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July 15, 2010

‘Tape proves Shin Bet tried to coerce me to commit murder’

In newly released recordings, alleged Shin Bet agent can be heard urging Chaim Pearlman to assassinate Sheik Ra’ad Salah.

By Chaim Levinson

New recordings released Thursday claim to prove that Chaim Pearlman, a right-wing Israeli extremist arrested Tuesday over the murder of four Palestinians, was encouraged by an alleged Shin Bet agent to commit violent acts, including the assassination of Sheik Ra’ad Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

Chaim Pearlman in court Wednesday.

Chaim Pearlman was arrested earlier this week, initially on suspicion of carrying out two murders in 1998, and for a series of attacks against other Palestinian victims over the last 12 years. The Petah Tikva Magistrates’ Court on Thursday extended his remand by six days.

According to Pearlman, he was contacted by a person who allegedly worked for the Shin Bet security service while disseminating fliers for the extreme right-wing Kach movement. Pearlman maintains that the person had tried to convince him to get involved in violent acts.

Pearlman recorded all his conversations with the man and says he has 20 hours of recordings.

The Shin Bet denied Thursday claims it tried to coerce Pearlman into carrying out attacks against Arabs, saying the exchanges recorded in the tapes released earlier Thursday represented a legitimate method of extracting a confession from a suspect.

In his conversation with the person Pearlman claimed was a Shin Bet agent, Pearlman can be heard supporting non-violent, educational activities, with the alleged agent apparently incites him to violence.

In the recordings released Thursday, the alleged agent can be heard saying that only an “extreme move” could change public opinion, citing the assassination of Sheik Ra’ad Salah as one such extreme move.

“I could do it,” the agent can be heard saying, referring to the proposed killing of the Islamic Movement leader, saying that Salah’s security would prevent him from succeeding, adding that if he were Pearlman he would commit the assassination.

“It’s not about hitting him [Salah] and getting in trouble. It’s about coming over, hitting him, and see you later, like that guy in Bar Noar” the alleged Shin Bet agent can be heard saying, referring to the killing of a counselor and a teenager at a Tel Aviv gay center last year.

The agent continues to explain how he would carry out Salah’s assassination, saying Pearlman would have to “use another person for that,” adding that if he himself had grown up where Pearlman had grown up, “I wouldn’t be spray painting slogans.”

“You don’t really want to do it,” Pearlman can be heard as saying, with the alleged Shin Bet agent replying: “Says who? Says you? What are you relying on? Can you check me? Come check me, I’m ready.”

When Pearlman asked if the alleged Shin Bet agent understood the ramifications of such an act, and if he would be willing to take responsibility for it, the agent said: “sure, why not.”

“How long will the noise continue? Will it lead to war? Won’t there be war without it happening?” the agent can be heard asking, adding that “war has casualties.”

“Listen I don’t have a problem [inaudible] someone who takes a life once and gets that feeling…. I would never do it to a Jew. It would be hard,” the alleged Shin Bet agent said, adding, “but I wouldn’t have a problem with one of those.”

After again discussing the risks such an action would entail, Pearlman can be heard asking if the alleged agent even knew where Salah lived, with the agent answering: “somewhere in the North, in one of the villages in the North.

“Look, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. The car passes. You shoot a burst. Chances are the driver will get killed,” the agent added, saying that Pearlman would have to either “finish him with one burst, or a few split ones.”

The alleged agent continues his description of the potential assassination, saying that it would not be the kind of operation where one would “come in close.”

“You need to be as far away as you can in this kind of situation. Or put a bomb in the car. That’s the classic one. Nothing’s left, everything goes everywhere,” the agent added, saying Salah would then “go to all hell.”

Throughout the recordings Pearlman can be heard rejecting the alleged agent’s call for violence, and instead supporting educational and spiritual activity.

At one point Pearlman can be heard saying that he was “a youth counselor, I organized rallies. I organized a rally in front of a store that sold pork.” The alleged Shin Bet agent subsequently asks Pearlman “and where did that get you?”

When Pearlman answers that he wanted to raise awareness to the fact that the store had been selling pork, the alleged agent asks if it wouldn’t have been “simpler to throw a fire bomb – people would get the message.”

“If you throw a fire bomb twice, the insurance [companies] won’t insure him anymore,” the alleged Shin Bet agent can be heard saying.

When Pearlman apparently rejects the idea of physically attacking the shop, saying that such a course of action could not be sustained, since he would eventually be caught, the person he claims is a Shin Bet agent can be head saying: “you throw once, you throw twice, and the insurance won’t insure. No one will open there.”

“That could mean prison for several years. I’m talking about spreading ideas,” Pearlman can be heard saying, adding that he was after “the long run, not a one time thing.”

To that the alleged agent answers “sometimes the one-time thing affects the long-run,” adding “let’s do something you and me. Let’s do something,” to which Pearlman replies that he is more interested in family.

The recordings continue to document the discussion between the two, in which Pearlman insists on the value of educational action, with the alleged Shin Bet agent dismissing that approach.

The agent can then be heard suggesting that Pearlman take the same people he had been working with distributing fliers and “sit on a nice village and organize a fireworks show,” referring to an armed assault on an Arab village.

“The Shin Bet is everywhere,” Pearlman can be heard answering, adding that “every second or third person is connected.”

“They keep taking people in to give them warnings. Arrest them for nothing, take people and frighten them,” Pearlman says, adding that the Shin Bet were conducting arrests and were “listening to every call.”


Judge Napolitano in C-SPAN with Ralph Nader –

Judge Napolitano in C-SPAN with Ralph Nader – Part 1/6

Judge Napolitano in C-SPAN with Ralph Nader – Part 2/6

Judge Napolitano in C-SPAN with Ralph Nader – Part 3/6

Judge Napolitano in C-SPAN with Ralph Nader – Part 4/6

Judge Napolitano in C-SPAN with Ralph Nader – Part 5/6

Judge Napolitano in C-SPAN with Ralph Nader – Part 6/6

Bush Should Have Been Indicted

By David Edwards

Fox News’ senior judicial analyst made some surprising remarks Saturday that may go against the grain at his conservative network.

July 15, 2010 “Rawstory” — In a interview with Ralph Nader on C-SPAN’s Book TV to promote his book Lies the Government Told You, Judge Andrew Napolitano said that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should have been indicted for “torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrant.”

The judge believes that it is a fallacy to say that the US treats suspects as innocent until proven guilty. “The government acts as if a defendant is guilty merely on the basis of an accusation,” said Napolitano.

Nader was curious about how this applied to the Bush administration. “What about the more serious violations of habeas corpus,” wondered Nader. “You know after 9/11 Bush rounded up thousands of them, Americans, many of them Muslim Americans or Arabic Americans and they were thrown in jail without charges. They didn’t have lawyers. Some of them were pretty mistreated in New York City. You know they were all released eventually.”

“Well that is so obviously a violation of the natural law, the natural right to be brought before a neutral arbiter within moments of the government taking your freedom away from you,” answered Napolitano.

“So what President Bush did with the suspension of habeas corpus, with the whole concept of Guantanamo Bay, with the whole idea that he could avoid and evade federal laws, treaties, federal judges and the Constitution was blatantly unconstitutional and is some cases criminal,” he continued.

“What should be the sanctions [for Bush and Cheney]?” asked Nader.

“They should have been indicted. They absolutely should have been indicted for torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrant,” said Napolitano.

“I’d like to say they should be indicted for lying but believe it or not, unless you’re under oath, lying is not a crime. At least not an indictable crime. It’s a moral crime,” he said.

This isn’t the first time that Napolitano’s comments have veered away from the standard talking points at Fox News. He has predicted that Arizona’s controversial immigration law will be blocked by the court. Napolitano also said Arizona’s governor would “bankrupt the Republican Party” fighting for the law.


Israeli activists ‘bring the blindfolded’ to the Jerusalem Film Fest

Street theater at the Jerusalem Film Festival (Photo: Sim Sim)

by Adam Horowitz on July 15, 2010 ·

Activists from Just Jerusalem (the main Israeli organization working on the Sheikh Jarrah protests) greeted moviegoers attending the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival with a scene they’ll not soon forget. Members of the group acted as “detainees” and “guards” to, in their words, “convey the essence of the occupation to the escapist public.” The action was called “Bringing the Blindfolded to Jerusalem Film Festival” and the activists explain, “[The street theater was] simulating what thousands of Palestinians suffer. Our objective was to force Israelis to recognize the reality that is done on our behalf.”

The Jerusalem Film Festival has already been in the news for attracting protest. It seems the message might have been lost on some of eyewitnesses however. One protester reports, “Many people thought this was real and thanked the “guards” for protecting them.”



Shir Hever is an economic researcher in the Alternative Information Center, a Palestinian-Israeli organization active in Jerusalem and Beit-Sahour. Researching the economic aspect of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, some of his research topics include international aid to the Palestinians and Israel, the effects of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on the Israeli economy, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of the economy of the Israeli occupation.

U.S. turns over Tariq Aziz, other members of Saddam Hussein regime to Iraqi custody

Tarek Aziz

By Ned Parker and Nadeem Hamid

The transfers come as American forces prepare to end their control of the sole remaining U.S. prison facility in Iraq.

July 14, 2010

Reporting from Baghdad —

The United States has handed over 29 members of Saddam Hussein’s government to Iraqi custody in recent weeks, including Tariq Aziz, the urbane, cigar-chomping official who served as the regime’s global spokesman, Iraqi officials and Aziz’s relatives said Wednesday.

The U.S. military confirmed that it transferred 26 former regime officials Monday and three others last month. It added that it continued to hold eight high-ranking members of Hussein’s government and his ruling Baath Party.

Both Aziz’s son and the Iraqi government said the former foreign minister and deputy prime minister has in an Iraqi prison since Monday.

His son, Ziad Aziz, said his father, who suffers from heart disease and diabetes, called him Wednesday and complained that he was now being held in a tiny cell and deprived of his medications. His son said the former official described the situation as “hard circumstances.”

“He hasn’t taken his medicine in three days. There’s no place to sit. He hasn’t seen a doctor,” Ziad Aziz said. He added that his father has been in a wheelchair in recent months after suffering a stroke. A medical report sent to the family by the International Committee for the Red Cross listed Aziz as also suffering from dementia and slurred speech.

Iraq’s deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim, denied that Aziz or any other detainees were being mistreated.

“This is street talk,” Ibrahim said. “The Ministry of Justice doesn’t have anything to hide, whether with former regime officials or former terrorists. Each has his rights and [the ministry has] duties to fulfill according to the international standards.”

Iraq’s detention facilities have been plagued by poor living conditions and allegations of abuse by guards. The justice, defense and interior ministries have implemented human rights inspections, but violations still occur. A U.N. human rights report released last week raised concern about abuses committed against detainees.

Tariq Aziz first gained notoriety in 1990 after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. He continued to promote Hussein’s views to the international community in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Fluent in English and well-educated, the former foreign minister came to symbolize Hussein’s regime in the West. He was Iraq’s senior-most Christian official.

In March 2009, an Iraqi court sentenced him to 15 years in prison for his role in the 1992 execution of 42 merchants who had been accused of price-fixing. He received another seven-year sentence in August 2009 for the displacement of Kurds in 1980.

In addition to the 29 detainees handed over by the Americans, Ibrahim said 26 other high-ranking former regime officials had been transferred to Iraqi custody about eight months ago.

The latest transfers come ahead of the end of American control of Camp Cropper at Baghdad’s international airport, the sole remaining U.S. prison facility in Iraq. On Thursday, the U.S. military will hand over a final 1,600 detainees, while another 200 prisoners will be held under joint Iraqi-U.S. custody, Ibrahim said.

The shutdown of U.S. detention facilities marks a major step as American forces wind down their formal combat mission in Iraq and reduce their troops to 50,000 by the end of August. All remaining U.S. soldiers are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

The United States will continue to hold in joint custody with the Iraqi government eight high-ranking members of the old regime, including Hussein’s half-brothers Watban Ibrahim Hassan and Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan. Both men have been sentenced to death by Iraqi courts.

The most controversial case remains that of Hussein’s former defense minister, Sultan Hashim Ahmad Jabburi Tai. Jabburi Tai was sentenced to death in 2007 for his role as a general in the north during the Hussein regime’s 1980s Anfal military campaign against the Kurds.

Jabburi Tai has been spared execution because Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, has refused the orders. Talabani has argued that Hashim should be spared for his contacts with the Iraqi opposition before 2003. It has long been rumored that Jabburi Tai helped to stand down the Iraqi army during the U.S. military invasion.

But many Shiite leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, have pushed for his execution.

Ibrahim hinted that the Iraqi authorities were pushing for Jabburi Tai and the remaining seven regime officials to be transferred over as soon as possible.

“There are no negotiations,” the deputy justice minister said. “Whoever we want, we just inform the American side. We are running Iraq right now. The Americans are supporting us.”


Hamid is a Times staff writer.

US penalizes provision of humanitarian aid to groups it dubs terrorist


The U.S. Supreme Court was requested to review the constitutional validity of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

Introduced by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the bill was adopted by an overwhelming majority in response to the Oklahoma City bombing and enthusiastically signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

One of the clauses prescribing that a terrorist suspect can file only one petition for a writ of habeas corpus (a protection against illegal imprisonment) came under heavy fire. In its decision Felker versus Turpin (1997), the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that the limitation was not in breach of article 1 Section 9 paragraph 2 of the Constitution. True, in itself, it does not constitute an extension of the temporary detention even if, after a first appeal rejection, there is no mechanism to prevent the temporary detention from becoming permanent.

Another stipulation of the law was subject to further comment. It prohibits the willful provision of support of whatever nature – with the exception of medical assistance or a religious service – to any foreign terrorist organization. Following pleas by successive administrations – those of Clinton, Bush and Obama – in the past 12 years the courts have ruled that this applies to an association that provided legal advice to the PKK and to the Tamil Tigers even though such advice envisaged a peaceful solution to the Kurdish and Tamil conflicts by bringing the cases before the United Nations. In its decision Holder versus Humanitarian Law Project, of 21 June 2010, the Court held:

That the terms of the law are sufficiently clear to ensure that a person awaiting trial is in no doubt as to what is prohibited;

That this interdiction does not infringe a person’s freedom of speech, as nothing prevents a subject from expressing his support for causes defended by terrorists;

That neither does this interdiction violate his freedom of assembly as it does not prohibit meeting with terrorists or conversing with them.

Traditionally, the US Supreme Court takes a puritanical view of mankind. Just as puritans prohibit assisting a sinner in distress as long as he has not specifically renounced sin, the Court prohibits providing assistance to terrorists as long as they have not repudiated armed activity. In its view, those who assist them legally, educationally, culturally, socially or in any other manner, enable them to conserve their energy for the commitment of Evil.

Moreover, in United States law a terrorist organization is not an organization that has been sentenced for precise criminal acts but a group designated as such on political grounds by the State Department.

In consequence, all types of activity may be punished as “terrorist” by US courts. This is the case, for example, with the provision of UN food aid to Gaza if it is distributed by local councillors who are members of Hamas.

Thank you tlaxcala and have a look at its new look

The Spot-and-Shoot Game



It is called Spot and Shoot. Operators sit in front of a TV monitor from which they can control the action with a PlayStation-style joystick.

The aim: to kill terrorists.

Played by: young women serving in the Israeli army.

Spot and Shoot, as it is called by the Israeli military, may look like a video game but the figures on the screen are real people — Palestinians in Gaza — who can be killed with the press of a button on the joystick.

The female soldiers, located far away in an operations room, are responsible for aiming and firing remote-controlled machine-guns mounted on watch-towers every few hundred metres along an electronic fence that surrounds Gaza.

The system is one of the latest “remote killing” devices developed by Israel’s Rafael armaments company, the former weapons research division of the Israeli army and now a separate governmental firm.

According to Giora Katz, Rafael’s vice-president, remote-controlled military hardware such as Spot and Shoot is the face of the future. He expects that within a decade at least a third of the machines used by the Israeli army to control land, air and sea will be unmanned.

The demand for such devices, the Israeli army admits, has been partly fuelled by a combination of declining recruitment levels and a population less ready to risk death in combat.

Oren Berebbi, head of its technology branch, recently told an American newspaper: “We’re trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield … We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk.”

Rapid progress with the technology has raised alarm at the United Nations. Philip Alston, its special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, warned last month of the danger that a “PlayStation mentality to killing” could quickly emerge.

According to analysts, however, Israel is unlikely to turn its back on hardware that it has been at the forefront of developing – using the occupied Palestinian territories, and especially Gaza, as testing laboratories.

Remotely controlled weapons systems are in high demand from repressive regimes and the burgeoning homeland security industries around the globe.

“These systems are still in the early stages of development but there is a large and growing market for them,” said Shlomo Brom, a retired general and defence analyst at the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The Spot and Shoot system — officially known as Sentry Tech — has mostly attracted attention in Israel because it is operated by 19- and 20-year-old female soldiers, making it the Israeli army’s only weapons system operated exclusively by women.

Female soldiers are preferred to operate remote killing devices because of a shortage of male recruits to Israel’s combat units. Young women can carry out missions without breaking the social taboo of risking their lives, said Mr Brom.

The women are supposed to identify anyone suspicious approaching the fence around Gaza and, if authorised by an officer, execute them using their joysticks.

The Israeli army, which plans to introduce the technology along Israel’s other confrontation lines, refuses to say how many Palestinians have been killed by the remotely controlled machine-guns in Gaza. According to the Israeli media, however, it is believed to be several dozen.

The system was phased-in two years ago for surveillance, but operators were only able to open fire with it more recently. The army admitted using Sentry Tech in December to kill at least two Palestinians several hundred metres inside the fence.

The Haaretz newspaper, which was given rare access to a Sentry Tech control room, quoted one soldier, Bar Keren, 20, saying: “It’s very alluring to be the one to do this. But not everyone wants this job. It’s no simple matter to take up a joystick like that of a Sony PlayStation and kill, but ultimately it’s for defence.”

Audio sensors on the towers mean that the women hear the shot as it kills the target. No woman, Haaretz reported, had failed the task of shooting what the army calls an “incriminated” Palestinian.

The Israeli military, which enforces a so-called “buffer zone” — an unmarked no-man’s land — inside the fence that reaches as deep as 300 metres into the tiny enclave, has been widely criticised for opening fire on civilians entering the closed zone.

In separate incidents in April, a 21-year-old Palestinian demonstrator was shot dead and a Maltese solidarity activist wounded when they took part in protests to plant a Palestinian flag in the buffer zone. The Maltese woman, Bianca Zammit, was videoing as she was hit.

It is unclear whether Spot and Shoot has been used against such demonstrations.

The Israeli army claims Sentry Tech is “revolutionary”. And that will make its marketing potential all the greater as other armies seek out innovations in “remote killing” technology.

Rafael is reported to be developing a version of Sentry Tech that will fire long-range guided missiles.

Another piece of hardware recently developed for the Israeli army is the Guardium, an armoured robot-car that can patrol territory at up to 80km per hour, navigate through cities, launch “ambushes” and shoot at targets. It now patrols the Israeli borders with Gaza and Lebanon.

Its Israeli developers, G-Nius, have called it the world’s first “robot soldier”. It looks like a first-generation version of the imaginary “robot-armour” worn by soldiers in the popular recent sci-fi movie Avatar.

Rafael has produced the first unmanned naval patrol boat, the “Protector”, which has been sold to Singapore’s navy and is being heavily marketing in the US. A Rafael official, Patrick Bar-Avi, told the Israeli business daily Globes: “Navies worldwide are only now beginning to examine the possible uses of such vehicles, and the possibilities are endless.”

But Israel is most known for its role in developing “unmanned aerial vehicles” – or drones, as they have come to be known. Originally intended for spying, and first used by Israel over south Lebanon in the early 1980s, today they are increasingly being used for extrajudicial executions from thousands of feet in the sky.

In February Israel officially unveiled the 14 metre-long Heron TP drone, the largest ever. Capable of flying from Israel to Iran and carrying more than a ton of weapons, the Heron was tested by Israel in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in winter 2008, when some 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

More than 40 countries now operate drones, many of them made in Israel, although so far only the Israeli and US armies have deployed them as remote-controlled killing machines. Israeli drones are being widely used in Afghanistan.

Smaller drones have been sold to the German, Australian, Spanish, French, Russian, Indian and Canadian armies. Brazil is expected to use the drone to provide security for the 2014 World Cup championship, and the Panamanian and Salvadoran governments want them too, ostensibly to run counter-drug operations.

Despite its diplomatic crisis with Ankara, Israel was reported last month to have completed a deal selling a fleet of 10 Herons to the Turkish army for $185 million.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (, published in Abu Dhabi.

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