Heavy rains swamp camps holding Haiti’s homeless

Haitian children walk in the mud near a tent city on Friday in Port-au-Prince.

By Thony Belizaire, AFP/Getty Images

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — One of the heaviest rainfalls since Haiti‘s Jan. 12 earthquake swamped homeless camps Friday, sweeping screaming residents into eddies of water, overflowing latrines and panicking thousands.

The overnight downpour sent water coursing down the slopes of a former golf course that now serves as a temporary home for about 45,000 people.

There were no reports of deaths in the camp, a town-size maze of blue, orange and silver tarps located behind the country club used by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne as a forward-operating base.

But the deluge terrified families who just two months ago survived the collapse of their homes in the magnitude-7 earthquake and are now struggling to make do in tent-and-tarp camps that officials have repeatedly said must be relocated.

“I was on one side (of the tarp), the children were on the other side and I was trying to push the water out,” Jackquine Exama, a 34-year-old mother of seven, said through tears.

“I’m not used to this,” she said.

Aid workers said people were swept screaming into eddies of water and flows ripped down tents an Israeli aid group is using to teach school.

“They were crying. There was just fear down there. It was chaos,” said Jim Wilson of the aid group Praecipio, who came running from his own shelter up the hill when he heard the screams.

After the sun rose Friday, people used sticks and their bare hands to dig drainage ditches around their tarps and shanties.

Marie Elba Sylvie, 50, could not decide whether it was worth repairing damage to her lean-to of scrap wood and plastic.

“It could be fixed but when it rains again it will be the same problem,” said the 50-year-old mother of four.

Standing water and mud also pervaded a tarp-and-tent city on the outskirts of Cite Soleil, several miles away. Residents waded through the shallow flood collecting their belongings.

Officials know they must move many of the 1.3 million people displaced by the earthquake before the rainy season starts in earnest in April. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters at the golf-course camp Sunday that the people living there were in particular danger.

But after two months of searching and wrangling with landowners, the government has still not opened any of the five promised relocation sites that are better able to withstand rain and aftershocks on the capital’s northeastern outskirts.

Aid groups are also struggling to open their own camps.

“It’s been frustrating to us because we need to have those sites in order to build something … better. Until we can do that people have no incentive to move,” U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes told The Associated Press during Ban’s visit.

“We’re running out of time, honestly,” Holmes said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Uzbek Leader, Alleged Predator Casualty, Threatens Everyone

Uzbek group to ‘free Pakistan from US control’

MIRANSHAH: The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) vowed on Thursday they would “free Pakistan from the American clutches” and continue jihad for the enforcement of sharia law in the country. The message was released through pamphlets distributed in North Waziristan’s Miranshah town, marking six years of the first-ever coordinated attack by security forces on their hideout near Wana in South Waziristan on March 16, 2004. The IMU is led by Uzbek terrorist Tahir Yuldashev who survived a Frontier
Corps attack in Kaloosha region of South Waziristan. The terrorists thwarted the attack and inflicted huge losses
to the FC. staff report

Punjab can no longer live in a state of denial

Punjab can no longer live in a state of denial

– by Ayaz Amir

If FATA represents the cutting edge of terrorism in the name of Islam, Punjab, unfortunately, is the hinterland of this phenomenon. Or, to borrow a phrase from the repertoire of military folly, Punjab is the strategic depth of bigotry and extremism masquerading in the colours of Islam.

Religious extremism took root in the soil of Pakistan thanks to the so-called Islamisation policies of Gen Ziaul Haq and his role in pushing the first Afghan ‘jihad’. The dragon’s teeth of our sorrows were scattered by Zia. We are reaping the harvest. 

Next in the line of military saviours, Pervez Musharraf — may Pakistan for all its faults never have such a saviour again — could have reversed the trend of the Zia years. But he had only a limited understanding of things. President Asif Zardari is not the first of our accidental leaders. Musharraf was another product of accident and circumstances. Had he not been plucked out of Mangla and made army chief Pakistan would have been spared the misfortunes it had to endure under his star.

He signed on with the Americans in 2001 but despite the two assassination attempts on him, he was never serious about cleansing the Frontier havens where the fleeing Taliban from Afghanistan had taken refuge. Far from eradicating the Taliban, his vacillation and lack of true commitment allowed the problem represented by the Taliban to grow. The Taliban phenomenon in Swat and the Lal Masjid affair — small problems through neglect assuming a bigger shape — were testimonies to his limited vision and short-sighted policies.

The extremism Pakistan is now battling is thus a gift whose line of descent can be traced from Zia to Musharraf. The army’s predicament can be imagined. The ghost it is trying to lay to rest was conceived and tested in its own laboratories. This is the Pakistani way of doing things. First create a problem and then invoke the power of heaven to eliminate it.

As an aside I can’t help adding that one of the key figures instrumental in getting US Congress to fund the Afghan resistance was Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas. Wilson was fond of a hard drink and fond of good-looking women, tempting qualities that suggested a swashbuckling knight errant. (Most men have Wilson’s inclinations. But it is not given to everyone to fulfil them.) The irony is piquant: someone like him emerging as one of the central protagonists in an enterprise hailed by its partisans as a great victory of Islam.

Wilson had all the fun while it lasted. On his frequent visits to Pakistan during that period he was never without one or two striking companions. The Pakistani generals he interacted with were content to make a lot of money, some of which shows in the prospering business enterprises of their lucky offspring. More than in most other places, it helps in Pakistan to have the right kind of father.

But to return to the complex relationship between the Frontier and Punjab in that clash of arms, fought for the greater glory of Islam, the former was the staging post or the launching pad of that ‘jihad’ while Punjab was what might be called, in military terminology, the concentration area. The nerve centre of that ‘jihad’ was ISI Hqs in Aabpara, Islamabad. CIA supplies were landed at Chaklala Airbase and then brought for storage to Ojhri Camp next to Faizabad in Rawalpindi. From there they were transported to the frontlines of the Frontier.

Meanwhile Zia’s missionary zeal, backed by Saudi money, was beginning to transform the Punjabi landscape. Madressahs or religious schools began cropping up everywhere, including Islamabad. Backed by state patronage, mullah power, hitherto not much of a factor in Pakistani politics, began to show its muscles.

There was a ban on politics in any case. Apart from PTV, there was no other TV channel and even PTV was being conquered by the mullahs. Newspapers lay under a heavy blanket of censorship. The only thing to do under Zia was to either watch Indian movies at home or perform the various rituals of religious hypocrisy in public. The begums of the good and great, never behind their men folk in bowing to the prevailing wings, entered heavily into the business of arranging religious ceremonies (milads) under one pretext or another. Pakistan became a very pious and hypocritical society. Even army promotions began to be affected by one’s reputation for religious observance or otherwise.

All the extremist outfits with whose names we are now familiar emerged at that time: the jaish this and that, the lashkar so and so. Most of them were Punjab-based and members from all these organisations acquired battle experience in Afghanistan. My friend Colonel Imam of Afghan ‘jihad’ fame — and who, like most good people, is from Chakwal — takes enormous pride in saying that the most fearless fighters of all were from Punjab. And he should know for he was in the thick of it.

When with the departure of the Soviet army and the victory of the Saudi and Charlie Wilson-funded ‘mujahideen’, the Afghan war wound down, the fighters who had gained battle experience in Afghanistan were shifted to an entirely different front: Kashmir, where in a protracted struggle they managed to tie down half a million Indian troops.

Their godfathers in the security establishment felt elated. Forgetting the role of hard-drinking Charlie Wilson and the Saudis, they wrote a self-glorifying narrative in which it was claimed that not only had the power of faith defeated the Soviets. It had also hastened the end and break-up of the Soviet empire. If a superpower could be thus defeated, zeal and the spirit of ‘jihad’ could work similar miracles in Kashmir.

This was the mood then pervading the top ranks of the army and the intelligence agencies. So it is scarcely to be wondered at that when after the fall of Kabul to the ‘mujahideen’, a Pakistani delegation was on its way to the Afghan capital, no sooner had the aircraft carrying it entered Afghan airspace when those on board, including some Americans, were startled by a loud cry: “Allah-o-Akbar”. This from the then ISI chief, the heavily-bearded Lt-Gen Javed Nasir.

Our rendezvous with our present extremist-flowing troubles did not come about from out of the blue. We had ploughed the land and watered it for a long time.

When the Americans attacked Afghanistan post-Sept 11, the theatre of ‘jihad’ shifted again: back to Afghanistan. The Bush administration of course screwed things up for itself by going on to attack Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan, a piece of folly sure to haunt the US for a long time to come. But Afghanistan was bad enough by itself. It reignited the fires of holy war and, given the iron dictates of geography, it was inevitable that Pakistan sooner or later would have its hands burned by another conflict raging in Afghanistan.

Once a change of course in our strategic course was forced upon us by the US — Musharraf succumbing to American pressure without extracting the kind of bargain that would have better served Pakistan’s interests — logic and necessity demanded a clean break with the playing-with-fire policies of the past. In other words, a clean and definitive break with Zia-minded ‘jihad’. But Musharraf played a double game. Even while dancing wildly to America’s tune he was never serious, or he lacked the will and capacity, to seriously rethink the past.

But now that under a new sun and a new sky we are finally embarked upon a new course — which marks a true break with the past — we have to realise the extent and magnitude of the problem. The terrorism we are now fighting is not a provincial subject. It is not confined to any one province. It is a composite whole, organically tied together, growing not from any isolated virus but from a sickness of the mind and soul which had the whole of Pakistan, or at least its strategic quartermasters, in its grip.

If Pakistan is to become something, realising its dreams and potential, if it has to enter the real world and leave the world of dreams and fantasies behind, then there is no course open to it except to tackle this sickness, no matter what it takes and what sacrifices it entails, without ifs and buts, and without any misconceived appeals to the Taliban.

Email: winlust@yahoo.com

Brother Brother and Brother Pasha

Brother Brother and Brother Pasha

Author: Administrator | Posted: 20. February 2010 11:351

Extraordinary Rendition

By: Hakim Hazik

Dear Brother,

Do you seriously think that you can talk to the infidel Americans and the running dog Karzai while sitting in the citadel of Islam and enjoying the peace and prosperity of the city of Karachi? Do you think you can carry on behind our back while partaking of prime quality snuff, provided courtesy of the International Sensitive Agency?

You must be out of your mind brother Brother. You could easily find yourself at the wrong end of a drone fired missile. You could quite as easily find yourself on a trash heap outside Turbat, with a bullet firmly lodged in the back of the head. They would never find the empty shells brother; that’s the standard operative procedure. Anonymous bullets and dead men tell no tales.

You can run dear brother Brother, but you cannot hide. You can go to Maldives or you can go to the Oruzgan Province but in the end you will have to come home to daddy in the headquarters of the Agency. This is where you and I belong brother Brother. This is where you must come to sip your green tea and have your beard trimmed to the length prescribed by Sharia.

Oh oh, these manacles seem to have caused some abrasions to your hardy skin. Shall I get the batman to bring a turmeric dressing? It can be quite soothing really. Do you want some sugar lumps with your green tea? No no, it is no trouble at all. You must remember brother Brother you could easily have been sipping arsenic. Unlike sugar, there is no shortage. This is the land of the plenty. And as you know we have so many exotic spices and condiments in our warehouse.

When you get into bed with Karzai without telling us, don’t expect the earth to move. Nothing will move brother Brother, without our permission. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, least of all Holbrooke. Have you forgotten what has happened to Baitullah? Can you tell me where Hakimullah is today? Are you not aware of the fate of the 3 wives and 39 children of Haqqani? Helfires are precise munitions brother, but science is not infallible. You can never rule out human error.

Remember, it is us who look after the Shura. Quetta is crawling with spies brother. It is certainly no safer than Waziristan. If you want to go and talk to Amir ul Momineen, if you have received pleas for help from the infidels, that is fine. But you need someone to be watching your back. It is for your own safety. You should not wander into the unchartered territory. Our concerns are based on brotherly love only.

And yes, don’t make any mistakes. I am not in a hurry to retire. The summary is on the table of Sipah Salar Sahib. I should be around at least for another year to support you and help your through these difficult times.

I am my brother Brother’s keeper.

More articles by Hakim Hazik

India-Pakistan conundrum

India-Pakistan conundrum


Experts have predicted that future wars will be fought over water. States within India, like Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan, are continuously at each other’s throats because of this scarce natural resource.

Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Pakistan, with a regressing economy, cannot keep up with Indian defence outlays even on proportional basis. Therefore, Pakistan has no choice but to detract and pull India back through other means

Like many last decades, the recent Indo-Pak talks in Delhi did not make any breakthrough. As usual, they provided the forum for both countries to restate their positions. The US can force the horse to the water, but cannot make it drink. As a matter of fact, Indo-Pak reconciliation is becoming more difficult every passing year because of increasing scarcity of water, a mutual desire to pull the other side down, and conflicts riddling societies in both countries. Sometimes it appears that keeping the tensions up serves both sides.

Pakistan was adamant to put the Kashmir and water issues on the agenda, while India was mainly interested in terrorism originating from Pakistan. For Pakistan, the territory of Kashmir may not be as important as the water issue. If the Pakistani claims are valid, then Indian infringements into the rivers running from its territory into Pakistan will leave major parts of Pakistan barren. Agriculture is not possible in Punjab and Sindh without river water. Therefore, unless Pakistan is assured on the supply of water, it will never abandon the proxies that can keep India on its toes by destabilising Kashmir.

Many world experts have predicted that future wars will be fought over water. States within India, like Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan, are continuously at each other’s throats because of this scarce natural resource. If federating units within India and Pakistan cannot forgo their claims, how will the two hostile nations? Therefore, the Indo-Pak dispute over water in the garb of the Kashmir problem is not unique and will not go away unless credible international organisations provide effective guarantees.

Besides the real issue of water, future scenarios are also an unending source of tension. India is growing fast and may want to leave Pakistan behind so that the competition between the two neighbours becomes irrelevant.

Following the Reagan strategy against Russia to raise defence expenditures to the level that your enemy breaks down if it tries to compete, India, by military expansion, is forcing Pakistan to follow suit and economically get destroyed.

Pakistan, with a regressing economy, cannot keep up with Indian defence outlays even on proportional basis. Therefore, Pakistan has no choice but to detract and pull India back through other means. Pakistan’s strategy has not worked very well because, despite the Kashmir issue, India has grown steadily. Probably, Pakistan’s military leadership is aware of its unsuccessful strategy and, therefore, trying to strengthen the state institutions to match Indian economic growth. However, it cannot let go of instruments developed to keep India distracted.

Besides the real geographic and economic issues between India and Pakistan, the public opinion in both countries has hardened. The new electronic media, run by not-so-well-groomed people, looks for the easy formula to dub villains in a situation.

The Indian media quickly blames Pakistan for any bomb blast in their country and the Pakistani media reflexively traces the tragic incidents on its territory to an Indian conspiracy. The situation has become so messy that it is hard to tell who is doing what.

The public in both countries accept the media versions because of changing public psyche due to internal conflicts and extreme rightwing forces donning the mantle of patriotism. While Pakistan is fighting the Taliban and other Jihadi outfits, India is also mired in communal, ethnic and guerrilla insurgency.

The Gujarat massacre of Muslims, the Shiv Sena crusade to cleanse Maharashtra and Mumbai of North Indians, and the Maoist guerrilla war are just a few things that have embittered the public psyche. A psyche born out of a constant conflict-ridden atmosphere can easily be turned against other nations.

The right wing’s monopoly over patriotism in Pakistan, a well-entrenched phenomenon, has been replicated in India. The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially the Narendra Modi brand, and the likes of Bal Keshav Thackeray, founder of Shive Sena, have become the standard bearers of national pride. They have pushed the Congress Party to the right as well in pursuit of patriotism.

The decline of communist parties in North India has also been responsible for the unchecked rise of a jingoistic style of nationalism. The dynamics of generating hatred are becoming much more powerful than the forces preaching reconciliation within the country and in the international arena.

Settlement of longstanding issues between India and Pakistan is becoming more difficult than it was in the past. The fight over water with hardening public opinion in both countries is further complicating the situation. No one knows how and where the chips are going to fall.

________

Source: Wichaar.com Image: rupeenews.com

Israel Is Boss

Freedom Rider: Israel Is Boss

Posted Tue, 03/16/2010 – 21:44 by Margaret Kimberley

bibi and hillaryby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Corporate media pretend U.S.-Israeli relations are in “crisis,” just as they have many times in the past. It’s all a charade, a play for national and international audiences. In real crises, relationships are called into question. But there has never been any question about who is in charge of this “partnership”: Israel. And don’t you dare forget it.
Freedom Rider: Israel Is Boss
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The Obama administration, like every other presidential administration in the last sixty years, does what Israel wants it to do.”
The United States may invade and occupy Iraq, undermine elected presidents in Haiti and throw its weight around in numerous ways in numerous parts of the world. Yet there is one country it does not dare to confront. Of course, the nation in question is Israel.
Israel and its allies in the United States make certain that no president, no political party, no congressional leader nor any citizen who wishes to be in any way influential, will dare to step outside the lines of proscribed behavior and discourse. The American public, either because they are aware of the pro-Israel grip on power, or because they have swallowed the propaganda whole, remain cowed and silent.
Israel can do whatever it wants not only with the United States, but with other western nations as well. Mossad agents succeeded in murderingHamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabouh in Dubai last month by using doctored British, Irish, French, Australian and German passports and credit cards issued to an Israeli-run bank located in South Dakota. None of the nations involved has uttered more than the slightest peep after having their sovereignty violated in such an obvious manner.
None of the nations involved in the Dubai assassination has uttered more than the slightest peep after having their sovereignty violated.”
Just in case there was any doubt about who is in charge, Israel insulted Vice President Joseph Biden and the United States government when Biden made a recent visit to Jerusalem. Biden made the pro forma journey to go through the motions of requesting that the peace process continue. The Israelis could have nudged, winked and gone through the pretense of moving forward on a just peace process. Instead they announced that more Jewish housing will be constructed on Palestinian land, embarrassing the Vice President and his boss, who wanted to pretend to be even handed when they and the rest of American political leadership are anything but. The Obama administration, like every other presidential administration in the last sixty years, does what Israel wants it to do. There shouldn’t be any reason for Israel to yank the Americans’ chain so hard and so publicly, but why follow the rules of diplomatic niceties when doing otherwise has been so successful?
The only thing worse than the obvious slap in the face, is the phony outrage surrounding it. No one gets anywhere near a presidential nomination without first swearing obedience to the Zionists and their lobby. If Obama and Biden and Hillary Clinton were truly upset with the Israelis, it is only because they were so blatant in making them all look like chumps.
No one gets anywhere near a presidential nomination without first swearing obedience to the Zionists and their lobby.”
Just a few weeks before Obama was sworn into office, George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice were the victims of an Israeli public beat down. Bush was literally pulled off a stage where he was about to give a speech and forced to take a phone call from then Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. Rice had worked on a Security Council resolution which merely called for a cease fire in Israel’s massacre of thousands of people in Gaza. Olmert bragged in a press conference, “I said, ‘I don’t care; I have to talk to him.’” Not content to tell the world that he ordered the American president to follow his orders, he took a swipe at Rice too. “He gave an order to the secretary of state, and she did not vote in favor of it — a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organized and maneuvered for. She was left pretty shamed, and abstained on a resolution she arranged.” It isn’t surprising that Israel would repeat the humiliation just a year later with a different president.
It doesn’t matter if David Axelrod goes on the Sunday morning news shows and fakes outrage about Israel’s settlements. It matters that Israel continues to steal Palestinian land and it matters that only those willing to go along with the crime are allowed to entertain any idea of having a role in United States foreign policy decisions.
The United States government is actually becoming more and more like Israel.”
Far from being angry at Israel, the United States government is actually becoming more and more like that nation. The Obama administration claims the right to carry out extra judicial assassinations just like their Middle East partner in crime. The temporary embarrassment and damage control pronouncements are not worthy of anyone’s attention.
The only lesson to learn from this sorry episode is that nothing new has taken place between the United States and Israel. All Americans are still made complicit in the joint criminality and earn the enmity of most of the world as a result. So don’t believe the hype. There is nothing to see here, just move along.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.

‘Extraditing Headley will expose CIA’

‘Extraditing Headley will expose CIA’

By: Bipin Kumar Singh Date: 2009-12-28 Place: Mumbai

Security experts say USA fears LeT operative’s links with their intelligence may be exposed if he is handed over to India

Indian security experts say the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) refusal to extradite LeT operative David Coleman Headley confirms their long-held suspicion that the suspected 26/11 plotter is a former CIA agent.

The experts add that the Indian government’s failure to provide the US sufficient proof of the alleged 26/11 handler’s involvement in the attacks is also coming in the way of putting up strong case for Headley’s extradition.

Prakash Singh, former BSF chief, said, “It is well-known that Headley was a CIA agent who later started working for the ISI and some militant outfits in Pakistan.

Gone Bad: David Headley

The US knows that Headley’s CIA links will be exposed if he is handed over to India. This will damage its anti-terror image.

We have allowed the FBI to interrogate people in India and they should allow us to do the same on their soil. But who will tell politicians, who have made it a habit to cry out to the US for help?”

M K Dhar, a former joint director of the Intelligence Bureau, said, “We have failed to give the FBI sufficient proof about Headley’s involvement in 26/11.

We have merely pointed out that he visited different places in India. However, we have not indicated how his visits were criminally motivated.”

A former state DGP said he agreed that the Americans were not extraditing Headley as they feared being exposed.

“The US supports terror-promoting nations to further their selfish ends and then these  nations go against them. This is what happened in Afghanistan as well.”

Request Declined
Intelligence sources said the FBI politely turned down India’s request for Headley’s extradition yesterday.

They said if a US court convicted Headley, he would have to first serve a sentence there.

Some experts say this was because India failed to give the FBI sufficient proof.

Meet the Replacement Taliban-Hunters

“The work then was given to other International Media Ventures’ subcontractors who did better, he said. Furlong declined to identify them for security reasons, but the New York Times identified one as Boston-based American International Services Corp., run by a former Green Beret.”

American International Security Corp.

CEO Michael Taylor is a former Green Beret who runs Am. Inter. Sec. Corp., the new Taliban-hunters.  In the interview below, Taylor clearly states that he is conducting “direct action missions–go in and kill everybody that’s there.”

Sixty State Street
Boston, MA 02109
1-800-852-2714

Fox News interviews CEO Michael Taylor about the role of U.S. Special Forces.
View Video Clip

More News

Michael Taylor has a long dark history.

Mike Taylor, a former Green Beret turned private investigator who was accused in a 1995 lawsuit by Massachusetts state trooper Robert Monahan of helping drug traffickers by providing phony Greek passports and even arranging a jailbreak in Florida.

“Michael Taylor’s friends say he is a top undercover man. Critics say he is out of control — and that federal agents are protecting him. One thing is certain: the government doesn’t want you to read this story.”

READ:

The Untouchable

Afghanistan Spy Contract Goes Sour for Pentagon – Part 1

Afghanistan Spy Contract Goes Sour for Pentagon – Part 1

Tuesday 16 March 2010

by: Pratap Chatterjee   |  Inter Press Service

Washington – Mike Furlong, a top Pentagon official, is alleged to have run a covert network of contractors to supply information for drone strikes and assassinations in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the U.S. government.

The contract built upon his decade-long experience in running propaganda programmes for the military in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.

Officially, Furlong worked in strategic communications for Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command. In reality, Furlong was in charge of a project titled “CAPSTONE” under which he hired former C.I.A. and Special Forces operatives who helped him gather intelligence on the whereabouts of “suspected militants and the location of insurgent camps” that was then transmitted to high-ranking Pentagon and CIA officials for “possible lethal action in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

To do this, Furlong tapped the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organisation, a Pentagon research organisation to reduce the threat from roadside bombs, to provide him with a 24.6-million-dollar pot of money via two obscure contracting offices – the Cultural Engagement Group at the Special Operations Command Central in Tampa, Florida, and the Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Programme Office in Dahlgren, Virginia.

With this money, he hired a newly minted company called International Media Ventures (IMV) of St. Petersburg, Florida, and attempted to subcontract other individuals and companies to run surveillance operations in South Asia.

One of the companies Furlong attempted to subcontract was AfPax Insider, a subscription service run by Robert Young Pelton, author of “The World’s Most Dangerous Places”, and Eason Jordan, a former chief news executive for CNN. After learning more about what Furlong wanted to do, Pelton told IPS that he opted out of the programme in late 2009.

“When we suspected what he was doing, we protested. That moral stand cost us millions,” he said.

At the time Pelton made his concerns known to IPS that Furlong might have set up IMV for clandestine operations. He says that he told Furlong that “kinetic action” (i.e., drone strikes) was incompatible with “the now accepted counterinsurgency strategy.”

In a front page news story written by Mark Mazetti and Dexter Filkins in the New York Times on Monday, Furlong’s secret operation was exposed after the Central Intelligence Agency filed an official complaint with the Pentagon’s inspector general.

The New York Times reports that Furlong boasted to unnamed military officials that “a group of suspected militants carrying rockets by mule over the border had been singled out and killed as a result of his efforts.”

Contract Spies

IMV’s CEO is Dick Pack, who ran special operations for an L-3 subsidiary called Government Services Incorporated in Chantilly, Virginia. For example, GSI provided 300 intelligence analysts such as interrogators to the Pentagon in Iraq under a 426.5-million-dollar contract signed in 2005.

On IMV’s website, Pack, who once ran Delta Force (the elite U.S. commando unit) also claims to have been a mission planner for a rescue of U.S. prisoners-of-war in Laos, the aborted 1980 rescue mission to free U.S. embassy hostages in Tehran, the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983, as well as an operations officer for the Pentagon responding to the hijacking of a TWA plane to Beirut in 1985.

Another company that Furlong subcontracted was Boston-based American International Security Corporation (AISC), a company run by Mike Taylor, a former Green Beret turned private investigator who was accused in a 1995 lawsuit by Massachusetts state trooper Robert Monahan of helping drug traffickers by providing phony Greek passports and even arranging a jailbreak in Florida.

AISC employed Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a former senior C.I.A. official who has been alleged to have been involved in a host of scandals from Iran-Contra to creating the fake uranium smuggling scandal in Niger.

In one previous scandal, Clarridge admitted to have arranged for the mining of Nicaraguan harbours in 1984 to destabilise the Sandanistas. “I was sitting at home one night, frankly having a glass of gin, and I said you know the mines has gotta be the solution. I knew we had ‘em, we’d made ‘em outta sewer pipe and we had the good fusing system on them and we were ready. And you know they wouldn’t really hurt anybody because they just weren’t that big a mine, alright? Yeah, with luck, bad luck we might hurt somebody, but pretty hard you know?” he told an interviewer once.

Clarridge has long had a close relationship with Robert Gates, now the head of the Pentagon. “If you have a tough, dangerous job, critical to national security, Dewey’s your man,” Gates is quoted as saying in a book by Joseph E. Persico. “Just make sure you have a good lawyer at his elbow – Dewey’s not easy to control.”

CAPSTONE

Furlong started CAPSTONE in 2008 when he was hired as a “strategic planner and technology integration adviser” at the Joint Information Operations Warfare Command at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

At about the same time, Pelton and Jordan had set up a meeting with General David McKiernan, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, to offer an information gathering service on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pentagon agreed to consider paying for such a service and introduced them to Furlong.

Unknown to either Pelton or Jordan, Furlong then set up a contract with IMV to bring together at least six unrelated companies on the back of this proposal, including AfPax Insider. Whether or not Furlong had approval from higher level officials to provide covert information gathering for drone strikes, together with benign information gathering or even propaganda, is yet to be determined.

Some senior officials felt that Furlong was doing a good job. In an August 2009 assessment, General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, wrote that “CAPSTONE contracts… should be supported as these will significantly enhance… monitoring and assessment efforts.”

But Furlong seems to have had exaggerated opinions of what he was doing, referring to Taylor and Clarridge as his “Jason Bournes” (the fictitious assassin played by Matt Damon in the Bourne Supremacy films).

He also boasted about achievements that others have said were flat wrong. For example, he told Pelton that he had helped free David Rohde, a New York Times reporter who was held captive for seven months by the Taliban, by sending a U.S. doctor to drug the guards and supply the rope. Pelton says these claims aroused his concerns.

What made the situation complicated was that the New York Times had in fact hired Mike Taylor and Duane “Dewey” Clarridge to help them track down Rohde. The newspaper confirmed to IPS that they had hired the two men but insisted that they had no dealings with Furlong.

In a statement issued by the New York Times to IPS, a newspaper staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The newspaper, Rohde and his family had no contact with Furlong. They had not heard of Furlong until Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti began working on their story. As Rohde stated in the series, no one helped them escape. Any claim by Furlong that he helped them escape is false.”

The question remains – was Furlong running rogue operations or did he have tacit approval from his bosses? After the news broke in the New York Times on Monday, a Pentagon official who talked to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity said that it was “not apparent who authorised” the operation but that the “potential for disaster” was obvious.

Today the Pentagon says that it has placed Furlong under criminal investigation for his activities, after the CIA’s station chief in Kabul sent a cable to the Pentagon complaining about the covert operations and his own bosses at the U.S. Strategic Command Joint Information Operations Warfare Centre (JIOWC) voiced similar concerns. (Exactly why the CIA was worried about this when they were doing much the same thing is unclear, but there has been a long history of animosity between the two agencies.)

Pratap Chatterjee is a senior editor at CorpWatch. This article was produced in partnership with CorpWatch. It is the first of a two-part series.

All republished content that appears on Truthout has been obtained by permission or license.

The Other Side of the Taliban-Hunter Story

[This is a story about the guys who hunt the Taliban and those who jerk them out of their beds in the middle of the night.]

Jan 21, 2009

Afghanistan: The New War for Hearts and Minds

Full-Metal Research: Lieutenant Jeremy Jones, a member of the human terrain team, gets some rare time with the locals during a public ceremony.Photo credit: Jason Florio

ROBERT YOUNG PELTON goes deep inside America’s new, brainier strategy in Afghanistan and finds that, on the front line, scientists and soldiers don’t always mix. An absurdist tale of modern warfare.

Read the U.S. Army’s response to this article, and the author’s response to the Army, here.

The portal to America’s war on terror is gate three at the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, a six-and-a-half-square-mile blast-wall fortress surrounded by a wasteland of dust. From inside, up a long alley of concrete barriers and out of the haze, comes the visual equivalent of space aliens: flak-jacketed, helmeted, sunglassed, digital-camo-wearing National Guardsmen from Mississippi, who motion for me to get into their air-conditioned white SUV. We soon pull up to a plywood shack, where I hope to get my first look at America’s latest instrument of warfare: anthropologists.

A lady press officer is professionally happy to see us. “We didn’t even know what a ‘human terrain team’ was until you called,” she chirps as another soldier carefully cleans the Afghani dust out of her nose with rolled-up Kleenex. Then she adds, kindergarten-teacher style, “You are helping us to learn about these people.”

The idea behind human terrain teams, or HTTs, is to put a small army of civilian social scientists (ideally anthropologists) and intel-savvy military officers into the field to give brigade commanders a better understanding of local dynamics. The teams are charged with “mapping” social structures, linkages, and priorities, just as a recon team might map physical terrain. By talking to locals the teams might help identify which village elder the commander should deal with or which tribe might be a waste of time; which valley should get a roads project and whether a new road might create a dispute between villages. It’s all part of General David Petraeus’s doctrine of a smarter, management-style counterinsurgency.

There are now six five-to-nine-person human terrain teams in Afghanistan and 21 teams in Iraq. If the concept proves successful, the $120 million–plus program would grow to 700 HTT and support staff in those countries and other hot spots. The man charged with managing the program is retired special operations colonel Steve Fondacaro. He is so passionate about it that when I interviewed him back in the States, he held forth for nine hours straight. Seven hours in, he walked into a door, breaking his jaw, but resumed talking. Fondacaro freely admits that one of the biggest obstacles to injecting social science into the military will be the military itself. “We are like a virus infecting the host,” he told me. “Either the army will be inoculated and be stronger, or they will expel us in a torrent of puke.”

Already there have been problems. The academic community has been critical of giving traditionally “do no harm” anthros combat uniforms and letting them carry guns. It hasn’t helped Fondacaro’s recruiting efforts that in the past nine months two HTT civilian scientists have been killed on the job, one in Afghanistan, the other in Iraq. Another HTT scientist was booted from the program after joking that if America invaded Iran she might “switch sides.”

“We are like a virus. Either the army will be inoculated, or they will expel us in a torrent of puke,” says the HTT program manager.

Still, getting a handle on the human landscape made a dramatic difference in Iraq. It helped Petraeus and his Ph.D. cadre convert enemies into allies, recasting a conflict that looked as if it would drag on for decades into one that could essentially be over within a year. Now the white-hot center of the war on terror is once again Afghanistan. U.S. forces there gets 20 “tics” a day — or Troops in Contact with the enemy — compared with one or two in Iraq.

But Afghanistan is not Iraq. It’s a fractious nation whose dirt-poor people are scattered mostly outside of cities, across a harsh landscape of deserts and mountains, making it much harder to win hearts and minds. This is a country, remember, that some of the most daunting forces in modern history — the Russians, the British, and now the Americans — have been unable to conquer. The recent refrain from even our own retired generals is that not only are we losing the war, but we don’t even know what’s going on there.

So could Fondacaro and his army of eggheads solve this? That’s what I’d come here to find out. But what I would get over the next two weeks would be a much larger, more bizarre, and in many ways more disturbing glimpse of what happens when 21st-century warfare is waged in a Third World country.

—-

Before I can get started, though, the military has to actually locate its own human terrain team, and right now the folks in Bagram are having some trouble with that. So after checking into my bunkhouse, a “hooch” cheerfully labeled “Hotel California,” I go for a stroll on base to kill time.

Bagram is on the site of an old Soviet air base, which long before that was the camping spot of Alexander the Great. The American version is a massive dust-blown shanty and trailer-town city of 18,000 soldiers and contractors. It is a war-fighting support hub, an air base, ops center, insurgent prison, and one of the more zealously regulated sites in Afghanistan. Notices and signs, rules and warnings are posted on every wall. Military police use radar guns to catch speeders, and uniform standards are imposed in a grim fury that would make the Taliban jealous. Our little outpost of freedom is the kind of place where there are carefully typed notices telling you how to use the numbered toilet stalls (“for a good flush put your paper on top”) and what to do if you need to take a leak (“don’t forget to lift the seat first”).

There are many tribes at Bagram. The dominant ones are easily identifiable by their digital camo, bad haircuts, and guns banging against their butts even in the chow hall. The other main tribe, the contractors, are recognizable by their Fu Manchu mustaches, Realtree camo, and crushed KBR baseball caps. These groups are augmented by an invisible population of about 600 prisoners. The only Afghans we spy during our Burger King, DQ, and Subway meals are those who clean tables and scrub toilets.

My first night in the Afghan countryside is made more exotic by the sound of the amplified Jazzercise instructor yelling encouragement from inside a giant inflatable tent, and I am pleased to find that despite the Taliban’s best efforts at instilling modesty in Afghanistan, premium cable is available for $115 a month here and massages from young Kyrgyz ladies for $15. Bagram is America’s duty-free space station in the war on terror and may be the most culturally isolated outpost on the planet. The world’s most effective killing machine has ensconced itself in a hastily constructed replica of a Midwest strip mall.

The press office eventually finds the human terrain team of Task Force Warrior sitting literally across the street in a cramped 15-by-25-foot makeshift building. The team’s own terrain is filled with laptops, maps, pens, notebooks, and cluttered desks. The unit consists of one social scientist, three research managers, an IT guy, and three translators, or “terps.”

The scientist, Jim, is easy to identify as he is the one who begs not to his have his photo taken or last name used. It seems that within left-leaning academic circles, hanging out with the military is the equivalent of a movie star doing infomercials. He’s a 50-something anthro who worked in Afghanistan two decades ago but seems more preoccupied with the subject of how unique the genetic makeup of Laotians is. (According to one of the research managers, the scientist spends much of his time in Kabul and has authored exactly three reports: “one on Ramadan, the Muslim holiday; another on funerals; and some other on Afghan and Islamic influences.”)

Two of the research managers are reserve officers, and the other is an ex-soldier who served in Kurdish areas of Iraq. Of the two civilian interpreters, one describes himself as “Persian,” which I take to mean that he’s a Shia Iranian-American working in an environment mostly hostile to Shias, and the other, Gulam, is an Afghan mechanic from Colorado who hasn’t been here since he left in the ’70s.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5

Head Taliban-Hunter–“I am not…a crook.”

Info-gathering office defended

GUILLERMO CONTRERAS/gcontreras@express-news.net
Michael D. Furlong, 56, says the program was incorrectly portrayed in the New York Times.

On the Web


ASSOCIATED PRESS
Robert Young Pelton says Furlong tricked him and his business partner about the program’s intent.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Army Gen. David McKiernan, Furlong says, called him in because of his experience in psychological operations.

//

By Guillermo Contreras – Express-News

As he bats down allegations that he ran an off-the-books spy operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a civilian Defense Department official has been locked out of his office at Lackland AFB and remains cautious about who visits him at his San Antonio apartment.

In interviews Tuesday and Wednesday with the San Antonio Express-News, Michael D. Furlong, 56, said a report earlier this week in the New York Times incorrectly portrayed the now-suspended program he ran.

He denied allegations that he inappropriately diverted millions of dollars for the operation and said his military superiors approved the program, which at one point was supervised by U.S. commanders and a separate NATO command.

Furlong is accused of using civilian subcontractors to secretly collect information that later was used to target and kill suspected militants.

Furlong claimed Robert Young Pelton — who hosted cable TV’s “The World’s Most Dangerous Places” and was a government subcontractor related to Furlong’s program — reported “wild accusations” about him to the CIA as part of a “vendetta” that stoked the agency to complain to the Defense Department that the program invaded its turf.

He contended that CIA officials were briefed about the program’s concept and a legal opinion was sought that deemed the eventual operation lawful.

But the Pentagon has launched internal and criminal investigations of Furlong and millions of dollars spent on the program.

But Pelton said Furlong tricked him and his business partner into believing the program was meant to gather cultural and political information in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that Furlong added components to it meant to gather intelligence that could have resulted in people working for his company — or suspected militants — getting killed.

“No, we’re not engaged in a vendetta against Michael Furlong,” Pelton said in an interview.

He added that Furlong’s accusations are an attempt to deflect blame for his own ill-advised actions.

Pelton also denied having made any claims to the CIA about Furlong.

“That’s a figment of Mr. Furlong’s quite imaginative paranoia,” Pelton said.

Furlong said he has been denied access to documents and e-mails he says can verify his story.

“This is not about anything but providing the best force protection we can provide all of those 20-somethings in foxholes,” Furlong said. “It’s about saving lives.”

The Express-News was unable to independently verify many of Furlong’s claims because the military also clamped down in light of the investigations.

The Defense Department said it was investigating the allegations in the Times report, and Furlong’s claims after being informed of them by the Express-News.

“The department is in the process of gathering the facts surrounding these allegations to determine if there was any inappropriate conduct,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said by e-mail. “If any improprieties are found, the department will take appropriate corrective action.”

A U.S. intelligence official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said in response to Furlong’s claims: “Both DOD and CIA opposed what this individual (Furlong) was trying to do. If this activity was fully authorized by the top military brass, you’ve got to ask yourself why DOD launched an investigation. It was DOD that shut it down, after all.”

“This wasn’t a case of turf. It was something that struck both military and intelligence officials as a serious head-scratcher.”

Trading accusations

Jeff Addicott, the former senior legal adviser to U.S. Army special forces, said civilian contractors are relied on heavily by the military and can be used in defensive operations, but not in offensive scenarios.

“I would say if we are using them to gather intelligence, we are not violating the law of war as long as they are not pulling the trigger,” said Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University. “But if they’re involved in the offensive use of violence, that would be a violation.”

Furlong said the outsourced, unarmed teams he used didn’t go around “kicking in doors” and killing people.

He said Pelton’s claims to the Times that Furlong referred to his teams of contractors as “my Jason Bournes” — a movie character spy — was fantasy concocted by Pelton.

Furlong said Pelton was upset his company didn’t get the entire $24.8 million funding that Furlong was able to get through various “contract vehicles” to fund the program.

Pelton called Furlong’s allegations self-serving and untruthful.

While the contractors included former operatives of the CIA and military special operations forces, Furlong said their role was to collect information that is openly available, such as banter at markets or bazaars that might contain information about potential attacks on U.S. interests.

In the pipeline

Furlong said their information helped prevent assassinations of two Afghani government officials friendly to the U.S.

“I take stuff in open source and throw it in the intelligence pipeline,” Furlong said. “I don’t take this information and go directly to a kill. It is not the spot and shoot operation that he (Pelton) is making it sound like.”

Furlong is retired from the Army and said he is a principal strategist, a civilian employee of the Senior Executive Service, for the Nebraska-based U.S. Strategic Command, which runs the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.

The center provides global support for U.S. combat commanders, but the matters involving Furlong’s controversial acts occurred while Furlong was detailed to U.S. Central Command, which is running theater operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Furlong said the origins of the program date to July 2008, when U.S. forces suffered a blow by an ambush at Wanat, Afghanistan.

He said Army Gen. David McKiernan, then the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, reached out to the military’s in-house network and Furlong was called in because of his experience in psychological operations.

“McKiernan was fit to be tied,” Furlong said. “He said to me, ‘I need to know what’s going on outside the wire. How can this surprise attack happen to us?’”

Furlong said he was asked to provide a “commercial information service that would enhance our situation understanding of the environment” and offered a proposal using former journalists to provide “ground truth.”

But Pelton, who also has written books about war zones, offered a different account.

He said he and his business partner, Eason Jordan, a former television news executive, had previously set up a pay-for-access Web site about Iraq, iraqslogger.com, and had no input from Furlong.

Pelton said McKiernan provided $1 million from his command’s contingency funds for Pelton and Jordan to operate another Web site that collected information about Afghanistan and Pakistan from open sources and to produce reports and analyses.

Pelton said Furlong was at the meeting with McKiernan, and Furlong said he could fund the proposal, known as AfPax Insider.

McKiernan was fired last May by the Obama administration in what some speculated was an attempt to jump-start a new war strategy that relied more on counterinsurgency tactics and less on conventional warfare.

Reached by phone by the Express-News, the now-retired McKiernan declined comment on the matter.

The AfPax Insider Web site was launched after that meeting, but Pelton said initial payments were delayed for unknown reasons until February 2009, and then were provided through St. Petersburg, Fla.-based International Media Ventures.

That company didn’t respond to the Express-News’ requests for comment.

Furlong said he ran into hurdles in getting the program going, in part, because the CIA “pushed back” and wanted a legal review of his proposal. Such a review was done and the conceptual program was found to be lawful, Furlong said.

Furlong also said he obtained $24.8 million in funding for the program under the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, a Pentagon research organization meant to help reduce the threats from roadside bombs.

But Pelton and Eason, Furlong said, were removed from the project in September after Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, the top military spokesman in Afghanistan and Furlong’s boss, decided he didn’t want AfPax’s services.

And, Furlong said, a review of its services showed it “over-promised and under-delivered.”

The work then was given to other International Media Ventures’ subcontractors who did better, he said. Furlong declined to identify them for security reasons, but the New York Times identified one as Boston-based American International Services Corp., run by a former Green Beret.

Pelton, Furlong said, sent him an e-mail stating that, if AfPax didn’t get reinstated, he would “blow this whole operation up,” something Pelton denies.

Last fall, the New York Times reported, the CIA’s station chief in Kabul sent a cable to the Defense Department complaining that Furlong was doing things illegally. It eventually resulted in the military ending the program several months before its May 31 completion.

Furlong’s version also clashes with the claims of Smith, who told the Times he wasn’t aware of what International Media Ventures employees might be doing in Afghanistan in relation to Furlong’s program.

Smith also told the Times he opposed AfPax’s proposals, and that Furlong wanted to spend whatever money was left over elsewhere. Smith said $15 million was unaccounted for, and that he had no idea where the money went.

Furlong disputed this, saying Smith had a representative at a program review last month in Tampa.

“This event (the Feb. 12 review) reflected that all the funds and contractor deliverables were accounted for,” Furlong said. “One thing I am not is a crook.”

Military Takes Down Al-CIA-Da Saudi Website

By early 2008, top U.S. military officials had become convinced that extremists planning attacks on American forces in Iraq were making use of a Web site set up by the Saudi government and the CIA to uncover terrorist plots in the kingdom.

“We knew we were going to be forced to shut this thing down,” recalled one former civilian official, describing tense internal discussions in which military commanders argued that the site was putting Americans at risk. “CIA resented that,” the former official said.

Elite U.S. military computer specialists, over the objections of the CIA, mounted a cyberattack that dismantled the online forum. Although some Saudi officials had been informed in advance about the Pentagon’s plan, several key princes were “absolutely furious” at the loss of an intelligence-gathering tool, according to another former U.S. official.

Four former senior U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified operations, said the creation and shutting down of the site illustrate the need for clearer policies governing cyberwar. The use of computers to gather intelligence or to disrupt the enemy presents complex questions: When is a cyberattack outside the theater of war allowed? Is taking out an extremist Web site a covert operation or a traditional military activity? Should Congress be informed?

“The point of the story is it hasn’t been sorted out yet in a way that all the persons involved in cyber-operations have a clear understanding of doctrine, legal authorities and policy, and a clear understanding of the distinction between what is considered intelligence activity and wartime [Defense Department] authority,” said one former senior national security official.

CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “It’s sheer lunacy to suggest that any part of our government would do anything to facilitate the movement of foreign fighters to Iraq.”

The Pentagon, the Justice Department and the National Security Agency, whose director oversaw the operation to take down the site, declined to comment for this story, as did officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Precedent before policy

The absence of clear guidelines for cyberwarfare is not new. The George W. Bush administration was compelled in its final years to refine doctrine as it executed operations. “Cyber was moving so fast that we were always in danger of building up precedent before we built up policy,” said former CIA director Michael V. Hayden, without confirming or denying the existence of the site or its dismantling.

Lawyers at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel are struggling to define the legal rules of the road for cyberwarriors, according to current and former officials.

The Saudi-CIA Web site was set up several years ago as a “honey pot,” an online forum covertly monitored by intelligence agencies to identify attackers and gain information, according to three of the former officials. The site was a boon to Saudi intelligence operatives, who were able to round up some extremists before they could strike, the former officials said.

At the time, however, dozens of Saudi jihadists were entering Iraq each month to carry out attacks. U.S. military officials grew concerned that the site “was being used to pass operational information” among extremists, one former official said. The threat was so serious, former officials said, that Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, requested that the site be shut down.

The operation was debated by a task force on cyber-operations made up of representatives from the Defense and Justice departments, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Council. Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who directs the National Security Agency, made a presentation.

The CIA argued that dismantling the site would lead to a significant loss of intelligence. The NSA countered that taking it down was a legitimate operation in defense of U.S. troops. Although one Pentagon official asserted that the military did not have the authority to conduct such operations, the top military commanders made a persuasive case that extremists were using the site to plan attacks.

The task force debated whether to go forward and, if so, under what authority. If the operation was deemed a traditional military activity, no congressional committee needed to be briefed. If it was a covert action, members of the intelligence committees would have to be notified.

The task force weighed possible collateral damage, such as disruption of other computer networks, against the risk of taking no action. Most thought that the damage would be limited but that the gain would be substantial.

“The CIA didn’t endorse the idea of crippling Web sites,” said a U.S. counterterrorism official. The agency “understood that intelligence would be lost, and it was; that relationships with cooperating intelligence services would be damaged, and they were; and that the terrorists would migrate to other sites, and they did.”

Moreover, the official said, “the site wasn’t a pipeline for foreign fighters, it was a broad forum for extremists.”

But the concerns of U.S. Central Command and other defense officials prevailed. “Once DoD went to the extent of saying, ‘Soldiers are dying,’ because that’s ultimately what the command in Iraq, what Centcom did, it’s hard for anyone to push back,” one former official said.

The matter appeared settled, ex-officials said. The military would dismantle the site, eliminating the need to inform Congress.

A group of cyber-operators at the Pentagon’s Joint Functional Component Command-Network Warfare at Fort Meade seemed ideally suited to the task. The unit carries out operations under a program called Countering Adversary Use of the Internet, established to blunt Islamist militants’ use of online forums and chat groups to recruit and mobilize members and to spread their beliefs.

“We were very clear in the meetings” that the goal was to upend the site, one participant said. “The only thing that caught us by surprise was the effect.”

Unintended outcomes

A central challenge of cyberwarfare is that an attacker can never be sure that an action will affect only the intended target. The dismantling of the CIA-Saudi site inadvertently disrupted more than 300 servers in Saudi Arabia, Germany and Texas, a former official said. “In order to take down a Web site that is up in Country X, because the cyber-world knows no boundaries, you may end up taking out a server that is located in Country Y,” the task force participant explained.

After the operation, Saudi officials vented their frustration about the loss of intelligence to the CIA. Agency officials said the U.S. military had upset an ally and acted outside its authority in conducting a covert operation, former officials said.

Efforts were made to mollify the Saudis and the Germans, they said. “There was a lot of bowing and scraping,” one official said.

One early advocate for using cyber-operations against extremists was Gen. John P. Abizaid, former Central Command chief. He told a Senate committee in 2006, “We must recognize that failing to contest these virtual safe havens entails significant risk to our nation’s security and the security of our troops in the field.”

But some experts counter that dismantling Web sites is ineffective — no sooner does a site come down than a mirror site pops up somewhere else. Because extremist groups store backup copies of forum information in servers around the world, “you can’t really shut down this process for more than 24 or 48 hours,” said Evan F. Kohlmann, a terrorism researcher and a consultant to the Nine/Eleven Finding Answers Foundation.

“It seems difficult to understand,” he added, “why governments would interrupt what everyone acknowledges now to be a lucrative intelligence-gathering tool.”

Staff writers Dana Priest and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

Secret Taliban Hunting Program Siphoned Cash from IED Research

Defense official says Afghan program was authorized

Michael Furlong has denied misusing U.S. contract funds.

Michael Furlong has denied misusing U.S. contract funds.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Related Article: Defense official says Afghan program was authorized


Washington Post Staff Writer

Michael D. Furlong, the senior Defense Department employee under investigation for allegedly running an unauthorized intelligence-gathering operation inAfghanistan, says his now-suspended program was fully authorized by top U.S. military commanders.

According to Furlong, the program, which began in late 2008, was requested by Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and approved by the U.S. Central Command.

In an interview with the San Antonio Express News published Thursday, he said McKiernan asked him to provide information “that would enhance our . . . understanding of the environment” in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war zones. He denied misusing any U.S. contract funds.

The program was shut down and an investigation begun by the Defense Department’s inspector general late last year after complaints by the CIA and a finding by senior officials under the new Afghanistan commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, that Furlong had stepped outside the boundaries of his contract and the law and “didn’t want to operate within the constraints of how we do business,” according to a U.S. military official familiar with the situation who was not authorized to discuss it on the record.

Most of the contractors hired by Furlong for the $24.8 million program — one of the military’s many “information operations” programs in the region — were, like Furlong, Special Operations retirees. Revelations about the program have exposed what the official called a months-long “food fight” between the contractors and some segments of the military on one side and the CIA and military intelligence and Special Operations forces on the other, over the dividing line between intelligence and “information.”

A spokesman for Furlong’s employer, the Nebraska-based U.S. Strategic Command, or Stratcom, said Thursday, “We will not make Mr. Furlong available for an interview in his official capacity.” Attempts to reach him at his duty post, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where he told the San Antonio paper that he had been locked out of his office, were unsuccessful.

Furlong’s interview with the paper marked his first public comment since the Defense Department investigation became public this week. Pentagon spokesman Bryan G. Whitman declined to discuss the investigation, saying, “We are still in the process of gathering the facts surrounding this to determine if there was any inappropriate conduct.”

The specifics of what Furlong is alleged to have done remain unclear. Although news accounts have portrayed his program as contributing to efforts to target and kill insurgent leaders, several military officials said it never got that far. “Never did he feed information that resulted in any sort of kinetic action,” the official said.

On Wednesday, McChrystal said he was unfamiliar with the details of the case, adding, “I certainly would never condone inappropriate activities under a contract.”

A Reagan-era executive order, designed primarily to enhance the powers of U.S. intelligence agencies, prohibits contractors from being used for intelligence-gathering.

As described by the military official, Furlong’s activities were allowed to get out of hand because of his high civilian rank — he is a DISL, or Defense Intelligence Senior Level, equivalent to a general or admiral — which inhibited more junior officers from challenging him, and because of limited oversight of such activities in the war theater.

“Who was in charge of him? That’s the $1,000 question,” the official said. “He had a reputation for saying ‘Oh, yeah, McKiernan told me he wants this. I talked to [Adm. Mike] Mullen, and he’s all over this’ ” — a reference to the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.

In the San Antonio interview, Furlong said he was called to Afghanistan shortly after about 200 Taliban fighters ambushed a U.S. military outpost in Wanat, in eastern Afghanistan, in July 2008, and caused a high number of American casualties. McKiernan, he said, was “fit to be tied” by the surprise attack and asked for help in providing “ground truth” about insurgent activities.

The military official, however, provided a somewhat different version of the genesis of Furlong’s operation, saying that Furlong, as an employee of Stratcom, offered to “fill an information-operations need” that was growing in Afghanistan as Taliban attacks increased in 2008 and U.S. attention and resources were shifting there from Iraq. Information operations include “putting out information” to influence the environment and the enemy, as opposed to pulling in information as part of intelligence gathering.

Furlong prepared a “statement of work” that was vetted and approved by McKiernan’s command, Centcom, the Defense Department and the CIA, the official said. “Everybody looked at it and said this needs to be very, very clear . . . to focus on information operations only, not intelligence gathering.”

Furlong and the military searched for funding for the program, ending up at the Joint IED Defeat Organization, which researches roadside bombs for the military. “It didn’t have anything to do with JIEDDO,” the official said, but that organization had contract money available. The approved contract, he said, was “very carefully crafted to make sure it was going to be done legally.” The funding was approved in spring 2009.

When Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, McChrystal’s communications director, began last fall to examine some of the work done under the contract, the official said, he determined it had crossed the line into intelligence collection, a conclusion that was supported by JIEDDO officials on a visit to Afghanistan last year.

India Needs Iranian Gas–IPI Pipeline Talks Back On

India proposes trilateral talks on IPI gas pipeline

* Officials say Delhi wants Iran to be responsible for safe delivery of gas to India

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: India has resumed interest in the tri-nation Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, proposing trilateral talks in May.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, who is
travelling to Tehran later this month, said that India
was engaged in consultations and expects Tehran to address its concerns about pricing and security.

The Indian oil secretary told reporters that New Delhi has proposed dates in May for technical-level talks in Tehran to iron out the issue. India has cold-shouldered the project talks since 2008, blaming Tehran for overlooking its concerns of safe delivery and high prices.

Iran on the other hand suggested a trilateral mechanism, meaning contractual provisions between the three countries to ensure safe delivery of gas to India. Indian officials believe the proposal meant that New Delhi would pay for its share of gas, even if the supplies were to be disrupted in Pakistan.

Security concern: Officials said Tehran
has also been insisting that ownership of gas would be transferred at the Iran-Pakistan border, while New Delhi wants it to be the Pakistan-India border, thereby making Iran explicitly responsible for the safe delivery of gas.

As Taliban makes comeback in Kunduz province, war spreads to northern Afghanistan

As Taliban makes comeback in Kunduz province, war spreads to northern Afghanistan

Members of the Chardara district council, or Shura, Arbab Bader, left, and Haji Abdul Ghayour, the Shura Chief. Their district is almost completely under Taliban control.
Members of the Chardara district council, or Shura, Arbab Bader, left, and Haji Abdul Ghayour, the Shura Chief. Their district is almost completely under Taliban control. (Keith B. Richburg – The Washington Post)

By Keith B. Richburg

Friday, March 19, 2010

KUNDUZ, AFGHANISTAN — For most of the past eight years, this northern province has been relatively peaceful, far removed from the insurgency in the Taliban heartlands of Kandahar and Helmand in the south.

But the past year has brought such a dramatic Taliban comeback in Kunduz that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is planning to shift some of the ongoing troop reinforcements to the north of the country, the first significant American deployment to the region since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, U.S. officials say.

The plan for the additional 30,000 U.S. troops that President Obama is sending to Afghanistan had been to focus on the south and east of the country, where the Taliban is strongest. But U.S. officials say that about 3,000 of those troops will be shifted to operations in the north to augment a contingent of German soldiers, which numbers about 1,100 and has been more focused on reconstruction efforts than on battling insurgents.

U.S. officials are concerned about a vital NATO supply line that runs from Tajikistan through Kunduz, amid fears that the Taliban is preparing a campaign of disruption. They also said insurgents, under increased pressure from international forces in the south, are seeking to compensate by stepping up operations in the north in a bid to force U.S. forces to spread out and thus dilute their effectiveness.

Local officials and residents say two of the province’s districts are almost completely under Taliban control. There, girls’ schools have been closed down, women are largely prohibited from venturing outdoors unless they are covered from head to toe, and residents are forced to pay a religious “tax,” usually amounting to 10 percent of their meager wages.

“The Afghan government is the lawful government,” said Abdul Wahed Omarkhiel, the government head of one district, Chardara, which lies four miles from the provincial capital, Kunduz city. “But the Taliban’s law is the gun.”

Warning that their district is too dangerous for a foreigner to venture into, Omarkhiel, other Chardara officials and tribal elders traveled to Kunduz city to meet with a Washington Post reporter. They said disillusionment with the Afghan government, widely seen as incompetent and corrupt, and the slow pace of reconstruction had helped create favorable conditions for a Taliban resurgence.

“When people have problems, they don’t go to the government. They don’t go to the police,” said Moeen Marastial, a member of parliament. “They go to the Taliban, and the Taliban decides. There are no files and no paperwork.”

Fertile ground for Taliban

In some ways, Kunduz was always ripe for a Taliban return.

Kunduz’s population is about half Pashtun, which is unusual for a northern province. These Pashtuns — descendants of those who relocated here in the 19th century — have maintained links with their fellow tribespeople in southern Afghanistan and in Pakistan.

Kunduz is also home to a complex mix of armed groups, including the Hezb-i-Islami militia, loyal to warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; and the Haqqani network, led by former mujaheddin commander Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son. All these groups are loosely affiliated with the Taliban. Against that backdrop, officials in Kunduz say they have just 1,500 police personnel for the entire province. “The number of police is not enough, and they are not well-equipped,” said Mohammad Razaq Yaqoubi, the police chief in Kunduz. “We need 1,500 more police. And well-equipped. Then we will be able to retake those districts.”

Some local officials said the Taliban was performing well as a surrogate government in the absence of any Afghan official presence, was dispensing a brand of justice that seemed swift and fair, and had tempered some of the more extreme behavior it had shown during its 5 1/2 -year rule in Afghanistan.

“They are very just solving cases,” said Abdul Ghayour, head of the Chardara council. “They satisfy both sides. If it is a serious, serious case, they will solve it within one hour, without wasting your time.”

“When they were in power, they were brutal,” said Yarboy Imaq, the deputy head of the council. Now, he said, “there are a lot of changes to their policy” in an apparent bid to be “more acceptable to the people.” When pressed in an interview, Imaq added uneasily, “If I sit here and say a lot of bad things about the Taliban, I couldn’t live there even one night.”

Women still bear brunt

One thing that has not changed is the Taliban’s view of women.

Immediately after assuming control in Chardara, the Taliban ordered that girls be allowed to attend school only for the first three years. The elders said the Taliban mandated that girls could return to school only if they were sequestered and had female teachers, but there are none in the district.

Boys can continue to go to school but only in traditional Afghan dress, the loose-fitting salwar-kameez, according to locals.

Mahboba Haidar, who runs a women’s self-help organization that includes a garment factory and a kindergarten, said the few families that could afford to have moved away from Taliban-controlled areas so their girls can continue in school.

Women in Taliban-held areas are mostly prohibited from venturing out alone or without their burqas. “When women are sick or have to go to the doctor, they have to get permission from them,” said Karima Sadiqi, a member of the provincial council. “They are the same Taliban,” Sadiqi said. “If they were different, they wouldn’t have closed the girls’ schools.”

The most dramatic sign that the war had spread to the north came Sept. 4, when German troops called in a U.S. airstrike against two NATO fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban in Kunduz.

The strike killed up to 142 people, a large number of them civilians who had gathered around the trucks to offload gasoline.

Staff writers Karen DeYoung in Washington and Greg Jaffe in Naray, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

Pakistan Tribes Plan Anti-Taliban Strategy at Biggest Gathering

Pakistan Tribes Plan Anti-Taliban Strategy at Biggest Gathering

By Anwar Shakir

March 19 (Bloomberg) — Pakistan’s tribal leaders will discuss a strategy tomorrow to end support for militants, their biggest gathering since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and removed the Taliban from power.

At least 3,000 elders representing the 20 largest tribes in North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas will hold a meeting known as a ‘jirga’ in the provincial capital of Peshawar, Naeem Gul, one of the organizers, said in an interview.

Tribal support is crucial to efforts by Pakistan’s army to prevent insurgents from regrouping after an offensive in the region, focused on Swat Valley and South Waziristan, against groups blamed for 80 percent of nationwide terror attacks. Elders failed to stop the rise of militancy after the Taliban fled Afghanistan and thousands of tribesmen joined their ranks, killing scores of pro-government leaders.

“We plan to reach a consensus and form a panel of 40 tribal elders from all the various parts of the region,” said Syed Alam Khan Mehsud, leader of the Amn Tehrik, or Peace Movement, which is organizing the gathering. “They will then be responsible for mobilizing people against the militants.”

Jirgas are the traditional way of solving disputes among the ethnic Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The men typically sit in a circle on the ground and the meeting ends with a prayer by the most senior tribal elder. The government will not be represented at tomorrow’s gathering.

“This struggle for peace through jirgas is good but this time, military operations are the only solution for ending militancy and terrorism,” said Basheer Bilour, a senior provincial minister in the NWFP. “The army has spent just one year in Swat Valley and South Waziristan. It will take a long time to defeat the terrorists.”

Transferring Responsibility

In January, Pakistan’s government agreed to transfer responsibility for maintaining order in the longtime Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan to local leaders. More than 500 elders from the dominant Mehsud tribe endorsed the government proposal at a jirga.

Under the 1901 Frontier Crimes Regulation, which governs the seven districts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, tribes are collectively responsible for any criminal acts in territory under their control.

Pakistan is pushing for cooperation from the tribes to help quell violence that has claimed more than 900 lives in nationwide suicide bombings and gun battles since 28,000 troops launched an offensive in South Waziristan in October. At least 3,000 tribal leaders have been killed by the Taliban since 2004, according to Peshawar-based Amn Tehrik.

The Taliban’s capability to wage nationwide terror strikes from South Waziristan has been minimized, Army Spokesman Athar Abbas said in a Feb. 23 interview. The military drove Taliban militants from the Swat Valley in a 10-week campaign that started in May.

–Editors: Naween A. Mangi, Bill Austin

To contact the reporter on this story: Anwar Shakir in Peshawar, Pakistan at ashakir@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Foxwell at sfoxwell@bloomberg.net.

US Court Rejects Rana’s Bail Plea; Fears He May Flee

US Court Rejects Rana’s Bail Plea; Fears He May Flee

Date Submitted: Thu Mar 18, 2010
CHICAGO, IL – A US court on March 11 again turned down the bail plea of terror suspect Tahawwur Rana, accused of plotting terror attacks in India at the behest of  LeT, saying the Pakistani-Canadian is charged with “very serious crimes” which give him a motive to flee. “Defendant Rana’s motion to revoke Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan’s detention order is denied,” read an order by Judge Harry Leinenweber of US District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

Rana has made several pleas to be released on bond since his arrest last year contending that he was “duped” by American-Pakistani LeT operative David Coleman Headley.

Headley, 49, and Rana, 48, were arrested by FBI in October last year and are accused of plotting terror attacks at the behest of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba against India and a Danish newspaper.

“The evidence in the form of recorded conversations, while not conclusive, appears to corroborate the Government’s contention that he was a knowing ally of Headley and had been acquainted in advance of the Mumbai attacks,” the court said.
In addition, the more serious charges if proved would undoubtedly lead to a higher sentence, the court said, adding that Rana has not “rebutted the presumptions”.

Rana has been indicted of “very serious crimes which is sufficient itself to trigger probable cause of his guilt which establishes the reputable presumption of a danger to the community”.

India Looks to Deepen Its Afghan Presence

India Looks to Deepen Its Afghan Presence

PRIYANKA BHARDWAJ
WORLD POLITICS REVIEW

NEW DELHI — Last month, suicide bombers attacked hotels and guesthouses in Kabul, killing 18 people and injuring 35 more, with most of the victims Indians.

India immediately rushed National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon to the Afghan capital for a first-hand assessment of security arrangements for the roughly 4,000 Indians working on various aid and development projects in Afghanistan.

The bombing is the latest in a string of attacks, the most high-profile of which remains the July 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which left 58 people dead. As a result, India has strengthened its Afghan policy to add short-term counterterrorism measures to its political strategy of supporting Afghan institutions, though it continues to rule out any military intervention. Without scaling down its civilian presence, New Delhi is beefing up protection of its nationals through enhanced deployment of security personnel at key installations manned by Indians.

Nevertheless, the July 2011 timeline set by U.S. President Barack Obama for a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan confronts India with the need to make resolute choices. The Indian-Pakistani rivalry has spilled over into Afghanistan, with both countries treating the war-torn country as an extension of their institutional, strategic and market interests.

New Delhi’s core interest in Afghanistan lies in preventing Islamic terrorists, who have also been attacking Indian cities and commercial hubs, from finding a safe haven in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. India believes that the series of terror strikes on Indian lives and property in Afghanistan are being carried out by terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), trained and supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

But with intelligence reports now indicating that LeT is training Taliban recruits for attacks on Indian soil, New Delhi can ill afford to open up too many fronts in its own war against terror. Its homegrown Maoist threat and heavy troop deployments along its own borders are already weighing down New Delhi’s political establishment and security forces.

This explains New Delhi’s recent push for greater international cooperation, with the inclusion of Russia and Iran, to reinvigorate efforts at arriving at an appropriate regional mechanism to tackle growing fundamentalism throughout the region.

Following the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, India emerged as a wholehearted participant in reconstruction efforts, becoming the fifth-largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to the country. Indo-Afghan relations were bolstered by India’s proactive interest in Afghanistan’s long-term stabilization, institution-building and economic growth, as well as its commitment to integrating Kabul into the South Asian framework. India pledged $1.2 billion to Afghan reconstruction and development, and seeded the country with projects in diverse areas such as infrastructure, communications, education, healthcare, power, social welfare, training of officials and businessmen, institution building, and the construction of roads, schools, hospitals, dams and parliament.

Among India’s priorities was to revive Afghanistan’s role as a “land bridge” connecting South Asia with Central Asia. Last year, India handed over the 133-mile Delaram-Zaranj highway, linking Kabul with Iran and, more importantly, with the Iranian port of Chabahar (also being developed by India). At a cost of $132 million, the road made up for Pakistan’s denial of a transit facility to Afghanistan through its territory. The project was opposed by the Taliban, who attempted to thwart Indian participation by attacking and killing Indian construction workers, including a Border Roads Organization driver and Indo-Tibetan Border Police forces.

Pakistan fears that India will gain influence in Afghanistan due to the latter’s “soft power” status among Afghans, and worries that it will one day find itself encircled by its neighbor and rival. As a result, Islamabad has historically sought a limited Indian presence in the region. Its support for the anti-Soviet Mujahideen and then the Taliban was driven by its desire to maintain “strategic depth” in its rivalry with India. Pakistani military strategists remain determined to limit India’s presence and influence in Afghanistan, most recently defining strategic depth as a pro-Pakistani government in Kabul.

Pakistan has accused India of using its consulates in Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Kandahar as cover for Indian intelligence agencies to run covert operations against it, and for instigating separatism in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The establishment of an Indian military airbase in Tajikistan, on the border with Afghanistan, and the development of Chabahar port in Iran has fueled Pakistan’s fears of an Indian encirclement.

Thus, in the overall context of coming under increasing attack in Afghanistan, India will need to combine its goal of becoming a major stakeholder in that country’s stabilization with several concrete measures to raise Pakistan’s confidence about its presence. To begin with, New Delhi must make its development work in Afghanistan more transparent. In addition, a constant, formal and wide-ranging engagement with Islamabad on issues relating to Afghanistan will be required.

India must also harmonize its desire for the total elimination of the Taliban in Afghanistan with the emerging international consensus calling for a political resolution to Afghanistan’s civil war. To this end, Afghan President Hamid Karzai will likely try to maintain friendly ties with India as a potential counterweight to Pakistan’s historic relations with the Taliban, while remaining committed to preventing any proxy wars being staged in his country.

Finding the necessary balance, and thereafter maintaining it, will be a challenge for all three countries. Karzai recently called India a “really close friend,” while describing Pakistan as a “conjoined twin brother.” A trilateral relationship of mutually trusted partners would be more desirable, but unless all three are willing to make the required effort, it will remain elusive.

Priyanka Bhardwaj is an independent journalist and risk analyst based in New Delhi, India. She has covered diverse issues related to the Indian subcontinent for seven years. Her work has been published in Asia Sentinel, Opinion Asia, Siliconeer Magazine, Asia Times, and Business Times (Singapore), among others. Her areas of interest include marginalized social strata, women, children and climate change. Fluent in more than eight Indian languages, Priyanka is writing a book about her travels and experiences on the Indian subcontinent.

Photo: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (Agência Brasil photo by Ricardo Stuckert, licensed under the Creative Commons License Attribution 2.5 Brazil).

Pakistan arrests halt secret UN contacts with Taliban

By Lyse Doucet
BBC News, Oslo

Pakistan criticised for Taliban arrests

more about “Pakistan arrests halt secret UN conta…“, posted with vodpod

The UN’s former envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, has strongly criticised Pakistan’s recent arrest of high-ranking Taliban leaders.

Mr Eide told the BBC the arrests had completely stopped a channel of secret communications with the UN.

Pakistani officials insist the arrests were not an attempt to spoil talks.

Mr Eide confirmed publicly for the first time that his secret contacts with senior Taliban members had begun a year ago.

This has to be an Afghan process
Kai Eide

He said they involved face-to-face talks in Dubai and elsewhere.

“The first contact was probably last spring, then of course you moved into the election process where there was a lull in activity, and then communication picked up when the election process was over, and it continued to pick up until a certain moment a few weeks ago,” he said.

Mr Eide said there were now many channels of communication with the Taliban, including those involving senior representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Speaking at his home outside the Norwegian capital Oslo, Mr Eide would not comment on these other channels.

‘Red lines’

Mr Eide described contacts with the Taliban as being “in the early stages… talks about talks”.

RECENT TALIBAN ARRESTS
04 March 2010: Senior Afghan Taliban leader Agha Jan Mohtasim reportedly arrested in Karachi
23 February: Senior Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Kabir reportedly held in North West Frontier Province
19 February: Two senior Afghan Taliban leaders, Mullah Abdul Salam and Mullah Mir Mohammad reportedly detained in Pakistan
17 February: Pakistan confirms arrest of Afghan Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi

He cautioned that it would take weeks, months or even longer to establish confidence, on both sides, to move forward, and to establish the “red lines” in any process.

A senior Afghan adviser to President Karzai recently told me that their contacts with the Taliban had also accelerated in recent months. He also said the arrests had affected this process.

There has been intense speculation about why Pakistan moved against what are believed to be about a dozen leading members of the Taliban movement in recent weeks.

“The effect of [the arrests], in total, certainly, was negative on our possibilities to continue the political process that we saw as so necessary at that particular juncture,” Mr Eide said.

“The Pakistanis did not play the role that they should have played…. They must have known who they were, what kind of role they were playing, and you see the result today.”

In an interview this week, Pakistan’s military spokesman, Gen Athar Abbas, denied Pakistan had moved against these Taliban to stop any talks.

US officials have recently praised what they called a new co-operation by Pakistan.

‘Senior figures’

Mr Eide was giving his first interview since ending his two-year mission this month.

Asked how high up his contacts were, Mr Eide said: “We met senior figures in the Taliban leadership and we also met people who have the authority of the Quetta Shura to engage in that kind of discussion.”

The Taliban leadership council, often referred to as the Quetta Shura, takes its name from the Pakistani city of Quetta where senior Taliban are widely believed to have been based. Pakistan denies its existence in Quetta and says Taliban leaders go back and forth across their porous border.

As for the involvement of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, Mr Eide said: “I find it unthinkable that such contact would take place without his knowledge and also without his acceptance.”

His revelations seem to confirm a growing view that at least certain members of the Taliban movement are now open to discussing a negotiated end to the war. But Mr Eide said he believed there were still disagreements.

There is also still no consensus among Afghanistan and its foreign allies about if, and how, to engage with a movement many of whose senior members are still linked to al-Qaeda.

The outgoing UN envoy, whose tenure was marked by controversy over a deeply tainted presidential election, said he hoped the upcoming “peace jirga” called by President Karzai in Kabul would help build the kind of agreement necessary to reach a consensus on the way forward.

Mr Eide said he believed it was the only way to end the war, and stressed: “This has to be an Afghan process.”

Headley and 26/11–US Plays Dirty on India

[Once again, Mr. Raman is out ahead of the pack.  The Headley case is the tip of the iceberg--the US has always played dirty with India, but lately India has been so intoxicated with its delusions of reaching "superpower" status that it has ignored America's true intentions.  The problem with the Headley affair is that it raises the issue of Indian police and govt. officials playing dirty, as well  (SEE: Committing Treason for a Piece of the Pie).   By sweeping this issue under the rug, the US has given India an opening, so that it can remain in the latest "great game" and possibly play some role in the next game that is unfolding in northern Afghanistan.  If India accepts the US twists and turns in this plot then it can remain on the American team and fulfill mission plans to patrol the Indian Ocean and access to the Persian Gulf for the New World Order.  If India will accept its new place, then the US will supply fuel and new technology for India's nuclear program.

But, I suspect that India will have none of this.  The Brahmin ego will not accept anything less than full recognition of their natural superiority, which the word "superpower" represents.  Everyone who rejects Brahmin superiority is seen as an inferior caste, perhaps even "untouchables."  There must be submission to soothe Hindutva rage.

The subcontinent has been rigged for a great explosion.  Unless someone comes to their senses very quickly, a terrible moment of reckoning is being thrust upon us. ]

Headley and 26/11–US Plays Dirty on India

By B. Raman

Ever since the case of David Coleman Headley broke out in October, 2009, I have been repeatedly pointing out the following in my articles and TV interviews:

  • Headley was a quadruple agent, who was working for the USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).
  • The FBI has already reached a plea bargain with him in order to avoid any formal production of evidence against him in the court which might result in details regarding his links with the US intelligence coming out.
  • The FBI would not extradite him to India and woulde not allow the Indian agencies to have access to him in order to prevent the Indian agencies from questioning him about his links with the US intelligence on the one side and with the Pakistani intelligence on the other.

2. Extracts from two articles on this subject written by me on December 12 and 16, 2009, are annexed. What I have been writing and what I have been saying for the last five months has proved correct. The media has reported on the morning of March 18, 2010, that Headley was going to plead guilty to some charges as part of a plea bargain process entered into by him with the FBI. What does it mean? Firstly, there will be no formal introduction of the evidence against him and no cross-examination. Secondly, the relatives of the 166 innocent persons killed in the Mumbai 26/11 terrorist strikes cannot seek the permission of the court to be represented by a lawyer to question him on the details of his involvement in the 26/11 terrorist strikes. Thirdly, the details of his links with the US intelligence community will be covered up. Fourthly, the two Pakistani nationals living in Pakistan—-Ilyas Kashmiri of the 313 Brigade, who had threatened terrorist strikes in India during the major sports events of this year, and Maj. (retd) Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed alias Pasha of the Pakistan Army, who have been cited as co-accused in the FBI case against Headley because of their role as his handling officers, will escape prosecution.

3. Unless one is naive beyond redemption, it was clear  from the beginning  that the Obama Administration and its FBI were trying frantically to prevent the truth regarding Headley from coming out. I wrote on December 12, 2009: “Senior officials of the White House and the FBI have been taking close and unusual interest in the investigation and prosecution. The Director of the FBI himself was reported to have visited Chicago before Headley was produced before the court. Many in India have analysed this as indicative of the close interest taken by President Obama in counter-terrorism co-operation with India. A more plausible explanation is that this is indicative of the concerns in the White House and the FBI that if the prosecution is not properly handled, the case could result in a bombshell if it emerges that one of the active conspirators of 26/11 was an agent of a US agency. This could lead to suits for heavy damages against the US Government from the relatives of the Americans, Israelis and other foreigners killed.”

4. Headley will be protected. The FBI will be protected. The US administration will be protected. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) will be protected. The Pakistani Government and its Army will be protected.

5. Only we poor Indians will remain unprotected because the Govt. of India headed by Dr.Manmohan Singh cannot protect us.

6. What naivete, Mr.Prime Minister! What naivete!

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:seventyone2@gmail.com)

ANNEXURE I

(Extracts from my article of December 12,2009, titled “FBI Avoiding Focus on Headley’s Links With Narcotics Control Agency” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers36/paper3545.html)

Sections of the US media have pointed out that the fact that the report filed against him by the FBI in the court on December 7 was called a Criminal Information Report and not an indictment indicates that the FBI has already reached a plea bargain deal with him under which as a quid pro quo for his admitting some charges when the trial formally commences next month, the FBI will not press other charges against him. His admitting some charges and the FBI dropping other charges will obviate the need for an elaborate trial with the introduction of detailed evidence.

This would prevent any deliberate or inadvertent disclosure by him of his work in the Af-Pak region for the DEA, which works in close co-operation with its Pakistani counterpart. The two have many joint operations.

It is very likely that the US will not allow his independent interrogation by Indian investigators and that it will not agree to his extradition to India as that might result in the Indian authorities coming to know not only of his contacts with Pakistani agencies, but also with the DEA.

Senior officials of the White House and the FBI have been taking close and unusual interest in the investigation and prosecution. The Director of the FBI himself was reported to have visited Chicago before Headley was produced before the court. Many in India have analysed this as indicative of the close interest taken by President Obama in counter-terrorism co-operation with India. A more plausible explanation is that this is indicative of the concerns in the White House and the FBI that if the prosecution is not properly handled, the case could result in a bombshell if it emerges that one of the active conspirators of 26/11 was an agent of a US agency. This could lead to suits for heavy damages against the US Government from the relatives of the Americans, Israelis and other foreigners killed.

ANNEXURE II

(Extracts from my article of December 16,2009, titled ” “Headley: A Quadruple Agent” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers36/paper3552.html)

By studying these extracts submitted by the FBI along with other FBI documents submitted by the FBI to the court and US media reports about Headley’s links with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),one can make the following assessment:

a. Headley was not a double agent, but a quadruple agent. He initially started working for the DEA around 1998. Even if one presumes that initially the FBI and the CIA were not aware of this, they should have become aware of this by 2004 when the National Counter-Terrorism Centre with a common charter and a common data-base was set up by the Bush Administration under the newly-created post of Director National Intelligence (DNI).

b. He started working for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) sometime in 2005. It is not clear whether he joined the LET at his own instance or at the instance of the FBI or the CIA or both in order to penetrate it. He was already visiting Pakistan at the instance of the DEA since 1998. Since 2006, he started visiting India too. The DEA and the FBI would have been aware of his visits since every time a conscious agent of an agency travels abroad his passport is scrutinized by the controlling agency on his return. This is a security precaution followed by all intelligence agencies.

c. He started working for the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri towards the end of 2008 and agreed to visit Copenhagen to collect operational information for a possible terrorist attack. This was probably not at the instance of the FBI, which came to know accidentally of Headley volunteering himself to undertake a task in Copenhagen   while monitoring the chat room of the old students of the Army Cadet School at Hasan Abdal. Both Headley and Rana studied in the school. The FBI put Headley under electronic surveillance after obtaining orders of a relevant court.

d. While doing the electronic surveillance to monitor his involvement in the Northern or Copenhagen or Micky Mouse project for the 313 Brigade, the FBI came across a series of E-mail intercepts in July and August, 2009, which showed that Headley had helped the LET in preparing itself for the 26/11 terrorist strikes and had agreed to help the LET in carrying out another terrorist strike in India for which he was to visit India. The FBI started monitoring the meetings and conversations of Headley and Rana and recorded their conversation of September 7, 2009, in a car which clearly indicated their involvement in the 26/11 terrorist strike.

e. The communications between Headley and his LET handler intercepted by the FBI in July and August also indicated that he was planning to visit India in October to prepare the ground for another terrorist strike. The FBI had two options—either allow him to go to India, alert the Indian intelligence and keep him under surveillance or arrest him before he left for Pakistan and India. If he had been allowed to go to India, watched there and arrested by the Indian intelligence, his past contacts with the US agencies and his role in 26/11 would have come to the notice of the Indian authorities. There is no evidence so far to show that till July 2009 the FBI was aware of his active role in 26/11. They were probably only aware of his frequent visits to Pakistan and India on behalf of the DEA operations. The FBI arrested him when he was about to leave for Pakistan and India on October 3.