War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Vol. 8, Issue 20 — Monday, 30 December 2013

International Criminal Court

Central African Republic & Uganda 

Darfur, Sudan

Democratic Republic of Congo


Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)


International  Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda



Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions in the Former Yugoslavia

Middle East and Asia

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia


Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigation in Burma

North and South America

United States

South & Central America








Gender-Based Violence


UN Reports

NGO Reports

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions


Sri Lanka


Commentary and Perspectives

Worth Reading


The Creator of the AK-47 Assault Rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov, Dies at 94

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

Izhevsk , RUSSIA – The Russian creator of the AK-47 assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov, died on Monday, December 23rd at the age of 94.

Kalashnikov passed away last Monday at the age of 94. (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

Kalashnikov died in his hometown of Izhevsk near the Ural Mountains in Russia, where his gun is still manufactured. No cause of death has been released. Kalashnikov had been fitted with a pacemaker at a Moscow hospital in June and had been hospitalized in Izhevsk since November 17. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed “deep sympathy” for Kalashnikov’s family.

Kalashnikov created the AK-47 while being treated in a hospital in Kazakhstan after he was severely wounded in a burning tank during World War II, while still in his 20’s. Five years later, his design was chosen by the Russian military. The “47” in AK-47 stands for the year 1947, the “A” is for “avtomat” (automatic rifle), and the “K” for Kalashnikov.

The rifle, which has killed more people than any other firearm in the world, is officially in service in 55 countries. Several national emblems feature it. However, approximately half of the world’s estimated 100 million AK-47’s are counterfeited copies that were produced without licenses.

Modern versions of the AK-47 are still used by Russia’s armed forces and police more than 60 years after the original rifle went into service in the military in 1949. However, Kalashnikov has stated that his pride in the rifle was mixed with pain in observing it being used by criminals and child soldiers. The AK-47 has also been used worldwide by gangsters, drug traffickers, militants and rebels in various countries.

“It is painful for me to see when criminal elements of all kinds fire from my weapon. I created this weapon primarily to defend the borders of our fatherland,” Kalashnikov stated in an address to a Russian arms conference in 2009.

Kalashnikov was born on November 10, 1919 into a large peasant family in the village of Kurya in the Altai region of southern Siberia during the Bolshevik Revolution. During Soviet times, he was twice honored as “Hero of Socialist Labor” and became a Stalin Prize and Lenin Prize laureate. Kalashnikov also was given the rank of colonel in 1969 and subsequently rose to become a two-star general during his time with the Red Army.

Though it is widely believed that Kalashnikov was wealthy from his design, he was not a rich man and lived in a modest Soviet-era apartment in Izhevsk, despite the Kremlin decorations.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Mikhail Kalashnikov, AK-47 Inventor, Dies at 94 – 23 December 2013

CNN – Mikhail Kalashnikov, Inventor of AK-47, Dies at 94 – 23 December 2013

New York Times – Mikhail Kalashnikov, Creator of AK-47, Dies at 94 – 23 December 2013

Reuters – Ak-47 Rifle Inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov Dies at 94 – 23 December 2013

NSA Intercepts Computer Deliveries and Hijacks Windows Error Messages

by Michael Yoakum
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States – German magazine Der Speigel revealed more information about the NSA’s hacking unit Sunday, reporting that that the intelligence agency intercepts computer deliveries, exploits hardware vulnerabilities, and hijacks Microsoft’s internal reporting system to spy on their targets. The report is based on internal NSA documents that claimed the agency’s mission was “Getting the ungettable.”

The NSA, headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland, has come under fire in the past year for increasingly invasive spying systems. (Photo courtesy of CNET)

Der Speigal’s reports relate to the select group of hackers within the NSA’s Tailor Access Operations (TAO) division, which specialize in stealing data from the tough targets. The report claims that the TAO has some high-tech gadgets for gathering from tough targets, including computer monitor cables that record everything typed on the computer and a USB drive with a radio transmitter that broadcasts data over airwaves.

Beyond their gadgets, the report says that the TAO has exploited weaknesses in the architecture of the Internet to deliver malicious software to specific computers. Their techniques even take advantage of vulnerabilities in software created by some of the leading tech firms, including Cisco Systems and Dell.

The report added that one of the most effective techniques involved intercepting computer deliveries and taking them to workshops to install spyware before delivering them to a target. The NSA has taken to calling this technique “interdiction” and regularly involves support from the FBI or CIA.

One of the most startling revelations came in regards to the TAO’s ability to spy on Microsoft crash reports that come up when a game or document crashes on the Windows operating system. The reports are designed to allow Microsoft engineers work on fixing Windows errors, but Der Speigel reports that the NSA is sifting through these reports to help break in to computers running the operating system.

The report further noted that the NSA has succeeded in tapping the massive underwater fiber optics bundles used to connect the global data infrastructure. In particular, a cable bundle connecting Western Europe with North Africa and the Middle East (known as “SEA-ME-WE-4”) has been tapped.

For more information, please see:

ABC News – Report: NSA Intercepts Computer Deliveries – 29 December 2013

CBS News – Report: NSA intercepts computer deliveries – 29 December 2013

CNET – NSA reportedly planted spyware on electronics equipment – 29 December 2013

Forbes – Report: NSA Intercepting Laptops Ordered Online, Installing Spyware – 29 December 2013

The Washington Post – Report: NSA intercepts computer deliveries – 29 December 2013