Wednesday, 16 October 2019

M4.7 hit San Andreas fault

Alert! Another Earthquake San Andreas Fault M4.7

US jets & helicopters threaten Turkish- backed fighters

Show of force’: US jets & 

helicopters threaten Turkish-

backed fighters who came 

VERY CLOSE to American 

troops in Syria

‘Show of force’: US jets & helicopters threaten Turkish-backed fighters who came VERY CLOSE to American troops in Syria

15 October, 2019

US fighter jets and gunship helicopters were sent to scare off Turkish-backed militants in northern Syria after they came “very close” to US troops at Ain Issa, the Pentagon said. Washington has also sent a complaint to Ankara.
F-15 fighters and AH-64 Apache gunships were used in the “show of force” on Tuesday, an unnamed US official told reporters, after the militants “violated a standing agreement” not to threaten US troops. A formal complaint was lodged with the Turkish military through diplomatic channels, the official added.
Though US troops have been withdrawing from Syria for the past week, some Special Forces operators were apparently still in the area of Ain Issa, located on the strategic M-4 highway about halfway between the Syrian-Turkish border and the former Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) “capital” of Raqqa.
Last week, Turkey launched ‘Operation Peace Spring’ with the stated purpose of establishing a “safe zone” inside Syria – mainly on territory held by Kurdish militias allied with the US, but which Ankara considers terrorist organizations. 
Rather than Turkish regulars, however, the troops used in the operation appear to be jihadist militants, which similarly happened in 2016 during ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ that targeted the Kurds around Afrin. 
While the Western press has previously referred to these militants as “moderate rebels,” a senior US official was quoted on Tuesday calling them “thugs and bandits and pirates that should be wiped off the face of the earth.”
Meanwhile, the Kurds have struck an agreement with the Syrian government troops to move to the border and block the militants. Previously, the US blocked any attempts to return the territories liberated from IS by its Kurdish allies to the government in Damascus, as they contained most of Syria’s oil and agricultural resources.

Those "moderate rebels"were terrorists all along, it is being discovered.

Unrest in Europe

Unrest in Barcelona as 

protesters clash with police 

over sentencing of separatist 


Clashes between protesters and police erupted late on Tuesday (October 15) in Barcelona, in a second day of rallies against the jailing of nine Catalan separatists by the Supreme Court over their role in a failed bid to break away from Spain in 2017.

Turkey's Halkbank sanctioned

Lira Tumbles After US 

Charges Turkey's Halkbank 

For Participating In Iran 

"Sanctions Evasion Scheme"

15 October, 2019

One day after the US announced a menu of sanctions and tariffs on Turkey, the Turkish lira rallied as the US response to Erdogan's invasion of northern Syria was less dramatic than some expected. All that changed moments ago, when the Lira tumbled nearly 300 pips in seconds after the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced it charged Turkey's Halkbank, one of the country's largest banks, for its participation in a "mltibillion-dollar Iranian sanctions evasion scheme."
According to the statement released just after 4pm ET, Halkbank, Turkey's 7th largest bank, was charged in a six-count Indictment with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.  The case is assigned to United States District Judge Richard M. Berman.
In other words, yesterday's initial sanctions levied on Turkey were just the beginning. Sure enough, moments after the announcement, Senator Lindsay Graham said he will introduce a bill on Thursday sanctioning Turkey for its Syria incursion.
Meanwhile, at roughly the same time, Erdogan made it clear he was seeking to arb his foreign policy options, with Anadolu reporting that Erdogan just held a phone call with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

In immediate response to these latest developments, the Turkish lira tumbled to session lows just below 5.92.

Below we excerpt from the full press release charging Halkbank:
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated:  “The facts that emerged at the full, fair, and public trial of Halkbank’s deputy general manager, which culminated in a jury’s January 2018 guilty verdict against him, illustrated senior Halkbank management’s participation in this brazen scheme to circumvent our nation’s Iran sanctions regime.  As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials.  The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme.  Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.” 
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said:  “Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme.  This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen, and no business should profit from evading our laws or risking our national security.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “As we allege today, Halkbank, a Turkish financial institution whose majority shareholder is the government of Turkey, willfully engaged in deceptive activities designed to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.  Halkbank illegally facilitated the illicit transfer of billions of dollars to benefit Iran, and for far too long the bank and its leaders willfully deceived the United States to shield their actions from scrutiny.  That deception ends today.  The FBI will aggressively pursue those who intentionally violate U.S. sanctions laws and attempt to undercut our national security.”  
According to the allegations in the Indictment, returned today in Manhattan federal court[1]:
From approximately 2012, up to and including approximately 2016, TÜRKİYE HALK BANKASI A.S. (“Halkbank”) was a foreign financial institution organized under the laws of and headquartered in Turkey.  The majority of Halkbank’s shares are owned by the Government of Turkey.  Halkbank and its officers, agents, and co-conspirators directly and indirectly used money service businesses and front companies in Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere to violate and to evade and avoid prohibitions against Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system, restrictions on the use of proceeds of Iranian oil and gas sales, and restrictions on the supply of gold to the Government of Iran and to Iranian entities and persons.  Halkbank knowingly facilitated the scheme, participated in the design of fraudulent transactions intended to deceive U.S. regulators and foreign banks, and lied to U.S. regulators about Halkbank’s involvement.
High-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey participated in and protected this scheme.  Some officials received bribes worth tens of millions of dollars paid from the proceeds of the scheme so that they would promote the scheme, protect the participants, and help to shield the scheme from the scrutiny of U.S. regulators.
The proceeds of Iran’s sale of oil and gas to Turkey’s national oil company and gas company, among others, were deposited at Halkbank, in accounts in the names of the Central Bank of Iran, the National Iranian Oil Company (“NIOC”), and the National Iranian Gas Company.  During the relevant time period, Halkbank was the sole repository of proceeds from the sale of Iranian oil by NIOC to Turkey.  Because of U.S. sanctions against Iran and the anti-money laundering policies of U.S. banks, it was difficult for Iran to access these funds in order to transfer them back to Iran or to use them for international financial transfers for the benefit of Iranian government agencies and banks.  As of in or about 2012, billions of dollars’ worth of funds had accumulated in NIOC and the Central Bank of Iran’s accounts at Halkbank.
Halkbank participated in several types of illicit transactions for the benefit of Iran that, if discovered, would have exposed the bank to sanctions under U.S. law, including (i) allowing the proceeds of sales of Iranian oil and gas deposited at Halkbank to be used to buy gold for the benefit of the Government of Iran; (ii) allowing the proceeds of sales of Iranian oil and gas deposited at Halkbank to be used to buy gold that was not exported to Iran, in violation of the so-called “bilateral trade” rule; and (iii) facilitating transactions fraudulently designed to appear to be purchases of food and medicine by Iranian customers, in order to appear to fall within the so-called “humanitarian exception” to certain sanctions against the Government of Iran, when in fact no purchases of food or medicine actually occurred.  Through these methods, Halkbank illicitly transferred approximately $20 billion worth of otherwise restricted Iranian funds.
Senior Halkbank officers, acting within the scope of their employment and for the benefit of Halkbank, concealed the true nature of these transactions from officials with the U.S. Department of the Treasury so that Halkbank could supply billions of dollars’ worth of services to the Government of Iran without risking being sanctioned by the United States and losing its ability to hold correspondent accounts with U.S. financial institutions.
The purpose and effect of the scheme in which Halkbank participated was to create a pool of Iranian oil funds in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates held in the names of front companies, which concealed the funds’ Iranian nexus.  From there, the funds were used to make international payments on behalf of the Government of Iran and Iranian banks, including transfers in U.S. dollars that passed through the U.S. financial system in violation of U.S. sanctions laws.
*                *                *
Halkbank is charged with (1) conspiracy to defraud the United States, (2) conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), (3) bank fraud, (4) conspiracy to commit bank fraud, (5) money laundering, and (6) conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The Office has previously charged nine individual defendants, including bank employees, the former Turkish Minister of the Economy, and other participants in the scheme.   See S4 15 Cr. 867 (RMB).  On October 26, 2017, Reza Zarrab pled guilty to the seven counts with which he was charged.  On January 3, 2018, a jury convicted former Halkbank deputy general manager Memet Hakkan Atilla of five of the six counts with which he was charged, following a five-week jury trial.   The remaining individual defendants are fugitives. 
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and its New York Field Office, Counterintelligence Division, and the Department of Justice, National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. 
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit and Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Lockard, Sidhardha Kamaraju, David W. Denton Jr., Jonathan Rebold, and Kiersten Fletcher are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Turkey Deliberately Releases ISIS Prisoners

US Officials: Turkey 

Deliberately Releasing ISIS 

Prisoners, Then Blaming 

Kurdish Forces

15 October, 2019

Invading Turkish-backed forces are freeing Islamic State prisoners, according to Foreign Policy, also "executing Kurdish prisoners and killing unarmed civilians, videos show."
On Monday a senior U.S. administration official told reporters that Turkey's Syrian Islamist ground proxies are "going to unguarded prisons and releasing ISIS detainees - then blaming Syrian Democratic Forces."
And following prior reports since the start of Turkey's 'Operation Peace Spring' of mass ISIS prison breaks as Kurdish positions came under Turkish artillery fire, more former US captives are taking advantage of the chaos. 
“The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday that close to 800 members of a camp holding the families of ISIS fighters had escaped after Turkish shelling,” according to an NBC News report. ISIS jail breaks have been reported in places like Ain Issa and Qamlishi city, near the Turkish border, among others. 
After President Trump last week said Erdogan assured him Turkey would be taking charge of ISIS prisoners amid its incursion into northeast Syria, the president has since issued a statement as part of newly announced sanctions on Ankara, saying "Turkey must ensure the safety of civilians, including relgious and ethnic minorities, and is now, or may in the future, responsible for the ongoing detention of ISIS terrorist in the region."
On Monday morning Trump echoed the talking points of Turkish officials in a tweet, who have alleged the Kurds themselves are purposefully letting ISIS terrorists go free, speculating"Kurds may be releasing some to get us involved." 
Trump has since implied that it's now also Assad and Russia's problem to clean up the ISIS threat and "protect the Kurds":
However, widespread reports suggest Turkey is actually freeing ISIS prisons, or at least 'looking the other way' as inmates make their escape. It should be noted that many of Turkey's ground proxy forces are made up of ex-ISIS members now on Erdogan's payroll
And years after the United States actually supported the very same groups (of FSA and Syrian Islamist 'rebel' militants), the mainstream media is finally admitting the fact these Turkish-backed fighters are essentially ISIS who have conveniently changed stripes: 
But the long-term question remains, if thousands of ISIS prisoners escape during the current chaos of war in the northeast Syria, where will they show up next?
In total the SDF has been responsible for guarding over 10,000 ISIS prisoners in the region, not to mention the many more ISIS family members kept at places like al-Hol, with a population of 70,000.
Map via The Guardian
There's concern they could be the next wave of terrorists to conduct attacks in Europe or even against American targets. 
Indeed years of media propaganda related to Syria and its 'rebel' forces is now unraveling fast.