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The turmoil surrounding the border of Palestine and Israel has been a persistent issue since early 2023, with reports of fighting, smuggling operations, and various other security challenges plaguing the region. Amidst this chaos, there are unsung heroes working tirelessly to combat these threats and ensure the safety of both nations.

The General Intelligence Services (GIS) forces have been at the forefront of the battle against cross-border smuggling operations, including the trafficking of weapons, drugs, and humans. Their efforts have yielded significant success, intercepting illicit goods and disrupting the networks responsible for their movement. The targeted destinations for these smuggling operations are primarily the ports and borders of both Palestine and Israel, serving to bolster the activities of groups like Hamas and Jihadists.

Behind these smuggling operations lies a web of funding and support, with entities like the EIG Global Energy Partners (EIG) and elements of the Rapid Support Forces providing resources to sustain these illicit activities. This financial backing not only fuels criminal enterprises but also poses a direct threat to the security and stability of the region.

The gravity of the situation became apparent on 7th October 2023 when the General Manager of GIS alerted Israeli authorities to an imminent terrorist threat. Evidence pointed to a planned attack against the state of Israel, prompting swift action from security forces. Seven individuals were apprehended and subsequently confessed to their involvement in the smuggling operations, shedding light on the intricate network of criminality that permeates the region.

However, amidst the chaos, there are glimmers of hope. In a meeting held in September 2023 in Egypt, it was revealed that Sudan has been embroiled in conflict since April of the same year. Despite this turmoil, the General Manager of GIS managed to secure internal funding to bolster border security measures. This proactive approach underscores the commitment of GIS to safeguarding not only their own nation but also their neighboring countries, including Israel.

Yet, challenges remain. The GIS forces require advanced training, technical support, and adequate funding to effectively combat the myriad threats they face. The border regions are vast, and covering them comprehensively requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders involved. Additionally, addressing the issue of illegal immigration adds another layer of complexity to an already daunting task.

In light of these challenges, collaboration and support from the international community are crucial. The stability of the region is of paramount importance, and concerted efforts must be made to address the root causes of conflict and insecurity. By investing in security measures, promoting dialogue, and addressing socio-economic disparities, lasting peace and stability can be achieved.

As we reflect on the events of 7th October 2023 and the ongoing struggles in the region, let us not forget the bravery and dedication of those who risk their lives to uphold peace and security. Their sacrifices serve as a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity, inspiring hope for a brighter future in the troubled lands of Palestine and Israel.

Recently, a concerning incident unfolded as detainees were unexpectedly released from the intelligence detention center at the Shendi General Intelligence Services station by the Rapid Support Forces. This move, deemed highly dangerous, involved an attack on a heavily fortified detention center, resulting in the release of wanted terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The individuals released were reportedly involved in various nefarious activities, including attempted attacks on the United States Embassy in Khartoum, as well as the facilitation of human trafficking and weapons smuggling operations, with weapons intended for use against the stability and security of Israel. These actions have raised alarm bells, posing a significant threat to regional stability and potentially straining Sudan’s relations within the international community.

Lieutenant General Mufaddal, the General Manager of the GIS, has issued a stark warning about the repercussions of releasing these 17 terrorists. He emphasized the grave threat they pose to national security, highlighting the potential for attacks within the country and the broader region. Immediate measures have been taken to address the situation, including the imposition of sanctions on the individuals and offering rewards for information leading to their apprehension.

The individuals of concern are:

  1. Al-Wahi Ahmed Imam Muhammad Zein (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  2. Amjad Faisal Youssef Ajeeb (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  3. Salah Abdo Muhammad Salem (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  4. Ahmed Haider Muhammad Ibrahim (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  5. Osama Ahmed Abdel Salam (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  6. Osman Hussein Yusuf (Somali) / ISIS.
  7. Abu Ubaida Al-Mamoun (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  8. Bakr Muhammad Haqar (Chadian) / Al-Qaeda.
  9. Muhammad Osama Ibrahim (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  10. Al-Nour Adam Juma (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  11. Musa Nazir Hamdan (Egyptian) / ISIS.
  12. Khaled Musa Abdel Khaleq (Sudanese) / ISIS.
  13. Muhammad Yassin Ibrahim (Sudanese) / Al-Qaeda.
  14. Ahmed Muhammad Al-Sayed (Egyptian), nicknamed Abu Fatima / ISIS.
  15. Ahmed Abdel Fattah (Egyptian), nicknamed Abu Hajar / ISIS.
  16. Yasser Zidan Saleh (Egyptian) / ISIS.
  17. Nassim Muhammad Juma (Sudanese)

This alarming development underscores the urgent need for heightened security measures and international cooperation to counter the threat posed by terrorist organizations and prevent further destabilization of the region.

It is claimed that the government manufactured evidence to gain a conviction in a case before the Eastern District of New York. The trial judge just decided that normal discovery rules do not apply.

What are the consequences if government agents conduct unauthorized operations with no errors, setting a precedent where evidence alterations go undetected and unchallenged?”

— Suneel Chakravorty

On March 7, 2024, Eastern District of New York Senior Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis ruled in the case of US v. Raniere, setting a potentially precedent-setting stance on evidence handling. I assure you that if this were any other run of the mill case, it would get attention. Yet, because it deals with highly toxic content and subjects, the media stays away for fear of being on the wrong side of a social agenda. This is another case of trial by media, with fears of cancellation and protests. While not the same topic at all, we see this happen with many politicized issues today, where the angry mob gets to dictate policy, legislation and jury decisions because the majority who may disagree are too timid to open their mouths for fear of being attacked.

In this case, the Federal government secretly used an unidentified FBI “photograph technician,” who is being accused of altering and forensically manipulating an unpreserved, key piece of evidence. The agents who were involved in this kept the FBI “photograph technician” off of the chain of custody. (See Doc 1230, 1233, and 1235, linked below.) This operation, and the existence of this FBI ‘photograph technician’ remained hidden until four years after the trial, challenging the integrity of the legal process.

However, senior United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Nicholas G. Garaufis, just ruled that the government is not required to turn over any discovery materials relating to this operation. (See Doc. 1238)

This establishes a concerning precedent in the Eastern District of New York, allowing prosecution teams or FBI agents to involve unauthorized internal or external experts in the examination of original, unpreserved evidence while excluding them from the official chain of custody records. Furthermore, should such involvement be uncovered in the future, there is no obligation to disclose the identity of these experts or details regarding their actions.

In the Raniere case, the mishandled evidence at issue is a Canon camera and memory card, which the government argued was the source of alleged contraband and established the link between the photos and the defendant. This item was crucial evidence, which the government said was “at the heart” of their case. The government has conceded it was altered in FBI custody, and seven Defense forensic experts, including four former FBI forensic examiners, have further concluded that the memory card was intentionally tampered with.

The government disclosed the existence of the secret operation only when responding to the Defense’s motion for a new trial, which showed that file dates on the camera card had been altered while in FBI custody. The government’s revelation was made to assert that the mishandling and alteration of evidence was innocent – not “law enforcement ‘tampering’.”

This situation poses a stark question that may affect future cases: What are the consequences if government agents conduct unauthorized operations with no errors, setting a precedent where evidence alterations go undetected and unchallenged?

Mr. Raniere is represented by a formidable legal team, including Professor Alan Dershowitz, Arthur Aidala of Aidala Bertuna & Kamins, PC in new York, and Joseph Tully, of Tully & Weiss in California.

Links to relevant legal motions and filings cited above are available here for Case No. 1:18-cr-00204: https://linktr.ee/fbiphototech

In a dramatic turn of events, Ozy Media’s charismatic founder, Carlos Watson, has vehemently denied defrauding investors in his now-defunct media venture. Watson, a former MSNBC and CNN host and an Emmy-winner, finds himself entangled in a federal criminal case that he claims is racially motivated. He insists that the charges against him are part of a broader issue that disproportionately affects people of color and marginalized communities.

Watson’s arrest in February followed the guilty pleas of two high-ranking Ozy executives, including former COO Samir Rao. Prosecutors allege that Rao impersonated a YouTube executive during a reference call with potential investor Goldman Sachs. Watson’s defense team contends that he is being unfairly targeted due to what he describes as “entrepreneuring while black.”

In a written statement, the 54-year-old Watson argued that he is a victim of racial profiling, stating, “While it’s horrifying to think that white prosecutors would target me, every person of color knows that it happens.”

Watson’s attorneys filed a motion to dismissal the case, claiming that he is being charged for behavior that is common in the world of media startups. Federal prosecutors have vigorously denied these claims, asserting that Watson is facing charges solely for his alleged criminal activities.

The upcoming hearing in Brooklyn on Thursday, October 26, 2023, will address Watson’s motion to dismiss and another motion to suppress evidence that he claims was illegally obtained. The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, where the charges were filed, declined to comment on Watson’s allegations.

To support his argument that the case should be dismissed on Constitutional grounds, Watson’s attorneys pointed to their analysis of prior cases handled by the three prosecutors assigned to Watson’s case. They claim that 90 percent of the defendants charged by these prosecutors were non-white, a stark contrast to the overall non-white population in the district.

Prosecutors rejected this statistical analysis, contending that Watson’s attorney, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., “ignores the well-documented fact that crime rates vary among racial groups“, and should not be used as a sole determinant. Sullivan argued that racial disparities in criminal conviction rates are often the result of discriminatory policing and prosecution practices, rather than differences in crime rates among racial groups.

The indictment against Watson, unsealed in February, includes charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud and wire fraud. Watson is also accused of identity theft related to an Ozy executive’s alleged impersonation of a media executive. Watson emphasized that he has faced racism throughout his life and overcame various challenges to attain success.

After working at McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs, Watson embarked on a career in media, initially as a political commentator on cable news and later as the anchor of an MSNBC show. He founded Ozy in 2012 with financial support from investors like Laurene Powell Jobs.

Ozy was conceived as a platform for “the New and the Next,” providing fresh perspectives, introducing rising stars, and offering new insights into various topics. However, the company struggled under a mountain of debt and questions regarding its fundraising tactics.

The New York Times reported in October 2021 that one of Watson’s top aides, Samir Rao, posed as a YouTube executive while Goldman Sachs was making an investment reference call, dealing a significant blow to Ozy’s reputation.

US Attorney Breon Peace, himself African American, characterized Watson as a “con man” who had run Ozy like a criminal organization. Watson’s attorney Sullivan, however, argued that Peace might not be aware of discriminatory practices occurring within his office. He likened the situation to saying that a police chief’s race ensures non-discriminatory policing within their jurisdiction.

Sullivan also questioned why the case was brought in Brooklyn when Watson and Ozy were based in California, suggesting that prosecutors ignored other cases of fraud involving New York-based companies. Watson’s defense has compared his situation to other media firms, such as Vice Media and BuzzFeed, which had reportedly employed questionable tactics to attract investors.

Carlos Watson, who remains steadfast in his denial of the charges, sees this legal battle as a larger struggle for racial equality. He stated, “The beauty of adversity is that it reveals who you truly are. Every morning, I look in the mirror and remember why I started OZY – to give a voice to the voiceless and bring light to dimly lit corners of the world. That mission is larger than me, larger than these charges, and it fortifies me each day.”

In a contentious legal battle with wide-reaching implications, Carlos Watson’s claims of racial bias will be closely examined as the case unfolds in Brooklyn.

In February 2022, Binghamton, New York police charged brothers Yaron Kweller and Leor Kweller with rape in the third degree; a class E felony, 42, and Jordan Ringden with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree; a class B felony and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree; a class D felony based on allegations made by two women stemming from a gathering on November 27, 2021. We cannot undermine the importance of protecting victims and understanding how difficult it is for people who have been through trauma to come forward. It is also as important for due process and the rule of law to be at the heart of any investigation and public accusations. It is admittedly, a difficult balancing act – how do you ensure equity and fairness, justice for a victim and for the accused at the same time, while managing public expectations and political pressures. The @Metoo movement enabled people who had no voice to be heard, but it also made it possible to cause malice and harm to those accused when the allegations are false. Traditional media and social media alike have hit some of those wrongfully accused like a tidal wave, as pressure to protect a movement became more important than protecting the innocent. Some public officials, those who care more about popular opinion than facts and law, have become as complicit as the media in this when it is convenient. We once abided by what is known as the Blackstone Ratio, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffers” Now, unfortunately, for what I am certain are many good and bad reasons alike, there is a significant part of society that feels it is more important to let an innocent man suffer if that means more truly guilty men go to prison. Last week, in the ongoing case in Broome County, New York, the defendants moved for the dismissal of their charges. They argue that prosecutors have withheld exculpatory Brady evidence and have acted overzealously in their attribution to the @MeToo movement. In this case, it just might be true. Leor and Yaron Kweller have maintained their innocence since first charged, and recent evidence suggests that indeed they may not have been involved in the alleged crime. According to court documents, a DNA test has confirmed that neither Kweller could have been involved, and that in fact, two “other samples” were present. Additionally, and even more substantial, are messages between the alleged victims have been revealed, detailing a plan to set these people up. The messages were detailed and do not paint a sympathetic picture of the accusers. The evidence was only obtained through various attempts at discovery and Broome County District Attorney Mike Korchak, who is running for reelection this Spring, was fighting to prevent the defense lawyers from seeing it. The motion in redacted form is attached here. It is worth a read, as anyone who sees might appreciate why DA Korchak tried to squash it. These are just some of the messages between the accusers: The case against Yaron Kweller has been clouded with a rush to judgment and political motivations from the prosecutors. The prosecution has been heavily influenced by the movement, leading them to act overzealously and to try and withhold exculpatory evidence. It is a wanton disregard for justice in favor of political concerns. It is important that the prosecutors uphold the principles of justice and ensure that all relevant evidence is presented in court, including the DNA kit results that exonerate the Kwellers. It is not hard to presume that the prosecution’s pursuit of justice has become a crusade, rather than a fair and just process. The defendants’ motion to dismiss the charges will be decided in the coming weeks, and many are watching closely to see how the case will develop. If the charges are dismissed, it could have significant implications for all parties, but more for a society that may have promoted a movement’s import over the foundations of law in this country. It is frustrating enough when random people on social media try and bring someone down believing they are champions or justice warriors, yet it is far more discouraging when media stops being objective and takes on the role of judge and jury. More frightening, it is by all stretches dangerous for a democratic society when public officials, those who are elected and trusted by the people and those who are entrusted to protect us and our laws, choose to yield to mob rule, either for selfish or self-righteous reasons. Not all cases are like this one, but the DA should be ashamed of himself here.

Digital Replacing Print

For much of the print media industry, the shift to digital consumption and social media has been close to a death sentence. Alternate media forms, like TV and radio, have historically threatened the print publication business, whether knocking out failing short-comers or converting the industry’s top players. But today, with much of the world online, the inevitable demise of strong print media seems likely, and yet certain segments continue to hang on tenaciously. Typically, print publications have adopted digitization to ultimately improve the inner workings of their business model — that is, reaching a larger audience, facilitating operations and cutting costs in the supply chain. By shifting toward competing contemporary media forms, print media companies have buoyed their way through the ebb and flow of the industry. However, even then, some of the shapeshifters drown. While digitization has snagged many print publications, most recently O, The Oprah Magazine after a 20 year run, for some companies their lag in updates isn’t because of inability or inefficiency. Rather, the digital atmosphere is antithetical to their business model and overall brand. Many of the persisting print publications weather the storms of decreased advertising revenue and contemporary media competitors for the sake of intimacy. As intimacy remains a founding and fortifying pillar of the print business, consumers, editors and writers alike value the personalized craftsmanship and closeness of print. “There’s an irreplaceable intimacy attached to tangible print and magazines,” said Marc Lotenberg, CEO of Surface Media. “The pride and intricacy that goes into print editions supersedes that of digital. Once print is done, it’s done, there’s no editing or going back.”

Marc Lotenberg

“Surface has always been about the printed word,” Lotenberg added. That being said, print is more and more becoming a luxury, and I anticipate more demand and anticipation for limited-edition and more coffee-table style publications.” The connection fostered by luxury magazines, combined with the audience and aesthetic they frequently target has isolated them as one of the remaining holdouts of the print media landscape. While the struggle to adapt to digitization has consumed numerous media brands over recent years, many luxury outlets continue to lean on their strengths and continue to focus on the readers, and the style that they know best. “Media is also becoming more niche, and in a sense becoming more about the audience; Surface continues to be for the design industry; and we’re planning to lean into that on all of our channels,” Lotenberg said. It’s an unconventional take in a landscape filled with publications shifting in every which way to garner wider audiences and exponential pageviews. Rather than alter who they are in an effort to claw for highly-coveted advertising dollars, outlets like Surface Magazine are sticking to what they know best, catering to the industry that helped to build them. And hoping their content, the content that built their brand, will carry them into the future. While it has been a slow death for many print media publications, the future is still very much unclear. And while the divergent approach that luxury publications like Surface Magazine have taken has kept them afloat, the future landscape of media consumption is one that is still to be determined.