Pakistani Taliban issues video of ISI spy’s execution

Pakistani Taliban issues video of ISI spy’s execution

Islamabad, Feb 19: The Pakistani Taliban released a video Saturday of the shooting of a former officer of the country’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who was kidnapped from the northern tribal region.

A Taliban militant is shown in the video firing at former ISI officer, Col. (Retd.) Sultan Ameer Tarar – also known as Colonel Imam – in the presence of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, according to Xinhua.

Col. Imam was killed Jan 23 by the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan.

Imam and another former ISI official, Squadron Leader (Retd.) Khalid Khawaja, had gone to North Waziristan along with BBC journalist Asad Qureshi and his and driver Rustam Khan to make a documentary on the Pakistani Taliban and victims of US drone strikes, when they were kidnapped in March 2010.

Later, an unknown militant organisation, Asian Tigers, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and accused Khalid Khawaja of spying for the CIA. He was subsequently shot dead April 30 near Mir Ali town. Col. Imam was kept alive and held hostage all through until his execution Jan 23.

Some reports said the two were abducted by the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, working in tandem with the Pakistani Taliban.

Qureshi and Khan were released several months later after his family reportedly paid ransom of Rs.30 million to his kidnappers, the Hakimullah Mehsud-led Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Imam was widely respected by the Afghan Mujahideen and also by the Taliban due to his role during the war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. He was often described as the “teacher” of Taliban chief Mullah Omar.

He had also served as Pakistan’s consul general in Afghanistan’s western Herat city.

Pakistan Human Rights Commission chief I.A. Rehman condemned the killing and described it as a brutal act.

The Taliban had earlier released a video of Khawaja in which he was heard admitting his links with the ISI and CIA and playing a double game with the Taliban.

Taliban sought Rs.50 million for the release of Imam but negotiations in this regard made no headway and he was killed.

Imam had served 11 years in the ISI out of 18 years in the armed forces, while Khwaja served for 22 years in the air force.

–IANS

Intelligence Agencies Reveal Davis Often Called S. Waziristan

Raymond Davis had contacts in South Waziristan and certain madrasas

Farzana Shah

Terminal X Media Watch

The following article originally appeared as an Urdu report in Pakistan’s Daily Express newspaper here. (http://express.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=1101163647&Issue=NP_LHE&Date=20110206)

LAHORE: Investigative agencies have gathered all call records for Raymond Davis. According to sources, the records indicate that a major portion of his calls were to contacts in South Waziristan and other troubled areas adjacent to it.

While tracing the contacted numbers, a team of officers from Pakistan’s ISI revealed that Raymond Davis also used to visit certain madrassahs in those regions and portrayed himself as a newly-converted British Muslim. Raymond Davis used to meet madrassah officials during Friday prayers.

According to sources, Raymond Davis has a group of 75 other colleagues who came to Pakistan during the flood catastrophe. He has been working as Senior Agent Incharge for his group and the divisions for which he was regional incharge include Lahore, Sargodha and Multan.

According to INP, sources say Punjab’s provincial government has compiled and sent the complete investigation report of the killing of two civilians in Lahore by Raymond Davis to the federal government in which it is clearly mentioned that Davis did not fire in “self defence”, neither is he cooperating with the security officials during the investigation.

The Punjab Government has also included names of 4 other American citizens in the report and requested the federal government to place their names in the ECL (Exit Control List). The team of experts from the intelligence agency has also finalized their report which will soon be dispatched to the provincial (Punjab) and federal governments.

[Translated by Sultan Hijazi]

Cross post from terminalx.org

N.C. Homegrown Terror Threat Assessment Proves That America’s Far-Right Is a Bunch of Fraidy-Cats

N.C. study: “homegrown terrorism” threat exaggerated

by John Grooms in Boomer with Attitude

If you have mice in your house, you want to get rid of them, since, otherwise, they’ll get in your food supply, shred things to use in making nests, and crap all over the place. They are a potentially destructive nuisance, and it’s a good idea to do something about them: call an exterminator, put out traps, whatever. What you don’t need to do in this situation is to suddenly think that you are being systematically persecuted by organized hordes of aggressive wharf rats.

That’s the comparison that comes to mind these days when I hear discussions (if you can call them that) about “the terrorist threat to America.” Note that the nearly always-terrified right wing in this country is currently going wild over a scattering of discovered terrorist plans and the occasional, usually failed, attempt at blowing up something. If you want to see how deep the irrationality over this issue can get, check out the comments about an earlier blog post regarding Sue Myrick’s chief of staff leaving to work for an “anti-terror” group that we described as Islamophobic.

Here’s the good news: A new study conclusively shows that the “homegrown terrorism” threat is way overrated. Now the bad news: Hardly anyone is paying attention to the study.

The study, “Muslim American Terrorism Since 9/11:  An Accounting,” was put together by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (TCTHS), a think tank of experts from Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and RTI International, a research and development arm of Research Triangle Park. You can read the entire report here. The short version is that the number of Muslim-Americans who perpetrated or were arrested for terrorist acts declined sharply in the past year.

Listening to Myrick and her over-caffeinated followers, you’d think that hundreds of American Muslims are being radicalized and taught to engage in violent acts against the U.S. In actuality, 20 Muslim-Americans committed or were arrested for terrorist crimes in 2010, down from 2009’s 47. The study is full of facts and figures that paint a different picture than the one drawn by various anti-Muslim groups, lawmakers and pundits, whose approach to the problem seems to be “Jump up and down — the world is on fire!,” rather than simply taking a look at the actual numbers. One very interesting fact you won’t see mentioned by the “Islam is the boogeyman” crowd is that, since 9/11, tips from the Muslim American community provided information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases.

In the study, David Schanzer, the Director of TCTHS, says, “Is this a problem that deserves the attention of law enforcement and the Muslim American community?  Absolutely.  But Americans should take note that these crimes are being perpetrated by a handful of people who actions are denounced and rejected by virtually all the Muslims living in the United States.” In other words, we have some mice, not an army of organized wharf rats.

As writer Yonat Shimron of Raleigh’s News & Observer noted, the study’s conclusions are similar to reports issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, D.C., which draws on reports from the Congressional Research Service and the conservative Heritage Foundation.  Shimron interviewed Alejandro Beutel, a government and policy analyst with the council, who succinctly concluded, “Overall, there is a challenge out there, but it’s not a pandemic.”

As we’ve written on several occasions, it’s time to cut out the melodrama. The whole point of terrorism is to have a country’s population walking around scared out of their wits. It has become obvious that, in that regard, the Myricks and anti-Muslim groups of this nation — the ones who are currently pitching a fit — have already surrendered. What’s even worse is that at this point, their constant paranoid drumbeat is actually helping terrorists meet their goal of scaring the hell out of Americans.

New Sue Myrick newsletter

Holbrooke’s Replacement?

Marc Grossman

Crisis of confidence

 

By M K Bhadrakumar
Grossman’s appointment is a tacit recognition that the US needs someone with experience, tact and tenacity to leverage the Pak military.
Full two months it has taken for the Barack Obama administration to find a suitable successor to late Richard Holbrooke, United States’ former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course, it isn’t easy to replace a titanic figure. But life ought to move on. Some speculate that the issue became the stuff of turf war between the White House and the State Department.

Be that as it may, the appointment of former career diplomat Marc Grossman as Holbrooke’s replacement indicates an element of ‘continuity’ insofar as the incoming special representative is broadly in the same mould as his predecessor. Grossman has some pluses as well, given the unusually long stint he had in the American embassy in Islamabad (1976-83) when, too, Pakistan was a ‘frontline state’ in the US regional strategies.

Grossman is familiar with the Afghan ‘jihadi’ culture and the ethos of Pakistan’s security and military establishment. Additionally, he has rich professional background of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and in Kosovo, in fact, he was a participant in the alliance’s first encounter with conflict situations in a post-cold war setting.

Grossman’s appointment gives away clues to US priorities. One, primacy lies in working with Pakistan. Two, despite the public US claim that the Pentagon’s ‘surge’ is working, there seems to be uneasiness that ground realities are stark and gains can at best be transient, which means political track needs to be opened. Three, US is strongly pitching for Nato’s presence in Afghanistan in the long term. (Grossman held the Nato portfolio in the state department at a turning point in the alliance’s evolution as a global security organisation.)

However, Grossman faces an uphill task ahead. Cutting across any plane in the Afghan situation, we have been witnessing a drift in the recent months — be it as regards the ground situation in Afghanistan, US’ equations with Hamid Karzai or US-Pakistan relationship.

Bluntly put, there is no convincing evidence to substantiate the claims by the US military that the Taliban momentum is being steadily broken. The brazen attack by the Taliban fighters on the headquarters of the Afghan police last week in broad daylight killing 15 policemen speaks volumes about the fragile security situation in the epicentre of the US’ ‘surge’. Again, Kabul city itself has become unsafe, as repeated attacks in the recent weeks testify.

The insurgency is spreading in the northern regions. The Afghan opinion is turning hostile to western occupation. While on the one hand Taliban has no dearth of ‘manpower’, western attempt to build up an Afghan national army seems to meandering. The much-vaunted ‘Afghanistaion’, too, has lost steam.

Sour relations

The US’ equations with Karzai have dipped to an all-time low point. Karzai has become extremely wary of the US intentions. The US attempt to prop up a ‘hostile’ Afghan parliament as a rival power centre checkmating Karzai’s authority and Washington’s overt dalliance with the former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh (who was sacked by Karzai last July) have created a grave crisis in confidence between Washington and Kabul.

Meanwhile, the unravelling of Kabul Bank, legal proceedings against the president’s brother Mahmood Karzai in a US court, International Monetary Fund’s strictures providing alibi for the western ‘donors’ to refuse routing their aid through the Afghan government, the imminent ruling by the special court investigating fraud in the Afghan parliamentary elections — all these controversies are potential ‘time bombs’ waiting to explode. Things have become very messy, indeed. Some American commentators speculate on a ‘colour revolution’ to drive Karzai out of power.

The ‘standoff’ is quintessentially over the US push to secure a status of forces agreement that would legitimise American military bases. Karzai has misgivings about the idea despite sustained US pressure tactic and insists any such agreement will need to be ratified by the Afghan parliament and a Loya Jirgha, which is hard to obtain.

The US objective is to get the matter sorted out before an Afghan settlement (which may include Taliban) materialises. The ‘standoff’ lies at the root of the US’ discontent with Karzai. And it adds to the US paranoia that Karzai is steadily strengthening ties with Russia, Iran, China, etc and reducing dependence on Washington.

Far more important than all this is of course the state of play in US-Pakistan ties. The troubled relationship seldom touched such a low point. In sum, Pakistan cannot go along with the US’ surge policy and it refuses to undertake military operations against Taliban groups entrenched in North Waziristan. Pakistan is increasingly suspicious about the American agenda and regards Taliban as its ‘strategic asset’. Of late, Pakistan is linking up with Karzai on the basis of shared concerns to kickstart an ‘intra-Afghan’ dialogue even without US blessing. Indeed, Raymond Davis case highlights the covert US activities inside Pakistan.

To be sure, Grossman’s appointment is a tacit recognition that the US needs someone with experience, tact and tenacity to leverage the Pakistani military at the present crucial juncture of the war. But does diplomatic style and acumen alone suffice? The geopolitical reality is US-Pakistan relationship is riddled with contradictions, which are hopelessly intertwined, too. Even as the US boosts military ties with India, these contradictions can only become more acute. And their shadows on the Afghan chessboard will only be lengthening.

(The writer is a former diplomat)

 

 

Gates Fears Loss of Pakistani Cooperation In Terror War

[The amazing "Sec/Def" acknowledges just how much the Pak Army has cooperated with American direction lately, moving six divisions from the eastern border with India to the Durand Line, in order to fight America's terror war.  With the sudden exposure of America's underhanded war raging within Pakistan, by the Raymond Davis double-murder charges, American hypocrisy towards our most loyal ally is suddenly thrust to the forefront.  The brutal killing of three or more Pakistani citizens by the American agents is something that happens nearly every day, in the hidden corners of Pakistan (SEE: General Kayani Must Not Blink and Pakistan’s Taliban Are CIA). Now that it is happening in the heart of Lahore, in broad daylight, the world gets to see with its own eyes, that American leaders are no longer concerned with keeping their criminal war secret.

Until the Sec/Def and his boss are ready to shut-down America's secret war upon the people of Pakistan, all patriotic Pakistanis should stand together to guarantee that his big war comes to a halt.]

Gates express concern over Pakistan’s situation

Lalit K Jha
(PTI)

Noting that terrorist groups might try to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates today told US lawmakers that he is concerned about the current situation in Pakistan.

“I worry a lot about Pakistan. It has huge economic problems… They have a serious internal terrorism threat that is seeking to destabilize Pakistan itself. And I worry that some of those terrorists might try and provoke a conflict between Pakistan and India,” Gates told a Senate Committee hearing.

“I think that there”s a lot to be concerned about with Pakistan,” he said in response to a question from Senator John McCain, who said that there is a serious disruption of ties between the US and Pakistan as a result of the arrest of American diplomat Raymond Davis over alleged murder charges.

“There”s been serious disruption, obviously, with this American citizens who is now being held in prison, the whole role of private contractors, the continued allegations of relationships between ISI and the Taliban. I”m deeply concerned about the situation in Pakistan, which obviously is vital to the sustained and long-term success in Afghanistan,” McCain said.

Acknowledging that sanctuaries still exist in Pakistan, Gates however praised Islamabad for moving troops from the India border to wards the Af-Pak border.

“The Pakistanis have 140,000 troops on that border.
These things improve step by step, not as quickly as we would like, but we get to a better place over time,” he said.

“If you”d asked me two years ago if the Pakistanis would withdraw six divisions from the Indian border and put them in the west, I would have said impossible. If you would have asked me if we would begin coordinating operations on both sides of the border with Afghan and ISAF forces on the one side, and the Pakistanis on the other, I would have said that”s very unlikely,” he noted.

“They are chipping away at some of these sanctuaries.
It”s very important what they”ve done in South Waziristan and Swat. But it”s a mixed picture and it”s something we just need to keep working at it,” Gates said.

Sharing concerns of Senator McCain on Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that “the vector” is going in the wrong direction overall for Pakistan.

“We”re very unpopular there… It”s highlighted in each crisis whether — I mean, we provided extraordinary support for the floods last year — ”we” the military. And then registers in a popular way shortly. You have an incident like the one we”re going through right now and our popularity is back down in very small numbers,” he said.

“I do think we have to stay at it. It is where lots of terrorist organizations head, not just Al-Qaeda. They are more combined in their efforts than they”ve ever been. So I do think we have to continue to work at it. I”m as concerned as I”ve ever been,” Mullen said.

Terrorist Detainee Lawsuit Alleging Torture Thrown-Out

Jpadilla_1

Terror detainee lawsuit tossed out

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit alleging a man convicted of plotting terrorism was tortured at a Navy brig in South Carolina.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Thursday ruled Jose Padilla has no right to sue for constitutional violations and that the defendants enjoy qualified immunity.

Gergel’s decision said a trial would turn into an “international spectacle” with the nation’s present and former leaders summoned to a courtroom to answer Padilla’s charges.

The lawsuit named Defense Secretary Robert Gates among others.

It alleged Padilla was illegally detained as an enemy combatant and tortured in the brig by being kept in darkness and isolation, deprived of sleep and religious materials, and kept from family and attorneys.

China Plans Colombian Railroad Linking Atlantic To Pacific

China plans Colombian rail link to challenge Panama canal

A link between Cartagena in the Caribbean to an unspecified site on the country’s Pacific coast would facilitate Chinese imports

  • Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent Tania Branigan in Beijing
  • guardian.co.uk
  • cargo ship on panama canalChinese plans for a rail link in Colombia could compete with the Panama canal which transformed global trade when it was opened in 1914. Photograph: David LeveneIt is a dream that bewitched Spain, ruined Scotland, stumped France and empowered the US: a path from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans.

    The ambition unleashed ruinous follies in Panama’s jungles until the US finally finished a canal in 1914, an engineering feat that transformed global trade.

    Now, almost a century later, China is envisaging a new link between the seas: a rail link through Colombia – a potential rival to the canal that would crown China’s economic push into Latin America.

    Beijing on Monday confirmed an announcement by the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, that both governments are considering a rail connection from Cartagena, in the Caribbean, to the country’s Pacific coast 280 miles (450km) away. The president’s office refused to say which Pacific site was being considered.

    The railway would facilitate the export of raw materials such as coal, as well as opening the way for Chinese imports. “It’s a real proposal … and it is quite advanced,” Santos told the Financial Times. “The studies [the Chinese] have made on the costs of transporting per tonne, the cost of investment, they all work out.”

    Few doubt China can carve a path through the northern tip of south America. It has, after all, carved a 550km railway to Tibet, rebuilt Angola’s railways and is busy erecting a giant industrial port in Brazil. The question is whether the railway would be cheaper or faster than the Panama canal, which is only a third as long and undergoing a $5.25bn (£3.3bn) expansion to double its capacity.

    Panama also has an 80km railway connecting both sides of the isthmus, but until now the canal’s main competition has been the rail link from California to the US eastern seaboard, which is faster but more expensive.

    Could Colombia’s railway compete? President Santos seemed to have little doubt, stressing the “incredible” number of Chinese delegations pitching proposals. The railway would require a production and assembly hub in a new city south of Cartagena, he said. “I don’t want to create exaggerated expectations, but it makes a lot of sense. Asia is the new motor of the world economy.”

    With Chinese financing, the project would be a viable and attractive way for Bogota to ease transport bottlenecks in its mining industry, said Heather Berkman, a Eurasia Group analyst. “Colombia is no position to refuse offers of investment in its infrastructure. They need financing from outside sources and this makes sense for them.” Bogota also hopes the plan will focus Washington’s mind on ratifying a stalled free trade accord. “The Colombians have made it clear if there’s no movement on the FTA this year they will court other parties. So there is pressure on the US.”

    The railway would hardly have the same impact of the canal a century ago but would be a symbol of China’s economic incursions into what the US once considered its backyard. Latin American exports to China leapt to $41.3bn between 2000 and 2009. China is Colombia’s second largest trade partner after the US, with bilateral trade rising from $10m in 1980 to more than $5bn in 2010.

    However, the railway project could yet join a list of venerable pipedreams. In 1534 King Charles V of Spain ordered a survey for a route through Panama, hoping for a strategic edge over the Portuguese.

    In 1698 a Scottish flotilla landed in Darien, a remote wedge of rainforest straddling what is now Panama and Colombia, hoping to found a colony and a gateway to the new world. The venture collapsed and bankrupted Scotland, hastening its loss of independence to England. “If the Scots had been successful the canal might have been constructed in Darien, by Panamanians speaking English in a lowland Scots dialect!” rued Jim Malcolm, a Scot and former British ambassador to Panama, in a 2005 booklet.

    A French effort in the 1880s under Ferdinand de Lesseps, who built the Suez canal, foundered because of poor planning and disease which killed about 22,000 workers.

    The US revived the canal project in 1903 after encouraging Panama, then part of Colombia, to secede and hand control of the waterway to Washington.

    In 2006 Nicaragua revived its own long-held dream of a rival canal but the idea quickly faded. It did not have Chinese backing.

    Additional reporting by Lin Yi