What Is Different About Ft. Carson, Colorado Soldiers?

What is really going on at Ft. Carson (formerly Camp Carson), or what is really happening in their PTSD treatment program for returning vets?  Recent history of returning vets from the terror war is a reoccurring story of out-of-control, brutal soldiers, who are ticking time-bombs,  with very little regard for human life.  Two of those stories are included below–the first story is of a Ft. Carson soldier who allegedly executed a Taliban leader in his custody in Afghanistan; the second story concerns 17 soldiers from Ft. Carson, who had been charged with murder or attempted murder.  Why is this problem so prevalent at this one base?  Could it have anything to do with the base mental health program for soldiers suspected of having post-traumatic stress disorder? 

The base houses a “Warrior Transition Battalion,” intended to treat soldiers, primarily by removing the “stigma” of  “combat fatigue,” as it used to be called, in the politically incorrect days of WWII and Korea.  The so-called “stigma” is the shame of “unmanliness” in the face of battle.

Definition of UNMANLY : not manly: as a : being of weak character : cowardly b : effeminate

REAL MEN do not have PTSD, just as they have no hesitation to kill for their country.  REAL MEN volunteer to be on the front lines–ALWAYS, or so the Top Hats at the Pentagon would have men believe.  
In WWII, as in Korea, Camp Carson was one of the primary facilities for treating shell-shocked vets, as well as soldiers deemed psychologically unfit for duty.  At first, the first urge among the generals was to imprison all apparently healthy men who refused to kill for their country, or failed to support the war effort.  This effort was a massive failure, leading the brass to choose psychological treatment to force recruits to reverse their unmanly ways.  
The “inadequate soldiers,” who missed the mark of “manliness” established by our bloodthirsty culture, were subjected to the equivalent of Soviet psychiatric gulags, in order to give them a new militarized outlook on life.  Then, as now, the most powerful tools available were used to “man-up” gold-bricking soldiers.  Judging by the testimony given by Jose Barco in the video accompanying the “Ft.  Carson Killing Spree” story below, the tendency today is to supply a different powerful behavioral control drug to each soldier, to counter every exhibited symptom.  “Jose Barco, is serving 52 years in jail for shooting and wounding a pregnant woman when he opened fire at a party in Colorado Springs,” while under the influence of various administered anti-depressants and all the street drugs he could find.  
We have no way of knowing what other “treatments” are being given to these suffering, returning vets, who are being “transitioned” to civilian life, but there are old Army records which document some of the treatments used in previous Camp Carson transitioning/reconditioning programs.  The following excerpt from an Army history document details the merciless treatments/torture used upon previous unmanly vets (they were used upon my own father, during the Korean War–  Human Nature Is the Enemy of the State):     
  “At the Camp Carson, Colo., Station Hospital, an unusually active psychological testing program was developed.12 Studies were performed on the underlying emotional problems of enuretics and patients with rheumatic fever; also, correlations were made between psychological tests and clinical diagnosis of illiterate personnel (including mental and educational deficiencies)…. “Under these conditions, shock therapy (mostly electroshock) was used freely for disturbed or agitated psychoses and depressions; subshock insulin treatment was employed in the more severe psychoneurotic reactions with encouraging results; psychotherapy under sedation called narcosynthesis, which had gained great popularity overseas in the treatment of combat neuroses, was resorted to in patients with residual symptoms of psychoneuroses incurred in combat and in cases of conversion hysteria.”

WARRIOR TRANSITION BATTALION MISSION:

Provide command and control, primary care and case management for Warriors in Transition to establish conditions for healing and promote the timely return to the force or transition to civilian life.

WARRIOR IN TRANSITION MISSION:

I am a Warrior in Transition. My job is to heal as I transition back to duty or continue serving the nation as a Veteran in my community. This is not a status, but a mission. I will succeed in this mission because.


Pfc. David Lawrence takes a break from an Article 32 hearing at Fort Carson in November. Lawrence, who was serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division is accused of killing a Taliban commander while he was detained in a cell at an outpost north of Kandahar in Afghanistan. Lawrence was on guard duty at the time of the shooting.

Fort Carson soldier expected to plead guilty in death of Taliban prisoner

DAVID S. CLOUD
Tribune Co. Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — An Army private accused of killing a Taliban prisoner last year in Afghanistan has agreed to plead guilty, according to his attorney, even though several military psychiatrists concluded he was suffering severe mental illness at the time.

Pfc. David W. Lawrence is expected to receive a “substantially” reduced sentence for the killing of Mullah Mohebullah, a senior Taliban commander who was shot in the face last October while being guarded by Lawrence at a U.S. detention facility in Kandahar province, said James Culp, the defendant’s lawyer.

Lawrence had been charged with premeditated murder in military court. The plea deal will spare Lawrence from a possible life sentence without parole, the minimum punishment he faced if convicted on the charge under military law.

It will also shield the Army from the controversy over locking up a 20-year-old soldier for the rest of his life after its own doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The killing sparked tensions between the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who described it as an example of coalition forces’ frequent use of excessive force. Karzai threatened his own investigation. But the case also raised questions about whether the Army is being vigilant enough in screening troops for mental illness, especially in combat units.

The plea deal is expected to be accepted when court-martial proceedings convene at Fort Carson on Wednesday, the lawyer said. Lawrence is likely to serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Culp would not disclose the reduced sentence agreed to with Army authorities, saying it would be revealed in court. An Army spokesman declined to comment.

Lawrence’s mental state at the time of the shooting was a matter of intense debate throughout the seven-month case.

Culp said that his client’s mental condition deteriorated last summer within weeks of his arrival in Afghanistan after the chaplain and seven soldiers from his unit were killed in a bomb attack. Lawrence had formed a close bond with Chaplain Dale Goetz, the first Army chaplain killed in combat since Vietnam, he said,

Ten days after Goetz’s death, Lawrence requested to see a mental health therapist, complaining of depression and sleeplessness. He was pulled out of his unit in the Arghandab Valley and sent to a combat stress clinic at Kandahar air base, Culp said.

Mohebullah was killed a few weeks after Lawrence returned to his unit, the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division.

In February, a board of Army psychiatrists concluded that Lawrence was “unable to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his conduct” at the time of the killing. Even so, the board concluded Lawrence was capable of understanding why he was being prosecuted and was therefore fit to stand trial.

Culp planned to argue that Lawrence was not guilty by reason of insanity. But there was also evidence that Lawrence carefully planned the killing and weighed the risks.

Fort Carson soldiers’ killing spree after Iraq combat

By Dan Edge This World

Seventeen US soldiers from a Colorado military base who mostly served in Iraq have been linked to violent killings and attempted killings since their return to US soil. Three of them came from one platoon – highlighting how a generation of American soldiers are struggling to cope with life after military service.

“I was having a total mental breakdown. Every day we were getting in battles, and never having a break, it seemed like, it was just crazy.

Third Platoon Four members of the Third Platoon are now in prison after serving in Iraq

“I just got to where I couldn’t take it. I tried to go to mental health, and they put me on all kinds of meds, too. And I was still going out on missions… they tried different medications, different doses, and nothing worked.”

Kenny Eastridge was a decorated gunner, but is now serving 10 years in prison for his role in the murder of fellow soldier Kevin Shields in Colorado Springs.

In November 2007, Eastridge along with two other soldiers, Louis Bressler and Bruce Bastien, were out drinking in a nightclub with Mr Shields after returning from a rough combat tour in Baghdad.

Drunk and stoned, they drove off to find more alcohol. Minutes later, Specialist Kevin Shields lay dead, gunned down in a drunken argument, and left in a pool of blood by the side of the road.

Bressler and Bastien were sentenced to 60 years in prison for the murder and a string of other crimes in Colorado Springs.

Kevin Shields’ murder was not a unique case. At Fort Carson military base, 17 soldiers have been charged or convicted of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter in the past four years.

For over a year, This World has been tracking down the members of Third Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st battalion, 506th infantry, which later reflagged and became the 2nd batallion, 12th infantry regiment, trying to make some sense of the killings that have occurred since their return to the US.

The majority of Third Platoon served multiple combat tours with distinction and managed to adjust to life after Iraq. But a significant minority have not.

Four of the platoon have ended up in prison. Two are dead – one died from an overdose, another was killed by a suicide bomb.

In all, 15 out of 42 soldiers from Third Platoon left the army after a single Iraq tour. Four were kicked out for failing drug tests, and one was sent to prison for driving while drunk and fleeing the scene of an accident. Five were medically discharged. Only five left the army because their service had ended.

More than half of the platoon said they suffered from psychological problems after Iraq.

‘Trigger happy’

The platoon’s youngest member, Jose Barco, is serving 52 years in jail for shooting and wounding a pregnant woman when he opened fire at a party in Colorado Springs. He was convicted on two counts of attempted murder.

Barco said he became desensitised to death and killing during the vicious combat of the “surge” in 2007, when his battalion were tasked with driving al-Qaeda out of Baghdad.

Fort Carson soldiers’ killing spree after Iraq 

Jose Barco became desensitised to death and killing during the vicious combat of the Baghdad “surge”

It was Third Platoon’s job to move mutilated bodies every morning.

“It got to the point where it was like seeing a dead dog or a dead cat. If you’re not numb in those moments, you’re going to go crazy. I guess it just follows me,” he said from his prison cell.

As Third Platoon’s tour wore on, discipline deteriorated. Jose Barco said that for some soldiers, casual brutality became the norm, and that he routinely shot unarmed Iraqis.

“We were trigger happy. We’d open up on anything. They even didn’t have to be armed. We were keeping scores,” he said.

The US army investigated, but no soldier from Third Platoon has been charged with killing civilians in Iraq.

While in Iraq, Eastridge had exhibited signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills, but was also taking valium, smoking pot and drinking whisky.

He had a history of aggression, and been charged with assault before he went on his second tour, but he was still deployed.

He said Iraqi civilian deaths did not bother him at all: “You disassociate. To you they’re not even people, you know. Like, they’re not humans.”

Continue reading the main storyThird Platoon’s Iraq tours:• August 2004 – August 2005. Stationed in the desert in the heart of the Sunni triangle, they patrolled the main highway from Ramadi to Falluja drawing out insurgent attacks and dealing with 1000 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

• September 2006 – December 2007. Stationed near Al Dora, an al-Qaeda “hub” that became the site of al-Qaeda’s last stand in Baghdad. Main task was to try to secure neighbourhoods street by street, which were subject to widespread sectarian killings

The platoon’s first battalion commander Colonel David Clark, accepted that the price of “success” on the battlefield could take a psychological toll.

“It’s got to have an impact,” he said.

“Is that a reason not to do the surge? No. The surge worked. We needed to do the surge. War is a dangerous thing,” he added.

The number of Fort Carson soldiers failing drug tests rose by 3000% in the first three years of the Iraq war.

Ryan Krebbs, the platoon medic, admitted abusing medication in Iraq, stockpiling sleeping pills to calm himself down after missions.

He never forgave himself for the death of one of his sergeants, and eventually tried to kill himself with an overdose of prescription anti-psychotic drugs when he returned home.

“In the first six months you’re just happy to be home. And then after that… problems started.

Continue reading the main story“Start Quote

“The black box warning for these anti-depressants say that they can make people suicidal”

Dr Joseph Glenmullen Psychiatrist, Harvard Medical School

“Depression, anxiety, paranoia, getting the feeling that you’re in Iraq all over again.

“I just couldn’t take it anymore,” he said.

Before the Iraq war, American soldiers on psychiatric medications were not allowed to deploy to a combat zone.

But by the time of the surge, more than 20,000 US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills to cope with the stresses of combat.

The military has come under fire for medicating troubled soldiers rather than taking them away from the front line.

Dr Joseph Glenmullen warned that such medication could be dangerous in war.

“All of these anti-depressants now carry in recent years a black box warning.

“The black box warning for these anti-depressants say that they can make people suicidal and a variety of other side effects that include insomnia, anxiety, agitation, irritability, hostility, impulsivity and aggression, all of which obviously could become critical in a combat situation,” he said.

The vice-chief of the US army, General Peter Chiarelli defended the policy, but said that the army needed every soldier it could get.

“It’s a supply and demand problem,” he said.

US troops More than 20,000 US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills

“I cannot do anything about the demand, I only have a finite supply, and when the demand goes up, and orders are given, we provide the soldiers.”

Spurred by the public outrage, the army’s medical command last year conducted an investigation in to the violence.

It found that most of the soldiers had experienced unusually intense combat in Iraq, six of them had criminal records before they joined the military, 11 had a history of substance abuse and nine were taking psychiatric medications.

It concluded that the intensity of battle and shortcomings in mental health treatment may have converged with “negative outcomes” such as alcohol and drug abuse.

Last week the final American combat brigade pulled out of Iraq after more than seven years of war.

But for many soldiers, the end of combat operations is just the beginning of a different kind of struggle back home.

Yemen transition deal falls through – diplomats

Yemen transition deal falls through – diplomats

SANAA | Sun May 22, 2011 11:52am EDT

May 22 (Reuters) – Western and Gulf diplomats failed on Sunday to persuade Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign a deal that would ease him out of power and make him the third Arab leader ousted by popular protests, diplomats said.

“It failed,” one of the diplomats told Reuters. A Gulf diplomat said the Gulf Cooperation Council bloc of Yemen’s wealthy oil-exporting neighbours may withdraw its initiative as a result. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Sudam; Writing by Cynthia Johnston)

Yemeni army helicopters took U.S. and other ambassadors out of a besieged embassy

[Saigon, anyone?  Metaphoric reference to Obama's impending total defeat in Middle East.]

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4151/4833102501_aed6a8099d.jpg

Ambassadors flown out of besieged Sanaa embassy

© 2011 The Associated Press
SANAA, Yemen — Witnesses say Yemeni army helicopters took U.S. and other ambassadors out of a besieged embassy to the presidential palace to witness ruling party leaders signing an agreement for the president to step down in 30 days.

However, state TV says President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not sign the deal unless opposition leaders are present.

The U.S., European and Arab ambassadors, who were pressing Saleh to sign the accord, were trapped for hours Sunday in an embassy by an armed mob of the president’s supporters. Eventually, Yemeni army helicopters ferried the diplomats out to the palace.

State TV then showed ruling party leaders signing the pact at the palace as Saleh and the U.S. ambassador stood behind them. Saleh himself did not sign.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The U.S., European and Gulf Arab ambassadors were trapped inside a diplomatic mission Sunday by an armed mob angry over a deal for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 32 years in power. Prospects that Saleh would sign the pact as promised were thrown into doubt.

Wielding knives, daggers and swords, hundreds of Saleh loyalists blocked the entrances to the United Arab Emirates Embassy, where at least five ambassadors were gathered in expectation the embattled leader would arrive to sign the deal.

“Everybody is worried. We can’t leave the embassy,” said a Saudi diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Pro-Saleh militiamen dressed in traditional Yemeni dress roamed the streets of the capital, especially outside embassies, and blocked the road to the presidential palace.

At one point, armed men attacked a convoy of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s chief mediator, secretary-general Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, to try to keep it from reaching the UAE Embassy, witnesses said. Pounding the car, they shouted against Gulf intervention in Yemeni affairs.

The convoy of the Chinese ambassador also came under attack by armed men before a police detail was deployed to clear the way and disperse the crowd.

Saleh has backed away from signing the U.S.-backed deal at least twice before, adding to the opposition’s deep mistrust of a leader known for adept political maneuvering that has kept him in power for decades. The deal, mediated by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, calls for Saleh to step down within 30 days and transfer power to his vice president. It also would give him immunity from prosecution.

Yemen’s opposition coalition signed the deal Saturday, based on what it said were guarantees the president would sign the next day. But a ruling party statement early Sunday said Saleh objected to signing “behind closed doors” and wanted a public event attended by the opposition.

An official in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, said the GCC would drop the proposal and withdraw from mediation if Saleh did not sign by the end of the day.

Even if Saleh goes ahead with signing, it was far from certain whether that would satisfy the many different groups protesting his rule in the streets.

Hundreds of thousands poured into a central square Sunday that has become the center of opposition protests, waving Yemeni flags and shouting rejection of the deal. They held banners that read: “Now, now Ali, down with the president!” and “Go out Ali!”

Women mingled with men, unlike in previous protests when female protesters stood on the edge of the square segregated from men, in keeping with Sharia law that mandates separation of the sexes. Children had their faces painted with Yemeni flags, while youths carried pictures of slain protesters. Young men and women held a 6-foot-long (2-meter) Yemeni flag.

The protesters say the deal falls short of their demands for Saleh’s immediate departure and the dismantling of his regime. They also reject any immunity for the Yemeni leader and say the opposition parties don’t speak for their demands.

“This initiative is only meant to save Ali not Yemen. We are going to continue our revolution until the end. Like Tunisia and Egypt, we will go against the opposition if they form a government while Saleh is still in power,” declared Tawakul Karman, a protest leader and senior member of the opposition Islamic fundamentalist Islah Party.

She said the protesters were escalating their push by calling a nationwide general strike.

On Saturday, Saleh condemned the proposed deal as “a coup” and warned the U.S. and Europe that his departure would open the door for al-Qaida to seize control of the fragile nation on the edge of Arabia.

In what appeared to be a state-orchestrated move to show a security void, dozens of pro-Saleh loyalists gathered in front of the Police Academy, where the ruling party general assembly had convened to discuss the deal. “We are coming under pressure, to reject the initiative,” said Mohammed Saad, a general assembly member.

Dozens of other supporters erected a big tent in one of Sanaa’s main streets, blocking traffic and raising banners that read: “Don’t go, don’t sign!”

Saleh has managed to cling to power despite near daily protests by tens of thousands of Yemenis fed up with corruption and poverty. Like other anti-government movements sweeping the Arab world, they took inspiration from the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The president has swung between offering concessions, taking them back and executing a violent crackdown that has killed more than 150 people, according to the opposition, which says it compiled the tally from lists of the dead at hospitals around the nation.

The bloodshed triggered a wave of defections by ruling party members, lawmakers, Cabinet ministers and senior diplomats. Saleh’s own tribe has joined those demanding his ouster. Several top army commanders, including a longtime confidant who heads a powerful armored division, joined the opposition and deployed their tanks in the streets of Sanaa to protect the protesters.

Saleh has been able to survive thanks to the loyalty of Yemen’s most highly trained and best-equipped military units, which are led by close family members.

That has raised concerns the political crisis could turn into an armed clash between the rival military forces if a deal is further delayed.

Seeking to win some support in the West for his continued rule, Saleh has warned several times that without him, al-Qaida would take control of the country.

The United States, which had supported Saleh with financial aid and military equipment to fight the country’s dangerous al-Qaida branch, has backed away from the embattled leader.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has an estimated 300 fighters in Yemen and has been behind several nearly successful attacks on U.S. targets, including one in which they got a would-be suicide bomber on board a Detroit-bound flight in December 2009. The explosive device, sewn into his underwear, failed to detonate properly.

The proposed deal — first put forward in March by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — gives a clear timetable for a transfer of power.

One week after Saleh signs, the opposition takes leadership of a national unity government that will include representatives of Saleh’s party. Parliament will then pass a law granting him legal immunity and a day later — 30 days after the deal is signed — he is to step down and transfer power to his deputy.

A month after that, presidential elections are to be held.

___

Associated Press Writer Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.

Cable #178082: Extremist recruitment on the rise in southern Punjab

[With Saudi and UAE sources flooding $100 million/year into radical madrassas of the Deobandi and Al-Hadith faiths, in order to purchase young Pakistani boys as terrorist recruits from poor Berelvi families, it is no wonder that Pakistan has lost control of the jihadists in its midst.  If the US was serious about eradicating Islamic terrorism from the Middle East, it would now be waging war upon Saudi Arabia, instead of enlisting it to front an anti-Shiite coalition for war on Iran.  The fact that this admission is contained in a US State Dept. secret cable, proves beyond any doubt that our leaders have embraced Sunni terrorism as their primary weapon against Islam. 

It doesn’t matter how many revelations such as these come out about American complicity in terrorism, if the rest of the governments of the world continue to meekly accept each new startling revelation, without creating an international stink over the whole mess. 

We are all screwed, as long as we are led by governments composed of cowards and thieves.]

Cable #178082: Extremist recruitment on the rise in southern Punjab

During recent trips to southern Punjab, Principal Officer was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions.

178082 11/13/2008 10:30:00 AM 08LAHORE302 Consulate Lahore SECRET//NOFORN ACTION SCA-00 INFO LOG-00 EEB-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 INL-00 DOEE-00 PERC-00 PDI-00 DS-00 DHSE-00 EUR-00 OIGO-00 FBIE-00 VCI-00 H-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 MOFM-00 MOF-00 VCIE-00 NSAE-00 ISN-00 OMB-00 NIMA-00 GIWI-00 SCT-00 ISNE-00 DOHS-00 FMPC-00 SP-00 SSO-00 SS-00 NCTC-00 ASDS-00 CBP-00 R-00 SCRS-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 FA-00 SWCI-00 /001W ——————FA445D 131023Z /38 O 131030Z NOV 08FM AMCONSUL LAHORETO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3818INFO AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD IMMEDIATE AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI AMEMBASSY KABUL NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DCCIA WASHDCSECDEF WASHINGTON DCJOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DCCDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FLAMCONSUL LAHORE S E C R E T LAHORE 000302 NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2018 TAGS: PTER, PGOV, KISL, PK

SUBJECT: (S/NF) EXTREMIST RECRUITMENT ON THE RISE IN SOUTHERN PUNJAB

Derived from: DSCG 05-1, B,D

1. (S/NF) Summary: During recent trips to southern Punjab, Principal Officer was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions. The network reportedly exploited worsening poverty in these areas of the province to recruit children into the divisions’ growing Deobandi and Ahl-eHadith madrassa network from which they were indoctrinated into jihadi philosophy, deployed to regional training/indoctrination centers, and ultimately sent to terrorist training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Locals believed that charitable activities being carried out by Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith organizations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Al-Khidmat Foundation, and Jaish-e-Mohammad were further strengthening reliance on extremist groups and minimizing the importance of traditionally moderate Sufi religious leaders in these communities. Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from “missionary” and “Islamic charitable” organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments. Locals repeatedly requested USG support for socio-economic development and the promotion of moderate religious leaders in the region as a direct counter to the growing extremist threat. End Summary.

2. (S/NF) During a recent visit to the southern Punjabi cities of Multan and Bahawalpur, Principal Officer’s discussions with religious, political, and civil society leaders were dominated by discussions of the perceived growing extremist threat in Seraiki and Baloch areas in southern and western Punjab. Interlocutors repeatedly stressed that recruitment activities by extremist religious organizations, particularly among young men between the ages of 8 and 15, had increased dramatically over the last year. Locals blamed the trend on a strengthening network of Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and madrassas, which they claimed had grown exponentially since late 2005. Such growth was repeatedly attributed to an influx of “Islamic charity” that originally reached Pakistani pseudo-religious organizations, such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Al-Khidmat foundation, as relief for earthquake victims in Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province. Locals believe that a portion of these funds was siphoned to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in southern and western Punjab in order to expand these sects’ presence in a traditionally hostile, but potentially fruitful, recruiting ground. The initial success of establishing madrassas and mosques in these areas led to subsequent annual “donations” to these same clerics, originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The value of such donations was uncertain, although most interlocutors believed that it was in the region of $100 million annually.

3. (S/NF) According to local interlocutors, current recruitment activities generally exploit families with multiple children, particularly those facing severe financial difficulties in light of inflation, poor crop yields, and growing unemployment in both urban and rural areas in the southern and western Punjab. Oftentimes, these families are identified and initially approached/assisted by ostensibly “charitable” organizations including Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a front for designated foreign terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyaba), the Al-Khidmat Foundation (linked to religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami), or Jaish-e-Mohammad (a charitable front for the designated foreign terrorist organization of the same name).

4. (S/NF) The local Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith maulana will generally be introduced to the family through these organizations. He will work to convince the parents that their poverty is a direct result of their family’s deviation from “the true path of Islam” through “idolatrous” worship at local Sufi shrines and/or with local Sufi Peers. The maulana suggests that the quickest way to return to “favor” would be to devote the lives of one or two of their sons to Islam. The maulana will offer to educate these children at his madrassa and to find them employment in the service of Islam. The concept of “martyrdom” is often discussed and the family is promised that if their sons are “martyred” both the sons and the family will attain “salvation” and the family will obtain God’s favor in this life, as well. An immediate cash payment is finally made to the parents to compensate the family for its “sacrifice” to Islam. Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rps. 500,000 (approximately USD 6500) per son. A small number of Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in Dera Ghazi Khan district are reportedly recruiting daughters as well.

5. (S/NF) The path following recruitment depends upon the age of the child involved. Younger children (between 8 and 12) seem to be favored. These children are sent to a comparatively small, extremist Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith madrassa in southern or western Punjab generally several hours from their family home. Locals were uncertain as to the exact number of madrassas used for this initial indoctrination purpose, although they believed that with the recent expansion, they could number up to 200. These madrassas are generally in isolated areas and are kept small enough (under 100 students) so as not to draw significant attention. At these madrassas, children are denied contact with the outside world and taught sectarian extremism, hatred for non-Muslims, and anti-Western/anti-Pakistan government philosophy. Contact between students and families is forbidden, although the recruiting maulana periodically visits the families with reports full of praise for their sons’ progress. “Graduates” from these madrassas are either (1) employed as Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith clerics or madrassa teachers or (2) sent on to local indoctrination camps for jihad. Teachers at the madrassa appear to make the decision based on their read of the child’s willingness to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture versus his utility as an effective proponent of Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith ideology/recruiter.

6. (S/NF) Children recruited at an older age and “graduates” chosen for jihad proceed to more sophisticated indoctrination camps focused on the need for violence and terrorism against the Pakistan government and the West. Locals identified three centers reportedly used for this purpose. The most prominent of these is a large complex that ostensibly has been built at Khitarjee (sp?). Locals placed this site in Bahawalpur District on the Sutlej River north of the village of Ahmedpur East at the border of the districts of Multan, Bahawalpur, and Lodhran. The second complex is a newly built “madrassa” on the outskirts of Bahawalpur city headed by a devotee of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar identified only as Maulana Al-Hajii (NFI). The third complex is an Ahl-e-Hadith site on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city about which very limited information was available. Locals asserted that these sites were primarily used for indoctrination and very limited military/terrorist tactic training. They claimed that following several months of indoctrination at these centers youth were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas. Many worried that these youth would eventually return to try and impose their extremist version of Islam in the southern and western Punjab and/or to carry out operations in these areas.

7. (S/NF) Interlocutors repeatedly chastised the government for its failure to act decisively against indoctrination centers, extremist madrassas, or known prominent leaders such as Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar. One leading Sufi scholar and a Member of the Provincial Assembly informed Principal Officer that he had personally provided large amounts of information on the location of these centers, madrassas, and personalities to provincial and national leaders, as well as the local police. He was repeatedly told that “plans” to deal with the threat were being “evolved” but that direct confrontation was considered “too dangerous.” The Bahawalpur District Nazim told Principal Officer that he had repeatedly highlighted the growing threat to the provincial and federal governments but had received no support in dealing with it. He blamed politics, stating that unless he was willing to switch parties — he is currently with the Pakistan Muslim League — neither the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz provincial nor the Pakistan Peoples Party federal governments would take his requests seriously. The brother of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, and a noted Brailvi/Sufi scholar in his own right, Allama Qasmi blamed government intransigence on a culture that rewarded political deals with religious extremists. He stressed that even if political will could be found, the bureaucracy in the Religious Affairs, Education, and Defense Ministries remained dominated by Zia-ul-Haq appointees who favored the Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith religious philosophies. This bureaucracy, Qasmi claimed, had repeatedly blocked his brother’s efforts to push policy in a different direction.

8. (S/NF) Interlocutors repeatedly requested USG assistance for the southern and western Punjab, believing that an influx of western funds could counter the influence of Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith clerics. Principal Officer was repeatedly reminded that these religious philosophies were alien to the southern and western Punjab — which is the spiritual heartland of South Asia’s Sufi communities. Their increasing prominence was directly attributed to poverty and external funding. Locals believed that socio-economic development programs, particularly in education, agriculture, and employment generation, would have a direct, long-term impact in minimizing receptivity to extremist movements. Similarly, they pressed for immediate relief efforts — particularly food distribution and income support — to address communities’ immediate needs. Several interlocutors also encouraged direct USG support to Brailvi/Sufi religious institutions, arguing that these represented the logical antithesis to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith philosophy and that if adequately funded, they could stem the tide of converts away from their moderate beliefs.

Comment

9. (S/NF) A jihadi recruiting network relying on Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith religious, charitable, and educational institutions is increasing its work in impoverished districts of southern and western Punjab. Local economic conditions coupled with foreign financing appear to be transforming a traditionally moderate area of the country into a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist organizations. The provincial and federal governments, while fully aware of the problem, appear to fear direct confrontation with these extremist groups. Local governments lack the resources and federal/provincial support to deal with these organizations on their own. The moderate Brailvi/Sufi community is internally divided into followers of competing spiritual leaders and lacks the financial resources to act as an effective counterweight to well-funded and well-organized extremists.

10. (S/NF) Post believes that this growing recruitment network poses a direct threat to USG counter-terrorism and counter-extremism efforts in Pakistan. Intervention at this stage in the southern and western Punjab could still be useful to counter the prevailing trends favoring extremist organizations. USAID development resources in agriculture, economic growth, education, and infrastructure development are useful and necessary and will address some of the immediate needs. In post’s view short-term, quick impact programs are required which focus on: (1) immediate relief in the form of food aid and microcredit, (2) cash for work and community-based, quick-impact infrastructure development programs focusing on irrigation systems, schools, and other critical infrastructure, and (3) strategic communication programs designed to educate on the dangers of the terrorist recruiting networks and to support counter-terrorist, counter-extremist messages.

Saudi Arabia’s Neo-Islamist Reformers Threat to “Arab Spring” Movement

Saudi Arabia’s Neo-Islamist Reformers

Jamal Khashoggi


In the 1930s, when Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, asked the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdel-Aziz al-Saud, for permission to open a branch of his movement in the kingdom, the king rejected the request as unnecessary. “The entire kingdom is a branch for the Brotherhood, and all Saudis are Muslim brothers,” he replied. The king wanted to close the door firmly on any independent political activity, but he also spoke the truth. If the Brotherhood’s goal was to establish a Muslim state and a Muslim society, this already existed in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom itself was the product of a revivalist Islamic movement.

Even so, Islamic opposition movements have long operated in Saudi Arabia. Some, like the extremists who seized Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979, have used violence to oppose what they consider the Saudi state’s insufficiently Islamic character. Al-Qaeda and its local offshoots are a part of this violent tendency.

Nonviolent movements are another facet of the Saudi Islamic opposition landscape. The Muslim Brotherhood made its way into the kingdom in the 1970s through Egyptian and Syrian teachers. For the next two decades the Brotherhood was Saudi Arabia’s leading nonviolent Islamist group. It emphasized educational and spiritual activities and the plight of Muslims outside the kingdom’s borders. The Brotherhood’s appeal in Saudi Arabia seriously declined in 1990-1991, when its affiliates in other Arab countries hesitated to endorse military action to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation and to defend the kingdom against Iraqi aggression.

The erosion of the Brotherhood’s standing, combined with the unprecedented environment of criticism of the Saudi state that prevailed after the 1991 Gulf War, led to the emergence of a homegrown Islamic opposition in the form of Salafis. The Salafis are puritans who claim they only follow the practice and theology of the Prophet Mohammed’s followers in the early time of Islam. The Salafis distanced themselves from what they considered the Brotherhood’s liberal interpretation of Islam, but adopted its organizational structure. Salafis also criticized the Saudi leadership for domestic “wrongdoing” that in their view violated Islamic principles. In short, they demanded that the Saudi state reform to become more Islamic.

The appeal of the Salafi reformers’ message, along with their organizational strength (their followers have permeated the Education Ministry and the Islamic Affairs Ministry), earned them wide popularity, especially among the youth.

Throughout the 1990s, however, the Saudi leadership rejected their demands for reform, even imprisoning several of them. Since the kingdom’s founding, the state has won all confrontations with hard-line Islamic opposition forces, and enjoyed strong public backing in doing so. But since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and particularly since the May and November 2003 terrorist attacks in Riyadh, the Saudi leadership has felt vulnerable, and has thus become more receptive to some demands for reform.

As a result, it has included more than a dozen Salafis, along with other Islamists and liberals, in the National Dialogue, a soul-searching process on reform that began last fall. The Riyadh bombings have also emboldened progressive Islamists to blame Salafi doctrine and preaching for radicalizing some Saudi youth. Such criticism would have been too politically risky prior to the attacks.

In this new environment, splits within the Salafi movement on crucial theological and policy matters are becoming apparent. The Salafis have been unable to offer coherent positions on issues under discussion in the National Dialogue. These issues include the need to update laws and regulations, modernize the educational curriculum, expand women’s employment, adopt a more tolerant jurisprudence, open the doors of Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world, and comply with international law.

Recently some of the relatively more progressive Salafis, such as the writer Mansour Al-Nogaidan and the former judge Abdel-Aziz al-Qasim, along with Muslim Brotherhood figures and independent scholars, have come to represent a new “group,” the so-called neo-Islamists. They are distinguished by their receptivity to the forces of modernity. So far, the neo-Islamists are participating constructively in the National Dialogue. They use the Koran, the Sunna, and even Salafi jurisprudence to support their modernizing platform, which includes supporting civil society, introducing a more tolerant religious curriculum, codifying the Sharia, and holding elections for a parliamentary form of government.

Not only are the neo-Islamists’ reform ideas a dramatic departure from the Salafi opposition’s longstanding discourse, some of the neo-Islamists are, remarkably, more progressive than what senior officials themselves are willing to endorse. Crown Prince Abdullah, for instance, described the neo-Islamists’ recent proposal for a constitutional monarchy as a “leap in the dark.”

It is uncertain whether the neo-Islamists could ever manage to build the institutional networks and gain the popular support that have led the Salafis to dominate the Islamic opposition for so many years. But the fact that Saudi Islamists have even put forward such ideas illustrates the dynamism that Saudi Arabia, a deeply conservative country, is experiencing.

Jamal A. Khashoggi is media adviser to the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom. Previously, he was the editor of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan. This article is reprinted with permission from the Arab Reform Bulletin Volume 2, Issue 3 (March 2004) (c) 2004, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Pakistan wants China to build naval base at Gradar

Pakistan wants China to build naval base

By KAMRAN HAIDER  | REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Saturday it wanted China to build it a naval base, in the latest sign of moves to strengthen ties with Beijing as relations with Washington falter.

The announcement from Pakistan’s defense minister came a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yosaf Raza Gilani returned from a four-day visit to China, Islamabad’s biggest arms supplier.

“We would be… grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is… constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan,” Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said in a statement, referring to a deep-water port in Pakistan’s southwest.

The statement did not say whether Pakistan had asked China to build the base at the port in Balochistan province.

Islamabad is trying to deepen ties with Beijing as relations with the United States have come under strain following the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan this month.

Many in Washington have called for a review of billions of dollars of US aid to Pakistan after discovering Bin Laden had been hiding for years in a Pakistani garrison town.

China invested $200 million in the first phase of the construction of the port, which was inaugurated in 2007.

The development, 70 km east of the Iranian border and on the doorstep of Gulf shipping lanes, was designed to handle transshipment traffic for the Gulf.

Mukhtar said the Chinese government had agreed to take operational control of Gwadar port once a contract with Singapore’s PSA International Ltd. expired in around 35 years’ time.

During Gilani’s visit, Mukhtar said China had agreed to speed up the delivery of 50 multi-role combat JF-17 “Thunder” aircraft, each worth up to $25 million.

The close ties between China and Pakistan reflect long-standing shared wariness of their common neighbor India and a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.

Western “People Power” Weapon Turning On Its Masters

US and European envoys trapped in Yemen

A mob of armed loyalists to Yemen’s president are outside the UAE embassy, where the diplomats were meeting

Image: Anti-government protesters reach up to catch a youth

Hani Mohammed  /  AP

Anti-government protesters reach up to catch a youth after throwing him into the air during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 21.
By AHMED AL-HAJ

SANAA, Yemen — A mob of armed loyalists of Ali Abdullah Saleh trapped the U.S., British, European and Gulf Arab ambassadors inside a diplomatic mission in the capital Sunday, protesting a deal for the embattled Yemeni president to step down after 32 years in power. Prospects that Saleh would sign the pact as promised were thrown into doubt.

Men wielding knives, daggers and swords were seen roaming the streets outside the United Arab Emirates Embassy, where the ambassadors were meeting ahead of the planned signing. “Everybody is worried. We can’t leave the embassy,” said a Saudi diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Saleh has backed away from signing the U.S.-backed deal at least twice before, adding to the opposition’s deep mistrust of a leader known for adept political maneuvering that has kept him in power for decades.

Yemen’s opposition coalition signed the deal Saturday, based on what it said were guarantees the president would sign the next day. But a ruling party statement early Sunday said Saleh objected to signing “behind closed doors” and wanted a public event attended by the opposition.

The deal, mediated by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, calls for Saleh to step down in 30 days and transfer power to his vice president. It also would give him immunity from prosecution.

Even if Saleh went ahead with the planned signing, it was far from certain whether that would satisfy the many different groups protesting his rule in the streets.

Hundreds of thousands poured into a central square Sunday that has become the center of opposition protests, waving Yemeni flags and shouting rejection of the deal. They held banners that read: “Now, now Ali, down with the president!” and “Go out Ali!”

The protesters say the deal falls short of their demands for Saleh’s immediate departure and the dismantling of his regime. They also reject any immunity for the Yemeni leader and say the opposition parties don’t speak for their demands.

On Sunday, women mingled with men, unlike in previous protests when female protesters stood on the edge of the square segregated from men, in keeping with Sharia law that mandates separation of the sexes. Children had their faces painted with Yemeni flags, while youths carried pictures of slain protesters. Young men and women held a 6-foot-long (2-meter) Yemeni flag.

“This initiative is only meant to save Ali not Yemen. We are going to continue our revolution until the end. Like Tunisia and Egypt, we will go against the opposition if they form a government while Saleh is still in power,” declared Tawakul Karman, a protest leader and senior member of the opposition Islamic fundamentalist Islah Party.

She said the protesters were escalating their push by calling a nationwide general strike.

On Saturday, Saleh condemned the proposed deal as “a coup” and warned the U.S. and Europe that his departure would open the door for al-Qaida to seize control of the fragile nation on the edge of Arabia.

In what appeared to be a state-orchestrated move to show a security void, pro-Saleh militiamen dressed in traditional Yemeni dress with daggers at their waists roamed the streets of the capital Sunday, especially outside embassies.

At one point, armed men attacked a convoy of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s chief mediator, secretary-general Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, to try to keep it from reaching the UAE Embassy, witnesses said. Pounding the car, they shouted against Gulf intervention in Yemeni affairs.

The convoy of the Chinese ambassador also came under attack by armed men before a police detail was deployed to clear the way and disperse the crowd.

Dozens of pro-Saleh loyalists also gathered in front of the Police Academy, where the ruling party general assembly had convened to discuss the deal. “We are coming under pressure, to reject the initiative,” said Mohammed Saad, a general assembly member.

Dozens of other supporters erected a big tent in one of Sanaa’s main streets, blocking traffic and raising banners that read: “Don’t go, don’t sign!”

Saleh has managed to cling to power despite near daily protests by tens of thousands of Yemenis fed up with corruption and poverty. Like other anti-government movements sweeping the Arab world, they took inspiration from the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The president has swung between offering concessions, taking them back and executing a violent crackdown that has killed more than 150 people, according to the opposition, which says it compiled the tally from lists of the dead at hospitals around the nation.

The bloodshed triggered a wave of defections by ruling party members, lawmakers, Cabinet ministers and senior diplomats. Saleh’s own tribe has joined those demanding his ouster. Several top army commanders, including a longtime confidant who heads a powerful armored division, joined the opposition and deployed their tanks in the streets of Sanaa to protect the protesters.

Saleh has been able to survive thanks to the loyalty of Yemen’s most highly trained and best-equipped military units, which are led by close family members.

That has raised concerns the political crisis could turn into an armed clash between the rival military forces if a deal is further delayed.

Seeking to win some support in the West for his continued rule, Saleh has warned several times that without him, al-Qaida would take control of the country.

The United States, which had supported Saleh with financial aid and military equipment to fight the country’s dangerous al-Qaida branch, has backed away from the embattled leader.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has an estimated 300 fighters in Yemen and has been behind several nearly successful attacks on U.S. targets, including one in which they got a would-be suicide bomber on board a Detroit-bound flight in December 2009. The explosive device, sewn into his underwear, failed to detonate properly.

The proposed deal — first put forward in March by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — gives a clear timetable for a transfer of power.

One week after Saleh signs, the opposition takes leadership of a national unity government that will include representatives of Saleh’s party. Parliament will then pass a law granting him legal immunity and a day later — 30 days after the deal is signed — he is to step down and transfer power to his deputy.

A month after that, presidential elections are to be held.

___

Associated Press Writer Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.