posts about or somewhat related to ‘WOT’

Drones

By Matt Bors, via @KenRoth. Select to embiggen.

The Guantánamo Memoirs of Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Via Slate:

Mohamedou Ould Slahi began to tell his story in 2005. Over the course of several months, the Guantánamo prisoner handwrote his memoir, recounting what he calls his “endless world tour” of detention and interrogation. He wrote in English, a language he mastered in prison. His handwriting is relaxed but neat, his narrative, even riddled with redactions, vivid and captivating. In telling his story he tried, as he wrote, “to be as fair as possible to the U.S. government, to my brothers, and to myself.” He finished his 466-page draft in early 2006. For the next six years, the U.S. government held the manuscript as a classified secret.
When his pro bono attorneys were allowed to hand me a disk labeled “Unclassified Version” last year, Slahi had been a Guantánamo detainee for more than a decade. I sat down to start reading his manuscript nearly 10 years to the day from the book’s opening scene:
“[Redacted] July 2002, 22:00. The American team takes over. The music was off. The conversations of the guards faded away. The truck emptied.”
We’re in the middle of the action. Slahi’s life in captivity had begun eight months earlier, on Nov. 20, 2001, when Slahi, then 30, was summoned by Mauritanian police for questioning. He had just returned home from work; he was in the shower when police arrived. He dressed, grabbed his car keys—he went voluntarily, driving himself to the police station—and told his mother not to worry, he would be home soon.

Overview: How the United States kept him silent for 12 years.
Part 01: Endless Interrogations.
Part 02: Disappeared.
Part 03: Family.
Timeline of Slahi’s detention.
Image: Handwritten page from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s memoir (PDF), via Slate.

The Guantánamo Memoirs of Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Via Slate:

Mohamedou Ould Slahi began to tell his story in 2005. Over the course of several months, the Guantánamo prisoner handwrote his memoir, recounting what he calls his “endless world tour” of detention and interrogation. He wrote in English, a language he mastered in prison. His handwriting is relaxed but neat, his narrative, even riddled with redactions, vivid and captivating. In telling his story he tried, as he wrote, “to be as fair as possible to the U.S. government, to my brothers, and to myself.” He finished his 466-page draft in early 2006. For the next six years, the U.S. government held the manuscript as a classified secret.

When his pro bono attorneys were allowed to hand me a disk labeled “Unclassified Version” last year, Slahi had been a Guantánamo detainee for more than a decade. I sat down to start reading his manuscript nearly 10 years to the day from the book’s opening scene:

“[Redacted] July 2002, 22:00. The American team takes over. The music was off. The conversations of the guards faded away. The truck emptied.”

We’re in the middle of the action. Slahi’s life in captivity had begun eight months earlier, on Nov. 20, 2001, when Slahi, then 30, was summoned by Mauritanian police for questioning. He had just returned home from work; he was in the shower when police arrived. He dressed, grabbed his car keys—he went voluntarily, driving himself to the police station—and told his mother not to worry, he would be home soon.

Overview: How the United States kept him silent for 12 years.

Part 01: Endless Interrogations.

Part 02: Disappeared.

Part 03: Family.

Timeline of Slahi’s detention.

Image: Handwritten page from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s memoir (PDF), via Slate.

Visualizing Drone Strikes in Pakistan
Out of Site, Out of Mind visualizes every known drone strike in Pakistan since 2004. To date, there have been 3,105 casualties.
Of those casualties, 175 were children, 535 civilian, 2,348 “other” (status unknown) and 47 high profile. 
The visualization is interactive and lets you mouse over for additional details about each strike. Lower on the page and not shown here is the latest news from establishment and alternative media about drones, policy and their effects.
Image: Out of Site, Out of Mind by Pitch Interactive.

Visualizing Drone Strikes in Pakistan

Out of Site, Out of Mind visualizes every known drone strike in Pakistan since 2004. To date, there have been 3,105 casualties.

Of those casualties, 175 were children, 535 civilian, 2,348 “other” (status unknown) and 47 high profile. 

The visualization is interactive and lets you mouse over for additional details about each strike. Lower on the page and not shown here is the latest news from establishment and alternative media about drones, policy and their effects.

Image: Out of Site, Out of Mind by Pitch Interactive.

President Barack Obama, who vastly expanded U.S. drone strikes against terrorism suspects overseas under the cloak of secrecy, is now openly seeking to influence global guidelines for their use as China and other countries pursue their own drone programs →

Via Reuters:

"People say what’s going to happen when the Chinese and the Russians get this technology? The president is well aware of those concerns and wants to set the standard for the international community on these tools,” said Tommy Vietor, until earlier this month a White House spokesman.

FJP: Standards.

Jihadnalism

A few weeks after its previous English-language Twitter account was suspended, al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked group from Somalia, has reappeared on the site.

The previous @HSMPress account was suspended when it was used to announce that al-Shabab would kill a French hostage, and then used to announce that it had, indeed, killed him. The new account is @HSMPress1

Meantime, Aaron Zelin writes in Foreign Policy about how persistent hacking attacks on traditional online forums used by militant Islamist groups are affecting their media strategies. For example, many are moving from password protected and relatively “closed” community forums to social sites such as Twitter.

On December 23, 2012… Abdullah Muhammad Mahmud, a writer for the jihadi news agency Dawa al-Haqq Foundation for Studies and Research, which is disseminated via a Wordpress blog, provided guidance to online jihadi activists. Mahmud told his comrades that going forward, it was legitimate to use Twitter and Facebook as sources of information for jihadi-related issues. This advice was in a sense revolutionary, as jihadis had previously emphazized the importance of the forums as a method for authenticating materials, to prevent forgeries of official group content. At the same time, though, many grassroots activists had already been active on online social media platforms for a few years on an individual basis.

If the dissemination of official releases is no longer to be done centrally, it has the potential to make the forums obsolete, and usher in a new era whereby jihadi activists primarily rely on social media platforms to interact with one another. It could also force groups that are part of al-Fajr’s distribution network to evolve and change their methods of content dissemination. There is already some evidence that this shift has started during the ongoing forum takedown.

Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute, just released a report on online jihadi behavior for the New American Foundation.

Images: Screenshots of selected Twitter posts by HSM Press, al-Shabab’s English-language press agency. Select to embiggen.

On Secrecy, War, Teenagers and Headlines

00Last Friday a US drone strike killed US-born Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in Yemen. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because two weeks before a drone strike killed his US-born father. At the time, the US government said that the son was a twenty-something Al Qaeda fighter. A recently released birth certificate shows he was 16. What follows is a back and forth across two articles that focus on the issue, followed by a third, New York Times article that appeared today and calls this relatively new form of warfare a success.

01Glenn Greenwald: Two weeks after the U.S. killed American citizen Anwar Awlaki with a drone strike in Yemen — far from any battlefield and with no due process — it did the same to his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, ending the teenager’s life on Friday along with his 17-year-old cousin and seven other people.

02Amy Davidson: Maybe he was just in the wrong place, like the Yemeni seventeen-year-old who reportedly died, too. Abdulrahman’s family said that he had been at a barbecue, and told the Post that they were speaking to the paper to answer reports said that Abdulrahman was a fighter in his twenties. Looking at his birth certificate, one wonders what those assertions say either about the the quality of the government’s evidence—or the honesty of its claims—and about our own capacity for self-deception. Where does the Obama Administration see the limits of its right to kill an American citizen without a trial?

03Glenn Greenwald: It is unknown whether the U.S. targeted the teenager or whether he was merely “collateral damage.” The reason that’s unknown is because the Obama administration refuses to tell us. Said the Post: “The officials would not discuss the attack in any detail, including who the target was.” So here we have yet again one of the most consequential acts a government can take — killing one of its own citizens, in this case a teenage boy — and the government refuses even to talk about what it did, why it did it, what its justification is, what evidence it possesses, or what principles it has embraced in general for such actions. Indeed, it refuses even to admit it did this, since it refuses even to admit that it has a drone program at all and that it is engaged in military action in Yemen. It’s just all shrouded in total secrecy.

04The New York Times: Another Victory for a New Approach to War

The death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is the latest victory for a new American approach to war: few if any troops on the ground, the heavy use of air power, including drones and, at least in the case of Libya, a reliance on allies…

…[T]he last six months have brought a string of successes. In May, American commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In August, Tripoli fell, and Colonel Qaddafi fled. In September, an American drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a top Qaeda operative and propagandist, in Yemen.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Mirror Wikileaks and it Will Not Fall.

Or something like that.

On Sunday, Wikileaks began releasing classified documents from Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba:

These memoranda, which contain [the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay] recommendations about whether the prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred to their home governments, or to other governments) contain a wealth of important and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example, and, in the cases of the majority of the 171 prisoners who are still held, photos (mostly for the first time ever).

When Wikileaks last dumped a trove of sensitive documents, they were hit hard by a Distributed Denial of Service Attack that essentially took the site offline.

Half a year later, Wikileaks and its volunteers are now using the elasticity and redundancy of the Web to prevent DDoS attacks from preventing access to information again. How they’re doing it is through the use of mirrors.

What does that mean?

A mirror is simply a server that duplicates the data that is found on other servers. You can think of it as a type of file synchronization.

Commercial companies such as Amazon do this with their Elastic Cloud computing. The logistics are different (Amazon is duplicating data instances across their own servers) but the concept is the same: have multiple copies of information available across the globe so that if anything happens at one node, another can serve the data.

The video above visualizes the Wikileaks global mirror ecosystem via Google Earth. We recommend viewing it full screen so you can see the details of what’s being shown.