President Trump fills world leaders with fear: ‘It’s gone from funny to really scary’

Most of the world seems to agree a Donald Trump presidency is a disturbing possibility that would inflict unthinkable damage, Guardian reporters found

Dangerous, foolish, irrational, scary, terrifying, irresponsible, a clown, a disaster. These are just some of the words used to describe the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency by politicians, diplomats and analysts around the world.

As the businessman gave his first major policy address since becoming frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, Guardian correspondents in Washington and around the globe asked the international community whether it was prepared for the swaggering billionaire to occupy the White House.

Many said they still cannot believe the nation that elected its first black president just eight years ago will now rush to embrace a man who has offended Mexicans, Muslims and others. The possibility that Trump might actually win fills great swaths of the planet with dread with the apparent and notable exception of Vladimir Putins Russia with concerns over everything from trade to the nuclear trigger.

While Trump was delivering his speech in Washington, outlining a doctrine of naked self-interest that would shake the rust off Americas foreign policy, the heads of all the major UN agencies gathered in Vienna, Austria, for a strategy session with secretary general Ban Ki-moon, now in his last eight months in office.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/28/donald-trump-president-world-leaders-foreign-relations

President Trump fills world leaders with fear: ‘It’s gone from funny to really scary’

Most of the world seems to agree a Donald Trump presidency is a disturbing possibility that would inflict unthinkable damage, Guardian reporters found

Dangerous, foolish, irrational, scary, terrifying, irresponsible, a clown, a disaster. These are just some of the words used to describe the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency by politicians, diplomats and analysts around the world.

As the businessman gave his first major policy address since becoming frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, Guardian correspondents in Washington and around the globe asked the international community whether it was prepared for the swaggering billionaire to occupy the White House.

Many said they still cannot believe the nation that elected its first black president just eight years ago will now rush to embrace a man who has offended Mexicans, Muslims and others. The possibility that Trump might actually win fills great swaths of the planet with dread with the apparent and notable exception of Vladimir Putins Russia with concerns over everything from trade to the nuclear trigger.

While Trump was delivering his speech in Washington, outlining a doctrine of naked self-interest that would shake the rust off Americas foreign policy, the heads of all the major UN agencies gathered in Vienna, Austria, for a strategy session with secretary general Ban Ki-moon, now in his last eight months in office.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/28/donald-trump-president-world-leaders-foreign-relations

How ISIS Picks Its Suicide Bombers

They come from Russia, Franceeven New Jerseyto end their lives for an Islamic State. But an ISIS defector reveals that Saddams old spies are the ones holding all the triggers.

For all the attention paid to ISIS, relatively little is known about its inner workings. But a man claiming to be a member of the so-called Islamic States security services has stepped forward to provide that inside view. This series is based on days of interviews with this ISIS spy. Read part one here, part three here, and part four here.

Part Two: Spies Like ISIS

ISTANBUL Suicide bomber is a choice, said the man well call Abu Khaled, stubbing out a Marlboro Red and lighting a new one. When you join ISIS, during the clerical classes, they ask: Who will be a martyr? People raise their hands, and they go off to a separate group.

The number of recruits is declining, the former ISIS intelligence officer and trainer had told me here, on the shores of the Bosporus. But, at least in those indoctrination classes, theres no want of young men looking for a quick trip to Paradise. They keep volunteering, said Abu Khaled.

In the wide world outside al-Dawla al-Islamiya, the Islamic State, we have caught occasional glimpses of these incendiary young zealots. There was, for instance, Jake Bilardi, a disaffected Australian 18-year-old, who, judging by the blog he left while still in Melbourne, made a rather seamless transition from Chomskyism to takfirism, before detonating himself at a checkpoint in Iraq.

Abu Abdullah al-Australi, as he went to his death in Ramadi, was convinced that he was carrying out a noble act of self-sacrifice, turning kamikaze for the caliphate. For him, jihad began at home. The turning point in my ideological development, hed written, coincided with the beginning of my complete hatred and opposition to the entire system Australia and the majority of the world was based upon. It was also the moment I realised that violent global revolution was necessary to eliminate this system of governance and that I would likely be killed in this struggle. He was right about that last part, if not quite about how his fellow revolutionaries determined his use-value.

For pragmatic reasons, ISIS has encouraged homogeneity within the ranks of its katibas, or military battalions, much as the republicans did with their international brigades during the Spanish Civil War. One of the best-trained and best-equipped katibas, or battalions, is named for Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born al Qaeda cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Everything is in English for this katiba, Abu Khaled said. And we have another one with a lot of Americans called Abu Mohammed al-Amiriki. Its named for a guy from New Jersey. He got killed in Kobani. This katiba also has a lot of foreigners.

Lately, however, ethnically or linguistically delimited katibas are being dissolved and reconstituted into mixed ones, owing to the unintended consequence of having too many people from one place, or with one language, assembled together. Al-Battar, one of the strongest battalions in the ISIS army, was made up of 750 Libyans. Its men, ISIS found, were more loyal to their emir than they were to the organization. So al-Battar was disbanded.

Not long after joining ISIS, Abu Khaled had intended to found a Francophone katiba of around 70 to 80 fighters who didnt speak any Arabic. The men drew up a petition and signed it, and Abu Khaled took it to ISIS headquarters in Raqqa. The petition was denied. Why? They told me, We had a problem before with the Libyans. We dont want the French in one katiba.

Russian speakers, too, are considered rogue troublemakers in al-Dawla. All fighters from the Caucasus or former Soviet republics tend to be referred to by the catch-all word Chechens. And while Abu Omar al-Shishani, an ethnic Chechen from Georgia, is one of the most recognized (and overhyped) battlefield commanders in ISIS, Chechens are running their own outfits with very little supervision or command-and-control from Raqqa. This has caused heightened vigilance among the Arab or regional jihadists. I was in Raqqa once, and there was five or six Chechens. They were mad about something. So they came to see the emir of Raqqa. He was so afraid, he ordered ISIS to deploy snipers to the roofs of buildings. He thought the Chechens would attack. The snipers stayed there for two hours.

ISISs heralded end of the artificial borders imposed by European imperial powers has led to the unintended consequence of jihadist imperialism. The ISIS leadership, after all, is mainly Iraqi, and if there is a political, as opposed to religious, objective underlying all its activity, it is the restoration of Sunni power in Baghdad. Indeed, the franchise in Mesopotamia can be considered more nationalist in orientation than the one in the Levant, where muhajireen drunk on the end of Sykes-Picot seem not to realize theyre being exploited by the former henchmen of Saddam Hussein.

***

Structured rather like the regional mukhabarat, or intelligence agencies, of the traditional Arab tyrants ISIS supposedly wants to extirpate, ISISs amniyat, or security services, consists of four separate agencies or branches, each with its own role.

There is Amn al-Dakhili, which is tantamount to ISISs interior ministry. Its charged with maintaining security for each city.

Then there is Amn al-Askari, or ISIS military intelligence, its reconnaissance men and anatomists of enemy positions and fighting capabilities.

Amn al-Kharji is ISIS foreign intelligence, whose operatives are sent behind enemy lines to conduct espionage or plot and perpetrate terrorist operations. But enemy lines doesnt just refer to countries and cities of the West; any areas in Syria controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or the Assad regime, and thus not technically within the boundaries of the caliphate, require foreign assets to penetrate.

This is crucial for how the organization expands in Syria and Iraqby dispatching sleepers to recruit agents and informants, or gather information about rival groups, be they other militias or state armies. Abu Khaled emphasized repeatedly that tradecraft rather than martial puissance is what makes ISIS so formidable at seizing and keeping terrain.

This naturally puts one in mind of the KGB or Stasihardly a coincidence given that many of the top-ranking ISIS officials are former members of Saddam Husseins mukhabarat and therefore past pupils of Warsaw Pact security organs. In fact, the man who constructed the ISIS franchise in Syria, the now-deceased Haji Bakr, had once been a colonel in Saddams Air Defense Intelligence Service.

Abu Khaled told me that the ministry of fear Haji Bakr built has only thrived since.

A week before I defected, I was sitting with the chief of Amn al-Kharji, Abu Abd Rahman al-Tunisi. They know the weak point of the FSA. Al-Tunisi told me: We are going to train guys we know, recruiters, Syrians Take them, train them, and send them back to where they came from. Well give them $200,000 to $300,000. And because they have money, the FSA will put them in top positions.

This is how ISIS took over Syria, said Abu Khaled. It has plants in the villages and areas run by the FSA, and its people are in the FSA.

In other words: Not all of Americas supposed allies in Syria are what they seem. Some of them, according to Abu Khaled, are being manipulated by people secretly working for ISIS instead.

Abu Khaled was made a member of Amn al-Dawla, or ISIS state security. This is its Shin Bet or FBI, responsible for running counterintelligence operations (weeding out foreign spies from the FSA, the Assad regime, or Western or regional services), intercepting communications internally (such as phone calls or unauthorized Internet connections), and maintaining the organizations notorious detention program. The British-born Mohammed Emwazi, whom the media nicknamed Jihadi John after his recorded decapitations of Western hostages and who was very likely killed by a U.S. drone strike on Nov. 13, was also a member of Amn al-Dawla.

When anyone from any of these four branches is at work, Abu Khaled explained, they are masked. But sometimes ISISs fondness for media attention gets the better of it. Emwazis identity, Abu Khaled said, was only confirmed because an informant for a regional government obtained unedited footage of the Briton running around Raqqa without his mask and delivered it to London.

Adnani, a senior member of ISISs Shura Councilits main decision-making bodyis responsible for appointing the wali, or governor, for each of four wilayat, or provinces.

Adnani also names the chiefs of all four branches of the security services as well as the chief of staff for the ISIS military administration. He is very mercurial. I dont even think he consults with the khalifa [the caliph] for replacing people or firing people, Abu Khaled said. (This seemed exaggerated: The Shura Council, headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, likely does authorizeor at least rubber-stampsthe selection and deselection of walis.) Every visit, he puts people in jail, he fires people. Before I came to al-Bab, Adnani appointed a new wali from Iraq, a new chief of security from Iraq. Now in Syria we dont have any Syrians as walis. Foreigners from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Iraqbut not Syrians. Tunisia should really open its embassy in Raqqa, not Damascus. Thats where its people are.

Adnani divides his time between Raqqa and al-Bab, where Abu Khaled claims to know all of his residences, including the one used by the soldiers that Abu Khaled trained. Adnani is largely inconspicuous, always traveling in an old car and with a security detail that tends not to advertise its presence.

Perhaps the foregoing story is true, or perhaps its part of a carefully tended personality cult, without which no absolutism can survive and self-perpetuate.

The tales about these secret visits are reminiscent of those told about Harun al-Rashid, the fifth Abbasid caliph of Baghdad when it was at its height in the eighth century. Although al-Rashid was real, his rendering by posterity was more informed by his recurring, fictionalized role in The Thousand and One Nights.

At times, Abu Khaled seemed an unwitting Scheherazade, trafficking more in third-hand rumors and gossipcaliphate cock-and-bullthan in what hed witnessed himself. Yet even these stories were illuminating insofar as they demonstrate the care with which ISIS sells its own legend internally.

Another anecdote about Baghdadi, for instance, is almost surely a fabrication by clever political technologists for intentional dissemination through the jihadist grapevine.

Once, it is said, Baghdadi traveled to Minbij, the other main city ISIS controls in Aleppo, whereupon he got into a car accident. The man whose car he dinged was incensed and started shouting at the caliph, whose identity he didnt know, right there on the street, in front of passersby.

Im going to take you to the court! the man screamed at Baghdadi. Lets go, Baghdadi answered him. And off the two went, to the Sharia court in Minbij. In front of a clerical magistrate who knew the defendants identity even if the plaintiff did not, Baghdadi admitted that the smashup was indeed his fault. The judge ordered the caliph to pay a fine.

Part II: Spies Like ISIS
Part III: Ministries of Fear
Part IV: Escape From the Islamic State

They hold themselves to account, like everybody else, Abu Khaled told me. This kind of thing, believe me, they are very good at.

Abu Khaled credits this notion of equality before the law as one of the main pillars of ISISs populist political program. And he said he experienced it firsthand.

His personal computer, he said, was at one point confiscated by Amn al-Dawla so that it could be checked for any sign of disloyalty or treason. The machine was lost, a casualty of the jihadist bureaucracy. So I had to take them to court. I swear to God, the judge, he picked up the phone: OK, guys, you have 24 hours. I need his computer. Or you have to compensate him for the computer. Otherwise, Im going to put you in the square and thrash you in front of everybody. You can be a nobody and still seek justice. This is one reason people who hate ISIS still respect them.

But, of course, ISIS doesnt just enforce its will through respect, he noted. When that appeal falls short, ISIS turns to a complementary method of controlling its population: fear. Then Abu Khaled told me about the cage.

Tomorrow: Ministries of Fear

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/16/how-isis-picks-its-suicide-bombers.html