Pakistani Military Killing Fleeing Swati Civilians Witnesses Say Military Helicopters Targeted Families Crossing Mountain Path

Pakistani Military Killing Fleeing Swati Civilians
Witnesses Say Military Helicopters Targeted Families Crossing Mountain Path

Jason Ditz

18swat-r1720171902.jpg
Internally displaced children, fleeing a military offensive in the Swat valley, are seen walking through a UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) camp in the outskirts of Peshawar on May 17, 2009. May 18, 2009

As the Pakistani military’s offensive against the Swat Valley continues, around 1.45 million are reported to have successfully fled. For several families today attempting to leave their homes, that trek ended in disaster as the Pakistani military attacked and killed several of them, and wounded an unknown number of others. Women and children were among the slain.

Witnesses who managed to escape the attack and reach a town in Upper Dir say the party of civilian families were crossing a mountain path after leaving their homes in the town of Matta, when they were attacked by the military’s helicopter gunships. Matta was the latest Swati town to be targeted in the ongoing offensive.Police confirmed the incident, but declined to say how many civilians were slain. Locals put the number at 12 to 14. The Pakistani military has been harshly criticized for its indiscriminate shelling against residential areas of Buner District, but this appears to be the first time they have deliberately targeted civilians. So far, there has been no comment from the military except to update the number of “suspected miscreants” killed in the offensive.

“Until Soldiers Refuse”

GI Special 7E17: “Until Soldiers Refuse” [ 19 May 2009 ]

Thomas F. Barton

GI Special: thomasfbarton@earthlink.net 5.19.09 Print it out: color best.  Pass it on.

GI SPECIAL 7E17:

[Thanks to Mark Shapiro, Military Project, who sent this in.]

“Almost Every Soldier I Know Is Disillusioned With These Wars”

“These Wars Will Continue Until Soldiers Refuse To Fight Them”

“Fort Hood Is The Largest American Military Installation In The World”

“If The GI Resistance Movement Takes Off Here, It Is Just A Matter Of Time Before Other Military Communities Follow”

Please Attend The March For Peace On Monday, May 25, In Killeen

[Thanks to Ward Reilly, Veterans for Peace, who sent this in.  He writes: >From Victor Agosto’s Facebook page.  (full permission to reproduce)  Peace from Ward]

By [SPC] Victor Agosto, Afghanistan War Resister

Please attend the March for Peace on Monday, May 25, in Killeen [Texas, home of Fort Hood].  Many of you have asked me, “how can I support you?”  Well, this is how.

Not only will you support me, you will show your solidarity with soldiers who are considering resistance.

I guarantee that your participation in this event will have a stronger impact than participation at any anti-war rally in Austin.

You will certainly not be “preaching to the choir” here in Killeen.

I think it is safe to say that most soldiers have never even seen a protest in their entire lives.

Many soldiers think anti-war protesters are people who hate the troops and call them “baby killers.”

Let’s show the troops our concern for their voices and their rights and let us come together to demonstrate peace and compassion.

These wars will continue until soldiers refuse to fight them.

Almost every soldier I know is disillusioned with these wars.

Most of them are opposed to the war in Iraq, and many are opposed to the war in Afghanistan.

Some consider resisting but do not because they are not aware of a large community ready to support them.  It will only take a few bold actions to spur the GI anti-war movement.

Fort Hood is the largest American military installation in the world.  If the GI resistance movement takes off here, it is just a matter of time before other military communities follow.

I have learned from personal experience, nothing is as powerful or inspirational as hearing the cries of “They’re our brothers, they’re our sisters, WE SUPPORT WAR RESISTERS!”

These chants are heard in the progressive communities of Austin and even in Fort Worth, though not a single soldier stationed at Fort Hood has heard it in Killeen.

Veterans, your participation is vital to the success of this event.

You know better than anyone that Killeen needs to see a big anti-war demonstration.

I hope to see you and the entire peace community there.

Power to the People,

Victor Agosto

MORE:

“The Support I Have Received From My Family At Under The Hood Has Helped Me Take The Liberating Leap From Obedient Soldier To War Resister”

“I Have Spent Countless Hours Discussing And Thinking About Ways To End These Wars”

[Thanks to Ward Reilly, Veterans For Peace, who sent this in.]

Friends and Supporters:

As you all know, Under the Hood Café does not run by itself.  Now, more than ever, funds are needed to keep things moving smoothly and to encourage development.

Under the Hood provides a refuge and a voice for soldiers in need. Soldiers have access to a network of mental health providers who are Tricare approved as well as pro bono. In addition, recently Under the Hood has secured a local lawyer willing to provide free advice as well as some pro bono services.

This is only the beginning. With events, support groups, and meetings, and new soldiers arriving daily, we have the opportunity to build this community and continue giving a voice to those in need.

We cannot do this alone.  Though we know that times are difficult financially for everyone, we ask that you open your hearts and your pocketbooks.  If we obtain five dollars from 8400 people, we will be able to keep our doors open for another year.  With an additional two dollars, we can secure the house next door and provide additional services for our soldiers and veterans. We are engaged in endless fighting and those returning home are broken. Please allow us to continue our mission in aiding the soldiers, veterans, and families who need us most. We cannot survive without your support.

The following are two testimonials written by Under the Hood patrons, both active duty soldiers, and endless supporters.

They speak for themselves:

Gaza II’ unfolding in the East

Gaza II’ unfolding in the East

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 8, 2009, 00:18

(WMR) — The current offensive by the Sri Lankan government against thr Tamil Tiger or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebel movement has trapped tens of thousands of refugees in a coastal strip still held by the rebels.

Sri Lanka’s military has been accused by human rights organizations of using massive firepower against the guerrillas that is resulting in civilian casualties. The comparison between Israel’s brutal attack on the Gaza Strip and its killing of over 1,000 civilians and the wounding of many thousands of others and the Sri Lankan assault on a three-mile long coastal strip controlled by the Tamil Tigers have been made by a number of observers, including Australia’s Green-Left Online in a May 2 article by Sean O Floinn & Emma Clancy: “A largely defenseless people struggling to survive and hemmed in on a narrow strip of land, facing indiscriminate air strikes, assault from gun boats and cluster bombs by a well-equipped army, conjures up the image of the recent Israeli invasion of Palestine’s Gaza Strip.”

However, there is more to the comparisons between Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip and Sri Lanka’s attack on the narrow strip of the Jaffna peninsula. In May 2000, a day after India refused to give Sri Lanka any military assistance in its war against the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka and Israel resumed diplomatic relations. Although the corporate media are focusing on Sri Lanka’s military assistance from China, little mention is being made of the island nation’s military links with Israel.

After the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Colombo, Israeli military technicians arrived to maintain Sri Lanka’s Israeli-made Kfir fighter-bombers and Russian MiG-27 aircraft and provided Sri Lanka with Dvora fast naval attack craft. Israeli arms and ammunition also began flooding into Sri Lanka.

Soon, Israeli military advisers and “consultants” were regular visitors to Colombo’s new Access Lanka Building, owned by relatives of Sri Lanka’s top military officers. Among Israel’s security exports to Sri Lanka was state-of-the-art electronic and imagery surveillance equipment. Israeli Air Force pilots reportedly flew Sri Lankan attack aircraft against Tamil Tiger targets on the Jaffna peninsula. Israeli military personnel were also reported to have taken part in Sri Lankan military attacks on Tamil units.

Due to Israel’s military assistance to Sri Lanka, Palestinians reportedly began aiding the Tamils in the 1980s. It is also believed that Israel’s Mossad recruited agents among Sri Lanka’s large contingent of foreign workers in the Persian Gulf Arab states. There were also reports that Israelis were also providing weapons and training to Tamil guerrillas in order to maintain a “market” for Israeli arms suppliers in the civil war-wracked island nation.

On March 2, 2007, WMR reported: “WMR visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia and discovered that the Mossad and Cambodian criminal syndicate allies continue to obtain bought-back Cambodian weapons from Cambodian government warehouses and are selling them to guerrilla groups throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, anti-Laotian Hmongs, the small anti-communist Free Vietnam Movement, and Burmese tribal guerrilla groups. WMR photographed a number of Zim shipping containers portside along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. From this and other port facilities, including the port of Sihanoukville, bought-back Cambodian weapons, some originally provided to the Khmer Rouge by [Israeli tycoon Shaul] Eisenberg and the Chinese, are making their way to insurgent groups around Asia, possibly including Iraqi guerrillas battling U.S. forces in Iraq.”

Tamil guerrillas have claimed to have destroyed an Israeli-made Sri Lankan fast naval attack craft, perhaps reminiscent of Hezbollah’s destruction of the INS Hanit, a Saar-V class missile corvette, which was deployed off the Lebanese coast during the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, with a C-802 Iranian-made Noor missile.

Although Sri Lanka suspended diplomatic ties with Israel in 1970 over the failure of the Israelis to withdraw from illegally occupied Palestinian territory, however, operating an Interests Section within the U.S. embassy in Colombo, Israeli-Sri Lankan ties began to grow closer in the mid-1980s. Israel provided Sri Lanka with military advisers and established a special commando unit for the Sri Lankan police.

In 1990, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa ordered the Israeli Interests Section at the U.S. embassy to close its doors and two Israeli diplomats in Colombo were ordered to leave. Premadasa was said to have come under pressire from Muslim ministers in his government. In 1990, Premadasa also ordered a government investigation of charges that Mossad was training both Sri Lankan and Tamil guerrilla forces.

On September 25, 1991, Reuters reported from Colombo: “Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, fighting against a campaign to have him impeached, yesterday accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of plotting against him because he closed the Israeli interests section in the U.S. embassy. He spoke at the opening session of parliament.”

On May 1, 1993, Premadasa was assassinated in Colombo during May Day festivities by a suicide bomber said to be a Tamil guerrilla. Twenty-three other people were killed in the blast. On May 28, 1993, Abdul Hameed Mohammed Azwer, Sri Lankan minister of state for Muslim affairs, said in Jeddah, “Israel was enraged by when they were expelled from Sri Lanka by Premadasa and I suspect the Mossad was behind the dastardly murder of this respected leader.”

Those behind Premadasa’s assassination remains an Asian “cold case.” On September 23, 1997, Attorney General Sarath Silva released 18 Tamil suspects in the assassination of the president, citing lack of evidence. Silva declared the case would be officially deemed as “unsolved.”

During a March 2009 trip to Israel by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, talks were held with Israel’s leading arms suppliers on increased military aid by the Israelis to Sri Lanka.

Israel continues to supply Sri Lanka with arms and military training even after the United States and Britain cut off military supplies to Sri Lanka over the government’s human rights violations.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

McChrystal’s Rise: More Secrets, Less Daylight

McChrystal’s Rise: More Secrets, Less Daylight

Tom Hayden

May 19, 2009

All along there were two US wars in Iraq. There was the public war, in which the Pentagon tried to manipulate the mainstream media into being a “message amplifier,” while some intrepid reporters and bloggers fought back. Then there was the secret war carried out by the Special Operations forces, whose existence was denied even by the Pentagon.

Now the secret operations threaten to completely compromise what remains of the public war in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the ascension of Gen. Stanley McChrystal to top commander from his classified role in running Special Ops in Iraq for five years.

When questioned by the media or senators presiding at his confirmation hearing in a few weeks, Gen. McChrystal may have a simple answer to anything troubling: sorry, that is classified.

The mystique of secrecy may come to shroud all public inquiry about Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are questions to be answered, however.

One is framed on page 380 of Bob Woodward’s book The War Within, in which the author describes a top-secret operation in 2006 that targeted and killed insurgents with such effectiveness that it gave “orgasms” to Derek Harvey, a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus and longtime tracker of Iraqi dissidents. The secret program was led by McChrystal, then a lieutenant general, using signals intercepts, informants and other tools of what McChrystal calls “collaborative warfare” through Special Access Programs (SAPS) and Special Compartmented Information (SCI.) McChrystal, according to the New York Times, conducted and commanded most of his secret missions at night. These missions were consistent with the proposals of Petraeus’s top counterinsurgency adviser at the time, David Kilcullen, to revive the discredited Phoenix Program used in South Vietnam.

This expanding secret war is crucial to understand for three reasons. First, according to Woodward’s claim, it was “more important than the surge” in reducing insurgent violence in Iraq. Second, the Special Ops units served as judge, jury and executioner in hundreds of extrajudicial killings. The targeted victims were from broad categories such as “the Sunni insurgency” and “renegade Shiite militias” or other “extremists.” Third, and most important, the operation was kept secret from the American public, media and perhaps even the US Congress.

Woodward himself agreed to self-censorship, choosing to accept the Pentagon’s argument that to disclose any details “might lead to unraveling of state secrets that have been so beneficial in Iraq.”

And there the matter has been left, without a single follow-up story, investigation or Congressional inquiry.

Three years later, Iraq is far from being a pacified US ally, raising the question of whether the secret killing campaign was partly a desperate effort to get through the 2007-2008 political cycle in the United States.

The prospect of contending with secret counterinsurgency programs is not a secret but a well-known challenge to those on the receiving end in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The real point is that Special Operations allows the Pentagon to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public, media and Congress. Nothing requires an explanation, including the actual causes of American deaths.

If that seems a harsh conclusion, consider the one public “blot” we already know about concerning Gen. McChrystal’s war record. An investigation by the Pentagon itself found him guilty of fabricating false information in the drama surrounding 2004 death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, an Arizona Cardinals football player who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. In 2007, McChrystal was held accountable for a Pentagon cover story that Tillman died from “devastating enemy fire,” when in fact he was killed by accidental rounds from his own unit.

What kind of military leader would falsify the details of a soldier’s death in order to create a patriotic legend for public consumption?

His rise can only mean an intensified campaign of secret–and dirty–warfare in the remote villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The public, the media and the Congress are entitled to know whether and how Gen. McChrystal will become transparent, accessible and accountable as he steps out of the shadows, or whether he will be committing America’s future to the night.

Photo of Fearsome “al Qaida” Fighters, Hiding Under Burkhas

[Finally, the "evil-doers" who threaten the homeland have been found.  Naturally, they are all Saudis.  Apparently the mighty "al Qaida" master terrorists are all retarded !]

Five burqa-clad Arabs arrested in Mohmand

By Fauzee Khan Mohmand

Four of the five Arabs are Saudi nationals — Ahmed, Ali, Mohammad and Obaidullah — and one Libyan national, Abdullah. The Afghan national has been identified as Habibullah. – Dawn photo

GHALANAI: At least 13 militants were killed in a clash with security forces following arrest of five burqa-clad Arabs, one Afghan national and a local man in Mohmand Agency on Tuesday.

Four of the five Arabs are Saudi nationals — Ahmed, Ali, Mohammad and Obaidullah — and one Libyan national, Abdullah. The Afghan national has been identified as Habibullah and the local man as Shad Ali. They were detained at the Khapakh checkpost. The Afghan was living in Chakdara area of Lower Dir.

When troops were taking the detained men to Ghalanai, about 60 militants attacked them in an area between Ziyari Kando and Nasapai. The clash continued for more than two hours, an official spokesman said.

Security forces shelled militants’ positions from Ghalanai with mortars and cannons. Thirteen terrorists were killed and the others escaped. Two vehicles of militants were destroyed, the spokesman said.

Security personnel brought the body of one militant to the Ghalanai FC camp; the other bodies were taken away by the attackers. The administration sealed all entry points to the tribal region and beefed up security to apprehend the fleeing militants.

Troops also launched a search operation in Mian Mandi Bazaar.

A jirga of tribal elders will be held in Ghalanai on Wednesday to discuss the presence of militants, including foreigners, in the area.

The spokesman said the detained militants had been hiding in Kareer Qandaharo and Kung Khwayzai for several days and they had attacked the Khapakh post.

‘They came to Pakistan via Afghanistan which is financing them,’ he alleged.

He said SMGs, hand-grenades, Kalashnikovs, passports and other important documents had been seized from them and their vehicle had been impounded.

America promoting terrorism: Khamenei

America promoting terrorism: Khamenei

Published: May 20, 2009

TEHRAN (Reuters/AFP) – Iran’s leading authority accused the US on Tuesday of promoting terrorism in border areas and using arms and money against the Islamic state, in his latest verbal attack on Tehran’s arch-enemy.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments in a televised speech are likely to further disappoint the US administration of President Barack Obama, which is seeking rapprochement with Iran after three decades of mutual mistrust.
Khamenei was speaking in a western region close to Iraq where security forces often clash with Kurdish separatist rebels. Iran has also in the past accused its Western foes of seeking to destabilise it by backing insurgents on its borders.
“I say this firmly that unfortunately across our borders, our western borders, the Americans are busy making a conspiracy, they are busy fostering terrorism,” he said, referring to the US presence in Iraq, Iran’s western neighbour.
“Money, arms and organisation … are being used by the Americans directly across our western borders in order to fight the Islamic Republic’s system. We should be awake,” he said during a visit to Iran’s Kurdistan province.
“The Americans have dangerous plans for (Iraqi) Kurdistan … Their plans are not aimed at defending the Kurdish people, but they want to control them,” he said in the city of Saqaz.
“Our Kurdish friends on the other side of the border have told us that the US officers are paying the Kurdish youth on the Qandil hills in exchange for information,” he said.
“They pay money to create mercenaries. It is unworthy of Kurdish youth,” Khamenei added.
“Anywhere they (the Americans) can, they stretch their hands in order to put their contemptible and bloody claws into the body of the Kurdish people,” Khamenei said.
Like Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in its northwest and west. Kurdish guerrillas based in remote mountainous areas in Iraq close to Turkey and Iran have long been a source of regional instability.Khamenei spoke a day after Obama said he wanted to see serious progress on his diplomatic initiative towards Iran by the end of the year. Obama also held out the prospect of tougher sanctions against Tehran “to ensure that Iran understands we are serious”.
Washington and its Western allies suspect Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at making bombs, a charge Tehran denies. But in a break with his predecessor George W Bush’s approach, Obama has offered direct talks with Tehran to resolve the dispute.
Iran says Washington must show a real policy shift towards it. The Islamic republic has seen its regional influence grow since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, sparking unease among Sunni Arab powers.
In other comments underscoring deep suspicion of the United States, Khamenei last month blamed US forces for two bombings that killed dozens of Iranian pilgrims in Iraq.
Ali Ansari of the University of St Andrews in Scotland said he believed Khamenei was trying to “rein in” moderate candidates in Iran’s June 12 presidential election who are advocating constructive talks and better ties with the West.
He said Khamenei was “ideologically disinclined” to relations with Washington but was not closing the door to a possible opening. The US cut bilateral ties shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Khamenei on Monday urged Iranians to support anti-Western candidates, without openly supporting Ahmadinejad who is a vocal opponent of western policies. “Do not let those who would … surrender to enemies (the West) and harm our nation’s prestige to get into office,” Khamenei said in a televised speech in the western city of Bijar.

Pak nukes safe but will take action if needed: US

Pak nukes safe but will take action if needed: US

Submitted 6 hrs 28 mins ago

The Pentagon has said it is comfortable with the protocols Pakistani military has in place to ensure security of its nuclear arsenal, even as the US will take “requisite action” if Taliban ever tries hand on them. Such a statement from the Pentagon came a day after, the CIA Director Leon Panetta, said the US does not know where all the Pakistani nuclear weapons are being kept. Defence Department spokesman, Geoff Morrell, told reporters at his daily press briefing they are “comfortable with the protocols the Pakistani military has in place to ensure the security of their nuclear arsenal.” “I am sure that our planners take whatever requisite action is required to ensure the arsenal in a country that is obviously in the midst of a great deal — that finds itself with a great deal of challenges right now, that they have some visibility on where such weapons are located,” Morrell said. When asked about news reports that the Special Operations forces have a contingency plan to go in and secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons if the need be, Morrell said the US is comfortable with the security measures of the Pakistan. “The last thing we want is to have the Taliban have access to the nuclear weapons in Pakistan. We’re fighting, obviously, that potential in Iran. The last thing we would want is to give Al Qaeda that potential. So we continue to watch that very closely.”