American Ammunition in Islamic State’s Hands.
Documented in detail with a fine bit of field research by Conflict Armament Research, a private organization that tracks weapons and the arms trade.
Details here. Brief excerpt below.
In its campaign across northern Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group Islamic State has been using ammunition from the United States and other countries that have been supporting the regional security forces fighting the group, according to new field data gathered by a private arms-tracking organization.
The data, part of a larger sample of captured arms and cartridges in Syria and Iraq, carries an implicit warning for policy makers and advocates of intervention.
It suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role.
“The lesson learned here is that the defense and security forces that have been supplied ammunition by external nations really don’t have the capacity to maintain custody of that ammunition,” said James Bevan, director of Conflict Armament Research, the organization that is gathering and analyzing weapons used by the Islamic State.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
An unfired 5.56-mm cartridge from Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, dated 2006, seized from Islamic State by Kurdish fighters in Iraq in July. Courtesy of Conflict Armament Research.
Analysis of small-calibre ammunition recovered from Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.
This Dispatch from the Field‘s findings derive from a series of Conflict Armament Research (CAR) field investigations conducted in the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq and northern Syria 22 July–15 August 2014.
Analysis of weapons and ammunition captured from Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.
This dispatch outlines preliminary findings from an examination of weapons and ammunition captured from Islamic State (IS) forces in Iraq and Syria between mid-June 2014 and early August 2014.
This is the story of Evelyn Milan (more here), a former drug user who lost her brother after he became infected while sharing needles. Evelyn is now running a needles exchange program in Brooklyn.
I filmed and produced this video for the class I took at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism with Melanie Burford and Eleonore Hamelin in 2014.
Special thanks to Evelyn Milan and Vocal-NY.
UN Report Confirms Diversion of Belgian Weapons to and from Libya
The United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya just released its latest report.
The report points out that “Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons.” Some of those weapons are Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems, or MANPADS.
From Libya to Tunisia:
From Libya to Mali:
From Libya to Chad:
From Libya to the Central African Republic:
The report says it is likely that Qatar has made illicit transfers of Belgian rifles to the Libyan rebels. One of the illicit weapons has been intercepted on its way to Syria. (Update 6/16/2014: this paragraph has been modified to reflect the fact that the complete chain of custody could not be documented.)
The rifle’s serial number is 1531415. According to the table we are using in the research note published by the Small Arms Survey, the weapon should have been produced somewhere in late 1979. The UN experts write that the rifle was part of an order dated 21 December 1979 and exported from Belgium to Qatar.
Diversions to Mali
The report documents a transfer we worked on last year, regarding the diversion of Belgian PRB NR 160 106 mm projectiles from Libya to Mali. Unfortunately, the lack of records in Belgium does not permit a thorough research.
The Panel also documented transfers of Belgian PRB 60 mm illuminating mortars:
And of FN FAL rifle and FN MAG machine gun:
Here again, our methodology is confirmed. The FAL serial number is 1252901, which indicates a production somewhere in late 1974 (with an order made the year after, in 1975, as indicated in the UN report.)
Diversion to Syria
The Panel also confirmed another story we have been helping on, regarding the diversion of Belgian PRB NR 160 106 mm projectiles from Libya to Syria.
Thanks to this report, we can confirm the tracing methodology further with FN FAL rifles found onboard the Letfallah II and exported by Belgium to Libya in the 70s.
Serial number Our methodology UN Panel
- 995754 Made in 1972 Ordered in 1973
- 1004805 Made in 1972 Ordered in 1973
- 1232064 Made in 1974 Ordered in 1975
- 1240363 Made in 1974 Ordered in 1975
- 1243069 Made in 1974 Ordered in 1975
- 1271182 Made in 1975 Ordered in 1975
A computer engineer working for Syrian rebels has developed a remote-controlled robot to retrieve sniper casualties and take them to safety. By John Beck
We met about a year ago, and “Harvester” is still at it. He never gave up. He’s almost there.
Photograph: Leyland Cecco/The Guardian
I just launched a new student project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
"Tracking C.A.R." is a student observatory of the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic. It gives a digests of the situation on a daily/weekly basis, aggregate the latest news from both French- and English-speaking sources, offers a map, a timeline of major events, links to in-depth documentations, and background on the major players. Comments are more than welcome!
"And Confidential For Government’s Attention Only"
The Belgian Walloon Region has to strike those six words from its most recent arms export law, adopted in June 2012, after today’s Constitutional Court decision (below.)
Another part of the law, in which the Government wanted arms export licenses not to be subject to Freedom of Information Law requests, has to be deleted altogether.
The lawsuit was brought by La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, the Belgian human rights organization that already attacked the last export licenses delivered by the Region for a shipment of small arms shipped to Gaddafi in 2009.
More in French in La Libre Belgique
Small Arms Survey Workshop, Tunis, Dec. 15, 2013
I had the pleasure to meet several journalists from Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Egypt on December 15 in Tunis. The Small Arms Survey organized a one-day workshop in Tunis and invited me to help them improve their coverage of the arms trade. Here the prezi I made for that day.
First live broadcast with Glass
My first 2 minutes of live broadcasting with the Google Glass tonight.
We already know about the photo and video quality of the device. But the weakness of Glass here is counterbalanced by the fact that it becomes a virtually handsfree live broadcasting tool. I still have to test it outside of the wifi range and with a cellular connection.
Glass can record video, but it was not made to broadcast them live. The platform is quite flexible and I explained how I could install some Android applications on it four days ago, here. So I first installed something called Launchy, in order to launch the applications I would put on Glass. Then I installed Settings, in order to control the Bluetooth pairing process.
Applications like Ustream require users to prompt their login and password, but Glass doesn’t come with any way to type anything. So the only solution so far is to pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard. I first tried with an Apple keyboard, then with a Logitech keyboard, but it didn’t work. So, as Dan McLaughlin recommended, I bought a small Favi BT keyboard, which just arrived today in the mail.
The pairing process did not work at first but it did after a few attempts. Login and passwords were typed with the keyboard and the “record” button was clicked with the mouse.
Now I can upload and use other applications. Stay tuned for the next developments, and send your ideas here. How would you use Glass in a journalistic perspective?
Exploring new ways of sharing stories
The idea is very simple. You read the lede of a story (here, the story I worked on for Prof. Shapiro’s class) and in order to know what happens next, either you pay one dollar in bitcoins, or you tweet the story to your followers. A buck or a tweet. That simple.
The micro paywall is quite flexible. Launched by BitMonet, it’s embeddable with a simple html code, and its features are customizable. You can offer one article, one hour of access, or a one-day pass. People pay with bitcoins, or just with a tweet. The more you share, the more you have access to. A bit like the reversed paywall introduced by Jeff Jarvis.
Glass, First Sortie
First sortie for the Glass today. Testing the video (above).
- The quality is far from HD, especially in low light. But it’s quite alright.
- The default length is 10 sec., but can be extended by pressing a button.
- The sound taking might be an issue. Glass doesn’t pick up so well what’s beyond its immediate environment, and it looks like the wind could be a problem, too.
Taking a few pictures (below.) Good quality. Framing a picture with Glass is not so easy.
Tribute to a Slain Cameraman.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf on the passing of her friend, Yasser Faisal, who was killed last week by masked gunmebn in Syria’s Idlib Governorate. An Iraqi with deep experience, he had gone to Syria to cover foreign jihadists, and was hosted in Ildib by one Jabhat al Nusra’s fighting groups, according to a friend who traveled with him inside.
Ms. Arraf wrote:
He’d left Baghdad at the end of November on a flight to Turkey with a new camera, new clothes and boundless confidence. If he’d told his family or friends he was crossing over into Syria they would have tried to stop him.
Once across the Turkish border, a Syrian journalist took him into Idlib province and warned him not to go any further.
"I told him this is not like Iraq – this is a whole other story," says Muhanad Dhugeim who took the photos of Yasser before they parted ways. "He said he could handle it."
"At their home in Fallujah on Monday, Yasser’s family was still trying to understand why he died. His eldest daughter, Sara, is ten. His youngest children, just four and two, will know him only through stories about him and the legacy of his stories that showed Iraq to the world.
"I’m glad he died a hero," said Afrah, one of his four sisters.
Yasser was buried in Fallujah, the city he loved, next to Shiekh Khalid al-Jumaily, a leader of the protest movement who was assassinated in Fallujah two weeks ago. A sign at the cemetery reads that 1,200 bodies from the battles of Fallujah in 2004, still unidentified, are buried there. Yasser survived those battles and all the ones that followed. They believe in fate here. Yasser travelled to meet his in a battle still unfolding.
Many questions surround his killing, which happened after four gunmen stopped the car he was riding in and, in what appears to have been a targeted killing, shot him repeatedly at close range. Who killed him? Why? On whose orders? How did they know precisely where he would be? Why did they kill him and let others in the car live?
Violence against journalists in Syria is worse than in any other recent conflict, according to CPJ. Many foreign and Syrian journalists have been abducted. A few have been missing more than a year. Others have died on the battlefield, sometimes in suspicious circumstances.
There is no end in sight.
Read the full tribute here, where the photograph, at top, appeared.