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Mikhail #Gorbachev talks to The Moscow Times about #Putin and the media


Mikhail Gorbachev on Putin and Freedom of the Press (Part 2) English subtitles.

You can find part 1 here


The Moscow Times.

Intercepted phone calls between alleged #terrorist recruiter Hamdi #Alqudsi and #ISIS chief Mohammad Ali #Baryalei revealed in court


Alleged Syrian recruiter: Hamdi Alqudsi (pictured on Tuesday outside a court in central Sydney)Alleged Syrian recruiter: Hamdi Alqudsi (pictured on Tuesday outside a court in central Sydney) is charged with seven counts of recruiting the men to enter ‘into a foreign state, namely Syria, with intent to engage in hostile activity in Syria, in particular, engaging in armed hostilities in Syria’

Candace Sutton, Daily Mail Australia

The intercepted phone calls of an alleged Australian terrorist recruiter, who is charged with helping young people join jihadist networks in Syria, have been heard in court.

Sydney man Hamdi Alqudsi allegedly acted as the liaison man and advisor between Australia’s most senior Islamic State leader, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, and the would-be terrorists and organised travel, hotel accommodation, different overseas currencies, security, a Syrian contact and ‘general encouragement and support’, according to the police facts in the case.

In alleged phone calls between the two men heard in court on Friday, Baryalei – who is thought to now be dead – told Alqudsi of his experiences on the front line and claimed he was almost hit by a bullet.

Beautiful Gold Coast private schoolgirl, Amira Karroum secretly flew to Syria last December after her husbandLined up and shot: Beautiful Gold Coast private schoolgirl, Amira Karroum (pictured) secretly flew to Syria last December after her husband, Tyler Casey, was allegedly recruited by Hamdi Alqudsi. Ms Karroum and Casey were shot dead in mid-January in the northern Syrian town of Aleppo.

The federal prosecutors in the committal hearing against Alqudsi, who faces seven charges of conscripting Australians to join ISIS or other groups in Syria’s civil war, say they have ‘overwhelming’ evidence of Alqudsi recruiting and instructing young Australian men to go and fight in Syria.

The prosecutor tendered more than 100 pages of phone tap records as part of a case against him, at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.

The prosecutor said Alqudsi had organised for the men to go to ‘a particular part of Turkey which was known as the place where the fighters go to’.

In one text message, Alqudsi and one of the recruits wrote about ‘getting the green light’ for the trip into Syria.

Despite a statement by Mr Alqudsi’s lawyer, Zali Burrows, that the 39-year-old could not be identified as the speaker or texter recruiting the would-be fighters, the prosecution had declared in one text and a telephone call his own name.

‘He says “I am Hamdi Alqudsi” and in one message ‘write my name, Alqudsi”.’

Alleged mastermind: Hamdi Alqudsi (pictured on Tuesday after appearing briefly in the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney)Alleged mastermind: Hamdi Alqudsi (pictured on Tuesday after appearing briefly in the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney) is, police claim, the chief recruiter in Australia of young men who want to go and fight in Syria against government forces with groups such as the extremists in ISIS

ISIS leader Baryalei left Australia on April 10 last year on a flight to Tokyo.

At 1am on June 22 last year federal police intercepted a call between Baryalei and Alqudsi, in which Baryalei explains he ‘just got back yesterday after fighting a battle where five brothers were killed and a lot of brothers were injured’.

‘They were trying to take a large stronghold, however they encountered difficulties due to a sniper wiping everyone out’

Baryalei was himself nearly killed ‘as a bullet came so close to him that his ears were ringing from the noise of the bullet’.

Baryalei said he had watched a ‘commander die right in front of his eyes’ and described his fighters taking out two to three tanks.

On June 25 last year at 9.05pm, police intercepted another call in which Alqudsi in Sydney told Baryalei in Syria, ‘four brothers coming this week, they are leaving Australia, going to try and get them by the weekend’.

Alqudsi named them as Abu Qaqa, ‘the tall one’ (Tyler Casey), Abu Moussa (Caner Temel) and Biber’s ‘best friend’, Abu Abdul Malik (Mehmet Biber) and Abu Islam ‘ the Sudanese brother’.

‘They are ready,’ Alqudsi told Baryalei. ‘They are going to all meet in Istanbul then they are going to come all the way to Hatay [the southern province of Turkey which borders Syria] so you need to let me know if you want to pick them up from Hatay airport or do you want them to go to a particular hotel.’

Tyler Casey (above, left), originally from Redcliffe, Queensland and former Australian infantry soldier, 22-year-old Caner Temel (right)Death in Syria: Hamdi Alqudsi is accused of recruiting Tyler Casey (above, left), originally from Redcliffe, Queensland and former Australian infantry soldier, 22-year-old Caner Temel (right) to Syria where they were both killed in January, Temel shot in the head by a sniper, and Casey and his wife, Amira Karroum were reportedly lined up, shot, and their bodies dismembered.

Alqudsi said ‘the brothers’ were ‘crying, affected, none of them wanted to stay in this country one second. They are ready.’

Alqudsi said the men would pay cash for the trip, with one of them giving $4000 and $2000.

On June 29, 2013 police intercepted a call at 5.59pm from Baryalei in Syria in which he told Alqudsi he had no intention of returning to Australia and he wanted to be a ‘Shaheed’ – an honor for Muslims who lay down their life for their religion or die fighting defending their faith.

He said if he did this, he would leave his wife in Turkey as he did not wish to take her into Syria.

Alqudsi said he was sending over another Australian recruit to Syria, Muhammed Abdul-Karim Musleh.

At 7.17pm on the same evening, Alqudsi called Baryalei’s phone and spoke to a man called Khatab, from the Al Nusra front and they promised to Skype each other.

Mehmet Biber, a 21-year-old Turkish-Australian from Merrylands, SydneySoccer nut: Mehmet Biber, a 21-year-old Turkish-Australian from Merrylands, Sydney, who loved poetry and soccer, became radicalised and was then recruited allegedly by Hamdi Alqudsi and crossed the Turkish border into Syria, from where he has posted photographs of bloodied aid workers injured in fighting.

The next morning at 6.32am, Alqudsi called a different phone of Baryalei’s, in which the latter said the extremist group he was associated with had split into two groups, Jabhat al Nusra and Dawla Islamieh who were ‘mujahadeens as well man’ and he wanted to join the second group.

Australian Federal Police say the second group is a branch of Al Qaida.

At 5.25pm on July 2 last year, Tyler Casey and Caner Temel called Alqudsi from Turkey saying the ‘boys’ had just arrived, the trip was good and they would soon fly south to Hatay.

Alqudsi told them what hotel to stay in, instructed them to stay out of sight, buy a new SIM card and change their money into Turkish, Syrian and American currency.

Alqudsi told the young men Baryalei would be waiting for them and to keep him updated.

At 3.39pm on July 3, Alqudsi spoke with Muhammed Musleh who said they were about to board a plane for Hatay. Aqudsi said Baryalei had already left the international border crossing between Syria and Turkey at Bab al-Hawa to pick them up.

Alqudsi has now been ordered to stand trial on seven charges of recruiting young men to fight with terrorist forces in Syria.

Hamdi Alqudsi was arrested last December at this four bedroom house (pictured) at St Helens Park in far south-western Sydney where he had been living quietly with his family.Dawn raid: Hamdi Alqudsi was arrested last December at this four bedroom house (pictured) at St Helens Park in far south-western Sydney where he had been living quietly with his family. Police allege he was helping young Australians to go and fight in Syria.


Daily Mail Online.

Mikhail #Gorbachev: ‘Nobody Will Shut My Mouth’ (Video)


Mikhail Gorbachev, first and last president of the Soviet Union, is defiant at 83 over his role in the breakup of the Soviet Union and its ongoing fallout.Mikhail Gorbachev, first and last president of the Soviet Union, is defiant at 83 over his role in the breakup of the Soviet Union and its ongoing fallout. Pascal Dumont / MT

Ivan Nechepurenko, The Moscow Times.

Many people who send letters to the first and last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, still write on the envelope: “To the Secretary General of the Communist Party, Kremlin.” The Russian postal service is used to this and redirects the mail to the Gorbachev Foundation, headquartered in a modern building about seven kilometers north of the Kremlin.

Some of those letters are harshly critical of Gorbachev, who is regarded as a traitor by many Russians who regret the demise of the Soviet Union and the shocking economic transformation that followed. Some of the more vitriolic missives even encourage him to commit suicide. But at 83, Gorbachev is defiant and determined.

“I live and will continue to live according to my conscience and principles. Everyone else can go crazy,” he told The Moscow Times in an extensive interview this week.

Despite saying he is “already a part of history,” Gorbachev said he cannot simply observe passively what is happening in Russia today.

“I need to participate, and I will. Nobody will shut my mouth, even though people wanted me to emigrate. I don’t want to leave, let those people leave,” Gorbachev said, banging his hands on the table for emphasis.

Gorbachev, who in recent months underwent treatment at a hospital in Moscow, said he has been reported dead at least 10 times.

“I am called a traitor because I destroyed so many nuclear arms. The second treachery is that we built good relations with the U.S.,” he said.

For those who address their letters to Gorbachev at the Kremlin, time has clearly stood still. And today, when President Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the West find themselves at odds once again, the time when secretary generals in the Kremlin were engaged in an ideological rivalry with the West seems closer than ever.

Seeds of Discord

During the festivities marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this month, Gorbachev warned that the world risks a new Cold War. As someone who worked his way up through the Communist Party at a time when the Soviet Union and the U.S. were ready to destroy each other in a nuclear war and who then worked hard to eliminate divisions in Europe and the world at large, Gorbachev is better qualified than most to offer insight into the strikingly similar issues the world faces now.

Today, Gorbachev argues that the problems in Ukraine and the world at large are in part due to errors made during the collapse of the old system.

“What is happening now in Ukraine is in many ways due to the mistakes of the breakup of the Soviet Union. Once they decided to dissolve the union, they should have agreed on territories and borders,” Gorbachev said.

“Crimea was Russian, and most people in Crimea voted in favor of joining Russia [in the recent referendum]. I supported this move from the beginning, and I am half-Ukrainian. I worry about what is happening in Ukraine. … It might not be a scientific fact, but we are the same people,” he said.

Gorbachev believes that the Soviet Union collapsed mainly due to the political self-interest of local leaders — above all, the first Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who, Gorbachev said, wanted to “get rid” of him.

Gorbachev has never communicated with Yeltsin since. “There was nothing to talk about with this usurper who went behind my back,” Gorbachev said.

Gorbachev says he supports Putin, despite having criticized previously.Gorbachev says he supports Putin, despite having criticized previously. Pascal Dumont / MT

The Gift of Hindsight

At the same time, Gorbachev does not believe that the Soviet Union should have been preserved in its old form as a repressive state.

“We could not live like we did before, when people would make a joke and find themselves in jail the next day. There were so many problems, but society did not discuss them,” he said.”

“People had been breaking each other’s bones in lines for Italian shoes in our country,” he said.

Gorbachev said the union should have been preserved “with a new essence that would consist of independent sovereign states.”

The West, according to Gorbachev, used the resulting chaos in Russia to its own advantage.

“The West, especially the Americans, applauded Yeltsin. A half-suffocated Russia was ideal for them. Much of the mess we are in today is due to what happened then,” Gorbachev said.

“The main thing is that trust has now been broken. Everybody was losing because of the Cold War, and everybody won when it ended,” he said, referring to the ongoing rift between Russia and the U.S.

The U.S. felt triumphant and justified to expand NATO into Eastern Europe, Gorbachev said.

“It is true that the spirit of these German unification agreements were broken because we agreed that NATO infrastructure would not expand into East Germany, which creates a certain spirit. When they began to accept new countries into NATO in the 1990s. That violated the spirit of the agreements,” he said.

Broken Promises?

The question of the promise allegedly made to Russia by the West not to expand NATO eastward is often mentioned by Putin in his foreign policy speeches, with NATO expansion used to justify Russia’s actions on the world stage.

Gorbachev said that when he was in office the issue of expansion was not discussed, as Eastern European countries had not signaled any desire to join NATO.

“The main idea was that both NATO and the Warsaw Pact would gradually transform from military-political into political organizations,” he said.

“We pledged not to aim to seek military superiority over each other. Is this the case now? No. We destroyed so many weapons, tanks and so forth, and now it is all coming back,” he said.

The tense relations between Russia and the U.S. are also created by certain groups in both countries in favor of confrontation, Gorbachev said.

“There is the same type of public both in the U.S. — including the military-industrial complex that cannot imagine its life without weapons and war — and here in Russia too. Every U.S. president feels obliged to wage a war during his term or, even better, two — as the saying goes. I am serious. It’s not a joke. This idea has survived, and that is very bad.”

Putin the Statesman

Gorbachev, who on Thursday presented his new book about his life after leaving the Kremlin, said he supports Putin and ranks him with the political leaders of his own rule, such as then U.S. President Ronald Reagan and U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“He is a statesman. I can say one thing: Despite all the criticism, I strongly supported him, especially during his first term, because Russia was disintegrating. He has done a lot. I said the president is successful. I criticized him too because you have to criticize leaders,” Gorbachev said.

He accused Putin of saying “what suits him” about the Soviet Union’s collapse, which Putin famously described as the 20th century’s greatest geopolitical tragedy.

“Doesn’t he know how it all happened? He knows, but says what suits him,” Gorbachev said, adding that Putin is currently “under attack” by media that are “not free.”

“There are no free media, either in Russia or the West. Everybody is dependent and works for the benefit of their own states. That is beyond doubt. For instance, I was in a hospital, where I had to do everything as prescribed. This reminds me of the press: It is free, but follows orders,” he said.


The Moscow Times.

Showing the Faces of Its Murderers, #ISIS Shows Its Global Reach


In the video that showed the decapitated head of an American hostage and the murder of 18 Syrian soldiers, the real message was the faces of the killers.

Youtube screen capturevia YouTube

Tracy McNicoll, The Daily Beast.

PARIS — If you listen to his neighbors in one sleepy little Normandy town that could be just about anywhere, Maxime Hauchard was nothing if not a good boy. For the postwoman, mouth agape learning the news, and the dismayed local grandmothers paraded unassuming and guileless before French news cameras and radio microphones all day Monday, it just couldn’t be.

But French authorities have confirmed that Hauchard, a 22-year-old French convert to Islam, is indeed one of the unmasked executioners in the so-called Islamic State’s latest gruesome massacre video.

A good boy gone terribly wrong? In the video released Sunday, Hauchard stands beside other ISIS henchmen, similarly attired in black caps and sand-colored camouflage, wielding a knife as he clutches a bent, balding Syrian man, primed for execution. The 16-minute clip portrays the decapitation deaths of 18 Syrian government military personnel and appears to show the severed head of American hostage Peter Kassig at the feet of a hooded British ISIS militant notoriously known as Jihadi John.

Hauchard is the first of the unmasked executioners in the ISIS video to be positively and publicly identified, although French authorities have said a second young French Muslim convert’s appearance may be authenticated shortly. As intelligence services around the world are working to identify any other foreign fighters among the band of killers in the gory new video, speculation also surfaced that another of the killers is 20-year-old Welsh jihadist Nasser Muthana, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Indeed, analysts agree one of the video’s key functions for ISIS is to illustrate how far the group’s seductive reach is extending globally. As France took in the shock news that one of its own sons may be a throat-slitting, decapitating terrorist, the Islamist specialist Romain Caillet told Le Monde, “In putting forward soldiers from the four corners of the world, Da’esh [as the French call the group, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS] is looking to create a ‘United Colors of Jihad’ effect. The message is simple: there are hundreds of Jihadi Johns.”

Before his bloody star turn Sunday, Maxime Hauchard’s story was, given the context, frighteningly banal. Born in Normandy to Norman-born parents, he was raised a Catholic along with a sister four years his junior in Le Bosc-Roger-en-Roumois, an inland town of 3,200 some 20 miles south of Rouen.

“In putting forward soldiers from the four corners of the world, Da’esh is looking to create a ‘United Colors of Jihad’ effect.”

One of the local reporters who descended on the village en masse Monday described, in Le Parisien, a pastoral town where “every street corner smells of wood-fires and cowsheds, far from the urban projects.” Hauchard’s parents’ white house was shuttered against the media onslaught Monday. They reportedly left Sunday night on word of their son’s bloody ISIS cameo.

By all accounts, Hauchard was handy at fixing scooters. He even registered a business selling spare parts out of his parents’ home in 2010. He and a neighbor friend worked for a time in a pizzeria in a nearby town. His only known run-in with the law was a 300-euro fine for failing to stop at the scene of an accident and lacking insurance. And as neighbors have unfailingly emphasized in local media interviews, he was supposed to be a nice guy.

“He mowed the lawn, chopped the wood. When he partied a little with his friends behind the house, everything always went smoothly,” one neighbor identified only as René told Agence France-Presse. “He was a nice boy who posed no problem. They must have drugged him,” René’s wife Jeannine speculated of Hauchard’s ISIS overlords.

Hauchard’s uncle told BFMTV the Maxime he knew “wouldn’t hurt a fly.” The uncle told RTL radio Hauchard called his grandmother, ostensibly from Syria, on Nov. 2, for her birthday. In shock at news of her grandson’s video appearance, the grandmother reportedly was due to be hospitalized Monday night.

Hauchard converted to Islam in high school at 17, and is said to have suddenly begun wearing a beard and djellaba. He is thought to have self-radicalized online, calling himself Abou Abdallah al-Faransi (“The Frenchman”) on social networks.

In a July interview via Skype from Raqqa, the capital of the self-styled Islamic State, Hauchard told France’s BFMTV, “It’s funny because people think there is a sort of guru behind who puts things in people’s heads. In fact, no. I never met anyone. I would have liked to meet a brother.” He told the news channel he awaits death with joy and that martyrdom is the greatest reward.

French intelligence took note of Hauchard as early as 2011, before he made two trips between October 2012 and May 2013 to Mauritania for Quranic teaching, schooling he is thought to have eschewed as not radical enough for his liking. In August 2013, he bought a cheap ticket to Istanbul on the pretense of doing humanitarian work and crossed the border to Syria near Gaziantep, Turkey.

Boasting that he did little to hide his intentions, Hauchard told BFMTV, amused, about how airport security took little notice of his thick beard or military boots. Photos he would share on Facebook this year show Hauchard in Raqqa, wearing combat gear and wielding a variety of heavy weapons.

French investigators on Monday opened an investigation for murder in an organized gang with links to a terrorist enterprise targeting Hauchard and the other potential French suspect. The latest investigation adds to nearly 100 already on the books; 109 people have been indicted in the previous cases.


The Daily Beast.

#Putin promises not allow #separatists’ defeat, speaks about ‘single political space’ in #Donbas (VIDEO)


Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks over at the French president during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Brisbane on Nov. 15, 2014Russia’s President Vladimir Putin looks over at the French president during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Brisbane on Nov. 15, 2014. © AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALAIN JOCARD

Oksana Grytsenko

While the Russian tanks were crossing the border of eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin put the blame to the Ukrainian government and its ​Western allies for bringing the Ukrainian war on the verge of new escalation.

In his interview to German TV channel ARD that was recorded in Vladivostok last week ahead of G20 summit, Putin made it clear he won’t allow the Russian-backed separatists to be defeated.

The central Ukrainian authorities have deployed their armed forces. Even the ballistic missiles are being used there,” Putin said. “What does this mean?.. It tells us that the west want the central authorities in Ukraine to destroy all their political opponents. Do you want this? We don’t want this to happen and we won’t let it happen.”

But when the interviewer reminded the numerous accusations that Russia is supplying the insurgents with weapons and soldiers, Putin just said: “In the modern world when people who fight and think that their fight is justified will always find arms.”

Putin also confirmed the separatists don’t abide ​by ​the ​Sept. 5 ​Minsk agreements reached for de-escalation of the Ukrainian crisis, but he said Russia can’t force them to do that. Putin said “the insurgents feared that if they leave these territories, nationalists units will enter the village and kill everyone.”

Sure we try to convince them, we argue with them. But when you hear such things​, there aren’t many argument​s​ left,” he said.

Putin put the blame of the Ukrainian authorities, accusing them of lack of will to establish dialogue with the insurgents. “If instead of just defining the demarcation line the Ukrainian authorities want to save territorial integrity of the country… it’s important to stop the bloodshed and mutual bombardments in order to create all prerequisites for the political dialogue. This is important and this is missing now,” he said.

Putin also once again called the Euromaidan Revolution a political coup and blamed the western governments of support Russophobes. “What have you done in order to persuade you clients in Kyiv?.. In terms of supporting Kyiv are you only supporting Russophobes? Which is very dangerous, by the way. It would be a disaster if someone secretly supported Russophobes in Ukraine,” he said addressing to the west.

Putin proposed “sort of single political space,” at the territory of Donbas.

Being asked about reaction of the west regarding annexation of Crimea, Putin said: “We find this reaction absolutely disproportional, disproportionate in relation to what happened.”

Putin said he “deeply convinced that Russia has not violated any international laws.” He gave an example of Kosovo, saying that population of Crimea had right of self-determination and made their choice through the referendum.

Despite initially Putin denied presence of Russian “green men” at the peninsula, now he confirmed they acted there. “Our armed forces blocked literally the Ukrainian forces located in Crimea, but it was not in attempt to force anyone to vote, it’s impossible to do so. It was done in order to prevent the bloodshed,” he said.

When speaking about the western sanctions, Putin claimed they were not able to stop the growth of Russian economy. At the same time, he warned the financial measures against the Russian banks could be disastrous for Ukraine.

Our banks, Russian banks have granted loans to the Ukrainian economy amounting to a total of $25 billion. If our partners in Europe and in the (United) States want to help Ukraine how could they undermine its financial base by restricting access of our financial institutions to international capital markets? What exactly do they want? Do they want our banks to crash? If this were the case then Ukraine would subsequently collapse. Are they thinking at all about what they are doing? Or other blinded by politics?” Putin said laughing.

Putin also said that sanctioned Russian Gazprom bank issued a loan of $3.2 billion to the Ukrainian energy sector and the bank has a right to demand the early repayment as Naftogaz Ukrainian state-run energy company violates the terms of loan servicing. “Yet if we do this, the whole financial system of Ukraine would collapse, if we choose not to do this, our bank might collapse,” Putin said. “So what should we do?

Putin also mentioned that there was one more Russian loan to Ukraine worth $3 billion, and according to the agreement Russian may demand early repayment if Ukraine’s national debt accedes 60% of its DGP. “We’ve already made a decision not to do this. We don’t want’ to aggravate the situation,” Putin said.


Kyiv Post.

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