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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Bolivia’

US Removes Iran, Hezbollah from National Intelligence Terrorist List

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Both Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, have been removed from the National Intelligence list of terrorism threats – the most authoritative document produced by the National Intelligence Agency.

Fox NewsOn The Record with Greta Susteren reported late Tuesday on information found in the unclassified version of the report, the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities 2015 (PDF), dated February 26, 2015. An annual report, this one was delivered recently to the U.S. Senate by National Intelligence Director Lt.-Gen. (ret.) James Clapper.

The document noted Iran’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners and de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.” Also noted was the fact that “Iranian leaders – particularly within the security services – are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran… Iran’s actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fueling growing fears and sectarian responses…”

The intelligence report added that Tehran’s “overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige and regional influence” have led it to “pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.”

Whether or not Iran would choose to do so it still not clear, according to the U.S. intelligence assessment. However, if the Iranian government decides to go ahead, there exist no “insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon,” American intelligence experts concluded, most likely to be delivered via intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News journalist Greta Susteren that he believes the removal of Iran and Hezbollah from the terrorist list was not a simple “format change” as reporters were told at a briefing, but rather a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to deceive the American public.

“What we’re having now is an Orwellian example of disappearing references to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah from the terrorism report,” Bolton said, during an exchange with Susteren on Fox. “This was a concession, I think, by the administration relating to the nuclear negotiation. You will not find it in the signed deal.

“How many other concessions has the administration made that are not in the deal — that may not even be related to the nuclear program — in this desperate effort to get a deal?”

Meanwhile, Iran is moving to widen its sphere of influence in South America, where its diplomatic ties are already strong with Argentina and even warmer with Venezuela, which has the largest reserves of uranium in the Western hemisphere, outside of Canada.

Photos that flashed across Fox News during a report by Susteren showed a heavily guarded facility that was set up in Bolivia in 2011, allegedly with Iranian backing.

“There are elements of that facility which is supposed to be some type of military academy,” Susteren reported, “but is very heavily fortified. And the suspicion is that it’s being used by Iran as a way to have a footprint in Bolivia” which she described as “not a friend of the United States.”

Despite the disappearance of Iran from the terror map in the 2015 National Intelligence assessment, Fox journalist Cathern Herridge also noted that “the documents, the photos and Congressional testimony show that Iran is really effectively expanding its influence into South America, into our neighbor.”

In effect, Herridge said, Iran is “creating a launching pad into North America.”

Bolton concurred in his own remarks. “Look, Iran has terrorist networks all over this hemisphere,” he pointed out. “Remember, three years ago, the Justice Department indicted senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards Corps for conspiring to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in Washington by infiltrating through the Mexican border.

“I think this is just another example of Iran’s activities.”

Hana Levi Julian

US Govt IDs North Korea in Sony Cyber Terror Attack

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The U.S. government has linked North Korea to the cyber terror siege of Sony Pictures Entertainment. But the massive cyber attack that nixed the entire release of an new comedy film appears to have also cowed the American entertainment industry.

By pulling “The Interview” from circulation, Sony could lose as much as $100 million, according to a report in Business Insider\.

The movie, which depicts an assassination attempt on the life of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, outraged that country. North Korea demanded during the production phase that the U.S. government cancel the movie. That did not happen; in fact, two White House officials had actually approved the plot line before the comedy went to production.

Once the hacker group “Guardians of Peace” followed up three weeks of a cyber siege with an actual physical terror threat, Hollywood went into a panic and so did the entire American entertainment industry.

First the Landmark Theater chain canceled its December 25 New York City premier of the film at the Sunshine Theater on the Lower East Side. Then four of the largest chains backed out of showing the movie altogether, comprising thousands of small theaters around the United States and Canada.

Unnamed U.S. government sources told NBC News that a “linkage to the North Korean government” had been found to prove it was “centrally involved” in the cyber attack.

And in a report published in The New York Times, bits of the evidence were pieced together. They showed how the hacker group was taking orders from North Korea, and how they carried out a previous similar attack against South Korea, using commercial tools routed via Bolivian servers last year. Similar tools were used in 2012 against Saudi Arabia.

Sony itself is also examining the possibility the hackers had inside help as well: the names of Sony servers and administrative credentials were used to allow the malware to spread across the company’s network.

Experts said the hack is “the first major attack on a U.S. company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to make computer networks unable to operate,” Reuters reported.

The U.S. government seems to have signaled its de facto surrender to North Korea, the apparent patron behind the “Guardians of Peace.” U.S. media quoted senior government officials who said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea over the attack and threats that followed. No one would speak on the record, and officials said the White House had yet to decide how to respond.

Japan also has had something to say about the matter, because it is apparently engaged in delicate negotiations with North Korea over the return of its citizens kidnapped years ago.

U.S. national intelligence officials concluded the cyber attack was state-sponsored and “far more destructive than any seen before on American soil,” NYT reported. A senior administration official admitted the attack that began by wiping out the data on Sony’s corporate computers had become “a threat to the safety of Americans.”

Not only North Korea but hackers based in China, and sponsored by that government as well, have taken aim before at U.S. corporations. This latest attack, however, “was of a sophistication that a year ago we would have said was beyond the North’s capabilities,” the official told NYT.

Massive attacks aimed at the computer systems of the White House itself, as well as those of the State Department, and JPMorgan Chase banking system, have kept counter cyber terror officials busy. The first two attacks were tentatively attributed ultimately to Moscow; the latter is still a question mark.

But the ambiguous response by the White House to the most devastating cyber attack ever on a U.S.-based corporation has done nothing to reassure American citizens. Nor has it inspired confidence among U.S. allies, who are watching to see if, when and how the White House will respond to the attack, termed by some as an “act of war.”

Hana Levi Julian

Ostreicher Released from Bolivian Prison

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Jacob Ostreicher, a New York businessman held in Bolivia since 2011, is back in the United States.

Two Jewish news websites, JP Updates and Algemeiner, reported Monday that Ostreicher returned Sunday to New York, although the circumstances of his departure from Bolivia are not clear.

Ostreicher, who had a flooring business in New York, invested money with a group involved in a rice-growing venture in Bolivia and was managing the business when he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering. He also was accused of doing business with drug traffickers.

However, in June, Bolivian authorities arrested 15 people — including government officials — on charges of engineering his arrest in hopes of extracting cash payment.

Despite those charges, Bolivia did not release Ostreicher, a haredi Orthodox father of five, and his case drew the attention of leading lawmakers in Congress, including Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Sean Penn, the movie actor and human rights activist.

JTA

US Lawmakers in Bolivia to Press for Ostreicher’s Release

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Two members of Congress are in Bolivia to press for the release of an American Jewish businessman who has been jailed there without charges for 18 months.

Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) arrived this week to seek the release of Jacob Ostreicher, a haredi Orthodox father of five and grandfather of 11 from Brooklyn, N.Y., who has been held in Bolivia without formal charges and bail since June 2011.

In a release Thursday, Smith, who has led congressional efforts to win Ostreicher’s release, said that according to Bolivian law, persons may be held without charges for no longer than 18 months.

Last month, authorities arrested seven people, including top government officials, for attempted extortion in the case.

Ostreicher has said since his arrest that corrupt Bolivian officials desired to keep him in jail in order to sell for their own profit the 18,000 metric tons of rice they confiscated from him and to extort him for money in exchange for promises to help get him released.

JTA

Bolivian Cabinet to Deliberate Ostreicher Case

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Bolivian Cabinet ministers told the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives human rights subcommittee that they would look into the case of a jailed Brooklyn Chasidic Jew.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) met this week in Bolivia with Minister of Government Carlos Romero and Minister of Justice Cecilia Luisa Ayllon. Jacob Ostreicher has been held in Bolivia for more than year without formal charges and bail.

Smith said in a statement that both ministers were attentive and pledged to look into the case.

“After a long meeting, Minister Ayllon concluded that ‘Your agony for Jacob Ostreicher is like my agony for Bolivians who are in the same situation’,” Smith said Thursday in a press statement. “As a judge for 13 years herself, she pointed out the abuse of filing of false charges and other irregularities, like the process of recusing judges, leading to lengthy delays, is a widespread problem.”

Ostreicher, a father of five, was arrested a year ago by Bolivian police after it was alleged that he did business with “people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering.” At the time, he belonged to a group of investors that sunk $25 million into growing rice in lush eastern Bolivia.

Smith, a leader in the House on human trafficking issues, also met with Bolivian officials who prosecute sex trafficking.

JTA

Congress Urging Hillary to Act on Haredi Imprisoned in Bolivia

Friday, June 8th, 2012

A retired FBI official told a House subcommittee that the imprisonment of a New York Chasidic Jew in Bolivia is “state-sponsored kidnapping.”

Along with the ex-official, Steve Moore, the U.S. House of Representatives Human Rights Subcommittee on Wednesday heard testimony from the family of Jacob Ostreicher, who was arrested a year ago by Bolivian police after it was alleged that he did business with “people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering.” Ostreicher, a father of five from Borough Park, Brooklyn, belonged to a group of investors that sunk $25 million into growing rice in lush eastern Bolivia.

The hearing was chaired by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who said in his opening statement that the U.S. government “must do everything we can to correct the ongoing, extreme injustice being perpetrated against Mr. Ostreicher and secure his freedom as quickly as possible.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who has written letters calling for U.S. intervention in the Ostreicher case, said:

“It is important for everyone to remember our goal – making sure Mr. Ostreicher is provided fair treatment and basic due process. They must be made to understand that we will not stand by and simply accept the treatment that Mr. Ostreicher has received to date. Pressure must continue to be applied to the Bolivian government and its justice system to get this man and his family out of the terrible limbo they are in by ordering his speedy trial, and a fair opportunity to be free on bail during this process.”

In May, Rep. Nadler sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter stating: “I understand and respect the fact that Bolivia is a sovereign nation with its own legal policies and procedures, but I respectfully request that you directly contact your counterparts in the Bolivian government, and impress upon them the need for the court to hear Mr. Ostreicher’s case so that a fair result can be attained.”

Last week, Smith made a formal request to the U.S. assistant secretary of state of Western Hemisphere affairs, Roberta Jacobson, to personally intervene in the Ostreicher case.

Nadler noted on Wednesday that “a hearing regarding Mr. Ostreicher’s eligibility for bail is currently scheduled for June 11.” He reiterated that he wanted “to make sure the Bolivian government is aware that our government at a high level is calling for due process of law and a swift and fair trial for Mr. Ostreicher.”

Nadler added that “right now, Mr. Ostreicher is on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. As a result he is physically weak and his family is concerned about his health. His health and safety must continue to be monitored.”

Committee members heard from Ostreicher’s wife, Miriam Ungar, and his daughter, Chaya Weinberger. Both pleaded for Ostreicher’s release by the Bolivian government.

“He, together with all those who love him and want him home, are waiting,” Weinberger said during her testimony. “We are waiting to see the demonstration of liberty upon which our country is based.”

Moore said that “In Jacob’s case there is a complete absence of any concrete, tangible evidence on even a microscopic scale which would indicate that he had in any way, shape, or form participated in a crime in Bolivia. Nor is there evidence that a crime has even been committed.”

A number of U.S. lawmakers have joined Ostreicher’s family in saying that the U.S. State Department has not provided an adequate response to Ostreicher’s incarceration.

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) told the committee, “It has now been 370 days since Jacob was originally arrested. Yet, he has not been charged. The prosecution has not even presented any evidence of his guilt. While, initially, Jacob was to be released on bail, that decision was revoked. The judges in the case have been removed and currently no judge is presiding.”

“Meanwhile, Jacob remains locked up at Palmasola Prison in Santa Cruz, Bolivia,” Velázquez pointed out. “That notorious facility was designed to hold 1,000 prisoners, but is currently home to 3,500 people. Unlike U.S. facilities, this prison is essentially run by the prisoners. Guards provide food and make sure prisoners do not escape but do nothing to maintain order within the prison’s walls. Reports suggest that gangs control life inside the prison. At least once a month there is a ‘suicide’ reported – and critics suggest many of these deaths may actually be murders. Jacob has undertaken a hunger strike to protest his unjust treatment and there are now very real health concerns about his continued detention.”

Jacob Edelist

Orthodox New Yorker On Hunger Strike After Months In Bolivian Prison

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Supporters say he’s an innocent man caught up in the tentacles of a corrupt Latin American regime.

Authorities in Bolivia allege he’s a shady businessman with ties to drug dealers and money launderers.

What’s certain is that Jacob Ostreicher, a 53-year-old chassidic Jew from New York, is in a state of limbo, sitting in a jail in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz waiting to be tried or released on bail.

Five weeks ago, in a bid to pressure authorities to expedite the handling of his case, Ostreicher began a hunger strike following 10 months of appeals to the U.S. State Department.

Ostreicher, a father of five from the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, belonged to a group of investors led by Andre Zolty of the Swiss firm Lexinter that sunk $25 million into growing rice in lush eastern Bolivia. He was arrested last June by Bolivian police. During his arraignment, the judge alleged that Ostreicher did business with “people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering.”

The judge also determined Ostreicher should not be allowed to post bail because “being free, the accused could destroy [or] change evidence that could lead the attorney general to discover the truth.”

Since then Ostreicher, who maintains his innocence, has been waiting. He has cycled through multiple court hearings, three judges, three prosecutors and four defense attorneys. One judge released him from jail in September, only to retract the order and send him back less than a week later. As of now the case is without a judge.

While the case has dragged on, some of the 40 million pounds of rice harvested from Ostreicher’s fields and later seized by the Bolivian government have begun to disappear.

The head of the Bolivian agency in charge of seized property, Moises Aguilera, told The Associated Press in December that the rice had to be sold because otherwise it would spoil. But Ostreicher’s partners accuse the Bolivian government of trying to profit from the confiscated rice.

Bolivian authorities have declined to discuss the details of the case publicly.

Ostreicher’s saga began when he joined Zolty’s partnership in June 2008 and traveled to Bolivia to see the rice business firsthand. Over the course of several trips from 2008 to 2010, Ostreicher says he was never able to inspect the books of the Bolivian rice fields because the manager, Claudia Liliana Rodriguez Espitia, was never around.

Eventually, Ostreicher said, he came to believe Rodriguez was stealing millions of dollars from the investors. He convinced Zolty to fire Rodriguez, and Ostreicher took over the business.

When Rodriguez disappeared soon after leaving the venture, Ostreicher took out a full-page ad in a major local newspaper offering a $25,000 reward to whoever could find her.

While police investigated Rodriguez for corruption, they discovered she had purchased a portion of the rice fields from the brother of her drug dealer boyfriend, Maximiliano Dorado.

Bolivian federal prosecutors began to question Ostreicher in March 2011. He continued to travel back and forth to the United States, and approached the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia; Ostreicher says U.S. officials told him not to worry.

“The embassy told me I should be honest with the investigation. That’s what I did,” Ostreicher said. “I wish the U.S. Embassy had told me to get the hell out of the country.”

An embassy official said he could not comment on private conversations.

On the eve of Shavuot last year, when Ostreicher was scheduled to fly home to New York, prosecutors called him in for another round of questioning. Anxious to get home for the holiday, Ostreicher asked if he could come to their office to finish the deposition as soon as possible. He arrived on June 3, responded to questions and thanked the prosecutor for adjusting his schedule.

Moments later, Ostreicher was arrested. The grandfather of 11 says he was shoved into a cell with no toilet or shower.

The next day at his arraignment, the judge charged Ostreicher with being “the representative of Andre Zolty” and having “commercial relations with Maximiliano Dorado, both people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering … proving the circle between Andre Zolty, Maxi Dorado … and Claudia Liliana Rodríguez Espitia.”

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/orthodox-new-yorker-on-hunger-strike-after-months-in-bolivian-prison/2012/05/16/

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