Friday, November 26, 2010

Iraqi PM Al Maliki vows to form inclusive government

Friday, November 26, 2010 10:21 GMT As Iraq’s government formation is on track, the different political parties stressed the necessity to have an inclusive government that engages all parties. After officially appointing Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to form the new government, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani affirmed that the new government will be a partnership government that represents all parties in the country. President Talabani cautioned however of the present time sensitivity in Iraq. Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki vowed to form an inclusive government that would be charged of ascertaining security in the country and providing services to the people. Al Maliki called on political parties to name upright candidates.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

UK-based Taliban spend months fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan

Taliban fighter reveals he lives for most of year in London and heads to Afghanistan for combat British-based men of Afghan origin are spending months at a time in Afghanistan fighting Nato forces before returning to the UK, the Guardian has learned. They also send money to the Taliban. A Taliban fighter in Dhani-Ghorri in northern Afghanistan last month told the Guardian he lived most of the time in east London, but came to Afghanistan for three months of the year for combat. "I work as a minicab driver," said the man, who has the rank of a mid-level Taliban commander. "I make good money there [in the UK], you know. But these people are my friends and my family and it's my duty to come to fight the jihad with them." "There are many people like me in London," he added. "We collect money for the jihad all year and come and fight if we can." His older brother, a senior cleric or mawlawi who also fought in Dhani-Ghorri, lives in London as well. Intelligence officials have long suspected that British Muslims travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan each year to train with extremist groups. Last year it was reported that RAF spy planes operating in Helmand in southern Afghanistan had detected strong Yorkshire and Birmingham accents on fighters using radios and telephones. They apparently spoke the main Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu, but lapsed into English when they were lost for the right words. The threat was deemed sufficiently serious that spy planes have patrolled British skies in the hope of picking up the same voice signatures of the fighters after their return to the UK. The dead body of an insurgent who had an Aston Villa tattoo has also been discovered in southern Afghanistan. British military officials say there have been no recent reports of British Taliban in Helmand in southern Afghanistan and that the overwhelming majority of foreign fighters are Pakistanis. Not since John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, was captured in late 2001, has the US admitted to having successfully captured an insurgent from a western country. In the main US-run prison near Bagram airfield, there are just 50 "third country nationals" being held, a spokeswoman said. "Most of these are Pakistani, with small numbers from other countries in the region," she said. According to a senior officer at the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's equivalent of MI5, foreign fighters tend to be Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis or from central Asia's former Soviet republics such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Colonel Allan West heads to Washington

Allen West, one of two black Republicans just elected to House, goes against grain By Krissah Thompson Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, November 24, 2010; 12:42 AM Allen West, a 22-year Army veteran, is preparing for Washington a bit like he would for a battlefield. His "high and tight" hairstyle will be one of the only buzz cuts in Congress. He plans to carry a camouflage bag, not a briefcase. And on a recent morning, while others in the Republican Party's large incoming freshman class jockeyed for office space, he declared himself largely indifferent. "I've lived in tents," said West, who in January will become the first black Republican to represent Florida since 1876. Since its last black lawmaker retired from the House in 2003, the GOP has been eager to elect high-profile African Americans. The party's desire to demonstrate inclusiveness has been especially pressing since the election of Barack Obama and the rise of the predominantly white tea party movement. West is one of two black Republicans elected to the House this year. The other, Tim Scott, a longtime politician in South Carolina, was quickly drafted into the GOP leadership as a representative of the freshman class. West brings to the party a strong personality and, with repeat appearances on Fox News and a spot this past Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," a profile that many incoming members of Congress would covet. But he's also an unpredictable force, inclined to be an outsider - even within the GOP. In an interview, he said he doesn't admire anyone in Washington. On the campaign trail, West found support among anti-establishment groups, including the tea party and motorcycle clubs. He briefly hired as his chief of staff Joyce Kaufman, a local conservative talk radio commentator. She resigned amid controversy over inflammatory comments she made, including disparaging illegal immigrants and referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as "garbage." West responded by saying he is "even more focused that this liberal, progressive, socialist agenda, this left-wing, vile, vicious, despicable machine that's out there is soundly brought to its knees." 'Truth in boldness' West, 49, sees himself stepping to the front lines of an ideological war in which he is fighting liberals who want "a country that creates victims where we enslave the American spirit," he said. Cris Kurtz, the leader of USA Patriots, a tea-party-affiliated group in Tulsa, likened West's influence in the movement to that of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who has sometimes bucked his party's leadership. Kurtz described West as "awesome" after hearing him speak at a Kansas rally to support U.S. troops imprisoned for killing Iraqis in violation of U.S. policy. "He speaks truth in boldness,"Kurtz said. West was charged by military authorities and forced to retire after firing a handgun near the head of an Iraqi police officer during an interrogation in 2003. The officer was suspected of having information about attacks on U.S. forces in the area. West admitted wrongdoing and paid a fine. His case became a cause celebre for conservative media personalities, and 95 members of Congress signed a letter to the Army secretary in support of him. "I've been there," West said in a video recorded after the Kansas rally. "We've got to get away from political correctness on the battlefield. Stop believing we can treat the enemy in such a kind and benevolent way." Timothy Johnson, a leader of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, which brings together black Republicans, said West is independent thinker. "You don't become a black Republican or get into going against the grain without being real strong about who you think you are and what you believe," said Johnson, an associate of West's and a vice chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party. "Despite the perceptions, the black community is not monolithic looking, thinking or voting. Allen is working on making sure people know that." 'Fight for America' West ran for the same House seat two years ago. He received little attention from the Republican establishment and had trouble raising money. This year, national Republicans invested heavily in promoting a diverse slate of candidates for House races. Michael S. Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has noted in speeches that the party recruited 32 African Americans for public office, more than ever. Most lost in primaries. West was named one of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Young Guns, a designation given to newcomers whom the committee considers viable. His campaign raised $5.3 million, and he was among a handful of conservative military veterans who were endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. West won comfortably in a district that is 83 percent white. Race played little role in his campaign against Democratic Rep. Ron Klein, who worked to convince voters in the South Florida district - including Broward and Palm Beach counties - that West was too extreme. Voters in the district lean Republican and have traditionally been represented by moderates, said Kevin Wagner, a political science professor at Florida Atlantic University. "This was one of the few years where a candidate who has said some of the things that West said could have been successful in this district," Wagner said. Even before Palin's endorsement, West became a tea party phenomenon because of an impromptu speech he gave at a 2009 Tea Party Express rally in Fort Lauderdale. A video of the speech, in which he invokes the Revolutionary War, has been viewed more than 2.3 million times on YouTube. It is vintage West. The crowd of a few hundred had been bored by a series of dry speeches, West recalled, and the organizer asked him to say a few words. With three minutes to compose his thoughts, West took the microphone and shouted: "You better get your butts out there and understand it's a fight, and you better fight for America. "You need to leave here understanding one simple word and that word is 'bayonet.' You need to leave here and charge this enemy for your freedom." A 'role model,' 'example' West was raised in inner-city Atlanta. His father was a World War II veteran who worked at the local veterans hospital. His mother held a job at the Marine barracks. "No question I was going into the military," he said. He joined the Army at age 21, straight out of college, where he studied political science and later military strategy. West's family home was not far from Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, and he remembers walking along Auburn Avenue with his folks and marveling at the "black entrepreneurial spirit." His parents voted for Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and civil rights hero, but they also taught him conservative values, West said. "One of the implied responsibilities that I do have as a black member up here is to be a role model and an example," West said. Scott, the other African American Republican joining Congress, has said he will not join the Congressional Black Caucus because he's not interested in groups that separate people by race. J.C. Watts (Okla.), the last black Republican to serve in Congress, took the same stance. West told Fox News commentator Juan Williams recently that his late parents would be "absolutely appalled" if he won a seat in Congress but refused to join the black caucus. The group said it would welcome both Republicans, though at least two members of the caucus campaigned against West. West seems unconcerned about any tension that might arise from his presence in the caucus. "You want to talk about bipartisanship?" he said. "Well, I'll bring it to the CBC."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Korean Clash Forces the U.S. to Weigh Options

DAVID E. SANGER and MARK McDONALD WASHINGTON — President Obama’s top national security aides met Tuesday to develop a response to North Korea’s deadly shelling of a South Korean military installation as the United States struggled for the second time this year to keep a North Korean provocation from escalating into war. Mr. Obama, who attended the end of the emergency session after a trip to a Chrysler plant, called South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, to express American solidarity and talk about a coordinated response. That response is likely to start with pressing China, which has sought to maintain its influence with the North during what could be a struggle over leadership succession. But as a former national security official who dealt frequently with North Korea in the Bush administration, Victor Cha, said just a few hours before the attack began, North Korea is “the land of lousy options.” Mr. Obama is once again forced to choose between equally unpalatable choices: responding with verbal condemnations and a modest tightening of sanctions, which has done little to halt new attacks, and reacting strongly, which could risk a broad war in which South Korea’s vibrant capital, Seoul, would be the first target. As top American officials gathered in the Situation Room late Tuesday, the South Korean military went into what it termed “crisis status.” President Lee said he would order strikes on a North Korean base if there were indications of new attacks. North Korea’s artillery shells fell on Yeonpyeong Island, a fishing village whose residents fled by ferry to the mainland city of Inchon — where Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed 60 years ago this fall, three months after the outbreak of the Korean War. Today, Inchon is the site of South Korea’s main international airport, symbolizing the vulnerability of one of the world’s most vibrant economies to the artillery of one of the world’s most isolated and poorest nations. A senior American official said that an early American assessment indicated that a total of about 175 artillery shells were fired by the North and by the South in response on Tuesday. But an American official who had looked at satellite images said there was no visible evidence of preparations for a general war. Historically, the North’s attacks have been lightning raids, after which the North Koreans have backed off to watch the world’s reaction. This one came just hours after the South Koreans had completed a long-planned set of military exercises, suggesting that the North Korean attack was “premeditated,” a senior American official said. Television reports showed large plumes of black smoke spiraling from the island, as dozens of houses caught fire. The shelling killed two Marines and wounded 18 people. The South put its fighter planes on alert — but, tellingly, did not put them in the air or strike at the North’s artillery bases. President Obama was awakened at 3:55 a.m. by his new national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, who told him of the attack. Just 11 days before, North Korea had invited a Stanford University nuclear scientist to Yongbyon, its primary nuclear site, and showed him what was described as a just completed centrifuge plant that, if it goes fully operational, should enable North Korea to enrich uranium into nuclear fuel and add to its arsenal of 8 to 12 nuclear weapons. Taken together, the nuclear demonstration and the attack were widely interpreted as an effort to bolster the credentials of Kim Jong-un, the heir apparent as the country’s leader, and the son and grandson of the only two men who have run the country. When his father, Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s ailing leader, was establishing his credentials, the North conducted a similar series of attacks. “They have a 60-year history of military provocations — it’s in their DNA,” said a senior administration official. “What we are trying to do is break the cycle,” a cycle, he said, that has North Korea’s bad behavior rewarded with “talks, inducements and rewards.” He said that the shelling would delay any effort to resume the six-nation talks about the North’s nuclear program. While Mr. Obama was elected on a promise of diplomatic engagement, his strategy toward the North for the past two years, called “strategic patience,” has been to demonstrate that Washington would not engage until the North ceased provocations and demonstrated that it was living up to past commitments to dismantle, and ultimately give up, its nuclear capacity. The provocations have now increased markedly, and it is not clear what new options are available. Beijing’s first reaction on Tuesday was to call for a resumption of the six-nation talks involving North and South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States. The last meeting was two years ago, at the end of the Bush administration. Mr. Obama’s aides made it clear in interviews that the United States had no intention of returning to those talks soon. But its leverage is limited. When North Korea set off a nuclear test last year just months after Mr. Obama took office, the United States won passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution that imposed far harsher sanctions. The sanctions gave countries the right, and responsibility, to board North Korean ships and planes that landed at ports around the world and to inspect them for weapons. The effort seemed partly successful — but the equipment in the centrifuge plant is so new that it is clear that the trade restrictions did not stop the North from building what Siegfried S. Hecker, the visiting scientist, called an “ultramodern” nuclear complex.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Al-Qaeda's 'sword of justice' and the coming war of attrition with the West

By Praveen Swami World Last updated: November 12th, 2010 22 Comments Comment on this article His name could be Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi or Ibrahim al-Madani and some people used to call him Omar al-Somali. The Federal Bureau of Investigations, which wants him for murder and conspiracy to kill, says he’s dark-eyed, olive-skinned and was born in 1960. Or perhaps it was 1963. Bar his vainglorious pseudonym Saif al-Adel – which means ‘the sword of justice’ – there is little public-domain knowledge about the man Osama bin-Laden has picked as al-Qaeda’s new chief for operations targeting the West. We know this much, though: he’s among the most skilled and dangerous operatives al-Qaeda has ever had. Al-Adel wants to conduct a prolonged war of attrition against the West, built around low-cost, low-risk operations, like the bombs planted on cargo flights out of Yemen. He hopes this will push Western governments to retreat from Afghanistan, and to back away from brewing conflicts in north Africa, the middle-east and central Asia. If the plan works, it will open the way for al-Qaeda to wield power in an Islamist-run state, like Afghanistan was before 9/11 . Al-Adel opposed those attacks on the reasonable grounds that it would provoke US retaliation, strip al-Qaeda of a safe base, and thus inflict long-term damage on the jihadist movement. Parts of al-Adel’s thinking can be pieced together from a memoir he wrote in 2005. In 1987, the memoir records, al-Adel was a colonel in Egypt’s special forces. He was arrested that year on charges of aiding the Egyptian terror group al-Jihad. Prosecutors said he had planned to drive a bomb-laden truck into Egypt’s parliament, and to crash an aircraft into the building – tactics that al-Qaeda would later use to effect. But al-Adel was less than impressed by his al-Jihad brothers-in-arms, holding them guilty of “over-enthusiasm that resulted in hasty action.” For reasons that remain unclear, al-Adel was let out of prison and travelled to Peshawar in Pakistan. In 1991-1992, he trained al-Qaeda jihadists at camp near Khost, in Afghanistan. Later, he travelled to Khartoum, providing explosives training at bin-Laden’s Damazine Farm base. Mohammed Odeh, a jihadist jailed in the US, recalls al-Adel telling him that as the fighting in Afghanistan was winding down, it was time to “move the jihad to other parts of the world.” For the next several years, al-Adel hopped between al-Qaeda training facilities in Asia and Africa. He negotiated an alliance with jihadists in Iraq, and plotted to assassinate Australian mining magnate and orthodox Rabbi Joseph ‘Diamond Joe’ Gutnick Like other top al-Qaeda operatives, al-Adel was involved in planning the 9/11 attacks. In July, 2001, however, al-Qaeda leaders were told the operation did not have the support of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s supreme leader. The US’s official investigation of the 9/11 strikes, records Mullah Omar’s dissent was endorsed by al-Adel and his associates Mahfouz al-Walid and Mustafa Uthman. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan in October, 2001, al-Adel left for Iran. US intelligence believes he masterminded several attacks on US targets while based there. In response to US pressure, Iran later detained al-Qaeda leaders operating from its soil. Al-Adel lived under house arrest near Tehran with his wife and children until April, when he was released in return for a kidnapped Iranian diplomat. There are two big reasons why the world needs to be paying special attention to al-Adel’s new project. First, as the Australian counter-terrorism analyst Leah Farrall has been pointing out, the top al-Qaeda leadership holed out in the war-torn Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands is still key to the global jihadist project. US intelligence officials had been claiming to have degraded al-Qaeda to the point of no-return, but that’s starting to sound suspiciously like a declaration of victory intended to hide a precipitate retreat. “Like a snake backed into a corner,” the terrorism expert Peter Bergen pointed in a review of al-Qaeda’s capabilities, “a weakened al-Qaeda isn’t necessarily less dangerous.” That means the West needs to prepare itself to deal with the war of attrition al-Adel is planning – which, like all wars of attrition, will be messy and unpopular. Second, a resurgent al-Qaeda could tip the balance of power in an ongoing struggle between a battered Taliban leadership open to talking peace and a new generation of radicals. In November, 2009, Mullah Omar, issued a statement assuring “all countries that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a responsible force, will not extend its hand to cause jeopardy to others.” That statement is the foundation of hopes for a dialogue that could lead to peace. But Afghanistan analyst Anand Gopal recently noted that a new generation of Taleban commanders were increasingly bucking their leadership, and raised the prospect that the organisation’s top leadership in Pakistan may not be able “to enforce decisions on its rank-and-file.” Even an the end of war with the Taliban, this suggests, might not mean the beginning of peace. In a 1939 essay, Abul Ala Mawdudi, the ideological patriarch of the global jihadist movement, argued that the pursuit of power, rather than what he called a “hotchpotch of beliefs, prayers and rituals”, constituted the essence of Islam. The religion, he wrote in Jihad Fi’Sabilillah [Jihad in the Way of God], was in fact “a revolutionary ideology which seeks to alter the social order of the entire world.” This made it imperative, in Mawdudi’s view, for Islamists to “seize the authority of state”. Al-Adel is working to that end. The world must decide on the price it’s willing to pay to stop him.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Osama bin Laden appoints new commander to spearhead war on West

Osama bin Laden has appointed a new commander to spearhead al-Qaeda's offensive of operations against the West. By Praveen Swami, Diplomatic Editor Known to western intelligence services by the alias Saif al-Adel, or "Sword of the Just", al-Qaeda's new chief of international operations is believed to have conceived of the wave of strikes that set off terror alerts across Europe recently, as well as last week's mid-air parcel-bomb plot. US and Pakistani sources have told The Daily Telegraph that al-Adel is running several similar operations as part of a war of attrition intended to persuade Western public opinion that the war against terror is unwinnable. This would clear the road for al-Qaeda to capture power in fragile states such as Somalia and Yemen. "His strategy", said Syed Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani expert on al-Qaeda, "is to stage multiple small terror operations, using the resources of affiliates and allies wherever possible." Related Articles Inside Yemen's al-Qaeda heartland 06 Nov 2010 Yemen terrorist charged 02 Nov 2010 Security raised around Bruni 08 Nov 2010 Cargo plane plot: Yemen and al-Qaeda in focus10 Nov 2010 Al-Qaeda 'plotted to take hostages in Mumbai-style attacks on Britain?10 Nov 2010 Osama bin Laden issues warning to France over Afghanistan war10 Nov 2010 A US counter-terrorism official said the idea was for "small-but-often attacks" that would hurt the West more than a "one-off terror spectacular". In 2005, al-Adel authored an al-Qaeda planning document that holds clues to his thinking. The document said that Islamist movements failed because their "actions were mostly random". It called for al-Qaeda to focus on "the greater objective, which is the establishment of a state". The new attrition strategy marks the triumph of a minority faction within al-Qaeda who had opposed the 9/11 attacks, arguing that the inevitable US retaliation against Afghanistan would cost the jihadist movement its only secure base. In 2002, jihadist internet forums carried a letter purported to have been written by al-Adel, criticising bin Laden's leadership. Little was heard of al-Adel, who was held by Iran with a group of al-Qaeda fugitives, for several years thereafter. The fugitives were housed in villas along Iran's Caspian coast and in Lazivan, north-west of Tehran. Al-Adel lived there with his five children and wife Wafa, who is the daughter of Mustafa Hamid, another top al-Qaeda figure. But in April this year, he was released from Iranian custody along with Saad bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's son, and top al-Qaeda operatives Suleiman al-Gaith and Mahfouz al-Walid. Iran swapped the terrorists for Heshmatollah Attarzadeh, a Pakistan-based diplomat kidnapped by al-Qaeda last year. Little is known about the shadowy al-Adel, who is also known by the names Muhammad al-Makkawi and Ibrahim al-Madani. Born in Egypt, al-Adel is said to have served as a colonel in its Special Forces. He was, however, arrested in 1987 along with several jihadists. Egyptian prosecutors claimed that al-Adel's plans included crashing an aircraft into the Egypt's parliament, or driving a bomb-laden truck into the building – both tactics al-Qaeda later used to devastating effect. Later, documents filed by US prosecutors show, al-Adel worked as an instructor at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Somalia, and participated in several attacks. In 2000, Austrian investigators found he played a key role in a plot to assassinate Joseph "Diamond Joe" Hicks – a mining magnate who is also a leading member of a religious Jewish group.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Let's Help out our Navy Brothers..

I have recently been informed of this situation through some other officers- and think all of us Milbloggers should try and bring some assistance where we can. Four Sailors were accused, tried, and convicted of raping and murdering a woman in Norfolk, Virginia. All of them "confessed" to the crime under the interrogation of an infamous policeman who is now convicted and facing jail himself for breaking the law (official corruption and making false statements to the FBI) in another case. Shockingly, none of the "confessions" actually matched the crime, none of them matched one another, and several sailors gave confessions that contradicted their earlier confessions: one confessed to beating the victim, when she was actually stabbed and strangled; some confessed to sex acts that didn't actually happen; some of them claimed the crime occurred in the wrong location; one claimed they broke into the apartment by forcing the door open using a claw hammer when there was actually no sign of forced entry; etc. Still worse, the same prosecutor tried all four guys. Most shocking, none of the sailors DNA matched and the crime scene cried out that this was a single-offender crime, not a gang rape. To top it all off, the actual murderer (already in jail for two other violent assaults against women, including the rape of a 14 year old girl) came forward, his DNA matched that found on/in the victim, and he has sworn under oath that he committed the crime by himself. So, the appeals began. Unfortunately, it is VERY hard to undo a conviction based on a confession, and basically impossible if the habeas clock has run out and claims of judicial nullification on the basis of actual innocence are extremely difficult. Governor Kaine of Virginia let the N4 out of prison with a partial pardon, but they're still tagged with the sex offender yoke and other problems. They should receive a full pardon and the current Governor McDonnell should vacate their false convictions. Let's try and make it happen!