William John Cox
The latest flap over Israeli housing construction in East Jerusalem has caused me to reflect upon the very deep and complicated feelings I have about the city.
I first passed through Jerusalem in December 1979 in an attempt to sneak into Tehran shortly after the American embassy hostages were taken. I returned two years later following the favorable verdict in the Holocaust Denial case and shared morning tea with Prime Minister Begin. In 1992, I testified in a trial there about the publication of the suppressed Dead Sea Scrolls and refused to identify my secret client. My last visit was in 2000 when my wife and I were married at Christ Church in the Old City on Valentine’s Day.
The political issue is not who has the greatest property rights in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Nor, is it whether the Palestinian people are more genetically related to the ancient Israelis who occupied Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, than are the Ashkenazi Jews who now control the Israeli government and who exercise great influence over U.S. policy.
The critical question is: “what can be done to peacefully resolve the dispute in a way that protects the political rights and ensures the operational and economic security of the Israeli and Palestinian people and which removes the United States as a target for terrorists?”
Rather than answering with a complicated policy paper, let me share a simple vision I have experienced over the years.
First, accept that the nation of Israel is politically, economically, and militarily capable of defending its own interests on the world stage and that it has the right to be free of internal terrorists attacks.
Second, imagine that the United Nations imposes a 50-year protectorate over the land of Palestine, including Gaza, as it existed prior to the 1967 war and declared the area to be a duty-free economic zone, with security and freedom of access guaranteed by the U.N.
This is the vision:
Instead of the existing concrete wall, I imagine a modern freeway extending from Gaza through Hebron, Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Jericho and north along the 1967 West Bank border through the Golan Heights to the Syrian and Lebanese borders and terminating at the Mediterranean Sea.
Like all freeways, I imagine that the highway (border) is fenced and that it is patrolled and controlled by three-person motorized teams consisting of a non-Arab UN police supervisor, an Israeli police officer and a Palestinian police officer.
I imagine that the protectorate police force is only armed with non-military weapons, that all members are highly trained professionals, and that the protectorate provides economic and physical security to all of its inhabitants, both Palestinians and Jews, from its administrative headquarters in East Jerusalem.
I imagine that the highway serves as a conduit for free trade and tourism and that it promotes the economic interests of both Israel and Palestine.
I imagine that after living in peace for 50 years, the right of Israel to exist will be accepted by all nations in the Middle East, that the United States and the United Nations are perceived to have acted even-handedly in the matter, and that the “War on Terrorism” will have become a footnote in history.
William John Cox is a retired supervising prosecutor for the State Bar of California. As a police officer he wrote the Policy Manual of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Role of the Police in America for a national advisory commission. Acting as a public interest, pro bono lawyer, he filed a class action lawsuit in 1979 on behalf of every citizen of the United States petitioning the Supreme Court to order the other two branches of the federal government to conduct a National Policy Referendum; he investigated and successfully sued a group of radical right-wing organizations in 1981 that denied the Holocaust; and he arranged in 1991 for publication of the suppressed Dead Sea Scrolls. His 2004 book, You’re Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency is reviewed athttp://www.yourenotstupid.com, and he is currently working on a fact-based fictional political philosophy. His writings are collected at http://www.thevoters.org, and he can be contacted email@example.com.
Iceland, the Mouse that Roared
The Icelanders have grown a pair, so to speak. They are doing something I wish Americans would have done, or will do in the future. They are standing up to the privately owned banks that seem to think they are above the law, that they can change the rules at their whim, and that they alone know what’s best for the world, which of course happens to empower them and help their profits. I may not agree with all the politics of Iceland. It might not be the bastion of freedom one looking to get away from intrusive government might run to, but I do admire their stance against the banksters.
Let’s examine the situation a little closer. The Icelanders claim that private banks owe the money to other private banks, not taxpayers. The people who own the private banks should be responsible for paying back the creditor banks, not the people of Iceland. I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. Furthermore, I would take it a step further and make the assertion that any government official voting for any public borrowing that requires payment of public funds for interest be held responsible, or their family be held responsible, should the loans go into default. In other words, these public officials should not be allowed to maintain their fortunes while the common folk are expected to pay for the mistakes they made. Perhaps that would help stop the corruption.
It seems that Iceland was fooled into the same ponzi scheme the rest of the world finds itself in. This all revolves around the fact that money in and of itself has no intrinsic value. It is just paper, for the most part, and in the modern world it is just data floating around in cyberspace. Even metal coins are made from cheap and common metals anymore. The fiat system devised by the central banks are designed to collapse at some point, and it’s designed to collapse in such a way that the very few, very rich, very powerful end up with all the marbles. It’s not enough to them, it seems, to be at the top of the heap, they have to be so high up and keep the common folk down so low as to be untouchable.
Those that own the banks now hope that they can swoop in and buy up the nation’s infrastructure for pennies on the dollar, or in this case aurar on the krona. This is how they operate. They print money based on nothing but debt at negligible cost to themselves, then charge interest on that debt, interest that is never created by the way, and then when the debt can’t be repaid they end up acquiring all the real wealth that’s been created. It’s a brilliant scheme in its simplicity. They end up with all the real wealth and they risk nothing of any real value. I could be wrong, but I think it’s safe to say that the Icelanders figured this out when their creditor banks started demanding things like their geothermal power stations and other such publicly owned infrastructure as payment for their defaulted loans. They cried “foul!” – as well they should having played by the rules all this time – and charged that they had been defrauded. They may well have shocked the establishment with their refusal to pay the extortion.
One may well ask, “Is this the fate that awaits all nations?” How many nations in the world today are in the same boat as Iceland? How many are having problems just servicing the interest on their debt? I dare say it would be easier to count the nations that weren’t experiencing debt trouble. And one could rightly ask where all the money has gone. Certainly the debt hasn’t been put back into the economy to create more wealth. Indeed, I would venture a guess that there’s trillions of dollars, euros, yens, pounds, francs, marks, you name it, stashed away in vaults somewhere just waiting for the day when they can be used again, money that should no longer exist that somehow found its way into secret vaults that also shouldn’t exist.
It is interesting to note that the biggest banks, the ones that managed to get bailed out by US tax dollars rather than made to liquidate, are intimately connected to the same international bankers who own the central banks across the globe. Indeed, Goldman Sachs seems to have become a “bank of the world,” so to speak, as it has its fingers in a little bit of everyone’s pies these days. It is also interesting to note that their largest competitors were allowed to fail, effectively setting them up with monopoly privileges. That’s how the power banking elite want it, all the money in their hands and all the corporations under their thumb as they monopolize the issuance of currency and credit. Everyone will have to do as they say or they will quickly become bankrupt and destitute. Such is the power of monopoly.
It is once again time to set up a system of money based on labor instead of debt. We should have a system where free people are able to own property outright, not have to borrow to afford it and then worry that an uncaring bank may come and claim it should one find one´s self in financial trouble. Similarly, it is very disturbing that government can claim private property via eminent domain and non payment of property taxes as if they feel they already own the land you pay for. These wrongs have needed correction for a long time now and hopefully the actions of the Icelanders will help start the ball rolling.
While the Greeks are rioting because they worry their entitlements will be taken away, the Icelanders have been able to take a more direct roll in the political process. The Greeks may well feel they have been left out of the political process, much like many Americans feel at this point in time as we watch the congress blatantly ignore the wishes of the common folk time and again. The bailouts, the wars, the passing of laws violating our rights and the health care bills are all examples of the minority political class ignoring the wishes of the majority to the detriment of society. The Icelanders may have to pay a price for their bravery, but they are finding their way back to freedom and self reliance.
We have been dependent on these banks for far too long and they have taken advantage of it. They have threatened our lawmakers with martial law and economic destruction. They have refused to honor the will of the people and answer questions involving how they´ve spent our money. As I write this, a very few senators, Bob Corker (R-TN), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), are working to strip the Audit the Fed amendment from the Financial Reform Bill and give the Federal Reserveeven more power. This will assure they will never be held accountable for the wrongs they have done. These senators need to be shown in no uncertain terms that we the people have had enough and will not obey their dictates and whims any longer.
We as a society need to start producing again. We need to start competing with others who wish to produce. This is how wealth is created. The more wealth we create, the more prosperous we all become. For a few decades now, we have tried to maintain our lifestyles with a service economy. It didn´t work. Now the economy is collapsing worldwide. Now the banks are hoarding that which they created and are trying to claim the real wealth that should be owned by private sovereigns. We need to ask ourselves, can we be proactive and stop this before we wake up and find ourselves in the same boat as Iceland? If not, will we simply say no and refuse to pay as they did, or will we allow our society to break down and resort to violence as the Greeks? Don´t let a few politicians on the bankster´s payroll dictate what needs to be done. Demand action now. Roar louder than the Icelanders. Hopefully, we will find justice later. Hopefully, we can avoid the fate of nations that remain on the central banker´s preferred course.
The greed and selfishness that the free market capitalist economy inspires impact just about every area of social and commercial interaction in consenting societies, it seems. It’s not just Wall Street and government leaders caught in the trap. It’s the entire system in terms of the way that it’s set to run, which moves the money ever more to the top economic tier by siphoning it from the bottom and middle ones.
Since there is a relatively fixed supply of money, it stands to reason that the more that one sector of society gets of it (often through economic disaster schemes in the patterns that Naomi Klein describes) — the less that exists for other sections. So in the end, the country increasingly becomes a banana republic with a huge lower class, a greatly affluent upper class and not much in between.
Years ago, the founder of central MA’s food bank told me of the obscenely high salaries that the directors of a major, well known Massachusetts charity providing funds for hungry Americans received every year, an amount that was purposefully not readily made public. The reason is that all of the volunteers for this charity, that raises millions of dollars each year, would be greatly dismayed that around a fourth of them were, actually, working to enrich upper management.
Granted, the charity’s directors who we were discussing were talented in terms of advertising and, in other ways, promoting the aid organization. However, can’t competent executives and other upper tier staff be found that are willing to work for much less than this bunch due to a devotion to the causes that they are advancing?
In the end, is it really just about the money that’s a primary motivator for the people who plot, scheme, climb and claw their way into the top positions in organizations in an outright self-enrichment gambit? If so, what a sad state of affairs even if they have the skills and understandings to be greatly adept in their jobs!
In addition, what does such a situation imply about the underlying social values, ethics and principles that guide all manners of social affairs in countries whose public condones such a pattern? Would you want to venture a guess?
Perhaps the general situation is somewhat best summed up by John Berger as follows:
“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.”
Of course, the drift of this overall discourse begs several other questions. They are: Do we really imagine that executives of businesses like the aforementioned Massachusetts charity and Boys & Girls Clubs(“Senators question $1 million pay for charity’s CEO”) want to self-police to avoid blatant financial abuse when it is potentially so personally lucrative not to do so? Do government representatives want to provide this service when they, indirectly, benefit in myriad ways from lack of corporate regulation?
In relation, does free market enterprise without tight controls really represent the best way to serve societies as a whole? Does the prevailing model of capitalism in general create benefits for the majority of people and preserve an intact natural world despite that gain of maximal profits derive from taking advantage of both? Lastly, on what patterns relative to eco-systems and working populations is economic growth founded?
Emily Spence is an author living in Massachusetts. She has spent many years involved in human rights, environmental and social services efforts.
Pakistan’s ISI, which considers Lashkar-e-Taiba as an “asset”, is believed to be not only sharing intelligence inputs, but also providing protection to the banned outfit, a top US lawmaker has said.
“Despite the government’s ban on LeT, Pakistan’s ISI continues to consider the organisation an asset. The ISI is believed to share intelligence and provide protection to LeT,” Congressman Marvin Weinbaum said at a Congressional hearing last week.
When Pakistan, in 2002, curtailed its assistance to insurgents after a US brokered cease-fire that year in Kashmir, the group, with the knowledge of the ISI, shifted most of its training camps and militant operations to the western border with Afghanistan, he said.
Referring to the frequent public appearance and anti-India rhetoric of LeT chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Weinbaum said he has got virtual impunity. “Let me say that there has been reciprocation on the part of LeT and that is refraining from involvement in attacks against the Pakistan Army and against Pakistan civilians,” he said.
“In fact, although it is very definitely part of the terrorist network, which includes the Tehrik-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network, it is viewed by some of the jihadi groups as being too soft on the state of Pakistan. And other extremist groups are sceptical of its linkages with ISI,” Weinbaum said.
“The current leadership in Pakistan may recognise, as it turns out better than any previous government, the dangers that LeT and these groups pose to the state. But the organisation’s deep penetration of the country’s social fabric makes any attempts to rein it in by the beleaguered Peoples Party impossible without the military’s full commitment,” the lawmaker said.
“Moreover, party and provincial politics in Pakistan adds a further obstacle. The major opposition, Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League, resists a challenge to the feared LeT that could put at risk the party’s ascendant position in the Punjab,” he said.
“LeT is determined to use violent means to inflict damage on American and Western interests internationally. Despite its transnational views that envision the emergence of a caliphate across the Islamic world, the organisation champions militant Pakistani nationalism and thrives on its association with domestic charitable activities,” he said.
“LeT was principally designed to provide Pakistan’s military with a proxy force of recruited fighters to augment the Islamic insurgency in Indian Kashmir. But by the late 1990s, LeT was engaged as well in training Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, militants coming from countries ranging from Egypt to the Philippines,” Weinbaum said.
“The group receives funding from mosque collections, expatriate Pakistanis in the Gulf and Britain, Islamic NGOs and Pakistani and Kashmiri businessmen. It also draws money from drugs and smuggling. There are suspicions that it gets direct financial assistance from Pakistan military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency as well,” he alleged.
Meanwhile, a top Pentagon official has told the US lawmakers that Lashkar-e-Taiba is trying to trigger Indo-Pak conflict by carrying out major attacks inside India. “The one that probably keeps me awake most is Lashkar-e-Taiba in South Asia, which of course was responsible for the Mumbai bombings,” Daniel Benjamin, Co-coordinator for counter-terrorism at the State Department, told Senators at a Congressional hearing last week.
“The Mumbai bombings did attack and kill a number of Americans. And this is a designated group and one we take very seriously. But I think we need to build even greater concern and greater programming to target this group, because its target set looked very much like an al Qaeda target,” he said. “And if it decides that it wants to wage the global terrorist effort, then that will be a real challenge for us. It has a lot more men under arms than al-Qaeda has. So those, I would say are the two big concerns,” he said.
“As we are looking at defending the homeland as one of our key pillars, that something spurs up as a result of a Lashkar-e-Taiba. You know, as they continue to try and trigger some kind of impact between Pakistan and India in the region. So it’s keeping an eye on the ball forward as we protect the ball here at home,” said Lt. Gen. Francis Kearney, Deputy Commander of US Operations Command.
Appearing before the same committee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism Garry Reid said this terrorist outfit is not only agile and adaptive, but has also maximised the use of global technology and global information tools.
American Police Training and Political Violence: From the Philippines Conquest to the Killing Fields of Afghanistan and Iraq)
“It’s the Police We Worry About:” The Violence Comes Full Circle in Af-Pak and Iraq
The violent history of U.S. imperial intervention is being played out today in Afghanistan and Iraq, where police training programs are central to American-backed political repression and terror. Management of the programs has been especially poor given cultural and language barriers, deeply entrenched hostility towards foreign intervention among the population, and administrative incompetence. In addition, the problems have been exacerbated by the increasing reliance on private mercenary corporations such as DynCorp and Blackwater (renamed Xe), and on tainted police advisors linked to human rights violations and malfeasance.
In Afghanistan, after almost nine years and seven billion dollars spent on training and salaries, an internal report concluded that “nepotism, financial improprieties and unethical recruitment practices were commonplace” among the American-backed forces, which engaged in widespread criminal activity and bribery and were “overmatched in counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics operations.” American police advisors, whose background as small town cops did little to prepare them for policing in a war zone, made six figure salaries, 50 times more than their Afghan counterparts, who resented their presence. According to a recent poll, less than 20 percent of the population in the eastern and southern provinces trusted the police, who are poorly motivated and whose poor performance has contributed to political instability and the resurgence of the Taliban. A taxi driver interviewed by RAND Corporation analyst Seth G. Jones tellingly commented, “Forget about the Taliban, it is the police we worry about.”39
Despised and feared, the Afghan national police have been continuously controlled by ethnic warlords paid off by the CIA and are central to what Ambassador Ron Neumann characterized as the pattern of “repression and oppression” gripping the country. They have routinely engaged in shakedowns at impromptu checkpoints, shot at and killed stone-throwing or unarmed demonstrators, stolen farmers’ land, and terrorized the civilian population while undertaking house-to-house raids in military-assisted sweep operations. They have further intimidated voters during fraudulent elections, including the one that brought Hamid Karzai back to power in 2009. According to village elders in Babaji, police bent on taking revenge against clan rivals carried out the abduction and rape of pre-teen girls and boys.40 These kinds of abuses fit with a larger historical pattern, and are a product of the ethnic antagonisms and social polarizations bred by the United States intervention, and the mobilization of police for military and political ends.
Afghan Police in 2006 photo
The open support by the Bush administration for torture and other harsh methods strengthened the proclivity towards indiscriminate violence. The International Red Cross reported massive overcrowding in Afghan prisons, “harsh” conditions, a lack of clarity about the legal basis for detention, and people being held “incommunicado” in isolation cells where they were “subjected to cruel treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions.” An undisclosed number have died in custody, including several thousand who were transported under the oversight of CIA-backed warlord Rashid Dostum in unventilated containers, where they suffocated to death or were shot.41
Corruption has been a major problem as police routinely accept kickbacks from black-market activities. Fitting a historical pattern, the State Department and CIA have maintained close ties with top officials who are directly involved in the narcotics trade, causing production to rise to over 8,000 tons per annum. The president’s own brother, Ahmed Wali, a CIA “asset” who heads a paramilitary group used for raids on suspected Taliban enclaves has used drug proceeds to fund state terror operations, including the intimidation of opponents in the rigged election of 2009. Karzai’s 2007 appointment as anticorruption chief, Izzatullah Wasifi, meanwhile, spent almost four years in a Nevada prison for trying to sell heroin to an undercover police officer. A CIA officer commented that during the U.S.-NATO occupation, “Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade. If you are looking for Mother Theresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”42
Cheryl Bernard, a RAND analyst and husband of Zalmay Khalilzad, UN Ambassador of the George W. Bush administration, explained one of the key reasons for the lack of good governance: “To defeat the Soviets we threw the worst crazies against them. Then we allowed them to get rid of, just kill all the moderate leaders. The reason we don’t have moderate leaders in Afghanistan today is because we let the nuts kill them all. They killed all the leftists, the moderates, the middle of the roaders. They were just eliminated, during the 1980s and afterwards.”43 The United States continues to tolerate high-levels of corruption out of perceived geo-political expediency, claiming that it is engrained within the political culture of Afghanistan and other “backward nations” in which it intervenes. In reality, however, it is a product of historical contingencies, the breakdown of social mores caused by the war-climate and the need of elite officials lacking popular legitimacy to obtain money for counter-insurgency operations.
Similar factors were at play in the 1960s when Vietnam and Laos were at the center of the world drug trade, benefiting from American backing of corrupt officials who controlled the traffic, with the CIA overseeing the production and sale of opium by Hmong guerrillas in order to finance the secret war against the Pathet Lao.44 History is thus coming full circle in Afghanistan, which now produces 93 percent of the world’s heroin and has been characterized by even Fox News, a major champion of American intervention, as a “narco-state.”45 Drug money has corrupted all facets of society, crippled the legal economy and made it nearly impossible to carry out the simplest development projects while most of the population lives in crushing poverty. As in South Vietnam under U.S. occupation, the main airport has become a major transshipment point for heroin and positions for police chief in many provinces are auctioned off to the highest bidder due to their enormous graft value. Securing a job as chief of police on the border is rumored to cost upwards of $150,000.46
In another parallel to Vietnam, rampant human rights violations have driven many people into the arms of the insurgency. A 2009 report by Commanding General Stanley A. McChrystal describes Afghan prisons as a particularly important recruiting base and “sanctuary [for Islamic militants] to conduct lethal operations” against government and coalition forces, including the 2008 bombing of the Serena hotel in Kabul which was allegedly planned without interference from prison personnel. McChrystal, a former Special Forces assassin, notes that “there are more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan.”47 These comments suggest that the recent Obama “surge” represents a costly and futile escalation of a conflict in which the U.S. has no prospects of victory.
Beginning in 2004, as war increasingly spilled over into Pakistan, the State Department provided tens of millions of dollars in technical aid, training and equipment to the Pakistani police. The central aim was to fight the Taliban and consolidate the power of military dictator Pervez Musharraf and his successor Ali Asaf Zhardari. American advisors introduced a computerized security and evaluation system to monitor all movement across the border, created special counter-narcotics units and a police air wing which was supplied with three caravan spotter planes and eight Huey helicopters to aid in counter-insurgency operations. Police play a vital role alongside mercenary firms such as Xe operations in identifying targets for CIA predator drone attacks which have killed hundreds of civilians, including over 100 during an errant strike on the village of Bola Baluk.48 As in Afghanistan, militarization has enhanced the already repressive character of the police and contributed to the intensification of a vicious civil war in which over two million people have been rendered refugees. The Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) meanwhile is deeply caught up in the heroin traffic, with the usual CIA collusion, and has been infiltrated by pro-Taliban elements, revealing the futility of American training programs and intervention.49 (read HERE)
AfPax Insider Part of Pakistani Taliban?
Videos posted on Afpax Insider website had to have been filmed openly, many scenes were documentaries, filmed using tripod cameras. This begs the question–Who were they? The following videos lend credence to local Pakistani “conspiracy” theories, which hold that the TTP are sponsored by the CIA, probably “Blackwater” types.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Under the cover of a benign government information-gathering program, a Defense Department official set up a network of private contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help track and kill suspected militants, according to military officials and businessmen in Afghanistan and the United States.
Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era.
The Afpax Web site, set up to report on news and intelligence from Afghanistan and Pakistan, similar to an operation already put into place in Iraq.
The official, Michael D. Furlong, hired contractors from private security companies that employed formerC.I.A. and Special Forces operatives. The contractors, in turn, gathered intelligence on the whereabouts of suspected militants and the location of insurgent camps, and the information was then sent to military units and intelligence officials for possible lethal action in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the officials said.
While it has been widely reported that the C.I.A. and the military are attacking operatives of Al Qaeda and others through unmanned, remote-controlled drone strikes, some American officials say they became troubled that Mr. Furlong seemed to be running an off-the-books spy operation. The officials say they are not sure who condoned and supervised his work.
It is generally considered illegal for the military to hire contractors to act as covert spies. Officials said Mr. Furlong’s secret network might have been improperly financed by diverting money from a program designed to merely gather information about the region.
Moreover, in Pakistan, where Qaeda and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding, the secret use of private contractors may be seen as an attempt to get around the Pakistani government’s prohibition of American military personnel’s operating in the country.
Officials say Mr. Furlong’s operation seems to have been shut down, and he is now is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Defense Department for a number of possible offenses, including contract fraud.
Even in a region of the world known for intrigue, Mr. Furlong’s story stands out. At times, his operation featured a mysterious American company run by retired Special Operations officers and an iconic C.I.A. figure who had a role in some of the agency’s most famous episodes, including the Iran-Contra affair.
The allegations that he ran this network come as the American intelligence community confronts other instances in which private contractors may have been improperly used on delicate and questionable operations, including secret raids in Iraq and an assassinations program that was halted before it got off the ground.
“While no legitimate intelligence operations got screwed up, it’s generally a bad idea to have freelancers running around a war zone pretending to be James Bond,” one American government official said. But it is still murky whether Mr. Furlong had approval from top commanders or whether he might have been running a rogue operation.
This account of his activities is based on interviews with American military and intelligence officials and businessmen in the region. They insisted on anonymity in discussing a delicate case that is under investigation.
Col. Kathleen Cook, a spokeswoman for United States Strategic Command, which oversees Mr. Furlong’s work, declined to make him available for an interview. Military officials said Mr. Furlong, a retired Air Force officer, is now a senior civilian employee in the military, a full-time Defense Department employee based at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
Network of Informants
Mr. Furlong has extensive experience in “psychological operations” — the military term for the use of information in warfare — and he plied his trade in a number of places, including Iraq and the Balkans. It is unclear exactly when Mr. Furlong’s operations began. But officials said they seemed to accelerate in the summer of 2009, and by the time they ended, he and his colleagues had established a network of informants in Afghanistan and Pakistan whose job it was to help locate people believed to be insurgents.
Government officials said they believed that Mr. Furlong might have channeled money away from a program intended to provide American commanders with information about Afghanistan’s social and tribal landscape, and toward secret efforts to hunt militants on both sides of the country’s porous border with Pakistan.
Some officials said it was unclear whether these operations actually resulted in the deaths of militants, though others involved in the operation said that they did.
Military officials said that Mr. Furlong would often boast about his network of informants in Afghanistan and Pakistan to senior military officers, and in one instance said a group of suspected militants carrying rockets by mule over the border had been singled out and killed as a result of his efforts.
In addition, at least one government contractor who worked with Mr. Furlong in Afghanistan last year maintains that he saw evidence that the information was used for attacking militants.
The contractor, Robert Young Pelton, an author who writes extensively about war zones, said that the government hired him to gather information about Afghanistan and that Mr. Furlong improperly used his work. “We were providing information so they could better understand the situation in Afghanistan, and it was being used to kill people,” Mr. Pelton said.
He said that he and Eason Jordan, a former television news executive, had been hired by the military to run a public Web site to help the government gain a better understanding of a region that bedeviled them. Recently, the top military intelligence official in Afghanistan publicly said that intelligence collection was skewed too heavily toward hunting terrorists, at the expense of gaining a deeper understanding of the country.
Instead, Mr. Pelton said, millions of dollars that were supposed to go to the Web site were redirected by Mr. Furlong toward intelligence gathering for the purpose of attacking militants.
In one example, Mr. Pelton said he had been told by Afghan colleagues that video images that he posted on the Web site had been used for an American strike in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan.
Among the contractors Mr. Furlong appears to have used to conduct intelligence gathering was International Media Ventures, a private “strategic communication” firm run by several former Special Operations officers. Another was American International Security Corporation, a Boston-based company run by Mike Taylor, a former Green Beret. In a phone interview, Mr. Taylor said that at one point he had employed Duane Clarridge, known as Dewey, a former top C.I.A. official who has been linked to a generation of C.I.A. adventures, including the Iran-Contra scandal.
In an interview, Mr. Clarridge denied that he had worked with Mr. Furlong in any operation in Afghanistan or Pakistan. “I don’t know anything about that,” he said.
Mr. Taylor, who is chief executive of A.I.S.C., said his company gathered information on both sides of the border to give military officials information about possible threats to American forces. He said his company was not specifically hired to provide information to kill insurgents.
Some American officials contend that Mr. Furlong’s efforts amounted to little. Nevertheless, they provoked the ire of the C.I.A.
Last fall, the spy agency’s station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, wrote a memorandum to the Defense Department’s top intelligence official detailing what officials said were serious offenses by Mr. Furlong. The officials would not specify the offenses, but the officer’s cable helped set off the Pentagon investigation.
In mid-2008, the military put Mr. Furlong in charge of a program to use private companies to gather information about the political and tribal culture of Afghanistan. Some of the approximately $22 million in government money allotted to this effort went to International Media Ventures, with offices in St. Petersburg, Fla., San Antonio and elsewhere. On its Web site, the company describes itself as a public relations company, “an industry leader in creating potent messaging content and interactive communications.”
The Web site also shows that several of its senior executives are former members of the military’s Special Operations forces, including former commandos from Delta Force, which has been used extensively since the Sept. 11 attacks to track and kill suspected terrorists.
Until recently, one of the members of International Media’s board of directors was Gen. Dell L. Dailey, former head of Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees the military’s covert units.
In an e-mail message, General Dailey said that he had resigned his post on the company’s board, but he did not say when. He did not give details about the company’s work with the American military, and other company executives declined to comment.
In an interview, Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, the top military spokesman in Afghanistan, said that the United States military was currently employing nine International Media Ventures civilian employees on routine jobs in administration, information processing and analysis. Whatever else other International Media employees might be doing in Afghanistan, he said, he did not know and had no responsibility for their actions.
By Mr. Pelton’s account, Mr. Furlong, in conversations with him and his colleagues, referred to his stable of contractors as “my Jason Bournes,” a reference to the fictional American assassin created by the novelist Robert Ludlum and played in movies by Matt Damon.
Military officials said that Mr. Furlong would occasionally brag to his superiors about having Mr. Clarridge’s services at his disposal. Last summer, Mr. Furlong told colleagues that he was working with Mr. Clarridge to secure the release of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, a kidnapped soldier who American officials believe is being held by militants in Pakistan.
From December 2008 to mid-June 2009, both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Clarridge were hired to assist The New York Times in the case of David Rohde, the Times reporter who was kidnapped by militants in Afghanistan and held for seven months in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The reporter ultimately escaped on his own.
The idea for the government information program was thought up sometime in 2008 by Mr. Jordan, a former CNN news chief, and his partner Mr. Pelton, whose books include “The World’s Most Dangerous Places” and “Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror.”
Top General Approached
They approached Gen. David D. McKiernan, soon to become the top American commander in Afghanistan. Their proposal was to set up a reporting and research network in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the American military and private clients who were trying to understand a complex region that had become vital to Western interests. They already had a similar operation in Iraq — called “Iraq Slogger,” which employed local Iraqis to report and write news stories for their Web site. Mr. Jordan proposed setting up a similar Web site in Afghanistan and Pakistan — except that the operation would be largely financed by the American military. The name of the Web site was Afpax.
Mr. Jordan said that he had gone to the United States military because the business in Iraq was not profitable relying solely on private clients. He described his proposal as essentially a news gathering operation, involving only unclassified materials gathered openly by his employees. “It was all open-source,” he said.
When Mr. Jordan made the pitch to General McKiernan, Mr. Furlong was also present, according to Mr. Jordan. General McKiernan endorsed the proposal, and Mr. Furlong said that he could find financing for Afpax, both Mr. Jordan and Mr. Pelton said. “On that day, they told us to get to work,” Mr. Pelton said.
But Mr. Jordan said that the help from Mr. Furlong ended up being extremely limited. He said he was paid twice — once to help the company with start-up costs and another time for a report his group had written. Mr. Jordan declined to talk about exact figures, but said the amount of money was a “small fraction” of what he had proposed — and what it took to run his news gathering operation.
Whenever he asked for financing, Mr. Jordan said, Mr. Furlong told him that the money was being used for other things, and that the appetite for Mr. Jordan’s services was diminishing.
“He told us that there was less and less money for what we were doing, and less of an appreciation for what we were doing,” he said.
Admiral Smith, the military’s director for strategic communications in Afghanistan, said that when he arrived in Kabul a year later, in June 2009, he opposed financing Afpax. He said that he did not need what Mr. Pelton and Mr. Jordan were offering and that the service seemed uncomfortably close to crossing into intelligence gathering — which could have meant making targets of individuals.
“I took the air out of the balloon,” he said.
Admiral Smith said that the C.I.A. was against the proposal for the same reasons. Mr. Furlong persisted in pushing the project, he said.
“I finally had to tell him, ‘Read my lips,’ we’re not interested,’ ” Admiral Smith said.
What happened next is unclear.
Admiral Smith said that when he turned down the Afpax proposal, Mr. Furlong wanted to spend the leftover money elsewhere. That is when Mr. Furlong agreed to provide some of International Media Ventures’ employees to Admiral Smith’s strategic communications office.
But that still left roughly $15 million unaccounted for, he said.
“I have no idea where the rest of the money is going,” Admiral Smith said.
Dexter Filkins reported from Kabul, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to calm the nation after a series of US officials have called last week’s announcement to allow Israelis to build 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem an ‘insult’ to the US.
With a succession of US officials calling the revelation of a project to build 1,600 homes in an area claimed by the Palestinians an “insult,” Netanyahu may have to decide between allowing the open sore with Israel’s most important ally to fester or potentially alienating right-wing allies in his coalition government.
“I think that Netanyahu is at a moment of truth,” says Gideon Doron, a political science professor at Tel Aviv University. “He has to choose whether or not he wants to ignite the forces for peace, or whether he’ll go against the US and play for time. He can’t do that. It’s suicide.”
Where the Biden trip went wrong
On Friday US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a 43-minute scolding of Israel for its behavior during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the region last week.
Mr. Biden’s visit was intended to smooth over ties with Israel and help give momentum to renewed, indirect peace negotiations with Palestinians. But the trip was upended by the surprise announcement of a regional planning committee of a plan to add 1,600 homes in the ultrareligious neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, which is located in a section of Jerusalem claimed by Palestinians as part of a future state.
The Palestinians immediately balked at talks and Biden issued a swift condemnation. Netanyahu apologized for the timing of the announcement but not the substance of the announcement.
“This was an affront, it was an insult but most importantly it undermined this very fragile effort to bring peace to that region,” said President Obama’s top adviser David Axelrod, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “For this announcement to come at that time was very destructive.”
Obama administration cries foul
It wasn’t enough for the Obama administration, which summed Israel’s ambassador to Washington to the State Department for a protest. The US is now reportedly calling on Israel to cancel the project at Ramat Shlomo to show its commitment to the peace process, or risk a deterioration in ties.
Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting that he had commissioned a committee that would prevent future flare-ups. The Haaretz newspaper reported, meanwhile, that pending building projects in East Jerusalem had been wiped off the agenda of the regional planning board responsible for the project.
A more dramatic concession risks defections among Netanyahu’s coalition partners and instability within his own Likud Party.
Netanyahu: Let’s calm down
“First of all, I suggest that we not get carried away – and that we calm down,” Netanyahu said.
So far the damage control isn’t working.
Netanyahu is being portrayed in the local press as the instigator of an unnecessary crisis. His performance in the crisis is being compared to his first term in office, which was cut short as he alienated the US and coalition allies. One of the chief criticisms is that he can’t go with the Obama administration’s negotiations initiatives with his current coalition.
“Israel-US relations will survive this uproar as well. They are stronger than Netanyahu, stronger even than Obama,” wrote columnist Ben Caspit in the Maariv newspaper. “The thing is that the intimacy and trust are not going to be restored to their former states. Not in the coming year or two. And the coming year or two is the period of time in which Israel needs intimacy with America in the most desperate, most existential, and most critical way since it was established.”
UN chief voices concern about ‘increasingly strident, bellicose rhetoric’
By Patrick Galey
BEIRUT: Lebanon and Israel should take advantage of the “stable” situation along the Blue Line to sign a permanent ceasefire, according to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
In his 12th report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701, released Monday, Ban called for the disarmament of non-state groups in Lebanon and demanded an end to continual Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace.
“A permanent ceasefire would assist in further stabilizing the situation by providing for a defined set of obligations of each party … thus lessening the threat of unwanted military escalation,” Ban said. “I urge the parties to seize the opportunity to make tangible progress in the coming months.”
Although the situation in south Lebanon is as calm as it has been since the inception of resolution 1701, Ban pointed out that much was needed to be done in order to declare the international ruling complete.
As evidence of this, the UN secretary general pointed to the fact that an average of 15 “counter-rocket-launching” operations was launched each day in south Lebanon.
Ban also repeated his plea that Israel withdraws from the northern part of the occupied village of Ghajar, a pullout that has been planned by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for several months.
“UNIFIL stands ready to facilitate the withdrawal,” the UN chief added.
Resolution 1701 was drafted to end the 2006 summer war between Hizbullah and Israel which killed over 1,200 Lebanese, mainly civilians and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers. It stipulates that Lebanon’s sovereign borders be respected and Ban called on Israel to cease “immediately all over flights” which have increased markedly in recent weeks.
Ban also attacked “the use of increasingly strident and bellicose rhetoric warning of renewed conflict, the expanded nature of any renewed confrontation and the application of the military lessons that both sides have learned from the 2006 conflict,” in reference to war talk emanating from Beirut and Tel Aviv.
He voiced his ongoing concern about reports pointing to the breaches of the arms embargo proposed in Resolution 1701, which states that only the Lebanese Armed Forces may possess arms in UNIFIL’s mandated operations area south of the Litani River.
“The presence of armed groups in Lebanon operating outside the control of the state constitutes a challenge to the ability of the state to exercise its full sovereignty and control over its territory,” Ban wrote.
He cited the incidents involving explosives at Houla and Khiam as examples of how non-state weapons were still present in Lebanon, in contravention of resolution 1701.
Ban requested that the Lebanese government restart the stalled National Dialogue talks with a view to establishing a comprehensive and multilateral national defense strategy.
Also mentioned in the report was the alleged kidnapping of a Lebanese shepherd by Israeli soldiers in the Shebaa Farms area. A UNIFIL probe was unable to determine the exact site of the incident and consequently “remained inconclusive as to the nature of the Blue Line violation,” according to Ban.
Ban praised UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force for its involvement in three nautical accidents during the reporting period, including the rescuing of 34 survivors from a capsized merchant vessel off the coast of Tripoli and “coordinating” search and retrieval operations in the immediate aftermath of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster.
Reactions of Lebanese civilians to UNIFIL remained generally positive, Ban said, with isolated incidents of dissent in which protestors either threw stones or wielded knifes and hunting rifles at UNIFIL patrols.
“Local authorities expressed some concern about road and property damage resulting from UNIFIL operational activities,” Ban added.
UNIFIL’s current military strength in Lebanon is 11,658, of whom 489 are women, according to the report.
[If India produces evidence linking these idiots to Lashkar e-Taiba, expect military action against LET in Pakistan.
A 1993 blasts accused holed up in Pakistan may be involved in the terror plot to attack ONGC installations in and around Mumbai.
After the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) averted a major terror strike on the city’s vital installations, including the ONGC, by arresting two alleged terrorists from India having links with militant outfits in Pakistan, it has been learnt that their handlers inducted them through one of their relatives in Pakistan.
Since the duo have no history of families departing during the partition, the ATS is now investigating if a 1993 blasts accused is the missing link between the handlers and the foot soldiers.
The duo, identified as Abdul Latif Sheikh and Riyaz Ali, had plans to blow up ONGC installations in the city. Apart from this, Mangal Das Market in South Mumbai and Thakkar Mall in Borivali was also on their hit list.
However, before they could execute their plans, they were arrested by an ATS team under ACP Mohan Kulkarni from Matunga in the wee hours of Sunday. The duo, related to each other as brother-in-laws were working as salesmen in different parts of the city.
Incriminating documents were found in their possession connecting them to terror outfits. The ATS also recovered some maps from them that suggested that they had designs on and had done a recce of ports at Sewri and Nhava Seva, the BARC and the ONGC installations in Bandra and Uran. They are also suspected of recruiting men for terror training across the border.
Interestingly, Latif’s residence is a stone’s throw away from ONGC’s Behrampada office in Bandra, while his workplace, Baba Hanger, is a shop in Mangaldas Market in South Mumbai’s Crawford Market.
Who is the relative?
According to ATS, this “Uncle”, suspected to be an LeT handler, first got in touch with Latif through one of his relatives in Pakistan. The ATS is now investigating who this relative is and if he is one of the 1993 blasts accused holed up in Karachi.
An ATS officer, who was part of the operation, said, “They have no past record of being associated with any radical group, let alone a terror group, nor do they have any criminal record. We have also verified that they do not have any other local associate here.
The handler from Pakistan contacted them through either a relative or a close friend of one of the accused. There are many 1993 blasts accused in Pakistan and we are checking if one of them is related to Latif.”
Hinting at an LeT hand behind the arrested men, the officer added, “While it is premature to take the name of any organisation, it is important to note that the handler who indoctrinated 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Qasab was referred to as ‘Chacha’.”
A premature arrest
The ATS, however, did not want to arrest them immediately as it wanted to collect more information on their designs, their associates and their handlers.
It was for this reason that the agency, had put the duo under surveillance. While their phones were tapped, an ATS team constantly watched their movements and activities.
Of late, the team sensed that they were rapidly moving towards their objective and may execute a blast or any other form of terror attack soon.
Thus, even though the time was not yet ripe for their arrest, the ATS picked them up to prevent another terror attack in the city.
“We wanted to be safe than sorry. The duo were very close to executing their plan. Had they executed even a part of it while we were still watching them, we would have been kicking ourselves,” said an ATS officer.
Plans to make an exit
The ATS is checking whether these four people have been sent to Pakistan for training in terror camps. “The two were promised by ‘Uncle’ that they would be taken to Pakistan and had been asked to apply for passports,” said ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi.
“They were also promised that they would be heading the recruitment drives of Pakistani terror outfits in India. We are in the process of indentifying this ‘Uncle’. We have already asked help from Central agencies in this regard,” Raghuvanshi added.
What prompted the arrest of the duo immediately was information that their bosses wanted them to execute some terror activity before they could be called to Pakistan.
Raghuvanshi said, “Before heading to Pakistan they wanted to carry out a big attack in India. The three main targets on their list were either going to be destroyed through an explosion or set on fire. We are making further investigations on their entire plan, however.”
What the families say
The only time the police had detained Riyaz was when the father of a girl, he was in love with, had approached the Dahisar police six months ago. Because the girl is still a minor, we had decided that Riyaz would get married to her after two months time when she turns 18. But the police have now arrested him.”
When reminded that there were maps of vital installation found with Riyaz, she said, “Anyone can buy maps from a shop.”
Riyaz is the elder son of Ajida and Abu Ali Bakar Shaikh and works with Rudraksh Collections in the Thakkar Mall in Borivali (W).
His elder sister is married to Latif, who stays in Bandra’s Behrampada area. The family also said that Riyaz was so busy with work and his personal matters that he would never have got time for such activities as alleged by ATS.
Riyaz’s employer and owner of the Rudraksh Shop, Puneet Prajapati said, “Riyaz was working with me for the past four years.
His command on English language was very good but he never looked like he could get into such activities. He use to always talk about his girlfriend and family matters with us but never discussed anything that he wanted to go to Pakistan. He is just a ninth standard passout but was good in computers,” said Prajapati.
Riyaz’s father Abu Ali Bakar, who earns his living by selling cutlery near Borivali station said, “I have two sons and three daughters out of which one has died long back.
We don’t have any relatives in Pakistan so I don’t why my son would go there. But we are not sure about Latif’s relatives in Pakisan.
My son was missing since Friday night and we had searched for him throughout Saturday without any success. On Saturday night, I got a call from a officer of the ATS who told me that my son was arrested by the ATS,” said Abu Ali Bakar.
No one was found at Latif’s house in Behrampada and even the residents around the place did not know who Latif was.
at 01:10 on December 3rd, 2008
It is not unusual for such terrorist groups, be it of the Jehadi, Hindutva, Zionist or other brands to exploit sufferings from carnages they have themselves perpetrated, to script young tender minds and perpetuate injustice.
The first media reports began to inform us of a previously unheard of group called the “Deccan Mujahedeen”. Let it be made clear that neither the Deccan or the “Indian Mujahedeen” exist. The Indian Mujahedeen is a creation & the front organization of the Indian security apparatus. The role of the “IM” is to seek to entrap Muslim youth. Organizations like the IM are created with the backing of criminal elements from within the Muslim community as well as informers. The IM is known to be linked to the Fazlulrehman gang as well as the Bhatkal brothers with similar criminal antecedents. We believe that it is fairly easy to entrap 15 odd Muslim youth annually out of a population of 15 crores, by showing them CD’s of Gujarat and Ayodhya and by emotionally drawing them to “avenge” the oppression and exploitation of a beleaugured minority. Intelligence agents in the garb of Muslim clergy have been known to indulge in this activity, whilst informers like Safdar Nagori have also helped in this process.
As far as theterrorists who attacked Mumbai are concerned, they are in all likelihoodhighly indoctrinated and extremely well trained terrorists, determined to die for their “cause” & are basically controlled by the American CIA, the Pakistani ISI and the Israeli MOSSAD. There is a long and recorded history of the CIA and the MOSSAD along with the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, deploying these groups in Afghanistan, Chechenya, Bosnia and Kosovo amongst others.
The stunning report that stated that Indresh Kumar a senior RSS operative in Nepal recieved Rs 3 CR from the ISI, was known to Togadia, Purohit and Vaidya the ex-RSS chief. This till date has not been denied by the RSS. This hints of a collusion between the ISI and the RSS at certain mutually beneficial levels and should come as no surprise and needs further investigation.
It was clear to the BJP-RSS that the threat that lay from the ATS investigation could destroy them as it went to the core of the leadership and names such as Advani, Modi, Togadia, Rajnath Singh and Vaidya began to appear.
Thus they would have to organize a major spectacular terrorist attack to thwart the investigation.
In our estimation, the MOSSAD and the CIA have aided and abeted the BJP-RSS in the planning and execution of this terror attack. What was required in this extended sordid drama was the need for a genuine terrorist group of Pakistani origin, which was provided for by the ISI with a bit of prodding from its masters in the CIA and the MOSSAD if required. The ISI is a mercenary organization with no scruples and is out there for the highest bidder. Moreover there exists various factions within the ISI, some which are baically controlled and paid for by the CIA and the MOSSAD.
The terrorist group would have no clue to the larger plot and would only be a pawn in the entire episode in which it would be given to believe that it was serving the cause of Islam by waging Jehad against Hindu India.
The terrorists were also given targets which included nationals of the US, UK and Israel as an added incentive. In one such announcement the terrorist spokesperson announced that they were here in Mumbai as part of their battle against the Jewish people and the faith of Judaism. Thus the Nariman House building in Colaba, that unkown to most is inhabited by Israeli-Jewish families was also attacked and hostages taken. This incident will only serve to cement ties between the Zionist elites of Israel and the Brahmanical elites of India.
The fact of the matter is that there exists a strong ideological bonding between Zionism & Brahmanism. Both are committed to racial, religious & caste superiority. Both also have a history of collaboration with Imperialism and the exploitation of their people.
Let it be clear to one and all, that Muslims have never had any sort of antipathy or hatred for the Jewish people or for Judaism for that matter and history is proof of this fact. What Muslims like all other peoples and nations are oppossed to is Zionism and its colonial aparthied state called Israel. The fact of the matter is that at the heart of International politics lies the Palestine / Israel conflict and only a just solution will finally bring peace to the world. Till then Israel will continue to destabilise Muslim societies across the world so as to spread Islamophobia and further weaken and isolate the Muslim community as is very apparent in India.
The key is to understand the difference between Judaism and Zionism. Judaism represents the ethical and moral vlaues of the Jewish faith whilst Zionism is a rascist, fascist and colonial ideology.
Both India and the world stand at the crossroads.
The scourge of terrorism has become the political and social challenge of our times and needs to be fought as it is we the ordinary people who are the victims of terror.
The politics of terror has replaced the politics of communal riots and is the new strategy of communal fascism.
The only way that we can fight the demon of terrorism is by revealing the truth and thus uniting the people across religions and nations for our common struggle against imperialism and for a global human society based on the principles of secularsim, democracy and social justice.
[Indian/Pakistani pre-war phallus competition]
New Delhi – A military test of India’s interceptor missile drew a blank Monday, after the target missile went off course and failed to trigger the interceptor’s radar, defence sources said. “The coordinated exercise between target missile and the interceptor could not take place properly during the planned trial,” the sources said.The indigenously developed Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile is part of the multi-layer ballistic missile defence system that India has been developing for over a decade.The test of the missile, designed to destroy hostile ballistic missiles at low-altitude trajectories, had been postponed from Sunday due to technical problems, the sources said.At Monday’s test, the surface-to-surface ballistic missile Prithvi serving as target veered off course after the first 11 kilometres and failed to trigger the radar of the interceptor, which did not launch, the sources added.The Prithvi was fired from a test range on the Orissa coast, while the interceptor was to have launched from an island in the Bay of Bengal about 70 kilometres away.”The ADD missile has undergone three successful tests earlier. These things happen during development,” the defence sources said.The 7-metre interceptor is a single stage, rocket-propelled guided missile. It has a secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and radars, according to PTI news agency.Nuclear-capable South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, routinely engage in tit-for-tat missile tests. They have an agreement under which prior notice is given to the other about such tests or other defence exercises.Pakistan test-fired naval missiles and torpedoes in the Arabian Sea on Friday.The tests came around a month after India fired its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Agni-III missile.
The White House, the Pentagon and Congress fear the surge. Not the recent shipment of a few troops to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, but the surge of angry American voters in November. Not only are those voters afraid that the Obama administration and the Democrat-led Congress will bankrupt the nation, they are also impatient with the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So how will President Obama and his congressional cronies survive the coming November tsunami? Simple. Declare victory and get out of the Near East. Retreat from Afghanistan will be well underway before November this year, and the Stars and Stripes will be on a fast freight out of Iraq before the U.S. presidential election in 2012.
It is often difficult to discern everything happening in Afghanistan, and even more difficult to understand why it is happening. Pieces of the puzzle are scattered from India to Pakistan to Afghanistan to Russia, but there is a pattern to it all.
Let us first examine this year’s string of so-called victories over the insurgents. My last count shows six “Afghan Taliban” leaders arrested and two killed, along with two senior “Pakistani Taliban” arrested and four more killed. It is not clear the arrests are really arrests or even when they happened, since all the reports came from Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence directorate (ISI). The ISI does not allow us to get our hands on the bad guys for fear they will tell us about nefarious ISI operations. Nevertheless, the Pentagon and White House spin doctors are hard at work, leading mainstream media by the nose. They have managed to side-step the uncomfortable fact that a deal has been struck with Pakistan, and that the ISI is now running the Afghan show. For its part, the ISI is rolling up troublesome insurgent factions inside Pakistan they protected since the regime of Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, and they are also giving us intelligence about connections those factions have along the Afghan border. Our drones do the killing.
The American/Pakistani deal that sparked the sudden success against the insurgency leadership is never explained by the White House or the Pentagon even though the agreement is quite straightforward: In exchange for a desperately longed-for sphere of influence in Afghanistan when U.S. forces leave, the ISI has agreed to disrupt the insurgent command structure, betray their former friends to drone targeteers, and give most of the credit to the American military and the CIA. That will help create an image of victory and will expedite withdrawal of U.S. forces. The essential part of the deal, as far as Pakistan is concerned, is that the keen interest of Hindu India to encourage a more secular regime in Kabul must be ignored. Muslim Pakistan will then be able to align with Muslim Afghans to insure that Pakistan’s vulnerable ‘back door’ border with Afghanistan is not opened by India, and will remain safely in the hands of their Kabul co-religionists.
Understandably, India is not amused. Not only have they invested much of $1.2 billion they pledged to improve Afghan roads, dams, and infrastructure, they have endured a series of murderous attacks instigated by the ISI. To date, bombings of diplomatic buildings and attacks on Afghan project sites by ISI client insurgents have killed upwards of a hundred Indian diplomats and workers. That does not include the 2008 attack on Mumbai, India’s financial center and most populous city, which claimed at least 173 more lives. The Mumbai attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group based in Pakistan and officially labeled a terrorist organization by India, the United States and the United Kingdom, among others.
India’s initial response to Washington’s deal with Pakistan was to announce that India will not withdraw its workers and diplomats from Afghanistan. The second response came swiftly afterwards.
Last Friday New Delhi signed five deals in Moscow to purchase over $7 billion worth of hardware and expertise from Russia, including an aircraft carrier, a fleet of MIG-29 fighters, defense and space technology, and at least 12 nuclear reactors. American manufacturers were tipped to win the critical fighter aircraft competition, but now it looks like Northrop Grumman will have to downsize the big New Delhi office they opened in 2007 in anticipation of the fighter contract. Of course, one of the invisible 800 pound gorillas in the room with Russia and India was China, their mutual antagonist of old. But the Afghanistan deal between Washington and Islamabad was in there too.
Even as Indians and Russians were getting ready for caviar and vodka, more pieces of the Afghan puzzle appeared. We were treated to the incongruous photograph of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, still in his Pentagon pin-striped suit, sitting in a military helicopter with Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahman Wardak on 10 March. What was Mr. Gates learning about the Afghan situation in a helicopter that he could not better learn at his Pentagon desk? Nothing, of course. He was there to make a statement that would sound much more credible delivered from Kabul than if he said it in Washington.
The Gates message was that things look so secure, U.S. forces could start leaving the country even before President Obama’s announced withdrawal date of July 2011. There is no general election in 2011 however, so a few hours after Secretary Gates’ statement congress got into the act.
Like other Americans, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are mighty worried about their jobs. They want to appear patriotic these days. So when a resolution came up to set a timetable for withdrawal by the end of this year, they defeated it, 356-65. Despite this momentary confusion between Washington’s legislative and executive branches, we can be sure withdrawal will be well underway, if not completed, by the presidential election in 2012.
Meanwhile, we are still fighting on that miserable Afghan battlefield with the mission and role of our soldiers dictated by political wrangling inside the Pentagon and out in the field. When two four-star generals, McChrystal and Petraeus, and lots of other stars are managing a war involving only 100,000 troops, the result is constant wrangling, rivalry and gamesmanship that is complicated by the presidential aspirations of Petraeus. Added to which, no senior policy-maker, civilian or military, wants to wipe out the insurgents. That would mean lots of troops, firepower and collateral damage. What is wanted is the appearance of victory. That is what the deal with Pakistan will provide, and the subsequent withdrawal will become the ‘October surprise’ of the 2010 elections.
Finally, whether U.S. troops are slogging through opium poppy fields or not, history teaches us that endless war will continue in Afghanistan until a ruthless strongman appears and seizes leadership. Who in the White House or Pentagon is wise enough to identify the man best suited to the American national interest?
Chet Nagle is the author of IRAN COVENANT.
BEIRUT: The US has vehemently denied that the leader of a Sunni Muslim militant group captured by Iranian forces in dramatic circumstances is its puppet.
Iran forced down a civilian airliner on Tuesday and boarded it to arrest Abdolmalek Rigi, Iran’s most wanted man.
He was shown on television being hauled from a jet by four men wearing balaclavas.
There were conflicting statements by Iranian officials about where he was detained. State media said he had been on board a flight from Dubai to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
Bishkek airport confirmed that Kyrgyzstan Airways flight QH454 from Dubai arrived several hours late after being told to land by Iran.
Heydar Moslehi, Iran’s intelligence minister, said Rigi, the leader of the Sunni terrorist group Jundullah, had been at a US base 24 hours before his arrest.
”We are warning America and European countries that the intelligence services of the West should stop support for such groups and their terrorist acts,” he said. ”We have clear documents proving that Rigi was in co-operation with American, Israeli and British intelligence services.”
At a dramatic press conference, he flourished a photograph that he said showed Rigi outside the base, though he gave no details of where the base was, or how or when the photograph was obtained.
The photograph gave no clues to the location. Photographs were also shown of an Afghan passport and identity card said to have been given to Rigi by the Americans.
Mr Moslehi also alleged that Rigi had met Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the then NATO secretary-general, in Afghanistan in 2008, and had visited European countries. He said agents had tracked Rigi’s movements for five months.
Iran has repeatedly claimed that Jundullah, which has carried out bombings in support of demands for better treatment for the border region of Baluchistan, is backed by Pakistan, Britain, Israel and the US. It has been alleged by Western media that in 2007, the CIA gave funding and weapons to Jundullah.
But the rebel group countered Iran’s narrative, insisting its leader was captured by US, Pakistani and Afghan intelligence and handed over to Iran as part of a backroom deal. The rebels did not say where he was taken.
”Very soon, we will produce documents proving American, British and regional intelligence services’ co-operation with the [Iranian] regime,” said a statement posted to the movement’s website, Junbish.blogspot.com.
The Al Jazeera news channel said Pakistan handed Rigi over to Iranian authorities a week ago.
A US official denied any American involvement with Rigi: ”This is of course a totally bogus accusation.” A British Foreign Office spokesman hailed Rigi’s reported capture, telling Iranian state media he was ”a terrorist responsible for despicable attacks which have killed many innocent Iranians”.
NATO ”flatly denied” that any meeting had taken place between Mr Scheffer and Rigi.
Jundullah, which means ”soldiers of God”, draws inspiration from the same version of Islam as al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It has battled the mainly Persian and Shiite Muslim government in Iran. Last October it killed two Revolutionary Guard generals and 40 of their men as well as tribal chiefs they were meeting in Baluchistan near the Pakistani border. It blew up a Shiite mosque in May, killing 25.
Los Angeles Times; Telegraph, London
Pakistan’s intelligence agency has demanded tighter control of the Afghan border by Nato troops to stop Taliban fighters escaping its operations in the North West Frontier.
By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Major General Athar Abbas, director general of Inter-Services Intelligence, said that a cross-border flow into Afghanistan was hampering its campaign to crush the Taliban. “We are at full stretch. I have to say that the border is a joint responsibility,” he said in a presentation to the Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank.
“Nato must stop the cross border flow.”
Pakistan has rapidly expanded its presence along the Afghanistan border, which crosses mountains and deserts, after years of complaints from Nato that it was not doing enough to stop Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters finding safe haven in its territory. According to Maj Gen Abbas, there are now 821 Pakistan army checkpoints on the border, but just 112 Afghan army or Nato posts.
Pakistan officials have proclaimed the success of its operations in the autonomous territories dominated by Pashtun tribes that have sheltered the Taliban.
But a senior official conceded that it had not set a date to launch military operations in North Wazirstan, the mountainous region were Osama bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda leaders are thought to be sheltering.
“The best we can say is that North Waziristan is being controlled through squeezing effects from all sides,” the Pakistan official said.
“These leaders are having great difficulty communicating and they have been denied freedom of movement.”
The official also claimed that factions within the Afghan Taliban had begun fighting the mainly Arab al-Qaeda operatives and their allies in recent weeks. Nato has called on Taliban leaders to reject al-Qaeda to join a reconciliation process. The ISI, which has close links to the Taliban, is believed to be encouraging its allies to enter negotiations.
“There is internal fighting between the Taliban factions and, as a result, the al-Qaeda presence in North Waziristan has been forced into a compressed space.”
Pakistan’s campaign in the frontier regions suffered a setback on Saturday when a suicide bomber killed 13 in an attack in Swat, an area the government had claimed was the “safest” in the region after the Taliban was driven out.