The men who showed up where Sabera was hiding in Afghanistan on October 8 claimed they were with UNICEF and there to help.
She was overjoyed. Finally, someone responded to her desperate e-mails sent to organizations — and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — pleading to be rescued.
They weren’t with UNICEF. They were Taliban savages seeking to punish the journalist and activist working on behalf of the persecuted Hazara ethnic group, minority Shi’as in a predominantly Sunni-Muslim country.
“They forcibly tied my husband’s arms and legs and threw my children in the bush. Three men raped me in front of my husband. I was screaming and crying in pain and my husband was beaten and fainted. From that moment I could not look into my husband’s eyes,” says Sabera, living in terror since the Taliban took control in August.
Those four children, aged 10 to 11 months, could hear their mother’s screams and father’s agonized groans. Imagine that.
The Taliban let Sabera live to suffer the torment and shame of what they did to her. If they find her again, these devils might not be so benevolent.
“I cannot forget what they did,” she told Western Standard in a phone interview from her hideout in Afghanistan.
Sabera hasn’t received medical attention for injuries she still suffers from being gang-raped. She neither has money to pay a doctor nor can risk going out.
Since the Taliban seized power after U.S. forces pulled out, violence against journalists and their families escalated. They’re ruthlessly targeted in door-to-door searches. Some fled Afghanistan. About a dozen were murdered. Countless others are beaten or jailed. All are hunted. One, giving in to despair, killed himself.
“It was a remote place… We had nothing to defend (ourselves) with. I don’t know how they found our place,” says Sabera, whose last name is being withheld to protect her.
She suspects an e-mail she wrote was forwarded to the Taliban.
“No one is trusted here. The people here sell and kill innocent people for money.”
“We are killed for many crimes under Taliban law,” says Sabera, targeted especially for being a female journalist, and Hazara, an ethnic group despised by the predominantly Pashtun Taliban.
Sabera sent a photo of herself, which has been blurred to protect her. The despair on her face is haunting.
After the attack, Sabera’s family fled to another hideout which they soon must leave. To go where? They don’t know.
“Tears come to my eyes again. I cried so much that it was morning. My heart was so bloody that I worked for human rights. I regret (doing it). My husband’s soul is tired. I hope we will be saved,” she said Friday.
“We are an oppressed, helpless, displaced, wandering family for three months. My children are shivering from the cold with a hungry stomach. My family and I will die of cold and hunger. Or the Taliban terrorist group will find us, then history will tell everyone could help, but no one did.”
“We have nothing. Is suicide the best thing I can do? Or (can you) introduce me to an institution that has the ability to get me out of the hell of Afghanistan?”
Therein, lies the problem.
Journalists were encouraged, emboldened when the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and toppled the Taliban. When the last of the NATO troops pulled out and the Afghan national Army fled, journalists were on their own, in peril, with no one to advocate for them.
Sabera sent an e-mail to Trudeau pleading for help. She didn’t get a response. The Canadian government has been grossly negligent in a promise made to Afghans — if necessary, we’ll get you out — who helped our military between 2001-2104.
Thousands remain trapped. The Veterans Transition Network (VTN) set up an emergency fund, with about $3 million in donations from private citizens and corporations, to evacuate Afghans and protect them in safe houses at a cost of about $20,000 a day.
Those funds ran out Friday and most of the 1,700 Afghans VTN has been helping will be forced onto the streets.
Eleanor Taylor, a retired Canadian lieutenant-colonel is chief of staff at Aman Lara, an organization operating these safe houses under the VTN’s umbrella.
She’s volunteered tirelessly on behalf of Afghans who stood beside the Canadian military.
Although Sabera doesn’t fall into this category, Taylor took the time to pass her information along to a group that might be able to help.
“We can no longer afford our safe-houses so I cannot offer her accommodation.”
The alternative is to find donors to pay for safe housing at a rate of $58US per day.
Sabera says under the Taliban, repression of religious and ethnic groups will continue.
“They have no mercy. Humanity and rights do not make sense here,” she said.
“Please, please, please help us so that the future of my children will not be like mine. You are my only hope.”
Anyone wishing to donate to VTN can do so here: https://vtncanada.kindful.com/?campaign=1143780
LATER TODAY: What the Canadian government is doing to help. (Hint: It’s not much.)
Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
MAKICHUK: Defection of Chinese rocket scientist a huge blow to Beijing
The scientist, in his 30s, says he possesses detailed information about the hypersonic glide vehicle — on the face of it, a gold-plated defection.
It reads like something out of a spy novel.
A Chinese rocket scientist deftly approaches a member of MI6 intelligence service in Hong Kong, with the intention of defecting.
The scientist, in his 30s, says he possesses detailed information about the hypersonic glide vehicle — on the face of it, a gold-plated defection.
But is he for real or is he a Chinese intelligence plant, a bogus agent setting them up for the big fall?
In today’s spy game one never quite knows.
But this time, it turned out to be the real deal … and talk about a major-league intelligence coup.
According to a report in UK’s Express newspaper last night, and quoting confidential sources, MI6 played a key role in helping a senior Chinese scientist to the West.
His escape is a huge blow to Beijing, sources said, allowing both Britain and the US to accelerate defensive programs against the use of hypersonic missiles.
Worse yet for Xi Jinping’s military juggernaut, it could also take China years to tweak its systems and “render this intelligence ineffective,” sources said.
Described as a rocket technician, the Chinese national was attached to the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China, where he helped develop a mid-range hypersonic boost-glide vehicle capable of carrying DF-17 missiles to a range of up to 2,000 miles, the Express reported.
Sources say the scientist is also connected with a more recent ground-breaking hypersonic missile delivery system that can circle the globe before descending from space and use heat-seeking technology to strike any target on Earth.
The science community would call it a “Sputnik moment” after the Soviet satellite breakthrough in the late 1950s, while others said the launch of another warhead from the device was “scientifically impossible.”
While Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley stopped short of the Sputnik comparison, he acknowledged “it’s very close to that” — a fact that no doubt rocked the Pentagon.
Milley called the test of the weapon “a very significant technological event” that’s just one element of China’s growing military strength.
To have any inside inkling, whatsoever, as to how China achieved this, would be a huge boost to US military contractors and designers.
Why did he defect?
Well, it had nothing to do with political dissent toward his Beijing masters or some higher calling of compassion and humanity. It seldom is.
Usually, it’s about money or the lure of the western lifestyle.
Rather, sources said it was a deep resentment at having been passed over for promotion, that drove him to make contact with a British intelligence asset in Hong Kong last year.
During that first, tentative approach, he told the middleman he possessed detailed information about the hypersonic glide vehicle.
The claim would set off alarm bells at Vauxhall Cross, the London HQ of the Secret Intelligence Service, more commonly known as MI6.
Knowing he faced a firing squad if discovered, he demanded asylum for himself and his wife and child, sources said.
Extractions like this are difficult, but possible. They require absolute secrecy and exceptional tradecraft.
A three-person team, comprised of two intelligence officers and a technical specialist, were readied to deploy to Hong Kong. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was also duly informed of the walk-in.
It was a huge gamble, operating in China’s backyard, but MI6 officials thought the payoff was worth the risk.
Cautious the scientist could be a Beijing plant, a cat-and-mouse game developed over the next few days in which the scientist’s credentials were “copperbottomed” — the English way of saying “guaranteed.”
It was during this process that the technician — an avid fan of cricket who is believed to have once studied in England — began to reveal select details about China’s latest hypersonic development, the Express reported.
Eventually, a plan was hatched in which he and his family would travel to the former British colony using a specially developed route.
Once there, the scientist was spirited to a secure location where he was debriefed by the two men and a woman who made up the special MI6 team.
While most of the technical information offered by the scientist was carried in his head, he was also able to smuggle out technical data, the Express reported.
The MI6 team were joined by a two-man team from the CIA. A day was given over for a lengthy debriefing before arrangements were made to fly to a more secure location — a US air base in Germany — then on to America via the UK.
According to Scientific American, hypersonic weapons are touted not only for their speed but also for their stealth and maneuverability.
Intercontinental ballistic missiles, which follow an elliptical path into space before plunging down toward their target, reach speeds above Mach 20, but they have predictable trajectories for most of their flight and typically can maneuver only briefly, after they reenter the atmosphere.
In contrast, hypersonic weapons would fly deep within the atmosphere most of the time, using lift generated by airflow to weave around and try to evade interceptors.
Approaching at such low altitudes, these weapons would avoid detection by ground-based radar systems until close to their target, making them more difficult, if not impossible to stop.
Both China and Russia are far ahead in this technology, a concern that has forced the US to spend billions on hypersonic development. So far, however, a series of high-profile failures has derailed this progress.
A defection of this importance could help reverse America’s record of hypersonic disappointment.
Speaking about the defection, an intelligence source told the Express: “He was extremely co-operative. This is an intelligent man; a man who keenly follows cricket, but prefers Jack Daniels to lager, a man who has played a key role in the development of hypersonic weapons in China, and a man who felt aggrieved by the way he had been treated.
“His decision to make contact wasn’t taken on ideological grounds but rather in a firm belief that his talents should be recognized and more greatly appreciated.”
The source added: “The fact we are in possession of certain details about the operational capability of this hypersonic glide missile puts us in a position we did not expect to be in at this time.
“It will probably buy us two years. We estimate it will take China two years to be able to make changes in its program sufficiently substantial as to render this intelligence ineffective. In this sphere, two years is a very long time.”
Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor.
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the Calgary correspondent for ChinaFactor.news and has covered Asian military affairs for years.
MORGAN: 10 days of living free south of the border
“Canada remains in a state of absurd regulation and induced panic.”
Back in 1987 I had the opportunity to tour parts of the Soviet Union during its waning days as an empire. The experience contributed greatly to the political outlooks I hold today. There is nothing like a good dose of seeing extreme socialism firsthand to develop an aversion to that broken ideology.
The creaking, groaning Aeroflot jet deposited us on the Moscow airport runway with a slam. While the jet was serviceable and Aeroflot’s safety record was safe — as far as we were allowed to know — it was truly a no frills ride. The service was gruff, the interior dilapidated, and the flight rough. It was much like everything else in the Soviet Union. You got the bare basics in service and had no other provider to compare the service to.
Customs were typical and thorough as all of our bags were searched. What was unusual was the contraband the customs agents were searching for. Rather than drugs or weapons as is typical at borders, what the Soviet agents sought were books, magazines, and cassette tapes.
The top priority for Soviet customs agents was the prevention of outside information getting to the eyes and ears of the citizenry.
Citizen defections were growing along with general unrest against the state. As news from the outside world trickled in, people in Soviet Russia began to realize they didn’t need to live as they had been.
Nobody was starving when I toured Russia. People weren’t homeless or unemployed. It was indeed a socialist paradise as far as providing basic human needs was concerned. Life was drab and miserable though. Everything from the endless rows of apartment towers to the dull standardized clothing was unremarkable and depressing. Food was plentiful but it was bland and without variety. You ate to survive, not to enjoy yourself.
People in Soviet Russia had become accustomed to having their lives controlled. They accepted the reality that the state would tell them where to work, how to live, and where they could travel. They all shared fear of all authority figures. Police carried no weapons as nobody would dare defy them for fear of the repercussions from the state later.
People in the Soviet Union were not living; they were surviving. The only thing keeping the empire from crumbling was the maintenance of the illusion it wasn’t better anywhere else. As long as citizens didn’t know how life was outside of the Communist Bloc, they remained content, though unhappy. This was why the government worked so hard to ensure the populace never knew any better. In the German “Democratic Republic” (East Germany), the regime did its best to block the radio and television signal from just a few blocks away.
Eventually, the dam broke. Information and consumer goods continued to leak into the Soviet Union despite the best efforts of the government. Pressure from within finally brought the USSR to an end as citizens realized they no longer had to live this way and a better world existed outside of their borders.
While Canadians are hardly living in conditions as miserable as those of the Soviet Union, we are living under severe restrictions and within a fear-filled and unhappy existence right now while many, if not most, don’t realize it doesn’t have to be this way.
I just returned from a 10-day road trip throughout the United States. Aside from seeing the sporadic and voluntary use of masks, it was hard to tell that to the north governments acted as if it was a wartime emergency. People were relaxed while dining together, events were at full capacity and conversations are actually being held on matters unrelated to COVID-19. Life is damn near how it was two years ago down there and their world isn’t ending because of it, at least in the states I visited.
COVID-19 still exists in the United States and they are still experiencing challenges due to it. Infections are being watched and health care facilities are under pressure. Political battles between authoritarians and libertarians are going on and some people are still fearful of the virus. Overall though, people in much of the United States have moved on with their lives and are no longer letting the COVID-19 pandemic dominate every aspect of their existence. It was so refreshing to live like that again, if only for a scant 10 days.
Canada remains in a state of absurd regulation and government/media induced panic. Legacy/mainstream media continues with the most negative of headlines and works its hardest to maintain a state of induced terror. Governments jealously cling to the control they have taken in the name of controlling COVID-19 and maintaining the narrative of doom and gloom. They cling to the fiction COVID can be defeated like an enemy state signing a treaty of surrender.
The dreaded Omicron variant has thankfully turned into a dud. It hasn’t overwhelmed hospitals and fatalities are at a level akin to the common flu. The way Canada is responding, though, one would think leprosy is making a reappearance among the public. The population is divided while the hysteria, prejudice, and even hate against the unvaccinated have reached appalling levels.
Much of why the government and its authoritarians backers are getting away with this in Canada is because the public doesn’t know any better. They don’t realize a free, enjoyable world exists but a short distance away.
Border restrictions at this point are downright useless. Omicron is spreading like wildfire and no restrictions or vaccinations are doing a thing to hinder the transmission. What the border restrictions do accomplish, however, is keeping Canadians from bothering with traveling outside the country. The testing requirements are a pain the ass and a person could find themselves quarantined at their own expense for a variant that has proven itself to be quite mild. What information Canadians do receive from south of the border, is framed by the government’s proxies in the media as a selfish frenzy built atop a mountain of dead bodies.
There were no restrictions going into the USA by the way. That exchange at the border only took a couple of minutes and vaccinations or testing never even came up. It’s only in coming back to Canada where all the grief is occurring.
So why haven’t the border restrictions been lifted?
I suspect the government wants to keep the number of Canadians going into and returning with news of the outside world as limited as possible. Yes, we can see the packed football stadiums in the USA and can find out just how unrestricted they are down there with even some cursory internet research. Nothing beats having a friend or family member tell you directly how nice it is to live free again though. Those sorts of exchanges between people foster discontent.
Things won’t change until Canadians stand up for themselves. Governments never willingly relinquish the control they have taken. We can’t allow ourselves to fall into a docile existence plodding along through a mediocre life under government control as people in the former Eastern Bloc did.
Canadians need to know it’s better outside of the borders. Even the UK is dropping restrictions while we aren’t even discussing easing our own.
Ignore the government statements. Turn off the mainstream media and reach out to a family member or friend who is or has been outside of Canada lately. You will hear the same story I’m telling.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
As soon as enough Canadians get that message, we will be able to start fighting our way back to normal living again.
Cory Morgan is Assistant Opinion & Broadcast Editor for the Western Standard
MAKICHUK: Russia’s ‘ball of hate’ is rolling toward Ukraine
“A normal exercise requires notification 42 days in advance if you’re talking about 9,000 troops, right? Normal – and 13,000 requires international observers. That’s what normal looks like. What this is, is something entirely different.”
The ball of hate.
That’s what they called, NHLer Pat Verbeek.
Let me say that again. The ball of hate.
Trust me, when he was on the ice you didn’t want to be there. He made your life a living hell.
He shoved sticks into your teeth, he shoved elbows at your jaw, he slammed you into the boards, he did anything he could to defeat you, and then some.
Strangely enough, the man spent as much time celebrating goals as sitting in the penalty box.
Think Gordie Howe was tough?
According to NHL.com, the native of Sarnia, Ont., finished his 20-season NHL career with 522 goals and 2,905 penalty minutes, by far the most of any member of the league’s 500-goal club.
And get this … the New Jersey Devils selected Verbeek in the third round (No. 43) of the 1982 NHL Draft.
He made his NHL debut against the New York Rangers on March 21, 1983 and scored his first goal three nights later against the Washington Capitals.
Bang! Not only could he score, but he could also run your head into the boards and leave you wondering WTF happened.
He played “on the edge” and made no apologies for his chippy style.
The Zebras didn’t like this, of course and did what Zebras do.
You can’t play like that anymore in today’s NHL. The bleeding hearts have changed the game.
The same goes for politics and foreign affairs — we have become soft. Very, very soft. And by we, I mean the West.
We are so busy trying to be politically correct, we forgot how we got here in the first place.
And this is exactly why another ball of hate, a far more infamous one — an iron-handed dictator who calls himself a president, Vladimir Putin — is exploiting those Western weaknesses as I pen this.
I mean, it couldn’t be more obvious, could it?
According to Joseph Trevithick at The Drive, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that six amphibious warfare ships that left the Baltic Sea this week are heading to the Mediterranean Sea, where they say these vessels will take part in “naval exercises.”
Clearly, this amphibious flotilla could potentially swing north into the Black Sea, which would put them in a position to support a possible large-scale Russian intervention into Ukraine.
The language the Russian ministry of defense used to describe these naval drills is similar in many respects to how the Kremlin has described the nature of large-scale exercises in Belarus that are scheduled to start next month.
The massive deployments of troops and materiel, including Iskander short-range ballistic missiles and combat aircraft, associated with those drills have drawn concern.
Speaking to reporters this week, a senior US State Department said: “What concerns us is the total picture, right? [Russia] is … amassing 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders combined with moving forces into Belarus over the weekend, it is — it is — these numbers are beyond, of course, what we would expect with regard to a normal exercise, right?
“A normal exercise requires notification 42 days in advance if you’re talking about 9,000 troops, right? Normal and 13,000 requires international observers. That’s what normal looks like. What this is, is something entirely different.”
As part of the build-up, Russia deployed more aircraft closer to the border, which raised fears of a significant air component. Two to three dozen Sukhov-34 fighter jets have joined helicopters positioned near Ukraine, CNN reported.
As if to confirm this action, Britain’s capable MI6 intelligence service revealed it has discovered a plan by President Putin to install a pro-Moscow puppet leader in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said this weekend.
As Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a ‘”large-scale war,” Truss said that Yevhen Murayev was being lined up to run the country as a satellite of Moscow.
Murayev, a media owner, lost his seat in the Ukrainian parliament when his party failed to secure 5% of the vote in the 2019 elections, BBC News reported.
He has roundly denied the report.
“It isn’t very logical. I’m banned from Russia. Not only that, but money from my father’s firm there has been confiscated,” Murayev told The Guardian.
There are other troubling indicators:
Diplomatic talks between the US, European allies and Russia ended last week without a clear path to de-escalate tensions, media outlets reported. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, called the talks a “dead end.”
Some military experts believe this was what Putin wanted all along — setting it up to fail by making unrealistic demands, beyond just keeping NATO out of Ukraine. All it did was buy time for the Russians to set up their “false flag” invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
Canadian special forces operators have also been deployed to Ukraine as part of an attempt by NATO allies to deter Russian aggression and to identify ways to assist the Ukrainian government, Global News reported.
The unit has also been tasked with helping to develop evacuation plans for Canadian diplomatic personnel in the event of a full-scale invasion, sources said.
They wouldn’t be doing that if they didn’t have good intelligence from the US.
To staunch the inevitable bloodbath, the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania announced they received approvals from Washington to send US-made anti-tank weaponry to Ukraine, BreakingDefense reported.
Estonia will provide Javelin anti-armor missiles, while Lithuania and Latvia will provide Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and adjacent equipment. Latvia will also send military meals ready-to-eat for the Ukrainian forces.
While Ukraine has already been building a stockpile of Javelin weapons, the inclusion of Stingers represents a new capability for the Ukrainian military, one that could take out Russian helicopters if needed.
Britain also said this week it had begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, along with a group of around 30 elite British troops, Sky News reported.
The members of the Ranger Regiment — part of the army’s newly-formed Special Operations Brigade — flew out on military planes that also airlifted a total of some 2,000 anti-tank missile launchers to the country.
The US State Department has also approved the transfer of five Russian-made Mi-17 Hip helicopters that had belonged to the now-defunct Afghan Air Force to the Ukrainian armed forces, according to CNN.
The CIA continues to operate an intelligence collection training program for Ukrainian special operators and intelligence officials, current and former officials familiar with the program said. The program was first reported by Yahoo News.
The threat of further sanctions — in fact, a green light for the Russians, if anything — has forced the Biden administration to weigh new options, including providing more arms to Ukraine to try to raise the costs for a potential invasion.
The recent confusion over statements made by President Joe Biden on Ukraine haven’t really helped either.
Is it a price, Putin is willing to pay? We shall know, soon enough.
For their part, Ukrainian officials are vowing to fight.
“We prepared a response for each scenario,” an official told CNN.
“We are going to fight if something happens. Our people are ready to fight. Every window will shoot if [Russians] go [in].”
God help them.
Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor.
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the Calgary correspondent for ChinaFactor.news and has written about military affairs for decades
MAKICHUK: Defection of Chinese rocket scientist a huge blow to Beijing
Maskless teen student with asthma ostracized at Calgary Catholic school
Copping strikes EMS advisory committee amid system strains, red alerts
Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered to stand trial
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