9:35 PM PDT, June 4, 2009
Reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan — It was the moment every commander dreads most: when a new deployment claims its first casualty.
“It tears you up every time,” said Army Col. Paul Bricker, recounting the death of one of his most experienced pilots, whose Apache helicopter crashed in the southern Afghan desert on May 22, just days after the start of his tour.
Bricker’s 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, part of the storied 82nd Airborne Division based in Ft. Bragg, N.C., is the leading edge of the largest U.S. troop buildup since the start of the Afghan war in 2001.
At Kandahar airfield, its new headquarters, the unceasing roar of combat aircraft and the dust-laden din of new construction are testament to a determined push by the Obama administration to alter the course of a troubled conflict.
Most of the 17,000 combat troops ordered here by President Obama will be in place by mid-July — nearly all of them fanning out across southern Afghanistan, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.
An additional 4,000 American troops, who will be responsible for training Afghan soldiers and police officers, are expected to arrive by August. That will push U.S. troop strength above 60,000, a reflection of the shifting emphasis from Iraq to Afghanistan, where Western strategists acknowledge that more than seven years of fighting has essentially yielded a stalemate.
American military officials know full well that the summer could exact a heavy toll in lives, as the arriving forces make it a priority to push into areas where the Taliban has had free rein. But U.S. commanders also view the coming months as a potential “game-changer,” as Bricker put it — an opportunity to not only wrest territory from the insurgents but keep it secure for long enough that Afghanistan’s fragile brand of governance can take hold.
That task is seen as particularly crucial before Afghan elections Aug. 20, which are considered by Western observers as a milestone on the country’s bumpy road to some semblance of democracy.
American troops, previously concentrated in the east of Afghanistan, are taking up new positions in some of the most volatile areas of the south and west.
A Marine expeditionary brigade from Camp Lejeune, N.C., is now headquartered in Helmand province, which has been the scene of some of the war’s fiercest fighting.
Several thousand of those Marines have already arrived, taking over formal command May 29, and their numbers are expected to swell to 8,000 in coming weeks.
Thinly spread British troops had been bearing the brunt of combat in Helmand, which is Afghanistan’s biggest opium-producing province. Drug money fuels the insurgency, buying weapons and luring fighters into the ranks.
Helmand is also a prime infiltration route for Taliban foot soldiers who move freely back and forth from bases in southern Pakistan. The Marines, though, hope their numbers will be sufficient to make a difference in districts such as Nad Ali, a Taliban command-and-control hub in Helmand’s northwest where Afghan and Western troops have long fought to make headway.
“We know this will be a challenging assignment,” said Capt. Bill Pelletier, the Marine brigade’s spokesman. “The Taliban are an adaptive enemy force.”
Although Western military officials are careful to avoid characterizing the buildup as a “surge,” the hubbub of activity in the south has not been lost on the Taliban leadership. But insurgents profess unconcern.
“They must use the roads, and on the roads we will kill them,” said a local Taliban commander in Helmand, speaking by phone from an undisclosed location.
He was referring to the insurgents’ weapon of choice: IEDs, or improvised explosive devices. Roadside bombs are responsible for about 70% of the Western troop casualties in the south, commanders say.
Three U.S. soldiers were killed Thursday when their vehicle was attacked by a roadside bomb followed by a small-arms attack, a military statement said. On Monday, two roadside bombings in eastern Afghanistan killed four American soldiers.
The Americans, though, hope that the arriving contingents’ air power, which represents a quadrupling of aircraft based at Kandahar, will prove a pivotal weapon in the fight against roadside bombs, among other things.
“We’ve got lots more eyes on them now, and they’ll get to understand that very soon,” said Bricker, the aviation brigade commander.
A bigger helicopter fleet allows closer surveillance of the south’s long stretches of desert roadways, where signs like disturbed earth or nighttime activity can pinpoint the location of bombs.
Still, the presence of such large numbers of troops and aircraft could result in higher casualties, not only for U.S. forces but for Afghan civilians as well. Coalition forces rely on air power, but it can be difficult at times to distinguish civilians from combatants.
Afghans were infuriated last month by what might have been the war’s worst instance of civilian deaths caused by Western forces: as many as 140 villagers killed in U.S. airstrikes in Farah province, according to the Afghan government. The American military puts the figure at 20 to 30.
As is always the case with such a sizable deployment, some deaths will occur from causes other than direct clashes with insurgents.
The military is investigating the cause of the May 22 Apache crash in Oruzgan province that killed the highly decorated pilot in Bricker’s unit, Chief Warrant Officer Brent S. Cole. The other crew member was seriously injured but survived.
In Kandahar, the south’s main city, there is hope and skepticism on the part of Afghans in the face of the new U.S. push. Particularly in outlying areas, residents say, foreign forces often temporarily establish a zone of safety, but the insurgents return when the troops are occupied elsewhere.
“Of course we would like our part of the country to be peaceful, after so much time,” said Najib Ali Khan, a wheat merchant in the city. “And, of course, the Taliban will sometimes decide to leave a particular area. But they are never gone for good.”
[The question remains: Is the de-population of the NWFP a consequence of the Army operation or the objective? Is the Army forcing millions to leave their homes in order to prove to the Americans that their offensive against the Taliban is real, or to intentionally remove Pakistanis from America's intended battlefield?]
By James Cogan
5 June 2009
The arrival of Obama administration special envoy Richard Holbrooke in Pakistan on Wednesday serves to underscore that the massive military operation taking place in the country’s north-west is a proxy war on behalf on US imperialism. As part of completing the transformation of Afghanistan into a client-state in Central Asia, Obama is demanding that the Pakistani government suppress the local Islamist movements that lend support to the Afghan resistance over the border.
As many as 20,000 Pakistani troops and other security forces are now involved in an offensive to secure the three districts of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) known as the Malakand Division—Buner, Lower Dir and Swat Valley. The target is the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), or the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, which largely took control of Malakand over the past two years.
The TNSM has gained support primarily as a result of the desperate poverty of the population and the outrage among ethnic Pashtuns in the NWFP and Pakistan’s tribal agencies over the US invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan. Numbers of TNSM loyalists from the Swat Valley are believed to have crossed the border to assist the guerrilla war being waged against the US and NATO forces occupying that country.
Holbrooke’s talks with President Asif Ali Zadari and Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani on Wednesday were essentially to insist that the offensive against the TNSM continue, regardless of the social consequences for millions of people in NWFP or even the political costs for the Pakistani government.
The Pakistani military operations have the character of indiscriminate collective punishment against the ethnic Pashtun population of the region. Towns and villages have been bombed from the air and ground in order to force civilians to flee. Where advancing troops have found civilians, they have ordered them out of their homes. Thousands of semi-subsistence farmers have been compelled to abandon their fields and livestock at the time when they need to harvest their crops, creating the conditions for intense hardship later in the year.
The number of internally displaced persons is currently estimated to be as high as 2.5 million. The bulk of the displaced have found temporary shelter with relatives or sympathetic strangers, but at least 200,000 have been forced into overcrowded and squalid refugee camps. Sweltering summer temperatures, combined with shortages of fresh water, are heightening the danger of disease outbreaks.
Over the weekend, the Pakistani military claimed full control of Mingora, the main city in the Swat Valley. The few journalists who were able to visit the city described it as a virtual ghost town. Most of the 300,000 inhabitants had fled. Fewer than 20,000 remained, in many cases because they were elderly or infirm and could not move. Numerous buildings and homes had been destroyed or damaged as a result of weeks of fighting.
Since late April, the military claims to have killed over 1,300 Islamists—and taken just 50 prisoners. Some 90 soldiers have died. There is no estimate of how many civilians have lost their lives or been wounded, but reports filed by aid agencies and journalists suggest the number could be substantial.
Fazil Tezara of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) told Reuters on Monday: “A lot of people have been wounded in the fighting but there are no medical services in many areas like Mingora. Wounded people are trying to get to the nearest hospital in Timergara [the main city in the adjoining district of Lower Dir] but that is a seven-day trek through mountains and people are dying on the way, and their bodies are just lying there.”
A Mingora resident who stayed in the city during the fighting told the Associated Press on Sunday: “We have been starving for many days. We have been cooking tree leaves to keep ourselves alive. Thank god it is over. We need food. We need help. We want peace.”
An International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson, Sebastian Brack, voiced concern over the tens of thousands of people still trapped in parts of the Swat Valley. “There is a great deal of anxiety in Swat,” he said, “as people have been cut off from the rest of the world for several weeks and they have no idea what is going on. Health supplies are virtually non-existent and there are numerous cases of wounded people. [There is] no water and food, no electricity and phone lines are down, so we need to start relief work there as soon as possible.”
Even limited relief work is being hindered by the lack of resources and access to many areas. A UN appeal for $543 million in international contributions has received just $120 million. Holbrooke announced on Wednesday that the US would contribute a further $200 million but did not specify a timeframe. During visits to the Middle East over the weekend, he is expected to pressure the oil-rich Arab Gulf states to make substantial contributions to shore up the Pakistani government.
Long before any assistance reaches the millions of displaced, however, their plight is set to worsen. A Pakistani Army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, told the media on Thursday that it would take at least another two months to fully secure the Swat Valley and that troops would have to occupy the district for as long as a year.
The main TNSM leaders, cleric Sufi Mohammad and his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, have not been killed or captured, despite rewards of over $US60,000 being placed on their heads. Radio intercepts seen by the New York Times earlier this week indicate that Fazlullah is alive, hiding somewhere in the Swat Valley and still encouraging his loyalists to continue resistance.
Throughout this week, ongoing military operations have hunted down militants who are believed to have fled from Mingora into the mountainous countryside. On Wednesday, Pakistani forces said they had secured the town of Charbagh, some 30 kilometres north of Mingora, and captured a large quantity of weapons and explosives. Clashes have also been reported between Charbagh and the town of Kalam, in the far north of the valley.
The ongoing fighting means that millions of people will not be able to return to their homes. As the families sheltering them run out of money and food, more and more will have to seek sanctuary in refugee camps. Daniel Baker of the UN Population Fund warned yesterday: “With the monsoon season fast approaching, concerns are growing about an increase in avoidable sickness and death due to disease outbreaks, such as acute respiratory infection, acute diarrhoea, malaria and meningitis.”
Another UN official, Manuel Bessler, commented that in some of the camps “food and essential medicines may not be sustainable beyond early July unless the international community rapidly and generously responds to these acute needs”.
Even as the disaster unfolds in NWFP, the Pakistani military is planning a larger attack on the tribal agencies of South and North Waziristan. These areas, which border Afghanistan, are the stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban and the main safe haven for Afghan insurgents. The destruction of the Taliban in Waziristan is a major objective of US military’s plan to bring Afghanistan under control. It is the key demand of the Obama administration and would have been communicated again to the Pakistani government by Holbrooke.
Aid agencies operating to the south of Waziristan are making preparations for a flood of refugees if and when the military launches an offensive.
Michael Young, a director for the International Rescue Committee, told Reuters this week: “All the signs are that this conflict will escalate in the next couple of weeks. There is real potential for a humanitarian catastrophe. We’re preparing the best we can, given the limited funding currently available…. We’re planning on the basis of upwards of half-a-million more people forced to flee their homes in the tribal agencies.”
19 September 2001
BY NORM DIXON
“Throughout the world … its agents, client states and satellites are on the defensive — on the moral defensive, the intellectual defensive, and the political and economic defensive. Freedom movements arise and assert themselves. They’re doing so on almost every continent populated by man — in the hills of Afghanistan, in Angola, in Kampuchea, in Central America … [They are] freedom fighters.”
Is this a call to jihad (holy war) taken from one of Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden’s notorious fatwas? Or perhaps a communique issued by the repressive Taliban regime in Kabul?
In fact, this glowing praise of the murderous exploits of today’s supporters of arch-terrorist bin Laden and his Taliban collaborators, and their holy war against the “evil empire”, was issued by US President Ronald Reagan on March 8, 1985. The “evil empire” was the Soviet Union, as well as Third World movements fighting US-backed colonialism, apartheid and dictatorship.
How things change. In the aftermath of a series of terrorist atrocities — the most despicable being the mass murder of more than 6000 working people in New York and Washington on September 11 — bin Laden the “freedom fighter” is now lambasted by US leaders and the Western mass media as a “terrorist mastermind” and an “evil-doer”.
Yet the US government refuses to admit its central role in creating the vicious movement that spawned bin Laden, the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalist terrorists that plague Algeria and Egypt — and perhaps the disaster that befell New York.
The mass media has also downplayed the origins of bin Laden and his toxic brand of Islamic fundamentalism.
In April 1978, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan in reaction to a crackdown against the party by that country’s repressive government.
The PDPA was committed to a radical land reform that favoured the peasants, trade union rights, an expansion of education and social services, equality for women and the separation of church and state. The PDPA also supported strengthening Afghanistan’s relationship with the Soviet Union.
Such policies enraged the wealthy semi-feudal landlords, the Muslim religious establishment (many mullahs were also big landlords) and the tribal chiefs. They immediately began organising resistance to the government’s progressive policies, under the guise of defending Islam.
Washington, fearing the spread of Soviet influence (and worse the new government’s radical example) to its allies in Pakistan, Iran and the Gulf states, immediately offered support to the Afghan mujaheddin, as the “contra” force was known.
Following an internal PDPA power struggle in December 1979 which toppled Afghanistan’s leader, thousands of Soviet troops entered the country to prevent the new government’s fall. This only galvanised the disparate fundamentalist factions. Their reactionary jihad now gained legitimacy as a “national liberation” struggle in the eyes of many Afghans.
The Soviet Union was eventually to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989 and the mujaheddin captured the capital, Kabul, in 1992.
Between 1978 and 1992, the US government poured at least US$6 billion (some estimates range as high as $20 billion) worth of arms, training and funds to prop up the mujaheddin factions. Other Western governments, as well as oil-rich Saudi Arabia, kicked in as much again. Wealthy Arab fanatics, like Osama bin Laden, provided millions more.
Washington’s policy in Afghanistan was shaped by US President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and was continued by his successors. His plan went far beyond simply forcing Soviet troops to withdraw; rather it aimed to foster an international movement to spread Islamic fanaticism into the Muslim Central Asian Soviet republics to destabilise the Soviet Union.
Brzezinski’s grand plan coincided with Pakistan military dictator General Zia ul-Haq’s own ambitions to dominate the region. US-run Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe beamed Islamic fundamentalist tirades across Central Asia (while paradoxically denouncing the “Islamic revolution” that toppled the pro-US Shah of Iran in 1979).
Washington’s favoured mujaheddin faction was one of the most extreme, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The West’s distaste for terrorism did not apply to this unsavoury “freedom fighter”. Hekmatyar was notorious in the 1970s for throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil.
After the mujaheddin took Kabul in 1992, Hekmatyar’s forces rained US-supplied missiles and rockets on that city — killing at least 2000 civilians — until the new government agreed to give him the post of prime minister. Osama bin Laden was a close associate of Hekmatyar and his faction.
Hekmatyar was also infamous for his side trade in the cultivation and trafficking in opium. Backing of the mujaheddin from the CIA coincided with a boom in the drug business. Within two years, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was the world’s single largest source of heroin, supplying 60% of US drug users.
In 1995, the former director of the CIA’s operation in Afghanistan was unrepentant about the explosion in the flow of drugs: “Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets… There was a fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.”
Made in the USA
According to Ahmed Rashid, a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, in 1986 CIA chief William Casey committed CIA support to a long-standing ISI proposal to recruit from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. At least 100,000 Islamic militants flocked to Pakistan between 1982 and 1992 (some 60,000 attended fundamentalist schools in Pakistan without necessarily taking part in the fighting).
John Cooley, a former journalist with the US ABC television network and author of Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, has revealed that Muslims recruited in the US for the mujaheddin were sent to Camp Peary, the CIA’s spy training camp in Virginia, where young Afghans, Arabs from Egypt and Jordan, and even some African-American “black Muslims” were taught “sabotage skills”.
The November 1, 1998, British Independent reported that one of those charged with the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Ali Mohammed, had trained “bin Laden’s operatives” in 1989.
These “operatives” were recruited at the al Kifah Refugee Centre in Brooklyn, New York, given paramilitary training in the New York area and then sent to Afghanistan with US assistance to join Hekmatyar’s forces. Mohammed was a member of the US army’s elite Green Berets.
The program, reported the Independent, was part of a Washington-approved plan called “Operation Cyclone”.
In Pakistan, recruits, money and equipment were distributed to the mujaheddin factions by an organisation known as Maktab al Khidamar (Office of Services — MAK).
MAK was a front for Pakistan’s CIA, the Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate. The ISI was the first recipient of the vast bulk of CIA and Saudi Arabian covert assistance for the Afghan contras. Bin Laden was one of three people who ran MAK. In 1989, he took overall charge of MAK.
Among those trained by Mohammed were El Sayyid Nosair, who was jailed in 1995 for killing Israeli rightist Rabbi Meir Kahane and plotting with others to bomb New York landmarks, including the World Trade Center in 1993.
The Independent also suggested that Shiekh Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian religious leader also jailed for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, was also part of Operation Cyclone. He entered the US in 1990 with the CIA’s approval. A confidential CIA report concluded that the agency was “partly culpable” for the 1993 World Trade Center blast, the Independent reported.
Osama bin Laden, one of 20 sons of a billionaire construction magnate, arrived in Afghanistan to join the jihad in 1980. An austere religious fanatic and business tycoon, bin Laden specialised in recruiting, financing and training the estimated 35,000 non-Afghan mercenaries who joined the mujaheddin.
The bin Laden family is a prominent pillar of the Saudi Arabian ruling class, with close personal, financial and political ties to that country’s pro-US royal family.
Bin Laden senior was appointed Saudi Arabia’s minister of public works as a favour by King Faisal. The new minister awarded his own construction companies lucrative contracts to rebuild Islam’s holiest mosques in Mecca and Medina. In the process, the bin Laden family company in 1966 became the world’s largest private construction company.
Osama bin Laden’s father died in 1968. Until 1994, he had access to the dividends from this ill-gotten business empire.
(Bin Laden junior’s oft-quoted personal fortune of US$200-300 million has been arrived at by the US State Department by dividing today’s value of the bin Laden family net worth — estimated to be US$5 billion — by the number of bin Laden senior’s sons. A fact rarely mentioned is that in 1994 the bin Laden family disowned Osama and took control of his share.)
Osama’s military and business adventures in Afghanistan had the blessing of the bin Laden dynasty and the reactionary Saudi Arabian regime. His close working relationship with MAK also meant that the CIA was fully aware of his activities.
Milt Bearden, the CIA’s station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, admitted to the January 24, 2000, New Yorker that while he never personally met bin Laden, “Did I know that he was out there? Yes, I did … [Guys like] bin Laden were bringing $20-$25 million a month from other Saudis and Gulf Arabs to underwrite the war. And that is a lot of money. It’s an extra $200-$300 million a year. And this is what bin Laden did.”
In 1986, bin Laden brought heavy construction equipment from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan. Using his extensive knowledge of construction techniques (he has a degree in civil engineering), he built “training camps”, some dug deep into the sides of mountains, and built roads to reach them.
These camps, now dubbed “terrorist universities” by Washington, were built in collaboration with the ISI and the CIA. The Afghan contra fighters, including the tens of thousands of mercenaries recruited and paid for by bin Laden, were armed by the CIA. Pakistan, the US and Britain provided military trainers.
Tom Carew, a former British SAS soldier who secretly fought for the mujaheddin told the August 13, 2000, British Observer, “The Americans were keen to teach the Afghans the techniques of urban terrorism — car bombing and so on — so that they could strike at the Russians in major towns … Many of them are now using their knowledge and expertise to wage war on everything they hate.”
Al Qaeda (the Base), bin Laden’s organisation, was established in 1987-88 to run the camps and other business enterprises. It is a tightly-run capitalist holding company — albeit one that integrates the operations of a mercenary force and related logistical services with “legitimate” business operations.
Bin Laden has simply continued to do the job he was asked to do in Afghanistan during the 1980s — fund, feed and train mercenaries. All that has changed is his primary customer. Then it was the ISI and, behind the scenes, the CIA. Today, his services are utilised primarily by the reactionary Taliban regime.
Bin Laden only became a “terrorist” in US eyes when he fell out with the Saudi royal family over its decision to allow more than 540,000 US troops to be stationed on Saudi soil following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
When thousands of US troops remained in Saudi Arabia after the end of the Gulf War, bin Laden’s anger turned to outright opposition. He declared that Saudi Arabia and other regimes — such as Egypt — in the Middle East were puppets of the US, just as the PDPA government of Afghanistan had been a puppet of the Soviet Union.
He called for the overthrow of these client regimes and declared it the duty of all Muslims to drive the US out of the Gulf states. In 1994, he was stripped of his Saudi citizenship and forced to leave the country. His assets there were frozen.
After a period in Sudan, he returned to Afghanistan in May 1996. He refurbished the camps he had helped build during the Afghan war and offered the facilities and services — and thousands of his mercenaries — to the Taliban, which took power that September.
Today, bin Laden’s private army of non-Afghan religious fanatics is a key prop of the Taliban regime.
Prior to the devastating September 11 attack on the twin towers of World Trade Center, US ruling-class figures remained unrepentant about the consequences of their dirty deals with the likes of bin Laden, Hekmatyar and the Taliban. Since the awful attack, they have been downright hypocritical.
In an August 28, 1998, report posted on MSNBC, Michael Moran quotes Senator Orrin Hatch, who was a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee which approved US dealings with the mujaheddin, as saying he would make “the same call again”, even knowing what bin Laden would become.
“It was worth it. Those were very important, pivotal matters that played an important role in the downfall of the Soviet Union.”
Hatch today is one of the most gung-ho voices demanding military retaliation.
Another face that has appeared repeatedly on television screens since the attack has been Vincent Cannistrano, described as a former CIA chief of “counter-terrorism operations”.
Cannistrano is certainly an expert on terrorists like bin Laden, because he directed their “work”. He was in charge of the CIA-backed Nicaraguan contras during the early 1980s. In 1984, he became the supervisor of covert aid to the Afghan mujaheddin for the US National Security Council.
The last word goes to Zbigniew Brzezinski: “What was more important in the world view of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”
Fomenting the “Clash of Civilizations” for a New World Order
Peter D. Goodgame
The Muslim Brotherhood – The Globalists’ Secret Weapon
I. The Roots of Islamic Terrorism
II. Creating the ‘Arc of Crisis’
III. The Muslim Brotherhood Branches Out
IV. Osama Bin Laden: The Early Years
V. Bin Laden In Exile
VI. World Trade Center 1993
VII. Bin Laden’s Money Problems
VIII. The Brotherhood Revolution Continues
June 4, 2009
According to The Washington Times, U.S. counterterrorism officials have “authenticated” a video by a supposed al-Qaeda recruiter who claims he has the ability to smuggle a biological weapon into the United States via tunnels under the Mexico border. In the video, Abdullah al-Nafisi also suggests that al-Qaeda might want to collaborate with “members of native U.S. white supremacist militias who hate the federal government.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” document conflates “white supremacists” with the militia movement, advocates of the Second Amendment, activists opposed to illegal immigration, and other loosely defined “antigovernment” groups. The Strategic Analysis Group, Homeland Environment and
Threat Analysis Division of the DHS created the document during the Bush administration and it was revived by the incoming the Obama administration. Veterans in particular took exception to the report because it claims “returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.”
The Abdullah al-Nafisi “recruitment” video first surfaced on the Arabic news network Al Jazeera in February and was later posted on several web sites. It was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the notorious disinformation outfit linked to Israeli intelligence. Mossad and the IDF are infamous for planting stories in the media and engaging in psychological warfare.
MEMRI concentrates primarily on discrediting Palestinian and Arab nationalists and was co-founded by the neocon Meyrav Wurmser (married to David Wurmser, Cheney’s Principal Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs) and Colonel Yigal Carmon, formerly of Israeli military intelligence. “Besides Carmon, several MEMRI staffers are former Israeli intelligence specialists. Especially troubling are suspected links between MEMRI and the current Israeli intelligence establishment,” Lawrence Swaim of InFocus wrote in 2007.
“MEMRI is a main arm of Israeli propaganda,” explains professor Norman G. Finkelstein, a well-known scholar on Israel and Palestine. It is “a Mossad operation pretending to be a media translation service.” Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA case officer, says “they (MEMRI) are selective and act as propagandists for their political point of view, which is the extreme-right of Likud.”
The group receives funding from the usual neocon suspects, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Randolph Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation. In addition to the MEMRI propaganda effort, these foundations also fund the American Enterprise Institute, the Project for the New American Century, and importantly the Council on Foreign Relations. MEMRI has threatened to use “SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against critics, most notably the journalist Juan Cole.
Sean Smith, a spokesman for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, said the U.S. takes the Abdullah al-Nafisi “recruitment” video seriously. “We can never stop being vigilant while there are individuals who seek to do harm on the American people,” he said.
“In the US, there are more than 300,000 white militia members, who are calling to attack the federal government in Washington, and to banish the Arabs, the Jews, and the negroes [sic] from the US. These are racist people. They are called ‘rednecks.’ The Ku Klux Klan. They are racists,” al-Nafisi declares in a MEMRI translation. “These militias even think about bombing nuclear plants within the US. May Allah grant them success, even though we are not white, or even close to it, right? They have plans to bomb the nuclear plant at Lake Michigan. This plant is very important. It supplies electricity to all of North Africa [sic]. May Allah grant success to one of these militia leaders, who is thinking about bombing this plant. I believe that we should devote part of our prayers to him. We should pray that Allah grants him success, so he can complete this mission, and we will be able to visit him and congratulate him, Allah willing.”
Abdallah al-Nafisi’s ludicrous assertion that militia members plan to bomb U.S. nuclear plants echoes the DHS claim that the militias are dangerous and recruiting returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to engage in “antigovernment” violence by playing on “several emergent issues,” including a racist hatred of “the first African American president” and a faltering economy.
A Google search of al-Nafisi’s claim that “white supremacists” allegedly aligned with the militia movement plan to blow up U.S. nuclear plants does not return any results.
The Arab newspaper Al-Ahram has connected al-Nafisi to the Muslim Brotherhood. The “Muslim Brotherhood was created, infiltrated, or at least promoted by British Intelligence,” writes Peter D. Goodgame (The Globalists and the Islamists: Fomenting the “Clash of Civilizations” for a New World Order). In addition, the CIA funded the Muslim Brotherhood as a wedge against Arab nationalism, specifically against Gamal Abddul Nasser’s nationalist policies in Egypt (see Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, and Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam).
It is now a well-documented fact that al-Qaeda is a western intelligence operation. For a detailed explanation on how the CIA, in collaboration with Pakistan’s ISI, created the al-Qaeda myth, see Norm Dixon’s How the CIA created Osama bin Laden. The current president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, told NBC’s David Gregory last month that Osama bin Laden was an “operator” for the United States. Zardari’s claim was all but ignored by the corporate media.
“The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida,” said British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. “And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US.”
In January of 2008, the al-Qaeda myth expanded to include the cooked up specter of a “white al-Qaeda.” According to the Scotsman, al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen have converted white non-Muslims. “The trend is well established in the United States. American-born Adam Gadahn is one of the FBI’s top 10 most-wanted terrorists after converting to Islam and rising through al-Qaeda’s ranks to become a prominent spokesman.” Fox News amplified this phony threat. “If they can recruit a Scandinavian, that’s the holy grail for them.” Mike Baker, a former CIA agent and professional counter-terrorism expert, told Fox. “They need people who can move around freely and do their bidding.”
Now we are told al-Qaeda may collaborate with “white supremacists” and unleash an anthrax attack on the White House lawn. It remains to be seen if the lunatic ravings of Abdullah al-Nafisi — a probable intelligence asset — will be incorporated in the emerging DHS fairy tale designed to discredit and criminalize legitimate activism in the United States.
Fox has launched a propaganda campaign on the phony threat (see video above). Glenn Beck says he has talked about the “threat” supposedly posed by “white supremacist militias” for some time. In late 2007, Beck and guest David Horowitz — a virulent Muslim hater and Zionist shill — characterized “Ron Paul supporters, libertarians and the anti-war left as terrorist sympathizers and inferred that the U.S. military should be used to silence them, parroting a talking point that traces back to a September 2006 White House directive,” according to Paul Joseph Watson. “I think it’s very significant he (Ron Paul) chose Guy Fawkes as an image,” said Horowitz. Ron Paul never made the comparison.
If the comments of DHS spokesman Sean Smith are to be taken at face value, the government is already in the process of rolling MEMRI’s blatant propaganda into the effort to characterize activism as a dire threat to the homeland.
[The discovery of this enormous petroleum deposit, like the recent discovery off Brazil's coast, should deflate the peak oil theory and the incentive behind Asia's pipeline wars, but it won't. Tell Brzezinski to throw away the "Grand Chessboard."]
Date Posted: Tuesday 02-Jun-2009
By Edris Kisambira
Kampala – Uganda’s oil reserves could be as much as that of the Gulf countries, a senior official at the US Department of Energy has said.
Based on the test flow results encountered at the wells so far drilled and other oil numbers, Ms. Sally Kornfeld, a senior analyst in the office of fossil energy went ahead to talk about Uganda’s oil reservoirs in the same sentence as Saudi Arabia.
“You are blessed with amazing reservoirs. Your reservoirs are incredible. I am amazed by what I have seen, you might rival Saudi Arabia,” Kornfeld told a visiting delegation from Uganda in Washington DC.
The group of Ugandans was in Washington on an international visitor programme and looked at the efficient use of natural energy resources.
The group comprised Ministry of Energy officials, a Member of Parliament, members from the civil society and one journalist.
At present, Uganda has four oil prospectors on the ground including Heritage Oil, Tullow Oil, Tower Oil and Dominion Oil.
Of the four prospectors, Tullow and Heritage have registered success at wells in two blocks in the Albertine basin, which lies in the upper-most part of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley.
According to data so far aggregated since the first discovery was made by Australian prospector Hardman Resources (now taken over by Tullow) in June 2006, Uganda has established reserves at 3.5 million barrels of oil per day.
Experts in oil exploration say this could be just a tip of the iceberg.
The sites are still building pressure and production might well exceed the current figures if what has happened elsewhere like Angola is anything to go by.
Flow tests at various wells have indicated flow rates ranging from as low as 1,500 to highs of 14,000 barrels per day. According to earlier releases, the prospectors are now certain that the commercial threshold for development has been exceeded.
Mr. Aidan Heavy, Tullow Oil’s chief executive officer revealed early in the year that they assigned a dedicated team of experts to deliver a commercial development plan for the entire basin.
In April last year, Tullow embarked on what it termed as a major drilling campaign in the Butiaba area around Lake Albert targeting an overall reserve potential in excess of a billion barrels.
The Butiaba campaign was preceded by successes in two drilling campaigns in the Kaiso-Tonya area and the Kingfisher field and all these have been 100% successes so far.
The Butiaba campaign has thrown up successes but the two biggest so far have been the Buffalo-Giraffe wells – described as “one of the largest recent onshore oil discoveries in Africa”.
“Combined with our other finds in the region, we have now clearly exceeded the thresholds for basin development,” the chief executive of Tullow commented then.
The Giraffe-1 exploration well, which is located in the Butiaba region, came up with over 38 metres of net oil pay within an 89-metre gross oil bearing interval.
The data from the Giraffe discovery indicate a net reservoir thickness of 38 metres, the largest encountered in the area to date.
The Buffalo-1 exploration well in Block 1 encountered 15 metres of net gas pay and over 28 metres of net oil pay.
The gas and oil columns encountered are 48 metres and 75 metres respectively with the potential to be even larger.
As Kornfeld marveled at Uganda’s oil finds, she was quick to add that for the country to benefit from the oil and gas resources but also avoid the pitfalls of oil producing countries like Nigeria, it is extremely important to set up strong governance structures.
Kornfeld and the other United States officials said they are ready to help Uganda’s nascent oil and gas sector with anything including the key environmental issues that are crucial to the efficient management of oil and gas.
“Anything you might want us to help you with we will and we have a lot of expertise in environmental issues relating to oil and gas,” Kornfeld said.
Original date published: 2 June 2009
June 6, 2009
by Henry Makow Ph.D.
Did you know that Simon Cowell, the acerbic judge on American Idol, is half-Jewish?
British Jews keep a low profile but they are extremely influential. Just take a glance at this Jewish Hall of Fame. Similarly, it is hardly known that the British aristocracy largely is half-Jewish too, and that, in the words of L.G. Pine, Editor of Burke’s Peerage, “the Jews have made themselves so closely connected with the British peerage that the two classes are unlikely to suffer loss which is not mutual.” (219)
This is confirmed by British social critic Hilaire Belloc who described the British Empire as a partnership between Jewish finance and the British aristocracy.
“After Waterloo  London became the money market and the clearing house of the world. The interests of the Jew as a financial dealer and the interests of this great commercial polity approximated more and more. One may say that by the last third of the nineteenth century, they had become virtually identical.” (“The Jews” 1922)
In the next few articles, I am going to explore the thesis that the British Empire was a Masonic proxy, and that British & American imperialism derived its moxie from the perverse desire of Cabalist bankers to own and control everything. The bankers (i.e. the “Crown”) colonized England & the US as well as the world. The “Jewish Conspiracy” was the British Empire now repackaged as the New World Order. Of course, now it encompasses everyone with a stake in “globalism.”
Before I commence this heavy lifting, it being the weekend, I want to regale you with Pine’s amusing account of “Jewish infiltration into the aristocracy.” ( “The Anglo Jewish Peerage” in “Tales of the British Aristocracy” 1956, pp.217-223.)
Pine is outspoken in a way few people are today. He says that for every Rothschild or Disraeli, there were “10 cases of Jewish connection which are now forgotten. The reason is that in many cases “Jewish origin is concealed.” (218)
The marriage of Jewish finance and British aristocracy took place literally. Spendthrift gentry married the daughters of rich Jews.
Pine scorns the British aristocracy: “A man is not usually thought the more of, because he has married a woman for her money…An ancient estate is likely to be sold unless some large sums are found. The sums are found from marriage with a Jewish heiress…”
An outstanding example is the marriage of the 5th Earl of Roseberry who married the only daughter and heiress of Baron Mayer de Rothschild and later became Prime Minister. “She stayed in the Jewish religion but her children were educated as Christians…The alliances between Jewish ladies and British lords are mostly of this type, the wife providing large sums…while the aristocrat has the title and ancient estate. The children are able to look back upon a varied bag of ancestors.”
Pine obviously does not approve of these parvenus: “There can be no question that the British Peerage is now very much diluted with Jewish blood and has many connections among its most ancient and august families with those who only a few generations ago were inhabitants of the Ghetto.”
But he opines that England’s enfeebled elite may need this protection from the “forces of recvolution”:
“The power of money is very great and as almost every liberal newspaper is under Jewish influence it follows that the forces of revolution when directed against the peers are likely to meet with as determined an opposition from the Jewish kinfolk of the aristocracy…”
L.G. Pine needn’t worry about the “forces of revolution” since they were created by Jewish finance to concentrate power and wealth in their own hands. This will find its apogee in the New World Order.
The “Jewish Conspiracy” may indeed be the British Empire, and the “Jews” may in fact be the Masonic British aristocracy who regard themselves as Jews, and often are. They consider themselves one of the lost tribes of Israel, the real “Chosen People.” The word “Brit” apparently derives from the Hebrew for “pact” or “covenant” ( i.e. the Jewish Covenant with God.) Members of the British royal family are circumcised by a Jewish mohel.
All I can say is, the Tribe is not whom I thought!
Terror’s Proud Merchants: The VHP and the Bajrang Dal in Gujarat were indistinguishable from terror outfits, manufacturing and distributing bombs, rocket launchers and firearms across the state.
by Arundhati Roy
He has taken to naming, demonising and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces. My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to the camera; “Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan,” he said, “I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting.” For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today amounts to incitement as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.
(Left) Hands in Glove Nirendra Modi & Praveen Togadiya
So according to a man aspiring to be India’s next prime minister, and another who is the public face of a mainstream TV channel, citizens have no right to raise questions about the police. This in a country with a shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake ‘encounters’. This in a country that boasts of the highest number of custodial deaths in the world and yet refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Torture. A country where the ones who make it to torture chambers are the lucky ones because at least they’ve escaped being ‘encountered’ by our encounter specialists. A country where the line between the Underworld and the Encounter Specialists virtually does not exist.
How should those of us whose hearts have been sickened by the knowledge of all of this view the Mumbai attacks, and what are we to do about them? There are those who point out that US strategy has been successful inasmuch as the United States has not suffered a major attack on its home ground since 9/11. However, some would say that what America is suffering now is far worse. If the idea behind the 9/11 terror attacks was to goad America into showing its true colours, what greater success could the terrorists have asked for? The US army is bogged down in two unwinnable wars, which have made the United States the most hated country in the world. Those wars have contributed greatly to the unravelling of the American economy and, who knows, perhaps eventually the American empire. (Could it be that battered, bombed Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet Union, will be the undoing of this one too?)Hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands of American soldiers, have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The frequency of terrorist strikes on US allies / agents (including India) and US interests in the rest of the world has increased dramatically since 9/11. George Bush, the man who led the US response to 9/11, is a despised figure not just internationally but also by his own people. Who can possibly claim that the United States is winning the war on terror?
Homeland security has cost the US government billions of dollars. Few countries, certainly not India, can afford that sort of price tag. But even if we could, the fact is that this vast homeland of ours cannot be secured or policed in the way the United States has been. It’s not that kind of homeland. We have a hostile nuclear weapons state that is slowly spinning out of control as a neighbour, we have a military occupation in Kashmir, and a shamefully persecuted, impoverished minority of more than a hundred and fifty million Muslims who are being targeted as a community and pushed to the wall, whose young see no justice on the horizon, and who, were they to totally lose hope and radicalise, end up as a threat not just to India, but to the whole world. If 10 men can hold off the NSG commandos and the police for three days, and if it takes half-a-million soldiers to hold down the Kashmir Valley, do the math. What kind of Homeland Security can secure India?
Nor for that matter will any other quick fix. Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they’re for people that governments don’t like. That’s why they have a conviction rate of less than two per cent. They’re just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go. Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It’s what they want.
What we’re experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet’s squelching under our feet.
The only way to contain (it would be naive to say end) terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We’re standing at a fork in the road. One sign says ‘Justice’, the other ‘Civil War’. There’s no third sign and there’s no going back. Choose.Concluded.Source
The irony is that the UN has more guts to criticize US drone policy than the Pakistani government whose 700 innocent citizens, mostly women and children, have been killed in exchange for 12 or 16 al Qaeda terrorists, whose death reports are questionable at best, considering that all US intelligence reports in recent years have been cooked.
By AHMED QURAISHI
Friday, 5 June 2009.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—President Obama’s special envoy Richard Holbrooke landed the pro-U.S. Pakistani government in trouble when he told journalists that the issue of CIA-manned drones that have killed hundreds of innocent Pakistanis was not even raised in any one of his several meetings with senior Pakistani officials in the Pakistani capital.
Mr. Holbrooke’s terse answer during a briefing stunned Pakistanis who thought the controversial drones were at least the second most important issue on government’s list after the issue of the refugees from the military operation against terrorists.
Not so, said Mr. Holbrooke. In answer to the question, he simply said the subject did not come up in two days of meetings in the Pakistani capital, where he met pretty much everyone except maybe the editor of this report.
Most people who watched the briefing on Pakistani TV news bulletins were shocked. After all, even the United Nations criticized the U.S. for the huge number of innocent deaths and called for an investigation into American attacks.
This was quite bold compared to the position of the Pakistani government that did not even care to raise the issue with Holbrooke. CIA continues to attack innocent Pakistanis inside Pakistan even when almost three million innocent Pakistanis have become homeless in their own country thanks to American policies.
Realizing this doesn’t look good, the government went into damage control. In less than a couple of hours from Holbrooke’s briefing, Foreign Office spokesman issued a statement today evening saying, ‘The government and people of Pakistan are concerned about the drone attacks.’
At the same time, Prime Minister Gilani, who was strangely kept out of the meeting Holbrooke held with President Zardari and Foreign Minister Qureshi, came out today evening to repeat the government’s position on the drones and how they don’t help the fight against terrorism.
Government’s spokespeople at various levels were on the defensive insisting that the issue was raised between Holbrooke and his Pakistani hosts.
So it basically comes down to this: One of the two, Holbrooke and the Pakistani government, is a liar.
We have every reason to believe that the liar here is the Zardari-Gilani government, and here’s why.
This is the second time that Mr. Holbrooke is seen in the Pakistani capital in somber mood. His earlier gung-ho demeanor is missing.
The last time he was here, Pakistani officials gave him a tough time the like of which he has not seen in his recent illustrious career. Gone is the famous Holbrooke swagger. The so-called ‘Af-Pak’ is taking Holbrooke down. The man who came to office with admirers trumpeting his successes in Bosnia more than a decade ago seems to be humbled now by the complex nature of the American mess in Afghanistan.
Holbrooke was brutally honest in the press conference today in Islamabad. The drone comment was one example. But there was another one. When a reporter asked him if the Pakistani military action in Swat has squeezed al Qaeda, Holbrooke surprised everyone by simply saying, ‘I don’t know.’ Reporters laughed when he added that he sat down in Washington ‘with the people who should know’ about this, a veiled reference to American spy agencies, and they didn’t know the answer to that question, he said, partly laughing.
This was a very clear-headed, humble and honest Holbrooke. He wouldn’t cover up for the Pakistani government or for CIA. He knew what he said would embarrass CIA and the Pakistani government but why should he take the heat for them? Deep down Mr. Holbrooke knows this whole American project in Afghanistan is going bust. It is headed for a disaster and Holbrooke is not ready to shoulder the blame when that happens. The Pakistani government and the CIA will have to bear their share, and it is a huge share.
Meanwhile, 40 Pakistanis were killed in a mosque in Upper Dir near the Afghan border. Naturally this is not a charm offensive by the Afghan Taliban or the so-called Pakistani Taliban or Al Qaeda to win support. This is anti-Pakistan terrorism planned and financed from the U.S.-controlled Afghan soil. Obviously the CIA, the Indians and Karzai’s intelligence have something to do with the ruthlessly trained terrorists pouring in from Afghanistan into Pakistan to kill and maim Pakistanis. It’s payback for a non-cooperative Pakistan and to convince Pakistanis that this is ‘their war.’
Mr. Holbrooke will be leaving the Pakistani capital without any Pakistani official publicly reprimanding him for the endless supply of American weapons that the terrorists in Pakistan are using to kill Pakistanis.
[Doesn't the esteemed ambassador realize what happened the last time Pakistan tried to fence the border to stop Taliban incursions? SEE: Afghan, Pakistani Troops Battle Over Border Fence]
That Sir Mortimer Durand was the statesman consummate he has left irrefutable proof thereof. In the early autumn of 1893, Durand left Peshawar for Kabul and stayed there as a special guest of Amir Abdur Rehman.
He returned to Peshawar two months later with the priceless trophy of the ‘Durand Line’ drawn between the British and Afghan areas of influence in the heretofore no-man’s Frontier region.
Those were not easy times either. British India had taken the railways into the heart of Afghan lands through the mythical Khojak Tunnel in the rugged Balochistan terrain. Amir Abdur Rehman was incensed and it appeared that the formidable Afghan emotions would be hard to cool down. Employing all the craft that he possessed, the Afghan amir had made stealthy arrangements to pen every single word that Durand, who spoke fluent Persian, uttered during their fateful meetings.
But all such moves on the part of the Afghan ruler came to naught as an astute Durand carried the day through sifting and demarcating the respective spheres over which the two would have the right to exercise suzerainty.
More than a century later, Durand lies buried in obscurity in the Christian cemetery in Dera Ismail Khan. The area all around is up in spiralling flames and the world knows little about how to put out the raging fire. Although the sanctity of the Line is scarcely known to have been observed owing to the fact that the same people have for eons lived on either side of it, it had a symbolically sobering effect on relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But new actors or non-state actors — the Taliban — have since emerged on the scene.
Britain has since been replaced by the US as the reigning power and Mr Richard Holbrooke has unwittingly been chosen to act as Mortimer Durand. That the approximately 2,200 km-long Line still lacks the stamp of a border shows the level of social, cultural, political, commercial and of late religious sensibilities and motives attached to its extremely volatile state of being.
Pashtun nationalist parties in Pakistan have for long loathed the idea of converting the Line into a permanent border on the grounds that it would deal a fatal blow to the dream of a greater Pakhtunistan. The most common nationalistic refrain until the 1980s and well into the mid-1990s, Lar ao bar yaw Afghan’ (‘the Afghans of the highlands of Afghanistan and the lowlands of the Frontier are one and the same people’) is still fresh in our memories although not really in fashion these days.
The sentiments on the other side of the Line have also been hard to understand and reconcile with as Afghan leaders have laid claim to lands far beyond where Pashtun demography has extended. Afghan President Hamid Karzai might not be of much credible use to his people but when it comes to unrestrained jingoism and outlandish chauvinism, there is no stopping him.
Mr Karzai would do well to step into the real world. The Durand Line is no more that same threshold through which Pashtun wedding and funeral processions would pass and neither does it merely serve as a conduit for the movement of Afghan transit trade. The passage is now a licit thoroughfare for Arab, Chechen, Uzbek and Tajik mercenaries and for the fulfilment of their macabre designs.
In order to prove himself as a true heir to Durand, it is these concerns that Holbrooke would be required to convey to Karzai. In a sense the US envoy would now be required to complete the job left unfinished by his predecessor by turning the Line into a permanent border and erecting an invincible fence along its length.
No doubt, fencing the Line, from its highest pinnacles in the extremities of north-western Chitral to Balochistan’s south, would be a colossal job to undertake in these troubled political and economic times. But there is no alternative to it. It is a wall that the world needs in order to make life difficult for the militants prancing around its perimeters at will. It should, therefore, be built by the civilised world as a bulwark against the forces of terror.
The financial part thus settled, the racial, social, cultural and linguist costs of the project should not impede its urgent undertaking. A solid example exists in our neighbourhood. India has built an over 4,000 km-long fence on its border with Bangladesh that literally encircles the latter and to good effect. The fence divides the western Bengalis from the eastern and few seem to mind it.
Pakistan has learned the lesson the hard way. The kind of resistance being put up by the militants in Swat and Waziristan and the infrastructure that they built while we looked away should now serve as an eye-opener. It is indeed shocking to see and hear some defeatist ideologues on our television screens still referring to the Taliban as our last line of defence against our neighbour on the eastern border.
These armchair ideologues wouldn’t like to hear that Afghans as a nation — Pashtun, Tajik or Uzbek — consider Pakistan as their bête noire and responsible for their endless afflictions and trauma.
Here is a chance to put an end to these sinister misgivings. Mr Holbrooke must take a leaf out of Durand’s book and redirect the course of his efforts. It shouldn’t be a hard task putting Karzai on the right track. As far as the stakeholders on this line of the divide are concerned, their fickleness has already brought the nationalists to the verge of extinction while the tribal jirga and its simplicities do not offer solutions to the emerging complexities as has been repeatedly tested and proved.
The Taliban threat, as for now, seems permanently settled and hence it needs permanent solutions.
WASHINGTON: The ISI is not a rogue intelligence agency, as it mostly follows the prerogatives of the Pakistani military or civilian leadership, says Bruce Riedel, chairman of the Obama administration’s Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review.
At a recent talk on the Pakistani intelligence agency at Washington’s International Spy Museum, Mr Riedel defined the ISI’s alleged links to various militant groups as ‘fighting some, tolerating others and patronising a few.’
There was a time in Washington when it would have been difficult to collect 50 people to hear someone talk about Pakistan. But on Thursday, more than 150 people paid $15 each to hear three scholars – Mr Riedel, Shuja Nawaz and Teresita Schaffer – discuss the Pakistani intelligence agency.
The talk focussed on the real or perceived links between the ISI and those who carried out the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Mr Riedel described the ISI as a ‘remarkably agile espionage instrument’ but dismissed the suggestion that it was not under the government’s control.
But he warned that ‘the ISI has clearly been penetrated by some of these extreme jihadist groups’ that it created to do jihad first in Afghanistan and then in Kashmir. ‘When you have attacks inside fortified compounds’ — like the one last week in Lahore — ‘those are being done by someone who’s working a double game. But that doesn’t mean the agency itself is a rogue organisation. It means it’s been penetrated.’
Mr Riedel, however, said that there were no indications that the ISI had a cooperative relationship with Al Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban, but groups like the Lashkar-i-Taiba saw little problem cooperating with one another.
‘Selective counter-terrorism is weak counter-terrorism, because the bad guys tend to operate together,’ he said.
Mr Riedel noted that recently a major terrorist cell was exposed in Karachi. The target was to go after senior officials in the city government. That cell had as its leadership a troika: one member of the Pakistani Taliban, one member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and one member of Al Qaeda.
‘They are prepared to work together. They’re not prepared, so far at least, to turn on each other,’ he noted.
Despite such concerns, Mr Riedel said, the ISI continued to be one of CIA’s most important partners in the war against extremists.
During the Q&A, Mr Riedel criticised the term ‘Af-Pak’ that some in the Obama administration used to indicate the inter-connectedness of the two nations.
‘I don’t think anyone on this panel used the terminology Af-Pak and I’m glad they didn’t. I think it’s insulting. I don’t mean this personally. But I don’t think when we talk about two countries who are our putative allies and partners we should refer to them in a diminutive way,’ he said.
‘So let’s leave ‘Af-Pak’ to USA Today and other newspapers that don’t have enough space to spell the names of our partners.’
Mr Shuja Nawaz explained how the ISI evolved from a small, insignificant agency within the army to one of the world’s premier spy agencies.
He recalled that it was a politician – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – who founded the ISI’s political cell while Gen Zia-ul-Haq and others further expanded this role.
The ISI, however, became a leading spy agency during the Afghan war and has retained its role since then.
Ambassador Schaffer reviewed US-Pakistan relations since early 1950s, when Pakistan was America’s most ‘allied ally.’ The relationship grew stronger during the Afghan war but weakened in 1990 when Pakistan became the ‘most sanctioned ally.’ After 9/11, the relationship improved.
But, she explained, from the very beginning there’s a clash of interests between the two allies.
It warms the cockles of the heart to see that the army has the gang of Taliban murderers and terrorists on the run. And while one can appreciate that the army wishes to end the operation quickly, Swat must be followed, in due course, by a similar operation in Waziristan. Merely forcing the Taliban to relocate won’t do; they must be eliminated, at least the hardcore, or else they will regroup and return.
However, there is no reason to rush; the lessons of Swat have to be absorbed and corrective action taken. One imagines that there are a lot of do’s and don’ts arising out of the operation. In fact, it would be advisable to wait till the Americans are ready to ensure that the enemy fleeing Waziristan won’t have a safe haven across the border in Afghanistan. In other words to wait till US reinforcements are fully deployed before our ‘hammer’ will fall on the US ‘anvil’ with the terrorists hopefully in between. Also by then the US, which can no longer doubt that the Pakistan army means business, will have had ample time to deliver on its promises and furnish the much-needed equipment that is indispensible for the war.
The army won’t be able to undertake a more ambitious operation than Swat without additional manpower, material and logistical support which can only come from the eastern front. And that won’t be possible until the Indians undertake a substantial thinning-out of their forces on the Kashmir and other sectors on the India-Pakistan border. It would be foolhardy, in case there is another major terrorist attack on India, to allow an Indian riposte unopposed entry.
And here too the US must deliver. If the new and much-vaunted US-India strategic relationship has any substance then New Delhi should oblige. If India fails to do so on the pretext that India has not deployed any more forces than were already there, hence a ‘thinning-out’ is out of the question, then Waziristan will have to await a dramatic de-escalation of India-Pakistan tensions which may take years; and even then unless the strategic threat posed by India’s massing of troops is reduced it is unlikely that any transfer of Pakistani forces to the eastern front will be possible. In a sense, therefore, India has a veto over the speed at which the war against the Taliban can be prosecuted. Indeed, India could ensure that the war drag on for years by continuing to divert Pakistan’s attention.
Neither Track 1, nor Track 2 in the end delivered the much-awaited peace that the people of the subcontinent await so eagerly. Perhaps, another track, Track 3, in which the two governments rather than speaking to each other through official channels, or through individuals in private life, engage the attention of the public of the other country in the hope of generating pressure on their government to come up with a matching response may prove more productive.
In a sense Pakistan has already done so through the MoU on transit trade with Afghanistan which will also benefit India. Delhi could reciprocate by reiterating Foreign Minister Mukherjee’s statement that India wished Pakistan every success in its fight against terror and follow up with a substantial reduction in force levels on the India-Pakistan border.
India will recall that in a similar situation, when the boot was on the other foot, Ayub Khan went out of his way to assure India, via the US, that Pakistan had no intention of taking advantage of India’s preoccupation with China and, what is more, added not one extra soldier to the normal peace-time deployment on the India-Pakistan border. One good turn deserves another. And even if such sentiments have no place in the harsh world of realpolitik India must know, and Pakistan’s experience will confirm, that extremism is a plague which knows no boundaries. Needless to say any hostile move by India on Pakistan, in Kashmir or elsewhere, regardless of the provocation offered by terrorists, will be resisted with all the power that Pakistan possesses.
Manmohan Singh has won a well-deserved second-term. It is said that he may not wish to serve the entire term and instead prepare the ground for Rahul Ghandi. If so, there could be no better legacy that he could leave his young successor than a subcontinent that is more at peace than it has ever been and a peace which, in his own words spoken some years ago, is truly ‘irreversible’.
The writer is former ambassador. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama delayed for six months moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the White House said on Friday.
Ever since a law was passed in 1995 ordering the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv – where other foreign embassies are located – to Jerusalem, US presidents have routinely delayed the move.
US policy on Jerusalem has not changed: Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, said a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity.
Israel had declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, then annexed Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the future of the city is a key stumbling block in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
[What happens when Mr. Holbrooke and his new assistant from the Treasury Dept. uncover the facts behind financing the Pakistani Taliban, exposing either agency financiers or the US allies who are already known to the agency? Will the Ambassador continue to play along with the terrorist sponsors when he uncovers the double game? The only solution to Pakistan's terrorist problem is the removal of the CIA and the web of deceit that they have woven to cover their own asses and their multiple partners in this criminal enterprise. If the state sponsors of this terror are not in Langley, they were recruited from there.]
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The top American diplomat for Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, said Friday that he would reinvigorate efforts to trace the sources of financing for the Taliban insurgency, with special scrutiny of private donations.
Mr. Holbrooke said that private donors, including some from Persian Gulf countries, were increasingly believed to be a far more important source of money for the Taliban than even the opium trade, which the United Nations estimates to be about $300 million a year. An American official responsible for Afghanistan said Friday that the opium money was believed to make up less than half of Taliban financing.
“In the past there was a kind of a feeling that the money all came from drugs in Afghanistan,” Mr. Holbrooke said. “That is simply not true.”
Identifying the sources of money for the Taliban has been one of the most elusive goals for the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, but the task is central to the American war effort in Afghanistan, and to fighting militancy in Pakistan. But American officials have had limited success.
“We want to focus on where the money really comes from,” Mr. Holbrooke said. “I will be adding a member of the Treasury Department to my staff within two weeks so we can focus more heavily on this area.”
American intelligence officials have expressed concerns about financing for terrorism from gulf countries in the past, but Mr. Holbrooke’s remarks indicate that the United States may now seek to put more pressure on the countries to stanch the flow of money.
He spoke at a news conference in Islamabad at the end of a three-day visit to Pakistan intended to highlight the refugee crisis that has spilled out of Swat and Buner, parts of the North-West Frontier Province, where the Pakistani Army has undertaken a campaign to drive out Taliban insurgents.
Shortly before he spoke, a suicide bomber killed at least 30 people in northwest Pakistan.
The Taliban threatened last week to strike in major cities in retaliation for the army’s offensive. This bombing took place in a remote area, Upper Dir, near the border with Afghanistan.
The bomber tried to enter the main mosque of a village, Hayagai Sharqi, during Friday Prayer, according to a villager, Umar Rahman. The bomber was stopped at the entrance, and he blew himself up.
The United States has supported Pakistan’s military campaign, as have a growing number of Pakistanis. But it is unclear how long Pakistanis’ support will last, and how committed Pakistan’s military and political leaders are to taking on militant groups.
This week, a Pakistani court freed the founder of a banned militant group suspected of being linked to the attack last year in Mumbai, India, that left 163 people dead. American and Indian officials condemned the move.
On Friday, the militant, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, delivered an inflammatory sermon at a compound in Lahore belonging to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an Islamic charity that fronts for the banned group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.
He criticized the United States and India, saying Islam would eventually triumph.
Mr. Saeed brought up President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world on Thursday, saying Mr. Obama was showing “double standards” by trying to use stories about his background to woo Muslims. Mr. Saeed said Mr. Obama must withdraw from Afghanistan and stop drone attacks in Pakistan. “We don’t want any power or hegemony, except wishing that Obama and his country should also embrace Islam,” Mr. Saeed said.
Waqar Gillani contributed reporting from Lahore, Pakistan.
Two top leaders of a banned pro-Taliban group, which brokered the controversial Swat peace deal, were killed on Saturday in Pakistan’s restive northwest when militants ambushed a security forces’ convoy transporting the detained extremists to a prison in Peshawar.
Maulana Muhammad Alam, deputy chief of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e- Shariah Muhammadi (TNSM) which is headed by radical cleric Sufi Muhammad, and the group’s spokesman Amir Izzat Khan were killed along with a non-commissioned officer in the attack which occurred at 5.10 am local time in the troubled Malakand area, the military said. Five soldiers were also injured.
The convoy was transporting several prisoners arrested during the anti-Taliban operation in Swat and nearby areas to a jail in Peshawar when it was attacked by the militants.
Three TNSM leaders, including Khan and Alam, were arrested on Thursday along with three Afghan militants when troops raided a seminary at Amandarra, the headquarters of the banned organisation. Khan and Alam were among those being transported to the Peshawar prison.
Sufi Muhammad, who was also reportedly arrested on Thursday along with his two sons, had mediated between Taliban fighters led by his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah and the North West Frontier Province government and finalised a peace deal whereby authorities agreed to set up Islamic courts in Swat in exchange for the militants laying down their arms.
However, the Taliban did not observe the terms of the peace agreement and began intimidating and killing people in nearby districts.
Sufi Muhammad also sparked a controversy by announcing at a rally that democracy, the judiciary and parliament were “un-Islamic.”
By Tim Weiner
June 3, 2009
The United States has been trying to run a secret intelligence service in an open democracy for sixty years. It depends on trust between politicians and spies, two professions known to wrestle with truth. Trust has been broken time and again.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent charge that the CIA lied to her about the torture of suspected terrorists under President George W. Bush has started a whirlwind of spin. The big lie–President Bush said the United States didn’t torture, though we did–has been lost in the maelstrom. So has a harsh truth: yes, the CIA has stonewalled and deceived Congress in the past, but Congress is stone deaf and derelict in overseeing the CIA.
Pelosi’s old Congressional colleague Leon Panetta, who runs the CIA, wants to set things right. “There’s been a lot of poison in the well,” Panetta said on May 18, and “it hurts this country” when “Congress and the CIA don’t feel like they’re partners.” He said he would commune with his Congressional overseers, hash things out in private, talk with them “in a way in which we can be honest with one another.”
Good luck, Leon. Others have gone before you.
Like it or not, the United States needs trustworthy intelligence. But spying is a dirty and dangerous business. The CIA depends on officers who know how to lie, cheat and steal–”to use deception, to use manipulation, to use, frankly, dishonesty,” in the words of former CIA general counsel Jeffrey Smith. But when things go wrong overseas–as they often do–the CIA is called to account in Washington from time to time. That’s where things really go wrong.
The CIA is “an organization that thrives on deception,” says John Hamre, former deputy secretary of defense. “How do you manage an organization like that?” Congress hasn’t had the will or the wherewithal to do it.
Congress created the CIA in 1947, and for a generation most of its members did as Senator John Stennis advised: “Make up your mind that you are going to have an intelligence agency and protect it as such, and shut your eyes some, and take what is coming.” Then a newly anointed president, Gerald Ford, let slip that the CIA had run lethal plots against foreign leaders, which would tarnish every president since Harry Truman.
Ford looked back in some anguish on this; he had been a Congressman when called to serve on the Warren Commission, which looked into the assassination of President Kennedy. Late in life he reflected on the CIA’s keeping secrets from the commission–notably its plots against Fidel Castro. It was “unconscionable” that the CIA was “not giving us the full story,” Ford said.
But when he was in the White House, Ford feared that the truth about the past would destroy the CIA and damage the United States. That same kind of fear is drowning out calls for a truth commission on the conduct of the “war on terror.”
“The question is how to plan to meet the investigation of the CIA,” Ford mused at a White House meeting in February 1975. His chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, called for “a damage-limiting operation” to save the secrets from spilling in Congress. The man Ford chose to run the CIA–George H.W. Bush–tried his best. But no one protected former CIA director Richard Helms. He drew a two-year suspended sentence in 1977 on a federal charge of deceiving Congress about his orders from President Nixon to overthrow the government of Chile.
Helms had an obligation to testify truthfully, but he thought he had a higher oath to keep secrets. America’s political history turned on which oath mattered more. For the past thirty years, Congress has fought for the right to oversee the CIA. It has failed to fulfill its responsibilities.
Before President Reagan took office, in 1981, Congress created intelligence oversight committees in the Senate and the House. Reagan’s CIA chief, William Casey, foiled them for six years. “Casey was guilty of contempt of Congress from the day he was sworn in,” said Robert Gates, Casey’s number-two man, now defense secretary. Casey obfuscated gleefully before the intelligence committees; his senior officers testified evasively. Among the consequences was the Iran/Contra affair, which blew up in late 1986. The spectacle of the United States caught shipping weapons to Iran, skimming the profits and slipping the money to anticommunists in Central America came close to wrecking Reagan’s presidency.
From 1986 to ’94, the CIA sent ninety-five highly classified reports on Moscow’s military strength to the White House. Senior CIA officials knew some of the data were manipulated by Moscow and designed to deceive the United States. They decided it didn’t matter. The discovery of this deception in 1995 was “incredible” and “shocking,” said Fred Hitz, then the CIA’s inspector general. “What came out of this whole episode was a feeling that the agency couldn’t be trusted.” The CIA had broken “the sacred trust,” said Hitz, “and without that, no espionage agency can do its job.”
Starting in 1995, the CIA used the Peruvian air force to shoot down airplanes suspected of carrying cocaine. In April 2001, the operation attacked a plane carrying a family of Michigan missionaries over the Amazon. Veronica Bowers, 35, and her daughter, Charity, seven months old, were killed. CIA inspector general John Helgerson reported that CIA officers had violated presidential orders controlling the operation and hid their misdeeds from Congress, the Justice Department and the National Security Council.
Seven years after the shoot-down, Peter Hoekstra–the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, now running for governor of Michigan–published a few damning paragraphs from the report. He called it evidence that the CIA “operates outside the law and covers up what it does and lies to Congress.” That’s what Pelosi said about torture.
Now, on orders from President Obama to dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda, the CIA is killing suspected terrorists with remote-controlled missiles fired from drone aircraft above Pakistan and Afghanistan. The CIA decides if it has hit the right targets and whether civilian deaths are acceptable. Do we want to live in a world where the CIA’s clandestine service has the authority to decide who lives and who dies? The idea that the CIA may be killing civilians, sparking an ever wider war, is too hot for Congress to handle.
Oversight is a word with two meanings–to oversee and to oversleep. So is mislead. It means to lie, and it means a lack of leadership. Congress has a responsibility to oversee the CIA that remains largely unfulfilled. It has to ask the right questions, demand full answers and report the facts annually to the American people.
Will the CIA tell Congress the truth? Would Congress listen if it did? If trust remains broken, intelligence will fail again. And when intelligence fails, soldiers and civilians die.
About Tim Weiner
Tim Weiner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, covered the CIA for the New York Times. He is the author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, which won the 2007 National Book Award for nonfiction. more…
The Pentagon is sending 1,000 more special operations forces and support staff into Afghanistan and is revamping the way its covert warriors fight the Taliban, military sources tell FOXNews.com.
By Rowan Scarborough
The Pentagon is sending 1,000 more special operations forces and support staff into Afghanistan to bolster a larger conventional troop buildup, and is revamping the way Army Green Berets and other commandos work to rid villages of the Taliban.
While much of the public focus has been on 24,000 additional American troops moving into the country this year, U.S. Special Operations Command is quietly increasing its covert warriors in what could be a pivotal role in finally defeating insurgents, military sources tell FOXNews.com.
The movement comes as Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a special operator who led successful manhunts in Iraq for Al Qaeda terrorists, is about to take command in Afghanistan.
McChrystal, who underwent a Senate Armed Services confirmation hearing Tuesday, is expected to put more emphasis on using commandos in counterinsurgency operations and on finding or killing key Taliban leaders.
Underscoring that theme, McChrystal has asked two veteran special operators on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, which he directs, to accompany him to Afghanistan once he wins Senate approval for a fourth star. The two are Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, who headed intelligence for the chief terrorist hunting unit in Iraq; and Brig Gen. Austin Miller, a Joint Staff director for special operations.
Military sources say Brig. Gen. Ed Reeder, who commands special operations in Afghanistan, went in-country earlier this year to revamp the way Green Beret “A” Teams, Delta Force and other special operators conduct counter-insurgency.
Green Berets, the same group that led the 2001 ouster of the Taliban from power, now primarily work out of fire support bases, often independently of conventional forces. They fight to control the Taliban-infested border with Pakistan, and train the Afghan army.
Critics within special operations have said the A Teams need to work more closely with conventional forces and with NATO counterparts. “This would give us a needed one-two punch,” said a former operator who served in Afghanistan.
Reeder heads the new Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command. It is a mix of the more open Green Berets and Marine commandos, and the super-secret Delta Force and Navy SEALs who conduct manhunts.
The covert side works in task forces that are only identified by a secret three-digit number. They are aided by Army Rangers and a Joint Interagency Task Force made up of the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI and other intelligence units.
McChrystal is a former commander of Joint Special Operations Command, the home of Delta Force. He led the hunt in Iraq that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of Al Qaeda’s leading terrorists in the Middle East, in 2006.
Those who worked with him talk of a tenacious warrior who worked to link his direct-action fighters with the intelligence operatives who provided crucial information on terrorist locations. McChrystal allowed Delta operatives at the troop level (akin to a conventional platoon) to call in Predator spy drones during a mission.
“We need a Predator on that house,” is the way the former operative in Iraq described Delta’s freer rein.
The increase in special operations forces is an attempt to rebalance commando presence there, after the demands of the Iraq War stripped some of its manpower in Afghanistan. The influx will bring the total special operations forces in Afghanistan to about 5,000, a spokesman at special operations command confirmed to FOXNews.com.
Usama bin Laden is believed to be hiding across the border in Pakistan, where U.S. ground troops are forbidden. But intelligence sources say if bin Laden is located, American commandos may be dispatched to kill or capture him.
Rowan Scarborough is author of “Rumsfeld’s War: The Untold Story of America’s Anti-Terrorist Commander,” and “Sabotage: America’s Enemies Within the CIA.”
PESHAWAR: A suicide bomber ripped through a mosque packed with worshippers in Upper Dir Friday, killing 30 people and wounding dozens more in the deadliest such attack in more than two months.
The bomb exploded at the mosque in the remote, mountainous village of Hayagai Sharqai in Upper Dir.
Police said the bomb attack occurred during weekly Muslim prayers, which convene Friday afternoon and generally see mosques packed with worshippers.
At least 30 people died in the blast. More than 40 were wounded, Atifur Rehman, the top government official in Upper Dir, told AFP.
‘We fear the death toll may rise to 45 because people are still trapped under the debris. Rescue work is under way and there are body parts scattered in the courtyard of the mosque,’ Rehman said.
‘The suicide attacker managed to enter the mosque and was trying to get into the middle of the crowd,’ he added.
‘Villagers, even women, came out of their homes and they’re having to identify their dead relatives through their clothes.’ Meanwhile, a police official Ataullah Khan said 32 dead had been identified and put the number of wounded at 70.
‘Still we are pulling out dead bodies and body parts,’ he said, describing the mosque as ‘severely damaged’ in the explosion.
Meanwhile, three soldiers were killed and two wounded Friday when a roadside bomb struck a patrol in South Waziristan tribal area between Jandola and Spinka Raghzai, a military official said.—AFP
ISLAMABAD: US President Obama’s Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke Friday expressing satisfaction on the military operation by Pakistan Army in the Swat and other areas said the United States would respect ‘red lines’ marked by Pakistan in the war against terror.
Addressing a press conference here at US embassy after his three-day visit to Pakistan, he said the US forces will not enter into the territory of Pakistan and would respect its sovereignty and integrity.
Holbrooke said Pakistani security forces are responsible to take action against terrorists on their soil.
He acknowledged that the Pakistani armed forces have turned the corner in their on-going military operation and successfully cleared several areas including Mingora and Buner. He said US has seen seriousness and dedication in Pakistan Army for this military operation.
Holbrooke also admitted that the proposed military surge in Afghanistan could have spill over effect in Pakistan.
He, however, said the US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, operating close to border with Pakistan, will take this issue into account adding that it will be ensured that Pakistani security forces are properly aware of what military actions are undergoing on the Afghan side so that they could take preventive measures.
Ambassador Holbrooke said the new American commander in Afghanistan will examine the issue more carefully while both Pakistan and US are fully aware of the issue and have close contacts on it.
Holbrooke said the Obama administration would explore ways to ease financial pressures on its key ally Pakistan.
He said, “He saw Islamabad firmly committed to return of millions of displaced people to the Malakand, which has seen a sustained anti-militants drive.”
He said Pakistani leaders have called for financial relief, which could be in the form of easing on debt payments or writing off loans by the economic powers, to help meet the colossal challenge of looking after people displaced following its anti-militant drive in the northwestern Malakand region.
Holbrooke has been sent by President Obama with a message of support in the relief and rehabilitation phases that would follow enforcement of security in Swat and adjacent valleys.
He said every single Pakistani civilian and military leader he met during the visit is committed to the refugees’ return to their homes in Swat and adjacent areas. The US special envoy said he has seen tremendous change in Pakistan, as there is now greater consensus on the issue of terrorism and extremism. He said, “United States is committed to supporting democracy, stability and economic prosperity of Pakistan.”
Holbrooke said the issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has serious and greater dimensions including their rehabilitation requiring billions of dollars. The world community would again be called upon to do its part to support Pakistan in this regard, he added.
He pointed out that so far only the United States is providing about two-third assistance for the IDPs and the world community will have to share the responsibility. He said the real test would be the rehabilitation of the IDPs to enable them to resume their normal life.
Ambassador Holbrooke said Pakistan was in an extraordinarily difficult economic situation and on his return to Washington he will consult the State Department and Treasury Department on ways and means to providing more assistance to the country.
He said the United States has recently announced additional two hundred millions dollar assistance for Pakistan besides one billion dollars committed by Washington during Friends of Pakistan meeting in Tokyo and 110 million dollars announced by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
Replying to a question he said the term ‘Af-Pak’ doesn’t mean equating the second largest Muslim state with Afghanistan.
“It only underlines that what happens in border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan cannot be separated,” he added.
Answering a question about the financing of the Taliban, Holbrooke said it could come from a variety of sources including countries in the Gulf and the poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
“It (financing) comes from a lot of parts of the world it’s a big issue,” he said, adding that the issue would get a lot of attention. He said he would be associating a member of the Treasury Department to his team to work on it. He said the militants get money during their private visits abroad besides drug money and also received money from private donations.
Asked about resentment being expressed by Pakistani people to drone attacks, Holbrooke said no one brought up the issue during his meetings yesterday in Pakistan.
During his three-day visit to Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke met with Pakistani leadership including President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other military leadership and political leaders.