Friday 29 June 2012

The Even More Increasingly Well Armed Free Syrian Army

Following my earlier post, The Increasingly Well Armed FSA, And Other Oddities, I've been on the look out for videos that give an indication of how well armed the FSA.  Aside from the endless defection and brigade formation videos, which usually feature the same small arms, there's been an increase in videos showing truck mounted heavy machine guns and AA guns.  Here's a selection of videos posted over the last couple of weeks

Unknown location - Truck mounted DShK heavy machine gun

Al Bab, Aleppo - Truck mounted unknown heavy machine gun

Jabel Zawieh, Idlib - Truck mounted gun, possibly a single barreled ZU-23-2 variant

Idlib - Truck mounted DShK with metal shield

Update June 30th @ginnysacksmole tells me the above individual shown operating the DShK above apparently shot down the helicopter shown lower down in this post, and received a reward of 50,000.00 SYP (781.86USD), according to reports from activists.

Hamidia, Homs - Truck mounted DShk heavy machine gun

Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib - One mounted AA gun, possibly a ZU-23 variant, and a mounted heavy machine gun with a metal shield

Deir ez Zor - Alsaitat Battalion - Truck mounted DShK

As you can see, the majority appear to be DShK heavy machine gun, with only one video (an M2 Browning) of a non-Russian made heavy machine gun posted online as far as I'm aware.

The next set of videos shows the second most prevalent heavy weapon I've come across, AA guns.

Mount Simon, North of Aleppo - Freedom Martyrs Brigade in a captured army base. ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun

Rural Aleppo - Atareb Battalion - Captured 57 mm AZP S-60 and ammo

Qabtane Ej Jebel, Aleppo - ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun firing at helicopter

Sheikh Barakat, Aleppo - Captured ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun

Although these videos are in Aleppo there have been reports of AA guns captured in other areas of Syria, and as there's also videos of the previously mentioned DShK heavy machine guns being used to fire at helicopters, which might explain where there's started to be reports of downed Syrian helicopters, including this one in Idlib

On top of the captured AA guns there's also been a number of videos showing captured armoured vehicles in a number of different locations.

Unknown location - Captured tank, unknown make.

Zabadani, Rif Dimashq - Captured BMP-1

Mardbsa, Idlib - Another captured BMP-1

Jabal Az Zawija, Idlib - Sham Falcons Brigade - Two captured military trucks and an unknown tank

Idlib - Captured BMP-1

Idlib - Captured BMP, unknown model.

I've yet to see any videos of these vehicles in combat, but it does show there's an increasing amount of armour falling into the hands of the FSA, and with an increasing amount of AA guns also falling into their hands they might actually be able to use it with the risk of it being destroyed from the air.

There's also been more videos of weapons, ammo, and equipment captured by the FSA.

Unknown - FSA capturing a truck supposedly loaded with weapons and ammo, unknown contents

Deir Al-Zour - Around 100 assault rifles, likely AK-47s, and a few RPG launchers captured along with ammo

Sheikh Barakat, Aleppo - At 3:20 crates at the captured radio station, unknown contents

So it seems that there's a steady flow of small arms and ammo from captured checkpoints and bases.  This influx of small arms is clearly reflected in the following videos, which demonstrate the sort of numbers the FSA can now muster.

Maerdebseh, Idlib - Around 50 FSA fighters armed with a variety of light arms storm the Maerdebseh checkpoint, capturing a tank

Douma, Damascus - A column of dozens of FSA fighters armed with a variety of light arms traveling in a convoy that includes heavy machine guns or AA guns mounted on trucks

Derbers, Deir-Ez Zor - A variety of videos demonstrating the strength and equipment of local forces

Rastan – Formation of the al-Hamza Brigade, demonstrating the increasing size of local FSA forces

Update June 30th Hama Echo has noted in the above video that at 0:47s in the above video you can on the right hand side of the screen a man in blue trousers holding a Strela-2 (SA-7) surface to air missile.  Rastan, where this video was filmed, is about 10km away from the missile base that defected on June 10th, from which it is has been reported a number of Stela-2's were looted.
One group that has caught my attention is the Al-Ansar brigade that operates in Old Homs and Talbiseh, who according to activists are a civilian group who have captured a number of heavier weapons, as demonstrated below.

Baba Amr, Homs - Al-Ansar brigade using a truck mounted B-10 Recoilless rifle to attack a check point

Talbisheh, Homs - Al-Ansar Battalion using 120mm mortars.

And this post would of course not be complete with a couple of examples of DIY weapons.

Home made mortar system

Home made rocket

In my mind the home made rocket seems rather impractical; even if you could construct it with a guidance system that gave it at least some chance of hitting a useful target it seems unlikely they could be manufactured easily enough, and in a large enough quantity to be of any use.  The mortars on the other hand could actually be of some use as it seems like quite a simple system to manufacture rounds for.

As far as I am aware all these videos were filmed in the last two weeks, and I think really shows how well equipped the FSA are getting, especially if you compare it to previous months. There's pretty strong evidence that the Syrian government is losing control of much of the Aleppo region, including losing military bases, which means more equipment for the FSA in a region where they also have the advantage of a fairly open border with Turkey. 

As always, I'm on the look out for any new footage of weapons and equipment captured or in use by the FSA, and if you think I've made any errors, or can provide any more information about the videos I've posted please let me know.

Update June 30th BH Jespersen has posted about a very interesting rocket launcher spotted in one of the videos coming out of Syria, that possibly shows a Belgian made BL-83 Blindicide (tank killer) rocket launcher.  Along with FN FAL rifles and the previously mentioned M2 Browning that brings the total of different Belgian origin weapons to 3.

Many thanks to Hama Echo, troublejee, Dsyrer, sherbalkis, James Miller, Le Shaque, BH Jespersen and many others for various videos, translation, and discussion that contributed to this post.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Thursday 28 June 2012

Major General And Brigadier General Captured By The FSA In Damascus

This video has been recently posted online showing a Syrian Army major general and intelligence service brigadier general captured by the Free Syrian Army Update 29th June English subtitled version here

The makers of the video have gone to great lengths to ensure both men can be clearly identified, filming close up of their ID documents.  On the left is Brigadier General Mounir Shleibi of the notorious Palestine Intelligence Branch
His IDs are shown below

The second man is Major General Faraj al-Maqt of Syrian Central Command
His ID documents are shown below

Both are significant individuals, and the brigadier says they were captured at the Adawi highway in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus. (thanks to @Dsyrer for the translation).  This map shows the area they were captured from in relation to the rest of Damascus, with Harasta at the top of the map

It seems significant that senior military figures can be captured in Damascus by the FSA seemingly under the nose of the Assad government, and will no doubt raise serious concerns among senior officers about their own safety.

Update June 29th This video posted in March 2011 claims to show Brigadier General Mounir Shleibi at around 1:13 at the site of the Sednaya prison massacre in 2008 where up to 25 prisoners were killed during a prison riot (thanks to HamaEcho)

Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher is also visible in the video around 1:03 to 1:12.  Update June 29th Syrian Uprising Info has claimed that the above video may not in fact be filmed at Sednaya, but another massacre.

Update June 29th As the Guardian Live Blog notes Syrian State media made a brief report on the capture of Faraj Shihadeh al-Maqt, referring to him as lieutenant general, not major general as in the above video
An armed terrorist group intercepted the car of pilot Lt. Gen. Faraj Shihadeh al-Maqt in al-Adawi area and abducted him. The authorities are working to locate and free him.
Update June 29th I've been talking to various individuals about the Palestine Intelligence Branch, including HamaEcho and troublejee, who have provided more information about them.  To begin with the Palestine branch is one of 15 military intelligence branches under one of 4 intelligence divisions, as listed here.  Their name comes from what was meant to be their original function, countering Israeli covert operations, but they've actually been more focused on cracking down on Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood dissidents, as well as being involved with extraordinary rendition, which has involved working with a number of countries post-9/11, including Germany and the US, and they've been involved with the rendition of Mohammed Haydar Zammar and Maher Arar.

Related Articles
Shabiha Captured In Salqin And Confronted By Their Victim's Family
FSA Video - Captured Shabiha Confesses To Robbery and Rape
Captured Major General Defects To The FSA 

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Even More Teething Problems For Menshn

Following on from my previous post on Menshn Syn0nymph has yet again uncovered another security flaw in the website
Worryingly you can still use someone else's email address to get into Menshn. How? Register with a valid email/and receive a confirmation email which validates you own account. Open mail and click the link and you can then log in and use Menshn to your hearts content.

You can then, if you were of a mind to, edit your profile and change your email login and user name to anything you like. Logout and then login again and instead of being prompted to click on an email confirmation confirming your email change etc you will find you can continue to use Menshn as usual unprompted and without any validation. I just did this and I now have an account called //BobDiamond, using his email address to access Menshn!
So yet another reason to wait a while before you open your Menshn account.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

UPDATE - The Holy See And Senior Catholic Church Members Criticise Pro-Assad Clergy

I've been contacted by Professor Christian Cannuyer regarding the below article, and the Le Monde article it was based on to make some corrections.  The original text in French is here, and here's the Google Translated version


Dated June 23, 2012, I spoke to a circle of friends an account of
my participation in the work of ROACO ("Riunione Opere Aiuto Chiese
Orientali ") in Rome and a report on the situation in Syria what was
presented Mgr Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria. This message was
distributed by third parties on "blogs" or news organizations to
international exposure, sometimes with amenities which I don '
I had no control. This diffusion was not my intention
If, as it was reproduced, translated this message into the substance table
Update by the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop, he may, in
formulation that has been given, leaving the impression that the nuncio would
specifically criticized the positions of some church figures, to
namely S. B. Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch
Melkite Greek-Catholic, S. Exc. Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Archbishop
Greek Melkite Catholic Aleppo, Mother Agnes of the Cross-Mariam, upper
convent March Yacoub Qara, or Father Philippe Tournyol Clos. I
should like to point out that never in his presentation Bishop Zenari did not invoke
named these people. The reference to them in my message of June 23
was part of a personal phrase that has not been associated with
report of the presentation of the nuncio and does not commit it.
While it remains true that my analysis of the situation in Syria, including the degree
infiltration of radical Salafist movements in opposition to
regime and the subsequent risk incurred by the Christian minority, differs
those expressed or attributed, probably not without strain, in
some media personalities named, I take issue against
any formulation or presentation of my message that would leave people believe that
I would suspect them of misinformation, dubious proximity with the
Syrian regime voluntarily or excessive dramatization. I express
my confidence in the integrity, dedication pastoral concern for the truth and
sincere desire to ease interfaith driving these people
and all these churches in Syria.
I reject also any presentation of my message suggesting that the
Holy See or ROACO would officially voted in this
material or on the case of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, which has been forced to
leave Syria.
It is incomprehensible that I wear to HB Patriarch Gregory
III, Archbishop Jeanbart-Mariam or Mother Agnes Cross charges that
some presentations seem to express my message, to the extent
I myself, in the journal Solidarity East / Werk voor het Oosten, that
I head to Brussels, repeatedly mentioned the pastoral work of
humanitarian and spiritual commitment of these outstanding personalities of
Concerning the Abbot Tournyol Clos, this is not the quality of
Archimandrite of the Patriarchate of Antioch Melkite Greek Catholics,
which is proved, which is involved in my message, but the dignity
Episcopal some media have mistakenly attributed to him. The terms
its presence in Homs and the testimony he presented, which I still
to challenge the relevance, have not been the subject of a declaration
Official Papal Nuncio or the Vatican authorities.
Therefore, I urge all media organizations or
exchanges of opinion have published my message of June 23 of the
withdraw from their site and insert in its place the present correction.
I continue to support - and this is the free opinion - that there
not, for now, Syria, the systematic hunting of Christians
from opposition factions, and a real friendship between the
majority of Muslims and Christians continues to prevail. This was well
main content About Mgr Zenari held at the meeting of the
ROACO to which I attended. But everything in my text, could
appear as a charge against the personalities
is above interpolations, shortcuts or settling
unfortunate. I therefore reiterate my demand that it be removed from all
sites where it was inserted.
Prof. Christian Cannuyer
Faculty of Theology at the Catholic University of Lille
President of the Belgian Society of Oriental Studies
Director of the Solidarity Bulletin East, Brussels
The original article is below:

Recently, during a meeting of the Assembly of the Reunion Of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), a number of outspoken Christian figures were criticised for the views they've been expressing about the Free Syrian Army and situation in Syria by Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Damascus.

He began by describing events in Syria as a genuine popular uprising and that the majority of opposition members were not radical and not anti-Christian.  He said there was no systematic persecution of Christians, and that Christians had been killed alongside Alawites and Sunnis in bombings and skirmishes, but not because of their religious beliefs.  He added that to his knowledge no Christian church has been attacked as part of sectarian violence.

He then went onto denounce the alarmist rhetoric of some individuals, including:

- Archbishop Jeanbart, bishop of Aleppo
- Greek-Catholic Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III-Catholic
- Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross

Saying that those who make such statements are engaged in disinformation.  He went on to say that he was convinced if they were not on the payroll of the Assad regime then they were being manipulated by the Assad regime.  Their words fuel rumours, and reinforce the idea that the Assad regime are the defenders of Christian minorities, and that attitudewhich borders on collaboration while eventually cost them dearly.

He goes onto say that there have been examples of extraordinary acts of solidarity between Christians and Muslims at the height of the conflict, and far from being "persecuted" Christians, at least so far, are respected and cared for, both by the army and by the insurgent forces.

At the same meeting the Catholic hierarchy had their attention drawn to the activism of the alleged Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos, "a greek-Catholic Melkite Archimandrite".  The Holy See says he is absolutely not a member of the Catholic hierarchy, he is not entitled to any of the titles which he claims, and his allegations he has made are false.  Tournyol was described as a renegade Catholic fundamentalist and extreme right-winger, and his actions described as endangering the Jesuits who have always been keen to maintain dialogue among all communities in Syria.

Both Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross and Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos have been quite active recently, letting the worlds media know about the supposed threats to Christians in Syria, with Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross claiming things such as
Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James at Qara in the Diocese of Homs, claimed that the opposition Free Syrian Army told Christians to get out, saying, "Yes ... it was commander on the ground Abdel Salam Harba who decided that there was to be no more negotiations with Christians." She said that Christians are being targeted because they remain non-partisan in the conflict.
and Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos
In Homs, opposition forces have occupied two areas, Diwan Al Bustan and Hamidieh, where there are all the churches and bishoprics. The picture for us is utter desolation: the church of Mar Elian is half destroyed and that of Our Lady of Peace is still occupied by the rebels. Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants, who fled without taking anything. The area of Hamidieh is still shelter to armed groups independent of each other, heavily armed and bankrolled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All Christians (138,000) have fled to Damascus and Lebanon, while others took refuge in the surrounding countryside. A priest was killed and another was wounded by three bullets.
And even appearing on Sky News

Mother Agnes Mariam claims about the Houla massacre were also basis of a controversial article in the German newspaper FAZ which has resulted in an ongoing spat between John Rosenthal and Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi and Phillip Smyth, which in the light of the latest comments from the Catholic Church suggests John Rosenthal may owe the other two an apology. Hopefully the media will take some time to reflect on what has been said about these individuals at the ROACO, and treat their claims with more cynicism in the future.
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Evidence Of Unguided Bombs Being Deployed By The Syrian Air Force

Over the past several months of the Syrian conflict there's been a great deal of evidence posted online and recently confirmed by the UN that helicopters have been used to attack opposition areas.  What's been unclear is exactly the range of weapons being used against opposition areas, with rocket and machine gun fire being the most common.  Two videos posted yesterday (highlighted by markito0171) indicate that as well as rockets and machine gun fire the Syrian air force is using unguided bombs

The cameraman claims these videos were filmed on June 27th in the Jabal Shehshebo region in the Hama countryside.  In the first video he says they were fired by helicopters, but in the second uses a more general term for aircraft.  It's of course impossible to verify any of these claims, so let's examine what we can see in the video. I believe what we are seeing in these videos are OFAB 250-270 High Explosive Fragmentation Bombs, and I've come to the conclusions by identifying a number of characteristics which I believe collectively are unique to that specific model of bomb. First, taken from here, a picture of (from left to right) of a P-50T training bomb, an OFAB-100-120, and an OFAB-250-270
To begin with CJ Chivers noted the configuration of the lug holes on the bomb casing.  This led me to examine them more closely, and in the below picture I've marked the lug holes you can see on the badly damaged bomb in the first video, the two red circled lug holes being on one side of the casing, visible on the above picture, and the single lug hole on the other side of the casing (as pictured here) circled in green, but not visible in the above picture
Other bombs in the range with two lug holes on one side are much larger, and don't share the very specific tail fin configuration on the OFAB-250-270.
In the above picture I've marked the tail fins in red and yellow boxes.  The red fins overlap go outside the outer edge, while the yellow fins stay inside the outer edge.  This same configuration can be seen clearly on this picture (taken from here), as well as the grooves stamped along the length of each fin
They also share the two concentric rings at the end of the tail fin, and if you examine this wide selection of bomb photographs you can see that the combination of the tail fin pattern, number and position of lug, and the concentric rings at the end of the tail fin strongly indicates the bombs are OFAB 250-270 High Explosive Fragmentation Bombs.  Add to that the cameraman estimating the bombs are about 50cm across, roughly the same as the OFAB 250-270 it seems that it's a pretty strong contender. While widely used on Russian made jets these bombs are also dropped by Hind helicopters, the below picture showing an example of a similar model in use (taken from here)
So there's a number of questions that need answering; where exactly were the bombs dropped? It seems clear they weren't dropped near any buildings, which may support Austin Tice's report that some of the pilots are purposely avoiding hitting targets, or flying to high to be effective
The tactics employed by helicopters observed in the past few weeks are a case in point.
Identified from photographs by an experienced American attack helicopter pilot as Russian-made MI-17s, which are designed both for transporting troops and cargo and for use as an attack aircraft, the helicopters typically fly in slow circles at altitudes between 1,500 and 2,000 feet. They fire unguided rockets and guns at apparently random or nonexistent targets and do not appear to employ guided missiles.
It's also interesting that the bombs appear to be in pretty good condition for high explosive fragmentation bombs.  Are they both duds?  One bomb even appears to be hollow, so could they be some sort of modified practice bombs?  There's many more questions that remain, and I'll be on the look out for more evidence of unguided bombs being used by the Syrian Air Force.

Update June 28th This video has been sent to me by @sherbalkis which supposedly shows the area hit shortly after impact
As you can see the bomb appears to have landed nowhere near any structures, which may suggest pilot error or a purposeful attempt to miss any targets.  

Update July 1st HamaEcho has sent me another video of the same kind of bomb, this time from Hawaijeh, Hama
Even though the bomb is badly damage it clearly shows the tail fins which match the OFAB 250-270, and like the bomb dropped above it was apparently dropped in a wide open space.  So yet again the question is was that done on purpose?

Update July 6th  A new video from Dier Ez Zor has been posted, showing a fully intact OFAB 250-270 that appears to have crashed through a roof and landed without detonating.  What's very interesting about this video is it shows various markings on the bomb, and if anyone knows what they mean I'd be very grateful if you let me know
Update July 11th - This video was posted on the same Youtube channel that also posted cluster bomblets from Jabal Shehshebo showing another OFAB casing
Updated July 17th The following video is from Talbiseh, and may show a OFAB actually being dropped by a helicopter
Update July 30th This video has been posted showing a helicopter in Daraa dropping what appears to be two OFABs

Update August 2nd This video from a suburb of Damascus was sent to me by HamaEcho and shows a small OFAB 100-120 bomb, identifiable by it's 4 tail fins, and the first example I've seen of this size bomb being used

Update August 2nd Two more videos have been posted to the above channel.  The first shows the OFAB after it's been moved, which is extremely dangerous and should never be attempted with UXO
I believe this next video might actually show the remains of a OFAB that detonated
A third video from Homs countryside has also been posted, showing another OFAB 100-120

Related Posts
Jets Spotted Above Aleppo Identified As Aero L-39 Albatroses, Not MiGs 
Evidence Of Cluster Bombs Being Deployed In Syria 
New Cluster Bomb Evidence Emerges From Syria   

Note - This replaces an earlier article that misidentified the bombs as only being dropped by jets.    
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Russia Today And Their Anti-FSA Propaganda

As many of you no doubt are aware Russia Today, the English language government funded global news channel, has taken a rather strong stance against the Syrian opposition, and it here's a couple of examples of that stance that edge towards propaganda, or just bad journalism.

In this first article Russia Today claimed, before changing the article
Footage showing the results of an alleged massacre in the Syrian city of Hama in April has been obtained by RT. In the video, family members claim opposition rebels committed the atrocity.
The original text can be seen here, and on other similar sites.  Having no doubt watched the actual video they posted online they've now changed the text to this
Footage showing the results of an alleged massacre in the Syrian city of Hama in April has been obtained by RT. Sources say that opposition rebels committed the atrocity.
But still leaving the original text on the Russia Today Youtube page for the video.  So some kudos to them for correcting their mistake, even if it does undermine the main source of the claims made in the article, leaving them to unnamed mysterious "sources".

A more straight forward example is this article, Nothing safe, nothing sacred: Syrian rebels desecrate Christian churches?  Seemingly based off an post from the conspiracy website Prison Planet, it claims the following
Shocking images have surfaced, revealing the alleged desecration of Christian churches in Syria by Western-backed rebels. The pictures, taken by local Christians outraged at the violence, were published by

In one of the photos a man who is said to be a member of the Free Syrian Army poses in a stolen priest’s robe while brandishing a looted cross in one hand and a machine gun in the other.  The photos were taken by a Christian woman in Homs, one of the cities most devastated by continued violent clashes between rebels and government forces.

“Everyone knows simply removing these garments from the church is a sin. The priest is the only one who wears them. They even pray before putting them on,” the woman told

She added that after the rebels tore the church apart, they went inside to document their violence.
Images show church pews broken apart, with pieces strewn all over the nave. The floor is covered with rubble, and even the altar looks like it has been desecrated.
And it displays this image

But that photograph was not taken by a Christian in Homs, but by the group Lens Young Homsi, and the Russia Today image is their original photograph with the logo trimmed off

There's also a watermark across the photograph that says in Arabic "Lens Young Homsi", in case there's any doubt.  As for the other accusations of the rebels tearing the church apart, this video from inside the church filmed by activists appears to show a hole in the roof from shelling

So it appears that copying posts from conspiracy websites like Prison Planet doesn't really do much for your journalistic credibility.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Hackgate for Beginners - Who's Who & The Key Reports

[Back to Controversial Cops and News Corp.]

Thanks to a regular contributor for putting this latest information together.

The following useful information is mainly extracted from a Briefing Note for Members of Parliament, published 26 June 2012, 'Phone hacking – Inquiries and Reports'
This note provides brief details about the ongoing inquiries and investigations associated with phone hacking and the various reports produced. It also gives details of the legislation regarding relevant offences and provides links to timelines of events.
The Briefing Note is fully referenced and hyperlinked. It contains information on the Leveson Inquiry, on-going investigations by the Metropolitan Police Servive and Strathclyde Police, and the relevant offences being looked at.


From the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (CMS) published report 'News International and Phone-hacking':

Annex 1 Who's Who (Note: This is a Names Glossary only of those who appeared before the CMS Select Committee)

Annex 2 Timeline of Events


Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
- May 2006  'What Price Privacy? The Unlawful Trade in Confidential Personal Information'

Information Commissioner's Office
- Dec 2006 'What Price Privacy Now?' (ICO)

Press Complaints Commission (PCC)
- May 2007  'Report on Subterfuge and Newsgathering'

Press Complaints Commissionn (PCC)
- Nov 2009  'Report on Phone Message Tapping Allegations' (This report was subsequently withdrawn  July 2011)

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (CMS)
- May 2003  'Privacy and Media Intrusion'

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee
- July 2007  'Self–Regulation of the Press' 

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee
- Feb 2010  'Press Standards, Privacy and Libel'


Footage of hearings evidence is available for the two following Key Reports, archived on Parliament TV.

Parliament TV archive is searchable so, for ease, dates of witness appearances are included below.

- July 2011  Report: 'Unauthorised Tapping into or Hacking of Mobile Communications' 


Tuesday 29 March 2011
Chris Bryant, MP
John Yates, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police

Tuesday 5 April 2011
Mr Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions

Tuesday 26 April 2011
Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner Tuesday

14 June 2011
Ms Julie Steele, Head of Fraud, Risk and Security, Vodafone UK; Mr Adrian Gorhan, Group Head of Fraud, Security and Business Continuity, Telefonica O2; and Mr James Blendis, Vice President Legal, Everything Everywhere (Orange UK and T-Mobile UK)

Tuesday 12 July 2011
John Yates, Assistant Commissioner, Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police
Mr Peter Clarke, Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police
Mr Andy Hayman, Former Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Sue Akers, QPM, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Head of Operation
Weeting, Metropolitan Police

Tuesday 19 July 2011
Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police
Dick Fedorcio, OBE, Director of Public Affairs, Metropolitan Police
John Yates, Assistant Commissioner, Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police
Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, former Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions
Mark Lewis, Solicitor advocate, Taylor Hampton Solicitors Limited

-May 2012  Report: 'News International and Phone-hacking'


Thursday 24 March 2011

John Yates QPM, Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service

Tuesday 19 July 2011
Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation, and James Murdoch, Chairman, News International
Rebekah Brooks, former Chief Executive, News International

Tuesday 6 September 2011
Jonathan Chapman, former Director of Legal Affairs, News International, and Daniel Cloke, former Group HR Director, News International
Tom Crone, former Legal Manager, News Group Newspapers, and Colin Myler, former Editor, News of the World

Wednesday 19 October 2011
Julian Pike, Partner, Farrer & Co.
Mark Lewis, Partner, Taylor Hampton Solicitors

Monday 24 October 2011
Les Hinton, Former Executive Chairman, News International

Thursday 10 November 2011
James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (International), News Corporation


You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Wednesday 27 June 2012

More Teething Problems For Menshn

By now I'm sure you've all heard of new social network Menshn, founded by Conservative MP Louise Mensch, as a sort of alternative to Twitter, except with many more security flaws.  Twitter user Syn0nymph has been uncovering a number of issues with the site, and has just uncovered a fresh set of issues:
Last night I flagged issues with Menshn not having email validation as I was able to register for an account using someone else's email address and by just making up a dummy email address. I am pleased to see that this issue has now been fixed.

However, I felt the process had to be tested and so I again set up an account using a dummy, non-existent email address and as expected got a screen up on Menshn telling me that I needed to validate my email address by clicking on the link which had been sent to me before I could use the site and it's features etc.

Now, as I had made the email address up, I was never going to get a link to click was I? So I assumed that I would not be able to use any Menshn features at all until I had validated the email address. I was wrong and I could. I could not get into any of the topic rooms to post anything which is good but I was able to do all of the following:

1.Use the User Search facility
2.Subscribe to other Menshners
3.Send a Menshner a DM
4.Mute a Menshner
5.See who another Menshner's subscribers were
6.Invite my friends to join via entering their email addresses

Guess Mr Bozier still has some work to do...
So it seems that Menshn still has quite a while to go before it's a fully functioning site, something that should have really been resolved before the site was released in the UK, especially as the past security issues may have left it's users vulnerable to malicious attacks.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Former Syrian National Council Chairman Burhan Ghalioun Visits Syria From Turkey

Following on from the Free Syrian Army's deputy commander visit to Syria it appears another senior opposition has traveled from Turkey to visit opposition members in Syria near Sarmada.  This time it's the turn of Burhan Ghalioun, former chairman of the Syrian National Council and current member of the executive committee, pictured below

This first video shows him as he arrives in Syria after cross the Turkish-Syrian video, with his visit being described as a brief visit to opposition members in border towns to listen to their concerns:

This next video shows him meeting opposition members in Syria

A third video shows him leaving after meeting opposition members

A number of photographs are also being posted on the Facebook page of the local opposition, including this picture of him with the FSA

It's quite telling that the SNC and FSA senior figures have started to visit Syria, and seem to be confident enough to take the risk of traveling the border, and no doubt we can expect more visits in the future.

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Evidence Of Sophisticated IEDs Being Used By The FSA

Update July 12th The commentator Trazzer has made a very strong argument for the items shown below being standard shaped charged rather than EFPs in the comments below this article, worth checking them out.

Stratfor recently reported on claims by the Hawks Brigade of the Levant that they are now using a type of IED known as an explosively formed penetrator (EFP).  EFPs have a long history of use in a number of conflicts, and most recently have been used in Iraq to attack coaltion armoured vehicles. 
An EFP consists of a copper tube filled with explosives, with a concave copper liner over the end of the pipe, faced towards the target.  The copper tube prevents fragmentation during the explosion, and the concave copper liner focuses the blast in such a way to penetrate the armour of the target.  The below picture shows an example from Iraq:

The below diagram and animation shows how the copper liner turns into a projectile that can penetrate armour:

The following video from Deir ez-Zor in the east of Syria, near Iraq, shows EFPs now being used to construct IEDs, and is the first video evidence confirming their use in Syria:
It does seem likely that the FSA have acquired the skills to build these IEDs from insurgents in Iraq, and it confirms that Assad’s armoured vehicles are at least as vulnerable to IEDs in their outdated Russian armoured vehicles as US forces are in their more sophisticated armoured vehicles in Iraq. Update July 4th This video has been posted which shows how bombs can be created from artillery shells
At 2:50 he takes out what appears to be an IED with a inverted cone liner.  @alhazrid informs me the man in the video describes the IED as directed, and it has a cone, but doesn't mention what it's made from. Another interesting point for fans of irony, both the US and UK accused the Iranian government of providing Iraqi insurgents with the information and equipment required to build shaped charges as described above, so if true it would be rather ironic if that information has gone from Iraq to Syria so the FSA can fight Iran's close ally.
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