Electromagnetism Disrupts Brain’s Moral Center–Proof of Mind Control Theory

Neuroscientists use magnetism to fool our moral compass

March 31, 2010 | 10:51 am

Neuroscientists have marched forward by many means in their understanding of how the brain and its component parts work. They have long studied people with injuries to certain parts of their brains and, by seeing how the behavior of those individuals changes, have inferred the role that the damaged part of the brain plays. In more recent years, functional magnetic resonance imaging and electro-encephalograms (those electrical wires you see attached to babies’ bald pates in pictures) have helped researchers divine the roles of certain brain regions by “seeing” blood flow or metabolic activity in those regions during certain tasks.

But there’s also a little known and somewhat low-tech gadget that can have surprising powers of revelation. It’s called transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which a small device that emits a powerful but narrow-spectrum magnetic charge is passed over a region of the brain. It won’t penetrate very far, but the result is that the cells in that region of the brain are briefly scrambled: For a few minutes, they go silent or misfire. (Neuroscientists have been known to have a bit of fun with this gadget.)

In the neuroscience lab of MIT researcher Rebecca Saxe, the role of the right temporoparietal junction — an area toward the back of your head, a couple of inches above your right ear — is an area of particular interest. This area has long been thought to play a role in how we interpret the actions and motives of the people around us — a largely-human talent called “theory of mind.”

In a recent study using transcranial magnetic stimulation, researchers in Saxe’s lab have found that the right temporoparietal junction — and our ability to infer other people’s thoughts and motives — may be important in how we make and act on moral and ethical judgments.

In a pair of experiments published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT researchers passed a transcranial magnetic stimulator over the right temporoparietal junction, in one case for 25 minutes while the study participants read a series of scenarios and decided how they should behave, and in the second experiment, briefly, while participants were asked to make a complex moral judgment. In both experiments, researchers set up the moral conundrums so that the participants could make a dangerous or immoral decision (such as driving drunk) but not have any moral consequences (such as an accident ensuing).

With their right temporoparietal junctions scrambled, participants seemed unable to recognize an action as wrong unless it led to harm — a moral judgment that virtually all could make easily when their brains were not being magnetically scrambled. It seems that when unable to infer the motives and actions of another, they had to rely only on outcomes to tell them if their own actions were ethical.

The implications for human behavior are potentially far-reaching: Unless we can understand what’s on other people’s minds, we may be hampered in understanding how best to live cooperatively (and ethically) with others. And then there’s a take-home message for each of us: If someone you know seems to behave without moral bearings, you might try looking for a transcranial magnetic stimulator hidden with the remote control in the folds of his or her couch. Or you might infer that his or her powers of “theory of mind” need a bit of exercise.

– Melissa Healy

Chechnyan Group Both Denies and Accepts Responsibility for Moscow Bombing–Reuter’s

[The inevitable contradictions are beginning to arise already, indicating a false flag attack to implicate known militant group.  This has CIA/Special Forces written all over it.  The idea is to force Putin into a heavy-handed campaign of vengeance, for all the world to see.  The vilification of Putin and Russia are necessary to justify the large-scale movement of American forces closer to Moscow.  SEE:  America's "Islamists" Go Where Oilmen Fear to tread.]

Islamist group says not behind Moscow bombs

ISTANBUL
Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:52am EDT

(Reuters) – A militant Islamist separatist group led by a prominent Chechen rebel denied responsibility Wednesday for bombings that killed 39 people in two Moscow metro stations.

“We did not carry out the attack in Moscow, and we don’t know who did it,” Shemsettin Batukaev, a spokesman for the Caucasus Emirate organization, told Reuters by telephone in Turkey.

The spokesman said the group planned attacks on economic targets inside Russia, but not against civilians. Its leader, Doku Umarov, vowed last month to spread a Caucasian insurgency to Russian cities.

The Caucusus Emirate aims to create a pan-Caucasus, sharia-based state separate from Russia. Security analysts have named it as a potential suspect in Monday’s attacks, which Russian authorities have blamed on female suicide bombers with connections to the volatile North Caucasus region.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for Moscow’s worst bomb attack in six years.

“Of course we plan on attacking Russian economic targets, but our plans do not include attacks on people,” said Batukaev, who lives in Istanbul and acts as the group’s foreign representative.

He said he also did not know who was behind two bombings in Dagestan that killed 12 people Wednesday, but did not deny the possibility that his organization was involved.

The bombings highlight problems Russia has faced in trying to stem rising violence in the North Caucasus insurgency, which is likely to be at the heart of a 2012 presidential election.

FILLED WITH RAGE

The Kremlin had declared victory in its battle with Chechen separatists who fought two wars with Moscow. But violence has intensified over the past year in the neighboring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia, where Islamist militancy overlaps with clan rivalries, criminal gangs and widespread poverty.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who gained popularity by crushing the second Chechen insurgency, said the culprits behind the bombings should be “scraped from the sewers.”

Batukaev, speaking by telephone, said the attacks could have been the work of individuals “filled with enough hatred.

“There are lots of Chechens who would happily have thrown an atom bomb into the subway. There are many people filled with enough rage out there who could have done this,” he said.

“But these people do not represent us,” he said.

The Chechen rebellion began in the 1990s as a largely ethnic nationalist movement. Russian officials say Islamic militants from outside Russia have joined the campaign, most after the secong war, giving it a fresh intensity.

Batukaev said there were a few foreigners fighting with the insurgents but his organization did not have ties to foreign Islamist groups, like al Qaeda, and relied on sympathizers at home for funding.

(Reporting by Thomas Grove, editing by Mark Trevelyan and Paul Taylor)

Chechen rebel says ordered Moscow attacks: website

MOSCOW
Wed Mar 31, 2010 1:09pm EDT

(Reuters) – Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in the Moscow metro that killed at least 39 people, according to a video posted on the unofficial Islamist rebel website on Wednesday.

Umarov, who styles himself as the “Emir of the Caucasus Emirate,” said in the video that he had personally ordered the attacks. He said attacks on Russia would continue.

“As you all know on March 29 in Moscow, two special operations were carried out to destroy the infidels and to sent a greeting to the FSB,” Umarov was shown saying in the four-and-a-half minute long video on [Islamic terrorist website, Kavkaz Center]

One of the metro stations bombed was just meters (yards) away from the headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the country’s main domestic security service.

“Both of these operations were carried out on my command and will not be the last,” Umarov was shown saying against the background of what looked like a wood.

He spoke heavily accented Russian and said that he was speaking on March 29.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Ludmila Danilova, editing by Robin Paxton)

9/11 Reconstruction: Mental Before Physical

9/11 Reconstruction: Mental Before Physical



A new survey of Americans reveals that 100 million people question or reject official story. A new investigation is needed.

by Joel S. Hirschhorn

(libertarian)

The failure to rebuild the World Trade Center site in Manhattan has received endless attention. But public anger about this failed reconstruction should not been seen so negatively. After all, mental reconstruction has also still not been successful and is surely more needed, with too many Americans still accepting the official government story about 9/11. This, despite a huge amount of compelling evidence that elements of the US government played some role, despite a very large, active 9/11 truth movement, and despite an impressive number of highly credible people demanding a new investigation as documented at patriotsquestion911.com.

In the recent Angus Reid Public Opinion survey of a representative national sample of American adults, 62 per cent of respondents disagree with the view that the “Sept. 11 incident was a big fabrication as a pretext for the campaign against terrorism and a prelude for staging an invasion against Afghanistan.” Far more Republicans disagree at 80 percent, compared to 66 percent of Independents and 55 percent of Democrats.

Consistent with this is that two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) agree with the government commission that investigated the events of Sept. 11, 2001, which concluded that an attack was carried out by 19 hijackers who were members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, led by Osama bin Laden. Though 12 per cent of respondents reject the commission’s findings, one-in-five Americans (21 percent) are undecided. In particular, 35 percent of Independents and 34 percent of Democrats do not accept the official version, compared to just 20 percent of Republicans.

These figures translate to about 100 million Americans that question or find fault with the official 9/11 story, far from a trivial number and far too many to dismiss as conspiracy nuts and part of the lunatic fringe. This is the important message that merits public appreciation.

That the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge this kind of public sentiment reflects on their lack of courage to dig deep into the role of the government and face the truth. This behavior does nothing to improve American democracy and trust in government. True patriots must acknowledge that government through the terrible acts of some individuals can carry out hideous acts; there is a bipartisan history of this. Truth is the best way to stop such behavior.

Clearly, Republicans have blocked out the painful possibility that the Bush-Cheney administration played a role in 9/11. This may also explain why the large tea party movement that results from strong disillusionment with government does not embrace the 9/11 truth movement.

Here is my perspective: If far more Americans rejected or questioned the official government story and demanded a new investigation, we would get the mental reconstruction sorely needed to ensure that the government never again uses a false flag operation to advance a policy (wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) that would not otherwise receive public support, especially one that kills thousands of Americans, both civilians and soldiers.

That the reconstruction at ground zero in Manhattan has still not succeeded symbolizes that the wounds of 9/11 are not healed, which means that we still have some chance of demanding and discovering the full truth, regardless of how painful it is. The cost of a first-rate new investigation might be $50 million, far less than the billions of dollars to reconstruct the Manhattan site.

In the end, truth is more important than new buildings. Worse than a hole in the ground is a hole in our national soul. We need Congress to authorize and fund a new 9/11 investigation. The highly fragmented 9/11 truth movement must unite behind a political strategy to make this happen. The only reason to fear a new investigation is the likely unsettling finding that, indeed, the US government was a lot more than incompetent and negligent.

The Dangers of Democracy In a Land of Sheeple

The recent Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissionpermits corporations to directly donate to political parties as well as run political advertisements. Yet more shocking than the Court’s blatant partisan split on the issue is the degree to which public anger about the decision has been bipartisan. From left-of-center to right-of-crazy, both liberal activists and tea party protesters are incensed with a decision they see as allowing even more corporate influence over Washington. Yet while many would like to see this decision overturned, the truth of the matter is that the legislative system in the United States is already corrupted by private interests, and the Court’s decision, while appalling, does not affect the incentive structure in place which undermines and stymies Congress on many of the nation’s most pressing issues.

Lobbyists and public action committees already exploit the need for members of Congress to fret about re-election almost the nanosecond they are elected. The amount of money pushed into politics already makes a mockery of the ‘one person, one vote’ contract implicit in a democratic system. Indeed, on key political issues of the day, the financial lobby is busy trying to prevent the establishment of an independent consumer protection agency, and the insurance industry spent roughly one million dollars a day on lobbyists and contributions to block the public option. From oil companies trying to prevent climate change policy to automakers buying up and destroying public transportation systems to pharmaceutical and food companies lobbying against FDA regulations to no-bid contracts for American companies in Iraq to mortgage lenders protecting their ‘loan shark’ profit margins, it is evident that while corporations are for profit, governments exist to remain distinctly in the service of the people.

Yet while the notion of corporations as legal persons has made me uneasy for as long as I have understood the concept, I admit I am humbled by the legal ramifications involved in denying corporations- and by the same token unions- rights of personhood. Instead of adopting a ‘reverse or uphold’ legal approach, it would treat the problem more substantially if we challenged the underlying incentive structure in place, limiting financial influence over public servants, raising the costs of social harm, and maintaining an adamant regulatory system.

One idea, which is not new, is to even the playing field by eradicating private financing of elections altogether, and instead maintaining a national fund for elections. Before images of a socialist march come to mind, this system is already practice in the United States, albeit piecemeal. If a candidate privately raises $5,000 in each of at least 20 states and agrees to spending limits, the government subsidizes a dollar for dollar “match”. Yet without an even playing field as witnessed in the 2008 election, candidates who take public money often fall far short of what their competitors can privately raise.

We must alter elections from privately-funded popularity contests to publicly-financed issue-based contests open to all. This would transform the democratic system currently in place, where dollars are more powerful than votes and those who have the most money inevitably have the most influence. Prohibiting all private financing would additionally hamstring corporate influence without violating corporate free speech. Campaign finance reform would also engender greater transparency as ads run by corporations and unions would be based on the stances political parties or candidates take (for or against oil for example), and not on who has or hasn’t accepted undisclosed funds.

It would serve us well to examine an analogous example of where money corrupts politics. The ills that plague the oldest and the largest democracies in the world are not all that different, and the solution to help remedy them is surprisingly similar. India is known for being the world’s largest democracy and a ray of hope in a region blighted by political instability and military rule. But when I went to cover the largest elections in the world in April of 2009, pride in this democracy was the least of what I found.

Instead of the rosy picture of millions of people voting (418 million actually did), what I consistently encountered as I spoke with NGO leaders, academics, voters, journalists, ministers, and candidates was the increasing political influence and success of common criminals – thugs – in the elections. According to the Association for Democratic Reform, 28% of elected Indian MPs have criminal cases pending against them (more than one in five), while 14% have serious criminal indictments. More alarming is the fact that this number has increased by 31% since the 2004 elections.

It seems that those who have long lived beyond the reach of the law have figured out that if they manage to delay the adjudication of the cases against them in court (not very difficult in India for those who have money and power), and get elected in the interim, they can enjoy the fruits of parliamentary immunity. Indian election rules do not prevent those charged with criminal cases from standing for electoral offices, only those who have been convicted. Unscrupulous candidates use all the nefarious tools in their thuggish panoply, from bribery to extortion to intimidation to rioting and even murder and incitement of gang wars, to get the votes they need. For a village thug charged with a crime, the best thing he can do to free himself of accountability is to get elected. Along with the power of patronage that comes with vaunted ministry positions, an air of untouchability comes with electoral success (and not in the Hindu caste sense of the term, but rather Al Capone’s).

Historically, the term “thug” referred to a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India who typically strangled their victims. Corporations are certainly not thugs in the literal sense: they are legal entities created by the State, endowed with rights of legal personhood, shielded from personal liability, and can exist in perpetuity. Armed with these benefits and shareholder funds, corporate executives and managers can generate wealth, which often does benefit society at large. Without these privileges, risk-averse individuals would not assume high levels of debt and risk bankruptcy to endeavor to make things. Thus, while the existence and life of a corporation is crucial to higher standards of living, their categorical incentive – self-interest, which maximizes profit for shareholders – can also do harm.

The near collapse of the global financial system at the hands of profit-maximizing investment bankers in 2008 illustrates this point well enough. Many concerned with avoiding another financial crisis argue that the root causes have not been addressed, and Wall Street continues to incentivize reckless risk. A lack of accountability and extremely close ties (some would say a revolving door) with Washington, conflicts of interest (such as the relationship between Goldman Sachs and Greece) and expectations of huge personal profits continue to endanger the world economic system.

One thing remains sad and true. Whether you are looking at the American Congress or the Indian Lok Sahba, reform falls into the hands of the very people who have incentives to stunt it. In other words, those who stand to gain from a corrupting system are the very ones who hold all the power to change it. Will we see campaign finance reform in our lifetime? The answer unfortunately lies with those who have the money: thug Parliamentarians in India and corporate entities in the United States. Can we trust them to regulate themselves as we naively did with respect to Wall Street?

Recently-elected Indian Parliamentarians with criminal offences boastfully refer to themselves as baahubali, which literally translates as “muscle men” or gangsters. Characteristic of these legitimized ruffians is a general desire to amass vast amounts of wealth, use this wealth to attain power, capture more wealth with this newfound power, and so on. Isn’t this essentially the same motivation for maximizing profit? It doesn’t take much of stretch to see that profit maximization is not always innocuous, and without regulation can endanger human lives, the environment, and even jeopardize competition itself. AsRalph Nader has argued, “from pollution, medical negligence, procurement fraud, product defects, and financial fraud, to antitrust, public corruption, foreign bribery and occupational homicide, corporate crime is widely ignored by politicians – yet acutely felt by all Americans.” American corporations, especially those that operate abroad, such as United Fruit, Halliburton, Nike, Enron, Blackwater, Dow Chemical, Goldman Sachs, AIG, Arthur Andersen, Hollinger, and a host of others throw around massive amounts of wealth, bribe, intimidate, tamper with and bend laws to suit their interests, silence whistleblowers, engage in patronage, squeeze out competition, and instill fear in their workers so as to avoid rebellion from within. All of these behaviors can be learned from a baahubali handbook, if ever one was literate enough to write one.

We have for far too long allowed the incentive structure in the American political system to tilt toward private money. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that eventually those with the most money will carry the greatest influence, and those who depend on those large caches of cash will be beholden to the dictates of their cash cows. It reminds one of that proverbial parental slogan: ‘as long as you live under my roof, you will do as I say.’ Just as children must move out and make their own money to gain their independence, so too should Members of Congress move out of the ‘care’ of their financial supporters. In order to free our lawmakers from the need to accumulate vast resources and then repay those supporters in kind, we must institute a system which publicly funds the campaigns of those who are eligible. The goal here is to even the playing field, dissuade lawmakers from using their time in office to obtain fresh funds, and use that time instead to make and vote on laws – their actual jobs.

It was never the intention of the Founding Fathers that America’s lawmakers would be beholden to financiers, and it seems doubtful that they would allow corporations to take center stage in our political system. The private sector is adept at many things; financing political outcomes shouldn’t be one of them. Glenn Greenwald, in pointing out how little healthcare reform hurts private interests or insurance companies, emphasizes, “Corporate control of the Government is one of the most serious problems, if not the single most serious problem, the nation faces. Every future bill — from “financial reform” to energy bills to national security and surveillance legislation — is dominated by that central fact.” Yet the idea that financial and political power should rarely mingle is still considered radical today.

In his dissent to Citizens United, Justice John Paul Stevens asked why corporations, which are not members of society and cannot vote or run for office, should be allowed to crowd out those who do. What is the point of voting at all if members of Congress are more indebted to their financial base than to their electoral base? Corporations alone seem to have the amount of cash required to fund campaigns, and they often fund both parties in order to ensure that their views are represented in debate on any legislation that would affect them. In India, thugs behave in the same fashion. They meet in secret with other Parliamentarians, give and trade favors, and do this with the extra cash and muscle they acquire from their positions. It is a negative feedback loop built around rational responses to incentives.

America is a capitalist democracy, and if we endear ourselves to the notion of proper incentive structures as well as free and fair elections, we should demand both! What actually and ironically seems the most self-evident about corporate influence in politics is that it has the power to corrupt absolutely.

Iraq’s Baby Steps Toward Democracy

[I hope and pray that the author of the following piece is correct that this is truly the beginning of Iraq recovering some of what it was before we inflicted its mortal wound.  There are a lot of "ifs" that determine whether this is real hope or more delusion--the biggest "if" is--"if" American troops really leave.  The next "if" concerns Maliki and Allawi--"if" they work for America, or "if" they work for Iran.  If either of those loyalties hold, then neither of them work for the Iraqi people.  Time will tell, as in all things.]

Iraq’s Baby Steps Toward Democracy

By Adil E. Shamoo

Iraqi voters show inked fingers. CC license: Wikimedia

The Obama administration may finally get some good news. Iraq’s recent elections for parliament might actually result in a non-sectarian, pro-American government. This outcome would enable the Obama administration to fulfill its goal of removing all but 50,000 support troops by this August and drawn U.S. forces down to zero by the end of 2011.

The resilient and courageous Iraqi people voted in higher percentages than the American electorate, with 62 percent of eligible voters going to the polls. This voter participation is a positive step toward a free, sovereign, and democratic Iraq. The future, however, will depend on the actions and attitudes of Iraqis, Americans and Iraq’s neighbors.

A New Parliament

The preliminary results for the 325 seats in parliament indicate that Ayad Allawi’s Iraqia Party has garnered 91 seats, while incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Party won 89 seats. The Kurds have perhaps lost the most from this election. The main Kurdish Alliance won 43 seats and thus have fewer seats than before. The new secular group, Goran (meaning “change”), has split the Kurdish alliance. Goran could play an important role in joining any secular coalition.

Before the election, the Justice and Accountability Commission (co-chaired by Ahmed Chalabi, a candidate for parliament in this election) barred over 100 candidates from running. Of these, 55 were from Allawi’s list, and he has protested vociferously. Yet, while both sides are claiming foul, UN senior envoy Ad Melkert contends that the irregularities in the Iraqi election aren’t widespread and won’t affect the overall outcome.

The threat of violence remains real in Iraq. Nearly 100,000 foreign troops and at least that many contractors currently occupy Iraq. Most democratic institutions are weak or nonexistent; sectarian security forces continue to exist. Iraq functions under a sectarian constitution imposed by the Americans early in the invasion. And yet there is room for hope in this election.

Iraqi voters, way ahead of their politicians, rejected both sectarianism and dividing Iraq under the guise of federalism. In this regard the religious parties, especially those with close ties to Iran, were the biggest losers. (One exception was the vote strength of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shiite Muslim movement, because of its anti-occupation and nationalistic message.) Maliki changed his previous stance, splitting from the religious coalitions to form a non-sectarian party, the State of Law Coalition. This time around, he aimed to appeal to the Iraqis’ abhorrence to sectarian violence. However, Maliki reserved his cordial relations with religious groups in case he needed them after the election.

U.S. Interference

Ambassador Christopher Hill and General Ray Odierno clearly interfered in the election in promoting pro-American candidates Maliki and Allawi. This effort achieved its goal, since the two groups will now control the government. But despite the interference from U.S. officials, Iraqis have made progress toward sovereignty and democracy, which can potentially become even stronger after the withdrawal of American troops. The removal of the anti-occupation card will erode support for al-Sadr and strengthen the messages of secular parties.

Allawi will be given the first chance to form the government. Together, the parties of Maliki and Allawi can form a stable and functional Iraqi government. This coalition will please the Americans. However, their personal animosity is a strong obstacle to forming such an alliance. Further complicating this coalition-building, the party of Al-Sadr won’t join Maliki, since he attacked and disarmed them in Basra at the behest of the Americans. Maliki’s party can form a coalition with smaller religious groups, but the resulting government will be weak. Moreover, Allawi and other non-sectarian groups would continue to undermine his authority. Both the weakened Kurdish Alliance and Goran will be the wild cards in this game of coalition-building.

The participation of Iraqis in their election and the enforcement of election laws by Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission are but two examples of small steps toward democracy. If a stable and functional government is formed, the Iraqi people will have another opportunity to sustain and cement their democracy. Central to this process will be the strengthening of civil society. Civil society is not new to Iraq. Hammurabi’s Code, the first written laws in human history, was instituted in Iraq nearly 2,200 years ago. Iraqi attempts to build a modern civil society must overcome the triple challenges of history, current sectarian strife, and ongoing American intervention. Respecting the Iraqis to go through their own process of democratic trial and error is all part of restoring the rule of law to the land of Hammurabi.

Adil E. Shamoo is a senior analyst at Foreign Policy In Focus. He is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and writes on matters of ethics and public policy. He can be reached at his blog.

Recommended Citation:

Adil E. Shamoo, “Iraq’s Baby Steps Toward Democracy” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, March 30, 2010)

U.S. Rescue May Reach $23,000,000,000,000–a Number Too High to Comprehend

U.S. Rescue May Reach $23.7 Trillion, Barofsky Says

By Dawn Kopecki and Catherine Dodge

July 20 (Bloomberg) — U.S. taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as $23.7 trillion to bolster the economy and bail out financial companies, said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The Treasury’s $700 billion bank-investment program represents a fraction of all federal support to resuscitate the U.S. financial system, including $6.8 trillion in aid offered by the Federal Reserve, Barofsky said in a report released today.

“TARP has evolved into a program of unprecedented scope, scale and complexity,” Barofsky said in testimony prepared for a hearing tomorrow before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said the U.S. has spent less than $2 trillion so far and that Barofsky’s estimates are flawed because they don’t take into account assets that back those programs or fees charged to recoup some costs shouldered by taxpayers.

“These estimates of potential exposures do not provide a useful framework for evaluating the potential cost of these programs,” Williams said. “This estimate includes programs at their hypothetical maximum size, and it was never likely that the programs would be maxed out at the same time.”

Barofsky’s estimates include $2.3 trillion in programs offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., $7.4 trillion in TARP and other aid from the Treasury and $7.2 trillion in federal money for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, credit unions, Veterans Affairs and other federal programs.

Treasury’s Comment

Williams said the programs include escalating fee structures designed to make them “increasingly unattractive as financial markets normalize.” Dependence on these federal programs has begun to decline, as shown by $70 billion in TARP capital investments that has already been repaid, Williams said.

Barofsky offered criticism in a separate quarterly report of Treasury’s implementation of TARP, saying the department has “repeatedly failed to adopt recommendations” needed to provide transparency and fulfill the administration’s goal to implement TARP “with the highest degree of accountability.”

As a result, taxpayers don’t know how TARP recipients are using the money or the value of the investments, he said in the report.

‘Falling Short’

“This administration promised an ‘unprecedented level’ of accountability and oversight, but as this report reveals, they are falling far short of that promise,” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the oversight committee, said in a statement. “The American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent.”

The Treasury has spent $441 billion of TARP funds so far and has allocated $202.1 billion more for other spending, according to Barofsky. In the nine months since Congress authorized TARP, Treasury has created 12 programs involving funds that may reach almost $3 trillion, he said.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should press banks for more information on how they use the more than $200 billion the government has pumped into U.S. financial institutions, Barofsky said in a separate report.

The inspector general surveyed 360 banks that have received TARP capital, including Bank of America Corp.JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. The responses, which the inspector general said it didn’t verify independently, showed that 83 percent of banks used TARP money for lending, while 43 percent used funds to add to their capital cushion and 31 percent made new investments.

Barofsky said the TARP inspector general’s office has 35 ongoing criminal and civil investigations that include suspected accounting, securities and mortgage fraud; insider trading; and tax investigations related to the abuse of TARP programs.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dawn Kopecki in Washington atdkopecki@bloomberg.netCatherine Dodge in Washington atCdodge1@bloomberg.net.

Terrorist vs. Terrorist

Terrorist vs. Terrorist

Bad-guy fratricide in AfPak

Ralph Peters

As an intelligence officer or journalist, you’ve got to know which sources you can trust. And a source who’s never let me down told me yesterday that the terrorist multinational based in Pakistan is coming apart.

According to this insider’s insider, the Pakistan-headquartered Afghan Taliban is furious at the Taliban’s Pakistani wing because its assaults on the Islamabad government triggered a stunning backlash.

Unleashed at last, Pakistan’s military launched a series of offensives aimed at smacking down the domestic Taliban. But those campaigns also crippled the Afghan Taliban’s freedom of action — and the murky Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) has been killing any Taliban leaders who resist its guidance. (As I’ve noted in past columns, Islamabad intends to dominate any Afghan peace deal.)

GettyHeating up: Army Lt. Scott Doyle moving into position under insurgent fire on March 16 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. US forces will soon mount a major offensive in and around Kandahar city.

GETTY
Heating up: Army Lt. Scott Doyle moving into position under insurgent fire on March 16 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. US forces will soon mount a major offensive in and around Kandahar city.

Now Terrorist Mutt is blaming Terrorist Jeff.

The news gets even better. Both Taliban wings are mocking al Qaeda as a bunch of wimps unwilling to help with the fight. Under siege from drone attacks and special operators, al Qaeda has hunkered down — and is no longer paying the rent to which the Taliban are accustomed.

There’s more. Multiple reports tell of a “shootin’ war” between the Afghan Taliban and another brutal Afghan outfit, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb e-Islami mujaheddin (who’ve inched toward a deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai). Meanwhile, the ruthless Haqqani faction — aligned with the Taliban — is supposedly squabbling with everybody.

You don’t have to keep all the players straight — just be glad they’re at each other’s throats. The US policy of killing our enemies and goading the Pakistanis to do the same is paying off.

But if things are going better within Pakistan’s Wild Northwest, our peace-and-love policies inside Afghanistan are in a muddle. Officers worry that Gen. Stan McChrystal’s ploy of warning the Taliban that we’re coming to take back Kandahar may backfire.

This “look out, here we come” approach is meant to convince the Taliban to fade away before we deploy, thus limiting casualties and property damage. But reports claim the Taliban’s doing just the opposite: stockpiling weapons and bombs throughout Kandahar.

Aware that we’re hyper-sensitive to blood and rubble, the Taliban may try to turn Kandahar into a slaughterhouse for civilians, a long struggle for our troops — and, ultimately, a wasteland. (Taliban strategists may have drawn a lesson from the First Battle of Fallujah in Iraq, which the insurgents lost in the city’s streets, but won — with the media’s help — at the political level.)

The upcoming Kandahar campaign’s also complicated by the perceived need to have Afghan forces play a greater role. While letting Afghans bleed for their own country is theoretically the right answer, the Afghan National Army isn’t ready.

If an Afghan battalion breaks down under fire, guess what the headline will be — no matter how well other aspects of the fight go (the iconic image of our crucial victory in Second Fallujah remains a Marine shooting a terrorist prisoner).

Precious to the Taliban, Kandahar is McChrystal’s all-or-nothing gamble. It may not have been wise to announce in advance that he’s betting the bank on the outcome.

It also would have been encouraging had our president, instead of checking the “Afghanistan box” with a six-hour night-time visit, spent just one full day in-country to see what our troops are doing. Obama logged four times as many hours in the air as he spent on the ground in Afghanistan.

Worse, Obama’s darkness-shrouded drive-by sent a counter-productive message to our enemies, allies and regional observers: The US president’s afraid to be on Afghan soil during daylight hours.

It’s irrelevant whether his after-dusk arrival and post-midnight departure had to do with security concerns or just scheduling issues. He looked furtive. And appearances trump all.

Reportedly, the president read Karzai the riot act about the destructive corruption and ineptitude of his government. Nothing will come of it. The Karzai regime’s too far gone. It isn’t afflicted with corruption — it’s built on it.

Obama then chowed down with local luminaries, gave rear-echelon troops a 20-minute pep talk (complete with photo op) on the safest base in Afghanistan, and faded back into the night. That wham-bam-thank-you-Bagram visit was a perfect measure of the president’s level of interest in a war to which he’s sending 30,000 more men and women in uniform.

The good news? We’re not only killing terrorists in Pakistan — they’re starting to kill each other. The bad news? Afghanistan isn’t a war. It’s a politically correct experiment — conducted with our troops — by an administration with higher priorities.

Ralph Peters’ new book is “Endless War: Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization.”


Pakistan alleges Afghans are releasing Taliban fighters

Afghanistan has been releasing Taliban fighters captured in Pakistan and turned over to the Karzai government, creating a growing rift between the neighbors as they struggle to defeat insurgents, three senior Pakistani officials said.

The releases have made Pakistan reluctant to turn over some top Taliban captives, the officials said. The Afghanistan Embassy declined to comment on the allegation.

The Washington Examiner reviewed classified Pakistani military case summaries on roughly 1,100 captured or killed Taliban insurgents and suspected al Qaeda fighters.

The reports detailed the return to Afghanistan upon the request of the Karzai government of dozens of insurgents. However, upon their return, the classified documents noted that they were “released back to the Taliban as bargaining chips in negotiations.”

A typical report detailed the case of a suspected Taliban named Maulvi Saeed. He was “a member [of] Taliban Shura in Kunar, planner of suicide bombings,” the classified report said.

“Arrested on February 22, 2007, from Peshawar. Handed over to [National Directorate of Security] on 24, December, 2007. He was released by Afghan security officials without notifying Pakistan,” a note attached to Saeed’s report stated.

“They don’t keep us on board and continually release dangerous and sometime high-level Taliban that we have captured,” said a senior Pakistani official, who spoke on condition that he not be named.

“We handed them over to the Afghan government,” the official said. “Then the Afghan government releases them to negotiate their own release of those the Taliban has captured or some other possible position that suits them.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Wright said the United States is aware of the release of some detainees in Afghanistan but that U.S. and NATO partners “carefully monitor the situation.”

One U.S. official with knowledge of detainee releases said American forces in the region “won’t turn a blind eye after the detainees are let go.”

The U.S. official said some suspected insurgents captured by American troops have also been released by the Afghan government, but he wouldn’t second-guess the motives of the Afghans. “What can we do when there is no evidence or if the Afghan government makes the decision to release them once they’re turned over? Our hands are tied,” he said.

The military official said, “Normally there are people watching, and we have various means of trying to maintain tabs on the detainees who warrant further attention.”

“Many of those released by Karzai’s government immediately go back to fighting with the Taliban and al Qaeda,” one high-ranking Pakistani official said.

In early March, Afghan President Hamid Karzai spent two days in Pakistan, where he made a formal request for Pakistan to hand over the Taliban’s No. 2 leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to be tried in Afghanistan.

Karzai has also expressed his anger over the arrest of Baradar, saying the detention had complicated efforts to reach an accord with some Taliban factions.

A Pakistan counterterrorism official told the Washington Examiner that Pakistan would turn Baradar over to Afghanistan, after “we are done with the interrogation.” But he said that his country is “apprehensive that he will be set free.”

scarter@washingtonexaminer.com


Raping Muslim Women–Brainwashing Female Outcasts Into Suicide-Bombers

Future “shahid” women in Caucasus are raped to be recruited – criminalist

Moscow, March 30, Interfax – Militants in the North Caucasus have recently changed the way of recruiting suicide bombers.

“As far as I know, now it is done more cynically – a woman is just raped. After it, she becomes a social outcast, she is despised. Then they suggest her the only way to return respect – to become a warrior of Allah,” criminal psychiatrist Mikhail Vinogradov was cited by the Metro paper as saying.

According to him, usually they do not refuse as “there are no other options.” Then “very serious ideological indoctrination and drugs” are applied and women “are zombied.”

“Those women who have chosen the “shahid” way can’t give it up. It is based on religious and national specifics of the region. They have absolutely different understanding of family, sex, duty and faith,” the expert said.

He also pointed out that no Slavic suicide bomber had been known so far.

“They became snipers, mine layers, anything else, but never put on a “shahid belt.” While for a Muslim woman under certain conditions it is the only possible way,” Vinogradov said.

India Ends Mumbai Terror Trial Without Access to Headley–Proof That It Is Show-Trial

[How could India end the Kasab trial without receiving testimony from self-confessed planner?  It seems that they have obtained the only evidence that they really sought--Headley confirmation that the Pakistani Army was involved.  We will see after May 3 what they really intend to do with the foregone conclusions from this kangaroo court.]

26/11: Kasab trial ends, verdict on May 3

NDTV Correspondent

A year after it began, the 26/11 trial concluded today with the prosecution and defence ending their arguments in the case. (Read: Key moments in 26/11 trial)

Judge M L Tahaliyani announced May 3 as the date for the final verdict in the case. The prosecution examined as many as 658 witnesses, include 30 eyewitnesses, to prove that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) carried out the Mumbai attacks.

Speaking after the verdict Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that 26/11 was state sponsored terrorism. He said: “Not just Lashkar, Pak Army too was behind 26/11 attacks.”

Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist caught alive, while he and nine others carried out the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Mumbai 26/11, the most audacious terror attack India has ever seen, killed 166 people.

The arguments by prosecution and defence are expected to conclude following which Judge M L Tahaliyani may announce the date for the verdict. Two Indians are also charged with taking part in the conspiracy. (Read: Kasab’s flip-flops during trial)

The prosecution examined as many as 658 witnesses to prove their case that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) carried out the dastardly attacks in Mumbai by sending 10 terrorists from Karachi.

The court also examined four witnesses, including two National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, who led the teams in operations to fight the terrorists.

Police filed charge sheet on February 26 last year and the case was committed from magistrate’s court to a sessions court on March 9, 2009. A separate court was established in high security central prison in Mumbai to hear the case.

On April 17, before the trial began, Kasab had pleaded that he was a juvenile, but the court rejected his claim after examining prosecution witnesses and experts and ruled that he was above 20 years.

On May 8, the first witness stepped into the box, saying he had seen Kasab gunning down sub-inspector Tukaram Ombale at Girgaum Chowpatty.

After examining 658 witnesses, including 30 eye witnesses, Nikam opened arguments this month, saying there was evidence to suggest that the security apparatus of Pakistan was involved in the attacks on India’s financial nerve center.

Some days later, American terror accused David Headley, in a plea bargain before a Chicago Court, disclosed that Pakistani Army men were behind the conspiracy to strike terror in Mumbai in November 2008.

Nikam argued for 13 days before the trial court and filed a 675-page written submissions. Kasab’s counsel K P Pawar argued for three days while R B Mokashi, lawyer defending Faheem Ansari, argued on Tuesday. Ejaz Naqvi, the lawyer of co-accused Sabauddin Ahmed, would argue on Wednesday.

Nikam has sought conviction of the accused on various charges under IPC, including waging war against nation, and other laws such as Foreigners Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Properties Act, Customs Act, Passport Act, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Explosives Substances Act and Bombay Police Act. (With PTI inputs)

Afghan Bomb Targets Farmers In NATO Anti-Opium Program

Afghan Bomb Targets Anti-Opium Aid

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and TAIMOOR SHAH

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 13 Afghans were killed on Wednesday morning when a bomb exploded at a market in an attack aimed at a NATO-backed program to reduce opium cultivation in the restive southern province of Helmand, local authorities said.

Most of the victims were farmers and other Afghans lined up to receive fertilizer and seeds from the NATO-backed Food Zone program, which is designed to persuade farmers to switch from poppy cultivation, the most profitable crop in Helmand, to wheat and other crops.

Daoud Ahmadi, spokesman for the Helmand provincial governor, said 45 people were wounded, including eight children and a policeman. The attack took place between the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah and Gereshk, a volatile city with a significant Taliban presence about 25 miles to the north.

Helmand is a focus of the Taliban insurgency against the American-led coalition inAfghanistan.

An irrigation ditch near the attack turned red from blood flowing into the water, said the district governor of Gereshk, Haji Abdul Ahad Khan.

The acting Helmand provincial police chief, Col. Kamaluddin Khan, said the bomb was hidden on a bicycle, but Mr. Ahad Khan blamed a suicide bomber on a motorcycle.

The blast struck a busy shopping area known as the Wednesday bazaar, which is open one day a week and serves villagers from the area surrounding Gereshk who come to sell livestock, food and other goods and to buy their own supplies.

Local officials said the attack was clearly aimed at Afghans waiting to obtain aid from the seed-and-fertilizer-distribution program, which helps Afghans in Helmand who forego opium farming. Helmand accounts for the majority of the world’s poppy cultivation despite years of efforts by NATO to curb the industry.

“The Taliban and narcotics smugglers were behind this attack,” said Mr. Ahmadi, the spokesman for the Helmand provincial governor, Gulab Mangal, who has been a supporter of the Food Zone program and other western-backed efforts to reduce poppy cultivation.

“This was an attempt at intimidating people and stopping the process of development and peace building in the province,” Mr. Ahmadi said.

A statement from the NATO military command in Kabul said the attack took place in the Nahr-e Saraj district. Early reports indicated that at least 35 civilians were wounded along with an unspecified number killed but the “the nature of the explosion is currently unknown,” NATO said.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. reported from Kabul, Afghanistan and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan. Sangar Rahimi contributed reporting from Kabul.

WIDOWS OF DEATH

WIDOWS OF DEATH

By Chris Hughes 31/03/2010

Police release the image of the two women they suspect detonated the bombs on Moscow’s metro.

Faces of the Moscow tube bomb killers

These grisly images show the faces of the Black Widow suicide bombers who killed 39 commuters on packed morning rush-hour trains in Moscow.

The grainy photos of the dead pair were released by security chiefs hunting the fanatics behind the carnage as concerns grew the women could be part of a 30-strong death squad.

The bombers, who detonated explosives at two underground stations on Monday, are believed to have belonged to a group of Chechnya-linked Islamic terrorists feared to be plotting more outrages in revenge for the death of terror mastermind Said Buryatsky.

The Muslim convert, thought to be behind several bomb attacks in Russia, was one of six rebels killed in a strike by the Federal Security Service, the successor to be old KGB, on March 2. Agents are now hunting down his female relatives of the woman, thought to be from the North Caucasus region, to eliminate them as suspects. They believe another seven members of the squad have previously blown themselves up in attacks.

Yesterday Russia’s hardman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who directed a fierce war against Chechen separatists a decade ago, vowed security forces would “scrape from the sewers” those responsible for the attacks in the Russian capital. He spoke after visiting Botkinskaya hospital in the capital, where 72 people injured in the blasts are being treated. Five remain in a critical condition.

Police believe the unnamed Black Widows detonated belts of explosives as the train doors opened at Lubyanka and Park Kultury metro stations 45 minutes apart.

Following the attacks which shocked the entire nation, commuters yesterday nervously returned to the blast-scarred subway stations, stopping to light candles or lay flowers as the country began a day of mourning.

Many people openly wept as they lay tributes. “I feel the tension on the metro, nobody’s smiling or laughing,” said university student Alina Tsaritova, not far from the Lubyanka station.

Police with machine guns and sniffer dogs stood at its entrance.

Flags flew at half mast at the Kremlin and in other cities. TV shows were scrapped and services were held at churches.

Moscow Bomb Reports of “Black Widow” Suicide Bombers and Attacks Upon Caucasian Women

[A wave of  media-generated Islamaphobia is in its infancy now, in Russia and the former republics.  This is the emotional reaction that was sought by the Moscow bombers, whoever they really are.  It would seem logical to ask at this point, why "Islamists" would want to cause revenge attacks upon fellow Muslims, if you subscribed to the theory of "Islamo-fascism."  But frequent visitors to this website know that "al Qaida" and all the Islamist terror groups are products of the Western intelligence agencies and their subordinates.  No one is happier about successful Islamist terror attacks and the cycles of retribution which they unleash than CIA-types.  Dir. Casey's withered old corpse is probably cracking in its grave, as he smiles today over Moscow's new misery.]

Russia: The Caucasians and Muslims were attacked after the terrorist acts in Moscow

Ferghana.Ru

Moskovskiy komsomolets reports that after the terrorist acts in the Moscow subway two women in Muslim shawls and few suspicious-looking Caucasians were attacked.

The first incident took place on Monday in the wagon between the Avtozavodskaya and Paveletskaya stations. According to the witness, two Muslim women entered the wagon at the Avtozavodskaya station. MK says one of the passengers was attacked shortly after the train took off.Echo Moskvy informs, one of the passengers pushed out another woman at Paveletskaya station. Other passengers showed no response. There were no police officers either.

In the second incident few young men attacked two Caucasians at the Kuntsevskaya station. Later on it was identified that the volunteers decided to check the bags of suspicious passengers.

It has to be mentioned that on March 29, 2010 38 passengers died and few dozens were injured as a result of two terrorist acts at the Lubyanka and the Park Kultury stations. The investigators said they found the remains of bodies of two suicide bombers.

The Republic of Tajikistan Embassy in Russian Federation informed that three citizens of Tajikistan (Umed Abdurakhmonov, Nadirbek Karshiev and Islomjon Eshnazarov) were killed in the explosions. Another Tajik citizen Ore Nazarov was severely injured.

The Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan and the Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Russia informed that the citizens of these two Central Asian republics were not listed as the victims of the bloody accident. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan released no official information about their victims.

The terrorist acts in Moscow should not affect law-abiding migrants – Vladimir Vasiliev, the Chairman of Russian Gosduma Committee for security. He is affirmed that the explosions will not affect the migration policy of the country. The deputy underlined that Russia, as any other state, is interested in migrants because the economy needs them, also adding that Moscow is interested in legal migrants. RIA Novosti says Vasiliev warns against the nationalistic accent in the search of guilty.

Tajik, Uzbek Water Dispute Disrupts New Afghan War Rail Supply Route

DUSHANBE – Daily News with wires
A town in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan created to house laborers is seen near the planned site for the Roghun dam, an epic multi-billion-dollar venture touted by the government as the solution to the cash-strapped country's woes. AP Photo
A town in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan created to house laborers is seen near the planned site for the Roghun dam, an epic multi-billion-dollar venture touted by the government as the solution to the cash-strapped country's woes. AP Photo
A town in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan created to house laborers is seen near the planned site for the Roghun dam, an epic multi-billion-dollar venture touted by the government as the solution to the cash-strapped country’s woes. AP Photo

A fresh controversy over rail transportation between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan indicates relations remain far from smooth amid recent talks between Central Asian leaders in their search for common will to resolve regional disputes over water and energy.

On March 22, Tajikistan’s foreign ministry handed the Uzbek ambassador a protest note, saying a large number of railway freight trucks were being prevented from crossing the border. Tajikistan said the aim was to prevent materials from reaching the Roghun dam – a massive project currently under construction, reported the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, or IWPR, on its Web site.

Dushanbe believes completing the Roghun hydropower scheme, which has been stalled since the ’90s but was resumed in recent years, will alleviate its chronic energy shortages. If implemented, the project would construct the world’s tallest dam.

Uzbekistan, however, has raised objections to the project, taking the position that major new dams like Roghun and the Kambarata-1 and -2 plants in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, could reduce water flows down the Amu Derya and Syr Derya rivers to a point where its agricultural economy would be deprived of irrigation.

In response to the protest note, the Uzbek foreign ministry said the reasons for the delays were technical, not political, and stemmed from undertakings by Tashkent to facilitate shipments to Afghanistan, which overloaded the rail network, according to a report by the Russian Itar-Tass news agency.

Latest sign

In a groundbreaking decision last year, Uzbekistan agreed to allow NATO to use its territory to bring in cargo for the continuing operations in Afghanistan via the so-called “northern corridor” because land routes from Pakistan were becoming increasingly hazardous.

The diplomatic row is only the latest manifestation of the fraught relationship between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but its timing is particularly unfortunate given that all five Central Asian states appear more willing than ever to talk about the vexed issues of water and energy.

The disagreement focuses on the use of transnational rivers by the countries where they originate, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the states located downstream that rely on the water flow, including Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

“Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan need water for irrigation while the Tajiks and Kyrgyz view it as a source of electricity,” Kazakh journalist Daur Dosybiev told the IWPR. “The Tajiks and Kyrgyz store up water and release it downstream in winter to generate electricity.”

When Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Tashkent on March 16-17, he backed Uzbekistan’s demand for an impact assessment. “Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are located downstream on the Syr Derya and Amu Derya, and they need guarantees of this kind,” said Nazarbayev.

The Kazakh leader said, before visiting Uzbekistan, he had telephone conversations with the Kyrgyz and Tajik leaders, Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Imomali Rahmon, both of whom had agreed to such a study.

Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow also discussed water issues on a visit to Tajikistan. Commenting on the outcome of the talks on March 18, President Rahmon said, using the water sources in its territory, Tajikistan would consider not only its own legitimate needs but also “common regional interests.”

Sanobar Shermatova, a Central Asia expert in Moscow, said Nazarbayev’s comments did not mean he had shifted to unconditional support for the Uzbek position.

Kazakhstan less dependent

Kazakhstan is much less dependent on the major Central Asian rivers than Uzbekistan. Its southern regions get water from the Syr Derya, which will be affected by the Kambarata schemes in Kyrgyzstan, but the construction of a new reservoir, inaugurated on March 18, means it will not be so vulnerable to fluctuating water flows. In addition, the country has a lot of influence in Kyrgyzstan.

“In general, construction of the Kambarata hydroelectric plants does not alarm Kazakhstan,” said Shermatova. “Given that small and impoverished Kyrgyzstan is reliant on its bigger neighbor, the two countries can be expected to reach some kind of agreement,” the IWPR quoted Shermatova as saying.

Arkady Dubnov, a journalist in Moscow who specializes in Central Asian affairs, agrees that the Kazakh leader’s public support for the Uzbek position should not be taken at face value. He doubts Nazarbayev would really press for an international study if that would jeopardize Kyrgyzstan’s energy plans. “Kazakhstan is not going to take a tough stand on this issue,” he said. “Astana will not go against Bishkek.”

Similarly, Turkmenistan is unlikely to align itself firmly with either side in the dispute. Last year, Berdimuhamedow backed Uzbekistan’s demand for an international study, and this will color Turkmenistan’s relationship with Tajikistan even as the latter seeks to buy gas and electricity supplies from it.

For the moment, the real differences are between Uzbekistan on the one hand and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the other.

Recent statements by Central Asian presidents suggest they are beginning to feel their way toward a solution that would suit everyone. However, unfriendly relations between Uzbekistan and its Tajik and Kyrgyz neighbors – spurred by Tashkent’s concern that its legitimate interests are being ignored – could delay a settlement.

Timeline: Recent attacks in Russia

Timeline: Recent attacks in Russia

The following is a timeline of big attacks on Russian soil over recent years:

1994-1996 – Tens of thousands of people are killed in the first Chechen war.

June 1995 – Chechen rebels seize hundreds of hostages in a hospital in the southern Russian town of Budennovsk. More than 100 people are killed during the rebel assault and a botched Russian commando raid.

Jan 1996 – Chechen fighters take hundreds hostage in a hospital at Kizlyar in Dagestan, then move them by bus to Pervomaiskoye on the Chechen border. Most rebels escape but many hostages are killed when Russian forces attempt a rescue.

Sept 1999 – Bombs destroy apartment blocks in Moscow, Buynaksk and Volgodonsk. More than 200 people are killed. Moscow blames Chechens who in turn blame Russian secret services.

Aug-Sept 1999 – Hundreds of Russian soldiers killed battling Chechen militants in the mountains of Dagestan. The second Chechen war begins and Russia bombs Chechnya. Tens of thousands are killed in the war. Russia re-establishes direct rule in 2000.

May 9, 2002 – More than 40 people are killed when a bomb tears through a military parade in the city of Kaspiysk in Dagestan. Local insurgents are blamed for the attack.

Oct 23-26, 2002 – 129 hostages and 41 Chechen guerrillas are killed when Russian troops storm a Moscow theater where rebels had taken 700 people captive three days earlier. Most of the hostages are killed by gas used to knock out the Chechens.

Dec 27, 2002 – More than 70 people are killed and hundreds injured when suicide bombers drive trucks packed with explosives into the pro-Russian Chechen government’s headquarters in Grozny. Chechen rebels claimed responsibility.

July 5, 2003 – Two women suicide bombers kill 15 other people when they blow themselves up at an open-air rock festival at Moscow’s Tushino airfield. Sixty are injured.

Aug 1, 2003 – A suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives blows up a military hospital at Mozdok in North Ossetia bordering Chechnya. The blast kills at least 50.

Dec 5, 2003 – An explosion tears through a morning commuter train just outside Yessentuki station in Russia’s southern fringe. Forty-six people are killed and 160 injured.

Dec 9, 2003 – A suicide bomber kills five other people near the Kremlin. At least 13 people are wounded.

Feb 6, 2004 – A suicide bombing kills at least 39 people and wounds more than 100 on an underground train in Moscow.

May 9, 2004 – Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov is killed in a bomb blast in Grozny.

June 22, 2004 – Rebels seize an interior ministry building in Ingushetia, near Chechnya, and attack other points in lightning attacks. At least 92 people are killed including the acting regional interior minister, Abukar Kostoyev.

Aug 24, 2004 – Two Russian passenger planes are blown up almost simultaneously, killing 90 people. One Tu-134, flying to Volgograd, goes down south of Moscow. Moments later a Tu-154 bound for Sochi crashes near Rostov-on-Don.

Aug 31, 2004 – A suicide bomb attack in central Moscow kills 10 people and injures 51.

Sept 1-3, 2004 – 331 hostages – half of them children – die in a chaotic storming of School No.1 in Beslan, after it is seized by rebels demanding Chechen independence.

Oct 13, 2005 – Up to 100 rebels attack key security points in Nalchik, main city of the Muslim Kabardino-Balkaria region. Twelve local residents are killed as well as 12 police. Twenty fighters are killed and 12 are seized by security forces.

Feb 10, 2006 – Seven Russian policemen and 12 gunmen are killed when special forces storm houses to fight rebels holed up in a village in the Stavropol region of southern Russia.

Aug 21, 2006 – A bomb kills 10 people in a Moscow suburban market.

April 27, 2007 – A Russian helicopter is shot down in Chechnya, killing 18 people.

Aug 13, 2007 – A bomb derails the Nevsky Express between Moscow and St Petersburg, injuring 60 people.

Aug 31, 2007 – A bomb on a bus in the Southern Russian city of Togliatti kills eight and injures 50 during the rush hour.

June 22, 2009 – Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov is seriously injured when a suicide bomber detonates explosives beside his car. He later recovers and returns to work.

Aug 17, 2009 – A suicide bomber drives a truck into the gates of the main police station in Nazran, the largest city in Ingushetia, killing 20 people and wounding 138 others.

Nov 27, 2009 – A bomb blast derails the Nevsky Express with about 700 people on board. At least 26 people are killed and 100 injured.

Jan 6, 2010 – At least seven policemen are killed and 20 more injured in Dagestan when a suicide bomber detonates a car packed with explosives at a traffic police depot.

March 29, 2010 – At least two blasts strike Moscow metro stations during rush hour, killing 34 people and wounding 18.

March 31, 2010 – Two blasts, including one by a suicide bomber, rock Kizlyar in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan, killing nine people including a top police official, a regional police spokesman tells Reuters.

Bombs kill 11 in Dagestan after Moscow metro attack

Bombs kill 11 in Dagestan after Moscow metro attack

MAKHACHKALA, Russia

(Reuters) – Two blasts, one set off by a suicide bomber, rocked Kizlyar in Russia’s Dagestan region on Wednesday, killing at least 11 people just two days after twin bombs hit Moscow, officials told Reuters.

Investigators said a suicide bomber dressed in a police uniform set off the second of the blasts in Dagestan, which followed the two bombings in Moscow that killed 39 people and which authorities blamed on female suicide attackers with links to insurgents in the turbulent North Caucasus.

In Kizlyar, a police official said a car parked near a school in the center of town blew up as a traffic police patrol was driving by, killing two police officers.

He said the second bomb was set off shortly after police and onlookers gathered at the scene.

The provincial police spokesman said Kizlyar police chief Vitaly Vedernikov was among the dead. At least six other police officers, an investigator and a civilian were killed, Russian news agencies cited police as saying.

Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province adjacent to war-scarred Chechnya along Russia’s southern border, is plagued by frequent attacks targeting police and government officials.

ONE BOMB FOLLOWED BY ANOTHER

Drawing police to the scene of an initial blast and then setting off another bomb is a common tactic used by militants in the North Caucasus.

Attacks linked to the insurgency that persists nearly a decade after the second post-Soviet separatist war in Chechnya had been limited mostly to the North Caucasus in recent years before the Monday bombings on Moscow’s metro.

Agency reports said there were no children in the school in Kizlyar at the time of the explosions.

The deadliest attack in the Russian capital in six years fueled fears of a broader offensive by rebels based in the North Caucasus and underscored the Kremlin’s failure to keep militants in check.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who led Moscow into a war against Chechen separatists in 1999 that sealed his rise to power, said on Tuesday that those behind the bombings must be scraped “from the bottom of the sewers” and exposed.

Moscow observed a day of mourning on Tuesday for the victims of the blasts, which authorities said were set off by female suicide bombers linked to the North Caucasus — a string of heavily Muslim provinces that includes Chechnya.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by Peter Millership)

Moscow Links AfPak Militants to Train Blasts

[Is Russia implicating Taliban to create opening for American Special Forces, or for its own retribution plans?]

Special Report: Twin blasts rock Moscow subway

Backgrounder: Major metro blasts in Russia since 1998

A fire-fighter and Interior Ministry officers work near the entrance of the Lubyanka metro station in Moscow March 29, 2010. An explosion ripped through Lubyanka station in central Moscow at rush hour on Monday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 11 more, the Emergencies Ministry said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

MOSCOW, March 29 (Xinhua) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that the two female suicide bombers in the twin subway explosions may have links to militants on the Afghan-Pakistani border, Interfax news agency said.

Asked if any foreign elements were involved in the terrorist attacks, which killed at least 38 people and injured 64 Monday morning, Lavrov said he did not exclude that.

“We all know that the Afghan-Pakistani border, in the so-called no-man’s land, the terrorist underground is very well entrenched,” he said.

“We know that many people there actively plot attacks, not just in Afghanistan, but also in other countries. Sometimes the trails lead to the Caucasus,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russia’s FSB state security service said the two suicide bombers may have links to the North Caucasus, the center of an insurgency movement against Moscow.

Shoot-at-sight orders issued in Hyderabad as riots spread

Shoot-at-sight orders issued in Hyderabad as riots spread

Hyderabad: Communal riots spread to new areas in Hyderabad on Tuesday even as shoot-at-sight orders were issued in the old city and curfew was imposed in the areas under eight more police stations.

While curfew continued the old city without any relaxation, it was imposed in new areas following fresh clashes.

Hyderabad police Commissioner A.K. Khan said on Tuesday evening that indefinite curfew would be in force in Afzalgunz, Begumbazar, Shahinathgunz, Tappachaputra, Asifnagar, Mangalhat, Kulsumpura and Habibnagar police stations.

Fresh violence in Hyderabad; 8 hurt

He also imposed prohibitory orders banning processions and rallies across this Andhra Pradesh capital after clashes in new areas.

The indefinite curfew in the riot-hit old city of Hyderabad continued on Tuesday without relaxation. All 17 police stations under the south zone were brought under curfew on Monday night to control the situation.

The communal violence, which was so far confined to the old city, spread to other areas in the city, triggering tension.

Groups belonging to two different communities clashed in Musheerabad, Bholakpur and Rani Gunj and other areas in central Hyderabad and its twin city Secunderabad.

Andhra Pradesh police chief Girish Kumar told reporters that police were ordered to shoot anyone carrying lethal weapons, stones or sticks in the curfew-bound old city. The order came after fresh incidents of violence that left over 30 people injured.

While the curfew-bound old city remained by and large peaceful, trouble broke out in Musheerabad area when some people allegedly pelted stones on a religious procession. Rival groups clashes with stones and sticks. The miscreants attacked houses and damaged over 20 vehicles.

Curfew continues in tense Hyderabad

The trouble spread to nearby Bholakpur and Rani Gunj areas. In Begum Bazar area near the old city, police opened fire in the air to disperse two clashing groups.

There was tension in several areas as various organisations took out processions to mark Hanuman Jayanti. As the tension was mounting, police ordered closure of shops and business establishments in almost all parts of the city as a precautionary measure. Almost the entire city wore a deserted look.

Sporadic incidents of stone pelting were reported from curfew-bound areas of Gulzar Houz and Shahali Banda near the historic Charminar but the police controlled the situation by resorting to baton charges and arresting the miscreants.

The violence, which broke out Saturday in Moosabowli area of Hussaini Alam over a dispute on putting up of religious flags, has so far left one person dead and over 80 injured while several places of worship were attacked and vehicles torched.

With rampaging mobs taking to streets in several areas Monday afternoon, police imposed curfew to bring the situation under control. Hundreds of policemen and paramilitary forces personnel were deployed across the communally-sensitive walled city.

The violence of last three days and the curfew has put the residents to severe inconvenience.

Police, with the help of some dairy farms, arranged supply of milk in curfew-bound areas Tuesday morning. Women were allowed to come out and buy milk from the suppliers.

Policemen from other parts of the state, neighbouring states and personnel of central forces like Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) have been deployed in the trouble-torn areas.

Police Commissioner Khan said any decision on relaxing the curfew would be taken after a review of the situation Wednesday.

He said police had formed special teams to identify the culprits behind the riots. ‘We have so far arrested 110 people in connection with various incidents and questioning them to identify the culprits,’ Khan said.

Authorities have postponed the Class 10 examinations in all curfew-bound areas. The education department announced that the examinations would be held for students in the old city at a later date.

Hindu-Muslim clashes injure scores in India

Hindu-Muslim clashes injure scores in India

* Over 75 injured, 86 arrested after riots
* Skirmishes broke out as Hindus tried to replace green Muslim flags with saffron ones

HYDERABAD: Authorities fired tear gas and warning shots and swung batons on Monday to disperse crowds of angry Hindus and Muslims who attacked each other with stones and clubs in southern India, where more than 75 people have been injured.

Communal rioting broke out on Saturday in Hyderabad, capital of southern Andhra Pradesh state, and about 1,600 paramilitary soldiers and police have been deployed to calm the situation, AK Khan, city police commissioner, told reporters.

Hyderabad has a population of eight million with nearly 40 percent Muslims. The last major Hindu-Muslim rioting in Hyderabad took place in 1990, killing 200 people. The city had been mostly peaceful since then.

Trouble started after Muslims hoisted green flags to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) a month ago but never removed them.

Replacement: Clashes erupted between the two communities on Saturday after Hindus attempted to replace the green flags with saffron ones to celebrate a Hindu festival.

Violence continued on Sunday with dozens of vehicles torched and half a dozen mosques and temples damaged, Khan said. More than 75 people have been injured since Saturday, he said.

Hostilities persisted on Monday despite police banning the assembly of more than five people in one place and closing markets and schools for the day, he said.

Police fired warning shots into the air to control crowds and imposed an indefinite curfew in parts of India’s key information technology hub – a base for Google, Microsoft, and IBM. Eighty-six people from both communities have been arrested.

In the Gujarat state, Hindu mobs rampaged through Muslim neighbourhoods, towns and villages between February-April 2002, leaving about 1,000 people dead. ap

Interview With Russia’s Nemesis, Leader of Caucasus “Islamists”

“Our possibilities are endless…” (interview with Dokka Umarov)

"Our possibilities are endless..." (interview with Dokka Umarov)

In the following interview, Dokka Umarov, Emir of the Caucasus Mujahedin, spoke to Prague Watchdog by telephone.

The editors

Prague Watchdog: Some time ago there were reports that you had been wounded, and some even had you dead and buried. Were you wounded?

Dokka Umarov: No, I wasn’t. The last time was in 1995, when I received a leg wound.

PW: At the end of April the Kavkaz-Center website published a video in which you announced the decision to revive the Riyadus Salikhiyn brigade that was created by Shamil Basayev. In the video you said it had already carried out several successful attacks. That brigade also claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. Should we now expect a repetition of events like Beslan and Nord-Ost?

D. U.: If that is the will of Allah. Shamil did not have the opportunities I have right now. We are experiencing such an influx of manpower that, if Allah allows me, there will be a result. I think I will even be conducting a slightly larger number of operations.

PW: What sort of operations? When you became Ichkerian President in 2006, in your first public statement you said that only military objectives would be permitted, and that civilian targets and the civilian population would no longer be attacked. In your recent video you say things that appear to directly contradict that. Does this mean there will now be deliberate attacks on civilians?

D. U.: As far as possible we will try to avoid civilian targets, but for me there are no civilians in Russia. Why? Because a genocide of our people is being carried out with their tacit consent. Their taxes help to maintain the law enforcement bodies, they provide them with money and give their blessing to the killing and atrocities. So why should we regard these people as a “civilian population”? They send their soldiers here, give them their blessing to kill our parents, brothers and sisters, even the person who gives a mujahed some crumbs of bread out of pity. Why should we treat them as civilians? But I repeat: as far as possible we will try to avoid casualties among civilians.

PW: The Kadyrov authorities are now conducting special operations in Chechnya and Ingushetia. They claim that that they’ve been able to kill a lot of your men, and that this month they’re going to finally crush the insurgency. Is it true that your situation is critical?

D.U.: We have no problems. It is true that we don’t have enough time, resources or money, but otherwise we are fine: we have enough men, and we’re able to move around and wage war. Alhamdulillah, during the three years that I’ve been leading the mujahedin our resources have increased by 50-60 percent. Things are actually better for us now, because we don’t need to go looking for the enemy, the enemy are here, right next to us. Of course we feel sorry for the guys, they’ve been deceived by worldly promises and abandoned in the forests. But they have sold Allah (Exalted is He) and their honour. It’s very hard to take their lives, because they’re Chechens and Vainakhs, just like us.

PW: How do you move around?

D. U.: We do all of our moving around, our communicating, our planning without interference.  Right now I’ve just come from the Dagestan border. While I was there I saw all the commanders, set them their tasks, told them what to do and where. I can’t see that there’s anything standing in our way – I travelled 120 kilometres along the border, and I didn’t have any problems.

PW: On foot?

D.U.: Yes, on foot.

PW: What are the goals of your struggle today?

D. U.: Alhamdulillah, the Chechen state was built by Dzhokhar Dudayev, he gave the Vainakhs their freedom. Then Zelimkhan [Yandarbiyev] took over, and then Maskhadov completed that stage. Our slogans today are the same. Only now what we’re fighting for is a free Islamic Caucasus, freedom for the Muslims of the Caucasus, the right to live according to Sharia, the laws of Allah (Exalted is He), so that people won’t have to obey the rules that are written by Putin and Surkov. These are our slogans, inshallah!

PW: How will the future Caucasus Muslim State be organized?

D. U.: Wherever there are people, there are laws. The law is a dictatorship. Those who must bear arms will bear them, those who must lay them down will lay them down. Some will occupy themselves with creation, while those who are to be punished will be punished. This is called Dar-us-salam. There’s no need to reduce the Islamic way of life to that of the cave. In the Islamic state there will be both civil structures and law-enforcement structures. Everyone will be free to develop the talents they have been granted by God. All this it set out for Muslims in the Koran. Even Christians borrow all the healthy aspects of their lives from the Koran. The basis of our ideas about life is Islam, and we are not building a society of chaos. After all, in the end everyone on the planet is destined to live according to the Islamic view of the world.

PW: Your life must be quite hard? Living in the forests entails hunger, cold, all kinds of hardships.

D.U.: Yes, it is indeed hard. Not many of the Muslims would be able to live in the forests and rough it like this unless they had God in their souls, unless they lived their lives in the name of God, but, inshallah, since they do live their lives that way it is easy for them to overcome difficulties, and success comes of its own accord. The young men who come to us in the forests are moved by a sincere desire to travel the path of Allah (Exalted is He), by a desire to have a proper fear of Him. There is no lack of young men, all they need is sufficient resources of food and weapons. Alhamdulillah, the more the government tries to divert them from this path, the more stubbornly do they devote themselves to God. Because these men exist, our possibilities are endless.

PW: Does Chechnya’s Moscow-backed leadership try to contact you, offer you negotiations?

D. U.: We know that they used the pretext of negotiations to bring about the downfall of the two emirs who were my predecessors –- Aslan Maskhadov and Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev. Therefore, aware of how treacherous they are, I am cautious. They will have their “negotiations” when our forces are stronger! These forces are on their way, and this will soon be known. But the paths that are being offered to us right now are the insidious paths of deceit. Therefore we won’t accept them.

PW: And what is your attitude towards the position and activities of Akhmed Zakayev?

D. U.: He and I are related. I don’t intend to break my kinship with him. But when it comes to issues of work, we each have our own position. I don’t really know what he calls the role he is playing today. But I know that he won’t understand me, because he spends his time on a soft and comfortable sofa, and I spend mine in the forests. A mujahed never knows where his next meal is coming from. So there are bound to be disagreements between us.

PW: Ramzan Kadyrov accuses you of acting against the interests of the Chechen people.

D.U.: I would like to appeal to the Vainakhs. A lot of our people have been deceived, tempted by worldly goods. God did not give man a lifespan of a thousand years – man is doomed to die within a certain term. Yevkurov is a current example: he imagined that he was a great man, but where is he now? We are all of us destined to appear before the judgement of Allah (Exalted is He), and we must be prepared for it. Everything begins with God and ends with Him. So one should not live grovelling before power and hiding one’s face from one’s children and wives, one cannot live in fear. The Vainakhs have always been steadfast and courageous. And they should fear only Allah (Exalted is He), not the kafirs. But those who have become the slaves of the kafirs and don’t even own their own trousers, they live in disgrace. They only have Putin to hold up their trousers.

PW: The mujahedin say they are willing to turn themselves into human bombs and blow themselves up in order to inflict damage on the enemy. Surely this can be interpreted as the sin of suicide?

D.U.: It all depends on how one sees the world. The mujahedin who take this route are free to engage in such a mission. I am their commander and I order them to do something or not to do it. No one will take this route without my order. It is our enemies who have led our mujahedin to take it. The mujahedin depart this life not because they feel constricted here, and not because they are tormented by hunger – they are simply hurrying to accept the Paradise that has been promised them by Allah (Exalted is He).

Photo: Kavkazcenter.com.

U.S. Supports Islamic Terror Against Russia

We don’t yet know the whole story behind the two female suicide bombers who killed 38 people in Moscow and injured scores of others. Although their affiliation is unclear, the working assumption is that the bombers were tied to the Chechen rebel movement in the North Caucasus.

There is, however, something which we do know for sure, and which we paid no attention to despite its clear connection to the kind of terror Moscow witnessed yesterday morning.

There was a little-noted meeting that took place in December 2009, in Tbilisi, the capital of U.S. ally Georgia. That month Georgia hosted a conference of jihadists to plan “operations” against Russia. There was no news coverage of the event, and so it took a paid advertisement in the Washington Times to make it known. Stubbornly, still no news organization or blog picked up on it. And so here we are.

Below are the relevant parts of the paid-for article from last month, titled “The Georgian Imbroglio — And a Choice for the United States.” (Original emphasis preserved.) It was penned by James George Jatras, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer as well as foreign policy analyst for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee.

The Washington Times

The New American Suburbia

“And homeless near a thousand homes I stood, And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.” Wordsworth

More likely, the tent slum population is a mix of new and old homelessness — perhaps with a few migrant workers in the mix.

The face of homelessness has changed dramatically in the past year, thanks to the policies of the last ten years.
Btw, I take offense at the term “slums.”  It has an ugly connotation and in many “tent cities” I’ve been in, slums don’t come to mind at all, especially when compared with some of the places I’ve seen in impoverished countries…..

Tent Slums Spring Up in America

Concentrations of homeless people are nothing new in America, but recent BBC and Los Angeles Times reports depict a rising trend of shanty slums, such as a “city” of newly homeless people living in tents near the Ontario airport in Los Angeles.

If you recall your Steinbeck, the residents of the 20c Hoovervilles were largely tenant farmers thrown off their farms by the owners, who in turn tried mechanized farming to bring down costs and break even. These displaced farmers migrated West where they became agricultural day laborers and settled into shanty camps.

The California tent slum depicted in the BBC report is quite different, because they are not migrant workers, so much as locals who have lost their homes. It is hard to tell if the newly dispossessed are all the victims of the subprime market. More likely, the tent slum population is a mix of new and old homelessness — perhaps with a few migrant workers in the mix.

I do not know if there is a technical point at which a tent city becomes a slum — a boundary of some sort that gets crossed in terms of population density or length of time in existence or total acreage. But theLos Angeles Times reports that the police are handing out wrist bands to make sure that only locals take up residence in the tent camp by the airport. Non locals have to get out. Passing out armbands to make sure only locals get into the camp has to be crossing a boundary of some kind. And it is not a good one to cross.

Whatever the actual demographics, the images and the stories are heartbreaking. If ever there was a reason to let go of market orthodoxy, and to re-embrace the American spirit of making things better by the most pragmatic means possible — this is it. Make it work better, period. No ideology; no grand theories about freedom from government; just come together to help people before we lose a generation to this mounting economic tragedy.
Crossposted from Frameshop)

Beijing’s $2.5 to extend Iran Pakistan pipeline to China

Beijing’s $2.5 to extend Iran Pakistan pipeline to China

Posted on March 28, 2010 by The Editor
5 Votes

ISLAMABAD (Online) – China has expressed keen interest in investing $2.5 billion in Pak-Iran gas pipeline project while Islamabad has also started talks with Beijing to purchase technical equipments to be used for laying down the pipeline.

According to sources within the Petroleum Ministry, China is interested to see the project is extended to its territory and a delegation would visit Pakistan in the second week of next month to discuss these matters. After inclusion of China, Pakistan would get an amount of $200 to $500 million annually as transit fee.

The sources maintained the talks were underway as Pakistan had raised no objection over inclusion of China in the gas pipeline project.

Rupee News has always supported the Iran-Pakistan-China pipeline over the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki seems to suggest that this is in the works. This development is a win-win situation for Pakistan, Iran and China.

Linking Iran, Pakistan and China via pipeline is natural process of hooking up the ECO allies with China. Expanding trade with China is a natural consequences of the deep military and economic relations between the two countries.

Exporting Iranian gas to China will aid energy starved China and help Pakistan get access to Iranian energy resources.

Pakistan should set up LNG plants in Lahore and Karachi and sell gas in cylinders in the open market as a commodity. If Delhi wants to buy the gas cylinders, it is up to Delhi. If it doesn’t, plenty of other countries will.

Iran-Pakistan pipeline: The impact

Pipelines: TAP or IP–Pakistan wins

Iran Pakistan Pipeline
Iran Pakistan Pipeline
The politics of IPC, IPI, TAPI, TAPIC

China should  replace India in the proposed IPI gas pipeline project as New Delhi has been dithering over the deal, a media report has said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki claimed that Tehran was ready to start anytime the IPI “peace pipeline” project, originally conceived to include Iran, Pakistan and India.

China will replace India in the proposed project soon as India has been dithering over the deal, Mottaki is reported to have said. All the details between Pakistan and Iran in this regard have already been finalised, according to a report in Tehran Times newspaper.

India still needed some time but “we can even start the project without India,” Mottaki was quoted as saying by the daily.

The IPI project was conceived in 1995 and after almost 13 years India finally decided to quit the project in 2008. India walked out of the 2,775 km pipeline project due mainly to the hefty transit fee demanded by Islamabad.
Mootaki blamed the US for trying to sabotage the gas pipeline project and said, “Growing relations between US and India should not affect the relations of India with other countries of the region.”

He was confident that Pakistan would not hesitate to start the gas pipeline project despite the US pressure.

“We must not allow any third country to interfere in the bilateral relations of Iran and Pakistan,” Mottaki underlined.

The proposed 2,775 km long project is dubbed the ‘Peace Pipeline’, connecting Iran, Pakistan and India. China may replace India in IPI project: report Dubai, Feb 7 (PTI):

China rail integrates Afghanistan, Tajikistan, & Pakistan

Tehran snubs Delhi: Indian FM, PM trips canceled

Tehran snubs Delhi: Indian FM, PM trips canceled

Moin Ansari
Indo-Iranian relations have hit a new nadir with visits by the FM, and even the PM being canceled due to the snub from the Iranians. The relations have plummeted since Delhi stabbed Iran at the IAEA (India votes against Iran at IAEA) and then launched an Iran specific satellite for Israel.

The geopolitical situation in the Greater Middle has changed. All the countries of the region are tired of Bharati (aka Indian) machinations and like all her neighbors are weary of Bharati hegemony.

Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan have already made decision on the dispensation in Kabul. That agreement was signed between the three countries in Teheran. That agreement was then taken to all the immediate neighbors of Afghanistan and it was endorsed in Istanbul (sans India). Those two agreements were instrumental in getting 62 countries to consecrate the Pakistani point of view of talking to the Taliban and putting in place a broad based Pakhtun government in Kabul which would not be inimical to Islamabad.

Delhi is trying to scratch a hole into that wall of resistance–and not getting a toe hold. Bharati politicians have gone far and wide to try to get somewhere to get a sympathetic ear. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even went to the Saudis and came back empty handed. They invited President Gul of Turkey, but he frankly told them that they Turkey could not displease the Pakistanis. A discussion was attempted with Iran, but the current news emanating from Delhi seem to indicate that the Iranians are in no mood to talk to the Bharatis.

NEW DELHI: India’s attempts to step up engagement with Iran on crucial regional issues, including Afghanistan, appear to have suffered a setback, with foreign minister S M Krishna calling off his visit to Tehran at the last moment amid signs of indifference on the part of the hosts.

Krishna decided not to go after the Iranians abruptly changed dates twice. It is not known if the visit will take place in the near future.

Sources revealed that Krishna reacted to Iran’s wriggling out of the dates it had intimated to India for the second time by saying prior commitments prevented him from making the visit.

India refrained from taking issue with Iran, but sources said that Tehran’s fickleness over the dates could result from a possible reluctance on Iran’s part after India took a stand favouring International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolutions against it for pressing ahead with its nuclear programme.

Bharat is facing failure on multiple fronts. It expulsion from Afghanistan can be gauged by the opinion columns of the pundits in Delhi and by the discussion about the withdrawal dates. It discussions with Kabul are on hold after Delhi’s blunder in supporting Mr. Karzai’s rival Mr. Abdullah. Delhi’s relationship with Washington is once again held hostage to parity with Islamabad. The Bharati relationship with Lanka was destroyed after it was caught supporting the rival presidential candidate and its proxy the LTTE was decimated on the Buddhist island paradise. All these are now being bundled as “malaise” by experienced Bharati diplomats like Ambassador Bhadrakumar.

The fiasco with Tehran is not an isolated item, it is emblematic of the bad policies of the past decades when Bharat parked the Tricolor on the wrong side of history. Bharat supported the USSRs invasion and did not work for the liberation of Afghanistan. In fact it opposed it. Bharat worked with the Soviet puppets like Mr. Najibullha who was found hanging for a lamp-post right after the last tank of the USSR left. Many predicts that the same end awaits Bharat’s partners in Kabul–the minority Northern Alliance.

Manmohan’s Iran visit also on hold

External affairs minister S M Krishna, an official revealed, had last month agreed to visit Tehran after receiving an invitation from his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki. In the invitation, Mottaki said he wanted Krishna to take part in Navroze celebrations. March 28 and 29 were the dates communicated for the visit.

Tehran later asked that the dates be changed to March 30 and 31. Krishna accepted and agreed to travel on the revised dates suggested by Tehran, only to find the Iranians seeking to change the dates for again, this time to March 27 and 28.

This time the foreign ministry conveyed Krishna’s inability to make it on the new dates. Sources said that by the time this second change was communicated to the ministry of external affairs (MEA) by the Iranian embassy in Delhi, Krishna’s visit to Singapore had already been announced. Iranian embassy officials told the MEA that they wanted the dates changed again because of Navroze celebrations on March 27 and 28.

The message from Tehran is clear. It canceled a $6 billion LNG contract right after Delhi stabbed Tehran at the IAEA. Iran has steadfastly refused to honor Bharat’s request to resurrect the LNG deal. The main impediment to Iran-Delhi relations is Bharats deep and profound partnership with Israel. Bharat cannot break the alliance with Israel–therefore it cannot stop the withering away of its friends in Tehran, Kabul and the Arab and Muslim world. This is a fundamental structural problem for Delhi’s diplomats. Their enigma is to build a relationship with Israel and its enemies. A tough chore. Tehran has sworn to wipe of Israel from the face of the earth. Israel wants to bomb Iran. Delhi’s relationship with Tel Aviv is seen with suspicion in Tehran and Riyadh.

The Pakistani factor also complicates matters for Delhi. In the 80s there was competition between Iran and Pakistan. Both the Iranians and Pakistanis seem to have learned from their experience. The tripartite agreement, consensus in Istanbul and London display optics that seem to signify congruence between the Pakistani and Iranian point of views on Afghanistan and other matters.

But many are inclined to view Tehran’s change of dates against the background of strained ties resulting from India’s votes in favour the IAEA’s censure of Iran for its nuclear programme. When India again voted in favour of the IAEA resolution last year, Mottaki had made his displeasure known to Krishna.

PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Tehran has also not materialised, even though the two sides have had it on the agenda for more than a year. India has been hoping to forge a strong alliance with Iran over the Taliban issue, as Tehran has maintained it does not believe there is any “good” Taliban, and that Taliban groups should not be allowed any role in the Kabul government in the event of a reconciliation.

However, the one important difference between the positions of the two countries is that, unlike India, Iran wants NATO troops to withdraw immediately from Afghanistan. Snubbed S M Krishna drops Iran visit, Sachin Parashar, TNN, Mar 30, 2010, 03.52am IST

Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are on the same page on Afghanistan as evidenced in the tripartite agreement in Tehran, regional conference in Istanbul (which did not invite India) and the international conference in London (where India was given a 2nd row seat and ignored). China is now investing $2.2 to extend the Iran-Pakistan pipeline to China. Turkey is investing a multi-billion Dollar railway line from Islamabad to Istanbul via Tehran. A rial and road line is also being built to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan linking Pakistan to the birthplace of Babur.

Brit Government Bought Passenger Planes for War Zone

[The British government has forgotten how to wage war.]

Warplanes unfit for war: £12bn aircraft are five years late and unsafe for Afghanistan

By IAN DRURY

Defence ministers are condemned today for spending up to £12.3billion on a fleet of aircraft that are unable to fly in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence has bought 14 aircraft designed to transport troops and equipment and carry out air-to-air refuelling. But the Airbus A330-200 planes cannot be flown in warzones because they lack proper protection, a National Audit Office report has revealed.

Fitting them with armour, antimissile systems and early warning kit to allow them to operate in ‘high threat environments’ would cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds more, the spending watchdog said.

EADS Airbus A330 of the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft DivisionReady for war: Mid-air refuelling is one of the tasks expected of the MoD aircraft

The programme for the tankers and transport aircraft is already running five-and-a-half years behind schedule. Opposition MPs said it highlighted the ‘utter incompetence’ of Labour’s defence procurement programme.

The delay means the RAF is forced to rely on ‘ageing and increasingly unreliable’ VC10 and Tristar aircraft, which date back to the Cold War. Extra maintenance work to keep the old planes in the air will cost another £500million before the new planes are delivered before 2016.

The MoD has also forked out £23.5million replacing flight management systems and cockpit displays on the Tristars so they can continue flying.

Ministers have also spent £175million in only three years chartering private passenger planes to transport service personnel and equipment.

The NAO condemned the 27-year private finance initiative deal struck between the MoD and defence consortium AirTanker as being severely undermined by ‘shortcomings’.

The report, published today, attacked the MoD for failing to carry out a ‘sound evaluation of alternative procurement routes’ and not demanding to see a breakdown of the costs of subcontractors. This raised the prospect that it had paid
over the odds for the aircraft.

Ministers announced plans to buy the fleet of aircraft in December 1998 and intended to sign the contract in 2003. But the deal with the Air-Tanker consortium, which includes Airbus-owner and defence giant EADS, was not concluded until
March 2008.

Astonishingly, the NAO report said that initially it was ‘not envisaged’ that the joint tanker and transport planes would be required to fly directly into conflict zones. This is apparently why no funding was provided for protective equipment.

EADS Airbus A330 of the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft DivisionEADS Airbus A330 of the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft Division

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: ‘Shortcomings in the early stages of the project put the MoD in a position where the operational pressures of an aging fleet and the need to maintain the vital air bridge restricted its ability to deliver a solution which achieved value for money.’

RAF sources said the programme was ‘on track and on budget’.

An MoD spokesman said: ‘We are content the UK has secured a good deal for the taxpayer and the RAF.’

The report is the latest to highlight MoD blunders when procuring military hardware.

Fifteen major projects – including building aircraft carriers and fast jets – are already £4.5billion over budget and a total of nearly eight years late.

Meanwhile, Britain has had to cut the number of Airbus A400M military transport planes it has ordered. Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said the UK would buy 22 aircraft rather than 25.

The MoD had been under pressure to rethink plans to spend billions buying the planes – nicknamed the ‘Grizzly’ because of its hulking design – to carry servicemen, vehicles and kit.

But the programme has been dogged by delays of more than three years and cost overruns. The deal was struck after the original £20billion price for 180 planes increased by up to £5billion.


Moscow fears ‘war unleashed on its streets’

[This is a return of former CIA Dir. Wm. Casey's "global jihad" to the former Soviet Union.   Russian leaders know that Chechnyan leaders are "America's Islamists."  The big question is:  What are they going to do about it?]

Moscow fears ‘war unleashed on its streets’

Doku Umarov, self-styled emir of the Russian North Caucasus, is believed to be taking the battle into Russia itself.
Doku Umarov, self-styled emir of the Russian North Caucasus, is believed to be taking the battle into Russia itself.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Change in tactics among Chechen militants may bring fight to Russia’s cities, analysts fear
  • Warning came as investigators said Chechen rebels carried out Monday’s bombings
  • Funding from Islamist groups like al Qaeda may be behind change in tactics
  • Possible key weapon as Chechens wage war on Russia are female suicide bombers

(CNN) — A change in tactics among Chechnya’s militants is threatening to bring their nationalist fight to the heart of Russia’s cities, terrorism analysts fear.

The warning came as Russian investigators said they believed Chechen rebels were responsible for Monday’s twin suicide bombings in Moscow’s subway network that killed at least 39 people.

The Russia-Chechnya conflict dates back nearly 20 years, with Chechens having laid claim to land in the Caucasus Mountains region. Thousands have been killed and 500,000 Chechen people have been displaced from the fighting. The area is located in the North Caucasus region of Russia between the Black and Caspian seas.

Read how Chechen rebels threaten Russian stability

For the last 5 years the war has been largely fought in the Caucasus but, according to terrorism analyst Chris Hunter, the tide has been turning against the rebels. “They don’t have the same sort of supply chain they used to have,” he said, adding that pressure from the Russian military had taken its toll.

Video: Moscow metro attack
Video: Chechen warlord
Gallery: Moscow subway blasts
Moscow subway blast sites

Now there are suspicions that Doku Umarov, the 45-year-old self-styled emir of the Russian North Caucasus, is taking the battle into Russia itself.

Until now Umarov, a veteran of Chechnya’s nationalist fight with Russia, has been against killing civilians. He was critical of the Beslan attack in which Chechens killed more than 100 schoolchildren in 2004.

While he has not claimed responsibility for Monday’s subway bombings, if he is behind them, it would demonstrate a change in tactics due partly, analysts suspect, to a reliance on funding to continue the fight from radical Islamists such as al Qaeda.

“It’s got to the stage where the Chechens in particular are potentially looking out to the global jihad for that level of support,” said Hunter.

“By aligning himself to al Qaeda or other members of global jihad it would certainly be one source of securing that funding.”

A possible key weapon at Umarov’s disposal as he wages war on Russia are female suicide bombers, the so-called “Black Widows” who are believed to be behind Monday’s coordinated blasts, typical of an al Qaeda attack.

The reason for this, according to Russian security analyst Irina Isakova, is that killing oneself carries less stigma in Chechnya than elsewhere. “Suicide is much more considered traditional for women rather than for men; in Chechen culture it’s a different perception of suicide bombing than we have in the Middle East.”

The Black Widows are believed to be made up of women whose husbands, brothers, fathers or other relatives have been killed in the conflict. The women are often dressed head-to-toe in black and wear the so-called “martyr’s belt” filled with explosives.

Female suicide bombers have been involved in several attacks in Russia and first came to prominence in 2002 when 18 women were among a group of separatists who threatened to blow up a Moscow theater seized in the middle of a musical. In the rescue attempt by Russian special forces, 115 hostages and 50 Chechen separatists were killed.

“The majority of them have been recruited because they’ve someone close to them because they lost a husband, a brother, a cousin … and all of them indoctrinated, brainwashed,” said Hunter.

“They are very much exploited. In 2002 we saw between 40 and 50 gunmen storm the Moscow theater … not a single one of them was suicide bombers … all the suicide bombers were females.”

Black Widows were also among the 32-strong group of heavily-armed Chechen rebels who took 1,200 people as hostages in Beslan in 2004. In the ensuing gun battles between the rebels and Russian forces, 334 hostages were killed, many schoolchildren. Only one militant survived.

Moscow subway attacks bear mark of ‘Black Widows’

If Umarov has as many women at his disposal now, Moscow may indeed be facing in Umarov’s words a “war unleashed on its streets.”

CNN’s Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

Sarkozy chides US on economy, dominance

Sarkozy chides US on economy, dominance



France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) meets with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (L).

NEW YORK: France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy called Monday for US economic reforms and, in comments echoing Franco-American spats of the past, said Washington cannot “run the world” alone.

The French leader used a visit to New York, where he met with students at Columbia University, to deliver what he called “home truths” to his hosts.

Sarkozy, accompanied by his wife Carla Bruni, a former supermodel, was in New York a day before meeting President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington on Tuesday.

With his popularity diving at home and his party reeling from defeat in regional elections, the US visit is seen as a chance for Sarkozy to regain momentum.

While in New York he also met with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

They discussed Wednesday’s planned aid conference on Haiti, international climate change talks and reform of the UN Security Council, where France is one of the five permanent members, the UN press office said.

Sarkozy has generally worked hard to rebuild ties with Washington, but his comments to Columbia students recalled a pricklier past.

Saying “there is no single country in the 21st century that can run the world alone,” he urged the United States to join Europe in “inventing the rules for the economy of tomorrow.”

Reiterating traditional European skepticism of US economic free markets, he said: “We need the great American people to understand that the absence of rules kills liberty.”

“The world economic regulations cannot go on as they are. We can’t accept a capitalist system without rules any more,” he added. Lack of rules, he said, “will be the death of capitalism.”

Sarkozy said he would discuss with Obama ways to stabilize commodities markets and to define “a new international monetary order.”

“The dollar is not the only currency in the world,” he said.

While he was careful to lavish praise on Obama, he appeared to have a less upbeat view of ordinary US citizens, pleading with them “not to lag behind” behind their Democratic president on financial regulations, defense and the environment.

Even his congratulations for Obama’s hard-fought victory in pushing health care reform through a divided Congress came laced with criticism.

“Welcome to the club of countries that does not dump its sick people,” Sarkozy said.

“But if you want me to be sincere, seen from Europe, when we see the US debate on health care reform, we find it hard to believe.”

France, he noted, had “resolved” the health care problem half a century ago.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy urged worldwide support for Russia following the deaths of 38 people in two suicide bombings in the Moscow metro.

The French president said the attacks were no different to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people, most of them in New York.

“Do you think there is a fundamental difference between the lunatics who blew up innocent victims in the Moscow metro and the insane people who flew planes into the Twin Towers of New York?” he asked.

“When New York was attacked, all the world’s democracies were attacked. And when Moscow is attacked, we are all attacked,” Sarkozy said.

The direct comparison between 9/11 and Monday’s rush hour suicide bombings in Moscow was unusual for a Western leader.

The West has regularly condemned bombings and other terrorist attacks in Russia, many of them carried out by militants linked to Chechen rebels.

However, Western capitals have also been deeply critical of Russia’s anti-insurgency campaigns in Chechnya and other areas of the mostly Muslim North Caucasus over the last 15 years, in which tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and thousands have disappeared or been tortured.

Tribal elders’ support critical in Afghanistan

Elders from the Arghandab River Valley talk while waiting for a shura meeting to convene in the district government center March 24. Elders from the Arghandab River Valley talk while waiting for a shura meeting to convene in the district government center March 24.

By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY

By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY
BABA SAHEB, Afghanistan — Village elders from across the Arghandab River Valley waited for a weekly meeting, or shura, to get underway.

Though the official head of the government — the district governor — was there, he and the others waited until Said Amir Mohammad Agha, a tribal elder from the western side of the river, was ready for the council to begin.

A former Taliban leader, Agha is the head of one of the most powerful tribes in the valley and his opinion matters to the others, say U.S. military members here. On this day, his opinion is that he is far from convinced he should give his full support to the government of PresidentHamid Karzai and the troops who defend it.

“There are a lot of people in the government, but they are working for their own pockets,” he says. “That’s why the government doesn’t have any value.”

Getting the elders’ support for the Karzai government in the Arghandab District is critical to U.S. plans to push the Taliban from Kandahar province, birthplace of the jihadist movement.

The valley lies 5 miles north of Kandahar and has historically been an entry point to the city for the Taliban. The United States and NATO forces are preparing an offensive in the province this summer.

Agha has left the Taliban but has not openly denounced it. He is “evaluating” what the government can do for his people, said Lt. Col. Guy Jones, the commander of an 82nd Airborne battalion patrolling the valley and helping the government establish itself.

Jones and commanders like him across Afghanistan try to navigate the complexities of Afghan politics — a mixture of tribal feuds, government corruption and varying levels of sympathy for the Taliban — to persuade the people to turn from the Taliban to Karzai.

Jones says it will not be easy.

“You move one thing, and it changes the dynamics of the other 10 factors on that problem. You change it back, and guess what, the puzzle doesn’t go back to the way it was just a few minutes ago,” said Jones, who commands the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Communication

Step 1 is to get the elders to talk to the government.

Army 1st Lt. Hans Beutel is responsible for making initial contacts with village elders. Beutel spends countless hours trying to win over the older men in the northeast section of the Arghandab River Valley, where his Delta Company operates.

The 23-year-old with a baby face and braces plays up his youth when trying to bring around the hard-to-crack elders.

“I try to butter them up a little,” he says. “I tell him, ‘You’re the one with the long beard, you have more experience than me. I want to learn from you.’ “

Nadir Jan, the Afghan police commander in the Sarkari Bagh village, said there are at least 70 Taliban members operating in the area and many more people who help them. When locals are identified as working with the government or coalition forces, they are targeted with threatening letters delivered in the middle of the night, beaten or sometimes killed.

Beutel says about 60% of the elders he has contacted work with him. When they tell him there are no Taliban operatives moving through their neighborhoods, that’s when he knows they are lying to him and will probably not be helpful.

Some village elders have decided to oppose the Taliban, and he is able to visit them. For those who are more fearful, he either talks to them on their cellphones or invites them to the U.S. combat outpost in Sarkari Bagh whenever they feel they can enter without being seen. “You want the information, but if you’re not careful, you’re not going to have many people left because they’ll all be killed,” he says.

The next step in the relationship involves gifts.

It starts small. Beutel recently gave the head of a family some shirts and hygiene kits that contain soap and toothpaste. Maj. Scott Brannon says local security officials sometimes demand boots, uniforms or weapons to go out on patrols with the Americans.

The price inevitably goes up.

Coalition forces build wells for villages. A Canadian unit has been renovating the Dahla Dam upstream of Kandahar, improving water flows to the residents and farmers. Contractors are building a bridge over the Arghandab River.

Brannon, the operations officer for the battalion, laughs as he recounts a negotiation with the Afghan national army’s local unit. The Americans tried to persuade the army leaders to move their Arghandab headquarters into a complex that housed the district governor’s office, the police headquarters and the U.S. military headquarters in the valley. The negotiations went on for weeks.

“It came down to rugs,” Brannon says. “We went back and forth for two weeks over the grade of rugs. They told us, ‘If my commander comes to my headquarters and I don’t have the highest quality rugs, I won’t have the authority I should have.’ “

The rugs were supplied, and the army moved in mid-March.

‘Leadership challenge’

Capt. Claude Lambert, Delta Company commander, understands how difficult it is for young guys toting M-4 assault rifles to spend their days drinking tea with Afghans and tracking construction projects.

“It’s a leadership challenge to exhibit that restraint and to convince them that they’re having a positive effect,” he says.

Jones reports progress in Arghandab. The district governor, Haji Abdul Jabbar, has started coming to the government center on a more regular basis and, for the first time, is settling local disputes. Before, those people would seek justice from the Taliban.

“You can’t prevent them playing both sides,” says Maj. William Black, the executive officer of the battalion. “They want to stay alive.”

Iran Claims Diplomat Held By US/Mossad Militants–TTP?

Iran frees diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan

Iranian agents have released a diplomat from the Islamic Republic who was kidnapped in Pakistan by gunmen in 2008, the Iranian intelligence minister said.

Heidar Moslehi said Tuesday that Heshmatollah Attarzadeh-Niyaki, Iran’s commercial attache in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, was freed through a series of complicated intelligence operations.

Moslehi said that after the diplomat was abducted by an armed group backed by the US and Mossad, the Iranian government called on Pakistan to help Iran release the diplomat.

He said that the armed group made certain demands in exchange for the release but the Iranian forces refused to respond to them.

After the Pakistani government failed to assist Tehran, Moslehi said, the Iranian intelligence ministry took the initiative and managed to release Attarzadeh after a series of complicated measures.

Moslehi added that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the main target of US and Israeli intelligence services, warning regional countries against cooperating with the CIA and Mossad.

“The US, Mossad and European intelligence services, which are present in the region under false pretexts, are only creating instability in the region,” Moslehi said.

The official went on to add that even “those institutions and symbols in the world that are present in the region and Islamic countries under the title of defending human rights have, in fact, created insecurities in the region.”

The minister also said that the release of the Iranian diplomat after the arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the Jundallah terrorist group, further proved that Iran’s intelligence service outperformed those of the US and Israel in the region.

Moslehi said that further details on the release of the diplomat and Rigi’s confessions would be provided in the near future.

Attarzadeh-Niyaki was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in an ambush on November 13, 2008, while on his way to the Iranian consulate in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. His driver was killed in the attack.

Iranian Agents Free Diplomat Kidnapped In Pakistan In 2008

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s intelligence agents freed an Iranian diplomat kidnapped by gunmen two years earlier in northwestern Pakistan, state television reported Tuesday.

The agents rescued Heshmatollah Attarzadeh of Iran’s Peshawar consulate “in a complicated intelligence operation” the report said, without providing any further details.

The diplomat and his Pakistani bodyguard were driving over a narrow bridge in Peshawar on Nov. 13, 2008 when two gunmen blocked their way with a car and opened fire. The attackers fled with the diplomat, and the guard was killed.

In the 1980s, Peshawar was an intrigue-filled hub for U.S.-backed guerrillas fighting Soviet troops in neighboring Afghanistan, some of whom went on to form the Taliban or al-Qaeda.Osama bin Laden, now perhaps hiding in the adjacent tribal regions, was among them.

Despite that legacy, the city of some 2 million people was once considered relatively safe for foreigners. But residents say organized crime and militancy are on the rise — and increasingly hard to distinguish — and it was possible that the Iranian was kidnapped for ransom.

Growing pockets of the nearby tribal belt have become strongholds for various extremist groups.

A year after Attarzadeh was kidnapped, a Pakistani employee of the same Iranian consulate was gunned down near his home.

Iran is mostly Shiite and is regularly denounced by the fiercely Sunni al-Qaeda and Taliban that operates along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Hardline Sunnis consider Shiites to be heretics and often call for attacks against them.

The operation marks the latest success by Iran’s intelligence services broadcast on television. Last month, Iran captured Abdulmalik Rigi, leader of an armed Sunni opposition group whose insurgency in southeast Iran had destabilized the border region with Pakistan.

Rigi was captured on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan last month after he had left Pakistan. The Pakistani government claimed that Rigi’s capture would have not been possible without Islamabad’s cooperation but Iran insisted that its intelligence agents alone captured the terrorist leader.