Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

Islamic State Affiliated Groups And Their Current Status

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

According to this Intel Center list, there are currently 43 worldwide terrorist groups which have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State. I started wondering how many of those were active, how many weren’t covered by that list, and what was the most recent documented activity of each. Hence this list.

I started with the Intel Center list, found the most recent activity (if any) for the group listed, added a few groups I knew they were missing, and alphabetized the whole thing (it was originally group by country). I don’t speak Arabic, so this list is not alphabetized the way an Arab scholar might alphabetize it. I’ve given alternate names and spellings where known, but this information is almost certainly not complete. I’ve tried to distinguish between similarly named groups, but it’s still entirely possibly I’ve gotten something wrong. Terrorist groups form, splinter and die-off all the time.

File all this under “first cut,” “incomplete” and “work in progress.”

  • Abu Sayyaf Group [Philippines]: Attempts to arrest Abu Sayyaf head Isnilon Hapilon are what evidently set off the fighting in Marawi City.
  • al-Ansar Battalion [Algeria]: Defectors from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), supposedly less than 10 fighters, and I see no evidence of recent activity. Not to be confused with other jihadist al-Ansar Battalions, such as those in the Syrian Free Army or the Ma’arakat al-Ansar Battalion in the Sulu archipelago of the Philippines.
  • al-Ghurabaa [Algeria]: No recent news. Not to be confused with the UK radical islamic group of the same name.
  • al-Huda Battalion in Maghreb of Islam [Algeria]: May have been absorbed into Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria (see below).
  • al-Shabaab Jubba Region Cell Bashir Abu Numan [Somalia]: Bashir Abu Numan was a commander for al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab commander who defected to the Islamic State with some 20 fighters late in 2015, and who was later killed by al-Shabaab’s Amniyat death squads. Possibly moribund.
  • al-I’tisam of the Koran and Sunnah [Sudan]: Apparently no activity since January 2016, when some of its supporters were released from prison.
  • al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan]: Not seeing any under that name, but there’s lots of news about “Islamic State in Khorasan,” namely fierce fighting against U.S. troops over the last four months, with their leader being killed in an air strike.
  • Ansar al-Islam [Iraq]: Appears to have merged with the Islamic State proper. Not to be confused with other groups named Ansar al-Islam, including a Bangladeshi group of that name affiliated with al Qaeda.
  • Ansar al-Khilafah [Philippines]: There are reports that some 40 Ansar al-Khilafah fighters joined Maute for the assault on Marawi City.
  • Ansar al-Tawhid in India [India]: Beyond issuing a call to kill non-Muslims in 2014, it does not seem to be very active.
  • Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) [Phillippines]: BIFF is another group that seems to be participating in the fighting on Mindanao, and members were covered in a recent Filipino Department of National Defense arrest orders.
  • Bangsmoro Justice Movement (BJM) [Phillippines]: BJM is a breakaway splinter from BIFF, and does not seem to have any notable activity since pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.
  • Boko Haram (AKA the Islamic State in West Africa, AKA Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad) [Nigeria]: Still very active, and participated in a running gun battle with police in Kano Sunday. Estimates of Boko Haram’s size range from 4,000 to 20,000 fighters.
  • Central Sector of Kabardino-Balakria of the Caucasus Emirate [Russia]: Can’t find any recent information. Presumably defectors from the crumbling Caucasus Emirate.
  • Djamaat Houmat ad-Da’wa as-Salafiya (DHDS) [Algeria]: Another Algerian terrorist group that does not seem to have done much of anything.
  • Faction of Katibat al-Imam Bukhari [Syria]: All the reports I can fund on Katibat al-Imam Bukhari seem to refer to them as an Uzbek Islamist group, some of which seem to be fighting in Syria under Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, AKA the Al-Nusra Front, which split off from the Islamic State, was at one time affiliated with al Qaeda, and now is theoretically independent of both.
  • Heroes of Islam Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan]: See al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan.
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) [Pakistan/Uzbekistan]: Actively fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • Islamic State in Afghanistan: Not in the Intel Center list. Actively fighting against both U.S. troops and the Taliban. Reported to have ties to the Pakistani ISI, which wouldn’t surprise me at all.
  • Islamic State Libya (Darnah) [Libya]: Egyptian warplanes hit them in May in response for their involvement in killing Egyptian Copts.
  • Islamic Youth Shura Council [Libya]: Evidently still active in 2017. “Established an Islamic court and police authority in Benghazi. The group is notorious for decapitating swaths of residents from both Derna and Benghazi.”
  • Jaish al-Sahabah in the Levant [Syria]: No recent news, possibly absorbed into the Islamic State or other factions in the Syrian civil war.
  • Jamaat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (AKA Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, AKA Wilayat Sinai, AKA Ansar Jerusalem, AKA Ansar Jerusalem, AKA Supporters of the Holy Place) [Egypt]: Turned into the Sinai Province of the Islamic State. One of its members was killed by Egyptian security forces last week.
  • Jemaah Islamiyah [Philippines/Indonesia]: Very active in various bombing campaigns in Indonesia, but have evidently been relatively quiet since 2015.
  • Jemaah Anshorut (or Jamaah Ansharut) Tauhid (JAT) [Indonesia]: Evidently the successor to several other jihadist groups in Indonesia, Stratfor describes it as “sputtering,” and the pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi caused several members to split into still another terrorist group.
  • Jund al-Khilafah in Egypt [Egypt]: No recent news, probably merged into the Sinai Province of the Islamic State. See Jamaat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.
  • Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia [Tunisia]: They recently killed the brother of a shepherd they had also killed in 2015. But the group is also said to be gathering strength in the mountains.
  • Jundullah [Pakistan]: Jundullah carried out several attacks in Pakistan between 2012 and 2015, and is thought to be a member of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan umbrella jihadi group, not all of which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. There’s a seperate Jundallah in Iran that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.
  • Khalid ibn al-Walid Army [Syria]. Not on Intel Center list. Syrian jihad group that merged with Martyrs of al-Yarmouk Brigade, also pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and reportedly controls territory in southern Syria along the Golan Heights.
  • Leaders of the Mujahid in Khorasan (ten former TTP commanders) [Pakistan]: Not finding any recent information on this splinter group.
  • Lions of Libya [Libya]: No news since they reportedly pledged their allegiance in 2014.
  • Liwa Ahrar al-Sunna in Baalbek [Lebanon]: Claimed credit for a car bomb attacked that killed a Hezbollah leader in 2014. (Remember, as a Shi’a militia/terrorist group, members of Hezbollah are automatically on the Islamic State’s “kill on sight” list.)
  • Martyrs of al-Yarmouk Brigade [Syria]: Evidently merged with other groups into the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, which has also pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and reportedly controls territory in southern Syria.
  • Maute (AKA Islamic State in Lanao) [Philippines]: Not in the Intel Center list. The primary group responsible for the fighting in Marawi City. Reportedly led by brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute.
  • Mujahideen Indonesia Timor (MIT) (AKA East Indonesia Mujahideen EIM) [Indonesia]: Do not seem to have been active after their leader, Abu Wardah Santoso, was killed in 2016.
  • Mujahideen of Tunisia of Kairouan [Tunisia]: Not seeing any notable news since 2015, when they carried out a deadly beach attack.
  • Mujahideen of Yemen [Yemen]: Possibly absorbed into the Islamic State in Yemen (AKA Wilayat Sana) proper.
  • Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSCJ) [Egypt/Gaza]: Intel Center says Egypt, other sources say they’re active only in Gaza. Since Hamas has not pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, they seem to have been pretty thoroughly suppressed there.
  • The Nokhchico Wilayat of the Caucasus Emirate [Russia]: Can’t find any recent information. Presumably defectors from the crumbling Caucasus Emirate.
  • Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion [Tunisia]: Two members were killed in a raid by Tunisian forces, but they were described as “an al-Qaeda-linked group.”
  • Shura Council of Shabab al-Islam Darnah [Libya]: No news since significant defeats in 2014.
  • The Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria (AKA Jund al-Khilafah fi Ard al-Jazair, AKA Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Algeria Province) [Algeria]: It’s possible that the June 6 Paris hammer attacker may have been a member. If not, they seem to have been largely ineffective. “For the past two years, the Algerian military has stopped 44 members of a local armed group called ‘Soldiers of the Caliphate’ that swore allegiance to the leader of Daesh, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.”
  • Supporters for the Islamic State in Yemen [Yemen]: Like Mujahideen of Yemen, not a lot of news.
  • Supporters of the Islamic State in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques [Saudi Arabia]: Nothing since they shot a Danish national back in 2014.
  • Tehreek-e-Khilafat [Pakistan]: Though it has roots in a movement advocating resistance to British rule during World War I, evidently Tehreek-e-Khilafat has been amalgamated into Wilayat Khorasan, the South and Central Asian “chapter” of the Islamic State, along with “Khilafat Afghan (former Afghan Taliban), the Tehreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan (former TTP), Tehreek-e-Khilafat Khorasan (former TTP), the Omar Ghazi group, the Muslimdost group, the Azizullah Haqqani group (former Afghan Taliban), the Shamali Khilafat, the Jaish-ul-Islam, the Harakat Khilafat Baluch, the Mullah Bakhtwar group (former TTP), the Jaish-ul-Islam and the China-oriented Gansu Hui group created by WK members themselves.” Together they are thought to number some 1,000-3,000 fighters.
  • Clinton Corruption Update for July 18, 2017

    Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

    Time to do another Clinton Corruption update, which references such far-flung locales as Haiti, East Timor and Libya, as well as the inevitable mention of Russia:

  • “New Abedin Emails Reveal Additional Instances of Clinton Donors Receiving Special Treatment from Clinton Department of State.” What sort of favors?

    In July 2009, in reference to the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Clinton Global Initiative head Doug Band told Abedin that she “Need[s] to show love” to Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical. Band also asked for Liveris to be introduced to Hillary, “and have her mention both me and wjc”. Dow gave between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. Band also pushes for Clinton to do a favor for Karlheinz Koegel, a major Clinton Foundation contributor, who wanted Hillary Clinton to give the “honor speech” for his media prize to “Merkel.”

    The emails reveal that on June 19, 2009, Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, passed a long a letter for Hillary Clinton for Clinton donor Richard Park. Park donated $100,000 to Bill Clinton as far back as 1993 and is listed by the Clinton Foundation as a $100,000 to $250,000 donor.

    The Washington Examiner reported:

    In March 2012, Bill Clinton received an invitation to speak at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea. Richard Park’s friendship with Tony Rodham earned him a direct line to Hillary Clinton while she served as secretary of state. In January 2013, the Korean businessman sent Rodham an email and asked him to “forward this to your sister.”

    On November 14, 2009, Clinton donor Ben Ringel, who has appeared in numerous prior emails asking for favors, emailed Abedin to get help in getting an Iranian woman a visa to come to the United States. He writes: “We need to get her clearance even only temporary to be with her granddaughter.” Abedin forwarded the request to Lauren Jiloty, asking her “Can U help Monday with consular affairs?” Jiloty replies, “Sure. Will look into it.” Ringel donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. In May, Band, working through Abedin, attempts to help Canadian concert promoter and Foundation donor Michael Cohl with the processing of a visa. Abedin passes the request to Monica Hanley, Clinton’s “confidential assistant.”

    The emails show that the Clinton Foundation operative Band was involved in personnel matters at the Clinton State Department. In a May 2009 email exchange between Band and Abedin, a “career post” to East Timor for someone is discussed. Abedin explains to Band that Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s then-chief of staff, was working on the situation “under the radar.”

    In August 2009, Band tells Abedin of someone who wants to be the ambassador to Barbados. Abedin replies: “I know, he’s emailed a few times. But she wants to give to someone else.”

    The emails also show that Abedin received advice from her mother, Saleha Abedin (a controversial Islamist activist), on whom the Obama administration should appoint as the US Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. She notes that she has obtained a recommendation from “Hassan” (NFI), and that she’d reached out to “Ishanoglu”. This is presumably Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a Turkish academic and the former Secretary-General of the OIC. Ihsanoglu famously called on the West to enact anti-Islamic blasphemy laws.

    On Monday, June 8, Clinton emails her aide Lona Valmoro and Abedin asking to attend a cabinet meeting: “I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Is there? Can I go? If not, who are you sending?” Valmoro answers: “It is actually not a full cabinet meeting today – those agencies that received recovery money were invited to attend/participate. We were welcome to send a representative though, not sure if we have anyone going.”

    it’s not just pay-for-play. Once again, Judicial Watch requests have turned up instances of Hillary Clinton being super loosey-goosey with classified information:

    On July 4, 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Jonathan “Scott” Gration sent Abedin an email that the State Department has classified in part and redacted because the information deals with “foreign governments” and “national defense or foreign policy.” Abedin forwarded Gration’s email to her personal, unsecure email account. In his email, Gration related his meeting with Libyan president Muammar Qadafi, saying: “I conveyed our appreciation for Libya’s role to improve relations between Chad and Sudan … Leader al-Qadafi promised to continue his nation’s close collaboration with the United States … and is eager to meet you and President Obama.…” Gration would later be fired for, among other things, using personal email accounts to send government information.

    A document titled “HRC PRIVATE LINE BLOCK” gives the planned whereabouts for President Obama for Thursday, June 4, 2009: “Attend POTUS Foreign Policy Speech at Cairo University.” In another example of lax concern for security, Valmoro forwarded Clinton’s detailed daily schedule for July 15, 2009, to officers of the Clinton Foundation, including Doug Band and Justin Cooper. Again, on July 26 Valmoro forwarded Hillary’s detailed, sensitive daily schedule to numerous Clinton Foundation officials.

    In other examples of lax concern for security, on June 11, there is a reference to testing the “Federal preparedness and response for an international terrorist threat to the United States. [Principal-Level Exercise] will be a scenario-driven discussion for Cabinet Secretaries, agency Directors and Administrators, senior officials in the Executive Office of the President, or their approved representatives.” A document in Abedin’s unsecure email account dated May 2009 is titled “The Secretary’s Phone Call with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang” is marked sensitive but unclassified and fully redacted, as is a document titled “The Secretary’s Phone Call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.”

  • Libyan army spokesman Col. Ahmed al-Mesmar says the blame for the current state of the country is on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:

    The main responsibility falls on NATO, which interfered in Libya in 2011 to end the Gaddafi regime and destroyed all Libyan army weapons and infrastructure, only to then leave Libya alone to fight the terrorists. They took none of the necessary measures to help rebuild the Libyan Army or even help to reactivate other security facilities.

    The U.S. administration led by Obama and Hilary Clinton was not up to the challenge in Libya and didn’t give much attention to the Libyan situation.

    We don’t have any doubts that the Obama administration and his ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones, had considerable contact with militias and terrorist groups in Libya.

    Also this:

    Col. al-Mesmari also claims that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade — hired by Hillary Clinton’s State Department to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — cooperated with Ansar al-Sharia in attacking the consulate compound on September 12, 2012.

    That attack led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

    Libyans celebrated last week when, after three years of battle, the LNA finally liberated Benghazi from all terrorist groups in the city.

    The piece is also worth reading for Qatar’s involvement backing Libyan jihadists.

  • Hillary Clinton sided with Russia on sanctions as Bill made $500G on Moscow speech.”

    According to Mrs. Clinton’s ethics disclosure form filed while she was secretary of State, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by the Russia-based finance company Renaissance Capital for his June 29, 2010, speech in Moscow to its employees and guests attending the company’s annual conference.

    The speech is now coming back to haunt the Clintons, considering the company that cut the check was allegedly tied to the scandal that spurred the Global Magnitsky Act, a bill that imposed sanctions on Russians designated as human-rights abusers and eventually would become law in 2012.

    This was the same law Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was lobbying against during her sit-down with Trump Jr. last year. And back in 2010, it would have put the Clintons on her side.

    Shortly before Bill Clinton’s speech in 2010, when members of Congress pushing the sanctions bill had asked Hillary Clinton to refuse visas to Russian officials implicated under the policy, the State Department denied the request. The Obama administration initially was opposed to the Magnitsky Act because then-President Barack Obama was seeking a “reset” with Russia and did not want to deepen the divide between the two countries.

    Former President Bill Clinton’s speech to Renaissance just weeks later was all the more curious, considering Renaissance’s Russian investment bank executives would have been banned from the U.S. under the law.

  • “Haiti Official Who Exposed The Clinton Foundation Is Found Dead:

    [Klaus] Eberwein was a former Haitian government official who was expected to expose the extent of Clinton Foundation corruption and malpractice next week.

    He has been found dead in Miami at the age of 50.

    The circumstances surrounding Eberwein’s death are also nothing less than unpalatable. According to Miami-Dade’s medical examiner records supervisor, the official cause of death is “gunshot to the head.“ Eberwein’s death has been registered as “suicide” by the government. But not long before his death, he acknowledged that his life was in danger because he was outspoken on the criminal activities of the Clinton Foundation.

    Eberwein was a fierce critic of the Clinton Foundation’s activities in the Caribbean island, where he served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, for three years. “The Clinton Foundation, they are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace,” Eberwein said at a protest outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan last year. Eberwein was due to appear on Tuesday before the Haitian Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where he was widely expected to testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors. But this “suicide” gets even more disturbing…

    Eberwein was only 50-years-old and reportedly told acquaintances he feared for his life because of his fierce criticism of the Clinton Foundation. His close friends and business partners were taken aback by the idea he may have committed suicide. “It’s really shocking,” said friend Gilbert Bailly. “We grew up together; he was like family.”

    During and after his government tenure, Eberwein faced allegations of fraud and corruption on how the agency he headed administered funds. Among the issues was FAES’ oversight of the shoddy construction of several schools built after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. But, according to Eberwein, it was the Clinton Foundation who was deeply in the wrong – and he intended to testify and prove it on Tuesday.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • If Hillary had won the election:

    Hillary and her campaign aides have long been involved with Russia for reasons of personal gain. Clinton herself got $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation for allowing Russia to take over twenty percent of all uranium production in the U.S. Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, is reaping the financial benefits of being on the board of a Russian company, Joule, which he did not disclose. Besides, the Left has historically loved Russia and wanted to emulate its authoritarian governments. They laughed when Mitt Romney, in 2012, named Russia as our most serious foreign policy problem. And Obama, even when he knew/believed that Russia was attempting to meddle in the election, he did nothing. They’ve done it for decades and so what? Hillary was going to win.

    Had Hillary been elected, the Clinton Foundation would be raking in even more millions than it did before. She would be happily selling access, favors and our remaining freedoms out from under us. She would be further eviscerating our military and she would be raising taxes to fund Obamacare even though it is a clear and present disaster. Anyone who doubts that should look up Hillarycare, the monstrosity she designed behind closed doors when her husband was in the White House. Her plan would dictate who could go to medical school, what specialty they would “choose,” and where they would be compelled to practice. Her plan was the U.K.’s NHS on steroids. Her plan was rationed care and death panels from hell.

    Had HRC won, she would be implementing thousands of new regulations on businesses to further hamstring the economy. She would let the fascist freaks at the Environmental Protection Agency have their way with every aspect of our daily lives: Our cars, our showerheads, our toilets, our rainwater in our yards, etc. She would, like the EPA under Obama, privilege any species, no matter how insignificant, over humans. Central California has been devastated by the environmentalists’ reverence for the delta smelt! Thousands of farm workers lost their jobs thanks to this lefty decision, turning a lush agricultural valley into a brown wasteland in the name of “going green.” This is the American left today.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • On the same theme: Remember when Hillary pledged to destroy fracking? (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is the gift that keeps giving. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Hillary Clinton Told FBI’s Mueller To Deliver Uranium To Russians In 2009 ‘Secret Plane-Side Tarmac Meeting.'” I’m including this in the roundup, even though there’s nothing necessarily untoward here, since the enriched uranium was “a ten-gram sample of highly enriched uranium (HEU) seized in early 2006 in Georgia [the country] during a nuclear smuggling sting operation” and was probably Russia’s anyway. But why would then-Secretary of State Clinton have then FBI Director Robert Mueller deliver it, since he wasn’t in her chain of command? It would seem to be a task that would fall to the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, or possibly the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has a treaty with the U.S. State Department about the transfer of such materials? And why tarmac-side? These two elements do seem…curious.
  • From Director Blue: the complete Hillary Election Loss Blame List:

  • Heh:

  • For the sake of completeness: Clinton critic Richard Smith found dead of apparent suicide. Honestly, I’m having a hard time believing this was a real case of Sudden Clinton Death Syndrome simply because I’d never heard of Smith until now. Honestly, I’d expect that even I would be higher up on that very long Clinton Critics to be Assassinated list… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • LinkSwarm for July 7, 2017

    Friday, July 7th, 2017

    It’s Friday on CNN Self-Immolation Week! And yes, there are a few CNN items at the top of this week’s LinkSwarm:

  • 4Chan declares the Great Meme War of 2017. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Trump just schlonged the media again.

    Just before a holiday, Trump does something that amuses the rest of us but shocks the media into doing nothing but talk about it over and over again while he enjoys his time off.

    Hmm.

    When had he done that before?

    Oh yes, just before Christmas 2015, Trump said Obama schlonged Hillary.

    (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)

  • How CNN abandoned its written standards to go after “HanAssholeSolo.”
  • Why the media has broken down in the age of Trump:

    There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale — that most of what you read, watch and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close.

    Snip.

    The behavior of much of the media, but especially the New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered.

    Snip.

    Here is a true story about how Abe Rosenthal resolved a conflict of interest. A young woman was hired by the Times from one of the Philadelphia newspapers. But soon after she arrived in New York, a story broke in Philly that she had had a romantic affair with a political figure she had covered, and that she had accepted a fur coat and other expensive gifts from him. When he saw the story, Abe called the woman into his office and asked her if it was true. When she said yes, he told her to clean out her desk — that she was finished at the Times and would never work there again. As word spread through the newsroom, some reporters took the woman’s side and rushed in to tell Abe that firing her was too harsh. He listened for about 30 seconds and said, in so many words, “I don’t care if you f–k an elephant on your personal time, but then you can’t cover the circus for the paper.”

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • The Democratic House IT Scandal deepens:

    A Pakistani family under criminal investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police for abusing their access to the House of Representatives information technology (IT) system may have engaged in myriad other questionable schemes besides allegedly placing “ghost employees” on the congressional payroll.

    Imran Awan, his wife Hina, and brothers Abid and Jamal collectively netted more than $4 million in salary as IT administrators for House Democrats between 2009 and 2017. Yet the absence of signs of wealth displayed among them raise questions such as was the money sent overseas or did something other than paychecks motivate their actions?

    Snip.

    Official documents, court records and multiple interviews suggest the crew may have engaged in tax fraud, extortion, bankruptcy fraud and insurance fraud and the money could have been funneled overseas. Abid has hired high-profile attorney James Bacon who specializes in anti-money laundering litigation.

    The Awans share modest homes, drive unremarkable cars and report little in the way of assets on congressional disclosures. The family owns significant amounts of Virginia rental properties, which are heavily financed, with second mortgages sometimes taken out. It’s unclear where the rental income goes because the Awans insist tenants pay in odd ways.

    The Daily Caller News foundation interviewed multiple current and former tenants who said Imran insisted rent be paid in untraceable ways. Many of those TheDCNF interviewed about the Awans asked not to be identified for fear of suffering retaliation by the family, particularly renters to whose homes Imran has keys.

    “He only wants cash — for the security deposit, everything. The mortgage is probably $600, we pay $1,800 a month,” one said.

    “I would write the rent to all sorts of different people,” another claimed. While still another tenant said the family insisted on blank money orders.

    Those interviewed also were puzzled that Congress kept the Awans on the payroll full-time when the family spent months of the year in Pakistan.

    The four Awans were each making approximately $160,000 a year on Capitol Hill. Other House IT workers told TheDCNF that the Awans appeared to hold no-show jobs, with bare-bones services provided, and it appeared one person was doing the work for the rest of them.

    Cristal Perpignan, a former Awan renter, said Imran instructed her to pay the rent to Imran’s friend, Rao Abbas, who lived in the basement of the home she occupied and was also on the House payroll as an IT worker. But Perpignan said Abbas spent his days at home.

    Imran’s wife purchased the home in 2008 for $470,000. A second mortgage was taken out in 2012, and — at least on paper — it was sold to Imran’s 22-year old brother Jamal in November 2016 for $620,000 — $43,000 more than its assessed value.

  • “Phoenix dropped their sanctuary city status and started enforcing the law…and crime rates went down.”
  • “Migrant smugglers in Honduras say their business has dried up since [President] Trump took office.” Also this: “Give Trump critics credit: They predicted he would destroy jobs, and they were right; he appears to have destroyed a considerable number of positions in the previously vibrant and lucrative illicit people-smuggling industry.”
  • How liberals gave up on telling the truth about immigration:

    In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

    The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama.

    Prominent liberals didn’t oppose immigration a decade ago. Most acknowledged its benefits to America’s economy and culture. They supported a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Still, they routinely asserted that low-skilled immigrants depressed the wages of low-skilled American workers and strained America’s welfare state.

    Snip.

    Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats became more and more confident that the country’s growing Latino population gave the party an electoral edge. To win the presidency, Democrats convinced themselves, they didn’t need to reassure white people skeptical of immigration so long as they turned out their Latino base. “The fastest-growing sector of the American electorate stampeded toward the Democrats this November,” Salon declared after Obama’s 2008 win. “If that pattern continues, the GOP is doomed to 40 years of wandering in a desert.”

    As the Democrats grew more reliant on Latino votes, they were more influenced by pro-immigrant activism. While Obama was running for reelection, immigrants’-rights advocates launched protests against the administration’s deportation practices; these protests culminated, in June 2012, in a sit-in at an Obama campaign office in Denver. Ten days later, the administration announced that it would defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and met various other criteria.

  • More on the ObamaCare expansion/opiate overdose link.
  • South African is contemplating seizing the land of white farmers without compensation. Because Zimbabwe is such a sterling model of economic success to emulate…
  • The battle for Raqqa continues, with U.S. supported forces having breached the Old City’s wall.
  • Russia hits the Islamic State with cruise missiles. Good. (Hat tip: Stephen Green.)
  • The text of President Trump’s address to Poland:

    Through four decades of communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity — indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit. (Applause.) Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken. (Applause.)

    And when the day came on June 2nd, 1979, and one million Poles gathered around Victory Square for their very first mass with their Polish Pope, that day, every communist in Warsaw must have known that their oppressive system would soon come crashing down. (Applause.) They must have known it at the exact moment during Pope John Paul II’s sermon when a million Polish men, women, and children suddenly raised their voices in a single prayer. A million Polish people did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: “We Want God.” (Applause.)

    In those words, the Polish people recalled the promise of a better future. They found new courage to face down their oppressors, and they found the words to declare that Poland would be Poland once again.

  • Speaking of Poland, they just agreed to buy Patriot missiles.
  • Austria deploys troops to Italy’s border to keep Muslim “refugees” out.
  • Czech Republic to enshrine right to bear arms in their constitution. Gee, why on earth would a nation situated between Germany and Russia need its citizens to own guns?
  • “Yeah, Abdul, we’re going to need to tweak your resume for this position. Instead of ‘Beheading Infidels,’ let’s put ‘Contractor.'”
  • Vladimir Putin and President Trump meet at the G20 summit.
  • Speaking of the G20 Summit, mostly peaceful protestors there commit the mostly peaceful arson for which they’ve become so well-known. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • German intelligence admits that hundreds of jihadis were among those Islamic “refugees.” Thanks again, Angela…
  • Study finds what conservatives have been saying for years: temperature readings have been systematically changed to support the global warming narrative:

    The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality. In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments,that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever – despite current claims of record setting warming.

  • “Democratic lawmakers voted 71-42 to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a $5 billion tax hike on Thursday.” Can’t possibly imagine how Illinois’ Democrats plan to tax and spend their way out of a financial hole could possibly backfire… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “From its founding in 1919 in the wake of the Russian Revolution until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Communist Party of the United States of America was an instrument of Soviet foreign policy.” Not that anyone should be unclear on the topic after all these years, but I’m sure the piece was a shock to at least some of the New York Times dwindling readership…
  • British woman convicted of making flase rape claims against 15 different men. One look at the convicted should tell that claims of multiple rapes are highly implausible. (Hat tip: Instaundit.)
  • Democrat Beto O’Rourke has raised over $1 million for his Senate race against Ted Cruz.
  • The ratings for some network TV shows are so bad that the networks are mispelling them to game ratings. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Common sense tips to keep your home from being broken into.
  • Scenes from Central America’s vibrant pre-Colombian diversity: Archeologists find an Aztec temple tower of skulls. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • AFSCME vs. 10 goats. (Hat tip: Mickey Kaus.)
  • Long, long, long article about video game maker Konami, where they actually get their money (fitness clubs and gambling machines), and how they came to treat their employees so poorly.
  • Tiny house regret.
  • And a few more CNN tweets:

  • Video from the Battle for Raqqa

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017

    The battle for the Islamic State capital of Raqqa continues. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces continue to advance, but recently met a fierce counterattack featuring drones, snipers, car bombs and minefields.

    Here are some videos on the fighting, all from foreign sources, since the American MSM evidently cant be arsed to spare anyone from their Russian Conspiracy Story divisions to cover an actual war American-backed forces are fighting.

    Reportedly the Syrian Democratic Forces are just a few hundred meters from the old city, where the Islamic State has dug in for a final battle, and has a network of tunnels to move throughout the city.

    This is a longer video from about a week ago that also includes an interview with a French Middle East expert on the situation.

    LinkSwarm for June 23, 2017

    Friday, June 23rd, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! There’s so much news I’m going to punt “The Pelosi Question” to the weekend:

  • In case you hadn’t noticed, illinois is going bankrupt.
  • John Podesta to testify before the House Intelligence committee. Hopefully they’ll ask him about the allegations in Shattered that he and Robby Mook cooked up the entire “Russia hacked the election” fantasy within 24 hours of Hillary’s loss. And also about his and his brother’s documented financial ties to Russia.
  • Former state Department/CIA employee charged with espionage for China:

    A former State Department employee was arrested Thursday and charged with espionage for allegedly transmitting Top Secret and Secret documents to a Chinese government agent, according to an affidavit filed with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.

    Kevin Mallory, 60, of Leesburg is a self-employed consultant who speaks fluent Chinese. Court filings show that Mallory was an Army veteran who worked as a special agent for U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service from 1987 to 1990. Since then, Mallory has worked for various government agencies and defense contractors, maintaining a Top Secret security clearance. The Washington Post reports that Mallory was also an employee of the CIA.

  • A lot of hardcore Democrats are becoming increasingly uneasy about the way that Trump Derangement Syndrome has warped their party:

    We do know that Wednesday’s congressional attacker, James Hodgkinson, shared a conspiracy-tinged Change.org link on March 22, accompanied by the caption, “Trump is a traitor.” Once again, it has to be stressed that this information is woefully insufficient to conclude that the perpetrator was motivated by Russia-oriented conspiracy theories. Motivations are multifaceted, and often political beliefs “intersect” with mental distress, causing people to act violently. But the sharing of the link does indicate that Hodgkinson has been affected by the frenzied climate Democrats have stoked around the Russia issue.

    Once again, for extra emphasis: calling attention to the link Hodgkinson shared is not to say that Democrats are directly culpable for this shooting. That would be ridiculous. But the shared link does show that he was to some extent enmeshed in the conspiratorial paranoia that Democrats have knowingly fostered, at full-blast, for approaching an entire year. One ancillary consequence of fostering conspiratorial paranoia for a full year is that certain people with unstable mental predispositions may latch on and commit violent acts. But Democrats and liberals, in their self-assuredness, have been reticent to acknowledge this byproduct of their current political strategy. Proclaiming that the president engaged in treason — as many members of Congress and media figures have — is going to have an influence on the broader public, and included in that broader public are people who might be deranged and/or have violent inclinations.

    If you deny that the kind of overblown rhetoric that Democrats have specialized in over the past months — warning about traitorous subterfuge and foreign infiltration — can have any trickle-down effect on regular people, you’re deluding yourself.

  • It looks like Democrats are learning all the wrong lessons from Jon Ossoff’s loss:

    Democrats want a resistance. They want to impeach the President. They want full-blown socialism. They want to go further to the left than the tea party wanted to go right. A lot of activist Democrats are already interpreting Jon Ossoff’s loss as him not being aggressively anti-Trump enough.

    The Democrat base has moved way further left than where the American public is and at a time we seem to be in a pendulum swing back to the right, that could hurt them. As they start challenging Democrat incumbents with more liberal activists and start winning primaries in swing seats with radical progressives, they risk their ability to win.

    What makes this fun to watch is knowing they reject that idea and think the more radical and more militant the more likely their candidates will win. I cannot wait to watch their slate of moonbat crazy challengers.

  • All those “Ossoff’s loss was a moral victory” excuses? Vox says don’t believe it: “Don’t sugarcoat it — Ossoff’s loss is a big disappointment, and a bad sign, for Democrats. Democrats need to outperform Hillary Clinton to take back the House. Ossoff did worse than her.”
  • As bad as political violence is now, the 1960s and early 1970s were much worse.
  • Phil Montag, technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party, was caught on audio saying he was glad Rep> Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot and wishing he had died. Make that the ex-technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party. Good. Pink slips seem to be the only thing these people pay attention to. (Hat tip: Gabriel Malor’s Twitter feed.)
  • “A professor at a Connecticut college said he was forced to flee the state after he received death threats for appearing to endorse the idea that first responders to last week’s congressional shooting should have let the victims ‘f**king die’ instead of treating them.” Step right up, Trinity College Professor Johnny Eric Williams! You’re the next contestant on “Trump Derangement Syndrome Ruined My Life!”
  • And speaking of Democrats losing it, “Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused ex-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson of lying under oath when he said the DNC refused the help of the DHS in their hacking scandal.”
  • “This May was the Democratic National Committee’s worst May of fundraising since 2003. The DNC raised $4.29 million in May of this year, according to data recently released by the Federal Election Commission. It is the weakest take for national Democrats since May of 2003, when the party raised a paltry $2.7 million.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Did 5.7 million illegal aliens vote in 2008? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • President Trump follows through on his campaign promise to kill deferred action for illegal alien parents, AKA DAPA.
  • TPPF’s Chris Jacobs is not impressed with the Republican Senate ObamaCare replacement bill. TPPF’s Chip Roy said:

    Simply put, the bill doubles down on the fundamentally flawed architecture of Obamacare and if implemented, will neither increase the actual care available to the people nor drive down the cost of care or insurance. It maintains Obamacare’s subsidy regime, retains almost the entirety of the regulatory architecture driving up people’s premiums and deductibles, continues the previous Administration’s unconstitutional bailouts to insurers, and maintains the Medicaid expansion for five more years before slowly attempting to reform the program.

  • More on the same subject: “Top Ten Ways Senate Obamacare Bill Is #FakeRepeal.”
  • ObamaCare tweet:

  • Liberal lawyer Alan Dershowitz states that Presidnet Trump’s tape bluff is perfectly legal. “What President Trump did was no different from what prosecutors, defense attorneys, policemen, FBI agents and others do every day in an effort to elicit truthful testimony from mendacious witnesses.” Also: “We must declare an armistice against using our criminal justice system as a political weapon in what has become a zero-sum bloodsport.”
  • Saudi king replaces crown prince with his own son.
  • Saudis foil Iranian sabotage attack on their offshore oilfields.
  • “Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Russia Over Ukraine.” Insert record scratch sound over derailment of the “Trump is Putin’s stooge” narrative here. Oh, also, New York Times: When you invade, occupy and annex territory, it’s not an “incursion,” it’s an “invasion.”
  • Helmut Kohl, the chancellor who oversaw German reunification, dead at age 87. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Remember all those “refugees” Angela Merkel invited in? “Up to three quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Trump Administration Begins to Dismantle Obama Campus Rape Tribunals.” Good.
  • “CENTCOM confirms Islamic State’s ‘Grand Mufti’ killed in airstrike…Turki al-Bin’ali was killed in a May 31 airstrike in Mayadin, Syria.”
  • Amazon buying Whole Foods ties into their overall strategy of high fixed costs and returns to scale.
  • Alternate view: Amazon buying Whole Foods is this cycle’s AOL/Time Warner merger.
  • East Lansing, Michigan punishes man for daring to express pro-Christian thoughtcrime on Facebook.
  • “The amount of labor that once bought 54 minutes of light now buys 52 years of light. The cost has fallen by a factor of 500,000 and the quality of that light has transformed from unstable and risky to clean, safe, and controllable.”
  • The year-by-year descent into airline hell. But: More people are flying than ever before, and airlines are actually profitable. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Man almost dies after getting swept away by a river while hiking, learns important survival lessons. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Harvard introduces segregated commencement ceremony for black students. next up: Their own water fountains.
  • “A mentally ill homeless woman in Florida is accused of vandalizing a policeman’s patrol car and smearing feces on a church where she left the walls defaced with nonsensical writings against ‘patriarchy.'”
  • F-35 puts on an impressive demonstration at the Paris Air Show. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • F-16 catches fire at Houston airport.
  • The meaning of Bill Cosby’s hung jury:

    The extraordinarily high prosecutorial burden of proof in any criminal trial is intentionally designed to heavily favor defendants, because we long ago embraced as a society Blackstone’s principle. Formulated in the seventeen-sixties by the English jurist William Blackstone, the presumption is that it is better to have ten guilty people go free than that one innocent person suffer. Hard as it is to stomach today, embracing that calculus means that we should even want ten rapists (not to mention terrorists and murderers) to go free in order to protect the one falsely accused. Unfortunately, Cosby is one of those to escape criminal punishment. And, to put a fine point on the over-all gendered impact of requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the inevitable effect of the heavy tilt toward defendants is that in sexual-assault trials, which involve mostly male defendants and mostly female accusers, men are favored over women.

    What works in Bill Cosby’s favor also works in Bill Clinton’s favor… (Hat tip: Christina Hoff Summers’ Twitter feed.)

  • 15 companies that made great games that still went bust. Spoiler: The phrase “bought by EA” appears a lot.
  • Colin Kaepernick seems to have decided that his career is indeed over. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Whipped cream fatality.
  • And that gives me the thinnest of possible justifications to post this classic:

  • LinkSwarm for June 12, 2017

    Monday, June 12th, 2017

    Enjoy a late, out-of-band LinkSwarm to start your week:

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions is serious about border control:

    Sessions said 25 judges have already been deployed to detention centers on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Politico. Another 50 judges will be “on the bench” later this year. A separate 75 judges will be added in fiscal 2018 at a cost of $80 million.

    The need is obvious. About half of all federal arrests in 2014 were for immigration crimes, and 93 percent of that figure took place at or near the border, the Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported.

  • Leaked diplomatic cables show concern by other U.S. allies in the region that Qatar was backing terrorist groups.
  • More background on the Qatar vs. every other Sunni gulf state feud.
  • “President Trump continues to make sterling judicial nominations.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Trump as our Claudius.
  • Pundits keep telling President Trump he has to give up tweeting. Why would he, when his tweets make the media dance to his tune? (Hat tip: Scott Adams.)
  • “Obama Admin Did Not Publicly Disclose Iran Cyber-Attack During ‘Side-Deal’ Nuclear Negotiations.” Because why protect America’s cybersecurity when you can give billions to a jihad-supporting regime to sign a treaty they’ll refuse to follow?
  • “12 Democrat staffers arrested, charged with voter fraud.”
  • Congress should investigate if Attorney General Lynch pressured Comey to cover for Hillary Clinton, says notorious right-wing shill…Dianne Feinstein? (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Now that Democrats are getting getting hefty support from moneyed elites, they’re not so keen on wealth redistribution.
  • The Strange Death of Scottish Nationalism.” The Tories did badly in the snap election, but the Scottish National Party did much, much worse.
  • How Theresa May screwed up. And why on earth was she using Jim Messina as a political consultant? Because he did such a smashing job on the “Remain” campaign?
  • “EU, UN siphon off 100 million Euro annually to groups running anti-Israel campaign.”
  • “UK government paid London jihad mass murderer’s brother to fight ‘extremism.'”
  • Jim Goad covers the lunacy at Evergreen College. Tidbit: “The school bears the dubious distinction of being ‘one of the least selective universities in the nation with an admittance rate of 98%.'” *Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • So much news dropped last week that I didn’t get around to posting on the arrest of NSA contractor Reality Winner for leaking classified information. And does the name “Reality Winner” mean we’re living in a Philip K. Dick novel? Or a Thomas Pynchon novel?
  • But we should lit Winner’s weird name distract us from the fact she’s a complete and utter moron, “not only printing the document from her NSA computer but emailing the Intercept using her personal Gmail account from the same computer.” (More on printing microdot technology.
  • In any case, the MSM is omitting Winner’s long, documented history of far-left political activism.
  • “The Democrats don’t have a ‘white working-class problem.’ They have a ‘working-class problem.” Caveat: Lots of leftist blather. But it’s refreshing to see liberals admit just how badly the Obama economy sucked. (Hat tip: Mickey Kaus.)
  • Tweet:

  • “Italy’s populist Five Star Movement humiliated in municipal elections.” That’s Beppe Grillo’s left-wing populist Euroskeptic Party. Between this and France’s election, was Brexit the high-water mark of Euroskepticism? Maybe, until the next economic crisis.
  • Speaking of which, the slow-motion Spanish banking panic continues apace, and Spanish regulators have imposed a ban on short-selling.
  • Adam West, RIP.
  • Flying Goth.
  • Attempted cereal killing.
  • Joe’s Crab Shack files for bankruptcy.
  • “Man Fashions Fabulously Tiny Hats for Toad Who Visits His Porch Every Day.”
  • Theresa May Screws Up

    Friday, June 9th, 2017

    Despite having an absolute majority in Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May gambled she could increase Tory numbers in Parliament, strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, and KO the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party by calling a snap election.

    The result: the Tories lost 12 seats and Labour picked up 29, meaning that the Tories no longer have an absolute majority. Because they still have the most seats in Parliament, the Tories will still get first crack at forming a coalition government, most likely with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. “For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, we will ensure there’s a Tory PM.”

    Oddly enough, both Conservatives and Labour gained vote share at the expense of the minor parties. The conservatives increased their share of votes in Scotland, where they took several seats from the Scottish National Party. The Liberal Democrats gained three seats.

    I said when she scheduled the snap election that it was a bold but risky move, and it backfired. I think “campaign fatigue” might have had a role in May’s defeat, a classic “Hubris clobbered by Nemesis” move.

    If there’s one pattern to 21st century electoral politics, it’s apparently “never believe polls.”

    (Administrative note: So much news dropped yesterday that the LinkSwarm will probably be pushed out to Monday.)

    China: Ghost Cities and Ghost Collateral

    Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

    Remember China’s ghost cities, the sprawling, mostly-empty cities built across China on credit?

    Well say hello to ghost collateral:

    Back in 2014, a scandal erupted when media reports confirmed what many had previously speculated about China’s banking system: namely that much of China’s staggering loan issuance had been built (literally) upon air and that billions (or trillions) in loan collateral had been “rehypothecated” between two, three or many more debtors – or never even existed – forcing banks to accept that they would never recover much if any of the pledged collateral – in most cases various commodities – if the economy were to suffer a hard-landing resulting in mass defaults. The most famous example involved collateral fraud at China’s 3rd largest port, Qingdao, where numerous borrowers were found to have “pledged” the same collateral of steel and copper to obtain funding from various banks.

    So how extensive is the problem?

    At risk of spoiling the surprise, what has been going on in China, either in conventional asset-backed lending, as well as among the more esoteric, complex commodity-funded deals, which we discussed extensively in the early part of 2013 is nothing less than pure fraud: in some cases, collateral that has been pledged simply doesn’t exist. In others, it disappears as borrowers in financial distress sell the assets. There are also instances in which the same collateral has been pledged to multiple lenders, i.e. rehypothecated. “One lawyer said he discovered that the same pile of steel was used to secure loans from 10 different lenders” Reuters reports.

    And while China was able to brush off its “ghost collateral” problems three years ago when it still had substantial debt incurrence capacity, and debt/GDP was about 100% lower, now that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the Ponzi scheme – by definition – running, especially with the recent crackdown on shadow banking, the pervasive collateral problems are about to become a huge headache for Beijing again: with the mainland facing its slowest growth in over a quarter of a century, defaults are mounting as borrowers struggle to repay their loans.

    It’s long been known that China’s economy is built, to some extent, on smoke and mirrors (even more so than our own economy). But it looks like it might be smoke and mirrors all the way down…

    Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar

    Sunday, June 4th, 2017

    This seems more than a regular diplomatic row:

    Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations and all land sea and air contacts with fellow Gulf Arab state Qatar on Monday, saying the move was necessary to protect the kingdom from what it described as terrorism and extremism.

    The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt also cut ties with Qatar on Monday.

    Crude and natural gas prices jumped after the news with global benchmark Brent up 1.42 percent to $50.66 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate up 1.45 percent to $48.35 a barrel. U.S. natural gas prices quoted at the U.S. Henry Hub jumped 1.37 percent to $3.040 per million British thermal units.

    Saudi Arabia’s official state news agency, citing an official source, said the kingdom had decided to sever diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar “proceeding from the exercise of its sovereign right guaranteed by international law and the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

    Saudi Arabia cut all land air and sea contacts with Qatar “and urges all brotherly countries and companies to do the same.”

    It’s long been an open secret that wealthy Qataris were the primary financial backers of the Islamic State. By contrast, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt are all U.S. military allies.

    There’s been talk that Qatar wants to take a more conciliatory stance toward Iran, a move that has not been well-received by it’s fellow Sunni gulf states. It’s especially odd since Qatari soldiers have died defending the Saudi border as part of the Saudi fight with Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen.

    Could the harder line against Qatar be a side effect of President Trump’s recent trip to the Middle East? Maybe. Trump has set about fixings Obama’s foreign policy mistakes, and the Islamic State and the asinine Iran Deal are two of the biggest. And maybe a businessman like Trump thinks the easiest way to cramp the Islamic State’s style is to cut off their sugar daddy.

    It’s worth a try…

    Philippines Invasion Update

    Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

    Remember last Wednesday’s piece on Islamic State-affiliated fighters invading Marawi City in the Philippines? How are things looking there?

    Much worse:

    A Muslim militant group linked to ISIS attacked and took control of parts of Marawi city on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines last week. Philippine government troops have been evacuating civilians and fighting back, with soldiers on the ground and attack aircraft in the sky. Gunmen from local terrorist groups with ties to ISIS, called the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf, overran the city, leading President Rodrigo Duterte to declare 60 days of martial law in Mindanao, as 85,000 residents fled to evacuation centers. While the government says it has now regained control of most of the city, fighting continues, and the death toll has climbed to nearly 100.

    Seems like last week’s “at least 15 gunman” may be on the low side.

    And the Maute fighters are bringing the Islamic State’s usual tidings of light and joy:

    In Marawi City, the Maute showed that it can be as brutal as ISIS. It executed eight city residents and dumped their bodies into the ravine, their hands tied behind their backs and with a sign saying “Munafik” (meaning hypocrite). Eyewitnesses said the terrorists took away those who could not recite the Islamic prayers. They beheaded hostages, killed military men and police, burned government facilities, destroyed hospitals and schools, and in general acted like lunatics out to destroy the city.

    DefenseOne offers up this map of the fighting.

    The latest reports say that Philippines armed forces have cleared 90% of Marawi City. Maute also claims it holds 200 hostages, though it could be exaggerating quite a bit.

    The Trump Administration has officially voiced support for the Duterte Administration’s fight against Maute.

    Here’s a WSJ video report that says the Islamic State assault on Marawi City may have been triggered by attempts to arrest Abu Sayyaf head Isnilon Hapilon (wanted by the FBI for beheading American Guillermo Sobero), and mentions the possible presence of foreign fighters: