Sunday, May 31, 2009

Al-Qaeda spreads its tentacles


"Unlike in Iraq, where al-Qaeda chose to participate directly in battles with its own front line fighters and under its own brand name, bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in South Asia is increasingly content to play a role behind the scenes, influencing key players in the struggle and furthering its political interests, said Western terrorism analysts and Afghans."

Edtorial Comment

FATA has become world Head Quarters for Osama. The Mehshud Taliban are different from the Mullah Omar Taliban. There are also the ISI Taliban. Swat for a time became a rallying point for all Taliban. The Pak army was content to let Swat happen so that they could alarm the Americans enough to get serious money commitments from them. This strategy almost backfired. The Taliban could have won the war but for their own stupidities and high handedness. Incidents like flogging women in public turned the tide against them and made possible the timing of the Army intervention.

The Taliban has developed a superior fighting force but lack a coherent political or religious ideology. This is an area where Al Qaeda can help them but Al Qaeda's role still remains that of trainer, financier. It is not clear if Al Zawahiri has the intellectual capability to develop Economic Justice philosophies. Like most other people they have misread Syed Qutub.

The Swat experience should be an eye opener for the Taliban. Where they achieved military victory, they lost out on the Islamic concepts of Justice. In the final analysis they behaved more like bandits than Islamic warriors. In fact they proved to the world that they have very little understanding of Islamic thinking. So far their desire to rid their land of foreign occupation and influence remains a basic tenet but what they will do after the foreigner leaves or is made to leave is a lot of woolly mumbo jumbo. This is where they read Qutub correctly. Unless you get rid of the foreigner, you will be unable to evolve your own way of life, according to Qutub.

Here lies the problem the battle between the American way of life, which for all intents is obsolete and an Islamic way of life, which remains largely undefined in the context of a modern state there is a lot of confusion and empty rhetoric. The evolution of Islamic thinking then becomes the primary challenge for all Muslim Intellectuals.

That the Mulla has a very basic and rudimentary knowledge of Islam is more than crystal clear but the basic instinct of the mullah that a primitive life of simplicity with freedom is preferable to a life of subservience and slavery is the right one.

The only thing that stands between Pakistan being beaten into a pulp like the Afghan is Pakistan's nuclear capability. The current American strategy is to take out that capability. That is the other problem in the current scenario, Pakistan is not clear whether in America it is dealing with friend or foe.


Al-Qaeda spreads its tentacles
By Philip Smucker

KHOST, Afghanistan - Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is seizing a greater role behind the scenes in Afghanistan and Pakistan in an effort that could block the Barack Obama administration's stated goal of denying the terror network sanctuary in South Asia.

A three-month investigation of al-Qaeda's activities, from Nuristan in the north to Paktika in the southeast, suggests that bin Laden's terror network - working through Afghan and Pakistani partners - is present in almost every Afghan and Pakistani province along the fluid border areas between the two countries.

Interviews with US military commanders and American radio intercepts of Arab and Chechen fighters as well as confirmed

captures or kills of foreign fighters inside Afghanistan bolster the findings.

More alarming to Western terrorism analysts and US commanders, however, is the recognition that al-Qaeda has succeeded in goading its regional partners into accepting the idea of a "two-front-war" against US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan and the government in Pakistan. That war in turn guarantees bin Laden's network permanent safe havens along the porous border between the two nations, from which it can plan larger international terrorist attacks.

Unlike in Iraq, where al-Qaeda chose to participate directly in battles with its own frontline fighters and under its own brand name, bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in South Asia is increasingly content to play a role behind the scenes, influencing key players in the struggle and furthering its political interests, said Western terrorism analysts and Afghans.

American terrorism experts say that al-Qaeda's leadership has chosen the senior leader of Pakistan's Taliban, Baitullah Mahsud, as their point man. Uzbek and Chechen "trigger men", most of whom have been living opposite across the border in the North and South Waziristan tribal areas in Pakistan, have helped Mahsud, 34, consolidate his own authority up and down the border in the past year. In March, the US government offered a US$5 million reward for Mahsud, whom it says is a "key al-Qaeda facilitator", or ally, responsible for multiple suicide attacks.

Pakistani officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan said this week that Mahsud was using al-Qaeda's highly trained gunmen in the Pakistani Taliban's ongoing guerrilla struggle in the Swat Valley. Mahsud bullied his way into a position of leadership across most of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas earlier this year when a new coalition of insurgent groups confirmed him as their "supreme commander" in February.

American counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan are focused on building a bulwark against al-Qaeda, which the Barack Obama administration deems an essential part of the puzzle for peace in South Asia. But Mahsud and several of his deputies, who operate on both sides of the border, have created a strong bridge linking the Pakistani Taliban with the Afghan Taliban in a two-front war with a border that has proven impossible for US and Pakistani forces to control.

"Al-Qaeda is operating parasitically on the successes of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban by providing them with critical services, including global media networks, resource mobilization and precious human capital," said Vahid Brown, an al-Qaeda analyst with West Point's prestigious Combating Terrorism Center (CTC).

An Afghan, working with Western forces in Afghanistan and who asked to remain anonymous, said he had monitored al-Qaeda radio traffic in a Paktika province district that is a stronghold of the Haqqani network, run by Sirajuddin Haqqani. "I set up a radio scanner two months ago and I picked up Chechens and Arabs talking regularly," he said. "At one point, we heard an Arab talking to a Chechen say, 'Hey, the money has come in, you can attack soon'." The Afghan said that an Afghan al-Qaeda figure, Maulvi Twaha, who he said he had personally seen shoot dead five Afghan students in 2001, was operating openly in the province, assisting foreign agents and fighters to enter and leave the region.
An American, embedded as a trainer with the Afghan National Army, confirmed similar radio traffic. "It sounds from radio chatter like they have more recruits coming in, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Chechen fighters," said US Army Major Cory Schultz, 37, from the San Francisco Bay Area.

A leading al-Qaeda propagandist and ideologue, Abu Yahya al-Libbi, an escapee from the US prison at Bagram in July 2005, claimed in a propaganda booklet released in mid-March that Pakistan's army should be treated as an occupying infidel army waging an offensive war on an invaded Muslim population. He told Pakistanis that it was incumbent on them, as "good Muslims", to fight their own government.

Al-Libbi has helped the Pakistani Taliban set up successful propaganda operations of their own with FM broadcast stations that operate through portable Chinese transmission boxes. "Abu Yahya al-Libbi translates the network's ideas to a popular audience" on both sides of the border, said Brian Fishman, also at West Point's CTC.

Al-Libbi maintains close ties to the "Tora Bora Front" in eastern Afghanistan, north of the White Mountains, and has been interviewed on the website of the front, which is the domain of Mujahid Khalis, the son of deceased mujahideen leader Younus Khalis, who welcomed bin Laden to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.

Al-Qaeda's proxy Mahsud has aligned his fighters closely with those of Mullah "Radio" Fazlullah, whose insurgents are fighting a protracted war with Pakistani forces well to the north of Waziristan and centered in the region of Swat in Pakistan.

In a 2007 interview with this correspondent, Fazlullah did not mince words in support of al-Qaeda's goals in neighboring Afghanistan and around the globe: "When Muslims are under attack in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a duty to fight back against the American crusaders and their allies," he said.

Other leading insurgent groups led by Jalaluddin Haqqani's son, Sirajuddin, as well as Mullah Nazir, who operate along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border out of Waziristan, have been forced to agree to the new al-Qaeda-backed strategy for the two-front war, said Western terrorism analysts.

Though bin Laden remains the head of al-Qaeda, operational control and support for wars in South Asia is largely believed to be the work of his right-hand man, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who lives in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Other leading American terrorism experts said al-Qaeda had made significant adaptations meant to enhance its own power base, albeit usually well hidden behind the scenes. "Al-Qaeda is acting as a force multiplier by providing funding, assistance in propaganda efforts using its print and video outlets, strategic planning ability and aid on tactics," said Seth Jones, an advisor to the US military and the author of the forthcoming book, Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires.

Terrorism analysts believe that bin Laden has likely taken refuge in North or South Waziristan, or a large city well inside Pakistan's settled areas. They say his larger-than-life presence remains a thorn in the side of US efforts. "He is the head of the snake and he does matter," said Fishman, adding that bin Laden still likely takes part in the network's major decision-making.

West Point's terrorism analysts believe that al-Qaeda stands to gain from continued fighting and chaos on both sides of the border. "There has already been a significant movement of Pakistani Taliban leaders in the al-Qaeda camp into the settled areas of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province and their front for operations planning is spreading," said Brown. "Hundreds of thousands of additional internally displaced persons in Pakistan means lots of fresh blood for al-Qaeda's ranks."

Both US military and Afghan security officials confirmed a steady movement - by air from Dubai and other aerial hubs, by land across Iran and water from the Gulf - of international jihadis from the Middle East to South Asia. Many Arabs, Chechens and other foreign fighters recently completed tours of fighting in Iraq, where al-Qaeda suffered significant setbacks.

American military commanders say they are doing what they can to flush out known Taliban and al-Qaeda safe havens inside Afghanistan, but terrorism experts believe insurgents are planning fresh attacks in conjunction with an influx of 20,000 US and NATO forces this summer.

Colonel John Spiszer, 46, of Harker Heights, Texas, who commands US forces north of the White Mountains in eastern Afghanistan, acknowledged that one, Abu Ikhlas al Masri, an Egyptian al-Qaeda member, was contributing to the intense fight against his forces in the province of Kunar, not far from the Pakistani regions of Swat and Bajaur.

"The guys [al-Qaeda and other financiers] giving the insurgents money right now are doing it to survive and get fighters," he said. He added that his goal in pressing the fight along the border with Pakistan was to keep "facilitators and financiers" locked down in a battle near the border and keep them from further impacting the fight inside Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, the ties between al-Qaeda and leading insurgent groups go back to the days of bin Laden's own involvement in the fight against the Soviet Union. In the 1980s, he fought in eastern Afghanistan himself near Khost in the remote town of Jaji in Paktia province. Many of al-Qaeda's Arab operatives later took up residence inside Afghanistan as the Taliban rose to power in the late 1990s. Most of this crowd fled to Pakistan in the wake of the US invasion in 2001.

Leading Arabs and Uzbeks, in addition to plotting international terrorist actions, became successful in the cross-border trade of opium and heroin. Efforts of Pakistani and Afghan warlords to wrest more control of Pakistan's share of the regional drug trade from these same groups have failed, said Western analysts and Afghans.

Across from Khost in Pakistan, over mountains traversable by bicycle, al-Qaeda's own military trainers still work closely with strategic Taliban commanders at Haqqani command centers like the Manba Ulum Haqqania madrassa (seminary) in Northern Waziristan.

American unmanned Predator drones have repeatedly dropped bombs on or near the religious school, which is believed to maintain a number of secret bases across Waziristan. As a precaution against the US's aerial raids, al-Qaeda members in Waziristan rarely have tea in groups of more than three, said Afghans who travel to the region.

In addition, Taliban fighters, often working with al-Qaeda military trainers, have started to train indoors as well as in small mud-walled compounds, where they attract only limited attention from US aerial overflights and drone bombing runs.

Most Afghanistan-Pakistan insurgent groups, led by Mahsud and Mullah Omar's Afghan Taliban, have not officially adopted the "al-Qaeda" brand name, but they have essentially sworn their allegiance to bin Laden, say leading experts on the terror network.
They claim that al-Qaeda has learned from the mistake of going into business under its own name in Iraq and it prefers, instead, to remain behind the scenes, protected by local gunmen on the one hand, but capable of influencing the fight against US and foreign "infidels" in South Asia on the other hand.

Philip Smucker is a commentator and journalist based in South Asia and the Middle East. He is the author of Al-Qaeda's Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail (2004). He is currently writing My Brother, My Enemy, a book about America and the battle of ideas in the Islamic world.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

We do not make History, History makes us.

Let us not be in denial about how strong and powerful and good we are. Any wave of History can break our spine and render us helpless and impotent.

We are all a part of History for better or worse. We do not make History, History makes us. We do not choose to be born, it is written that we will be born. Our choices are to be victims or heroes of History.

It is the combined interaction of human energy that creates the currents in the river of time

in which we all float. Our choices are then to swim with the current or against it. Few men can even pretend to change the course of History only because it is History that chose them to be larger than life.


Never mind N. Korea, who will stand up to America and Israel?


Paul Craig Roberts lists the recent atrocities of the US which are destabilising the world and creating very serious Humanitarian issues. Nations are being destroyed, people made homeless and trillions of dollars of American tax payer money blown up in smoke while Americans themselves are getting unemployed in large numbers and American Industry is bankrupted.
Yet apart from a minority of journalists like Paul, the American media and hence the American public thinks that North Korea is a problem. North Korea may be a problem for it's own people but nowhere has it stated any designs on others in the way that the US does.
Incredible amounts of money is being spent by the US in supporting autocratic rulers to suppress their people from ever challenging the terrible role of the US in their countries. Saudi Arabia , Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia are just a few of these countries.
Unknown to us a New World is emerging from the rubble created by a super power gone mad. This world will not be friendly to the US but stand in the ranks of Iran, Venezuela, China, Russia, North Korea, India, Pakistan,Afghanistan, Iraq, Brazil, Cuba, Palestine and every other nation which throws off the yoke of American Imperialism so as to gain freedom to search their own destiny.
Twenty to thirty million homeless people will be in the forefront of this march against US power and the march will truly start when these people get rid of the American agents in their own countries. If we think there is a lot of instability in the world, we have seen nothing yet. The blow back from American policies has not even started yet. The orphans of the world have yet to realise as to who is responsible for killing their parents.


Never mind N. Korea, who will stand up to America and Israel?

By Paul Craig Roberts
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 28, 2009, 00:10

“Obama Calls on World to ‘Stand Up To’ North Korea” read the headline. The United States, Obama said, was determined to protect “the peace and security of the world.”

Shades of doublespeak, doublethink, 1984.

North Korea is a small place. China alone could snuff it out in a few minutes. Yet, the president of the US thinks that nothing less than the entire world is a match for North Korea.

We are witnessing the Washington gangsters construct yet another threat like Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, John Walker Lindh, Hamdi, Padilla, Sami Al-Arian, Hamas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the hapless detainees demonized by former US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld as “the 700 most dangerous terrorists on the face of the earth,” who were tortured for six years at Gitmo only to be quietly released. Just another mistake, sorry.

The military/security complex that rules America, together with the Israel Lobby and the financial banksters, needs a long list of dangerous enemies to keep the taxpayers’ money flowing into its coffers.

The Homeland Security lobby is dependent on endless threats to convince Americans that they must forego civil liberty in order to be safe and secure.

The real question is who is going to stand up to the American and Israeli governments?

Who is going to protect Americans’ and Israelis’ civil liberties, especially those of Israeli dissenters and Israel’s Arab citizens?

Who is going to protect Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Lebanese, Iranians, and Syrians from Americans and Israelis?

Not Obama, and not the right-wing brownshirts that today rule Israel.

Obama’s notion that it takes the entire world to stand up to N. Korea is mind-boggling, but this mind-boggling idea pales in comparison to Obama’s guarantee that America will protect “the peace and security of the world.”

Is this the same America that bombed Serbia, including Chinese diplomatic offices and civilian passenger trains, and pried Kosovo loose from Serbia and gave it to a gang of Muslin drug lords, lending them NATO troops to protect their operation?

Is this the same America that is responsible for approximately one million dead Iraqis, leaving orphans and widows everywhere and making refugees out of one-fifth of the Iraqi population?

Is this the same America that blocked the rest of the world from condemning Israel for its murderous attack on Lebanese civilians in 2006 and on Gazans most recently, the same America that has covered up for Israel’s theft of Palestine over the past 60 years, a theft that has produced 4 million Palestinian refugees driven by Israeli violence and terror from their homes and villages?

Is this the same America that is conducting military exercises in former constituent parts of Russia and ringing Russia with missile bases?

Is this the same America that has bombed Afghanistan into rubble with massive civilian casualties?

Is this the same America that has started a horrific new war in Pakistan, a war that in its first few days has produced one million refugees?

“The peace and security of the world”? Whose world?

On his return from his consultation with Obama in Washington, the brownshirted Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared that it was Israel’s responsibility to “eliminate” the “nuclear threat” from Iran.

What nuclear threat? The US intelligence agencies are unanimous in their conclusion that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program since 2003. The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency report that there is no sign of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.

Who is Iran bombing? How many refugees is Iran sending fleeing for their lives?

Who is North Korea bombing?

The two great murderous, refugee-producing countries are the US and Israel. Between them, they have murdered and dislocated millions of people who were a threat to no one.

No countries on earth rival the US and Israel for barbaric murderous violence.

But Obama gives assurances that the US will protect “the peace and security of the world.” And the brownshirt Netanyahu assures the world that Israel will save it from the “Iranian threat.”

Where is the media?

Why aren’t people laughing their heads off?Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

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