is no evidence that the murders were actually carried out, and the accusations never became formal charges against Ulbricht.

During the trial, Judge Forrest received death threats. Users of an underground site called The Hidden Wiki posted her personal information there, including her address and Social Security number. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he and his client “obviously, and as strongly as possible, condemn” the anonymous postings against the judge.

“They do not in any way have anything to do with Ross Ulbricht or anyone associated with him or reflect his views or those of anyone associated with him”,

 

Dratel said.

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In late March 2015, a criminal complaint issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California led to the arrest of two former federal agents who had worked undercover in the Baltimore Silk Road investigation of Ulbricht, former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Mark Force IV and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges.

The agents are alleged to have kept funds that Ulbricht transferred to them in exchange for purported information about the investigation. The agents were charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

In late November 2016, Ulbricht’s lawyers brought forward a case on a third DEA agent, who they claim was leaking information about the investigation and tampered with evidence to omit chat logs showing conversations with him.

In a letter to Judge Forrest before his sentencing, Ulbricht stated that his actions through Silk Road were committed through libertarian idealism and that “Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices” and admitted that he made a “terrible mistake” that “ruined his life”.

On May 29, 2015, Ulbricht was given five sentences to be served concurrently, including two for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

He was also ordered to forfeit $183 million. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he would appeal the sentencing and the original guilty verdict. On May 31, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Ulbricht’s appeal, and affirmed the judgment of conviction and life sentence, in a written opinion authored by the Honorable Gerard E. Lynch, United States Circuit Judge.

The Supreme Court declined to review the case.

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Other trials

In February 2013, an Australian cocaine and MDMA (“ecstasy”) dealer became the first person to be convicted of crimes directly related to Silk Road, after authorities intercepted drugs that he was importing through the mail, searched his premises, and discovered his Silk Road alias in an image file on his personal computer.

Australian police and the DEA have targeted Silk Road users and made arrests, albeit with limited success at reaching convictions. In December 2013, a New Zealand man was sentenced to two years and four months in jail after being convicted of importing 15 grams of methamphetamine that he had bought on Silk Road.

Dutch drug dealer 23-year-old Cornelis Jan “Maikel” Slomp  pled guilty for large scale selling of drugs through the Silk Road website and was sentenced in Chicago to 10 years in prison on 29 May 2015 with his attorney, Paul Petruzzi, present.

Dealer Steven Sadler was sentenced to five years in prison. There have been over 130 other arrests connected with The Silk Road, although some of these arrests may not be directly related to The Silk Road, and may not be public information due to legal reasons.

Products

In March 2013, the site had 10,000 products for sale by vendors, 70% of which were drugs. In October 2014, there were 13,756 listings for drugs, grouped under the headings stimulantspsychedelicsprescriptionprecursors, other, opioidsecstasydissociatives, and steroids/PEDs.

Fake driver’s licenses were also offered for sale. The site’s terms of service prohibited the sale of certain items. When the Silk Road marketplace first began the creator and administrators instituted terms of service that prohibited the sale of anything whose purpose was to “harm or defraud”.

This included child pornography, stolen credit cards, assassinations, and weapons of any type; other darknet markets such as Black Market Reloaded gained user notoriety because they were not as restrictive on these items as the Silk Road incarnations were.

There were also legal goods and services for sale, such as apparelartbookscigaretteseroticajewelery, and writing services. A sister site, called “The Armory”, sold weapons (primarily guns) during 2012, but was shut down because of a lack of demand.

Buyers were able to leave reviews of sellers’ products on the site, and in an associated forum where crowdsourcing provided information about the best sellers and worst scammers.Most products were delivered through the mail, with the site’s seller’s guide instructing sellers how to vacuum-seal their products to escape detection.[78]

Sales

 

flowchart depicting Silk Road’s payment system. Exhibit 113 A, entered into evidence at Ulbricht’s trial.
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Based on data from 3 February 2012 to 24 July 2012, an estimated $15 million in transactions were made annually on Silk Road. Twelve months later, Nicolas Christin, the study’s author, said in an interview that a major increase in volume to “somewhere between $30 million and $45 million” would not surprise him.

Buyers and sellers conducted all transactions with bitcoins (BTC), a cryptocurrency that provides a certain degree of anonymity. Silk Road held buyers’ bitcoins in escrow until the order had been received and a hedging mechanism allowed sellers to opt for the value of bitcoins held in escrow to be fixed to their value in US$ at the time of the sale to mitigate against Bitcoin’s volatility. Any changes in the price of bitcoins during transit were covered by Dread Pirate Roberts.

The complaint published when Ulbricht was arrested included information the FBI gained from a system image of the Silk Road server collected on 23 July 2013. It noted that, “From February 6, 2011 to July 23, 2013 there were approximately 1,229,465 transactions completed on the site. The total revenue generated from these sales was 9,519,664 Bitcoins, and the total commissions collected by Silk Road from the sales amounted to 614,305 Bitcoins.

These figures are equivalent to roughly $1.2 billion in revenue and $79.8 million in commissions, at current Bitcoin exchange rates…”, according to the September 2013 complaint, and involved 146,946 buyers and 3,877 vendors. According to information users provided upon registering, 30 percent were from the United States, 27 percent chose to be “undeclared”, and beyond that, in descending order of prevalence: the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, Russia, Italy, and the Netherlands. During the 60-day period from 24 May to 23 July, there were 1,217,218 messages sent over Silk Road’s private messaging system.

Similar sites

The Farmer’s Market was a Tor site similar to Silk Road, but which did not use bitcoins.[84] It has been considered a ‘proto-Silk Road’ but the use of payment services such as PayPal and Western Union allowed law enforcement to trace payments and it was subsequently shut down by the FBI in 2012.

Other sites already existed when Silk Road was shut down and The Guardian predicted that these would take over the market that Silk Road previously dominated. Sites named ‘Atlantis‘, closing in September 2013, and Project Black Flag, closing in October 2013, each stole their users’ bitcoins.

In October 2013, the site named Black Market Reloaded closed down temporarily after the site’s source code was leaked. The market shares of various Silk Road successor sites were described by The Economist in May 2015.

Book club

Silk Road had a Tor-based book club that continued to operate following the initial site’s closure and even following the arrest of one of its members. Reading material included conspiracy theories and computer hacking. Some of the titles included mainstream books as well as books such as The Anarchist Cookbook and Defeating Electromagnetic Door Locks. Most of the titles on this book club were pirated. This book club still exists as a private Tor based chatroom.

Direct successors

 

Silk Road 2.0

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Alert placed on the Silk Road’s homepage following its seizure by the U.S. government and European law enforcement

On 6 November 2013, administrators from the closed Silk Road relaunched the site, led by a new pseudonymous Dread Pirate Roberts, and dubbed it “Silk Road 2.0”. It recreated the original site’s setup and promised improved security.

The new DPR took the precaution of distributing encrypted copies of the site’s source code to allow the site to be quickly recreated in the event of another shutdown.

On 20 December 2013, it was announced that three alleged Silk Road 2.0 administrators had been arrested; two of these suspects, Andrew Michael Jones and Gary Davis, were named as the administrators “Inigo” and “Libertas” who had continued their work on Silk Road 2.0.

Around this time, the new Dread Pirate Roberts abruptly surrendered control of the site and froze its activity, including its escrow system. A new temporary administrator under the screenname “Defcon” took over and promised to bring the site back to working order.

On 13 February 2014, Defcon announced that Silk Road 2.0’s escrow accounts had been compromised through a vulnerability in Bitcoin protocol called “transaction malleability”.

While the site remained online, all the bitcoins in its escrow accounts, valued at $2.7 million, were reported stolen. It was later reported that the vulnerability was in the site’s “Refresh Deposits” function, and that the Silk Road administrators had used their commissions on sales since 15 February to refund users who lost money, with 50 percent of the hack victims being completely repaid as of 8 April.

On 6 November 2014, authorities with the Federal Bureau of InvestigationEuropol, and Eurojust announced the arrest of Blake Benthall, allegedly the owner and operator of Silk Road 2.0 under the pseudonym “Defcon”, the previous day in San Francisco as part of Operation Onymous.

Others

Following the closure of Silk Road 2.0 in November 2014, Diabolus Market renamed itself to ‘Silk Road 3 Reloaded’ in order to capitalise on the brand. In January 2015, Silk Road Reloaded launched on I2P with multiple cryptocurrency support and similar listing restrictions to the original Silk Road market.

This website is also defunct.

Advocates of deep web drug sales

Meghan Ralston, a former “harm reduction manager” for the Drug Policy Alliance, was quoted as saying that the Silk Road was “a peaceable alternative to the often deadly violence so commonly associated with the global drug war, and street drug transactions, in particular”. Proponents of the Silk Road and similar sites argue that buying illegal narcotics from the safety of your home is better than buying them in person from criminals on the street.

 

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The Story of Dread Pirate Roberts

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More information on Ross Ulbricht

 

Operation Man Hunt: The Hunt for Viktor Bout – The Merchant of Death

Operation Man Hunt

operation manhunt HEADER

The Hunt for the Richest, Deadliest Criminal in History

My Thoughts?

A great book that reads like a Hollywood script and  a range of characters straight out of a Ian Flemming novel.  Enough twists and turns to keep me interested and guessing and compelling  insights into the murky waters of international arms dealing.

I did form the opinion that Bout was entrapped and although I had no sympathy for him it did leave  a bitter taste in my mouth.

Well worth a read though!

The Night Manager meets Narcos‘ Saul David

‘To catch this criminal took incredible courage and skill. This is James Bond meets Jason Bourne’ Bear Grylls

The new bestseller from the author of Zero Six Bravo

By 2007 Viktor Bout had become the world’s foremost arms dealer. Known as the ‘Merchant of Death’ he was both “Public Enemy No. 1” to the global intelligence agencies and a ruthless criminal worth around six billion dollars.

For years Bout had eluded capture, meanwhile building up a labyrinthine network of airlines selling weapons to order to dictators, rebels, despots and terror groups worldwide. He was hunted by the CIA, NSA, MI6, as well sought by the United Nations for being their top global sanctions buster. Holed up in Moscow – from where he ran a suite of offices selling anything from AK47s to state-of-the-art helicopter gunships and anti-aircraft missiles – he was shielded by a Russian state that was a partner in his dark dealings. In short, Bout appeared utterly invulnerable and beyond any hope of capture.

Step forward former SAS man Mike Snow. After serving in the Regiment, Snow had worked as a bush pilot in Africa, where he’d got to know Bout well. Via its own secretive, shadow network, Snow was approached by the US DEA, the Drugs Enforcement Agency. The DEA agents had one question for him: was Snow able to get to Viktor Bout?

This is the incredible tale of OPERATION RELENTLESS, the top-secret mission that Snow and a handful of DEA operatives launched to entrap Viktor Bout – a story that ranges from the steamy jungles of Colombia to the ice-bound streets of Moscow, and from horrific bloodshed and tyranny in the Congo, to a snatch operation like no other. It may read like an implausible thriller, but every word of Operation Man Hunt is true.

Buy the book

 

From the Inside Flap

They claimed they were the A-Team – the guys who could get one of the world’s most wanted men, notorious Russian arms-dealer Viktor Bout. More commonly known as ‘The Merchant of Death’, Bout was “Public Enemy No. 1” to the global intelligence agencies who hunted him, worth an alleged six billion dollars.

For decades Bout had run a labyrinthine network of airlines selling weapons to fabulously wealthy dictators, bloodthirsty rebels and fearsome terror outfits. Reputedly the United Nations top global sanctions buster, he was holed up in Moscow, shielded by a Russian state complicit in his dark dealings. But like modern-day bounty hunters the A-Team claimed they could nail Bout, and where an alphabet soup of agencies – MI6, CIA, NSA and others – had failed.

To capture Bout the US DEA – the Drugs Enforcement Agency – put together a cast more extraordinary than any fiction: The Bear, a stir-crazy bush-pilot and former SAS man; Carlos, former intelligence agent and undercover known as ‘The King of Sting’; ‘El Commandante’, a former narco-trafficker and arms-dealer extraordinaire; plus Dutch and Polski, ex-US military and crack DEA operators.

If they couldn’t get Bout, no one could.

Written with Lewis’s signature dramatic verve, and based upon exclusive interviews, DEA wire taps and court transcripts, this is the explosive story of the ultra-secret mission known as OPERATION RELENTLESS. It ranges from the steamy jungles of Colombia to the ice-bound streets of Moscow, and from horrific bloodshed and tyranny in Africa’s heart of darkness to a snatch mission like no other. It may read like an implausible thriller, but every word is true.

Reviews

 

” To catch this criminal took incredible courage and skill.

his is James Bond meets Jason Bourne”

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Bear Grylls

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Buy the book

See: Victor Bout The Merchant of Death

 

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS – Farida Khalaf

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS 

 Farida Khalaf 

I have long followed with sympathy the plight of the Yazidi people of Iraq and I watched with horror and a heavy heart as the madmen  of Islamic  State turned its twisted , pitiless hatred on these gentle folk and the genocidal  destruction of their families , communities and very cultural.
 
Crimes against humanity were committed on an industrial scale  and the Yazidi people were easy targets for the bullies  and worthless  losers  of Islamic Sate or should that be
” Islamic Failed State”  .
Hundreds were killed , fathers and sons separated from their women and children  and slaughtered without  an ounce of mercy. Their wife’s and daughters  enslaved and bought , sold and resold within the slave markets of an Islamic  Hell on earth .
 
Farida Khalaf   survived this nightmare ordeal and against all the odds she escaped and was reunited with her mother and surviving brothers in an Iraqi refugee camp .
This is her incredible story

 Farida’s Story

 

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In August 2014, Farida was, like any ordinary teenager, enjoying the last days of summer before her final year at school. However, her peaceful mountain village in northern Iraq was an ISIS target as their genocide against the Yazidi people began.

The Catastrophe

ISIS murdered the men and boys in the village, including Farida’s father and brother, and took the women hostage. Farida was one of them. She was held in a slave camp, in the homes of ISIS members and finally in a desert training camp. Continually she struggled, resisted and fought against her captors, showing unimaginable strength and bravery.

This is my Story

Eventually, Farida managed to plot her escape and fled into the desert with five young girls in her care, but defeating ISIS was just the first step in her journey. In this book she tells her remarkable and inspiring story.

Extracts
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Reviews

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Farida Khalaf

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Farida Khalaf (born circa 1995) is a Yazidi woman who was abducted by ISIS in 2014 and sold into slavery. She escaped to a refugee camp, and in 2016 published a book about her experience, The Girl Who Beat ISIS.

Khalaf grew up in the village of Kocho in the mountains of Iraq. In 2014, when she was 18, ISIS invaded her village. The jihadists murdered all the men and boys of the village, including her father and brother. Single women and girls, including Farida and her friend Evin, were forced onto a bus at gunpoint and brought to Raqqa, where they were sold into sexual slavery.She was once beaten so badly by her captors that she lost sight in one eye, and could not walk for two months.

The young women managed to escape to a refugee camp in northern Iraq, and Khalaf was reunited with surviving family members. Among members of her community, however, she was seen as having brought dishonor to her family by having been raped. She subsequently moved to Germany, where she hopes to become a mathematics teacher.

 

The IRA Greenbook

The IRA Greenbook

IRA Green Book poster

The Green Book is a training and induction manual issued by the Irish Republican Army to new volunteers. It was used by the post-Irish Civil War Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Cumann na mBan, (“League of Women”), along with later incarnations such as the Provisional IRA (PIRA). It includes a statement of military objectives, tactics and conditions for military victory against the British government.

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/documentaries  are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

This military victory was to be achieved as part of:

“the ongoing liberation of Ireland from foreign occupiers”

The Green Book has acted as a manual of conduct and induction to the organisation since at least the 1950s.

Extracts

What A Volunteer Should Do When Arrested!

1. The most important thing to bear in mind when arrested is that you are a
volunteer of a revolutionary Army, that you have been captured by an enemy force,
that your cause is a just one, that you are right and that the enemy is wrong and
that as a soldier you have taken the chance expected of a soldier and that there is
nothing to be ashamed of in being captured.

2. You must bear in mind that the treatment meted out to you is designed to break
you and so bleed you of all the information you may have with regard to the
organisation to which you belong.

3. They will attempt to intimidate you by sheer numbers and by brutality.
Volunteers who may feel disappointed are entering the first dangerous threshold
because the police will act upon this disappointment to the detriment of the
volunteer and to the furtherment of their own ends. Volunteers must condition
themselves that they can be arrested and if and when arrested they should expect
the worse and be prepared for it.

 

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History

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Because the IRA and later republican groupings have been identified as illegal organisations (the PIRA, IRA & Cumann na mBan have been proscribed – declared illegal – in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and a number of other countries)

 

The Green Book has been distributed and published secretly. It is published at unknown printing presses and distributed to or shared with IRA volunteers as they are accepted for active duty. Due to this secrecy only two editions of the Green Book have so far been released into the public domain. The first, published in 1956, appears to be intact.

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The second, publication date unknown but dating to the 1977 detention of then IRA Chief of Staff Seamus Twomey, has only been released in three parts (referred to here as the 1977 edition). With the beginning of the latest IRA ceasefire and the 2005 ending of their campaign, it seems unlikely that a new edition of the manual will have been issued in recent years by the IRA. However, it is possible that known/unknown groupings have issued a more recent version.

Volunteers’ treatment of the Green Book

The Green Book is issued to IRA volunteers as part of their training and is considered a secret document which should not be revealed to, or discussed with non-IRA members. In order to protect the organisation, disclosure of its training material and any other training documents, including the Green Book, would most likely carry stiff penalties up to and including Court Martial. Once issued, each volunteer is expected to study and learn from his/her copy of the manual, to apply the rules given in it, and to apply lessons learnt from it. While the manual is clearly not all the training a volunteer could expect, it gave a broad overview meant to go some way to preparing the volunteer for active duty with the organisation.

1977 and 1956 editions

Both known issues of the Green Book were in existence while the IRA, (in the case of the 1956 edition), and the PIRA, (in the case of the 1977 edition), were engaged in a military campaign. In 1956, this was the Border Campaign, in the 1970s it was the Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997.

Commonalities and differences exist between the two documents. This demonstrates that the Green Book is a living document updated periodically. These updates are made to reflect changes in;

  • political policy and social structure,
  • military strategy and tactics of the organisation,
  • military strength of the organisation and,
  • the technology/tactics of the organisation’s enemies,

While splits in the IRA since 1922 up to the 1950s do not appear to be noted in the 1956 document, developments in the fields of insurgency and counter-insurgency are. Both T. E. Lawrence and Field Marshal Sir William Slim are quoted.

The 1977 edition appears to have been more heavily influenced by the work of Brigadier General Frank Kitson.

By the 1977 edition, the document had increased in scope with length remaining around the same. Some doctrinal sections from the 1956 edition were still appearing, while new sections aimed at combating the counter insurgency efforts of the British Army and RUC had appeared. Notably the 1977 edition would have existed alongside the IRA’s change in tactics towards the entirely self-reliant cell structure.

The 1956 edition on the other hand discusses the use of the IRA flying column – en masse attacks by large groups of volunteers against concentrations of the enemy. Another notable facet of the 1977 edition is the attention paid to mental preparation of IRA Volunteers, this being the time of the IRA’s “Long War” strategy. Readers of the 1977 edition are warned:

“The Army as an organisation claims and expects your total allegiance without reservation. It enters into every aspect of your life. It invades the privacy of your home life, it fragments your family and friends, in other words claims your total allegiance. All potential volunteers must realise that the threat of capture and of long jail sentences are a very real danger and a shadow which hangs over every volunteer…”

“..Another important aspect all potential volunteers should think about is their ability to obey orders from a superior officer. All volunteers must obey orders issued to them by a superior officer regardless of whether they like the particular officer or not”.

The 1956 edition, contains no such warning but appeals to the “Guerrilla code.” In ‘Chapter Five – Organisation and Arms’ the reader is advised:

“Leadership will not come so much by appointment as by the trust the guerrillas place in their commander. He must be worthy of that trust if he is to succeed. Instead of discipline of the regular army type there will be a more stern battle discipline: agreement on the job to be done, and the need to do it, and obedience to the guerrilla code, these take the place of the unthinking army type discipline. Breaches of the guerrilla code — desertion, betrayal, breach of confidence in any way — must be severely dealt with on the spot”.

Contents of the Green Book

The book contains information on:

  • political philosophy of the IRA,
  • Irish history in terms of struggle against the occupation of Ireland,
  • the military objectives of the organisation,
  • the military strategy for Guerrilla fighters,
  • the military equipment and tools that can be used by Guerrilla fighters,
  • the military equipment and training for tools available to the IRA,
  • propaganda techniques within the theatre of operations,
  • interrogation techniques and how to resist them.

The book has also included references to the training, development, and tactics employed by Regular & Irregular/Specialist forces in modern armies – particularly those of the British Army.

Green Book historical context

The 1956 document couches the violence and occupation of the island of Ireland in a long history of armed resistance to occupation. The first Chapter is entirely taken up with providing this history from the viewpoint of the organisation. It provides information on the Kerne, the battle of the Yellow Ford, Owen Roe O’Neill, the 1798 Rebellion and United Irishmen, James Fintan Lalor, and the Tan War.

All are described as being within the context of legitimate resistance to the occupation of Ireland. This discussion is largely romanticised and aimed at demonstrating a lineage of “armed struggle” from which the IRA assumes its legitimacy in the fight against “occupying forces in Ireland”.

One entry in this discussion is the fact that the efforts of IRA guerrillas were the direct cause in ending the British occupation of the 26 counties of Ireland—the territory that would become the Irish Free State, and later the Republic of Ireland. The 1956 manual also implies that the bulk of the IRA’s work in “freeing Ireland from occupation” is over. This indicates both a “southern” perspective on Irish independence and an underestimation of the resistance they would encounter during the Border Campaign, that was aimed at the end of British rule in Northern Ireland. With the publication of the 1977 edition this assumption of an easy victory in ending partition had been dropped and the “Long War” strategy adopted.

The 1956 edition summarises the result of the violence during the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence (referred to by republicans, who considered independence as having been only partially achieved, as the Tan War) with this passage:

“The hammer blows of the guerrillas destroyed the British administration. The guerrillas acted in small numbers in the right localities and compelled the British to disperse to find them. Then as the British searched, they hit them at will by means of the ambush. Communications were systematically destroyed and even the British army’s transport system in the country was disorganised.”

“The enemy’s intelligence service was completely dislocated. The R.I.C.– the eyes and ears of British rule- was demoralised. British justice courts could not operate–for the people ignored them. The British gradually were forced to evacuate the smaller, more isolated garrisons. They concentrated in the larger towns. The areas evacuated came under sole control of The Republic. The next step was to isolate the larger centres and keep cutting communications and constantly hitting the enemy. In time these would have been evacuated too. Thus ended the last great phase of guerrilla operations against British rule in Ireland.”

Compare to the Marxist intrepretation in the 1977 edition, published during a new campaign and new conditions of waging war. The “struggle” is couched in more socio-economic terms, terms which would have made more sense to a generation living through unemployment and economic hardship in post industrial revolution Northern Ireland (referred to here as the “six counties”). It is also an indication of the influence of Marxist Philosophy that permeated the IRA in the late 1970s:

“The objective of the 800 years of oppression ‘is economic exploitation with the unjustly partitioned 6 counties remaining Britain’s directly controlled old-style colony’ and the South under the ‘continuing social, cultural and economic domination of London’. This last led to Irish savings being invested in England ‘for a higher interest rate’ and many hundreds of thousands of boys and girls from this country had to emigrate to England to seek the employment which those exported saving created.”

“Another aspect of economic imperialism at work is the export of raw, unprocessed materials: live cattle on the hoof – mineral wealth, fish caught by foreign trawlers, etc. Further, from 1956 on, the Free State abandoned all attempts to secure an independent economy, and brought in foreign multi-national companies to create jobs instead of buying their skills and then sending them home gradually. Africanisation’ is the word for this process elsewhere. Control of our affairs in all of Ireland lies more than ever since 1921 outside the hands of the Irish people. The logical outcome of all this was full immersion in the E.E.C. in the 1970s. The Republican Movement opposed this North and South in 1972 and 1975 and continues to do so. It is against such political economic power blocks East and West and military alliances such as NATO and the Warsaw Pact.”

While the 1956 edition does not engage in any legitimisation of the struggle beyond the historical context of resistance to occupation, the 1977 edition does – claiming direct legitimacy from the members of the Second Dáil who transferred their authority to the IRA in 1938 after the takeover of the IRA Army Council by Seán Russell.

This had always been the official ideology of the IRA, however after the split between the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA in 1969 it was probably deemed necessary to lay more of a claim to the historical struggle than the pre-split IRA had felt necessary. The 1956 edition would have also been published for use during a period when the failed S-Plan or Sabotage campaign was within living memory of younger IRA volunteers. Newer volunteers needed to be reminded of previous IRA activity in the “struggle for liberation”:

“The moral position of the Irish Republican Army, its right to engage in warfare, is based on:

  • (a) the right to resist foreign aggression;
  • (b) the right to revolt against tyranny and oppression; and
  • (c) the direct lineal succession with the Provisional Government of 1916, the first Dáil of 1919 and the second Dáil of 1921″.

“In 1938 the seven surviving faithful Republican Deputies delegated executive powers to the Army Council of the I.R.A. per the 1921 resolution. In 1969 the sole surviving Deputy, Joseph Clarke, reaffirmed publicly that the then Provisional Army Council and its successors were the inheritors of the first and second Dáil as a Provisional Government.”

In November 2003 during testimony to the Saville Inquiry on the events of Bloody Sunday alleged former Chief of Staff of the IRA, Martin McGuinness, denied that he had ever read such a book before he claims to have left the IRA in the 1970s. McGuinness reportedly said:

“When I was in the IRA there was no such book, I don’t know when it came into existence.”

When asked what the phrase “green book” meant, he stated: “I think it means the book was green.”

Extracts

Court Martial Procedure.

14. At any time it so desires, the Court may go into private session to decide on points
which may arise, such as the admissibility of evidence.

15. When all witnesses have testified, Defence Counsel will sum up and make closing
address to the Court. This will be followed by summing up and closing address of the
Prosecuting Counsel. The Court then goes into private session to consider its verdict and
sentence.

16. For breach of any General Army Order, the Court shall not have power to impose a
lesser penalty than that laid down in such order.

17. The verdict and sentence of the Court shall be set down in writing and signed by the
three members. This, together with a summary of the evidence, must be forwarded by the
President to the Convening Authority. Sentence is subject to the ratification of the
Convening Authority. Note: In the case of the death penalty, sentence must be ratified by
the A/C.

18. The accused may forward an appeal against the verdict or sentence or both to the
Adjutant-General who will place it before the Competent Authority. The appeal should
be forwarded by accused through his O/C. who in return will forward it to the AdjutantGeneral
with a signed copy of verdict and sentence and a summary of the evidence. The
Competent Authority may order a new trial or reduce the penalty but may not increase
the penalty imposed by the Court.

The Guerrilla / The Volunteer

The 1977 edition of the Green Book is very much focused on the mental strength of the volunteer. The manual is eager to draw a clear distinction between volunteer and his enemy:

“A member of the I.R.A. is such by his own choice, his convictions being the only factor which compels him to volunteer, his objectives the political freedom and social and economic justice for his people. Apart from the few minutes in the career of the average Brit that he comes under attack, the Brit has no freedom or personal initiative. He is told when to sleep, where to sleep, when to get up, where to spend his free time etc.”

In the 1977 edition the term Guerrilla is dropped in favour of “volunteer”, the new edition also stresses that this volunteer is part of a movement with common aims and objectives. From the PIRA’s point of view this would have been necessary to combating competing interpretations encountered in the community and the propaganda efforts of the enemy it faced:

“Before we go on the offensive politically or militarily we take the greatest defensive precautions possible to ensure success, e.g. we do not advocate a United Ireland without being able to justify our right to such a state as opposed to partition; we do not employ revolutionary violence as our means without being able to illustrate that we have no recourse to any other means. Or in more everyday simple terms: we do not claim that we are going to escalate the war if we cannot do just that; we do not mount an operation without first having ensured that we have taken the necessary defensive precautions of accurate intelligence, security, that weapons are in proper working order with proper ammunition and that the volunteers involved know how to handle interrogations in the event of their capture etc, and of course that the operation itself enhances rather than alienates our supporters.”

The 1956 edition on the other hand stresses the physical aspects of IRA operations:

“Outside of the support he [the Guerrilla] gets from the people among whom he operates-and this support must never be underestimated for it is vital to his eventual success-he fights alone. He is part of an independent formation that is in effect an army by itself. He must be self-contained. If necessary he must act alone and fight alone with the weapons at his disposal- and these very often will not be of the best. He must find his own supplies. His endurance has to be great: and for this he needs a fit body and an alert mind. Above all he must know what he is fighting for- and why.”

Military objectives in the Green Book

The 1977 edition describes the military objectives of the IRA as:

“The position of the Irish Republican Army since its foundation in 1916 has been one of sustained resistance and implacable hostility to the forces of imperialism, always keeping in the forefront of the most advanced revolutionary thinking and the latest guerrilla warfare techniques in the world.”

The enemy is described as:

“The establishment is all those who have a vested interest in maintaining the present status quo in politicians, media, judiciary, certain business elements and the Brit war machine comprising, the Brit Army, the U.D.R., R.U.C. (r) [reserve], Screws, Civilian Searchers. The cure for these armed branches of the establishment is well known and documented. But with the possible exceptions of the Brit Ministers in the ‘Northern Ireland Office’ and certain members of the judiciary, the overtly unarmed branches of the establishment are not so clearly identifiable to the people as our enemies as say armed Brits or R.U.C.”

The military objects of the IRA in 1977 are presented as closely tied to the political objectives of politicising the citizenry. Rather than the tactic of surgical strike, the tactic of continuous escalation or the strategy of what has been called the PIRA’s Tet offensive is preferred:

“By now it is clear that our task is not only to kill as many enemy personnel as possible but of equal importance to create support which will carry us not only through a war of liberation which could last another decade but which will support us past the ‘Brits Out’ stage to the ultimate aim of a Democratic Socialist Republic.”

“The Strategy is:

  1. A war of attrition against enemy personnel which is aimed at causing as many casualties and deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their people at home for their withdrawal.
  2. A bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy’s financial interest in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term financial investment in our country.
  3. To make the Six Counties as at present and for the past several years ungovernable except by colonial military rule.
  4. To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.
  5. By defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, collaborators and informers.”

The 1956 edition stresses the military objective and barely mentions political objectives. It contains a lot of practical advice on operating as a Guerrilla fighter and how to inflict damage on targets. No mention is made of the establishment of “a Democratic Socialist Republic”. This can probably been seen in the context of the IRA keeping pace with social changes and the material aspirations of Irish men and women living within the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

At the time of the Border Campaign the communities the IRA came to rely on were not politicised to the same degree as those in 1977. A lack of support within their host community is commonly given as the reason for the failure of the Border Campaign. This edition of the Green Book even goes so far as to announce the aim of restoring the Irish language as the national language, an aim not mentioned in the earlier edition.

Military equipment in the Green Book

The 1977 edition of the Green Book makes little mention of arms and equipment available to the volunteer. The one entry that does appear deals only with the issue of tactics as affected by lack of weaponry:

“Tactics are dictated by the existing conditions. Here again the logic is quite simple. Without support Volunteers, Dumps, Weapons, Finance, etc., we cannot mount an operation, much less a campaign. In September 1969 the existing conditions dictated that the Brits were not to be shot, but after the Falls curfew all Brits were to the people acceptable targets. The existing conditions had been changed.”

The 1956 edition goes into a lot of detail on arms that the volunteer can expect to encounter and how to use them. Explosives are detailed alongside what the Guerrilla should know about handling & preparing them. The sabotage techniques and weaponry available at the time had mostly ceased to be commonly used by the late 1970s, namely:

Detonators are also detailed with physical descriptions, handling instructions, and burning rates. Detonators covered include: Cordtex and FID.

Small arms listed range from the revolver, to the shotgun and submachine gun up to the flame thrower, which was almost never used, except for an attack on British soldiers of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. It can be assumed that the use of these weapons, or at least supplies of them, had been diminished when the 1977 edition was published. Given that the organisation was having troubles with internal security, it may have also been considered a security risk for the IRA to detail its available weaponry too closely.

A generation earlier, IRA units operating during the S-Plan / Sabotage campaign did not have access to the above material, with the exception of Gelignite. IRA explosive devices of the 1930s and 1940s were prepared using materials such as Potassium chlorate, Carbide, Saxonite, Iron Oxide, Aluminium, sulfuric acid etc. By the time of the Northern Campaign (IRA) c. 1942, IRA Eastern Command, in cooperation with IRA Western Command could raise 12 tons of weapons and explosives at short notice. This was excluding the tons of weapons and explosives seized during the S-Plan campaign.

When the IRA split in the early 1970s into the Official IRA and Provisional IRA they divided the arms held in IRA weapons dumps. The Provisional IRA got the majority of these weapons. For details on the types of arms recently decommissioned by the IRA as part of their permanent cesation of violence see the article on the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and a breakdown of the PIRA’s weapons before decommissioning took place in September 2005.

Propaganda techniques in the Green Book

The 1977 edition stresses that the volunteer is ultimately responsible within the framework of the movement for ensuring the formulation, dissemination and efficiency of propaganda. This process was to begin within the mind of the volunteer himself:

“A new recruit’s immediate obstacle is the removal of his (her) ignorance about how to handle weapons, military tactics, security, interrogations etc. An O.C.’s [Commanding Officer] might be how to put a unit on a military footing; an I.O.’s [Intelligence Officer] how to create an effective intelligence network; a Cumann na mBan Chairman’s how best to mount a campaign on a given issue, e.g. H Blocks etc., and for all members of the movement regardless of which branch we belong to, to enhance our commitment to and participation in the struggle through gaining as comprehensive an understanding as possible of our present society and the proposed Republican alternative through self and group education.”

The stated war objectives of the IRA within the 1977 document included the success of national and international propaganda as a war objective:

“We exploit these mistakes [mistakes by the British Army] by propagating the facts. So it was with their murderous mistakes of the Falls Road curfew, Bloody Sunday and internment, which were exploited to our advantage support- wise as was the murder of John Boyle in Dunloy.”

The 1956 edition is a lot more practical, suggesting a more limited, less well oiled organisational machine of the IRA then than today:

“The main channels of information available to the guerrillas are newspapers, leaflets, radio, word of mouth. Other methods may be worked out and new ones invented. For example: Painting of slogans, proclamations and manifestoes and so on. All the means of winning the confidence of the people must be utilised. The ideas of the movement must be so popularised that no one is in doubt-least of all the enemy-that it will win eventually.”

“This information service must function continuously to get maximum results. Among the things it must do are:

  • Show weakness of enemy position and propaganda used to bolster that position.
  • Show what is wrong with political and social order.
  • Suggest remedies and how they can be brought about.
  • Be in touch all the times with thinking of the people.”

“The world must know and understand what is being done, what the enemy is trying to destroy and why, and the way these things can be ended and peace restored and freedom won. The use of regular bulletins for foreign newspapers and news-agencies becomes a necessity. The bulletin should be of the documentary type: no room for emotional pleas or the like. Just the facts.”

While IRA volunteers also engaged in the above efforts, the techniques are not described in the 1977 Green Book.

Interrogation techniques

The 1956 edition contains no details on how to react to internment, capture, interrogation, or interrogation techniques. This was no doubt an oversight on the part of the IRA, one which they came to regret with the successful interrogation of IRA volunteers captured by their enemies.

By 1977, with the launching of the IRA’s campaign in Northern Ireland in 1969, the technical capabilities & anti-insurgency apparatus of the RUC, as well as the Regular and Specialist forces of the British Army had advanced. Coupled with this were technical advances in the intelligence gathering and interrogation techniques of those forces. The combination of these factors alongside political determination to capture and kill IRA forces and subdue the nationalist population of Northern Ireland led to changes in the Green Book.

Much more stress was placed on resisting interrogation in what has been called The Green Book II.[7] If captured, the PIRA volunteer is warned to remain mentally implacable:

  1. “The most important thing to bear in mind when arrested is that you are a volunteer of a revolutionary Army, that you have been captured by an enemy force, that your cause is a just one, that you are right and that the enemy is wrong and that as a soldier you have taken the chance expected of a soldier and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in being captured.
  2. You must bear in mind that the treatment meted out to you is designed to break you and so bleed you of all the information you may have with regard to the organisation to which you belong.
  3. They will attempt to intimidate you by sheer numbers and by brutality. Volunteers who may feel disappointed are entering the first dangerous threshold because the police will act upon this disappointment to the detriment of the volunteer and to the furtherment of their own ends. Volunteers must condition themselves that they can be arrested and if and when arrested they should expect the worse and be prepared for it.”

A series of tactics employed by interrogators are listed along with the stages the interrogation process the volunteer should expect to go through: physical torture, subtle psychological torture, and humiliation.

The remainder of the document persists in a similar vein, constantly stressing the dangers of submitting to interrogation techniques. This highlights the increasing threat the PIRA realised interrogations were having against the organisation. Most likely this was a result of experience gained throughout the 1970s and during the Border Campaign when arrest and imprisonment of IRA/PIRA volunteers seriously impacted the operational effectiveness of the respective organizations.

See also

The Green Book (Muammar Gaddafi)

IRA Nutting SquadIRA Nutting Squad

nutting squad

 

 

Click PDF to download

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The ISIS Hostage – One Man’s True Story of 13 Months in Captivity

 The ISIS Hostage

Click to Buy

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One Man’s True Story of 13 Months in Captivity

This is one of  the most horrifying and disturbing  books I have ever read and the fact the Daniel survived his captivity and  the constant physical and mental torture at the hands of these barbaric ISIS terrorists –  is testimony to the depths of suffering man can endure when faced with almost insurmountable  odds and utter despair .

The book gives a brutal insight into the barbaric and inhumane cruelty of ISIS’s merchants of death and exposes the psychopathic   wickedness of the British IS  cell known as “The Beatles “ and their total disregard for the safety and welfare of those they were holding in captivity. All released hostages stated that these Monsters were the most brutal and harsh IS members  whose job was to guard them and Jihadi John inflicted the worse misery and cruelty on those he watched over.

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Jihadi John

Thankfully Karma has now  caught up with this B*****d and he is now burning in the eternal flames of hell!

See The Beatles Terrorist Cell

   

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Four of the freed hostages – Federico, Daniel, Pierre and Didier

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The ISIS Hostage

In May 2013, freelance photographer Daniel Rye was captured in Syria and held prisoner by Islamic State for thirteen months, along with eighteen other hostages. The ISIS Hostage tells the dramatic and heart-breaking story of Daniel’s ordeal and details the misery inflicted upon him by the British guards, which included Jihadi John.

This tense and riveting account also follows Daniel’s family and the nerve-wracking negotiations with his kidnappers. It traces their horrifying journey through impossible dilemmas and offers a rare glimpse into the secret world of the investigation launched to locate and free not only Daniel, but also the American journalist and fellow hostage James Foley.

Written with Daniel’s full cooperation and based on interviews with former fellow prisoners, jihadists and key figures who worked behind the scenes to secure his release, The ISIS Hostage reveals for the first time the torment suffered by the captives and tells a moving and terrifying story of friendship, torture and survival.

Reviews

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Buy the Book

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ISIS Hostages

Foreigners held  captive with Daniel by ISIS and their fate

Name :  Daniel Rye

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Whilst in Captivity

 

Nationality: Danish

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Occupation: Photographer

Kidnapped:17th May 2013

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Proof of Life Photo

Outcome: Ransom paid

Released 19th June 2014

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Name :Didier Francois

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Nationality: French

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped: 6th June 2013

Outcome: Ransom  Paid

Released 19th April 2014

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Name : Edouard Elias

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Nationality: French

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Occupation: Photographer

Kidnapped: 6th June 2013

Outcome: Ransom Paid

Released 19th April 2014

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Name : James Foley

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Nationality: American

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped: 22md November 2012

Outcome: Killed 19th August 2014

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See Here for more details on James Foley

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Name :John Cantlie

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Nationality:  British

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped: 22nd November 2012

Outcome: Still in Captivity

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See Here for more details on John Cantlie

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Name :Nicolas Henin

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Nationality: French

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped: 22nnd June 2013

Outcome: Released 19th April 2014

Ransom rumoured to have been paid

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Name :Pierre Torres

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Nationality: French

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped:22nd June 2013

Outcome: Released 19th April 2014

Ransom rumoured to have been paid

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Name :David Haines

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Nationality: British

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Occupation: Aid Worker

Kidnapped: 12th March 2013

Outcome: Killed September 13th 2014

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See Here for more details on David Haines

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Name :Federico Motka 

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Nationality: Italian

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Occupation: Aid Worker

Kidnapped: 12th March 2013

Outcome: Released 26th May 2014

Ransom rumoured to have been paid

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Name :Steven Sotloff

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Nationality: American

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped: 4th August 2013

Outcome: Killed 31st August 2014

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See Here for more details on Steven Sotloff

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Name :Javier Espinosa

Former hostage Javier Espinosa

Nationality: Spanish

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped:16th September  2013

Outcome: Released 30th  March 2014

Ransom Paid

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Name : Marc Marginedas

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Nationality: Spanish

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Occupation: Journalist

Kidnapped:4th September  2013

Outcome: Released 25th February 2014

Ransom rumoured to have been paid

ricardo

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Name : Peter Kassig

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Nationality: American

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Occupation: Aid Worker

Kidnapped:1st October 2013

Outcome: Killed 16th November 2014

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See Here for more details on Peter Kassig

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Name : Ricardo Vilanova

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Nationality: Spanish

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Occupation: Photographer

Kidnapped: 16th September 2013

Outcome: Released 30th March 2014

Ransom rumoured to have been paid

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Name : Toni Neukirch

Nationality: German

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Occupation: Aid Worker

Kidnapped: Date Unknown

Outcome: Released 19th June 2014

Ransom rumoured to have been paid

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Name :Alan Henning

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Nationality: British

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Occupation: Aid Worker

Kidnapped: 26th December 2013

Outcome: Killed 3rd October 2014

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See Here for more details on Alan Henning

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Name : Sergey Gorbunov

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Nationality: Russian

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Occupation: Unknown

Kidnapped: Date Unknown

Outcome: Killed  March 2014

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Name :Kayla Mueller

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Nationality: American

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Occupation: Aid Worker

Kidnapped: 4th August 2013

Outcome: Killed 6th February 2015

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See here for more details on Kayla Mueller

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Name : Dan

Nationality: Danish

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Occupation: Aid  Worker

Kidnapped: 2nd January 2014

Outcome: 14th May 2014

Ransom Paid

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Name : Three Unknown Women

Nationality: Unknown

Occupation: Aid Workers

Kidnapped: 2nd January 2014

Outcome: 14th Mamie 2014

See Why ISIS Hostages Are So Calm Before Their Execution

See Fate of ISIS hostages for more details

Buy the Book

Undercover Jihadi Bride – Flirting with Monsters

Undercover Jihadi Bride

Click to buy

I read this book in one sitting and to be honest the writing style and constant divergence from the main theme was a bit of distraction and at times tiring , but the subject matter is one I am very interested in and there was much to appreciate and learn from Anna’s journey.

Her online encounters with a senior ISIS recruiter and his attempts to groom her , with the ultimate aim of having her travel to Syria to becomes his wife and live in “ paradise “ , gives the reader an insight into the road to hell many young vulnerable and disillusioned European women ( and men) embark on and invariably come to regret.

Unfortunately for them few can escape and many end up being slaughtered by those that entice them to the Islamic “paradise” . Not that I have an ounce of sympathy for any that choose that path , for there lay demons and if you dance with the devil there can only ever be one outcome!

Karma always collects it debts!

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Previously published as ‘In the Skin of a Jihadist’

Twenty year-old “Mélodie”, a recent convert to Islam, meets the leader of an ISIS brigade on Facebook. In 48 hours he has ‘fallen in love’ with her, calls her every hour, urges her to marry him, join him in Syria in a life of paradise – and join his jihad.

Anna Erelle is the undercover journalist behind “Melodie”. Created to investigate the powerful propaganda weapons of Islamic State, “Melodie” is soon sucked in by Bilel, right-hand man of the infamous Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. An Iraqi for whose capture the US government has promised $10 million, al-Baghdadi is described by Time Magazine as the most dangerous man in the world and by himself as the caliph of Islamic State. Bilel shows off his jeep, his guns, his expensive watch. He boasts about the people he has just killed.

With Bilel impatient for his future wife, “Melodie” embarks on her highly dangerous mission, which – at its ultimate stage – will go very wrong … Enticed into this lethal online world like hundreds of other young people, including many young British girls and boys, Erelle’s harrowing and gripping investigation helps us to understand the true face of terrorism.

Extracts

Listen to me! I love you more than I’ve loved anyone. You should be here with me. I can’t stand to think of you in that corrupt country. I’ll protect you. I’ll shelter you from the world’s evils. When you come to live with me, you’ll see what a paradise me and my men are building. You’ll be amazed. Here, people care about each other. They respect each other. We’re one big family, and we’ve already made a place for you—everyone is waiting for you! You should see how happy the women are here. They used to be like you—lost. One of my friends’ wives has arranged a program for your arrival. After your shooting lessons, she’ll take you to a very beautiful store, the only one in the country that sells fine cloth. I’ll pay for everything. You’ll establish your own little world here with your new friends. I’m so excited for you to be here. Mélodie, my wife! Hurry up; I can’t wait.”

Mélodie stares into her computer screen, admiring the strong man eighteen years her senior. She loves him, even if she’s only ever seen him on Skype.

“Do you really love me?” Mélodie murmurs, her voice childish and frail.

“I love you for the sake of Allah. You are my treasure, and the Islamic State is your home. Brick by brick, we’ll build a better world, a place where kafirs* won’t be allowed, and we’ll carve a name for ourselves in history. I’ve found a huge apartment for you! If you bring friends, I’ll find an even bigger one. You’ll take care of orphans and the wounded during the day, while I’m fighting. We’ll spend our evenings together . . . insha’Allah*.”

Mélodie feels loved. She feels useful. She’s been looking for purpose in her life: now she’s found it.

Paris, ten days earlier

I was frustrated that Friday night as I left the editorial offices of a magazine where I do freelance work. The paper had received a letter from a lawyer forbidding me from publishing an article I’d written about a young female jihadist. I had just spent two days in Belgium with Samira, the girl’s mother. Her daughter ran away to Syria a year before to join Tarik, the man of her life and a fanatic devoted to the Islamic State’s cause. Naïve and blind with emotion, Leila* wanted to live with her great love. A bullet to the heart ended his twenty years and one spring. Samira was hopeful when she learned of the death of the man she’d been forced to consider her son-in-law. With Tarik dead, Samira saw no reason for her daughter to stay in the tragically war-torn country, but Leila was clear: she now belonged to that sacred land and wanted to do her part in the fight to create a religious state in the Middle East. With or without her husband. Tarik had been an emir,* which meant his widow was well taken care of. People respected her, and Leila asked her mother, “Why should I go back?”

Local news sources had picked up the story and begun comparing the eighteen-year-old jihadist to the black widow, a prominent figure in the world of international terrorism and the wife of the man who assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud.* Samira’s love for her daughter was great, and her response to the situation swift, but she was coming up against an immense challenge. Not only did she have to find a way to repatriate Leila to Belgium; she also had to prove to the authorities that her daughter was living in one of the most dangerous countries on earth for humanitarian reasons. Otherwise, Leila would be considered a threat to domestic security and sent to prison, before potentially being banned from setting foot in her own country.

That was when Samira’s and my paths crossed. Journalism can lead a person to many things, sometimes to the aid of a distressed mother. Samira was beside herself, and she’d turned to Dimitri Bontinck, a former member of the Belgian Special Forces who famously managed to repatriate his own son from Syria. Dimitri is a source of hope for all these European families who wake up one morning to the harsh realization that even those they’d least suspect, even their own teenagers, could be jihadists. After his personal experience, Dimitri became a tireless crusader, volunteering for virtual suicide missions to save other youths—or at least dig up concrete information to help their families. Aware of the risks that Leila faced for being branded the “new black widow,” he’d asked me to meet her mother. I’m a journalist, and though I’m keenly interested in geopolitics, I’m not an expert. However, I’ve always been drawn to erratic behavior, whatever the cause—religion, nationality, social milieu. I’m fascinated by what motivates people to make fatal decisions. Sometimes it’s drugs. Sometimes it’s crime or marginality. I’ve also done a lot of work on radical Islam. Back then, I’d been studying European jihadists in the Islamic State for about a year. There were many similarities between the successive cases, but I was interested in understanding what it was that made each individual decide to give up everything and brave death for this cause.

At the time, Dimitri and I were writing a book about the nine horrifying months he spent looking for his son. We spoke with many European families facing the same ordeal. I tried to interview as many people as I could. I saw the impact of digital propaganda on God’s newly minted soldiers, but I still didn’t understand what drove them. Why did they leave everything—their past, their families? Over the course of a few weeks, they threw away their lives, convinced they’d never look back. Ever. Walking through their bedrooms, often preserved by their parents, always gave me chills. I was peering into other people’s intimate spaces, which had become shrines to forgotten lives, as if their teenage relics were the last proof of their existences. Leila’s existence seemed frozen in time. Pictures of her “normal” life abounded. There she was in a tank top, wearing makeup, at friends’ houses, or in a café. These idealized images were a far cry from the new Leila with her burqa and her Kalashnikov.

After listening to Samira’s story, I continued my investigation, which confirmed some of what she’d told me, and I wrote the article. Yet another piece on a subject that had become increasingly ubiquitous over the past several months. But it wouldn’t be published. Leila was furious when her mother mentioned our interview, and threatened to burn all bridges. “If you talk about me to the press,” her panicked mother tearfully reported her words, “not only will I never come back, you’ll never hear from me again. You won’t know if I’m dead or alive.” After that, I couldn’t convince the mother to let me publish. In absolute terms, I didn’t need her permission to do it—the story was already public knowledge in Belgium. But what good would it do? Sadly, each week brimmed with new stories like this one. I was all-too familiar with the determination of these young people who believed they’d found faith. All day, they were bombarded with messages to forget their “depraved” families and open their arms to their new brothers. “Infidels,” even if called “mom” or “dad,” were seen as obstacles in their spiritual journey.

It wasn’t Leila’s fault. She honestly believed she was protecting her mother by telling her how to behave. Alone at home, I got worked up over the methods of propaganda used by Islamists. Searching for videos of Tarik alive, I came across an incalculable number of propaganda films on YouTube. I muted the sound whenever the language wasn’t French or English. The monotonous chants went to my head, deadening my mind. I couldn’t listen to them anymore. Still, the sounds were more tolerable than the images of torture and charred bodies laid out in the sun. Wandering through jihadist Francophone networks online, I was continually shocked by the contrast between sound and image. The juvenile laughter accompanying these horrific scenes made the videos all the more unbearable. I’d noticed an uptick in activity over the past year. Many teenage jihadists have a second Facebook account, registered under a fake identity. They act normal around their families, but once alone in their bedrooms, they travel to their virtual world, which they take for reality. Some call for murder, though without really understanding the impact or significance of their messages. Others encourage jihad. Girls share links about Gazan children, underscoring the suffering of the very young. The girls’ pseudonyms all begin with Umm, “mom” in Arabic.

Social networks contain precious information for those who know how to look. That is why, like many other journalists, I had a fictional account I’d created several years before. I used it to keep an eye on current events. I rarely posted on the account, and when I did it was very brief, and only directed at my list of approximately one hundred “friends” from around the world. My name on this account was Mélodie. My followers weren’t using their real identities, either. Avatars ensure anonymity, which allows users to express themselves more freely and accounts for the growing number of young people attracted to Islamist propaganda. New technologies have of course bred new forms of proselytism. I spent hours scanning users’ public descriptions of gruesome or simply outrageous plans. Happily, not all of the teenagers writing about criminal activity become murderers. For some, Jihadism 2.0 is a fad. For others, it represents the first step on their path to radicalism.

I spent that Friday night in April on my couch, stewing over the gag order on my article and flicking from account to account. Suddenly I came across a video of a French jihadist who looked to be about thirty-five. The video showed him taking inventory of the items inside his SUV. It was like a bad parody of the farcical news show Les Guignols de l’info. I smiled wryly at the deplorable images. I wasn’t proud of myself, but I couldn’t help watching; it was absurd. The man in the video wore military fatigues and called himself Abu Bilel. He claimed to be in Syria. The scene around him, a true no-man’s-land, didn’t contradict him. He proudly brandished his CB radio, which looked like it came straight out of the 1970s. He used it to communicate with other militants when he couldn’t reach them through telephone networks. In reality, it crackled more than it communicated. In the back of his car, his bulletproof vest sat beside one of his machine guns, an Uzi—a historic gun originally manufactured for the Israeli military. He presented a series of weapons, including “an M16 stolen from a marine in Iraq”—I burst out laughing. The factoid, I would later learn, was entirely plausible. I would also discover that Abu Bilel was not as stupid as he seemed. In fact, he had spent the past fifteen years waging jihad all over the world. But for the moment I knew nothing of the bellicose man on my screen proudly unveiling the contents of his glove box—a thick stack of Syrian pounds, candy, a knife. He removed his reflective Ray-Bans, revealing darkly lined black eyes.

I knew that Afghani soldiers used eyeliner to keep their eyes from tearing up when exposed to smoke. Still, seeing a terrorist with eyes made up like my own was surprising, to say the least. Abu Bilel spoke perfect French, with what sounded to me like a very slight Algerian accent. He smiled broadly in an expression of self-satisfaction as he beckoned viewers and called for hijrah.*

I shared his video. I usually kept a low profile on my account, but I occasionally imitated my digital peers in order to carve a place for myself in their world. I didn’t preach or encourage the cause. I simply posted links to articles relating strikes by Bashar al-Assad’s army or videos like this one. My profile picture was a cartoon image of Princess Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin. For my cover photo, I uploaded a popular slogan I’d seen online: “We’ll do to you as you do unto us.” I tended to change my profile location depending on whatever story I was presently researching. Now I claimed to be in Toulouse, a city in southwestern France. Over the past five years, many stories had led me there, notably, the shooting carried out by Mohammed Merah in 2012. The housing project where he’d lived in the northeastern outskirts of Toulouse was an endless mine of information. It was also an important hub for the traffic of hashish.

I was actually in Paris, casting around for a fresh angle on the departures to Syria. Many of these tragic cases resembled one another, and I suspected that readers were saturated with information. In addition, the nightmarish situation in Syria made it difficult to analyze. Each week, I worked with editors, trying to find new angles. Each week, we arrived at the same conclusion: would-be jihadists came from all sorts of social backgrounds and religions; they turned to radical Islam after a single failure or a lifetime of not fitting in; then they left for Syria to join one of the many Islamist gangs that have been proliferating there. Yes, but despite the similarities, after having spent so much time working on these issues, I had grown attached to individual families. I cared about their children and their stories, even if I wasn’t likely to meet them. And I had actually met some “teens” drawn to jihadism while I was working on stories. Today, when I see them again, they tell me they want to go there. There? “What’s there for you?” I ask them, exasperated, “Except death and the opportunity to become cannon fodder?” The response is almost always the same: “You don’t understand, Anna. You’re thinking with your head, not with your heart.” I exhaust myself coming up with dubious comparisons to historic events. Germany, a country rich in culture, fell into Hitler’s hands during the last century. Or the black-and-white view of the world according to communism. Or the generation of 1970s intellectuals who extolled the virtues of Maoist thought, insisting that truth resided in the Little Red Book. But my cyber interlocutors poke fun at my historical references, pointing out that red and green are very different colors. However, I’m not talking about the Koran, which has nothing to do with fanatic ideology.

In 2014, journalism was no longer a respected profession. And when one worked on “societal” issues, it was out of passion. If only I could write about this topic in a new way, one that avoided treating individuals as part of a succession of similar cases. I wanted to investigate the roots of “digital jihadism” and get to the bottom of an evil phenomenon affecting more and more families—of all religious backgrounds. To dissect how kids here fell into the trap of propaganda, and to grasp the paradox of soldiers there who spent their days torturing, stealing, raping, killing, and being killed, and their nights staring into their computers and bragging about their “exploits” with the maturity of video-game-obsessed preteens.

Deep in reflection, I was feeling discouraged but unwilling to give up, when my computer alerted me to three messages sent to “Mélodie’s” private inbox from . . . Abu Bilel. It was surreal. There I was, at ten o’clock on a Friday night in spring, sitting on my sofa in my one-bedroom Parisian apartment, wondering how to continue my investigation on European teenagers tempted by Islamic extremism, when a French terrorist based in Syria all of a sudden started writing me. I was speechless. At that moment, the only thing of which I was certain was that I hadn’t imagined starting my weekend like this.

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Hunting Season – The story of ISIS Hostages & their Captivity

Hunting Season

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By

James Harkin

James Harkin’s The Execution of James Foley , Islamic State and the Real Story of the Kidnapping Campaign that Started a War.

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In recent years the rise and at times almost unbelievable acts of brutality perpetuated by Islamic State and their deluded followers have dominated global News and shocked and sickened all right minded people the world over. The capture, torture and eventual beheading of Western hostages – often played out on social media in grotesque and gut retching details demonstrated that a new kind of terrorist stalks the corridors of modern times and their capacity for cruelty seems to know no boundaries .

In a few short years Islamic State have surpassed all previous terrorist groups for the sheer wickedness of their twisted ideology and their complete disregard for the sanctity of human life and sadly countless innocent people have died at the hands of these merchants of death.

The Islamic State’s ( and other terrorist groups ) policy of kidnapping has a long and profitable history in and around the middle East and other stomping grounds of IS and their terrorist franchise and yet the world and in particularly the West were largely ignorant of these actions until Western hostages started being publically displayed and beheaded by the mad men of IS.

Suddenly Islamic State were centre stage and the world watched in horror as one after the other the American and British hostages were paraded in front of a stunned worldwide audience and slaughtered in the most barbaric and senseless way possible.

James Harkin’s book Hunting Season takes us on a journey through the history and background of these kidnappings and is a must read for those interested in the rise and history of Islamic State and their shocking crimes.

The grief and hopelessness of the families of those in captivity destined to die in the wastelands of Islamic State’s backyard is heart breaking and the disgraceful lack of support from their respective governments should shame the politicians to the core.

Packed with background information about the kidnappings and conditions the hostages had to endure this book had me gripped from the first page and I read it in two days flat and was left with a bad taste in my mouth and full of sympathy for the families of those so brutally murdered.

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On 19 August 2014, a member of the jihadist rebel group known as ISIS uploaded a video to YouTube. Entitled ‘Message to America’, the clip depicted the final moments of the life of kidnapped American journalist James Foley – and the gruesome aftermath of his beheading at the hands of a masked executioner. Foley’s murder – and the other choreographed killings that would follow – captured the world’s attention, and Islamic State’s campaign of kidnapping exploded into regional war.

Based on three years of on-the-ground reporting from every side of the Syrian conflict, Hunting Season is James Harkin’s quest to uncover the truth about how and why Islamic State came to target Western hostages, who was behind it and why almost no one outside a small group of people knew anything about it until it was too late. He reveals how the campaign of kidnapping and the development of Islamic State were joined at the hip from the beginning. The book is an utterly absorbing account of the world’s newest and most powerful terror franchise and what it means for modern war.

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Beheading in Islam

"Allah" in Arabic calligraphy

Beheading was a standard method of execution in pre-modern Islamic law, as well as in pre-modern European law. Its use had been abandoned in most countries by the end of the 20th century. Currently, it is used only in Saudi Arabia. It also remains a legal method of execution in Iran, Qatar and Yemen, where it is no longer in use.

In recent times, non-state Jihadist organization such as ISIL and Tawhid and Jihad use or have used beheadings. Since 2002, they have circulated beheading videos as a form of terror and propaganda. Their actions have been condemned by other militant and terrorist groups, and well as by mainstream Islamic scholars and organizations.

 

Beheading in Islamic scripture

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Two surahs which refer to “smiting the neck” of enemies are cited by the terrorists who argue that the Quran commands beheading:

When the Lord inspired the angels (saying) I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.

Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom ’til the war lay down its burdens.

Scholars disagree about whether these surah refer specifically to beheading, but they are in agreement that they refer to killing the enemy by striking at the neck. Terrorists who use them to justify beheadings take them out of context.

Surah 47:4 goes on to recommend generosity or ransom when waging war. Furthermore, it refers to a period when Muslims were persecuted and had to fight for their survival.

Justification for beheading has also been drawn from the Siras and Hadiths. In one account, Muhammad is said to have ordered the beheading of at least six hundred males from the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, while another states that he was merely present and watched the beheadings and mass burial. There is no agreement among scholars as to the historical accuracy of this and similar accounts from the life of Muhammad.

Beheading in Islamic law

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Beheading was the normal method of executing the death penalty under classical Islamic law. It was also, together with hanging, one of the ordinary methods of execution in the Ottoman Empire.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which uses decapitation within its Islamic legal system.

The majority of executions carried out by the Wahhabi government of Saudi Arabia are public beheadings, which usually cause mass gatherings but are not allowed to be photographed or filmed.

Beheading is reported to have been carried out by state authorities in Iran as recently as 2001, but as of 2014 is no longer in use. It is also a legal form of execution in Qatar and Yemen, but the punishment has been suspended in those countries.

Historical occurrences

Modern use by non-state actors

Modern instances of Islamist beheading date at least to the First Chechen War (1994–96), and to the beheading of Yevgeny Rodionov, a Russian soldier who refused to convert to Islam, whose subsequent beheading has led some within the Russian Orthodox Church to venerate him as a martyr.

The 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl by Al-Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan drew international attention enhanced by the release of a beheading video.

Jihadist organization such as ISIL and Tawhid and Jihad use or have used beheadings. Since 2002, they have been mass circulating beheading videos as a form of terror and propaganda.

Beheadings have emerged as a terror tactic in Iraq since 2003. Civilians have borne the brunt of the beheadings, although U.S. and Iraqi military personnel have also been targeted. After kidnapping the victim, the kidnappers typically make some sort of demand of the government of the hostage’s nation and give a time limit for the demand to be carried out, often 72 hours. Beheading is often threatened if the government fails to heed the wishes of the hostage takers. Frequently the crude beheadings are videotaped and made available on the Internet. One of the most publicized murders of an American was that of Nick Berg.

Since 2004 insurgents in South Thailand began to sow fear in attacks where men and women of the local Buddhist minority were beheaded. On 18 July 2005 two militants entered a teashop in South Thailand, shot Lek Pongpla, a Buddhist cloth vendor, beheaded him and left the head outside of the shop.

According to Peter R. Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, viral beheading videos are intended, and are at least somewhat effective, as a recruiting tool for jihad among both Western and Middle Eastern youth. Other observers argue that while Al Qaeda initially used beheading as a publicity tool, it later decided that they caused Muslims to recoil from Islamism and that although ISIS/IS is enthusiastically deploying beheading as a tactic in 2014, it, too, may find that the tactic backfires.

Timothy R. Furnish, as Assistant Professor of Islamic History, contrasts the Saudi government executions, conforming to standards that minimize pain, with the non-state actors who have “chosen a slow, torturous sawing method to terrorize the Western audience.”

ISIL beheading incidents

In January 2015, a copy of an ISIL penal code surfaced describing the penalties it enforces in areas under its control, including beheadings. Beheading videos have been frequently posted by ISIL members to social media.

Several of the videoed beheadings were conducted by Mohammed Emwazi, whom the media had referred to as “Jihadi John” before his identification.

The beheadings received wide coverage around the world and attracted international condemnation. Political scientist Max Abrahms posited that ISIL may be using well-publicized beheadings as a means of differentiating itself from Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and identifying itself with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda member who beheaded Daniel Pearl.

The publicised beheadings represent a small proportion of a larger total of people killed following capture by ISIL.

Condemnation by Muslims

Mainstream Islamic scholars and organizations around the world, as well as militant and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaeda have condemned the practice.

 

Why Public Beheadings Get Millions of Views

Victims

pre-2004

Daniel Pearl

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U.S. citizen, beheaded February 1, 2002, in Pakistan by al-Qaeda jihadists

2004

2005–2013

2014

James Foley

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U.S. citizen, beheaded August 19, 2014, south of Raqqah, Syria by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadists

Steven Sotloff

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U.S. citizen, beheaded in August 2014, south of Raqqah, Syria by ISIL jihadists

David Cawthorne Haines

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U.K. citizen, beheaded in September 2014 in Syria by ISIL jihadists

Hervé Gourdel

French citizen, beheaded in September 2014, east of Algiers, Algeria by Jund al-Khilafah jihadists supporting ISIL.

Alan Henning

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U.K. citizen, beheaded in October 2014, in Syria by ISIL jihadists

Peter Kassig

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U.S, citizen beheaded in November 2014, in Dabiq, Aleppo, Syria by ISIL jihadists

Eighteen Syrian soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army, beheaded in November 2014, in Dabiq, Aleppo, Syria by ISIL jihadists

2015

Haruna Yukawa

Japanese citizen, beheaded in January 2015 by ISIL jihadists.

Kenji Goto

Japanese citizen, beheaded in January 2015 near Raqqa, Syria, by ISIL jihadists.

Twenty–one Egyptian Coptic Christians, beheaded in February 2015 near Tripoli, Libya, by ISIL jihadists

Twenty–eight Ethiopian Christians, beheaded in Libya in April 2015 by ISIL jihadists

A video (article published July 2015) shows a boy executing a Syrian soldier using a knife, while within Palmyra.

Four Kurdish Pershmerga members, beheaded in Iraq in October 2015 by ISIL jihadists

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Good Cop, Bad War – Books I’ve Read

Good Cop, Bad war

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 ‘The logic of the drugs war only leads one way: the police get smarter, so the criminals get nastier. Things can only ever go from bad to worse, from savagery to savagery…

Neil Woods takes you a on  a roller coaster ride as he tells the  frank and sometimes edge of seat frightening story of  his life as an undercover cop and his infiltration of some of the most violent and ruthless drugs gangs in the UK.

Starting out in the early 90s and making the rules up as he went, Neil was at the forefront of police surveillance. He quickly earned a name as the most successful operative of his time and his expertise was called upon by drugs squads around the country to tackle an ever growing problem.

For fourteen long, lonely years Neil donned the persona of a low life drug addict and the fact that he grew to respect and sympathise with those he would ultimately  need to betray – in order to gain access to the “main players”   speaks volumes about the man’s character.

But after years on the streets, spending time with these vulnerable users at the bottom of the chain, Neil began to question the seemingly futile war he was risking both his life and sanity for. What if the real enemy wasn’t who he thought?

The strain of living on the edge and facing constant dangers eventually takes a heavy toll on Neil’s personnel life , marriage and health and its hardly a surprise when he has a complete mental meltdown and finds himself in a dark lonely place.

Good Cop, Bad War is an intense account of the true effects of the War on drugs and a gripping insight into the high pressure world of British undercover policing.

 ” I challenge anyone to read this book and not be convinced by Neil’s conclusions. After all, when cops say ‘legalise drugs’, you can’t help but ask why.”

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Escape from Camp 14 – Shin Dong-hyuk’s Story.

Shin Dong-hyuk

 

Twenty-seven years ago, Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside Camp 14, one of five sprawling political prisons in the mountains of North Korea. Located about 55 miles north of Pyongyang, the labor camp is a ‘complete control district,’ a no-exit prison where the only sentence is life.

No one born in Camp 14 or in any North Korean political prison camp has escaped. No one except Shin. This is his story.

A gripping, terrifying memoir with a searing sense of place, ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14 will unlock, through Shin, a dark and secret nation, taking readers to a place they have never before been allowed to go.

‘This is a story unlike any other’ Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

 

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This extraordinary story lifts the lid on the secretive  and  brutal totalitarian regime of North Korean ‘s labour camps and the forgotten political prisoners and their families whom are destined too  suffer unbelievable  inhumanity and are subject to summary execution at  the whims of their “guards”.

Shin Dong-hyuk ‘s story appalled and horrified me and I’m still trying to work out how such a place and regime could still exist in the 21st century and why the world is not doing more to eradicate the brutal and oppressive abuse of over 23 million North Korean people.

North Korea is a problem that the world will have to face up to at some stage and whilst   the supreme  leader Kim Jong-un   is obviously mad as a march hare and insane , his quest for nuclear weapons is not just a threat to his neighbour – but to the world in general and the stability to  the entire region.

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Shin Dong-hyuk

Shin Dong-hyuk (born 19 November 1982 or 1980 as Shin In Geun) is reputed to be the only known prisoner to have successfully escaped from a “total-control zone” grade internment camp in North Korea.

He was the subject of a biography, Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West, by former Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden. Shin has given talks to audiences around the world about his life in Camp 14 and about the totalitarian North Korean regime to raise awareness of the situation in North Korean internment and concentration camps and North Korea.

Shin has been described as the world’s “single strongest voice” on the atrocities inside North Korean camps by a member of the United Nations’ first commission of inquiry into human rights abuses of North Korea. In January 2015, he recanted aspects of his story but a majority of experts continued to support his credibility as a victim of North Korean human rights abuses.

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Camp 14: Total Control Zone

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Biography

The following is Shin’s biography as told by him prior to 2015 which he later partially recanted.

Early life

Shin Dong-hyuk was born Shin In Geun  at the Kaechon internment camp, commonly known as Camp 14. He was born to two prisoners who were allowed to marry as a reward for good work, although:

“neither bride nor groom had much say in deciding whom they would marry.”

Shin’s father, Shin Gyung Sub, told Shin that the guards gave him his mother, Jang Hye-gyung, as payment for his skill in operating a metal lathe in the camp’s machine shop. Shin lived with his mother until he was 12. He rarely saw his father who lived elsewhere in the camp and was allowed to visit a few times a year. According to Shin, he saw his mother as a competitor for their insufficient food rations, and consequently had no bonds of affection with his parents or his brother, Shin He Geun.

The North Korean government officials and camp guards told him he was imprisoned because his parents had committed crimes against the state, and that he had to work hard and always obey the guards; otherwise he would be punished or executed.

Shin went to primary and secondary school while in the camp. The secondary school was “little more than slave quarters from which he was sent out as a rock picker, weed puller and dam labourer.” At one point, a young girl was beaten to death by the teacher for hoarding a few kernels of corn. His education did not include propaganda or even basic information about North Korea. The personality cult around Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il was also absent; for example there were no portraits of the Kim leaders on display.

The camp was near a hydroelectric dam and mines in which the prisoners were forced to labour. In one of Shin’s prison cells, where he was held during an interrogation, he said he had electricity and running water. Shin’s mother lived in a house with multiple rooms in a “model village” in the camp, given to women who had children.

Shin experienced considerable violence in the camp, and witnessed dozens of executions every year.Part of Shin’s right middle finger was cut off by his supervisor as punishment for accidentally breaking a sewing machine. He witnessed adult prisoners and children beaten every day, and many prisoners dying of starvation, illness, torture and work accidents. He learned to survive by any means, including eating rats, frogs, and insects, and reporting fellow inmates for rewards.

Scars and deformed arms  due to torture

 

Mother and brother plan to escape

When Shin was 13 years old, he overheard his mother and brother planning an escape attempt. Shin had just finished eating watery corn porridge, and was trying to sleep until he overheard that He Geun, his brother had run from the cement factory. Shin’s mother, Jang was preparing rice, a symbol of wealth in North Korea for the escape from Camp 14. Shin was jealous his brother was getting rice. Shin’s teacher was already in the gated Bowiwon village, so Shin told the night guard of his school with another boy, as informing was something he was taught to do from an early age, and he hoped to be rewarded. However, the school night guard took full credit for discovering the plan, and rather than being rewarded, Shin was arrested and guards tortured him for four days to extract more information, believing him to be part of the plan to escape.

According to Shin, the guards lit a charcoal fire under his back and forced a hook into his skin so that he could not struggle which caused many large scars still visible on his body.

On 29 November 1996, after approximately seven months spent in a tiny concrete prison cell, he was released and joined by his father, who had also been imprisoned. They were driven back to the main camp wearing blindfolds and their hands tied behind their backs. Camp officials then forced Shin and his father to watch the public executions of Shin’s mother and brother; he then understood he had been responsible for the executions.

Shin stated that at the time of the executions of his brother and mother, in his teenaged mind he felt they “deserved” their fates for both breaking prison rules and, conversely, not including him in the escape plan. Shin has since expressed remorse over his actions, saying in an interview with Anderson Cooper for the CBS television show 60 Minutes

, “My mother and brother, if I could meet them through a time machine, I would like to go back and apologize”.

In interviews to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and others, and in his Korean language memoir, Shin had said that he had no prior knowledge of the escape. It was only when talking to Harden that he revised his story and said that he had informed on his mother and brother.

Escape with Park

While working at a textile factory, Shin became friends with a 40-year-old political prisoner from Pyongyang (surnamed Park), who was educated and had traveled outside North Korea. Park had been to East Germany, and China. Park said that he shook Kim Jong Il’s hand. Park told him about the outside world, such as stories about food that Shin had not experienced before. According to Shin, nearly every meal he had eaten up to that point had been a soupy gruel of cabbage, corn, and salt, with occasional wild-caught rats and insects. He was excited by the idea of being able to eat as much food as he wanted to, which Shin considered to be the essence of freedom. “I still think of freedom as roasted chicken,” he later acknowledged.

Shin decided to attempt to escape with Park. They formed a plan in which Shin would provide local information about the camp, while Park would use his knowledge once outside the camp to escape the country. On 2 January 2005, the pair was assigned to a work detail near the camp’s electric fence on the top of a 1,200-foot (370 m) mountain ridge to collect firewood. Noting the long interval between the guards’ patrols, the two waited until the guards were out of sight, then made their attempt to escape.

Park attempted to go through first, but was fatally electrocuted climbing the high voltage fence. Shin managed to pass over the wire using Park’s body as a shield to ground the current, but still suffered severe burns and permanent scars when his legs slipped onto the lowermost wire as he crawled over Park’s body.

After escaping, Shin broke into a nearby farmer’s barn and found an old military uniform. Wearing the uniform, he was able to masquerade as a North Korean soldier at times. He survived by scrounging and stealing food.Shin was unfamiliar with money, but within two days of his escape, he had sold a 10 lb (4.5 kg) bag of rice stolen from a house and used the money to buy cookies and cigarettes. Eventually, he reached the northern border with China along the Tumen River and bribed destitute North Korean border guards with food and cigarettes.

Revision in 2015

In January 2015, Shin contacted Blaine Harden and recanted parts of his story.Harden outlined the changes to Shin’s account in a new foreword to his book, Escape from Camp 14, but did not revise every detail. He said a complete revision of the book would have taken months and he wanted to publish the new version as soon as possible.

 

With Blain Harden

 

 

Shin told Harden that he had changed some dates and locations and incorporated some “fictive elements” into the story. Shin said that he did not spend his entire North Korean life at Camp 14. He said that he was born there, but when he was young, his family was transferred to the less severe Camp 18, and spent several years there. He said that not only did he inform on the escape plan of his mother and brother, but also falsely implicated them in murder. He said that he twice escaped from Camp 18. The first time, in 1999, he was caught within days. The second time, in 2001, he said he crossed into China, but was caught after four months by Chinese police and sent back to North Korea. He said that he was tortured in Camp 14 in 2002, when he was 20 years old (not 13, as previously stated), as punishment for his escape. He said he was repeatedly burned and tortured in an underground prison for six months. As a result of education in Camp 18, and his previous escapes, he said he wasn’t as naive about the outside world when he made his final escape from Camp 14 as he had previously described.

In Escape from Camp 14 Blaine Harden commented that, “Shin was the only available source of information about his early life.” In his new foreword for the book in 2015, he described Shin as an “unreliable narrator” and commented that, “It seems prudent to expect new revisions”, but also clarifying “I don’t know if that’s true (that the story will change)”. Harden theorized that “Shin appears to have been exposed to prolonged and repeated torture. We can expect that this would have a major impact on every aspect of who he is, on his memory, his emotional regulation, his ability to relate to others, his willingness to trust, his sense of place in the world, and the way he gives his testimony.”

A Russian-born Korean specialist Andrei Lankov commented that “some suspicions had been confirmed when Shin suddenly admitted what many had hitherto suspected”, described Harden’s book as unreliable, and noted that defectors faced considerable psychological pressure to embroider their stories.

Shin explained he did not tell the full story because he wished to hide “that my mother and brother were executed because of my report,” saying “the most important reason why I could not reveal all of the truth was because of my family.” He went on to say:

“All I did until last September was discuss the camps as they were, but once the video was released [of his father], the nastiness of North Korea infuriated me. Then I realized I should not hold anything back.”

Post-North Korea life

After spending some time working as a laborer in different parts of China, Shin was accidentally discovered by a journalist in a restaurant in Shanghai, and the reporter recognized the importance of his story. The journalist brought Shin to the South Korean embassy for asylum, and from there he traveled to South Korea, where he underwent extensive questioning from authorities to determine if he was a North Korean assassin or spy. Afterwards, his story was broadcast by the press and he published a Korean language memoir.

Shin later moved to southern California, changing his name from Shin In Geun to Shin Dong-hyuk in “an attempt to reinvent himself as a free man,” and worked for Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), a non-profit organization that raises awareness of human rights issues in North Korea and provides aid to North Korean refugees. Shin moved back to South Korea to campaign for the eradication of the North Korean prison camps.

In August 2013, Shin gave several hours of testimony to the United Nations‘ first commission of inquiry into human rights abuses of North Korea. A member of the UN commission described Shin as the world’s “single strongest voice” on the atrocities inside North Korean camps.

Shin described some aspects of his personal life in South Korea in a Financial Times interview, on popular culture saying that “I don’t really know anything about music. I can’t sing and I don’t feel any emotion from it. But I do watch lots of films and the one that moves me the most is Schindler’s List“. On food he says “I know everything is delicious. I look at the colours and the way the food is presented on the plate but it’s very difficult to choose. When I first came to South Korea, I was so greedy that I used to order too much food. Nowadays I try to order only as much as I can handle.” Although Shin lives in South Korea, he was informally adopted by an American couple in Ohio during his time in the United States. He says he maintains the relationship, “I have a good relationship with my US foster parents. I contact them often. Whenever I have a holiday, I visit them. I think of them as good parents and I try to be a good son.”

In December 2013, Shin wrote an open letter in the Washington Post to American basketball star Dennis Rodman who visited North Korea a number of times as a self-avowed “friend for life”[43] of Kim Jong-un.

North Korean response

In 2012, when the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asked the North Korean government about the status of Shin Dong-hyuk’s father, they responded that there was no such person.  Then in 2014, after identifying Shin Dong-hyuk as Shin In Geun, the North Korean government produced a video which attempted to discredit Shin through interviews with his father and other supposed witnesses. His father denied Shin had grown up in a prison camp. According to the video, Shin had worked in a mine and fled North Korea after being accused of raping a 13-year-old girl. It also said that Shin’s mother and brother were guilty of murder. The video claimed he was now spreading “preposterous false information” about human rights. Shin confirmed the man was his father. He said that the rape allegation was a fabrication that he had heard before. He later confirmed that his mother and brother were convicted of murder, but stated they were innocent.

Shin said that he believed the North Korean government was sending him a message to be quiet about human rights abuses or his father would be killed, in effect holding his father hostage. The video prompted Shin to recant parts of his story.

Books and films

In 2012, journalist Blaine Harden published Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West, based on his interviews with Shin. Harden gave a one-hour interview about the book on the C-SPAN television program Q&A.

Executive Director of the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Greg Scarlatoiu, said the book played “an important role” in raising wider public awareness of the North Korean camps.  Dalhousie University issued a statement averring that Shin’s story, as told through the book, “has shifted the global discourse about North Korea, shining a light on the human rights abuses so prevalent within the regime.”

A German documentary, Camp 14: Total Control Zone, directed by Marc Wiese, was released in 2012.  It includes interviews with Shin Dong-hyuk and two former North Korean officers: the first, Kwon Hyuk, was a guard in Camp 22 and brought out amateur film footage (the only known footage of Camp 22), and the second, Oh Yang-nam, was a secret policeman who arrested people who were sent to camps. Supplementing the film are animated sequences of the camp created by Ali Soozandeh.

On 2 December 2012, Shin was featured on 60 Minutes during which he recounted to Anderson Cooper his story of his life in Camp 14 and escape. Shin said “when I see videos of the Holocaust it moves me to tears. I think I am still evolving—from an animal to a human.”

Awards and honours

In June 2013, Shin received the Moral Courage Award given by UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO (non-governmental organization).

In May 2014, Shin was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia, Canada). Students at the university “held a peace march and launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of human rights violations in North Korea. They then fundraised to bring Mr. Shin to Halifax, where his speech to an over-capacity crowd drew international attention

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Camp 14

Kaechon internment camp

Kaechon internment camp (Hangeul: 개천 제14호 관리소, also spelled Kae’chŏn or Gaecheon) is a forced labor camp in North Korea for political prisoners. The official name is Kwan-li-so (Penal-labor colony) No. 14. It is not to be confused with Kaechon concentration camp (Kyo-hwa-so No. 1), which is located 20 km (12 mi) to the northwest. This place is commonly known as Camp 14.

Description

Kaechon internment camp is located in North Korea

Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Kaechon
Kaechon

Location of Kaechon camp in North Korea

The camp was established around 1959  in central North Korea near Kae’chŏn county, South Pyongan Province. It is situated along the middle reaches of Taedong river, which forms the southern boundary of the camp, and includes the mountains north of the river, including Purok-san. Bukchang, a concentration camp (Kwan-li-so No. 18) adjoins the southern banks of the Taedong River. The camp is about 155 km2 (60 sq mi) in area, with farms, mines and factories threaded through steep mountain valleys.

The camp includes overcrowded barracks that house males, females, and older children separately, and a headquarters with administration and guards housing.

Altogether around 15,000 prisoners live in Kaechon internment camp.

Purpose

The main purpose of Kaechon internment camp is to keep politically unreliable persons classed “unredeemable”[1] isolated from society, and exploit their labor. Those sent to the camp include officials perceived to have performed poorly in their job, people who criticize the regime and anyone suspected of engaging in “anti-government” activities. Prisoners have to work in one of the coal mines, in one of the factories that produce textiles, paper, food, rubber, shoes, ceramics and cement or in agriculture.

Human rights situation

Many prisoners of the camp were born there under North Korea’s “three generations of punishment”. This means anyone found guilty of committing a crime, which could be as simple as trying to escape North Korea, would be sent to the camp along with that person’s entire family. The subsequent two generations of family members would be born in the camp and must also live their entire lives and die there.

As reported by witnesses, the prisoners have to do very hard and dangerous work in mines and other workplaces from 5:30 in the morning until midnight. Even 11-year-old children have to work after school and may see their parents rarely. People are forced to work like slaves and are tortured in case of minor offences.

Food rations are very small, consisting of salted cabbage and corn, so that the prisoners are very skinny and weak. Many die of undernourishment, illness, work accidents, and the aftereffects of torture. Many prisoners resort to eating frogs, insects, rats, snakes, and even convert to cannibalism in order to try to survive.  Eating rat flesh helps to prevent pellagra, a common disease in the camp which results from the absence of protein and niacin in the diet. In order to eat anything outside of the prison-sanctioned meal, including these animals, prisoners must first get permission from the guards.

Imprisoned witnesses

Shin Dong-hyuk

In his official biography Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden, Shin Dong-hyuk claimed that he was born in the camp and lived there until escaping in his early twenties. In 2015, Shin recanted some of this story.  Shin told Harden that he had changed some dates and locations and incorporated some “fictive elements” into his account. Harden outlined these revisions in a new foreword, but did not revise the entire book. Shin said that he did not spend his entire North Korean life at Camp 14. Though maintaining that he was born there, he stated that, when he was young, his family was transferred to the less severe Camp 18, and spent several years there. He said that he was tortured in Camp 14 in 2002, as punishment for escaping from Camp 18.

Kim Yong

Kim Yong (1995–1996 in Kaechon, then in Bukchang) was imprisoned after it was revealed that two men executed as alleged US spies were his father and brother. He witnessed approximately 25 executions in his section of the camp within less than two years

 

Is there life on Mars – Stuart Clark

Is There Life on Mars?

&

The 20 Big Universe Questions

by

Dr. Stuart Clark

Click to buy the book

 Is There Life On Mars?

will help you start to answer 20 of the most perplexing and fascinating questions about the universe, such as: Why do the planets stay in orbit? Was Einstein right? What is Dark Matter? Are we made from Stardust? Is there cosmological evidence for God? Distilling the wisdom and research of scientists operating at the cutting edge of their field, Stuart Clark’s book is a stimulating and challenging guide to the wonders of the universe.

If like me you are curious by nature and like to question the world ( and  Universe ) around you and you spend fruitless hours pondering  some of the most mind boggling mysteries of the Universe and beyond , then this is the book for you.

Dr. Stuart Clark’s book covers some of the biggest and most perplexing questions out there and if like me you consider yourself an amateur  cosmologist  ( the wife just doesn’t understand) , but struggle to get your head round some of the seemingly  unfathomable concepts of time and space , particle and  theoretical physics etc.   , then the good Dr. explains it all in a manner that is condensed and accessible to all  and I was gipped from the first page.

In fact I enjoyed this book so much that I have read it three times and I am pleased to announce that my knowledge as an amateur  cosmologist is increasing by the day , ( the wife doesn’t care ) although my mind is frazzled trying to get my head around the time scales and distances involved and getting to grips with the ” cosmological distance ladder ” ( page 19) .

Great for amateurs …but experts should already know these things……….

For me it was perfect and for a brief moment in time  I lost myself amongst the stars and other wonders of the Universe and never wanted it to end. ( page 269)

Content:

I have highlighted my favourite topics , which was pretty much everything

  1. WHAT IS THE UNIVERSE?

         The human quest to know what’s out there

     2. HOW BIG IS THE UNIVERSE?

         The cosmological ladder

     3. HOW OLD IS THE UNIVERSE?

        Cosmology’s age crisis

     4. WHAT ARE STARS MADE FROM?

         The cosmic recipe

    5. HOW DID THE EARTH FORM?

        The birth of the planet we call home

    6. WHY DO THE PLANETS STAY IN ORBIT?

        And why the moon doesn’t fall down

    7. WAS EINSTEIN RIGHT?

        Gravitational force versus space-time warp

 

    8. WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

       Gobbling monster, evaporating pin pricks and balls of string

 

   9. HOW DID THE UNIVERSE FORM?

       Picturing the Big Bang

  10. WHAT WERE THE FIRST CELESTIAL OBJECTS?

       The beginnings of the Universe as we know it

 11. WHAT IS DARK MATTER?

       The debate about what holds the Universe together

12. WHAT IS DARK ENERGY?

      The most mysterious substance in the Universe

 13. ARE WE MADE FROM STARDUST?

      The mystery of how life emerged

  14. IS THERE LIFE ON MARS?

        The chances of finding we have neighbours

   15. ARE THERE OTHER INTELLIGENT BEINGS?

         Is anyone out there?

    16. CAN WE TRAVEL THROUGH TIME AND SPACE?

        The possibility of warp drives and time travel

    17. CAN THE LAWS OF PHYSICS CHANGE?

        Physics beyond Einstein

    18. ARE THERE ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSES?

        Schrodinger’s cat and the implications for us all

    19. WHAT WILL BE THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE?

         Big crunch, slow heat death or big rip

    20. IS THERE COSMOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR GOD?

          The apparent fine-tuning of the Universe for human life

    21. WHY DO THEY COVER JELLY BABIES WITH FLOUR?

      Eating my son’s Jelly Babies and I was wondering what that flour like substance that covered them was and why they and no other jelly sweets have it ?

Visit Stuart Clarks website: Stuart Clarks Universe

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Reviews

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Alok

Mar 09, 2015 Alok rated it really liked it
Great book for lapsed physics majors. It steers clear of math, but you can still get a lot out of this book if you being your physics intuition. For example, you may remember that the universe is expanding, but do you know the history and evidence for that? I learned a bunch of cosmology/ astronomy, though I was starting from very little. If you already know how to date a globular cluster using the main sequence turnoff, this book is not for you, but for the rest of us it’s a great overview.
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Aaron Wong

Oct 15, 2014 Aaron Wong rated it liked it
A rare talent who can makes the amazingly difficult easy to understand. Bravo.
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