Iran Guards say Pakistan released Jundallah leader

Iran Guards say Pakistan released Jundallah leader

Mourners carry the coffins of Revolutionary Guard members, who were killed in Sunday’s suicide bombing in southeastern Iran, during a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009. – AP

TEHRAN: The deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards charged on Friday that Pakistan arrested and then released the leader of Jundallah a few days before a suicide bombing claimed by the Sunni rebel group.

‘We have precise information about the movement and places where terrorists are hiding,’ the Fars news agency quoted Brigadier General Hossein Salami as saying.

‘On September 26, Abdolmalek Rigi was arrested in one of the streets of Quetta but after one hour he was released following the intervention of the intelligence service of our neighbouring country,’ Salami said.

Quetta is the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, which borders Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province where Jundallah is active. Ethnic Baluchis, the community the rebel group says it is fighting for, straddle the border.

Some 42 people, including 15 Revolutionary Guards members, died in the October 18 bombing in the Sistan-Baluchestan town of Pisheen.

‘How is it possible that this guy can move freely (unless he is) under the protection of the intelligence services?’ the Guards number two said, according to Fars.

Iran has said those responsible for the bombing were based in Pakistan and has demanded that Islamabad hand Rigi over.

Islamabad has strongly denied that Jundallah (Soldiers of God) launched the attack from its territory.

On Thursday, Pakistani police said three Iranians arrested for illegally entering Pakistan may have been linked to the Pisheen bombing.

RAW hand visible in terrorism

RAW hand visible in terrorism

By: Mansoor Khan |

KARACHI – Solid proof of involvement of the Indian spy agency, Research Analysis Wing (RAW), in sponsoring and fuelling terrorism has come to surface after Pakistani investigators have found Indian origin explosives used in recent acts of terrorism in Pakistan.
TheNation has learnt through various official sources that Indian made explosives were used for the blasts that occurred in the FIA building in Lahore and Marriott Hotel Islamabad.
Following the revelations, the intelligence agencies have directed all concerned law enforcement agencies to keep up the surveillance of Hindu populated areas in the country.
According to the reports, intelligence agencies have also got tangible evidence of Indian Taliban carrying out terrorism activities across the country.
The sources, on request of anonymity, said that the containers carrying goods, weaponry and other stuff for Allied Forces stationed in Afghanistan are neither checked at the time of leaving the port nor at the time of their return, by Pakistani authorities.
The sources added that these empty containers, on their return, bring arms and explosives to Pakistan. It was revealed that in April last, the containers loaded with eggs imported from India bound for Kandahar and Kabul also carried arms and explosive materials. This happened a week after three of the nine containers along with the truck they were loaded were found parked at Hazar Ganji Truck Stand in Quetta. The alien odour emanating from the containers attracted attention of the people at the truck stand and when the containers were opened 46 dead and 60 unconscious people, all Afghan of various ethnic backgrounds, were recovered.
The revelation helped the intelligence agencies in solving the perplexing puzzle of procurement of such huge quantities of explosives, which were used by militants in carrying out massive explosions at FIA headquarters in Lahore, Marriot Hotel Islamabad and in various other tragic incidents.

“We had evidence even in 2006 that detonators manufactured by Indian companies were used in bomb explosions – both suicide and planted – making us believe that India was sending explosives and weapons to the militants in NWFP and Balochistan,” a security official told from Islamabad on condition of not to be mentioned his name or official position. The same official says that the information that Indian intelligence agencies had leaked to the Indian media about theft of more than 20 thousand kilograms of RDX explosive, 85 thousand detonators and more than 50 thousand meters of detonators fuse in 2006, left no doubt in the minds of the Pakistan security apparatus that the same explosive was smuggled to Pakistan via Afghanistan. SSP Operation Crime Investigation Department(CID), Fayyaz Khan, when contacted said that 150 kilograms explosive found in Karachi was manufactured by an Indian company, revealed the connection of India with militants. He disclosed that the arrested militants have confessed that the explosive was sent to Karachi from Waziristan and Qari Hussain Mehsud a notorious commander of TTP suicidal squad had delivered this huge quantity of explosive to the militants.
Qari Hussain Mehsud, a known commander of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and considered a mastermind of a number of terrorist attacks carried out inside the county and also familiar for his expertise in preparation of suicide jackets, explosive laden vehicles and other sorts of bombs.
SSP Khan explained that we have evidence that proves the involvement of RAW in terrorism in Pakistan, as detonators, explosive being used by Baloch insurgents in Balochistan and Sindh are manufactured by Indian companies.
Apart from the supply of explosives and weaponry to the insurgents groups of Sindh and Balochistan, RAW has also been training insurgents and using them in deadly attacks in Pakistan.
Interior Ministry has directed the concerned law enforcement and intelligence agencies to keep up surveillance of the areas where minorities (Hindus) are residing in majority. It has also directed them to check out the details of residents and collect the details of their relatives.
A source privy to the matter told TheNation that agencies have also got the information about the arrival of RAW agents in Pakistan though various bordering areas under anonymous covers who have spread out in different areas of the country. Source highlighted that mostly agents of RAW use the cover of worshippers and move towards the different sites of their worship places.
On the other side, a senior operative of TTP, introducing himself as Shakeel Mujahid, presently in Karachi, declined the allegations of coward bombings against innocents while saying that international agencies have made inroads inside the country and they usually carry out such kind of terrorist activities to defame Taliban. He pointed out that a number of undercover agents dispatched by RAW have been nabbed in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He cited an example from Swat where a cleric leading a splinter group of TTP was intercepted by their operatives on some suspicious activities and later handed over to the government by the inhabitants of Swat. Evidence was found from his place which revealed that the cleric of Swat was actually from Afghanistan and was an old cadre of Taliban. He also explained that the said cleric was behind the bombing in schools and hospitals, which is against the policy of TTP.
“We have nothing to do with Pakistan, we are fighting against allied forces, forcibly occupying Afghanistan and having removed the Taliban regime” he said adding that in Pakistan, “we are fighting in our self-defence and against the security forces – those who have been fulfilling the agenda of America and trying to stop Jihad in Afghanistan”.

Is ISI Waging War Against the Generals?

[In the latest incident of motorcycle-riding assassins, yet another Brig. Gen. is targeted.  Is ISI upset at Army for upsetting its role-playing militant games?  Like a recent similar attack, where the sloppy attackers were apprehended with ISI identification cards, this hit and run tactic has been the M.O. of nearly all major hits, beginning with the assassins of Gen. Alavi.]

Third gun attack on brigadier in Islamabad

Gunmen on a motorbike on Friday wounded an army brigadier and soldier in Islamabad before escaping in the third such attack in two weeks, officials said. The officer and a soldier were shot while travelling in a jeep through the I-8 residential neighbourhood, police officer Mohammad Azhar told media. “Two gunmen riding on a motorbike opened fire on the jeep. Two people in the jeep were wounded. They were taken to hospital,” Azhar said, giving no further details. A doctor at the capital’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital said the victims were in a stable condition. “Two army officers, including one brigadier were injured when unknown gunmen opened fire on their vehicle,” Doctor Nasir Ahmad told media. “Both have firearms injuries but both are stable,” he added. The attack was the third targeting senior army commanders in the capital in around two weeks. On October 22, a Pakistani brigadier on leave from a UN peacekeeping mission was shot dead in the capital Islamabad. There was a similar gun attack on another military jeep on October 27, but no one was wounded. Friday’s shooting came four days after a suicide bomber killed 35 people outside a bank in Islamabad’s twin city of Rawalpindi, not far from Pakistan’s army headquarters.

Pampering the mullah

Pampering the mullah

Talat Farooq

After the government crackdown on certain madrassas in Islamabad recently, the representatives of the Wafaq-ul-Madaris aired their indignation on TV channels. They criticised the action on the grounds that madrassas have always been weapon/terror-free — including, if you please, the Lal Masjid — and, as such, cannot be held responsible for any anti-state activities The went on to add thatif the government officials wish to visit any of the premises, they must do so with the permission of Wafaq-ul-Madaris. In answer to such defiant outbursts, the interior minister meekly assured the Wafaq that the government never meant to violate the sanctity of these great places of learning and knowledge, and is only looking for some foreign Imams residing in some madressahs illegally. One fails to understand why the government has to be apologetic in carrying out such actions against any institution in Pakistan if it has reports of illegal activity there, especially when we are in a state of war. Madressahs, even if registered, are not sacrosanct or above the law. Unfortunately, it is this obsequiousness of our rulers toward the mullah since the creation of Pakistan that has emboldened the extremists over the last six decades.

The Muslim struggle for Pakistan did not include the Deoband or the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind who opposed the idea of Pakistan tooth and nail. Nonetheless, once Pakistan became a reality the Wahabi-Deobandi groups made gradual inroads as our leaders acquiesced to their demands within a few years of independence. Since then their influence has remained unchecked by the state as it focused on short-term political goals, it is therefore not surprising that they have eventually assumed the mantle of our self-proclaimed saviours and architects of the national identity of Pakistan.

Be it the Objectives Resolution or the timing of the Anti-Ahmadiyya movement in the 50s that facilitated the first martial law; the ban on alcohol and declaration of Friday as a weekly holiday by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Naseerullah Babar’s Taliban idea during Benazir’s government, or Nawaz Sharif’s Shariah Bill of the 90s, staying on the right side of Maulana Fazl ur Rahman by successive governments or the on-going pampering of Wafaq-ul-Madaris by the incumbent administration, the political players of Pakistan have always put their own narrow interests before the interests of the nation.

The military dictatorships on the other hand have used the mullah to further their own specific interests. From Ayub Khan to Musharraf, all military regimes have sought the cooperation of one religious sect or the other. Zia in particular played the mullah card to promote American interests and Arab culture simultaneously, destroying national institutions in the process while Musharraf’s post-9/11 two-faced strategy ensured the continuity of extremism. Jointly, the politicians and the military dictators, with help from America and Saudi Arabia, have managed to create a monster that feeds on violence and bloodshed.

The religious clerics, whether Muslim or non Muslim, derive their political power from exploiting the insecurities of the masses by focusing on differences in religious and socio-cultural beliefs, thus leading to social divisions. In a multi-ethnic Pakistani society with a sizeable non-Muslim population, this has spelled disaster. Over the last three decades, the Deobandi/Wahabi mindset has transmuted ideological divisions into militant sectarianism that has been duly exploited by the Taliban and their domestic sympathisers that include mainstream religious-political parties.

Muslim states like Turkey, in keeping with the Ottoman tradition, have managed to keep their clerics under state control to ensure social order. In Pakistan, they have been given a free hand; what we are witnessing today in the shape of violence is the dark side of religiosity infused by religious extremists into the psyche of both the uneducated masses and the unsuspecting educated elite. This has transpired due to the manipulation of religious sentiments by vested interests and festering socio-economic and governance issues all rolled into one. But above all, this is due to the deliberate omission of critical thinking skills and philosophical knowledge from the national curricula, thus rendering a large majority of Pakistani population incapable of objective assessment. This omission is largely attributable to the direct or indirect influence of the mullah especially during and after the Zia era.

Today the same extremist elements continue to spread their hatred of one another as well as propagate against Pakistan’s national interests by promoting conspiracy theories and blind anti-Americanism from the pulpit. And while doing so, they fail to mention the negative influence of certain policies of the Saudi government toward Pakistan. The anti-American and anti-government slogans after the Islamic University bombing would have sounded more genuine had they been accompanied with anti-Taliban slogans. Pakistan will never become a self-respecting nation unless it disengages itself from not only American shackles but also the ones imported from Saudi Arabia. This requires a mature political leadership that believes in impartial analyses and practical strategies, not to mention courage and wisdom.

The Waziristan operation is in full swing and if the religious parties cannot support it for fear of life, they can at least remain quiet. By stoking the fire of anti-Americanism to garner support for the Taliban through ill-timed rallies and referendums, they are doing no service to Pakistan. The nation is being driven into a frenzy that can only spread more intolerance and spawn fear and anxiety. Furthermore, it serves as a diversion because it deflects people’s attention from the real issue of good governance and allows religious and secular leaders, whether in the government or opposition or outside the parliament, to play their petty games without having to shoulder the required responsibilities to steer the country out of the present quagmire.

Religion is a strong social phenomenon and has been employed by many in human history to serve political ends. Muslim history is no exception. The mullahs of Pakistan have employed the same dispensation since 1947 to gain political power. This has eventually led to the rise of a ferocious militant element never known in Muslim history. Not even the Hashashins of Hassan Sabah killed with such merry abandon. It is high time for the state to check the spread of unbridled hatred. It is time to stop pampering the mullah.

The writer is executive editor of Criterion, Islamabad. Email: talatfarooq11@gmail.com

‘New Georgia war to breakout’

‘New Georgia war to breakout’

MOSCOW: Russian military intelligence believes Georgia might again attack South Ossetia, the pro-Moscow region over which the two countries fought a war last year, a powerful spy chief said on Thursday.

Alexander Shlyakhturov, who in April took over command of the military’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), said the situation was strained and accused Nato countries of continuing to supply arms to Georgia.

“The situation with Georgia remains tense because the current Georgian authorities do not just refuse to recognise the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but are trying in every way to return these countries…to their jurisdiction,” he said in a rare interview with state news agency ITAR-TASS.

“You have to add to this the unpredictability of attempts by the Georgian leadership, headed by (President Mikheil) Saakashvili, which may give in to temptation to use force to tame these obstinate republics as they did last year,” he said.

“We do not rule out such a development,” said Shlyakhturov, who controls Russia’s biggest spy agency with agents across the globe and thousands of special forces troops inside Russia.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Georgian government control in the early 1990s. Russia recognised both as independent states after last year’s five-day war, when its forces repelled a Georgian attack on South Ossetia.

But only two other countries, Nicaragua and Venezuela, have followed Russia’s lead, and the rest of the world regards the two regions as part of Georgia. Saakashvili has said he is committed to a unified Georgia but has no pretensions to retake the breakaway areas by force.

GRU chiefs rarely speak to the media. Thursday’s interview was given to mark 91 years since the spy service was created in 1918 by revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky.

Swine Flu Cases Overestimated? – CBS News

Swine Flu Cases Overestimated?

By Sharyl Attkisson

CBS News Exclusive: Study Of State Results Finds H1N1 Not As Prevalent As Feared

  • (iStockphoto)

(CBS)

If you’ve been diagnosed “probable” or “presumed” 2009 H1N1 or “swine flu” in recent months, you may be surprised to know this: odds are you didn’t have H1N1 flu.

In fact, you probably didn’t have flu at all. That’s according to state-by-state test results obtained in a three-month-long CBS News investigation.

The ramifications of this finding are important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Britain’s National Health Service, once you have H1N1 flu, you’re immune from future outbreaks of the same virus. Those who think they’ve had H1N1 flu — but haven’t — might mistakenly presume they’re immune. As a result, they might skip taking a vaccine that could help them, and expose themselves to others with H1N1 flu under the mistaken belief they won’t catch it. Parents might not keep sick children home from school, mistakenly believing they’ve already had H1N1 flu.

Why the uncertainty about who has and who hasn’t had H1N1 flu?

Attkisson Blogs: Freedom of Information Stalled at CDC

CBSNews.com report on H1N1

In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases. The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking individual cases was: why waste resources testing for H1N1 flu when the government has already confirmed there’s an epidemic?

Some public health officials privately disagreed with the decision to stop testing and counting, telling CBS News that continued tracking of this new and possibly changing virus was important because H1N1 has a different epidemiology, affects younger people more than seasonal flu and has been shown to have a higher case fatality rate than other flu virus strains.

CBS News learned that the decision to stop counting H1N1 flu cases was made so hastily that states weren’t given the opportunity to provide input. Instead, on July 24, the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists, CSTE, issued the following notice to state public health officials on behalf of the CDC:

“Attached are the Q&As that will be posted on the CDC website tomorrow explaining why CDC is no longer reporting case counts for novel H1N1. CDC would have liked to have run these by you for input but unfortunately there was not enough time before these needed to be posted (emphasis added).”

When CDC did not provide us with the material, we filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). More than two months later, the request has not been fulfilled. We also asked CDC for state-by-state test results prior to halting of testing and tracking, but CDC was again, initially, unresponsive

Video above: A CBS News producer asks the director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, for this information at a press conference on Sept. 19.

While we waited for CDC to provide the data, which it eventually did, we asked all 50 states for their statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual testing and counting in July. The results reveal a pattern that surprised a number of health care professionals we consulted. The vast majority of cases were negative for H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, despite the fact that many states were specifically testing patients deemed to be most likely to have H1N1 flu, based on symptoms and risk factors, such as travel to Mexico.

(CBS)

It’s unknown what patients who tested negative for flu were actually afflicted with since the illness was not otherwise determined. Health experts say it’s assumed the patients had some sort of cold or upper respiratory infection that is just not influenza.

With most cases diagnosed solely on symptoms and risk factors, the H1N1 flu epidemic may seem worse than it is. For example, on Sept. 22, this alarming headline came from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.: “H1N1 Flu Infects Over 250 Georgetown Students.”

H1N1 flu can be deadly and an outbreak of 250 students would be an especially troubling cluster. However, the number of sick students came not from lab-confirmed tests but from “estimates” made by counting “students who went to the Student Health Center with flu symptoms, students who called the H1N1 hotline or the Health Center’s doctor-on-call, and students who went to the hospital’s emergency room.”

Without lab testing, it’s impossible to know how many of the students actually had H1N1 flu. But the statistical trend indicates it was likely much fewer than 250.

CDC continues to monitor flu in general and H1N1 through “sentinels,” which basically act as spot-checks to detect trends around the nation. But at least one state, California, has found value in tracking H1N1 flu in greater detail.

“What we are doing is much more detailed and expensive than what CDC wants,” said Dr. Bela Matyas, California’s Acting Chief of Emergency Preparedness and Response. “We’re gathering data better to answer how severe is the illness. With CDC’s fallback position, there are so many uncertainties with who’s being counted, it’s hard to know how much we’re seeing is due to H1N1 flu rather than a mix of influenza diseases generally. We can tell that apart but they can’t.”

After our conversation with Dr. Matyas, public affairs officials with the California Department of Public Health emphasized to CBS News that they support CDC policy to stop counting individual cases, maintaining that the state has the resources to gather more specific testing data than the CDC.

Because of the uncertainties, the CDC advises even those who were told they had H1N1 to get vaccinated unless they had lab confirmation. “Persons who are uncertain about how they were diagnosed should get the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.”

That’s unwelcome news for a Marietta, Georgia mom whose two children were diagnosed with “probable” H1N1 flu over the summer. She hoped that would mean they wouldn’t need the hastily developed H1N1 flu vaccine. However, since their cases were never confirmed with lab tests, the CDC advises they get the vaccine. “I wish they had tested and that I knew for sure whether they had it. I’m not anxious to give them an experimental vaccine if they don’t need it.”

Speaking to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” CDC Director Dr. Frieden said he has confidence that the vaccine will be safe and effective: “We’re confident it will be effective we have every reason to believe that it will be safe.”

However, the CDC recommendation for those who had “probable” or “presumed” H1N1 flu to go ahead and get vaccinated anyway means the relatively small proportion of those who actually did have H1N1 flu will be getting the vaccine unnecessarily. This exposes them to rare but significant side effects, such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre syndrome.

It also uses up vaccine, which is said to be in short supply. The CDC was hoping to have shipped 40 million doses by the end of October, but only about 30 million doses will be available this month.

The CDC did not response to questions from CBS News for this report.

Diagramming Bush Family Criminal Connections

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