Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Red Soil of Africa 2

Publisher’s blurb for new book –

In this prequel to Murder in Samarkand Craig Murray asserts that once the red soil of Africa gets into your blood, you are in thrall to the continent for the rest of your life. Returning in 1998 from heading the Political and Economic sections of the British Embassy in Warsaw, Craig becomes Deputy Head of the Africa Department of the FCO. Within two weeks of taking up the job suave, controversial, ex Guards officer and mercenary commander Colonel Tim Spicer walks into Craig Murray’s office. Murray does not like what he finds and reports Spicer to Customs and Excise – and creates the Arms to Africa Investigation that is the first big crisis of Tony Blair’s government. Suspended from duty, grilled by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, then quickly despatched sideways to Ghana as Deputy High Commissioner. Murray next finds himself caught up in nightmarish and extremely dangerous face to face negotiations with Foday Sankoh and the murderous rebels of Sierra Leone, famous for mutilating children and pregnant women and hacking off the limbs of thousands of victims. After negotiating with Sankoh and Charles Taylor, now both facing war crimes tribunals, Murray miraculously emerges with a peace deal that saved the lives of tens of thousands, only to have his thunder stolen by Jesse Jackson in a hilariously comical episode.

Strongly commended by Robin Cook and loaded with obscure African honours, Murray then launches into arranging a State Visit for the Queen to Ghana which is part of his strategy to massage perpetual ruler Jerry Rawlings out of office. Outwitting the Rawlings regime in a series of astonishing set pieces, including canoe borne trips to obscure villages personally to supervise voter registration, Murray delivers free and fair elections that enable the opposition peacefully to take power, and Murray becomes a national hero in Ghana. But his public statement that British companies have been involved in corruption in Africa draws down firm censure from the FCO and he is despatched to remote Uzbekistan in order, his bosses hope, that he will never be heard of again….

Told with Murray’s customary style and panache, this near incredible story points up many of the paradoxes of Western involvement in the Africa which Murray loves so deeply. Readers of Murder in Samarkand will enjoy again the alternation of impish wit and moral high mindedness, high jinx and stunning flashes of political insight. And, as ever with Murray, there are several lovers and a variety of alcoholic beverages on the way, as well as green mambas, cerebral malaria and a mischievous Ashanti ghost…

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Bent Auditors 3

Usmanov’s PR people claim it would have been impossible for Gazprom to pay a bribe to President Karimov’s daughter Gulnara because

No evidence has ever been forthcoming and the accounts of Gazprominvest [the Gazprom company of which Usmanov is president] are audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers,,2202113,00.html

That of course is deeply reassuring. Usmanov is audited by the people who brought you Robert Maxwell’s accounts

and the BCCI accounts

I hope that you are suitably reassured.

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Uzbek Cotton 5

I was very pleased indeed with the report on Newsnight last night. I thought the discomfiting of the commercial companies pretending they didn’t know was exemplary television. Minister Gareth Thomas’ attempt to convey concern and pretend this was news to the government, when I reported it in detail to them in 2002 and was told to shut up, almost made me physically retch.

You can watch it here:

although I fear that link will only work for one day. If anyone knows how to Youtube it or otherwise save it, that would be good.

Meanwhile the Guardian has picked up on the government’s stonewalling of Jeremy Corbyn over Usmanov:,,2202113,00.html

Arsenal supporters need to press their own MPs on this. You can do this by entering your postcode on this website then clicking on “send a message to your MP” in the first box about him.

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Saudi Disgrace 8


I was so impressed by this cartoon in the Times I went out and bought a copy as I felt Mr Murdoch deserved my money today. Also great to see Vince Cable of the Lib Dems making a good stand on the issue by boycotting the event. Full marks.

Saudi Arabia is a terrible abuser of human rights whose corrupt and obscurantist regime has spawned the worst excesses of modern terrorism, and exported financial corruption throughout the world. I am stunned by Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells statement today that the UK and Saudi Arabia share “common values”. But on reflection, I think our governments do share common values – a worship of money, and a disregard for common people.

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Newsnight Tonight BBC 2 10.30pm

has an expose on the Uzbek cotton industry. I advised on the making of this and on how to do secret filming in Uzbekistan. This is the stuff that we did a mass blog on over a year ago, and on which I have spoken and down the country in draughty halls at 117 meetings since. Finally we may get some real pressure on the clothes and fashion industries now for their complicity in propping up a fascist regime.

Please do watch.

This short film by the Environmental Justice Foundation is also important:

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A Dark, Dark Place 7

I cannot believe Alisher Saipov is dead. When last I saw him he can only have been 23 years old, and was so brimming with energy, life and optimism. Now at 26 he is dead, just the latest dissident to be murdered by the Karimov regime. There is a lovely tribute from Natalia Antaleva here.,,2200568,00.html

Coming so hard on the murder of my friend Mark Weil, I really am overwhelmed by the sheer horror of it all. The dissident movement in Uzbekistan has been almost entirely exiled, incarcerated or murdered now, and the state becomes ever more of a nightmare. I find it crushing – and I am not even an Uzbek.

There is an absolutely vital item on Uzbekistan coming on BBC2 Newsnight on Tuesday 30 October. It looks at the slavery of the people while Karimov and his oligarchs become billionaires. Please do watch it.

Meantime, Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North (and thus Arsenal FC), had tried through a parliamentary question to obtain from the British Government the reports I put in from the British Embassy in Tashkent regarding Alisher Usmanov’s corrupt dealings with the Karimovs and Putin.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Alisher Usmanov

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish reports received from British embassies relating to Alisher Usmanov. [158765]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Such information would constitute personal data. A request for personal information brings into play the relevant legislative provisions on data release by the Government and would require the consent of the individual concerned.

That stonewalling answer is, when you think about it, quite astonishing. The government can never tell you about Mugabe, or Slobodan Milosevic, or anyone else, without their consent? Of course it is a nonsense excuse – which leads to the question, why is New Labour supporting Usmanov in covering up his past?

They also will not tell us why (if my sources are correct) he received a British passport:

British Citizenship: Alisher Usmanov

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether Mr Alisher Usmanov holds British citizenship, whether honorary or not; and, if so, when and why it was granted. [HL5411]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): It is the policy of the Border and Immigration Agency not to comment publicly on individual cases.

Again that is nonsense – you may recall Peter Mandelson had to resign for the second time for improperly facilitating the passport application of another dodgy billionaire. Did the government simply take the line that it could not comment on an individual passport application? No, it did not.

For some reason New Labour is trying to clamp down debate on Mr Usmanov. I wonder if Gallagher Holdings, or any of Usmanov’s other companies, will turn out to have made donations or “loans” to New Labour?

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Dirty Diplomacy 2

The US edition of Murder in Samarkand has finally hit the shops, under the title of Dirty Diplomacy. Be warned that it is basically the same book, and I do not recommend you to buy both.

Dirty Diplomacy is however a different cut from an original manuscript. So while slightly shorter than Murder in Samarkand, it includes some passages which were not in the UK version, and is less heavily censored because of the protections for freedom of speech in the US.

Here is a pre-publication review from Booklist, a library and bookseller trade magazine:

Dirty Diplomacy.

Murray, Craig (Author)

Oct 2007. 368 p. Scribner, hardcover, $26.00. (1416548017). 958.70.

Must diplomacy involve duplicity? Murray, an energetic and forthright British diplomat, moved his family to Tashkent in 2002 with high hopes for fostering progress in Uzbekistan. But he soon discovered that under the dictatorial rule of Islam Karimov, thousands of political and religious prisoners were being held without trial, many tortured and murdered. Murray sent urgent communiques to his superiors, then began speaking out. A hero to the oppressed, he was viewed as a traitor in London and Washington as both administrations courted Karimov as an ally as the war in Iraq got under way.

Forced to leave his post in 2004, Murray now boldly details Karimov’s crimes against humanity, his own wild and risky adventures, and the chilling and unconscionable actions of the UK and the U.S. Writing with brio, chagrin, and conviction, Murray admits that as a whiskey-loving, kilt-wearing skirt chaser, he is no paragon. But his determination to stand up for human rights makes him a man of conscience well worth listening to. And he is one helluva storyteller. An electrifying read; watch for the movie.

?” Donna Seaman

This one is from Publishers’ Weekly

Although the subject matter is dead serious, the picaresque subtitle reflects the defiant wit at the heart of this highly revealing memoir by the colorful and prominent former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. Murray’s brief term (2002?”2004) belies his influence as a scrupulous administrator who, whatever his personal failures (and he’s refreshingly up-front about them), proved incorruptible in pursuit of social justice in a nation suffering under a sadistic regime. In addition to competence, wit and considerable daring, Murray displayed a rare integrity in Tashkent that stood out among his counterparts, which was precisely what got him into trouble with both dictator Karimov’s brutal totalitarian state and with his own government, which eventually resorted to an eye-opening campaign to oust him. A deluge of bureaucratic and personal information occasionally blurs the focus in this book, but Murray uses the full weight of his ambassadorship to hold a key ally of the U.S. accountable for deep-seated economic corruption and human rights abuses?”including pervasive use of torture?” and runs headlong into some of the fiercest contradictions in the war on terror. (Oct.)

Those are trade reviews; since publication last week, one newspaper review so far from the New York Post



October 14, 2007 — Legend has it that the road connecting Afghanistan to Uzbekistan leads the region in car accidents, as truckers emerging from burkaland catch their first glimpse of Uzbek women in miniskirts and veer off the road.

Sounds like a country America can get behind!

And indeed we have, as is illustrated tragically, and often comically, in “Dirty Diplomacy” by Craig Murray, who served as Britian’s ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002-05.

Murray argues that because of the Uzbek administration’s support in fighting the Taliban, and providing a friendly environment for oil companies, the U.S. looks the other way when it comes to Uzbekistan’s human rights abuses and economic neglect of its own people. In short, we’re supporting a tyrant – President Islom Karimov – to battle Muslim extremists (as compared to Iraq, where we chose Muslim extremists over a tyrant).

The ambassador’s outrage peaks soon after his arrival, when he attends a dissident trial in a kangaroo court, and the witness, presented with six men from which to pick three criminals, selects the wrong three. The judge, outraged, tells him to chose again.

From that moment, Murray decides to take action, in the best way the British know how – memos. He hopes to shame the rest of the diplomatic corps, his own meager embassy staff and the Uzbekistan government into doing what he believes is right.

As a travelogue, “Diplomacy” is fascinating, serving as a good introduction to a region most Americans don’t know a lot about. Murray rightly notes that it was the Soviet Union that made a mess of things, purposely drawing lines for Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan that had little bearing on the actual ethnic makeup of those countries (as British cartographers did in the Middle East). The folly is when the U.S. – or anyone – clings to these artifices too strongly. What we learned in geography (or didn’t, considering the study of test scores) isn’t as permanent as we’d like to believe.

In Uzbekistan, rallies for reform often come in the form of Islam, which scares the West now more than Communism. But Murray argues that many innocent believers are being swept up in Karimov’s anti-terrorism efforts.

The failing of “Dirty Diplomacy” is Murray’s self-aggrandizing description of his crusades against injustice. After all, besides driving his country’s state department crazy, alienating his staffers and ending his marriage, he walks away with nothing but his righteous indignation. Uzbekistan is still run by Karimov. The crackdown goes on.

The hope, of course, is that by packaging that indigation into the story of a “Scotch Drinking, Skirt Chasing … and Thoroughly Un-repentant Ambassador,” as his subtitle states, Murray can get the U.S. to recognize how it’s hurting itself.

By supporting Karimov’s regime, we may be driving more Uzbeks into the very arms of those we hope to defeat. If his dictatorship falls, will it be replaced by Western-friendly democrats? Or will it be the disgruntled Muslim dissidents, bearing a grudge?

Blowback’s a bitch.

Which is not bad considering it’s a Murdoch tabloid. And here comes Playboy!

Dirty Diplomacy:

The Rough-and-Tumble Adventures of a Scotch-Drinking, Skirt-Chasing, Dictator-Busting and Thoroughly Unrepentant Ambassador Stuck on the Frontline of the War Against Terror

By Craig Murray

Scribner, 384 pages, Hardcover$26.00

Reviewed by Frank Marquardt

Don’t be misled by Dirty Diplomacy’s subtitle. As Britain’s ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, author Craig Murray mostly drank vodka, chased only one woman and failed to bust any dictators.

On this last point, it’s not for lack of trying. Soon after taking up his post, Murray is shown pictures of a corpse of a man who, prior to being immersed in boiling liquid, was beaten around the face and had his fingernails ripped out. That event provided the inspiration for the British release of the book’s more accurate title: Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador’s Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror. Murray attempted to expose the country’s human rights record, in which people are falsely accused, imprisoned and tortured, and women are routinely raped by the police.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the party line. British officials, standing side-by-side the Americans, seemed more intent on recognizing Uzbekistan’s progress toward freedom — of which there has been arguably little — than its transgressions in the area of human rights. America’s reasons for championing Uzbekistan, in turn, seem to have had a lot more to do with the U.S. desire to maintain an airbase in the country than any actual action by the Uzbekistan authorities to create a more democratic country or free market economy.

Defying the diplomats at home got Murray into some trouble, setting off a media storm in Britain; higher-ups tried to remove him under a set of trumped-up charges. At first, Murray prevailed, remaining in Uzbekistan, but eventually he was forced out. Dirty Diplomacy offers his side of the story. As an inside view of the work of an ambassador, it’s interesting; as an indictment of British and American hypocrisy in their so-called “War on Terror,” it’s damning. The irony, for America at least, came in May 2005, when Uzbek police killed an estimated 700 protestors, and soon after evicted the American airbase. Hardly diplomatic — but dirty, indeed.

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Sex and Bicycles 3

I flew back from Ghana yesterday. As ever, long periods of blog silence from me mean I am in Africa and my internet access plans did not work out.

We are now very close to recovering the address, which will get many thousand old links across the internet working again.

My eye is caught today by this story from the Telegraph.

A man has been placed on the sex offenders’ register after being caught trying to have sex with a bicycle.

Of course this lends itself to humour. Questions of “What? How?” spring immediately to mind. Never having claimed to be politically correct, I can make jokes about having slept with a few bikes myself. (That joke may not work outside the UK).

But in fact this raises very serious questions indeed, and I believe Mr Robert Stewart’s rights have been very seriously infringed. It is plain from the report that he was conducting his sex act in a locked room. What is the difference in principle between pleasuring yourself with a dildo, a blow up doll or a bicycle, your pillow or a vibrator? People masturbate with all kinds of things – is masturbation in private a crime? The consequences of being on the sex offenders register are very severe, especially for employment. Mr Stewart’s rights have been most severely infringed. We should stop sniggering and start being outraged.

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Further British Involvement in US Rendition Programme Comes to Light 3

CBS reported last week on allegations that U.S. authorities held terrorist suspects on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia as part of a secret prisons network. Diego Garcia, an island of great apparent beauty, is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. What goes on there is the business of Westminster.

The UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select committee have received a report from the charity Reprieve that details the involvement of the British territory and British officials in illegal CIA activities on the island. Assurances received from the US government about these activities have received little credence from British MPs. Andrew Tyrie, a conservative who has led investigations looking at other British involvements said:

“These assurances come from the same government that invented the rendition program, authorized the use of techniques that all in the civilized world would call torture, and continues to hold hundreds in the moral and legal black hole of Guantanamo Bay,”

Meanwhile, in Italy the trial of CIA agents accused of kidnap continues in absentia.

And, Stephen Grey, author of Ghost Plane, has published an excellent article on rendition as experienced by refugees following the recent US military intervention in Somalia.

Update: Amnesty International are calling for other european governments to initiate independent investigations into their involvement in the US-led programme of renditions and secret detention. See Denmark: Authorities must come clean about renditions

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Usmanov: Truth Will Out 5

If you read the awful Mark Franchetti article (see below) and strip it of spin, some facts do emerge which confirm the truth of my account.

– Usmanov’s “pardon” did indeed come from Uzbekistan and had nothing to do with Mikhail Gorbachev, contrary to the lies of Schillings

– Usmanov was never a political prisoner opposed to communism. He was indeed convicted for corrupt dealings. He claims he was the accidental victim of a friend being set up – even if that were true, it does not make him an anti-communist political prisoner, which is how Schillings attempted to portray him.

– I published that

Key to this triumph has been the Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov, chairman of Gazprominvest Holdings. This subsidiary is the channel for massive slush funds. In November 2004, for example, a payment of $88 million to Gulnara, the daughter of President Karimov of Uzbekistan, secured Uzbekistan’s gas contracts for Gazprom from under the noses of the United States, which had originally secured them through a bribe from the subsequebtly defunct Enron. In a series of transactions typical of Gazprom, at the same time Usmanov transferred half of a Russian bank, Mapobank, to Putin’s private secretary, Piotr Jastrzebski. Jastrzebski was Usmanov’s former flatmate at Moscow Diplomatic Academy and bagman for Putin. Putin instructed Karimov in return for the cash to kick out the US military base which dominated Central Asia, and Gazprom had secured the strategic kingpin to dominate the Central Asian and Caucasus gas reserves.

Usmanov now tells Franchetti:

He also became close friends with fellow students Sergei Yastrzhembsky and Sergei Prikhodko, both now aides to Putin

Now that is the first published admission I have seen of the key Usmanov/Jastrzebski relationship. Franchetti shows that I was right about this, and about the origin of that relationship as students. Might this not indicate to a less biased observer that my sources on Usmanov are sound?

That makes three absolutely key things I have published about Usmanov that are now shown to be true. Is there one thing I have published that has been disproved by the hordes of mainstream media looking to attack us?

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Mark Franchetti Fills His Stomach and Switches Off His Brain 10

Bloggerheads and others have already done great’work in exposing those journalists easily bought up by a billionaire’s favour and hospitality.

But crass Mark Franchetti wins the prize for rolling over in return for a chauffeured visit to a billionaire’s mansion and indulging in “a lunch of lamb stew and red wine served by the butler in one of his private dining rooms, a hall lined with gilded central Asian vases.” He then gives us a propaganda piece so cringeworthy as to be astonishing coming from a once great newspaper.

He approvingly quotes Usmanov’s crude attack on me:

Usmanov rejected the charges and threatened to sue Murray “if he can first prove that he is completely sane”.

Of course I have neither mansion nor butler to entertain the Franchettis of this world, so evidently I must be mad.

Franchetti then goes on to retail without analysis Usmanov’s ludicrous account of the circumstances of his conviction for fraud, corruption and theft of state property.

Usmanov says it was all beacuse of an attempt in 1980 by the Moscow KGB to stop his friend’s father becoming head of the Tashkent KGB. To stop the father the KGB cooked up an elaborate plot to get the son to accept a bribe, tricking him into thinking this was part of an intelligence operation. However the person paying the bribe gave it to Usmanov, because he knew that Usmanov was a friend of the person he wanted to bribe. So Usmanov accidentally in good faith accepted the brown envelope for his friend, who was being set up by the KGB to get at his father.

How is your Bullshit-meter reading? Some thoughts that did not occur to Mr Franchetti:

– This is 1980. Brezhnev is the President of a confident centralist Soviet state. If the Moscow KGB wanted rid of someone under Brezhnev, they would not have to cook up cock-eyed plots involving framing their son.

– Paying a bribe is a risky occupation. How likely is it that a smuggler would pay a bribe by giving the cash to a friend of the person they wished to bribe, and asking them to pass it on?

– The Brezhnev KGB were quite efficient. If they had cooked up this cock-eyed plot, they would have got the bribe to the right person.

Those are only a few of the improbabilities about the Usmanov story. Now I can understand that under the influence of Usmanov’s red wine Franchetti was having problems of discernment. But Franchetti cannot be defended in his dealing with the issue of the diassappearance of Usmanov’s criminal record.

Franchetti notes,

The convictions were later overturned by Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court, which ordered his police record to be expunged.

and Franchetti goes on to use the line:

Although he was fully absolved in 2000 and no longer has a criminal record,

In fact, being absolved by Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court means nothing whatsoever. Uzbekistan is a totalitarian state and has absolutely nil judicial independence. The conviction rate in Uzbek criminal cases is over 99%, which gives you an idea of how fair the trial procedures are. The internet is full of information about the legal, judicial and human rights situation in Uzbekistan, but this Human Rights Watch report might be a good start on judicial independence.

The Supreme Court of Uzbekistan receives its orders from President Karimov, arguably the most vicious dictator on earth and a friend of Alisher Usmanov. Karimov wiped out his criminal record for him. So how much you trust Usmanov comes down to how much you trust Karimov. Karimov’s state frequently tortures dissidents to death.

What makes Franchetti’s piece so disgusting is that he knows full well what the political situation in Uzbekistan is, and he knows full well that the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan has no independence and that a pardon from it for an oligarch has no meaning. It is simply that Franchetti chooses not to share this information with his readers, because the Times has decided to puff Usmanov. Mark Franchetti is no fool; he is rather a disgusting and unprincipled man and a disgrace to his profession. Amazing what some people will do if given the services of a chauffeur and a butler for an afternoon.

Meanwhile Usmanov is still too cowardly to sue me – and his excuses for avoiding the courts become feebler:

I won’t fall so low as to fight those who want to blacken my name.

Indeed – why have the truth tested before an honest jury, when you can just buy up cheap journalists instead?

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Raising Money For Amnesty

I am off this afternoon to speak to the annual conference of Action by Christians Against Torture (ACAT) in Bristol. Meantime a nice little report of the Malvern meeting for Amnesty International, which hopefully raised them quite a bit of money.

Amnesty event a great success

SACKED ambassador Craig Murray’s visit to Malvern was a great success, with about 600 people crowding into the Forum to hear him speak.

Interestingly, I always get bigger audiences where people are sold tickets (£10 at Malvern, I think) than when the meeting is free. I think this is perhaps because of the incentive for the organising group to publicise.

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Islamic Jihad Union 3

I have posted previously on the so-called Islamic Jihad Union, which appears to be a creation of the Uzbek Security Services and the CIA, and the extraordinary claims that it was responsible for a plot to blow up a US airbase as well as bars and nightclubs in Germany.,3604,1595387,00.html

A recent ARD documentary further unpicked this story. For example German prosecutors have said that the group bought bomb-making equipment (tape, batteries and a watch) from a garage store. The documentary makers contacted the store, who checked their till receipts and found that they had sold none of those items on the given day.

We now have vital confirmation that the only link between the three alleged terrorists and the “Islamic Jihad Union” is an allegation from the CIA. Thanks to the excellent Moon of Alabama for picking up on this vital interview:

The leader of the Islamic terror research group of Germany’s internal intelligence service, Benno Koepfer, thinks the above is wrong. There is no IJU. Here is an interview published today in the German daily TAZ (my slightly shortened translation):

TAZ: Were the three bomb-builders backed by the Islamic Jihad Union?

BK: I doubt that these three were working on orders by some fixed organization named Islamic Jihad Union.

TAZ: The IJU claimed responsibility for the actions of those three.

BK: There are many indication that such claims on Internet sites were done by some free loaders. There was only public information in these claims.

TAZ: What about the supposed 2004 assaults by the group in Uzbekistan?

BK: Uzbekistan does not have a free press. It is hard to verify what really happened in Uzbekistan.

TAZ: Where is the origin of the earlier assumption that the bomb builders are related to the IJU?

BK: Those were informations from U.S. intelligence services.

TAZ: Could the IJU be an invention of western intelligence services?

BK: I will not speculate about that.

TAZ: Can you voice these doubts without problems?

BK: Yes. It is important to tell the public that there are such doubts. If it would surface three years from now that IJU never existed, it would be more troublesome for the intelligence services.

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The Continuing Plight of the Iraqi Interpreters

In response to the half-baked, and frankly dangerous, moves from the British government to increase protection for Iraqi employees and ex-employees, Early Day Motion 2057 has been published in the House of Commons.

“…recognises the courage of Iraqis who have worked alongside British troops and diplomats in Southern Iraq, often saving British lives; notes that many such Iraqis have been targeted for murder by Iraqi militias in Basra, and that an unknown number have already been killed, whilst many others are in hiding; further recognises that many Iraqis who have worked for fewer than 12 months for the UK are threatened by death squads; and therefore calls upon the Prime Minister to meet the UK’s moral obligations by offering resettlement to all Iraqis who are threatened with death for the ‘crime’ of helping British troops and diplomats.”

If you are based in the UK has your MP signed? This is an issue where the common cause of reducing the level of carnage in Iraq should be able to unite voices from across the political spectrum. Further ideas for action are detailed here.

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While I was Away 5

I thought I might give a quick round up of views on some of the stuff that happened while I was off the web. These might each have got a full article had I been able. But for those who have been missing some eclecticism:

Brown dithers over general election. I really don’t care. Four year fixed terms, abolishing the duck and weave potential of the Prime Minister on this issue, are a necessary constitutional change – one of many.

Boris for London Mayor I am seriously considering voting Boris, mostly because of his high profile stance against the calamitous bendy buses which are eternally preventing me from crossing when there is a little green man. I also strongly approve of his stance on bonking. Doubt it will happen as have never voted Tory, but another candidate needs at least as strong a bendy bus stance to get my vote. Bonking more optional.

Iraq – the long defeat Gordon perfects the art of dithering with his plans for prolonged pull-out from Iraq. While various competing thug militias in different Iraqi “security force” uniforms divide up Basra and the other Southern provinces, dwindling numbers of our lads will occupy a bit of the airport. Why?

Do we really believe all Europeans are stupid and inherently comic? I have resisted commenting on the terrible case of poor little Madeleine McCann, but have been driven past endurance by the rash of spin produced since the suspects took on a PR man from the Cabinet Office. The Portuguese police are foreign and (amazement) funny foreigners have different systems and laws to us! They must be wrong and the Brits must be persecuted.

I have no idea what happened to the poor little girl. I do know that the restaurant where her parents were dining was much further from their apartment than the compliant British media indicated, across a lawn, a swimming pool, another lawn and a wall and not within earshot if the children were crying. As a parent there is absolutely no way I would have left my children at those ages unattended and out of contact for two minutes, let alone several hours.

I comment at all against my better judgement, but the PR campaign has sickened me and drives me to it.

Non-domiciles and Private Equity Tax the rich tax-dodging bastards!

Inheritance Tax Ditto!

Memoirs I have signed a contract for the next volume – a prequel. Yippee! Sadly the publisher has not yet coughed up the money for the advance, which is now overdue.

Mobile Phone Lost it again, and all my phone numbers with it. If I used to have your phone number or you think I should do, please email it to me on [email protected] or text it from Friday to 07979 691085. Don’t be shy – rather have too many than be searching for them. This could be a cunning dating ploy, of course. Speaking of which, am now on Facebook.

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Freedom of Speech, and Higher Education 11

I went yesterday to the Stop the War demonstration at Trafalgar Square, largely because the police had given notice that they were banning it under the Vagrancy Act 1824. This was an appalling attack on free speech, and they were using that Act because Gordon Brown had promised the repeal of the hated SOCPA (Serious Organised Crime Prevention Act), which the government of which he was Chancellor had introduced. In a marvellous piece of Orwellian doublespeak, it sought to prevent “Serious organised crime” by curbing freedom of speech, including banning demonstrations within a mile of parliament.

Just in case people thought Brown’s promise to repeal these SOCPA provisions signalled an end to New Labour’s rollback of liberty, the police blew the dust off the Vagrancy Act (1824) instead.

I couldn’t miss the chance to be arrested for “vagrancy”, it sounded so deliciously Dickensian, and I think it would give me a rock solid case for putting “Occupation: vagrant” in my passport. But half an hour before the march started, the police backed down and unbanned it.

Nevertheless, they had a trick up their sleeve. They split the band of 3,000 demonstrators up into three parts, on College Green, Parliament Square and Whitehall, where they confined them to pens, with a wildly excessive number of policemen herding them like cattle. People were kept crushed in small fenced areas for up to two hours and not allowed to go to the loo. When people sat down (understandable in the circumstances) they were arrested.

What a depressing country.

Which brings me to the state of Higher Education. I was formally “Installed” as Rector of the University of Dundee on September 26. The University refused to publish my Rectorial Address, or give it out to the press, because they “do not agree with it”.

What are we coming to in this country, where even a University seeks to censor out contrary opinion? I do urge you to read the Address, because beyond the in-jokes I made some points I believe are extremely important.





In the


26 September 2007

Under the Title of:


Vice-Chancellor, My Dear Friends,

It is most kind of you to come along here today as I receive the singular honour of being made Rector of my own University.

I arrive here following our tradition of an idiosyncratic pub crawl known as the Rectorial Drag. That sounds like an occasion for which I should be picking out a nice skirt and blouse – which as some of my former student colleagues here will tell you would not be the first time. The Rectorial Drag however is an occasion where the students pull their new Rector through the streets in a carriage, from City Hall to University, entering the pubs on the way. I can honestly say it is the first time I have ever been dragged to a pub. Dragged out, yes. Chucked out, frequently. Dragged in is a new one.

By chance it is thirty years almost to the day since I arrived, bewildered, into freshers’ week, clutching everything I owned in one cardboard box and a battered BOAC flight bag.

Little did I dream that thirty years later I would become Rector of the place. Certainly not – I expected to be much too busy being Prime Minister.

In that distant first week I attended the Rectorial Installation of Sir Clement Freud. He was a man of great wit and perspicacity, and his installation address was hilarious. Sadly, as we all know, decline and decay is the natural order of things, and with the passing years Sir Clement declined to the extent that he eventually became Rector of St Andrews.

These occasions traditionally involve a certain amount of knockabout humour, and I am sure that no offence will be taken. We look in fact with fond regard to our sister institution south of the Tay Estuary, marking with sadness the scent of her senile decline, as we might an elderly relative whom we care about but are grateful we don’t have to live with.

I believe that Clement Freud was the only one of my predecessors to have made that particular error. Stephen Fry was invited to stand at St Andrews but sensibly declined. They can always try again when he’s 70.

All of which brings me to note what a tremendously talented bunch my predecessors as Rector have been. Here I give the obligatory tip of the hat to Sir Peter Ustinov.

I am biased in the case of two of them, George Mackie and Gordon Wilson, because I was the seconder of one and proposer of the other. That made my own election my third successful rectorial campaign, and I claim the record, to be beaten when I am re-elected in 2010.

Getting elected is of course the difficult bit. My own election was fiercely contested and the result was close. I would like to pay a sincere tribute to Andy Nicol, a real gentleman, for his well-fought and constructive campaign, and for being such a good loser. Though, of course, as a former captain of the British Lions rugby team he did have a great deal of practice.

One excellent piece of electioneering by my opponent was securing the entire front page of the election day Dundee edition of the Daily Record. Most of the page was taken up by a picture of Andy and the headline screamed “I was born to lead Dundee Students”. The Daily Record is a paper which is at least consistent in its standard of accuracy.

The flaw in this great ploy, achieved with considerable effort, was of course that not many of our electorate are Daily Record readers. Some folk surmised that this mistake came about because Scottish Labour HQ were under the impression the election was at the University of Abertay.

Anyway, it was a good bit of electioneering, and made even better by the fact that in this special edition of the Daily Record, my two immediate predecessors, not without some encouragement from within the University hierarchy, chose to endorse the candidature of my opponent.

The Record told us “Outgoing Rector Lorraine Kelly and comedian Fred Macaulay threw their weight behind Nicol as the former Scotland captain urged the University’s Record readers to vote for him in the polls today.”

I believe the University’s Record readers both did.

I don’t regard former Rectors campaigning for a candidate – and thus perforce campaigning against a candidate – as quite the done thing. But it is still potentially effective electioneering. The only downside I see is that, should the ploy fail and someone else get elected, and were that person in the least bit vindictive, that person would then have a great platform in front of the entire University to get his own back. I do see that potential danger, don’t you?

Some of you will be relieved, and some disappointed, to hear that I do not intend to do this. I am very glad that my predecessor, Lorraine Kelly, was Rector of this University. Otherwise she might have gone her entire life without ever seeing the inside of an institute of higher education.

The other ex-Rector involved was Fred Macaulay, apparently a local comedian, though that is not obvious from reading his rectorial address. In the most striking passage, Fred tells us he does a great impression of Sean Connery, adding “Hey, I’m bald and Scottish, how hard can it be?”

Very hard, Fred, very hard. Sean Connery is bald, Scottish and immensely talented. Fred, however, is more like this egg: bald, Scottish and easily crushed. (Breaks egg).

I did say we should have some knockabout stuff, and seriously Fred was a hard-working and popular Rector. I am sure he’ll come up with some much better jokes about me.

Now this is going to be a very dull afternoon if I just ramble on like this and you just gawp at me. We need some atmospherics – feel free to laugh and cheer, or clap or shout “Rubbish” when you want to. Above all do heckle. Heckling is a fine tradition. The very word comes from Dundee.

Heckling is a process in the jute industry. To heckle is to comb out the jute prior to spinning. It was a tough, manual job and the heckling shops were murky with dust that choked the lungs. The hecklers were famous for their radicalism, probably a reaction to their terrible working conditions, and would turn up and yell at politicians. I think that’s quite right – present company accepted I don’t recall ever meeting a politician who did not ought to be shouted at. Thus the hecklers yelled, and the verb “To heckle” jumped from a textile process to a political barracking. Uniquely, as far as I know, what other student unions call election hustings, DUSA called election hecklings.

One appalling development in modern politics is the death of heckling.

Nowadays politicians deliver their sound-bites to a pathetically complacent and complicit media, in front of a carefully selected and vetted audience of the faithful. Just try getting close enough to a politician to heckle them. I mean that literally – please do try. When someone does manage, like Walter Wolfgang, the eighty year old who shouted “Rubbish” at Jack Straw, they are likely to be manhandled and arrested under the laughably named Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Jack Straw, incidentally, is a man who should have “Rubbish” shouted at him from the moment he steps out of the shower in the morning until the moment he retires with his evening cocoa.

The peculiar criminalisation of heckling is part of the most extraordinary onslaught on our civil liberties. Here in Dundee a woman was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for walking on a cycle path. That is true – Google it. And last year we had the extraordinary incident of the Special Branch walking around Fresher’s Fayre. That is something which I promise you will not happen again. A university is no place for the thought police. We have no terrorists here; what our students are thinking is our students’ business. That is why they are here: to think.



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Back and Unbowed 22

It is good to be blogging again. Many thanks to everyone for your tremendous support while I was down, and especially all those bloggers who protested against this censorship, achieved just by the layout of cash, with nothing being tested in court. I have still had no contact at any time from Usmanov or the shysters of Schillings.

We are back on We hope that will be back too very soon. I have a plan for dealing with Usmanov and getting this matter into court, but am holding fire for a couple of days until we get the address back, where most people look for me. Meanwhile anyone remember this?

Alisher Usmanov, potential Arsenal* chairman, is a Vicious Thug,

Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist

by Craig Murray

I thought I should make my views on Alisher Usmanov quite plain to you.

You are unlikely to see much plain talking on Usmanov elsewhere in the

media becuase he has already used his billions and his lawyers in a

pre-emptive strike. They have written to all major UK newspapers,

including the latter:

“Mr Usmanov was imprisoned for various offences under the old Soviet

regime. We wish to make it clear our client did not commit any of the

offences with which he was charged. He was fully pardoned after

President Mikhail Gorbachev took office. All references to these

matters have now been expunged from police records . . . Mr Usmanov

does not have any criminal record.”

Let me make it quite clear that Alisher Usmanov is a criminal. He was

in no sense a political prisoner, but a gangster and racketeer who

rightly did six years in jail. The lawyers cunningly evoke “Gorbachev”,

a name respected in the West, to make us think that justice prevailed.

That is completely untrue.

Usmanov’s pardon was nothing to do with Gorbachev. It was achieved

through the growing autonomy of another thug, President Karimov, at

first President of the Uzbek Soviet Socilist Republic and from 1991

President of Uzbekistan. Karimov ordered the “Pardon” because of his

alliance with Usmanov’s mentor, Uzbek mafia boss and major

international heroin overlord Gafur Rakimov. Far from being on

Gorbachev’s side, Karimov was one of the Politburo hardliners who had

Gorbachev arrested in the attempted coup that was thwarted by Yeltsin

standing on the tanks outside the White House.

Usmanov is just a criminal whose gangster connections with one of the

World’s most corrupt regimes got him out of jail. He then plunged into

the “privatisation” process at a time when gangster muscle was used to

secure physical control of assets, and the alliance between the Russian

Mafia and Russian security services was being formed.

Usmanov has two key alliances. he is very close indeed to President

Karimov, and especially to his daughter Gulnara. It was Usmanov who

engineered the 2005 diplomatic reversal in which the United States was

kicked out of its airbase in Uzbekistan and Gazprom took over the

country’s natural gas assets. Usmanov, as chairman of Gazprom

Investholdings paid a bribe of $88 million to Gulnara Karimova to

secure this. This is set out on page 366 of Murder in Samarkand.

Alisher Usmanov had risen to chair of Gazprom Investholdings because of

his close personal friendship with Putin, He had accessed Putin through

Putin’s long time secretary and now chef de cabinet, Piotr Jastrzebski.

Usmanov and Jastrzebski were roommates at college.

Gazprominvestholdings is the group that handles Gazproms interests

outside Russia, Usmanov’s role is, in effect, to handle Gazprom’s

bribery and sleaze on the international arena, and the use of gas

supply cuts as a threat to uncooperative satellite states.

Gazprom has also been the tool which Putin has used to attack internal

democracy and close down the independent media in Russia. Gazprom has

bought out – with the owners having no choice – the only independent

national TV station and numerous rgional TV stations, several radio

stations and two formerly independent national newspapers. These have

been changed into slavish adulation of Putin. Usmanov helped accomplish

this through Gazprom. The major financial newspaper, Kommersant, he

bought personally. He immediately replaced the editor-in-chief with a

pro-Putin hack, and three months later the long-serving campaigning

defence correspondent, Ivan Safronov, mysteriously fell to his death

from a window.

All this, both on Gazprom and the journalist’s death, is set out in

great detail here:

Usmanov is also dogged by the widespread belief in Uzbekistan that he

was guilty of a particularly atrocious rape, which was covered up and

the victim and others in the know disappeared. The sad thing is that

this is not particularly remarkable. Rape by the powerful is an

everyday hazard in Uzbekistan, again as outlined in Murder in Samarkand

page 120. If anyone has more detail on the specific case involving

Usmanov please add a comment.

I reported back in 2002 or 2003 in an Ambassadorial top secret telegram

to the Foreign Office that Usmanov was the most likely favoured

successor of President Karimov as totalitarian leader of Uzbekistan. I

also outlined the Gazprom deal (before it happened) and the present by

Usmanov to Putin (though in Jastrzebski’s name) of half of Mapobank, a

Russian commercial bank owned by Usmanov. I will never forget the

priceless reply from our Embassy in Moscow. They said that they had

never even heard of Alisher Usmanov, and that Jastrzebski was a jolly

nice friend of the Ambassador who would never do anything crooked.

Sadly, I expect the football authorities will be as purblind. Football

now is about nothing but money, and even Arsenal supporters – as

tight-knit and homespun a football community as any – can be heard

saying they don’t care where the money comes from as long as they can

compete with Chelsea*.

I fear that is very wrong. Letting as diseased a figure as Alisher

Usmanov into your club can only do harm in the long term.

* I withdraw this – the majority of Arsenal fans turn out to have values that shame supporters at many other clubs.

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