30 June 2008

Pakistan army attacks warlord's bases

Different spin on yesterday's story. This one claims the attacks were not on the Taliban but on Mandal Bagh's Lashkar-e-Islam movement. Surprise, surprise!

EU and US near deal on confidential data sharing

This story was in some of the Sundays. Here is the EU Observer version. I think it contains the bare facts and a statement about the privacy issue as well as the rights of foreigners to sue in US courts if data is mishandled. Some of the Sunday papers in the UK couldnt decide whether to adopt an anti-EU, an anti-US stance, or both. There are important civil rights issues here, that have implications for data-sharing between EU member states too and a legally enforceable framework is vital.

Amid Policy Disputes al Qaeda Grows in Pakistan

Major New York Times piece on the state of play. Al Qaeda has now built a new chain of smaller training camps and may have as many as 2,000 local and foreign militants in them. Argues that resources were diverted to Iraq and there were arguments within the administration about the use of Special forces. Pakistani officials were concerned about possibilities of a tribal uprising and thought Americans exaggerating the size of the al Qaeda presence in Waziristan. But towards the end of the piece, a US source is quoted saying again that the size of the problem is being exaggerated. The leadership of al Qaeda may well be in the tribal lands, but it is symbolic rather than in control. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

29 June 2008

Nelson Mandela and the ANC are about to be removed from the US terrorism blacklist

Another of our occasional pieces in a non-English language. Le Monde appears to be saying that Condi has been trying to get the House of Representatives and Senate to lift the ban on Nelson Mandela and the ANC imposed by the Reagan administration. I suppose this will eventually be mentioned by the Anglo-Saxons somewhere. Bit of a problem if both houses have to pass a law to get you off the list, isnt it? Dubya still has to sign it, though...
Story reached BBC July 2nd: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7484517.stm

Drug-dealing shepherds set up Crete crime empire

Even the Sunday Telegraph travel pages have a touch of the apocalypse about them. Marijuana growing in the olive groves. Now that's how to deal with the munchies! A heady mix of hippies, Albanians and corruption [all alleged]. A village called Zoniana...would that be in the Zone then?

Tax Scandal Leaves Swiss Giant Reeling

Scandal? These are allegations of criminality. But made by individuals trying to avoid prosecution. Now, how do I get my money off-planet?

HMRC goes cap in hand to Americans for help with fraud

Interesting that this article is one of the most read in the Independent today. Is it because their readers are nationalists? Concerned with human rights? Or just tax evaders? Perhaps we should have a blog competition to decide. There has been a previous post about DARTTS. Cant remember if it was the good system that congressmen were trying to block, or the bad one they were trying to push. Better go check.

28 June 2008

UN finds Afghan Opium Trade Rising

There is a link to the UN Report in this Washington Post article, which notes that the Taliban had almost eradicated drug production in Afghanistan prior to the US-led invasion.

Dutch relaxed about pot smoking ban

I kept seeing this story over the past few days and now have a chance to post it as reported by CNN. Basically the story is that the Dutch have become one of the last countries in Europe to ban smoking in public places, which gives the "coffee shops" of Amsterdam a bit of a problem...just like it killed off hubble bubbles in Arab cafes across Europe. Be interesting to see the medium term consequences.

Pakistan Bombards Suspected Taliban Hideouts

Peshawar apparently under threat from Taliban. Analysis by New York Times staff here: http://tinyurl.com/63o3xo
Claims that the rich have already fled the area and that the whole North West is under threat. Why are we only just being told?

EU Countries Obstructing Investigations into CIA Renditions, Report says

Refers to an article in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/washington/22ksm.html?hp
and an Amnesty International Report http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR01/003/2008/en/2ceda343-41da-11dd-81f0-01ab12260738/eur010032008eng.pdf
I've tinyurl'd it here: http://tinyurl.com/695nop

Firestorm over EU blogger registry

It's not true...or is it? Swedish media went berserk over a report drafted by an Estonian MEP on media pluralism. It is denied that she proposed a register, or that if she had it would have happened...Hmmm. That's when I start to get suspicious. Clarification of the identity of bloggers and their sources, eh?? It does sound awfully Stalinist, I'm afraid. Thank goodness for the Swedes on this topic.

Italian plans to fingerprint Roma criticised as "ethnic cataloguing"

I love that the Italians blame crime on immigrants. They have the most notorious organised criminal gangs in Europe. Is this all about preserving market share? Echoes of Mussolini referred to in the article. It's the perfect answer to all of those idiots who say "the innocent have nothing to fear" from police powers, electronic surveillance etc. Some innocents can suddenly be declared guilty because of political views, ethnicity or sexual preference. Then all these authoritarian measures can be turned on them. Remember Pastor Niemoller.

Taliban to Intensify Insurgency says Pentagon

Guardian refers here to two reports, one on the insurgency and one on the Afghan Police and Army. This appears to be totally at odds with Gerard Baker's triumphalist piece in the Times yesterday telling us to rejoice because we are winning the war on terror: http://tinyurl.com/43evnh
I present both without comment. Will try to find links to the reports.
Washington Post article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/27/AR2008062702202.html

Newton International Fellowships

Aimed at attracting the best post-doctoral scholars in the world to the UK.

24 June 2008

Lopsi and Pericles

Wonderful piece in Le Monde on electronic communication, liberty and internal security. Another in our occasional series of non-English articles in an attempt to encourage the learning of other languages by our Anglo-Saxon readers. I won't pretend I understand every word, but I love le Monde's turn of phrase. Please stay independent! Cant you appeal for subscribers?
LOPSI is the "Loi pour orientation et programmation pour la performance de securite interieur". Flopsy, is, of course, a bunny.

FBI promises more fraud arrests

Update on Feds attitude to mortgage fraud. Sharon Ormsby gets tough!

Taleban's $100 million takings

Claim by UN official that Taleban impose 10% religious tax on opium production. Nice map. Heard interview on 5live this morning and thought..."better blog that!" Full programme available on File on Four site. There is a link from the article. Nice map too.

Raiders of the Russian Billions

Not sure of the degree to which this practice- known as "raiding" is still going on. Was notorious in terms of property a few years ago, and picked up by other papers than the Guardian in 2005-6. Company owners find that they no longer own their company and enter a Kafkaesque world where corrupt officials have acquiesced in or even ordered their takeover.

Al Qaeda's Growing Online offensive

Washington Post article on Al Qaeda's Internet Presence. Bit of a historical mishmash and not a lot of analysis, but useful information in there in places.

Is al Qaeda in Pieces?

Special Report from the Independent. Mostly about the counter-radicalisation campaign and the ideological opposition to al Qaeda and its affiliates. Article originally in the New Republic and is by US authors, but has a lot of material on London.

23 June 2008

Raids Hit EU People Smugglers

Group suspected of smuggling Iraqi Kurds. Eurojust coordinated the investigation, Europol the operation.

20 June 2008

Everyone Pays, Few Want to Stop

More on corruption in Russia from the Moscow Times. $319billion a year paid in bribes! There is so much data in here and it seems to me so controversial that Ive given it a tinyurl too: http://tinyurl.com/47ne7l
Just in case the article gets pulled from the main website. Lots of info in this.

FBI holds 406 for mortgage fraud

operation Malicious Mortgage [sic]. Figures of arrests, size of mortgage fraud losses plus oblique reference to Bear Stearns case. Presumably if they can do it there, so can people in the UK and elsewhere.

Shuttle Trade and New Border Regimes

Just chatting to a journalist on the phone and discovered this nice little piece on "ants", a Polish version of "smurfs", by Paul Holtom. Is he still doing stuff in this area, does anybody know? Klaus von Lampe might have some useful comments, too.

19 June 2008

As Israeli siege strangles Gaza, Hamas and smugglers profit off tunnels

Long Washington Post piece that may give some pointers as to why smugglers and organised crime profit from political conflict.

18 June 2008

Carabinieri ordered not to have affairs

Well, if your motto is "faithful through the centuries...."

17 June 2008

Abu Qatada bailed

This, on the other hand, is much more serious, although it is not clear why he cannot be put on trial. There has to be a problem proving him guilty of an offence. The mistake appears to have been made when someone decided to deport him rather than put him on trial. The judges have disagreed with the means the politicians tried to rush through, but the authorities allege there is a real problem with Abu Qatada. All the papers call him Osama bin Laden's right hand man, but only the Guardian tells us that the quote is from a Spanish judge, not a UK security report. The problem goes back to David Blunkett and Charles Clarke's macho posturing for the redtops.
Is he guilty of inciting terrorism? Then put him on trial. We have appropriate offences on the statute book. If he is only guilty of saying unpleasant things, then that its not an offence. Incitement to violence is an offence.

"Lyrical terrorist" has conviction quashed

Talk about using a wheel to crush a butterfly. CPS is going over the top again and again at the moment, stretching the law. Which is why 42 days detention is so scary. "proportionate" CPS....can you people even spell the word?

We used to have cautions and binding over to keep the peace for the silly , naive and misguided. Now we seem to want to create a martyr a day, and all our previous experience warns us against doing this. It simply recruits for the bad guys.

Suppose the Sun will see the case differently

Smugglers had Design for Advanced Warhead

This is the original Washington Post article that today's earlier post refers to. It alleges that the computers belonging to Swiss businessmen, contained designs for a much smaller warhead than had been provided to Libya and one that several other countries would have the technology to deliver. The full Albright Report should be published later this week

Asian Journal of Criminology

The Asian Journal of Criminology seeks submission for volume 4 - 2009 onwards on studies of crime and criminal justice in Asia or about the impact of Asian crime groups in America, Europe and elsewhere. We are especially interested in receiving manuscripts with a comparative or empirical focus and that also address legal issues pertinent to criminal justice. The journal also invites shorter reviews or research notes.

The journal publishes in both legal and Harvard style referencing format. Authors may upload directly on the Springer site and work is published on-line as soon as practical.

Special issues on crime in the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong and Macau
and Taiwan are also in preparation and authors are invited to submit accordingly. Please feel welcome to contact the editors:
Prof Rod Broadhurst - r.broadhurst@griffith.edu.au or
Prof Eric Chui - ericchui@cuhk.edu.hk or proceed online at

Blueprint for nuclear warhead found on smugglers' computers

Article based on a report by David Albright, an authority on the Khan group, that has been leaked to the Washington Post.

Spain raids "Major Russian Gang"

Suspects alleged to belong to the Tambov gang, based in St. Petersburg. Arms trafficking, money laundering, contract killing, drug trafficking and tax fraud. Been operating in Spain for 10 years, allegedly. German US and Russian police assisting the investigation.

£8.4 million Cannabis Operation Revealed in Northern Ireland

45 people charged, all from South East Asia. Changing times in Northern Ireland! Cannabis "factories" being discovered all over the UK, mostly linked to "South East Asian" gangs.

13 June 2008

Safe Deposit Raids uncover £53 million

Update on findings in safe deposit boxes raided by UK police earlier this month.

12 June 2008

EU delays terror list update amid Iranian diplomacy

This is about the PMOI [People's Mujaheddin Organisation of Iran], which renounced violence in 2001. UK Court of Appeal said it shouldnt be on the list. EU says it is waiting for a decision by UK parliament, but others hint that Iran is trading its staus for progress in the nuclear talks.

Scottish Islamic State Plotted

Bizarre plan revealed. MSN conversation used in evidence against three on trial at Woolwich. You do start to wonder if we're in danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Afghan Commandos Discover 230 tonnes of Cannabis in the Desert

That's a record. Not sure bombing it is an adequate response though....

09 June 2008

Tough Intellectual Takes Rebel Reins in Colombia

More on Alfonso Cano, new leader of FARC and the prospects for the near future in Colombia.

Froma a Whistle-Blower to a Target

New York Times piece on Joseph A. Ripp, who blew the whistle on fraud to one government agency and is now the target of another. Doesnt sound right. but what do I know.

Experts see gains against Asian terror networks

Two different approaches to counter-terrorism. Indonesia concentrating on conversion, Philippines on military approaches. Al Qaeda funding has dried up, apparently.

Russia to set up database to fight corruption

National database of property ownership to be created, similar to those used by tax authorities in other countries.

Inside one of Britain's Cannabis Factories

Organised Crime moving into the home-grown market. Vietnamese gands are particularly prominent.

Colombia Gets Tought with Kidnappers

Frank Gardner of the BBC visits Colombian hostage rescue force. Ther appears to be a longer version. This edit blames all kidnaps on FARC, which may or may not be true

Chavez Urges FARC to end struggle

CNN piece. Chavez urging release of hostages and negotiation of end to conflict. Colombians claim its all to do with the computer. Looks more like the changes in FARC's leadership to me. Brief window of opportunity open. Send Tony Blair!

08 June 2008

Death of FARC leader

Washington Post discussion of the succession to Manuel Marulanda, who died in March of a heart attack. Prospects for peace negotiations reviewed.

Is this Brink's- Mat Gold?

Suitcases full of what looks like gold found in safe deposit search. Should imagine that lots of people are clearing out their safe deposit boxes this weekend. New laws have enaibled the police to go searching as part of anti money-laundering drive.

Bulgaria Under Pressure over Crime

Sketchy piece about organised crime in Bulgaria. Presumably there will be a programme coming.

The Good Kind of Corruption

Nice little vignette by Alexei Pankin in Moscow Times. Russian corruption unlikely to be abolished soon.

Glimpse of the loyalist side of the divide

Book by Susan McKay "Bear in Mind these Dead". Which I presume from this New Statesman piece is about the aftermath of the loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. A long-term problem that will provide a haven for organised criminality for years to come.

06 June 2008

"Rich List" Tycoon is jailed for fraud

£350 million fraud, involving 324 bogus companies. The article is rather short, but it is today's news. Will try to catch it on the BBC when it gets there. Virendra Rastogi, head of RBG Resources is named as receiving a 9 1/2 year sentence for conspiracy to defraud. The story is odd, though, as told. The curious incident of the fax machine and the auditor...When were the police told?

Jonathan Wild: London's First Organised Crime Lord

Simultaneously, he appears to have been the founder of the CID....Plus ca change....Henry Fielding wrote a book about him 20 yeara after his death. Oh dear...more reading to do!

Death and Dirt Collide in Mafia Violence

"Super-witness" killed just before he was about to testify about links between Italian politicians and organised crime in Naples.

Even the drug dealers are suffering!

Hidden away in this piece, second paragraph after "Applexy in Number 10" is the assertion that drug dealers and money launderers are also suffering from the end of the house price boom. I thought this would mark an excellent return to this blog. I have to inform you that even in the Outer Hebrides, there is a poster campaign to look out for drug traffickers!