Archive for February, 2006

Ministry of Link

Interesting blog on piracy and such, here. One to go next to Carlos in my “You’re further right than Genghis Khan, but we can agree on at least one thing” file. BTW, anyone who reads down to the systempunkt-rockin’ map of Nigerian oil infrastructure can certainly pride themselves on having breached the Terrorism Act by having information that “could be of use to a terrorist”.

Worrying, it strikes me that this condition is a fairly good guide to what’s worth reading in the blogosphere.

Is it me or are fake policemen everywhere? (now there’s a paranoid lede if ever there was one)

Yesterday kicked off when 10 men dressed and equipped as the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior Commandos (in that wonderfully Soviet way of speaking they have) paid a call on a mosque where two 9th century Shia imams are buried and where Imam Ali is expected to be resurrected. They blew it up, and goood, thus triggering what looks like the long-awaited Lebanon-on-crack-and-steroids breakdown. According to Cole, they placed demolition charges carefully, took their time and did a professional job.

In response to this calculated, pornographic incitement, more fake policemen paid a call on the prison in Basra, collected 11 inmates, and murdered them. It’s quite obvious in the light of this that 7th Armoured Brigade has the situation in Basra well in hand. Clearly. I wonder if it was the same jail 12 Mech had to spring two of their comrades from?

Fake policemen are something like the symbol of the Iraq war. When the Americans went back into Ramadi the first time in 2004, they ordered the remaining real police to stay off the streets so the only people in police uniform would be the insurgents posing as police. Pretty much every report of sectarian brutality involves either policemen or people pretending to be policemen, or conceivably policemen pretending to be people pretending to be policemen.

Now, we have the heist of the century, £40 million from a fortified cash centre serving southeastern England. Probably a robbery indeed. How did the blaggers pull that off? Why, they stopped the manager’s car by posing as policemen and kidnapped him, whilst others, also posing as policemen, seized his family. Then they had him let them in, where they handcuffed the staff and calmly filled a lorry with cash.

It certainly sounds like the IRA Northern Bank job in Belfast – same MO, similarly spectacular results, but without the epically stupid cockup of stealing Ulster banknotes. And that, in turn, sounds like a hefty slice of guerrilla innovation (Edit: I mean, of course, pretending to be the cops).

The Australian novelist Peter Carey (I think) wrote in one of his books that when the police revolution comes, you find you can’t imagine who are the police.

…It’s a tired old blogosphere cliche to link to Fafblog, but this is genius. It’s too good to quote piecemeal.

General Houghton

On Newsnight, after the disaster of the shrine bombing, Nick Houghton seems to get it. He said that the enemy wants as much chaos as possible so as to create their Caliphate. That might sound like standard military-press boilerplate, but is it? The caliphate is a virtual state, the nation of the mind. The chaos is its territory. We created the world’s biggest creative chaos zone in Iraq.

Right, so those guerrillas in Nigeria’s oilfields have finally chucked in all that nonviolent stuff of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s and are blowing up oil pipelines, kidnapping engineers and shooting cops. They’ve even set a numerical target so as to let the markets price it in and do their work for them – they want to take one-third of Nigerian oil production offline.

It’s all very John Robb. And yes, yesterday they got a less-ugly member’s face in the papers. John’s prepared solution for this sort of war is to recruit loyalist paramilitaries (see his sidebar).

Only one problem. The Nigerian GGs were armed, heavily, by the government to assure security in their area for the 2003 election. They still felt the new parliament was giving them the shitty end of the stick, so they kept the guns. As I’ve said before, “loyalist paramilitaries” or “controlled chaos” is stupid. They aren’t loyal and it’s not. Think: like driving faster to get home because the brakes seem to be failing.

9L.

The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor has a very interesting indeed report on Sierra Leone, diamonds, the curious connections with political Islam of various more or less violent kinds, and our favourite subject – mystery jets!

Regular readers may recall that this blog has gone into the bizarre case of why Iraqi Airways’s planes are registered in the 9L- registry, Sierra Leone, in some detail. Specifically it’s because all the planes come from a group of related firms around Teebah Airlines in Jordan, which is the effort of an Iraqi tribal sheikh who was also involved in paying bribes to Australian officials for oil-for-food contracts, Phoenix Aviation/AVE in Sharjah, Dolphin Air (ex-Flying Dolphin, ex-Santa Cruz Imperial) of same location and extensive notoriety, and two companies (Star Air and Air Leone) run by Paddy McKay, a colourful aviation identity who worked for Tim Spicer in Sierra Leone’s civil war. It’s complicated, but this post, and this one, would be a good place to start.

All of these have nontrivial connections with each other and various Viktor Bout entities. Apparently, if local press reports are worth anything…some of the wilder suggestions about VB may be true.

Similar to most states in Africa, Sierra Leone struggles with endemic corruption at all levels of society, especially at the governmental level. [TYR: You bet your arse it does.] The most recent case of the government’s collusion with individuals linked to terrorist groups involves a British national named Paddy McKay, who is wanted in the UK for alleged involvement with al-Qaeda. [TYR: Is he now? That’s new.] According to a report in the Freetown Peep, Paddy McKay with the help of Khalil Lakish, a Sierra Leonean of Lebanese descent who is also under investigation for bribery of government officials and ties to Hezbollah, obtained Sierra Leonean registrations for four planes with fraudulent information. The planes [TYR: The serial numbers, you fool! What are the serial numbers?] have since been tied to terrorist activity. According to two separate reports in The Independent and the Freetown Peep, McKay, who they allege also has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Algeria’s Jamaat al-Islamia, has been using the Sierra Leonean registered planes to traffic illicit diamonds and distribute weapons to the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

I have my doubts about some of this, especially the Egyptian MB bit, but it’s surely interesting. Apparently much of this is based on an AFP wire story drawn from the Freetown press. AFP, famously, don’t want you to read their stuff, so much so that they won’t let Google index it. Their website is head-bleedingly user-hating, too, with plenty of “You know, and I know, we won’t read this” forms, no search function, no archives, and precious little content.

It appeared on the 22nd of December 2004, though.

Update: Paddy McKay speaks. Read his response here.

The Arizona Daily Sun has a newsful report on Sonia Falcone’s arrest, including this:

In the courtroom Friday, Falcone swiveled in her chair, the restraints on her designer jeans occasionally chinking just above her high heels.

Donning my journalistic blue cellophane shade, munching a cheese sandwich washed down with scotch and smoking three cigarettes, I call that a killer sentence.

Unlike Richard Chichakli, she seems unlikely to levant any time soon…

Court Magistrate David K. Duncan released Falcone on Friday after federal agents seized her passport, green card, and the passports of her three children. Duncan ordered Falcone to pay a $50,000 secured bond by the end of Tuesday, and prohibited her from leaving the state.

I wonder if Pierre’s packing his bags? Immigration News Daily has more.

Pierre Falcone’s wife, dubious cosmetics entrepreneur, wannabe Republican powerbroker and somehow unconvincing spokeswoman for the Latino poor Sonia Falcone has been arrested on charges of using a forged document to gain resident status in the US. Colour me schadenfreude.

Shirley Williams, on Ming Campbell’s ticket: Balancing liberty and security..in these dangerous times..only a temporary measure…really all for your own good…

Slip the shackles from your eyes. Real security has nothing to do with a trade-off with liberty. There’s a reason why so many key threats to our security come from or pass through polities Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, the Murdoch press and the Home Office seem bent on emulating – Dubai, China, wherever, places that practice obsessive political control and security-by-obscurity, and equally obsessive free marketeering so far as it doesn’t affect pet sectors (for Dubai – Dubai Ports World and Etisalat, for the UK – what? I reckon the property business and BAE). That kind of society’s biggest products are connectivity and impunity.

Which is a sort of chemical recipe for maximum insecurity for everyone else, a monster n+1 problem in which there will always be a safe haven for the real (and necessary) enemy but never relief from constant harassment for the ordinary citizen. It’s the paradox of Pareto efficiency applied to counter-terrorism: moving towards greater control in one state means either a move away from economic efficiency in that state, or the transfer of insecurity to others. Either all are tyrannous (and effectively so) and secure, or all are free. All the intermediate points are worse.

I hope I haven’t given anyone ideas. John Robb talks of security being packetised, but I really can’t imagine what he means. The problem is that, far from the ideal of Internet utopians, the ideal of the network state that our government has latched onto is a porn hosting company’s server farm – very, very secure in the sense of needing all the hardware tokens, passwords and badges to get in and out, and keeping all the logs for the police to peruse, but completely amoral and dedicated to profit, and probably riddled with spyware.

And again…

Spam received claiming to be the Bank of America, trying to collect passwords. Now, here’s how you do it: select “view source” in MS Exchange or Outlook, view original in Gmail. This will show the HTML code of the email. Look for the link you’re meant to click to provide your password: it will look like this… a href=”our real URL” yes, we really are the bank, click here, sucker /a, with angle brackets () around everything.

Now you know where the passwords are being collected. Do a WHOIS search for that url, and you know who.

For example..

That Bank of American fraudmail contains a link to a Polish hostco called host44.pl. Their details are as follows:

Looking up host44.pl at whois.dns.pl.

% This is the NASK WHOIS Server.
% This server provides information only for PL domains.
% For more info please see http://www.dns.pl/english/whois.html

Domain object:
domain: host44.pl
registrant’s handle: nta4827 (CORPORATE)
nservers: dns2.host44.pl.[67.19.65.165]
dns.host44.pl.[67.19.65.164]
created: 2003.12.29
last modified: 2005.12.23
registrar: NetArt
Zabawa 118
32-020 Wieliczka
Polska/Poland
+48.801 800 700
+48.12 4244010
*****@nazwa.pl

option: the domain name has not option

Subscribers Contact object:
company: CM cashMedia Tomasz Adamek
street: ul. Kopernika
city: 47-200 Kedzierzyn-Kozle
location: pl
handle: nta4827
phone: +48.601080089
last modified: 2004.10.30
registrar: NetArt
Zabawa 118
32-020 Wieliczka
Polska/Poland
+48.801 800 700
+48.12 4244010
*****@nazwa.pl

The email server has been rigged to produce silly error messages (550 Recipients are not verified? Yeah, right.)

Don’t all ring at once, eh. It really shouldn’t be that difficult.