Monthly archives: September 2007

Mordechai Vanunu

As the mad brinkmanship proceeds in the Middle East, it is worth bearing a few things in mind.

1) There is only one country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons, and it is a highly aggressive racist state that visits untold misery on its neighbours and illegally occupies their land. It is called Israel.

2) Making a nuclear weapon takes a lot of time and material. Both Syria and Iran are many years away, even if they are trying to produce a nuclear bomb – which they probably are. Given Israel’s nuclear bomb, and given what the US did to Iraq, I can quite understand their desire to go nuclear for protection. Bombing them just makes this worse.

3) A nuclear free Middle East, including Israel, and a withdrawal of all US military forces from Iraq, is the path to peace and agreement. Everything else is a build up to a big war – which is what some people want, of course.

4) Bombing someone else’s country is plain illegal outside of formal war. Even then, there are limits on what is legitimate.

5) My fellow University Rector, Glasgow’s Mordechai Vanunu, is still effectively imprisoned for telling us about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme. He should be released immediately.

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A Sovereign Iraq?

Whether the “Government” of Iraq has any authority in its own country will be tested by the ability to make their banning of Blackwater stick. Most governments might be expected to object to having scores of thousands of foreign mercenaries roaming around their land, threatening the populace and occasionally massacring them.

Over 80% of the money spent by the US on “reconstruction” in Iraq has gone under the heading of “security”, mostly to companies like Blackwater and Aegis, their UK counterpart. The US is now trying to put on pressure by suspending all aid projects until Blackwater is reinstated. As their efforts this last four years have undeniably left Iraqis much worse off than before, they should be told where to get off.

If anyone doesn’t understand how these mercenary companies operate, they should view the infamous “Aegis Trophy Video”, originally put up on Aegis website by their employees as a macabre souvenir. In fact everyone should watch this – and remember this is not a movie, those are real human beings murdered for fun.

The comment by the ex mercenary under the video is also worth taking in.

I feel terribly sorry for the soldiers who have ended up in this futile war. But for mercenaries I have no time at all. They kill people for money. If they are killed themselves, my sympathy is still there, but strained. One story which went peculiarly quiet was the five mercenaries, four British, from “Garda World” who were kidnapped at end May along with the consultant they were protecting. The kidnap involved over a hundred properly accredited Iraqi security personnel with the right uniforms, documents and weapons. What happened to the mercenaries, and to their client? Why did the whole story get a miniscule percentage of the publicity given routinely to Brit hostages?

The Garda World mercenaries had a peculiar relationship with the MI6 informant and neo-con alcoholic, the Rev Canon Andrew White, quite the strangest creature to come out of the generally admirable Church of England for many years. He left Baghdad shortly after this kidnap. Any connection?

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Agencies accuse UK government of reclassifying cluster bomb in order to beat the weapon’s ban

From Amnesty International

The UK, the world’s third largest user of lethal cluster bombs over the last ten years, has renamed one of its two remaining cluster munitions in an effort to beat an expected worldwide ban next year said humanitarian organisations Oxfam, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action today.

The move would mean that the Hydra CRV-7 rocket system, which can deliver 171 ‘M73’ bomblets from a helicopter-mounted rocket pod, would remain part of British arsenals.

As recently as 23 November 2006, the government listed the CRV-7 as a cluster munition. But on 16 July this year, just months after it said it would back a worldwide cluster bomb ban, the Government said the CRV-7 was no longer a cluster bomb.

Simon Conway, Director of Landmine Action said:

‘Ten years after it championed a treaty banning landmines the UK has a chance to do the same with cluster bombs – but instead it is spinning a cluster bomb con.

‘This is a deeply cynical move. The UK Government needs to announce an immediate end to the use of these indiscriminate killers.’

US forces used the rocket-delivered M73 ‘bomblets’ in Iraq in 2003. Human Rights Watch reported contamination of unexploded M73 bomblets left behind after the strikes…

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The Choice

A half hour interview here as part of Michael Buerk’s very interesting Radio 4 series.

Meantime Murder in Samarkand appears almost totally off the shelves. I needed some copies at the weekend, and went to Waterstones in Malet St, Trafalgar Sq, Piccadilly Circus and Notting Hill Gate, to Daunts, Hatchards, Foyles, to Blackwells and Borders in Charing Cross Road and to Books Etc in Shepherds Bush. Between all of these I culled just four copies, with most shops having none. None have any copies today. also have the paperback no longer in stock but on 6 day delivery.

Yet there were plenty of copies everywhere of Tamerlaine’s Children by Robert Rand and Ghost Plane by Stephen Grey. These are very good books by friends of mine on broadly the same subject as mine, but have sold less than a quarter the number and are tens of thousands lower in the Amazon sales rankings.

I have continually been frustrated by this. Murder has sold remarkably well given its invisibility. But it really is hard to understand what is happening – and why.

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Bush setting America up for war with Iran

From the Sunday Telegraph

Senior American intelligence and defence officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, amid growing fears among serving officers that diplomatic efforts to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons programme are doomed to fail.

Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.

Now it has emerged that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution, is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action…

…Recent developments over Iraq appear to fit with the pattern of escalation predicted by Pentagon officials.

Gen David Petraeus, Mr Bush’s senior Iraq commander, denounced the Iranian “proxy war” in Iraq last week as he built support in Washington for the US military surge in Baghdad.

The full article can be read here

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Alan Greenspan admits Iraq war was really for oil

From The Times

AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.

In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil, he says…

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Murder In Samarkand “Celebrated” – Official!

Wow! Murder in Samarkand has graduated to be a “celebrated memoir”, according to the Guardian. Well, I certainly celebrated it, anyway.

In This World also gave Winterbottom a cause. He’s returned to it twice since then – with Road to Guant’namo and A Mighty Heart – and is planning a fourth: an adaptation of former diplomat Craig Murray’s celebrated memoir, Murder in Samarkand. But Winterbottom denies he has any special affinity for reactive, issue-based film-making. “Generally speaking, things we’ve done have been things we just thought were good ideas. We go through phases, obviously. Not all good. When we were doing Mighty Heart, we were driving through Pakistan and it felt kind of similar to In This World. This is when you have moments thinking: we’ve done this before so why are we doing this? What’s the point of doing this again?”,,2168097,00.html

It is in fact a fascinating interview, well worth reading quite aside from my brief mention.

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Yet More Schillings Bollocks

On my article about Alisher Usmanov which so incensed his lawyers Schillings, let me ask this question. Has anybody seen an argument posted or published from any credible source to argue that what I say about Usmanov is untrue?

I ask the question because one of the edits to this log my webhost made at Schillings’ behest was to say that my claim was “regarded as false by many people”. I have altered that edit, because there is no justification for such a claim. I have yet to see evidence of anybody, not one solitary person, arguing that I am wrong about Usmanov, other than his lawyers. Who are these “Many people”, and why are they peculiarly silent?

I am very sympathetic to my webhost having to change things for Schillings, but not to the extent of altering things to become defamatory of me!!!

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Thank You, Gordon


Is Gordon Brown a secret supporter of Scottish independence, or just crassly concentrated on getting votes in South Eastern England? Recently he has been at pains to promote the idea that he, not David Cameron, is the true heir to Maggie Thatcher. He has been assiduously putting Tories into key jobs. And now this wonderful picture.

Thank you very, very much Gordon. You are doing infinitely more to advance the cause of Scottish independence than 500 of me ever could.

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Just to make plain that I have great webhosts who have been extremely supportive in all kinds of circumstances, 24 hours a day. They have wider responsibilities and I have no problem with their taking down or amending my stuff when they get their umpteenth bullying letter from ultra well paid bluffers and extortionists Schillings.

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More Appalling Guardian Journalism

The worst bit of journalism yet on the Usmanov case comes, unsurprisingly, from the Guardian. For arse-licking, unquestioning repetition of the claims of Usmanov’s lawyers, this takes the biscuit.

Usmanov aims legal arsenal at bloggers

Paul Kelso

Thursday September 13, 2007

The Guardian

Arsenal’s newest shareholder, the Uzbek minerals billionaire Alisher Usmanov, continues to police discussion of his past and of his intentions for the Gunners after paying ’75m for David Dein’s 14.58% share in the club.

Schillings, the lawyers acting for Usmanov, have been in touch with several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs warning them to remove postings referring to allegations made against him by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Usmanov was jailed under the old Soviet regime but says that he was a political prisoner who was then freed and granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as president. Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.

Most sites have complied and removed the allegations. Murray himself is yet to receive any correspondence from Usmanov’s lawyers, though the hosts of his website have complied with Schillings’ demands. The former ambassador says that he has contacted Schillings to ensure they know where to send any writ.

Usmanov’s Arsenal investment vehicle, Red & White, has purchased further shares in the club since taking a major stake but as yet has not arranged a meeting with the club. Existing board members have become remarkably vocal since his purchase, barely a day passing without a senior figure from the club talking up Arsenal’s financial position. The club’s results, due next week, are expected to show a healthy position, with as much as ‘3m generated by each match at the Emirates.

The bit about

Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.

is particularly egregious. It makes it sound as though there has been some kind of judgement in the case. In fact the facts as I stated them are regarded as false by nobody to my knowlege except Schillings; other people may regard then as fals, but I am to date unaware of a single person saying so. And Schillings of course are paid to regard them as false. Has anybody else seen anything from a respectable source arguing that what I said about Usmanov was false?

Paul Kelso contacted me before writing his article, and here is the email I sent him:

Hi Paul;

no – Schillings have had no contact with me, except I phoned them to make sure they could find me for a writ! My webhost received a legal threat from Schillings, and my webhost responded to the threat of legal action by taking down one of my articles. I withdraw nothing. I want Usmanov to sue me. He is a <removed on legal recommendation>, and I know enough about him, and enough

potential witnesses, to give him a torrid time in a UK court beyond even the ability of Schillings to cover up.

Usmanov knows that, and Schillings are obviously bluffing – although they are writing that my book is “libellous”, it has been out for over a year now, sold over 25,000 copies already, and they have done nothing but spout bollocks.

As you may know, my book is being made into a film next year by Michael Winterbottom and Paramount. Don’t know who will play Usmanov – sadly Fatty Arbuckle is dead.


Now how fair and balanced was Kelso’s article?

– Legal note – 2 edits made by webhost on legal advice

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I had to do some serious journalism tonight, but took a break to watch the France-Scotland game. Now I am going to have to wait until tomorrow when I sober up. Tomorrow may not be long enough.

21 points from 9 games, including beating France home and away, is an astonishing result for a Scotland team widely regarded as largely talent-free, and drawn in an apparently impossible group including France, Italy and Ukraine. Only seven teams have ever won the World Cup, and to face two of them in a European Championship qualifying group is ridiculous.

I grew up in an era of Scotland teams gloriously endowed with talent. In 1974 Scotland went to the World Cup with the best team in the world. I googled to try and find a squad list, but I couldn’t discover one. Amazingly the Wikipedia entry for Scotland’s football team doesn’t give 1974 a mention.

So I have to try and remember the squad, the backbone of which – David Harvey, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer, Joe Jordan – came from Don Revie’s Leeds United team. Scotland were so outrageously talented that Jimmy Johnstone didn’t get off the bench, and another truly great winger, Eddie Grey, wasn’t even taken. Any team that can put Kenny Dalglish and Denis Law up front was something to marvel at. For me the team was best exemplified by the full-backs, Sandy Jardine and Danny MacGrain, the two most talented players in that position I have ever seen paired for any team anywhere, who helped invent the modern wing-back concept. And what a majestic player Davie Hay was.

That Scotland became the first team in the history of the World Cup to be undefeated yet not win it. They outplayed Brazil in a 0-0 draw. I have looked down the barrels of guns more than once (and I mean that literally, not as sportng hyperbole), but the longest half second of my life was when the ball bobbled agonisingly just past the post, after Billy Bremner stabbed at it with his left foot when a corner, from Willie Morgan I think, whipped through the crowded six yard box (Jordan and Holton were a crowd in themselves) and suddenly flashed in upon him. I remember his forearms around his ears in agony when he realised what he had done. And I recall the hopeless long shot, bobbling gently, that the Zaire goalkeeper let through his legs to knock Scotland out on goal difference.

Tactical naivety was part of the problem. Why on earth didn’t we unleash Willie Morgan and Jimmy Johnstone to run at Zaire? Over-confidence, perhaps. Lorimer was a wonderful player, but we developed an over-reliance on his pile-driving free kicks.

Scotland now have probably not a single player, other than Craig Gordon, who would have even been considered for the 1974 squad. The outrageous talent has peculiarly dried up, despite McFadden’s glorious strike. But we have a very tough-minded management, a team spirit untroubled by preening superstars, and that gallus quality which works better in an underdog than when we were fancied.

Excuse me, I have to pour another whisky…

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MI5 and MI6 to be sued for first time over torture

From The Guardian

A British man who was held in Guant’namo Bay has begun a civil action against MI5 and MI6 over the tactics that they use to gather intelligence.

The suit has been brought by Tarek Dergoul, 29, who claims he was repeatedly tortured while he was held by the US, and that British agents who had also questioned him were aware of the mistreatment.

He wants a high court ruling that will ban the security services from “benefiting” from the abuse of prisoners being held in detention outside the UK.

If Mr Dergoul wins, it would mean that MI5 and MI6 could not interrogate British nationals while they are being held and tortured abroad.

A British citizen, he has been awarded legal aid for the case, and papers will be lodged at the high court today. They were drafted by the Rabinder Singh, QC, a leading human rights barrister from the Matrix Chambers.

According to court documents seen by the Guardian, Mr Dergoul alleges that agents from MI5 and MI6 repeatedly interrogated him while he was held and tortured in Afghanistan and then Guant’namo, and were thus complicit in his treatment. In the 13-page document to be lodged at court, he says he suffered beatings, sexual humiliation, insults to his religion, and was subjected to extremes of cold. He was released back to Britain in 2004 without charge.

Britain says it does not carry out or condone torture, but it stands accused of benefiting from inhumane treatment meted out by other countries.

Mr Dergoul is seeking damages for “misfeasance in public office” by the security services and the Foreign Office.

The court papers state: “The British government and its officials knew that the claimant was being subjected to mistreatment amounting to torture and inhumane and degrading treatment because he told them so…Accordingly the British government and its officials unlawfully sought to benefit from mistreatment of the claimant. It is averred that either the British officials knowingly unlawfully interrogated the claimant or they acted with reckless indifference to its illegality.”


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German Bomb Plot: Islamic Jihad Union

Here I explained that the Islamic Jihad Union was first heard of in the context of bombings in Uzbekistan which were not in fact bombings, as I can testify from direct personal observation conducted officially for the British government. I believe the “Islamic Jihad Union”, like the “bombings”, was concocted by the Uzbek security services.

We now hear from the German authorities that the IJU has claimed responsibility on the web for the alleged bomb plot there. Peculiarly, extensive research by the BBC in Uzbek, Russian, English and Arabic has failed to identify this claim, or any Islamic Jihad Union website. What would it prove anyway? I could get up a posting somewhere claiming to be Santa Claus and taking responsibility,

Let me repeat again:

I never met anybody in Uzbekistan, including from Islamist groups, who had heard of the IJU. I researched this intensively. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, of whom the group is allegedly a cooperative offshoot, have never referred to it anywhere. Nobody in Islamist circles in the UK, or Uzbek exile circles worldwide, has ever heard of the IJU. Nobody can name a single member, let alone leader.

The secuirty services intercept an astonishing number of electronic communications between extremists and suspected terrorists. There has never been a reference to the IJU in any intercepted conversation.

I do not say that the IJU does not exist. It may do. It may be a real terrorist organisation. It may be an agent provocateur operation. It may be a simple invention by the Uzbek security services. But it was first heard of in the context of “bombings” which were not what the Uzbek government said they were, on which JTAC accepted my reporting as correct. The IJU has been seized upon by the US and Germany successively as justification for their alliance with the appalling and totalitarian Uzbek regime, possibly the most vicious in the world.

I shall be following the case in Germany very carefully indeed. I am going to attempt to get my official reports of my investigations of the alleged IJU “Bombings” in Tashkent, and the JTAC responses, released to the German courts.

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Usmanov Bluster

Usmanov’s lawyers are now blustering that the coverage of Usmanov in Murder in Samarkand is libellous.

Given that he has such hyperactive lawyers, is it not strange that the book has been out for over a year, but they have made no move to sue for libel? Their bluff and bluster really is quite pathetic, and I am getting bored with it.

Sadly, it still continues to work on British newspaper editors. I find it astonishing that even the Sunday Times can report so deadpan Usmanov’s ludicrous claim that he was not jailed as a criminal but as a “political prisoner”.

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Who Ate All The Pies?

From the Evening Standard, an article about Alisher Usmanov and me that is almost entirely wrong.

Arsenal billionaire in Red and White rumpus


A legal row has blown up between billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the man who has bought a ’75million stake in Arsenal, and the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Craig Murray, who became a fierce critic of the Uzbek government after being the ambassador to the country from 2002 to 2004, was yesterday forced to remove a series of critical comments about Usmanov from his personal website.

The former diplomat penned a piece about Usmanov after his company Red and White bought ex-Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein’s 14.58% stake in the club last week.

Usmanov was born in Uzbekistan before moving to Russia and Murray made a number of allegations about the tycoon’s links with the Uzbek regime.

Usmanov has instructed solicitors to take action against media outlets making any damaging claims about the businessman and they threatened to sue Murray unless the article was removed.

In fact, I have received no communication of any kind from Usmanov or his solicitors. the opposite is true; I telephoned Schillings and asked them to sue me, but they didn’t seem keen.

I know lawyers who would be delighted to have the chance to quiz Usmanov in the witness stand (if we can find one wide enough), about his criminal conviction in the Soviet Union, how he secured his pardon, his relationship with President Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova and Gafur Rakhimov, the sources of his wealth and the doings of Gazprom Investholdings. I should be interested in his views on the mysterious fall from a window of his employee Igor Safronov.

I know several people who would like to take the witness stand themselves.

To many people it might seem strange that somebody should need to get expensive libel lawyers to write to all newspapers, before anyone had published anything, threatening to take them to court if they did. Some people might conclude that indicates something to hide.

My earlier post was removed by my web server after the webhost was threatened with legal action. I have heard nothing – a cowardly way of proceeding, in my view. I support the webhost’s decision to remove the article rather than have the site, and other valuable sites, perhaps closed down. But once the truth has escaped onto the internet, it is out there, despite all their frantic efforts.

Everyone, whatever their crimes, deserves legal representation in the criminal law. But lawyers who, for money, work on suppressing the truth for people like Usmanov, are themselves slugs.

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US Diplomats and Human Rights

The house magazine for US diplomats, Foreign Service, has published its September 2007 issue on “Human Rights Promotion in the Post-9/11 Era”. It contains a number of excellent essays, and also one by me on the lessons of my time in Uzbekistan, which I reproduce here:

The Folly of a Short-Term Approach

By Craig Murray

Ambassador Craig Murray resigned from the British Diplomatic Service in February 2005. He is now rector of the University of Dundee and an honorary research fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law. His memoir of his time in Uzbekistan, Murder in Samarkand, is available from Paramount and Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B are producing a movie based on that memoir, with filming scheduled to begin in February 2008 under British director Michael Winterbottom.

I am very pleased to be offered the chance to pass on to you some thoughts on the conflict between human rights and the ‘War on Terror,’ drawn largely from my recent service as the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Uzbekistan. As a result of that experience, I should acknowledge, I was recently vetoed as a participant in a U.S.-sponsored seminar on that topic by a very senior State Department official, on the grounds that I was ‘viciously anti-American.’

That is not true, of course. Yes, I am a person who holds his beliefs very dear and who believes strongly in individual liberty in all spheres. Thus, I am a passionate supporter not just of democracy and human rights, but also of capitalism and free markets.

So how could someone with that belief set come to be perceived as anti-American? The answer is that I do not believe that recent U.S. foreign policy has promoted those goals at all, but rather has been doing something very different.

Walter Carrington Avenue

To illustrate what I mean, let me offer an example of diplomacy at its best. One of my inspirations was Walter Carrington, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria from 1993 to 1997. Amb. Carrington never accepted the brutal dictatorship of the Sani Abacha regime (1993-1998), and constantly went beyond normal diplomatic behavior in assisting and encouraging human rights groups, and in making outspoken speeches on human rights and democracy.

Carrington’s approach was a direct challenge to the British Embassy in Nigeria, which pursued a much more traditional line of polite interaction with the president and his cohorts. This appeasement did us no good, as Abacha repeatedly moved against our interests; for example, he banned British Airways from flying into Nigeria. Nonetheless, my diplomatic colleagues looked down their long noses at Carrington with disdain, for raising unpleasant subjects like torture and execution at cocktail parties. (I regret to say that some of the career subordinates in the U.S. embassy did the same.)

The Abacha dictatorship hated Carrington so much that the Nigerian armed forces even stormed the ambassador’s farewell reception and arrested some Nigerian participants, a breach which was rightly condemned by the U.S. Congress. But a grateful Nigerian people did not forget his efforts on their behalf, and soon after Abacha’s downfall, the street on which the U.S. and British consulates in Lagos were situated was renamed by the local authorities as Walter Carrington Avenue. I believe it is still called that.

Carrington’s example taught me a great lesson in diplomacy: that the relationship of an embassy should be with the people of a country, not just with their authorities. Regimes which are hated by their people will never survive indefinitely, though they may endure a very long time. A fundamental role of an embassy in these situations should be to do everything in its power to hasten the dawn of freedom.

A Perfect Failure

Uzbekistan is undoubtedly one of the most vicious dictatorships on Earth. Freedom House ranks it as one of just five countries scoring a perfect 7 ‘ complete lack of freedom ‘ on both political rights and civil liberties. The Heritage Foundation’s view of economic freedoms there is similarly critical. In short, Uzbekistan does not follow the Southeast Asian model of an authoritarian government overseeing a free economy and rapid economic development. It is more akin to North Korea than to Singapore. Soviet institutions have been strengthened and corruption even increased. Only the iconography switched, from communism to nationalism.

Yet Uzbekistan was embraced as a Western ally following the 9/11 attacks, a member of the ‘Coalition of the Willing.’ In 2002 alone the U.S. taxpayer gave the Uzbek regime over $500 million, of which $120 million went to the armed forces, and $82 million direct to arguably the world’s most vicious security services. Also during that year, according to impeccable British government pathology evidence, at least one Uzbek dissident was boiled alive. The U.S. taxpayer paid to heat the water.


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The Mysterious Islamic Jihad Union

The three alleged “terrorists” arrested in Germany, aimed to blow up US military airports, civil airports, bars, discos and other targets, according to the German authorities, motivated by a fanatical hatred of the United States.

They have been identified as coming from the “Islamic Jihad Union”, an alleged offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. This organisation was first heard of in intelligence passed by the Uzbek intelligence services to the United States during alleged “Terror attacks” in Tashkent in spring 2004. Those attacks were in fact largely fake and almost certainly the work of the Uzbek security services, from my investigations on the spot at the time. These are detailed in pages 325 to 339 of Murder in Samarkand. These “attacks” were followed by the arrest of many hundred people in Tashkent, largely those with a little money and a Western lifestyle. From the torture chambers, hundreds confessed to membership of the Islamic Jihad Union. The United States, still an ally of Uzbekistan at that time, was keen to accept the narrative and moved succesfully to place the Islamic Jihad Union on the United Nations list of terrorist organisations.,3604,1595387,00.html

In fact there was no evidence of the existence of this organisation other than that given by the Uzbek Security Services. There are, for example, no communications intercepts between senior terrorists referring to themselves as the Islamic Jihad Union.

Germany houses the biggest concentration of exiled Uzbek dissidents in the West, and in May of 2004 the Uzbek security services were already passing on alleged intelligence about attacks by the Islamic Jihad Union on US targets in Germany. Peculiarly, newspaper stories about these IJU plots in Germany have been surfacing regularly for the last two years, ahead of the recent arrests.

Germany is of course now Uzbekistan’s major ally in the West. Germany has an airbase in Uzbekistan and still has very close security service coopertation with Uzbekistan. Germany has been pushing hard within the EU for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan following the massacre bu the Uzbek armed forces of at least 700 demonstrators at Andijan in May 2005. Germany’s close relationship with Uzbekistan is based on the interests of Gazprom and its $8 billion Nordstream Russian/German joint venture for a Baltic pipeline to bring Russian and Uzbek gas to Germany. This was orchestrated by Gerhard Schroeder, now Chairman of Nordstream, and Alisher Usmanov, chairman of Gazprom Investholdings.

Germany therefore remains very open to the Uzbek security service agenda. It is in the light of these interests that the story being given about the latest arrests should be considered. There are some peculiar points about it: why are the German authorities connecting a Turk and two ethnic Germans, who allegedly trained in Pakistan, to an obscure and possibly non-existent Uzbek group?

I should make plain that regrettably it is a fact that there are those who commit violence, motivated by a fanatic version of their faith. Sadly the appalling aggression of US and allied war policy has made such reaction much more frequent. These men may or may not have been planning to commit explosions. But if they were, the question is who was really pulling their strings, and why?

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The Women at the Tomb


Nadira playing Magdalene in The Women at the Tomb

Nadira is playing at the moment in a fringe production of The Women at the Tomb by Michael De Ghelderode, at the Lion and Unicorn theatre (above the pub) at 42 Gaisford St, Kentish Town, NW5. The play runs till 16 September if you want to go along and see it.

Details here:

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