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VIRTUAL KIDNAPPINGS EXPLOIT REAL FEARS

Mexican cellphone scam, often initiated by prisoners, give new twist to 417 frauds. Someone phones you and tells you they have kidnapped a member of your family and demands money and valuables. No-one has been kidnapped, but you hand stuff over, nevertheless.

HAMBURGER HILL: FRONTLINE BASE IN A SEA OF POPPIES BRITISH TROOPS DARE NOT CLEAR

All those promises that we were only going into Helmand on a drug eradication programme. We knew they were lies at the time, but this, even allowing for Grauniad excess, is crazy. See the previous post on Colombia. We engage in military intervention for one ostensible reason, then change it to another in order to justify staying. In the process, organised crime is the major beneficiary. Cui bono? Where are the policy evaluation metrics?

DRUGS FOR GUNS: HOW THE HEROIN TRADE FUELS THE TALIBAN INSURGENCY

Independent article claims that drugs are exchanged for arms parts in Tajikistan. It gets confused in places, alleging that it is the Russian mafia that is behind everything. Which? Would be my first question. Sounds more like Tajik middlemen and there is no clear evidence given of who they deal with, or that the heroin is bound for the UK, as alleged elsewhere in the piece.
It’s a great travellers tale. Three smugglers tell you about this deserted village where 300 shopkeepers sit around courtyards dealing arms parts for heroin….Mmmmm, out of the Arabian Nights? Given that there are insurgents allied to al Qaeda roaming the Tajik border areas, I cant imagine many Russians on the loose round there. Still it fits in nicely with the earlier posts from Helmand. Maybe the US marines should be looking at the Tajik border a little more closely?

POLICE ARREST THREE IN TAMIL TIGERS INQUIRY

Arrests in Newtown, Powys, Mitcham and Surrey. First reports alleged/suggested there would be terrorist financing charges, but now looks like “commision, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”. BBC report quotes someone from “Scotland Yard” as alluding to finance http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7372883.stm

US MARINES SURGE INTO TALIBAN-HELD TOWN

After the previous post, which was clearly a feature, in go the Americans to Gamsher today. Time to compare US and UK counter-insurgency strategies and tactics. Times has a headline: US Marines to stir things up in Helmand: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3835580.ece
“General McNeill said that he would like to see British troops double their six-month tour of duty to one year because the longer US deployments had helped to fight a war where knowledge of the local population was a key to winning their support and distancing them from militants.”
Times article suggests US military wants UK to adopt their tactics.

WHY ARE WE IGNORING ORGANISED CRIME?

Surprisingly good article by Sean ONeill in the Times. Why are we spending all this money and reducing individual liberty when there’s a much more serious threat than terrorism? Simple answer Sean. It’s your redtop stablemates and the fear they induce amongst politicians. If they got on their high horse about organised crime, the political agenda would shift instantly. Sounds like another question on that final exam paper that I keep writing!
Actually, Sean’s a good lad and has been known to buy his round! Hope this is the start of a series on the subject.

OLD BAILEY OPENS ITS UNSEEN FILES

Not sure if the Guardian isnt the teensiest bit behind here. Family History buffs have been looking at these for a while. Still, historians of organised crime should have a field day. It must be today that the process of putting files online finishes. Go find your transported ancestors immediately! Then do some proper research on the O’Houlihans and their ilk.

HOW SAVAGE PIRATES REIGN ON THE WORLD’S HIGH SEAS

Breathless headline from the sub editor here. The story is actually about Somali waters, where, according to the last couple of paragraphs of the article, a lot of boats are fishing illegally. On the other hand, there is no reliable government to issue permits. Warlords or the Islamic courts: there’s your choice.

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