Monthly Archives: January 2011

>Middle East File: Islamic Action Front, trade unions, leftists lead anti-government protests in Amman, demand Jordanian PM resign

>Political unrest in the Arab world has spread from North Africa to Jordan which, like Egypt, has a peace treaty with Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood is not only leading anti-government protests in Egypt, but also in Jordan, where the national chapter is called the Islamic Action Front. Yesterday, Al Jazeera reported on protests taking place in the capital Amman:

Thousands of people in Jordan have taken to the streets in protests, demanding the country’s prime minister step down, and the government curb rising prices, inflation and unemployment. In the third consecutive Friday of protests, about 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan’s main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organisations gathered in the capital, waving colourful banners reading: “Send the corrupt guys to court”.

The crowd denounced Samir Rifai’s, the prime minister, and his unpopular policies. Many shouted: “Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians.”

Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai’s ouster.

King Abdullah has promised some reforms, particularly with respect to election laws. However, many Jordanians believe he will not cave in to demands for the election by parliament of the prime minister and his cabinet officials. These are traditionally appointed by the king.

>Africa File: Egyptian dictator Mubarak orders government ministers to resign, but backs armed response to oppositionists after 5th day of protest

>– Gaza-Egypt Border Unpatrolled, Hamas Infiltrating Egypt, Collaborating with Muslim Brotherhood in Anti-Mubarak Protests (source)

– Protesters Briefly Occupy Egyptian Embassy in Caracas, Egyptian-Venezuelans Express Solidarity with Anti-Mubarak Forces (source)

– Egyptian Government Blocks Internet, Text Messaging, Data Planning Services in Parts of Country

– Mubarak Sends Goon Squads into Streets of Cairo, Baseball Bat-Wielding Plain-Clothes “Baltageya” Employed by State Security

– Egyptian Communists Endorse Removal of Mubarak Regime at Party Website, Applaud Ben Ali’s Ouster in Tunisia

– US University Professor Warns of Danger of Islamic Fundamentalists or Communists Taking Over Egypt, Nullifying Peace Treaty with Israel

On Saturday, January 29, Egypt’s political opposition continued its street protests against the dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak for the fifth straight day. The government has imposed a curfew upon the population, which the otherwise respected institution of the Egyptian army has threatened to enforce. Thus far, most confrontations with anti-government protesters have taken place with the police, who do not enjoy the military’s prestige.

After four days of pitched street battles, Mubarak budged, if only slightly, sacking his government ministers. The New York Times reports that Mubarak “appeared on television early Saturday morning and ordered his government to resign, but backed his security forces’ attempts to contain the surging unrest around the country that has shaken his three-decade-long authoritarian rule.” Significantly, “He did not offer to step down himself and spent much of his speech explaining the need for stability, saying that while he was ‘on the side of freedom,’ his job was to protect the nation from chaos.”

Friday’s demonstrations began with tens of thousands of oppositionists taking to the streets of Cairo (pictured above) and the historic port city of Alexandria. The anti-government protests in Egypt ride on the crest of political unrest throughout the Arab world, beginning in Tunisia, where President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted one week ago, and spreading to Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen.

Spearheading the anti-Mubarak movement is Mohamed El Baradei, a presidential aspirant and former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. El Baradei returned to Egypt on Thursday, ending his exile in Austria. He joined the street protests in Cairo, but shortly thereafter sought refuge in a mosque after police attacked him with water cannon. Incidentally, under El Baradei’s watch, the IAEA gave Iran’s nuclear program a pass mark with respect to apparently having no ambitions to build atomic warheads.

After an initial reticence, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and best organized opposition force in Egypt, has also sent its cadres into the streets to agitate for regime change. At least five senior leaders and five former members of parliament were arrested in raids.

“Two, three days ago I didn’t think the Brotherhood would join the protests because they thought it would be business as usual,” comments Josh Stacher, a political scientist at Kent State University who specializes in modern Egypt studies. “But I think the Brothers realize it’s on now. They sense they’ve got a legit chance of chasing Mubarak out of the country.”

In addition to water cannon trucks, security forces, which are stationed along Cairo’s main avenues, are armed with tear gas and rubber bullets. At least five protesters have been killed since Tuesday and the government admits 800 people have been detained. Human rights groups report there have been more than 2,000 arrests.

In an attempt to thwart opposition strategizing, the Egyptian government ordered telecommunications company Vodafone to suspend service in parts of the country, blocking Internet, text messaging, and data planning services. It has also deployed goon squads throughout the capital.

On his Twitter feed, CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman reported that the government has sent “waves” of baltageya, plain-clothes thugs employed by state security, into the streets to intimidate protesters. Wedeman witnessed a car load of baseball bats arriving on the grounds of the government TV building. Incidentally, some people like Wedeman still have Internet access via cellphones registered in foreign countries.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama straddled the fence by noting that political reforms were “absolutely critical” to Egypt’s “long-term well-being,” while acknowledging Mubarak is a “critical U.S. ally” in the Arab world. The Christian Science Monitor opines: “Egyptians pushing for regime change and democracy in Egypt have won this round, simply by making good on their promise of the largest protest against the government since three days of bread riots in 1977.”

The website of the Communist Party of Egypt is outspoken in its endorsement of the street protests against Mubarak, as well as the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia. Wave Nunnally, professor of Biblical studies at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri was quoted by the local News-Leader as warning: “Should Islamic fundamentalists or Communists take over they would probably declare the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel null and void, which would inject more instability into the region.”

In spite of some party name changes, the same regime has essentially held sway in Egypt since 1952, when military officer Gamal Abdel Nasser and his cohorts in the Free Officers’ Movement overthrew King Farouk I. In 1949, Nasser organized the founding committee of the Free Officers, which consisted of 14 men from different political backgrounds, including Young Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Communist Party of Egypt, as well as the aristocracy. Nasser aligned his country with the Soviet Union.

>Red Terror File: Medvedev sacks transport top cop as “FSB trace” lurks behind Moscow airport bombing, suspect emerges but no claims of responsibility

>– Chechen Rebel Leader Umarov Blamed FSB for Organizing 2010 Moscow Metro Suicide Bombing

– They Just Don’t Get It File: NORAD/US NORTHCOM Commander Overlooks Kremlin’s Plausible Deniability “Card” in Domodedovo Attack

Following the deadly bombing at Russia’s busiest airport this past Monday, President Dmitry Medvedev has fired Major General Andrei Alexeyev, a top official of the country’s transport police. Ahead of next year’s presidential election, Medvedev, who is widely perceived as Vladimir Putin’s “lap dog,” appears anxious to assert that he is “in control” after suicide bombers killed 35 people at Domodedovo International Airport.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Putin, with his characteristic “tough guy” swagger, vowed retribution for the attack, but specified no targets.

The Kremlin-controlled Russian news media, generally citing unnamed sources, have portrayed the bombing as conducted by a man and a woman, and that the bomb was either strapped to one of them or in a suitcase. At least one accomplice drove the “Black Widow” and her male colleague to the airport. According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, quoting witnesses interviewed by Russian TV news, the male bomber, just before the device detonated, shouted: “I’ll kill you all!”

Witness Artyom Zhilinkov related to Pravda: “He blew himself up in front of my very eyes. It was a man, he was wearing a black coat and a black hat – that’s all I can remember. He literally blew up into pieces.” The explosion sprayed the airport’s baggage claim area with shrapnel, screws, and ball bearings, and dismembered innocent travellers. Zhilinkov survived the tremendous blast because he hid behind a column.

In addition to the dead, more than 170 people were injured. Eight foreigners were killed, including two Austrians, two Tajiks, and one each from Britain, Germany, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The bombing has demoralized many Russians, weary of 16 years of separatist violence in the Northern Caucasus region, including last year’s double suicide-bombing of the Moscow subway system, in which 40 people were killed.

Tellingly, at least for those seeking an “FSB trace” behind the latest atrocity in Russia, no claim of responsibility for the bombing has been made. In our first post on this subject, we reported that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB) was aware that a terrorist attack might take place at Domodedovo but, apparently, did nothing to improve security at the airport. This is suspicious in itself.

Some reports have suggested that the suicide bombers were Islamic guerrillas from Chechnya or Dagestan, such as the Nogai Brigade, an insurgent group in the Stavropol region of southern Russia. The Nogai Brigade allegedly operates under the operational umbrella of the Imarat Kavkaz, or Caucasus Emirate. Imarat Kavkaz was formed in 2007 with the objective of implementing Islamic law in the North Caucasus.

The latest wave of terrorism in Russia began in February 2010, when Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov announced that Russian cities would be included in his organization’s “zone of military operations.” Umarov claimed responsibility for the March 29, 2010 Metro suicide bombing in Moscow. The Georgian media, however, quoted Umarov as blaming the FSB itself for the Metro attack:

An audio address of head of the Caucasus Emirate of Doku Umarov appeared in the Internet, in which he states that the explosions in the Moscow metro were organized by the FSB. “The Chechens would not have done that. They have done everything as though Russian security services had nothing to do with this, but in reality they are guilty. The FSB is to be blamed for the explosions in Moscow,” – said Umarov. According to official figures, 39 people were killed during the explosion in the Moscow metro.

A previous attack on the Moscow Metro took place in 2004.

With respect to the latest terrorist attack in Moscow, Vitaly Razdobudko, 32, has emerged as the chief suspect (pictured above). Investigators allege Razdobudko has been missing from his apartment in the southern resort town of Pyatigorsk in the Stavropol region since last November, along with his wife and a newborn baby. Police reportedly zeroed in on Vitaly Razdobudko after connecting him to the Nogai Brigade and a December 31, 2010 bomb blast at a home in Moscow. In that incident, a would-be Black Widow accidentally blew herself up.

Razdobudko converted from Christianity (presumably Russian Orthodoxy) and adopted Islam when he was a student in the local technical university. He was formally converted by a local imam in Pyatigorsk, a Russian named Anton Stepanenko. Stepanenko, whose Muslim name is Abdullah, was convicted of holding a man hostage in 2006. At the time, police found Wahhabist literature, audio and video materials, as well as a manual on explosives, in Stepanenko’s home.

In the light of Umarov’s self-defense, we can only speculate that Stepanenko may be an “arm’s length” asset for recruiting and brainwashing Islamic terrorists on behalf of the FSB.

According to state-run Novosti, Razdobudko was not the man seen at Domodedovo. A video camera “clearly shows that it is a different person,” a police source told the agency. Instead, he is suspected of being a possible organizer of the January 24 suicide attack.

US terrorism experts and authorities were quick to offer a synopsis of the Moscow airport tragedy. Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, commented: “In the last five years, the Russians believed they had pacified the problem. But the attack on the subway last year and this attack [on January 24, 2011] underscore there are festering issues and conflicts still unresolved.”

Ironically, especially for those of us who suspect Domodedovo was another case of plausible deniability for the Kremlin ahead of a Spetsnaz-led WMD attack on US soil, NORAD/US NORTHCOM commander Admiral James Winnefeld made the following observation about US-Russian relations:

People think of us and the Russians as adversaries, and we’re not, and particularly in this area. We feel very badly for what happened to them in Moscow because that could have just as easily happened here. Military-to-military relations between the U.S. and Russia are improving. I would welcome the opportunity, candidly, and I would also welcome the opportunity to host a Russian counterpart here.

Winnefeld’s strategically naïve worldview proves that the Soviet communists may have lost the Cold War economically, but they won it ideologically. US Northern Command and the joint US-Canadian military command known as the North American Aerospace Defence Command are both headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

>Africa File: Egypt’s socialist dictatorship uses 1981 emergency law to suppress Tunisian-inspired protests, riot police disperse opposition in Cairo

>– Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s Largest Opposition Group, Promises “Strong Presence” in Protests Slated for January 28

– Tunisia’s Interim Government Issues Arrest Warrant for Deposed President Ben Ali, Releases Political Prisoners

– Tunisian General Workers’ Union Announces General Strike with Intent of Toppling Interim Government

Political unrest continues to sweep across North Africa, challenging long-ruling socialist dictatorships.

In Egypt, unprecedented protests against President Hosni Mubarak have entered their third day as regime opponents converge in central Cairo, awaiting the arrival in country of main opposition figure, former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed El Baradei. Protesters are demanding that the long-ruling National Democratic Party, which descends from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab Socialist Union, dissolve itself. Mubarak became president after Anwar Sadat, who signed Egypt’s current peace accord with Israel, was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists in the army.

Clashes between oppositionists and security forces were also reported in the eastern Egyptian city of Ismaliya.

On Wednesday morning, an Egyptian opposition group called for a second day of protests in Cairo, just hours after police fired tear gas and beat anti-government protesters to clear a central square in the city. The 6th of April Youth Movement used its Facebook page to urge oppositionists to continue their defiance of President Mubarak’s 30-year-old regime.

The day before, rock-throwing demonstrators occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square for hours, resisting attempts to dislodge them by police wielding tear gas and water cannons. The demonstrations began peacefully, with police at first showing restraint. Several witnesses, however, allege the clashes began after protesters attempted to seize a water cannon truck. After Tuesday’s protest, which was illegal under a 1981 emergency law, Egypt’s Interior Ministry promptly re-banned all new demonstrations.

Several thousand Egyptians demonstrated in the historic port city of Alexandria. There were also large protests in Mansoura and Mahalla al-Kobra. Three protesters and a police officer were killed in Tuesday’s unrest. The latter was inspired by Tunisia’s so-called Jasmine Revolution, which led to the ouster one week ago of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Since Ben Ali’s departure from Tunisia, at least five Egyptians have attempted suicide by self-immolation, imitating the young Tunisian whose burning death in December rallied protesters there. Similar protest marches and self-immolations have occurred in defiance of Algeria’s long-ruling National Liberation Front regime, prompting a swift police crackdown in Algiers.

Egypt’s opposition groups, including the Kifaya movement, used Facebook and Twitter to organize the protests. However, on Tuesday Twitter’s owners stated their social networking website had been blocked in Egypt, presumably by government authorities. Legal parties such as the liberal Wafd and the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and best organized opposition group, did not officially endorse the demonstrations, but a number of their members participated. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, has promised a “strong presence” in demonstrations slated for January 28.

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s interim government, which is still dominated by former members of the long-ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally, have issued an arrest warrant for Ben Ali and his family. The Ben Ali clan is charged with theft and currency offenses. Interpol has been asked to help arrest the deposed president, his wife Leila Trabelsi, and other family members who have fled the country. According to interim Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, Ben Ali, who is reportedly in Saudi Arabia, “amassed vast riches” during his 23 years in power, while his family controlled many of Tunisia’s most influential companies.

Chebbi also noted that six members of the presidential guard will be tried for inciting violence after Ben Ali’s departure. He indicated that 2,460 prisoners had been released since last week, but would not reveal how many were jailed for alleged political crimes. Immediately after Ben Ali’s flight from Tunisia, the prime minister promised to release all political prisoners.

The Tunisian General Workers’ Union, a prime mover in the anti-government protests, announced a general strike on Wednesday in Sfax, Tunisia’s second city and economic center.

>EU File: Violent demos rock Tirana, police kill three protesters, Albania’s “ex”-communist PM accuses “ex”-communist party of staging “coup d’etat”

>Blogger’s Note: Albania is not a member of the European Union. However, we have placed this news item in our “EU File” category since many former communist states have relations with the EU.

This past Friday, Albania’s opposition Socialist Party, once the ruling Marxist-Leninist party, participated in a violent protest against the government, which is led by the ostensibly center-right Democratic Party. Police shot dead three protesters, while a fourth remains in a critical condition.

Albania’s parliament has voted to establish a special commission to investigate the deadly demonstration. In an extraordinary parliamentary session, Prime Minister Sali Berisha accused opposition leaders, who are “former” communists like himself, of attempting to seize power in a failed coup attempt.

“This inquiry commission will examine all the evidence to reveal the truth about the coup d’etat staged January 21 with the aim of overthrowing the constitutional order,” intoned parliament speaker Jozefina Topalli. The commission will have a three-month-mandate to investigate the clashes, which took place when tens of thousands of people demonstrated outside government headquarters in downtown Tirana (pictured above).

Albania has been in a political standoff since its last elections in July 2009. The Socialist Party refuses to recognize the results, blocking legislation and reforms in parliament. Despite pleas for peace from international representatives, Berisha has summoned Democratic Party supporters to meet in Tirana next Saturday for an “anti-violence rally.” Socialist leader and Tirana mayor Edi Rama also called for new protests after attending the burials of two of the victims on Sunday.

Albania is a “former” communist state that once hosted a Soviet submarine base on the Adriatic Sea. Prior to communist partisans seizing power at the end of the Second World War, the country was under the domination of Fascist Italy, which invaded in 1939. Albanians are the dominant ethnic group in Kosovo, the neighboring Serbian province that many countries worldwide (except Serbia and Russia) recognize as an independent state. The Albanian government, fearing Serbia as a potential enemy, joined NATO in 2009.

>Africa/Middle East Files: Protests, riots inspired by Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” erupt in Algeria, Yemen, Egypt, demand removal of dictators

>– Tunisia’s Main Trade Union “Instrumental” in Downfall of Ben Ali Regime, Organizes “Caravan of Liberation” March to Oust Interim Government

– Self-Immolations Spread to Algeria in Defiance of 50-Year Rule of National Liberation Front

– Yemeni President Denies Authoritarian Nature of Regime, Contends with Marxist Separatists in South, Six Soldiers Killed in Ambush

This past Friday, relatives of Tunisia’s ousted president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, arrived in Canada, an official of Ottawa’s Citizenship and Immigration Department told Agence France-Presse and Postmedia News in an email. However, Canadian official Douglas Kellam made it clear that the Ben Ali clan is persona non grata: “Mr. Ben Ali, deposed members of the former Tunisian regime and their immediate families are not welcome in Canada.”

One of Ben Ali’s many brothers-in-law arrived in Montreal aboard a private jet accompanied by his wife, their children, and a governess, Kellam related. Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Trabelsi, has several brothers, but it was unclear which one had arrived in Canada. Members of Ben Ali’s family reportedly checked into a hotel in Montreal.

The deposed president’s daughter, Nesrine Ben Ali, and her husband, businessman Sakher El Materi, purchased a US$2.5-million home in the upscale, English-speaking Montreal neighborhood of Westmount two years ago. The stately house is currently uninhabited and partly under construction. Tunisia’s central bank seized El Materi’s own bank last week.

Ben Ali himself has sought refuge in another authoritarian regime, Saudi Arabia, where Christians and Jews can be executed for spreading their beliefs, even though Western countries have welcomed hate-spewing Islamic radicals and terrorists with open arms.

On Saturday, hundreds of mutinous police officers joined thousands of protesters in Tunis in a rally against interim Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi. They called on the new government to quit because of the presence of old regime figures in key posts, including Ghannouchi, as well as the defense, interior, and foreign ministers. Pictured above: More anti-government protests in Tunis on January 24.

At the same time, a protest march backed by the Tunisian General Workers’ Union, which has played an instrumental role in the recent upheaval, departed central Tunisia for the capital in a bid to topple the interim government. Participants dubbed their protest a “Caravan of Liberation” and spent their first night in Regueb, a town 265 kilometers south of Tunis, and claimed their march would gather momentum as it moved toward the capital.

Meanwhile, protests and riots inspired by Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” have spread to other Arab countries with authoritarian regimes, such as Algeria, Yemen, and Egypt.

In Algiers, police, armed with batons and tear gas, clashed with 300 pro-democracy protesters on Saturday, leaving multiple casualties, as they blocked a march on parliament. The opposition said at least 42 people were injured during the six-hour standoff, including two seriously. The Interior Ministry insisted that the number of injured was only 19, including 11 protestors or passers-by, and eight police.

Said Sadi, head of the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy, admitted the protest was organized in defiance of a government ban. The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights warned that “the blanket government ban on peaceful protest could cause social upheaval” in the North African country. “The fact of banning peaceful marches undertaken by the parties and civil society is leading us towards an explosion,” ALDHR president Mostefa Bouchachi told the AFP news agency.

Also on Saturday, Karim Bendine, 35, died in a hospital in Douera, a suburb of Algiers, where he was admitted earlier last week with most of his body covered in third-degree burns. Bendine had set himself alight near the town hall of Dellys, near the capital, for unknown reasons. Seven other Algerians have immolated themselves since January 12, apparently inspired by the self-immolation in Tunisia of 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi, whose protest suicide against unemployment unleashed a wave of violent protests that ended in the ouster of strongman Ben Ali. Another protest self-immolation took place in Boukhadra on Monday.

The pro-Soviet socialist National Liberation Front (FLN) has effectively ruled Algeria since 1962, although its dominance was challenged in 1991, when the Islamic Salvation Front won the first round of an election that was later cancelled by the ruling authorities. This led to the Algerian Civil War and finally the defeat of the Islamic Salvation Army and the Armed Islamic Group. FLN cadre Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been president of Algeria since 1999.

Elsewhere in the Arab world, hundreds of Yemeni students held protests at Sanaa University, with some demanding that the president to resign. Since the Tunisian uprising, Yemenis have frequently called for an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s decades-long rule, which extends back to his stint as president of North Yemen in the 1980s. “No to inheritance, no to extension, learn from the Jasmine Revolution,” read a banner carried by the students.

The long-ruling pro-Soviet Saleh was re-elected in September 2006 for a seven-year mandate. A draft amendment of the constitution, under consideration in the parliament dominated by Saleh’s General People’s Congress, could further extend his tenure by allowing a lifelong mandate. In a recent televised rant, Saleh lashed out at his critics, who have accused him of planning to transfer power to his son: “Talking about hereditary rule is an impudent symphony, we are a republican and democratic system and we are against hereditary rule. We are against hereditary rule of villages, of tribes, of power, of unity, of ministries, we are against hereditary rule.”

Last year, Saleh, with Saudi military intervention, put down an Iranian-backed Shia Muslim insurgency in northern Yemen. However, he still faces a violent upheaval in the southern part of the country where the Yemeni Socialist Party, which once ruled South Yemen, is demanding the restoration of the People’s Democratic Republic. In fact, on January 8, Marxist separatists attacked a checkpoint in the town of Radfan in Lahj province, killing six soldiers and wounding four others. Lahj is a key stronghold of the Southern Movement. Faysal Jubran, who has led the movement since March 2007, told Xinhua that the clash left one of his followers wounded.

In Egypt, oppositionists called for a “national day of action” to take place on January 25 by all groups seeking to end the 29-year regime of President Hosni Mubarak, who succeeded Anwar Sadat after the latter’s 1981 assassination by Islamic fundamentalists. “If the Tunisians have done it, Egyptians should get there too,” Mohamed El Baradei, a leading Egyptian opposition figure and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told German news magazine Der Spiegel.

Last summer, police dragged Khaled Said, a small businessman in the historic city of Alexandria, from an Internet café and beat him to death in the street. Although Said was not politically active, the unprovoked police attack was in obvious retaliation for Said’s decision to post a video on his blog of crooked cops pocketing the contents of a drug bust. Shortly after the murder, an anonymous administrator created a Facebook page under the name “We Are All Khaled Said.” As of January 21, 2011, nearly 69,000 people visited the Facebook page to sign up for the January 25 protest.

Egypt’s traditional opposition groups have joined the call for protest on Tuesday. El Baradei stopped just short of backing the demonstration. On Thursday night, he finally offered tacit support, if only via Twitter: “Fully support call 4 peaceful demonstrations vs. repression.”

>Red Terror File: Suicide bomber kills 35 in baggage claim area of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, worst attack since March 2010 Metro bombings

>An explosion ripped through the baggage claim area in Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow today, killing 35 people, including foreign travellers. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB) acknowledged that last week it had received warnings that a terrorist attack might take place at the airport. President Dmitry Medvedev postponed his planned departure for this week’s World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, and has convened an emergency meeting of security officials.

Moscow suffered its worst terrorist attack in six years in March 2010 when two female suicide bombers from Russia’s Dagestan region set off explosives in the Metro, killing 40 people.

>Africa File: Revolution in Tunisia: Protests continue as ruling socialist party collapses after 54 years in power, PM, interim president abandon RCD

>– Constitutional Democratic Rally’s Central Committee Dissolved, Party Loyalists Still Control Oppressive Interior Ministry

– Arab League Economic Summit Convenes in Egypt, Soberly Assesses Ben Ali’s Downfall, Prospects for Other Arab Regimes

Pictured above: A woman places a kiss on an army tank on Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, on January 21, 2011.

Today, Tunisia’s civil servants staged a revolt against the new caretaker government, refusing to work until ministers associated with the party of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali step down. Staff uprisings have taken place at the state television, two state-run newspapers, and at private firms controlled by the ex-president’s family. Filmmakers held an extraordinary meeting to depose the party-approved head of their union.

Yesterday, Tunisian police fired shots into the air to try to disperse thousands of protesters who gathered outside the Tunis headquarters of the Socialist International-affiliated Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), but they would not be cowed. Ben Ali fled the country last Friday, reportedly seeking refuge in Saudi Arabia. “We are demanding the departure of the RCD because the RCD is not a party. It’s an intelligence service. It’s an armed militia,” said Hafeh Mesrati, a physics professor.

Apart from Habib Bourguiba, Ben Ali was Tunisia’s only post-colonial president. Former President of the Chamber of Deputies Fouad Mebazaa, who left the party on January 18, currently holds this post in an interim capacity.

Demonstrators on Mohamed V Avenue, near the center of the national capital, chanted: “After Ben Ali and his wife, we want to bring down his thieves!” They burned the party logo and waved banners declaring: “Government out!” One of the demonstrators, who gave his name as Aymen, said: “We are here. We are not going to move until the RCD falls. We will come every hour and every day.”

In Sidi Bouzid, the central Tunisian town where the revolt against Ben Ali erupted last week, residents demanded more change. It was here that a vegetable seller immolated himself after being accosted by police. “We want the dissolution of this party. This is the solution, and we want to hold its members responsible for their corruption,” Lazhar Gharbi, a teacher and trade unionist told Reuters. As we previously blogged, Tunisia’s trade unions have been at the forefront of the revolution that toppled Ben Ali.

State TV reported that the RCD’s central committee has been dissolved, although the party will continue to operate legally. The RCD has been in power under several names since 1957, when France granted Tunisia independence. The prime minister and caretaker president abandoned the RCD earlier this week, followed by still more government ministers in a bid to restore the party’s credibility after four opposition ministers jumped ship.

In another blow to the government, a junior minister resigned on Thursday. “I am stepping down for the higher interests of the country in this delicate situation to try to bring the country out of crisis and ensure a democratic transition,” announced Zouheir M’Dhaffar, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, to the official TAP news agency.

There were protests in other towns across this North African country. In an interview with Reuters, union activist Hedi Radaoui stated that between 3,000 and 4,000 people gathered in Gafsa, 350 kilometers south of Tunis, to protest the presence of the RCD in the interim government. State TV reported there were also anti-government demonstrations in the towns of Kef and Sfax.

On Wednesday, 33 members of the ousted dictator’s clan were arrested for “crimes against the nation.” In a further move to emasculate Ben Ali’s power base, Tunisia’s central bank assumed control over another bank owned by the former president’s son-in-law, Mohamed Sakher El Materi. The Swiss government also froze Ben Ali’s family assets in that country. Although Tunisians, including expatriates, are jubilant over the fall of Ben Ali and the collapse of the ruling party, Dan Murphy, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, cautions:

For now the most powerful positions in government are still held by men who loyally served the RCD and whose positions were preserved by the use of torture and intimidation by the state security apparatus, largely run out of the Interior Ministry. The business of unwinding the party’s control of government, weeding out the most corrupt of the judges and policemen, and delivering on [interim President] Mebazaa’s promise will be a long and difficult one.

The revolution in Tunisia does not bode well for the Arab world’s many other entrenched dictators and, indeed, has cast a long shadow over the Arab League summit, now underway in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik. In his opening comments to delegates, Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League and Egypt’s former foreign minister, soberly observed: “The Tunisian revolution is not far from us. The Arab citizens entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration.”

This is the Arab League’s second economic summit since 2009, when member states agreed “to set aside political differences to address the social and economic problems plaguing their societies.” Taking stock of the fact that high unemployment, not to mention years of political oppression, led to Ben Ali’s downfall, Arab League delegates resolved to throw US$2 billion at job creation programs throughout the region.

Pro-Soviet leftist military officers, like Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (Egypt, 1952), Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (Libya, 1969), and Gaafar Muhammad an-Nimeiry (Sudan, 1969) seized power in several Arab countries after de-colonization, sometimes overthrowing a monarchy installed by the departing European power. In most cases, they later formed mass-based parties that attempted to institutionalize their revolutions.

By contrast, Bourguiba, “the father of modern Tunisia,” and his New Constitutional Party were not initially socialist but, rather, turned in this direction in 1964 to facilitate economic development. Nor was Bourguiba particularly pro-Soviet but, instead, adoped an independent stance with respect to the Soviets and other Arab regimes.

>WW4 File: Red China deploys unknown number of troops, 50 tanks, APCs at NK port on Dec. 15, 1st such presence since PLA left Panmunjom in 1994

>– North Korean Soldiers Cross Frozen Yalu River to Pursue Refugees, Kill Five, Wound Two; Kim Jong-un Issues Shoot-to-Kill Orders

On January 17, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that about four weeks ago troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) arrived in North Korea’s special economic zone of Rajin-Sonbong. This is the first time since December 1994, when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) withdrew from the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission in the truce village of Panmunjom, that Beijing has stationed forces in the North. How many PLA troops are in North Korea is unknown.

“The move is unusual,” remarks the South Korean news source, “since North Korea is constantly calling for U.S. forces to pull out of South Korea and stressing its ‘juche’ or self-reliance doctrine.”

A source based in Red China who is familiar with North Korean affairs related: “In the middle of the night around Dec. 15 last year, about 50 Chinese armored vehicles and tanks crossed the Duman (Tumen) River from Sanhe into the North Korean city of Hoeryong in North Hamgyong Province.” This incursion would have taken place about three weeks after communist troops shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, killing two marines and two civilians.

Residents of Hoeryong, which is only about 50 kilometers from Rajin-Sonbong, woke up to the roar of armored vehicles. Other witnesses asserted that they saw military jeeps moving from the Chinese city of Dandong in the direction of Sinuiju in the North at around the same time. “The Chinese armored vehicles could be used to suppress public disturbances and the jeeps to round up on defectors from the North,” the source mentioned above speculated.

“Pyongyang and Beijing have reportedly discussed the matter of stationing a small number of Chinese troops in the Rajin-Sonbong region to guard port facilities China has invested in,” explained an official at Cheong Wa Dae, the official residence of the South Korean president. “If it’s true, they’re apparently there to protect either facilities or Chinese residents rather than for political or military reasons.”

Nam Joo-hong, South Korea’s ambassador for international security, predicted: “What China is most worried about in case of a sudden change in the North is mass influx of defectors, which would throw the three northeastern Chinese provinces into confusion. With its military presence in Rajin-Sonbong, there is a likelihood that China could intervene in Korean affairs by sending a large number of troops into the North under the pretext of protecting its residents there in an emergency.”

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Red China have “engaged in lively military exchanges” since two visits to the PRC by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2010. Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, reciprocated by visiting the North last October. At the time, Guo met with leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir Jong-un. In the meeting, the elder Kim emphasized “blood ties” between the two communist states.

It is known that the PRC established a commercial mission in Rajin-Sonbong last month and that, furthermore, Red China is transporting natural resources from its northeastern region to the south via the Port of Rajin-Sonbong, which was recently renovated. According to the Xinhua news agency, Red China first used the port on December 7, when it transported 20,000 tons of coal from a mine in Hunchun, Jilin Province to southern parts, including Shanghai. There is speculation that China will supply its own electricity to Rajin-Sonbong beginning in April 2011.

Quoting a North Korean source, the online newspaper Daily NK stated that in December the North and Red China signed an investment pact that will lead to the building of three more piers at the port, and a highway and railroad between Quanhe in Jilin Province and Rajin-Sonbong.

Witnesses in the port city have observed that “the number of Chinese people arriving in the special zone has grown as a result of the North’s quest for investment.” Another North Korean source confirmed: “The North Korean State Security has more or less stopped checking Chinese people. The North has apparently concluded that it is unavoidable to accept the Chinese military presence on its land to woo Chinese investment, even if it’s not happy about it.”

Beijing denies that it has sent troops into North Korea, or has plans to do so. “China will not send a single soldier to other countries without the approval of the UN,” stated an anonymous official at the Chinese Ministry of Defense in an interview with China’s Global Times daily.

Meanwhile, South Korea continues to monitor war preparations in the North, including the expansion of Pyongyang’s already substantial special forces units, as well as the deployment of a new battle tank, called the Storm, and the creation of the new tank brigades. North Korean commandos total 200,000, outnumbering by 10 times their Southern counterparts, who are pictured above.

Last month, according to the South Korean defense ministry, some North Korean troops stationed along the Demilitarized Zone were observed wearing a camouflage uniform similar to that worn by South Koreans, apparently to practise intrusion drills. This development prompted the South to expedite the supply of new uniforms for its own troops to avoid confusion. “It’s been confirmed some North Korean frontline troops are wearing uniforms with woodland camouflage pattern which is similar to those of South Korean uniforms,” a South Korean official stated.

About one week ago, North Korean soldiers crossed the frozen Yalu River in order to pursue seven refugees into Red China, before shooting five escapees dead and wounding two others. Then, with the permission of PRC authorities, they dragged the living and the dead back to North Korea. It has been reported that Kim Jong-il’s son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, has ordered soldiers to shoot anyone who tries to flee the country. He has denounced refugees as traitors.

Communist troops from the PRC and the DPRK, with air support from Soviet fighter pilots, first overran the Korean Peninsula 60 years ago, until they were pushed back by United Nations forces under the command of US General Douglas MacArthur. North Korea is itself a creation of occupying Soviet forces at the end of the Second World War.

>Africa File: Tunisia’s long-time socialist dictator abdicates, flees country in wake of violent protests over food price spike, high unemployment

>– January 17, 2011 Update: Protesters Take to Streets of Tunis on Monday, Demand Ruling Party Relinquish Power; Leftist Leader Admitted into Interim Government

– Tunisian Businessman: Ben Ali Was North African Country’s “Big Brother,” Ruling Party Recruited KGB-Style “Citizen Watchers” (Informers)

– Tunisia’s Present Regime Hosted Palestine Liberation Organization’s Headquarters between 1982 and 1991

Yesterday, Tunisia’s long-time socialist dictator, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, abdicated his post and fled the country after Tunisians violently protested high unemployment and a surge in food prices (pictured above). He has reportedly sought refuge in Saudi Arabia.

At least 23 people died in clashes with security forces this week. The violence was provoked by the suicide of a university student who immolated himself after police confiscated produce authorities say he was selling without a permit. The Tunisian General Workers’ Union was one of the forces coordinating the subsequent protests. In one of his last official edicts, President Ben Ali authorized troops to shoot protesters.

On Saturday, Tunisia’s Constitutional Council declared that the departure of Ben Ali is “permanent” and that parliament speaker Foued Mebezza has temporarily assumed power in the North African country. The Constitutional Council, Tunisia’s highest legal authority on constitutional issues, explained that the country’s new leader has 60 days to organize a presidential election.

Between 1980 and 1984, Ben Ali served as Tunisia’s ambassador to Communist Poland. He later became interior minister and then prime minister, seizing power from Habib Bourguiba, the country’s only other post-independence leader, in a bloodless coup d’etat in 1987.

In spite of his stint in Warsaw, Ben Ali later banned the Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party, perceiving the radical Marxist-Leninist group as a threat to his Socialist International-affiliated Constitutional Democratic Rally. The RCD has been the dominant force in post-independence Tunisia, known until 1964 as the New Constitutional Party and then until 1987 as the Socialist Constitutional Party. The last was the only legal party between 1964 and 1981.

One Tunisian recounts the RCD’s pervasive, Soviet-like influence in that country, including the party’s recruitment of “citizen watchers” (informers):

He remembers the form. You filled it out to become a “citizen watcher” for the party of Zine el Abidine ben Ali. It meant you would spy. Inform on your friends, your family, the people at work and get paid for it. Again and again throughout his 30 years, Ahmad Chebil says, they approached him. They offered him perks and advantageous jobs, home loans and car credit. But each time he refused entreaties to join the president’s Constitutional Democratic Rally, or RCD, its French initials.

It is not clear if the RCD will be dissolved as a result of Ben Ali’s departure. In a late-breaking report from January 17, the MSM reports that protesters took to the streets of Tunis on Monday, demanding that the ruling party relinquish power. Protesters chanted: “Out with the RCD!” and “Out with the party of the dictatorship!” Tunisian security forces responded with water cannon, tear gas, and warning shots from their firearms.

Ahead of promised free elections, Najib Chebbi, founder of the leftist Progressive Democratic Party, which opposed Ben Ali, will become regional development minister in the interim government. Opposition leaders will also get the education and health portfolios.

Between 1982 and 1991, the Palestine Liberation Organization was based in Tunis. On October 1, 1985, the Israeli Air Force bombed the PLO’s Tunis headquarters, killing more than 60 people.

Before leaving Tunis, Ben Ali dismissed his government, declared a state of emergency, and banned public gatherings. He promised political and media reforms and slashed prices on food staples. On Friday night, rioters set fire to the main train station in Tunis and looted shops. Today, officials acknowleded that 42 detainees died in a prison fire after at least one inmate tried to escape. The military closed Tunisian airspace on Friday, but it was reopened on Saturday.

>Middle East File: Hezbollah withdraws from Lebanese government over UN probe, IAF conducts mock raid over S. Lebanon, UNIFIL scales back patrols

> Pictured here: Ousted by a parliamentary coup while absent from Lebanon, Saad Hariri (left) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for cameras before a meeting in Ankara, on January 14, 2011. The former prime minister was in Turkey for talks expected to focus on the collapse of his government.

On January 12, Lebanon’s coalition government collapsed when 11 Hezbollah ministers made good on earlier threats to bolt from the cabinet, even as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with US President Barack Hussein Obama in Washington.

Hariri’s fragile alliance with Hezbollah emerged from a peace agreement ending an outbreak of civil strife in May 2008, when at least 80 people were killed after Hezbollah and its allies seized control of west Beirut. The Shiite Muslim political party and militia withdrew from the government after months of negotiations brokered by Syria and Saudi Arabia failed to produce a compromise over the United Nations tribunal examining the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, Saad’s father.

As soon as the Hezbollah ministers walked, the Lebanese army deployed extra troops in the streets of Beirut in case of new skirmishes between supporters of the pro-Western March 14th coalition and the pro-Syrian/ Iranian March 8th coalition. The Beirut stock market dropped precipitously when word of Hezbollah’s departure from government reached investors.

“We are in a new political and ministerial crisis,” commented Boutros Harb, a legislator allied with Hariri, adding: “There is no room for bargaining over the tribunal and justice. We remain open to dialogue without compromising [our] general principles.”

Hezbollah, whose ally Syria is blamed by many Lebanese for the killing, has demanded an end to the UN probe. In a November 11, 2010 rant, Hassan Nasrallah warned that Hezbollah will not allow its members to be detained and would “cut off the hand” of any authorities who attempt to make arrests. An initial UN inquiry charged four pro-Syrian officials in Lebanon’s security services with Rafik’s murder. They were held in jail for four years before being released in 2009 due to a lack of evidence, after some witnesses changed or retracted statements.

A senior US official travelling with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Qatar was reluctant to predict the eruption of more violence in Lebanon, noting that “Hezbollah and its allies so far have been using only legal means to bring down the government and there have been no signs that they are trying to mobilize supporters in the streets.” This may be so, but in leaving the government, Hezbollah is sending a clear message that it will no longer tolerate the March 14th coalition’s pro-USA stance. Hezbollah may also be disengaging itself from the Lebanese government so it can ramp up war preparations against Israel.

Meanwhile, regional leaders are closely watching political developments in Lebanon. World Bulletin reports that on Wednesday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then also in Qatar, spoke with ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the telephone. “The two officials assessed the developments in Lebanon,” the news site’s sources revealed. Both Erdogan and al-Assad are openly hostile to Israel. In fact, Syria, which never concluded a peace treaty with Israel after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, remains in a de facto state of war with the Jewish state.

The Israeli government is also monitoring political developments in Lebanon. This was evidenced by the Israeli Air Force’s low-altitude mock raid over southern Lebanon on Wednesday. The jets flew over Nabatiyeh, Iqlim al Tuffah, Marjayoun, and Khaim, although the UN Security Council forbade such military actions in Resolution 1701, which ended Israel’s 2006 offensive against Lebanon. It is believe that Hezbollah militiamen have redeployed thousands of Russian-built missiles, procured through Iran and Syria, throughout southern Lebanon, with the intent of annihilating the Jewish state.

Possibly in anticipation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, the Israeli media reports that United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has scaled back its patrols in southern Lebanon: “UNIFIL has reduced the scope of patrols in south Lebanon following the political crisis in the country, Lebanese newspaper al-Akhabar reported on Friday. According to the publication, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, most of the foreign commanders in UNIFIL spoke with diplomats from their countries as well as officials in Beirut in order to guarantee their troops’ safety.”

>Mexican Narco-State File: PRI boss/Socialist International VP huddles with Castro in Havana, Paredes’ colleague poised to win presidency in 2012

>– Nieto Victory in 2012 Election Detrimental for Shaky US-Mexican Alliance, While Obrador Victory Downright Disastrous for US National Security

– Army Uses New Law to Arrest Police Chief in Nuevo Leon on Charges of Informing Los Zetas of Troop Movements

– Drug Gang Abducts and Beats US Business Exec in Monterrey, Steals Man’s Armored Car, Police Hush Up Incident

– Wealthy Mexicans Flee Monterrey for Houston, Other US Cities, Foreign Businesses Curtail Investment, Bolster Private Security as Cartels Invade City

– “Bishop” of Holy Death Cult Apprehended on Charges of Extortion, Kidnapping, Police Withhold News of Arrest for Two Weeks

For seven decades the Socialist International-affiliated Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ran a single-party dictatorship in Mexico, ceding power to the center-right National Action Party (PAN) in 2000. Beginning in the 1980s President Miguel de la Madrid broke with some of his predecessors, who snubbed the USA in favour of relations with Communist Cuba, by shifting the PRI in a capitalist direction. As a result, the left wing of the party bolted, merged with the Mexican Communist Party and some other leftist groupings, and founded the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) 20 years ago.

Although the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910 and lasted until 1920, contained several ideological strains, including socialism, Mexico, fortunately, never became a full-blown communist state. This did not prevent President Calvin Coolidge’s administration from referring to the country as “Soviet Mexico.” Hope springs eternal, however, and today Mexico’s far left, including it would seem leftist elements in the now largely centrist PRI, continues to nurse plans for communist revolution south of the US border.

In an effort to rebuild relations with Communist Cuba, on Wednesday Beatriz Paredes, president of the PRI and vice president of the Socialist International, arrived in Havana. There Paredes and Castro (pictured above) talked about the current state of relations between the PRI and the Communist Party of Cuba. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez also attended the meeting.

Under the PAN presidencies of Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon, Mexican-Cuban relations turned chilly. For example, in 2004, the Mexican government ended a gentleman’s agreement that permitted Cuba’s Intelligence Directorate to operate with impunity from the Cuban embassy in Mexico City. A PRI victory in the 2012 presidential election would no doubt re-install a pro-Cuban regime south of the Rio Grande, creating strategic implications for US national security. The latter is already endangered by Mexico’s out-of-control drug cartels and questionable border security practices under the tri-national Security and Prosperity Partnership.

During last July’s elections, the PRI captured nine of the 12 governorships up for grabs. In those states where Panistas won, this was only possible through an awkward left-right alliance with the PRD. Significantly, political analysts in Mexico noted that the PAN-PRD coalition won with candidates who were members of neither party, or who were former Pristas.

Still, they were reserved about the PRI’s potential for victory in the 2012 presidential election. “The PRI learned you can’t do politics as usual and think you’re going to win,” said Ana Maria Salazar, a television and radio political commentator in Mexico City. Salazar continues: “The PRI was not a winner in the sense of the expectations. But, clearly, the PRI is a force to contend with. It’s too early to handicap the 2012 race because you don’t know who the candidates are yet. But the party is extremely well-positioned to take over in 2012.”

Six months later, voter preference polls indicate that the PRI is definitely poised to recapture the presidency, even if it does not make any gains in Congress. Last month, according to a poll conducted by Berumen y Asociados and published by El Universal, Enrique Pena Nieto, the telegenic PRI governor of the state of Mexico, received the endorsement of 41 percent of respondents in a possible race against Calderon’s finance minister, Ernesto Cordero, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. In that scenario, Cordero garnered 12 percent support, while Obrador, who ran on the PRD ticket in the 2006 presidential race, gleaned 15 percent.

It goes without saying that a PRD victory in the 2012 election would be disastrous for US national security, since former party chief Obrador openly praised Fidel Castro last year and reportedly met with Gennady Zyuganov, long-time chairman of the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation, in 2007. At the time, Zyuganov paid little-reported visits to communist counterparts in Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico. In a private 2009 conversation with Dennis Blair, former director of US National Intelligence, published by WikiLeaks, President Calderon admitted that he believes Obrador is a pawn of Venezuela’s communist dictator, Hugo Chavez.

Both the PRI and PRD would move Mexico into the Communist Bloc’s orbit, only the PRD, as we can see, would move the country faster and farther. A Panista victory next year is therefore essential to sustain the uneasy alliance between the USA and Mexico, as well as the unpublicized role of US military advisors who are training Mexican army officers in counter-insurgency tactics against the drug cartels.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s mafias showed no signs of letting up their bloody rampages in the new year. Last weekend, for example, 51 people succumbed to drug violence, including mutilations, beheadings, drive-by shootings, and summary executions. The murders occurred in southeast Guerrero and northern Chihuahua states, as well as in Mexico City. A grisly discovery near an Acapluco beach included 15 decapitated bodies courtesy of the Sinaloa cartel, which left its calling card in the form of handwritten posters signed “El Chapo Guzmán,” which refers to Mexico’s most wanted criminal.

In Monterrey, Mexico’s most prosperous city and until last year sheltered from the drug war, gunmen fired shots and hurled grenades at the Topo Chico prison, in what might have been a bid to free inmates. Bullets hit the prison walls and a guard post, while a grenade damaged several vehicles parked outside the facility. Police found dozens of bullet casings from assault rifles and a grenade that did not explode on a side street. Yet another grenade blew up on Cuautla Street, shattering the windows of nearby houses and parked cars.

This episode of narcista violence follows the discovery of the partly nude body of 31-year-old convict Gabriela Elizabeth Muñiz Tamez, who was found hanging from a Monterrey pedestrian overpass on December 31. Jailed for kidnapping, Muñiz Tamez had recently escaped as she was being transported from prison to a hospital. It would appear that her partners in crime considered Muñiz Tamez a liability.

In a related story, earlier this month army troops arrested a municipal police chief in Nuevo Leon for allegedly providing assistance to Los Zetas. Jesus Almazan Barbosa served as police chief of San Nicolas de los Garza, a suburb of Monterrey. According to the Mexican army, Almazan ordered some of his officers to monitor the movements of troops so he could report them to the former enforcement wing of the Gulf cartel.

“The cleaning out of police officers in Nuevo Leon is constant, but this arrest should tell mayors that they must push these actions further,” urged Jorge Domene, spokesman for the state government’s security council. He added: “Nuevo Leon has a law on the books that punishes those who spy on the army to assist organized crime groups. It was frustrating before seeing people who were arrested for this getting out immediately with small bail, but now this new law means that those who are arrested for this crime are detained.”

Home to global cement maker Cemex, top Latin American beverage company Femsa, and foreign factories including General Electric and Whirlpool Corp., the Monterrey region generates eight percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product. In early January, a US executive was abducted, beaten and robbed of his armored car in Monterrey, although police declined to comment on the incident.

Some wealthy Mexicans have fled to US cities such as Houston. While no precise figures are available, demand for so-called immigrant investor visas, which require foreigners to invest at least $1 million in the USA, are “surging” in Monterrey. “We are talking about an exodus,” remarked Jose Cornide, a private wealth advisor who assists applicants with the immigration process. No large foreign companies have withdrawn from Nuevo Leon because of the drug war, but some executives are curtailing investments. In fact, companies are now spending five percent of cash flow on security, a cost that was unnecessary only a few years ago.

Although the drug war rages, Mexican authorities have apprehended some more important figures in the country’s criminal underworld. Between December 18 and 20, 2010, police arrested David Romo Guillen, leader of the Traditional Catholic Church, known as the Holy Death cult, and eight other suspects. However, the arrests were not made public until January 4. Romo and cult followers have been charged with extortion and kidnapping.

On December 14, authorities allege, the sect leader and his cohorts, posing as members of Los Zetas, invaded a private residence, stole jewelry, and tied up a domestic worker. The suspects face additional charges for setting up bank accounts to receive ransom deposits, as well as stealing automobiles, jewelry, cash, and documents from various unnamed victims. The suspects have been also been linked to other cases, including an extortion racket “targeting a federal legislator” and the kidnapping of a corporate accountant. “The arrests are politically motivated and plans to build a church in the northeastern section of the capital will not be scrapped,” Romo protested at the time of his detention.

Holy Death, which claims five million adherents worldwide, is headquartered in Mexico City. In recent years, the cult has spread across the country, including the US border region, where followers erect altars, make offerings, and ascribe miracles to their “god,” who is a spitting image of the Grim Reaper. Mexican authorities acknowledge that several drug lords are among the sect’s adherents, since altars and images of the Holy Death have been discovered during police raids.

On January 5, the army announced that it had arrested Jesus Israel de la Cruz Lopez in Tijuana. Cruz Lopez, alias “El Tomate,” is believed to be a lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s largest mafia. One year ago, Mexican authorities arrested Teodoro Garcia Simental in La Paz, Baja California Sur. Garcia was a top lieutenant for the Tijuana cartel until he defected to the rival Sinaloa cartel after a power struggle. Over the years, US and Mexican police have discovered a number of sophisticated drug tunnels in the San Diego-Tijuana cross-border region.

President Calderon has touted the fall of the Tijuana cartel, which was pronounced “dead” in 2008, as an example of a “success story” in his government’s war against the mafias. However, a Tijuana police spokesman recently commented that there has been a resurgence of cartel activity in the city.

>Grey Terror File: Gunman assassinates US federal judge outside Tucson Safeway, shoots US Congresswoman in head, kills girl, 4 others

>– Fox News Intimates Link between Accused Gunman and “Anti-Zionist, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Immigrant” Group American Renaissance

– YouTube Profile Reveals Loughner’s Favorite Reading Material: Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf

– Fidel Castro Laments Giffords Shooting, Implicates US Right Due to Opposition to Arizona Politician’s Immigration Reform Policies

Blogger’s Note: We are back from a much-needed vacation that began before Christmas. Communism continues to fester here and there so once again we take up the keyboard to wage our information war against socialists of all hues.

The shooting spree that took place in Tucson, Arizona, this past Saturday is an appalling event that tarnishes the USA’s image as the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” For leftists of all leanings, the Tucson killings re-confirm their view that America is a racist, warmongering superpower that needs to be knocked down a peg or two.

In his murderous rampage, Jared Lee Loughner (pictured above) allegedly gunned down six people, including federal judge John Roll and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, and wounded 14, including one gravely, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Apparently arriving by taxi at the crime site, accused gunman Loughner rushed Giffords, shooting her in the head. Giffords survived the attack, but faces the prospect of life-long brain damage. The weapon seized from the suspect was a semi-automatic Glock pistol. Loughner has been charged with attempted assassination, among other federal charges.

The killings occurred outside a Safeway supermarket where the 40-year-old three-term legislator Giffords was attending a political meeting. Giffords, a “Blue Dog” Democrat who survived last November’s Republican sweep through the House of Representatives, is married to NASA astronaut Navy Captain Mark Kelly. She is the first Jewish woman to represent Arizona in Washington DC and is viewed as a “rising star” in the Democratic Party. Giffords is a former member of the Arizona regional board of the Anti-Defamation League.

Authorities are not confirming any political motivation behind the Tucson shootings or the existence of any sort of conspiracy. In their search for a motive, though, police investigators are examining a rambling Internet manifesto left by the 22-year-old Loughner, or someone writing under his name. There was no “coherent theme” to the diatribe, which accused the US government of mind control and demanded a new currency.

It is known that Loughner withdrew from Pima Community College in October 2010 after several close calls with campus police. He was told to obtain a mental health clearance if he wished to return to school “to show his attendance would not present a danger to himself or others.” The US Army also confirms that Loughner attempted to enlist in December 2008, but was rejected for “unspecified reasons.”

Ironically, while an Arizona State Senator, Giffords advocated bills supporting mental health initiatives and was named by the Mental Health Association of Arizona as 2004 Legislator of the Year.

Following the Tucson murder spree, FBI Director Robert Mueller trotted out the well-worn government theory of a “lone wolf” gunman, pointing out that Loughner had attended a public event held by Giffords in 2007. Early news reports suggested that Loughner may have had an accomplice, but these were quickly suppressed. “An unidentified man who authorities earlier said might have acted as an accomplice was cleared Sunday of any involvement,” admits the MSM, adding: “Pima County sheriff’s deputy Jason Ogan told The Associated Press on Sunday that the man was a cab driver who drove the gunman to the grocery store outside of which the shooting occurred.”

Not surprisingly, insinuations of a “far right” (neo-fascist/neo-Nazi) conspiracy have popped up in the MSM. According to Fox News, reports the Politico blog, the US Department of Homeland Security suspects Loughner may have been influenced by the white supremacist outfit American Renaissance, since the alleged gunman mentions this organization in several Internet posts.

In a memo that was apparently issued to law enforcement, DHS states that “The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic.” However, contradicting the Fox News story, a “source familiar with the matter” told Politico that DHS in fact issued no formal memo pertaining to Loughner to US law enforcement.

In any case, the head of American Renaissance, Jared Taylor, told Fox News that the claim of a connection between Loughner and his organization “is complete nonsense.” He denies that Loughner ever subscribed to his group’s monthly publication or attended its conferences. Taylor also denied that American Renaissance is “anti-Zionist” or “anti-Semitic.”

American Renaissance’s website, continues Politico, has praised the work of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which was active in promoting Arizona’s anti-immigration legislation, SB 1070. FAIR, founded by John Tanton, has acknowledged that its legal affiliate, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, “assisted [Arizona State Senator Russell] Pearce in drafting the language of SB 1070.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported on Tanton’s “warm ties” with American Renaissance.

Centrist Giffords supports the Obama White House’s deployment of the National Guard to the US-Mexico border, but denies SB 1070 does anything significant to halt the illegal alien invasion. Ironically, she also supports the right to bear arms.

Cuba’s retired communist dictator, Fidel Castro, was quick to empathize with Giffords’ plight and duly noted that the US Right–embodied by the Tea Party, former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and Giffords’ political rival Jesse Kelly–had targeted the Congresswoman for “destruction.” On Saturday, Comrade Fidel wrote:

She is a supporter of migrant reform, stem cell research and alternative energy, measures that are hated by the far right. She was re-elected as the Democratic representative in the past elections. When her father was asked whether she had any enemies, he replied: The entire Tea Party”.

It is known that the former US vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 elections and Tea Party leader, Sarah Palin, published on her website, as the aim for supporters of her party, a map of the congressional districts of 20 of the representatives who had backed President Obama’s proposed health reform bill and she had them marked with the viewfinder of a rifle.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ political opponent was a former Marine who appeared in the electoral campaign with an M-16 in a message which apparently stated: “Help get rid of Gabrielle Giffords…shoot the entire ammo chamber of an M-16 with Jesse Kelly.”

In March 2010, Gabrielle’s district office was attacked. She stated that when people do that they were going to have to be aware of the consequences; political leaders should get together and set limits.

Any sensible person could well wonder whether such an act happened in Afghanistan or in an electoral district in Arizona.

Investigators say they had found an envelope at Loughner’s residence with the handwritten phrases “I planned ahead” and “My assassination,” along with the name “Giffords” and what appeared to be his signature. In a Myspace post left the morning of the shooting, Loughner apparently wrote: “Goodbye friends. Please don’t be mad at me. The literacy rate is below 5%. I haven’t talked to one person who is literate. I want to make it out alive. The longest war in the history of the United States. Goodbye. I’m saddened with the current currency and job employment. I had a bully at school. Thank you. P.S. –plead the fifth!”

Loughner’s YouTube profile states that some of his favorite books are Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. To this day, fascists and communists feed on the discontentment created by unemployment, identifying Jews, capitalists, and Jewish capitalists (!) as the source of society’s woes.

Suspect Loughner will be represented in court by Judy Clarke, the lawyer who defended Ted Kaczynski, who gained notoriety in 1996 as the anti-technology anarchist known as the Unabomber.

The Kremlin media was all over the Giffords shooting, reporting that US Congressman Danny Davis, a Democrat who represents a federal district in Illinois, received a death threat via email on Sunday. “It was some person who emailed one of my staff persons and said that ‘Danny Davis is next,’” Davis related, adding “The [District of Columbia] Capitol Police and Chicago police have been notified. You know some things are cranks, some things are pranks. Some things you simply don’t know about, but I think in this climate it pays to be as cautionary as one can be.”

Last November, the China Confidential blog, citing unidentified Western intelligence sources, reported that Iran and Venezuela, two of Russia’s most reliable client states, were plotting with the Mexican drug cartels and neo-fascists to launch ballistic missiles, biowarfare, and “Mumbai-style swarming assaults” against the USA. We have no hard evidence that Loughner was part of a wider conspiracy. However, ahead of Missile Day, a Kremlin-orchestrated swarming assault in North America could definitely take on the parameters of multiple, coordinated Tucson shooting sprees, targeting officials, indiscriminately shooting civilians, and diverting law enforcement from high-value targets.

Reserving its Spetsnaz units for sabotage operations against US military and nuclear installations and high-profile assassinations (such as the US President), Moscow can farm out other “wet jobs” to the Hezbollah fanatics and Mexican assassins who are already operating on US soil. Should these be in short supply, Russian military intelligence can recruit disaffected, radicalized, unemployed, or mentally ill drifters like Loughner, Timothy McVeigh, and John Allen Muhammad (the Beltway Sniper).