Archive for June, 2014

Maybe if I don’t tell you who said this, you’ll read it. Better yet, maybe you’ll read it like you should read everything on the internet…completely skeptical and without any bias.

– Rob

QUOTE:

This is from Tucson, AZ. “News 4 Tucson has learned a Mexican military helicopter travelled across the border and fired on US Border Patrol agents.” Why is that not an act of war? (interruption) Okay, of course they apologized. They didn’t mean it. They didn’t know where the border was. Well, neither do we. We can’t even be sure there is one.

You know, in the break here I’m gonna go to my Google map and I’m gonna see if there is a border, or see if the Google guys have just erased it in advance of what’s coming. And I’m gonna check the Apple map. I’m gonna see if there’s still a border there. Can’t blame the Mexican military. They don’t think there’s a border. The kids don’t think there’s a border.

Does anybody think there’s a border? There’s not a border being enforced. They fly cross, they fire on our Border Patrol, and then they make tracks back to the safety of Mexican airspace. “It happened in the early morning hours Thursday, west of the San Miguel Gate on the Tohono O’Odham Nation.”

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

As relates to the Mexican military helicopter crossing the border and firing on Border Patrol agents, some of the Border Patrol agents are saying that Mexican drug cartels are renting these Mexican military helicopters and using them for cover for smuggling operations (i.e., the War on Drugs), bringing drugs into the country via the southern border. Apparently there’s a story at Town Hall here that it’s not that infrequent. It happens fairly often.

“‘Mexican military are oftentimes working hand in glove with the cartels. The Mexican military has routinely crossed the border in areas that Border Patrol agents are actively tracking or seizing drug loads. Inevitably the Mexican military claim they got lost, that the border was not clearly marked, or in extreme cases fire on agents to cover their retreat,’ National Border Patrol Council Spokesman … exclusively tells Townhall.”

Sorry, sorry, we just got lost!

What a convenient excuse. “We didn’t know where the border was.” What are we gonna say to that? Now, Snerdley just said something to me, and it was, “These guys, they’re worried. They’re losing the Hispanic vote! You remember that Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll you had where Obama’s support in the Hispanic community’s gone from 67% to 43%?” I said, “Yeah, I remember that.” They’re scared to death about this upcoming election.

I said, “You know, you just can’t stop it. You look at everything through the prism of the election coming up. You don’t think Obama would be doing this without an election? He’d be doing it whether there’s an election or not! The fact that he’s not up for election matters a lot.” Snerdley said, “Yeah, but Chuck Schumer! Everything he’s been working for is up for grabs if the Democrats lose. Chuck Schumer’s out and he’s got nothing. That’s why they want this done now,” and there is some truth to that.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

Look, there’s still some stuff in this Immigration Stack. I mean, it is huge today. I got this cheat sheet that has been found at the border that coaches illegals on how to stay in the US. So there’s a cheat sheet, which means that we’re not being told the truth. Some people are lying to us. “Well, no, we didn’t mean to come here. Well, no, I mean, we’re just…” If there’s a cheat sheet, they’re being coached to lie. We’re being lied to by Democrats who tell us that the objective is to send them back or something else other than welcome them and make them citizens ASAP.

We’re being lied to about this. The Democrats obviously want these people to stay. That’s not a mystery, for all the obvious reasons. Now, the cheat sheet is all over the place. “US law enforcement officials have been finding ‘cheat sheets’ along the border used by illegal immigrants to try to stay in the United States and not get deported after they’ve been caught.”

The only thing that’s not clear is who wrote the cheat sheet. Where does it come from? We can guess, and the guess is pretty educated. If there were fingerprints we would find Chuck Schumer’s and Nancy Pelosi’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s and Tom Donahoe at the convention, the Chamber of Commerce. Maybe the same people that did the fliers in Mississippi.

END TRANSCRIPT.

Maybe if I don’t tell you who said this until the end, you’ll not only read what’s being said, but you’ll read the transcript without a bias…

– Rob

Quote:

The immigration news today is over half of my show prep Stack. It’s fast and furious. It’s outrageous. We have lost control of this. And it’s now gotten to the point — you know, somebody needs to get hold of Mark Zuckerberg because Chuck-U Schumer had that press conference yesterday when he went out there and told everybody that I’m the guy killing immigration reform ’cause I keep calling it amnesty when it isn’t amnesty. And if I’m gonna keep doing that, it’s just gonna make it tougher.

Chuck-U got really frustrated today. (imitating Schumer) “You know what, to hell with it. If the Congress won’t do it, Obama should just do it on his own.” Pelosi said the same thing. The White House press spokesman, Josh Earnest, said if Congress won’t act, we will. After a nine to nothing decision they’ve gone — do you know that Obama is 0-for-12, 0-for-13? Unanimous decisions against Obama, 0-for-12, 0-for-13 at the US Supreme Court. Zuckerberg of Facebook is out calling it amnesty as he urges everybody to donate to it, contribute to it, and make it happen. He didn’t get the memo that it isn’t amnesty.

Pelosi is going to go down and meet the kids arriving at the border. She’s going to go to the border, she’s gonna go to some of the shelters where they are being taken, and she’s going to welcome them to the Democrat Party. I’m not kidding. Pelosi’s going down there, and she’s going to be the first political face they see other than the Border Patrol agents. (interruption) Well, that is a concern, you know, whether she would scare the kids. That would be a benefit to us.

Here comes Pelosi’s motorcade, if somebody says to the kids, “Here comes your average American Democrat, kids,” and then Pelosi gets out of the car and they shriek. (interruption) No, they’re not sending ’em back. In fact, the AP put out a story earlier this week that there were 30,000 backlogged cases of these kids as they try to process ’em and send ’em back. They sent out a correction today, “Oops, sorry, it’s not 30,000, it’s 360,000.” They’re not sending anybody back. Obama, I guess did a television appearance or something where he said: Please, don’t come. Do not come. He didn’t tell ’em to go back, but he said don’t come. Now, what do you do when somebody tells you not to do something? You do it. When I say, “Don’t think pink,” what do you do? Think pink. So it’s clear what’s going on.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

I’ve been teasing this Immigration Stack, and I don’t mean to be teasing it. It’s just it’s quite lengthy and detailed, and I haven’t wanted to start it and then interrupt. I wanted to get some phone calls in on things I discussed in the first half hour. So I’ve done that, and we’ll do the immigration news, ’cause some of this stuff that is happening here is unbelievable. For example, National Review Online:

“According to a major new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), net employment growth in the United States since 2000 has gone entirely to immigrants, legal and illegal. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CIS scholars Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler found that there were 127,000 fewer working-age natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job was 5.7 million above the 2000 level.”

Folks, all employment growth since 2000 has gone to immigrants, legal and illegal, and this is what the Chamber of Commerce guy wants to build on and wants to expand on with the help of the Republican Party.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

A Mexican military helicopter crossed our border and fired on Border Patrol agents. The Mexican government has apologized, so all is okay now.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

Let’s get to the immigration Stack here. I just want to review the thing I had here on top just to start here. There’s a major new report from the Center for Immigration Studies, and they used data from the government, Bureau of Labor Statistics. They have concluded, according to the research here, that all employment growth, net employment growth in America since 2000, has gone to immigrants, legal and illegal entirely.

“Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CIS scholars Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler found that there were 127,000 fewer working-age natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job was 5.7 million above the 2000 level.”

So the two numbers back-to-back are these. Since the first quarter of 2000 there are 127,000 fewer native-born Americans with jobs in America. Since the first quarter of 2000 there are 5.7 million new workers with jobs, comprised entirely of illegal and legal immigrants.

“The rapidity with which immigrants recovered from the Great Recession, as well as the fact that they held a disproportionate share of jobs relative to their share of population growth before the recession, help to explain their findings, the authors report. In addition, native-born Americans and immigrants were affected differently by the recession.”

Some of the findings are these: “Because the native-born population grew significantly, but the number working actually fell, there were 17 million more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.”

So it gets even worse. We know that there are 95 to a hundred million Americans not working, and now we’re learning some more about that. “Because the native-born population grew significantly, but the number working actually fell, there were 17 million more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.”

Fifty-eight million working-age native-born Americans at present right now are not employed. And the key to this is, the Chamber of Commerce working with the Republican Party, wants to build on these numbers.

“In a story June 25 about the flood of immigrant children traveling alone caught crossing the Mexican border illegally, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the federal immigration court system has a backlog of more than 30,000 cases. The actual backlog is greater than 360,000 pending cases, according to federal records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research organization at Syracuse University. The incorrect figure also appeared in an earlier story published June 22 and June 23, slugged ‘Immigrant Children.'”

Well, this is an understandable mistake here. After all, what’s the difference between 36,000 illegals and 360,000? Hell, it’s just a zero. Anybody can get that wrong. Yeah, it’s a zero and a couple of commas. No big deal here. What’s the big problem? You wait. In a few years the AP will put out a correction about their reports that there are 11 million illegals in the US, and then they will say, “You know, we were wrong. It’s actually 51 million. We were wrong, but what’s the difference? It’s just a one versus a five. Big deal.”

“White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: ‘We’re Not Just Going to Sit Around and Wait,’ for Congress to Write Laws — President Obama, tired of waiting for Congress to act on immigration reform, is currently exploring ways to address issues with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that the Obama administration was getting impatient with Congress. ‘[W]e’re not just going to sit around and wait interminably for Congress,’ he explained. ‘We’ve been waiting a year already. The president has tasked his Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson with reviewing what options are available to the president, what is at his disposal using his executive authority to try to address some of the problems that have been created by our broken immigration system.'”

Look, we’re not saying it’s a substitute for robust congressional action, but if they’re not gonna do anything, we’re going to. We’re not just gonna sit around and wait. Well, now, wait a minute, Mr. Earnest, there’s this thing called the Constitution. You can’t do that. That’s the point of the separation of powers. It’s called gridlock, and it’s a damn good thing. And if Congress will not write a law, you just can’t write it yourself. But they clearly think they can. They clearly intend to do it and they’re daring anybody to stop them. They’re going to do it. We don’t have an attorney general. You’re never gonna get a special prosecutor on any of this stuff. You’re never gonna get a conviction. The DOJ has been as politicized as anything else the Regime’s touched.

There is no immediate remedy to this. I mean, you could say, “Okay, we’ll file a lawsuit.” Fine. You’ll wait for it to make its way to the Supreme Court, you’ve got years for that to happen. Meanwhile, the Regime is just gonna rewrite the immigration laws. Not only is doing this bold, but to actually say it. This is the kind of thing not that long ago, that if Josh Earnest and Obama and the rest of them were contemplating this, they wouldn’t telegraph it. This is too outrageous.

Not that long ago there would be an outcry in the country, “You can’t do that. That’s against the Constitution. Congress writes the laws; you can’t.” And they would try to do it on the sly. They would try to do it under the cover of darkness. They’d do the executive order and not tell anybody about it. They’d just implement it and try to make the law happen and let people figure it out.

Now they’re telegraphing it. They’re puffing themselves up. They’re feeling their oats. They’re bragging. They’re saying, “Come stop us.” I mean, they are fully confident and arrogant, and they’re daring anybody to stop ’em and they’re telegraphing up front what they intend to do. And I don’t think this is just a pressure tactic. I don’t think they send Earnest out there and say, “Okay, look, you earnestly tell ’em that if they don’t act, we’re just gonna do it ourselves, and that that’ll get ’em in gear.” That’s not what they’re trying to do. They’re hoping Congress doesn’t act. This is what I meant when I said this administration is not slowing down and it’s not over. It’s just getting up to speed.

He’s isn’t up for reelection anymore. He doesn’t face the electorate, it doesn’t matter what they think. He’s got two years, two and a half years to transform this country, and he knows he’s gonna have to do it over the heads of Congress. He’s never gonna get the House and Senate, particularly after the November elections. He’s never gonna get the House and Senate to go along with him, and yet he’s still gonna do it. They’re just telling us. “We’re not just gonna sit around and wait –”

I’m telling you, Nixon would have never said something like this. He would have dreamed it. He might have mentioned it to “Bebe” Rebozo, who might have leaked it on Key Biscayne during a golf match, but he would have never actually said it. These guys are out bragging about it and warning us that it’s coming our way, and they’re daring us to stop it.

SOURCE.

From LBEB:

Progress: it is the reason why the majority of us are in the gym every week. However you measure progress, whether you want bigger lifts, bigger muscles, less bodyfat or a faster 400m split, progress is what keeps us training day in and day out. Disregard the individuals that are going to the gym to “maintain”, that is just an excuse to not work hard. But, what if everything you put into your training doesn’t amount to a hill of beans? Here are 10 things that can indicate whether or not your programming & training is being spent wisely.

1. You don’t understand the difference between difficult and useful.
Just because something is hard to do, does not mean it is useful, or will do anything to progress your lifting career. I could spend 3 months mastering a strict muscle up, but will that really help me as a Strongman? Spend your time wisely, time is finite.

2. You aren’t eating enough carbs.
If I had a nickel for every time we added carbs in to someone’s diet improved their lifts, I would have more nickels than you. Carbs are not your enemy, stagnation is. Steak and broccoli is not eating big, so for the love of progress, put a potato on the barbie.

3. You ask everyone on the internet for advice, and listen to all of it/none of it.
Either way you end this equation, you are going to lose. If you try to follow everyone’s cues and tips, you will go nowhere, because everyone on the internet has different opinions about the “right” way to do things, which may not apply to you at all. If you listen to none of it, you are wasting everyone’s time, especially yours. Pick someone’s advice that you trust, put on your blinders, and follow their orders.

4. You think a supplement will make up for calories. No supplement is going to replace the calories you need to get bigger and stronger, if it comes in a pill, it has little or no calories in it. Pills and powders don’t get you big on their own, that’s why it is called a supplement, not a replacement.

5. You want to get better at everything, and you want it to happen yesterday. Arguably, a lot of us are guilty of this. However, the line that separates those who want to be good and those who want to become good is the ability to break goals into smaller pieces, and accomplish them in segments. World records aren’t built in a day.

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6. You view training gear as non-primal/cheating. I am going to let you in on a secret: if you are reading this article while connected to the internet, you are about as far removed from a primal state as you can be, why should your training be any different? I am not afraid to venture a guess that I am stronger than my cave dwelling ancestors, because I am not afraid to use proper assistance gear when lifting. Belts, straps, chalk, and wrist wraps are your friend, if you think that is cheating, you should start walking barefoot to work and start living in the nearest redwood forest.

7. You aren’t recording your lifts. Unless you are doing bodybuilding movements, you probably don’t need to watch yourself in a mirror while lifting. However, recording your lifts and watching them after is an excellent way to study your movements and learn how to improve them next time. If you think good athletes don’t record and post their videos, you are in for a rude awakening.

8. You are afraid to compete. I can personally attest to this, because I was once afraid to compete. Sometimes failing at a competition is exactly what you need, in order to do better the next time. I have yet to work with someone who, after their first competition, did not have a fire lit under their ass to compete again ASAP.

9. You think bench/squat/deadlift is all you need to do to be a good lifter. This may be true for those first starting out, but as you progress, you will see that it is simply not true. By not adding in supplementary bodybuilding movements, your weaknesses will still be your weaknesses as you get stronger. Suns Out, Guns Out.

10. You don’t know how to detach. What if I told you that there was a whole world out there, full of people and places that have no idea about lifting, or care about it? Sometimes getting out of the “community” for a short period of time is exactly what you need to get your mind right. Familiarity breeds contempt, and all too often we get extremely familiar with our lifestyles. Take some time off and hit lifting with renewed vigor.

Getting rich and becoming a millionaire is a taboo topic. Saying it can be done by the age of 30 seems like a fantasy. It shouldn’t be taboo, and it is possible. At the age of 21, I got out of college, broke and in debt, and by the time I was 30, I was a millionaire.

Here are the 10 steps that will guarantee you will become a millionaire by 30.

1. Follow the money. In today’s economic environment you cannot save your way to millionaire status. The first step is to focus on increasing your income in increments and repeating that. My income was $3,000 a month and nine years later it was $20,000 a month. Start following the money and it will force you to control revenue and see opportunities.

2. Don’t show off — show up! I didn’t buy my first luxury watch or car until my businesses and investments were producing multiple secure flows of income. I was still driving a Toyota Camry when I had become a millionaire. Be known for your work ethic, not the trinkets that you buy.

3. Save to invest, don’t save to save. The only reason to save money is to invest it.  Put your saved money into secured, sacred (untouchable) accounts. Never use these accounts for anything, not even an emergency. This will force you to continue to follow step one (increase income). To this day, at least twice a year, I am broke because I always invest my surpluses into ventures I cannot access.

4. Avoid debt that doesn’t pay you. Make it a rule that you never use debt that won’t make you money. I borrowed money for a car only because I knew it could increase my income. Rich people use debt to leverage investments and grow cash flows. Poor people use debt to buy things that make rich people richer.

5. Treat money like a jealous lover. Millions wish for financial freedom, but only those that make it a priority have millions. To get rich and stay rich you will have to make it a priority. Money is like a jealous lover. Ignore it and it will ignore you, or worse, it will leave you for someone who makes it a priority.

6. Money doesn’t sleep. Money doesn’t know about clocks, schedules or holidays, and you shouldn’t either. Money loves people that have a great work ethic. When I was 26 years old, I was in retail and the store I worked at closed at 7 p.m. Most times you could find me there at 11 p.m. making an extra sale. Never try to be the smartest or luckiest person — just make sure you outwork everyone.

7. Poor makes no sense. I have been poor, and it sucks. I have had just enough and that sucks almost as bad. Eliminate any and all ideas that being poor is somehow OK. Bill Gates has said, “If you’re born poor, it’s not your mistake. But if you die poor, it is your mistake.”

8. Get a millionaire mentor. Most of us were brought up middle class or poor and then hold ourselves to the limits and ideas of that group. I have been studying millionaires to duplicate what they did. Get your own personal millionaire mentor and study them. Most rich people are extremely generous with their knowledge and their resources.

9. Get your money to do the heavy lifting. Investing is the Holy Grail in becoming a millionaire and you should make more money off your investments than your work. If you don’t have surplus money you won’t make investments. The second company I started required a $50,000 investment. That company has paid me back that $50,000 every month for the last 10 years. My third investment was in real estate, where I started with $350,000, a large part of my net worth at the time. I still own that property today and it continues to provide me with income. Investing is the only reason to do the other steps, and your money must work for you and do your heavy lifting.

10. Shoot for $10 million, not $1 million. The single biggest financial mistake I’ve made was not thinking big enough. I encourage you to go for more than a million. There is no shortage of money on this planet, only a shortage of people thinking big enough.

Apply these 10 steps and they will make you rich. Steer clear of people that suggest your financial dreams are born of greed. Avoid get-rich-quick schemes, be ethical, never give up, and once you make it, be willing to help others get there too.

Even as federal inspectors repeatedly warned that patient wait lists were having a detrimental impact on care, the troubled Veterans Affairs health system handed out $108.7 million in bonuses to executives and employees the past three years, an Asbury Park Press investigation found.

The top bonuses went to top executives in the Veterans Health Administration, which has come under fire for what its Office of Inspector General called “systemic patient safety issues” that may have led to wrongful deaths. Last year, the top bonuses — of $21,000, $17,000 and $13,000 — went to medical and dental officers in San Diego, according to the Press’ review of payroll data from the Office of Personnel Management.

Those figures are down from the year before, when the three top bonuses each awarded were $62,895, according to pay data.

View a list of bonuses by agency and individual at www.DataUniverse.com, the Press’ public records website. Look under “What’s New” for a link to federal employee salaries.

Meanwhile, patient wait times were a well-documented problem at the VA. Since 2005, the agency’s inspector general issued 18 interim reports “that identified, at both the national and local levels, deficiencies in scheduling resulting in lengthy waiting times and the negative impact on patient care,” according to a report last month.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., who represents portions of southern Ocean County, called the VA’s culture of rewarding employees while patients waited for care “outrageous.”

“It hasn’t been working and the more information that comes to light, the more outrageous it is. I know everyone has to be innocent until proven guilty, but I think criminal pursuit should take place here,” LoBiondo said. “You can’t have veterans die and just say it was mismanagement.”

Bonuses for New Jersey VA health care employees pale in comparison to the rest of the nation. In 2013, 40 employees received bonuses averaging $1,848, as part of $74,000 in rewards. In 2012, a total of $83,350 was awarded to 37 employees. The bonuses ranged from $1,065 to $5,000, but averaged $2,253 that year. The Press examined bonuses that exceeded $1,000. Rewards below that can be paid through days off and other non-monetary perks, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Since the problems at the VA came to light, decorated war veteran Eric Shinseki resigned as VA secretary and the agency put a hold on employee bonuses for 2014.

Lawmakers went a step further Tuesday, unanimously passing a bill in the House of Representatives that would suspend employee bonuses through 2016, among other measures. The VA acknowledged that employees did not appropriately place veterans on wait lists and leadership “significantly understated” wait times, a factor considered in salary increases and bonuses.

“Here’s what the systemic problem is when you look at it all. The way they’re measuring success is by a metric that even the (Inspector General) can’t tell us how they came up with the numbers,” said Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., who represents parts of Ocean County. “That’s where these secret lists come in to factor, because if they’re not in the computer system, they’re not on the clock for getting that patient seen, and so they’re cooking the books by not putting them in the computer system. Now they can get their bonuses on the back end.”

More than 57,000 veterans across the country have waited 90 days to see a doctor, the VA said. An audit found 81 VA sites required further review to determine the “extent of issues” in scheduling and management practices. The VA campus in Lyons is on that list, with 379 patients waiting longer than 90 days to see a doctor, according to officials.

“We are awaiting further information regarding the details about why the Lyons Campus was selected for further review and about what will be the next steps of the review process,” VA spokeswoman Sandy Warren wrote in an email. “We are reviewing productivity of clinics and assessing their availability to see additional patients.”

Nine Lyons officials were awarded bonuses last year totaling $17,925, according to the personnel management data.

The payroll data did not show a clear link between hospitals chosen by the VA for further review and bonus amounts. But in Phoenix, where a whistle blower former employee revealed a pattern of patient wait lists being manipulated, top executive Sharon Helman was directed to repay her bonus of $9,345. Helman, who last year earned a salary of $169,900, ranked 10th on the list of executive bonuses.

LoBiondo suggested that Helman may not be the only one.

“Instead of somebody figuring out what bonuses to give out, they should have been figuring out how to get everything staffed up so that these problems did not occur. It is outrageous,” he said. “They ought to somehow demand to get the money back.”

Data analysis by Paul D’Ambrosio

By Colin Freeman, 5:50PM BST 10 Jun 2014

Militants storm northern city of Mosul, freeing thousands of prisoners, as Iraqi prime minister declares state of emergency and offers to arm citizens who volunteer to fight against militants

Al-Qaeda seized control of Iraq’s third biggest city on Tuesday, freeing thousands of imprisoned fellow fighters in a series of jailbreaks and sparking a mass exodus of refugees.

The assault on the city of Mosul, 225 miles north west of Baghdad, saw the Iraqi army retreat to the outskirts after a sustained assault by men armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

As well as seizing the main governorate building – forcing the city’s governor to flee – the gunmen were also reported to have gained control of three different jails, numerous police stations and an airport, where several military planes and helicopters were based.

The loss of the city, home to around one million people, is potentially a huge challenge to the Iraqi government, which has been struggling to quell a regalvanised al-Qaeda insurgency for more than two years.

As residents fled in their thousands, they spoke of seeing militants raising al-Qaeda’s black flag from buildings, and of newly-released prisoners running through the streets in yellow jumpsuits.

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Iraqis fleeing violence in the Nineveh province wait at a Kurdish checkpoint (AFP)

“Mosul now is like hell. It’s up in flames,” said Amina Ibrahim, who like many others was heading for northern Iraq’s more stable Kurdish-controlled zone. “I lost my husband in a bomb blast last year, I don’t want my kids to follow him.”

The militants are believed to be from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the joint Iraqi-Syrian al-Qaida affiliate that is also fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in neighbouring Syria. Seizing control of Mosul, which lies on a stretch of the Tigris less than 100 miles from the Syrian border, would help the group in its aim of carving out a swathe of uncontested territory straddling the two borders.

While the exact picture in Mosul was still confused on Tuesday because of the ongoing fighting, the militants appeared to have made significant ground in routing Iraqi security forces, some of whom were filmed being pelted with rocks as they pulled out of the city.

“The city of Mosul is outside the control of the state and at the mercy of the militants,” an interior ministry official told the Agence France Presse news agency, saying soldiers had fled after removing their uniforms.

Several residents told the Associated Press that the militants were now touring the city with loudspeakers, announcing that they had “come to liberate Mosul and would fight only those who attack them”.

“The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us,” said Umm Karam, a government employee. “We are afraid… There is no police or army in Mosul.”

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Iraqi soldiers prepare to take their positions during clashes with militants in Mosul (AP)

Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, said on Tuesday that the government would provide weapons and equipment to citizens who volunteer to fight against militants.

Maliki, in a statement broadcast on state TV, said the cabinet has “created a special crisis cell to follow up on the process of volunteering and equipping and arming”.

The assault follows similar attempts by ISIL in January to seize the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, which Iraqi security forces are still fighting to regain control of some five months on.

Mosul, however, represents a potentially far bigger prize, as the regional capital of the non-Kurdish section of northern Iraq. It has been a stronghold of al-Qaeda for nearly a decade, ever since militants attempted a similar takeover in late 2004, when US troops were in control. While other Iraqi cities were later largely cleared of al-Qaeda during the US troop “surge” in 2007, the group was never properly routed from Mosul, where it has since rebuilt its presence.

Last year, diplomats in Baghdad told The Telegraph that the group had also established a thriving Mafia-style extortion empire in the city, raking in up to £1 million a month in “protection” fees from local businesses.

The assault on Mosul began around four days ago, around the same time that gunmen briefly took around 1,000 students hostage at a university campus in Ramadi. Having gained control of most of the western side of Mosul, the insurgents seized the government complex – a key symbol of state authority – late on Monday.

According to Reuters, the city’s governor, Atheel Nujaifi, was trapped inside the provincial government’s headquarters but managed to escape while police held back an assault by hundreds of militants. Just earlier that day, Mr Nujaifi had made a televised plea to the city’s residents to stand up to the militants.

“I call on the men of Mosul to stand firm in their areas and defend them against the outsiders, and to form popular committees through the provincial council,” he said, speaking with the Iraqi flag draped behind him.

Several army officers told Reuters that the Iraqi forces were demoralized and outgunned by ISIL. “Without urgent intervention of more supporting troops, Mosul could fall into their hands in a matter of days” said a senior security official.

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Armored vehicles take position during clashes between army and militants in Mosul (AP)

Another officer added: “They are well trained in street fighting and we’re not. They’re like ghosts: they appear to strike and disappear in seconds.”

Following the taking of the governor’s office, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, on Wednesday asked parliament to declare a state of emergency. “Iraq is undergoing a difficult stage,” he said, acknowledging that militants had taken control of “vital areas in Mosul.”

The Turkish government said it was investigating reports that 28 Turkish lorry drivers had been taken hostage in Nineveh, the province that surrounds Nineveh.

Having effectively been reduced to a spent force by 2008, al-Qaeda’s brand of Sunni Muslim extremism has gradually regained strength in Iraq thanks to growing discontent with the Shia-led government among the country’s minority Sunni community, who ruled during the late Saddam Hussein’s time.

Many Sunnis accuse the government of treating them as second-class citizens, and while not all of them support al-Qaeda’s ideology, the growing sense of discontent has driven some to see al-Qaeda as an ally again. The Iraqi government’s slow response to the demands of a new Sunni-led civil rights movement, based on the Arab Spring protests in neighbouring countries, has also inflamed tensions.

Violence in Iraq is now running at its highest levels since 2006-2007, when tens of thousands were killed in sectarian conflict between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority. More than 900 people were killed last month, according to figures separately compiled by the United Nations and the government.

Security officials also attribute the spike in violence to the organisational capabilities of the new local leader of al-Qaeda, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who formed ISIL under the nom de guerre of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

As well as strings of attacks involving carbombings and gun assaults, al-Baghdadi organised a previous mass jail break from the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad last summer, freeing an estimated 500 hard-core militants.

By Colin Freeman 12:13PM BST 11 Jun 2014

The march of al-Qaeda-linked militants towarsds the Iraqi capital is a coup for the shadowy leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – a former US detainee

The FBI “most wanted” mugshot shows a tough, swarthy figure, his hair in a jailbird crew-cut. The $10 million price on his head, meanwhile, suggests that whoever released him from US custody four years ago may now be regretting it.

Taken during his years as a detainee at the US-run Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, this is one of the few known photographs of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS). But while he may lack the photogenic qualities of his hero, Osama bin Laden, he is fast becoming the new poster-boy for the global jihadist movement.

Well-organised and utterly ruthless, the ex-preacher is the driving force behind al-Qaeda’s resurgence throughout Syria and Iraq, putting it at the forefront of the war to topple President Bashar al-Assad and starting a fresh campaign of mayhem against the Western-backed government in Baghdad.

This week, his forces have achieved their biggest coup in Iraq to date, seizing control of government buildings in Mosul, the country’s third biggest city, and marching further south to come within striking distance of the capital, Baghdad. Coming on top of similar operations in January that planted the black jihadi flag in the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, it gives al-Qaeda control of large swathes of the north and west of the country, and poses the biggest security crisis since the US pull-out two years ago.

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But who is exactly is the man who is threatening to plunge Iraq back to its darkest days, and why has he become so effective?

As with many of al-Qaeda’s leaders, precise details are sketchy. His FBI rap sheet offers little beyond the fact that he is aged around 42, and was born as Ibrahim Ali al-Badri in the city of Samarrah, which lies on a palm-lined bend in the Tigris north of Baghdad. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre, as is his other name, Abu Duaa, which translates roughly as “Father of the Summons”.

Some describe him as a farmer who was arrested by US forces during a mass sweep in 2005, who then became radicalised at Camp Bucca, where many al-Qaeda commanders were held. Others, though, believe he was a radical even during the largely secular era of Saddam Hussein, and became a prominent al-Qaeda player very shortly after the US invasion.

“This guy was a Salafi (a follower of a fundamentalist brand of Islam), and Saddam’s regime would have kept a close eye on him,” said Dr Michael Knights, an Iraq expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“He was also in Camp Bucca for several years, which suggests he was already considered a serious threat when he went in there.”

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Armed tribesmen and Iraqi police stand guard in a street as clashes rage on in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad (AFP/Getty Images)

That theory seems backed by US intelligence reports from 2005, which describe him as al-Qaeda’s point man in Qaim, a fly-blown town in Iraq’s western desert.

“Abu Duaa was connected to the intimidation, torture and murder of local civilians in Qaim”, says a Pentagon document. “He would kidnap individuals or entire families, accuse them, pronounce sentence and then publicly execute them.”

Why such a ferocious individual was deemed fit for release in 2009 is not known. One possible explanation is that he was one of thousands of suspected insurgents granted amnesty as the US began its draw down in Iraq. Another, though, is that rather like Keyser Söze, the enigmatic crimelord in the film The Usual Suspects, he may actually be several different people.

“We either arrested or killed a man of that name about half a dozen times, he is like a wraith who keeps reappearing, and I am not sure where fact and fiction meet,” said Lieutenant-General Sir Graeme Lamb, a former British special forces commander who helped US efforts against al-Qaeda in Iraq. “There are those who want to promote the idea that this man is invincible, when it may actually be several people using the same nom de guerre.”

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Sunni insurgents guard the streets of Fallujah (AP)

What does seem clear, however, is that al-Qaeda now has its most formidable leadership since Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who kidnapped the British hostage, Ken Bigley, and who died in a missile strike in 2006.

When al-Baghdadi was announced as a new leader in 2010 – following the killing of two other top commanders – al-Qaeda was seriously on the back foot, not just in Iraq but regionwide. In former strongholds like Fallujah, its fighters had been routed after their brutality sparked a rebellion by local tribes. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, drone strikes were destroying the cream of its senior leadership. And the following year, the onset of the Arab Spring revolutions, with their emphasis on democracy and human rights, made it look simply irrelevant.

Indeed, when bin Laden himself was killed in May 2011, Baghdadi’s pledge to revenge his death with 100 terrorist attacks across Iraq looked like little more than bluster.

Today, he is already well past that target, thanks to a devastating campaign of car bombings and Mumbai-style killing sprees that has pushed Iraq’s death toll back up to around 1,000 per month.

“Baghdadi is actually more capable than the man he took over from,” said Dr Knights. “It’s one of those unfortunate situations where taking out the previous leadership has made things worse, not better.”

Quietly-spoken and publicity-shy, Baghdadi is said to be fond of turning up on frontline operations himself. Mindful, though, of the price on his head — second only to the $25m reward for al-Qaeda’s No 1, Ayman al Zawahari – he takes extensive precautions.

Fighters who have met him speak of a shadowy figure who can mimic a number of regional accents to blend in. In the company of all but the closest devotees, he wears a mask to prevent anyone getting a close look at him.

He has, however, won respect for being less gung-ho than other al-Qaeda leaders: while suicide bombers are a key part of his arsenal, he is said often to veto operations that put his other fighters at too much risk.

In the same spirit, his greatest coup so far was to free around 500 of his most loyal supporters during a spectacular jail break last July at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, supposedly the most-heavily guarded facility in the country. It is a trick he is believed to have repeated this week in Mosul, where three jails holding at least 1,000 militants were “liberated”.

Many of those freed in the earlier Abu Ghraib break out in July are believed to have headed to neighbouring Syria, where they have proved decisive in turning al-Qaeda into the pre-eminent rebel movement in the fight against President Assad.

Al-Baghdadi himself is also believed to have relocated there, and last year renamed his group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which sees both countries as a single al-Qaeda caliphate. Already the group has about 7,000 fighters in northern Syria, including volunteers from Britain and Europe whom it is feared may one day start terror campaigns at home.

Such has been ISIS’s brutality in Syria that it has even alienated other al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and prompted numerous reports that it is at least partly a creation of President Assad’s intelligence services, designed to descredit and disunite the rebel movement.

That, though, does not square with Baghdadi’s known-hatred of Shia Muslims, the sect to which Mr Assad belongs. Like most other al-Qaeda extremists, Baghdadi views Shias as apostates, be they those in Syria or those in the Shia-majority government in Baghdad.

“One sheikh who knew Baghdadi said he was very sectarian, even more so than other al-Qaeda leaders,” said Sterling Jensen, an interpreter tasked by the US military to liaise with Fallujah’s sheikhs during the rebellion against al-Qaeda in 2007.

Some believe that Bagdadi will eventually make the mistake of many of his predecessors, by over-flexing his muscles and seizing more territory than he can hold. But similar predictions when his men attacked Fallujah and Ramadi in January – and five months on, they are still there.

This is an updated version of a previous article that appeared in The Telegraph on January 11, 2014.