‘You failed’, says 16 year-old survivor to Norway gunman

‘You failed’, says 16 year-old survivor to Norway gunman

Agence France Presse

Oslo: Open letter from Ivar Benjamin Oesteboe, a 16-year-old survivor of Norway’s shooting rampage, who lost five friends in the attack, posted on Facebook and published today in the Dagbladet newspaper:

“Dear Anders Behring Breivik.

We are not responding to evil with evil as you wanted. We are fighting evil with good. And we are winning.

Maybe you think you’ve won. Maybe you think you’ve destroyed the Labour Party and people around the world who stand for a multicultural society by killing my friends and fellow party members.

Know that you failed.

You describe yourself as a hero, as a knight. You are no hero. But one thing is certain, you have created heroes. On Utoeya on that warm July day, you created some of the greatest heroes the world has seen, you united the people of the world.

On the day of the attacks, Oesteboe hid with others on the islands shore when he heard the first gunshots. They thought Behring Breivik, who was dressed in a police uniform, was there to help them.

You have united us … You have killed my friends, but you have not killed our cause, our opinion, our right to express ourselves. Muslim women have been hugged by Norwegian women in the street in sympathy … Your act has worked against its purpose. We have created a community.

You deserve to hear how your plan worked. A lot of people are angry, you are Norway’s most hated man. I am not mad. I am not afraid of you. You can’t get to us, we are bigger than you.”

Islamists force Egypt’s liberals to regroup

Islamists force Egypt’s liberals to regroup

ATUL ANEJA

Jolted by the heavy mobilisation by Islamists on Friday at Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other major cities, Egypt’s liberal pro-democracy activists are trying to re-group to prevent their country from evolving into a theocracy.

Late on Sunday, Amr Hamzawy, the spokesman for the Egypt Freedom Party, a Liberal formation, announced that a broad coalition of like-minded parties was in the works to counter the growing influence of Islamist and religious movements in the country. Mr. Hamzawy said Egyptians had to make a choice: Now that the former President, Hosni Mubarak, had fallen from power, they could either build a “civil state” or allow the emergence of a theocracy.

As Egypt seemingly stood at political and ideological cross-roads, Ayman Nour, president of the Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, and a possible candidate for the presidency, said Egyptians had to navigate a difficult path, avoiding both the pitfalls of an extended military rule as well as a vocal demand for a religious state.

Egypt’s liberal parties are planning their rearguard action on account of a recent show of strength by the Islamists.

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly supporters of the puritanical Salafists and the less radical Muslim Brotherhood, thronged Tahrir Square, the icon of Egyptian pro-democracy movement. Unlike the past when mobilisation had been on pluralistic and nationalistic lines, Friday’s rally appeared singularly partisan.

“Islamic law above the constitution,” blared many of the banners. Many chanted “Islamic Islamic”, seemingly prefacing another slogan: “Not Western or Eastern. No liberal or secular.” The Associated Press reported that during the course of the rally, Islamists unfurled the Egyptian flag but replaced the eagle at its centre with the Islamic slogan: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” The show of strength by Islamists in Cairo was repeated in other Egyptian cities. Thousands of Salafists and other Islamists congregated at a prominent square in Alexandria. Huge numbers also rallied in Suez thronging the city’s January 25 square.

Friday’s rallies showed that Egypt’s political and societal divisions were too deep to be papered over. These demonstrations were held despite a desperate appeal by the liberals that the protests should target the military for not fulfilling its promises and focus on common demands. In the meetings held before the rally, the non-religious parties had identified some of these demands — ending the use of military courts to try civilians, setting a minimum and maximum wage in the country and fixing the compensation amounts for families of those killed during the course of the uprising.

However, neither did the Islamists target the military nor did they stick to the common points. As it became clear during Friday prayers that the Islamists would call for the enactment of Sharia law and theocracy, the liberal activists withdrew from the rally. By evening on that day, a coalition of 33 parties announced their dissociation with Islamist groups that had now taken over Tahrir Square.

After Friday’s rally, the liberal camp is questioning the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was involved in mobilisation but later spoke out against partisan sloganeering, in advancing the pro-democracy movement. On Sunday, Ghad Party’s Mr. Nour praised the Muslim Brotherhood for adopting a “flexible” approach. Some analysts say the Muslim Brothers can still become the bridge between the liberals and the Salafists.

U.S. Commandos Raid Pakistan All the Time

It’s Not Just bin Laden; U.S. Commandos Raid Pakistan All the Time

In recent years, U.S. special operations forces have regularly and “surreptitiously” slipped into Pakistan, raiding suspected terrorist hideouts on Pakistani soil. The team that killed Osama bin Laden — those guys alone had conducted “ten to twelve” of those missions before they hit that infamous compound in Abbottabad.

In a remarkable story for this week’s New YorkerNicholas Schmidle puts together the most detailed picture so far of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. But the most combustible  component of the explosive article might be the disclosure that U.S. commandos sneak into Pakistan on the regular.

Over the last week, current and one-time top officials have debated the wisdom of the U.S. launching unilateral strikes in places like Pakistan. Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told a gathering of security professionals in Aspen that the attacks weren’t worth the local antipathy they generated. Retired Gen. Doug Lute, who oversees Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy at the White House, admitted that there was a major “humiliation factor.” But he told the conference that now was the time to “double down” on the raids, with al-Qaida in disarray. “We need to go for the knockout punch.”

Most people in the audience assumed Lute was talking about additional drone attacks. Perhaps Navy SEALs would deliver the hit, instead.

In many minds, that decisive blow landed last May, when Navy SEALs took out the world’s most wanted terrorist. Schmidle’s piece confirms much of what we already knew about the bin Laden raid: yes, they used a stealthy spy drone and a radar-evading Black Hawk and a particularly ferocious dog; yes, bin Laden was unarmed; yes, the SEALs found his porn.

But Schmidle reveals tons of new details, too. One SEAL bear-hugged bin Laden’s wives, to keep them from detonating suicide vests (an unnecessary precaution, it turns out). The commandos considered tunneling into the compound — until overhead imagery showed that the water table would prevent any digging. At least three of the SEALs were part of the operation that rescued Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates.

Since the bin Laden raid, the government of Pakistan claimed it was kicking dozens of U.S. military trainers out of the country. Islamabad made noises about shutting down a base from which U.S. drones took off. Generally, relations between the two countries have gone into the toilet.

But the drone attacks haven’t let up. Will the special operations raids continue, as well? Or was the bin Laden operation the final mission?

One side note: at last week’s Aspen Security Forum, Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olsonrefused again and again to answer questions about the bin Laden raid. Too much had been disclosed already. “For the special operations community, the 15 minutes of fame lasted about 14 minutes too long,” Olson said. But the admiral – who oversaw the mission, is responsible for all special operations forces, and almost certainly approved Schmidle’s access to his troops – did offer one thought: the raid was routine. A “dozenish” of these kill-or-capture missions were launched every night, mostly in Afghanistan. “Eleven went left,” Olson noted, “one went right.”

Interestingly, a senior Defense Department official talking to Schmidle used almost identical language. “Most of the missions take off and go left,” he said. “This one took off and went right.” Perhaps it’s not so bad if those 15 minutes last another second or two longer.

Photo: U.S. Army

Iran Kills, Arrests PJAK Terrorists for Gas Pipeline Sabotage

Iran kills, arrests people linked to gas pipeline blast

TEHRAN | Mon Aug 1, 2011

(Reuters) – Iranian security forces killed three people on Monday and arrested four others they suspected of being behind a pipeline blast which halted gas exports to Turkey last week, Iran’s student news agency ISNA reported.

Officials in Maku, a city in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, said the militants had crossed the border from Iraq to blow up the pipeline and that at least one was a Turkish citizen.

“‘Jamil’, a Turkish national and head of this terrorist group, was killed along with two others,” Maku governor, Hamid Ahmadian was quoted as saying.

Gas exports to Turkey were briefly halted due to a blast on Friday. The pipeline was swiftly repaired and gas flows were resumed on Saturday.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

But the official Iranian news agency said Iranian Kurdish rebel group PJAK was believed to have been responsible.

Sabotage is common on pipelines leading into Turkey from Iran and Iraq, where Kurdish separatist militants operate.

Iranian security forces have regularly fought rebels from PJAK which has bases in the border provinces of neighboring Iraq.

PJAK is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms in 1984 to fight for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey. Both Tehran and Washington have called PJAK a terrorist organization.

Iran is Turkey’s second-biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia, sending 10 billion cubic meters of gas each year. Turkey uses gas to fire half of its power plants.

(Writing by Ramin Mostafavi; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Serbia: America sides with Albanian terrorists

Serbia: America sides with Albanian terrorists

01.08.2011

Serbia: America sides with Albanian terrorists. 45013.jpegWhat is it with the USA and terrorists? They created the Taleban, they sided with the KLA, now they are siding with Al-Qaeda in Libya. Back to the KLA, Albanian thugs are starting a terrorist campaign occasioning serious human rights abuses in Serbia. The western media looks the other way, the USA aids and abets them. As usual.

The background:

News alert: The Kosovo “Prime Minister” (he may as well call himself King Zog, it has as much legitimacy), Hashim Thaçi, has apparently called up a general mobilization of the Albanian security forces in Kosovo.

 

Quote: U.S. Ambassador to Servia Mary Warlick: “The government of Kosovo has been independent since February 2008, and it makes sovereign decisions. From time to time, it consults with international partners, including the U.S., but it is a country that makes its own decisions,” Warlick said.

Kosovo is not a country. It is a province of Serbia, under international law.

My message to Mary Warlock: OK then let’s carve out a piece of the USA, let’s arm some locals and turn them into terrorists then let’s call them freedom fighters, let’s give them uniforms and weapons and get them to carry out terrorist attacks then let’s see if your armed forces react. If yes then they will get bombed for attacking civilians and then a country will recognise this new province as an independent country then someone such as your good self can step in a call it a country. Do you agree that is fair? Obviously you do because that is precisely how the United States of America has behaved with Serbia.

The Albanians have started up again in Kosovo and Metohija and according to reports from eye-witnesses given directly to Pravda.Ru, the American battalion will not allow the Serb forces to help their countrymen. Gordan Bogdanovic and Borko Stefanovic are being blocked from entering Kosovo and Metohija. Who are the Americans, if this is the case, to block Serbs from entering Serbia?

Now the Albanians have cut off the water supply to the Serbs in northern Kosovo and Metohija – a crime against humanity, and the KFOR soldiers do not allow the Serbs from the other side to get humanitarian aid through? Why is KFOR blockading the border crossing at Jarinje Brnjak delaying even food supplies coming from the north?

Serbian witnesses in northern Kosovo are warning of a humanitarian disaster, since the Albanians cut the water pumps and have not allowed medical supplies into hospitals. Babies in neo-natal units are at most risk along with cancer patients. Dr. Milan Jakovljevic, director of the local health center in Kosovska Mitrovica has stated that: “the hospital is threatening lack of oxygen bottles, medicines, gasoline, food and water, which will further jeopardize the treatment of the most vulnerable patients with cancer, apoplexy, and put the babies in danger, in the neonatology unit”.

Where is this story in the international media? In Pravda.Ru.

So why did KFOR not only do nothing about the Albanian terrorist action, but actively enforce a blockade? After what NATO has done in Libya, precision bombing homes to destroy families with a callous and evil disregard for human life, the answer is very clear.

Kill a child today and he won’t have a future. NATO = child murderers.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Pravda.Ru

US Scuttling Negotiations With Taliban Over Super-Bases Since 2007

Ex-PM Says Taliban Offer Talks For Pullout Date 

Gareth Porter*

KABUL, Jul 28 (IPS) – The Taliban leadership is ready to negotiate peace with the United States right now if Washington indicates its willingness to provide a timetable for complete withdrawal, according to a former Afghan prime minister who set up a secret meeting between a senior Taliban official and a U.S. general two years ago.

They also have no problem with meeting the oft-repeated U.S. demand that the Taliban cut ties completely with Al-Qaeda.

Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, who was acting prime minister of Afghanistan in 1995-96, told IPS in an interview that a group of Taliban officials conveyed the organisation’s position on starting peace negotiations to him in a meeting in Kabul a few days ago.

“They said once the Americans say ‘we are ready to withdraw’, they will sit with them,” said Ahmadzai.

The former prime minister said Taliban officials made it clear that they were not insisting on any specific date for final withdrawal. “The timetable is up to the Americans,” he said.

Ahmadzai contradicted a favourite theme of media coverage of the issue of peace negotiations on the war – that Mullah Mohammed Omar, head of the Taliban leadership council, has not been on board with contacts by Taliban officials with the administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.

He confirmed that Mullah Baradar, then second in command to Mullah Omar, had indeed had high-level contacts with officials in the Karzai government in 2009, as claimed by Karzai aides, before being detained by Pakistani intelligence in early 2010.

And contrary to speculation that Baradar’s relationship with Mullah Omar had been terminated either by those contacts or by his detention, Ahmadzai said, “Baradar is still the top man,” and “Mullah Omar’s position on him hasn’t changed.”

Ahmadzai, who studied engineering at Colorado State University before joining the U.S.-sponsored mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, maintains close ties with Quetta Shura officials but has also enjoyed personal contacts with the U.S. military. He brokered a meeting between a senior Taliban leader and Brig. Gen. Edward M. Reeder, then commander of the Combined Special Forces Special Operations Army Component Command in Kabul in summer 2009.

The former prime minister’s account of that meeting in the interview with IPS further documents the Taliban leadership’s interest in entering into peace negotiations with the United States prior to the Barack Obama administration’s decision to escalate U.S. military involvement sharply in 2009.

A senior Taliban leader told Reeder at the meeting that the insurgents had no problem with severing their ties to Al-Qaeda, but could not agree to U.S. demands for access to military bases.

Ahmadzai said he negotiated the meeting with the Taliban leadership in the spring of 2009, at the request of Reeder, who had just arrived in Kabul a few weeks earlier. The process took four months, he recalled, because the Taliban leadership had so many questions that had to be addressed.

The main question, of course, was what arrangements would be made for the Taliban representative’s safety. In the end, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command facilitated the Taliban representative’s travel into Kabul, Ahmadzai recalled.

The Taliban official who met with Reeder and Ahmadzai in Kabul was a member of the Taliban Quetta Shura (leadership council) who called himself Mullah Min Mohammed for security reasons, according to Ahmadzai.

The Quetta Shura representative complained to Reeder about the failure of the United States to follow up on a previous contact with a senior Taliban representative, according to Ahmadzai’s account.

“Mullah Mohammed” recalled to Reeder that the Taliban had met two years earlier in southern Kandahar province with an unnamed U.S. official who had made two demands as the price for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan: an end to the Taliban’s relations with Al-Qaeda and U.S. long-term access to three airbases in the country.

“We agreed to one but not to the other,” the senior Taliban official was quoted by Ahmadzai as saying.

The Taliban leader explained that it had no trouble with the demand for cutting ties with Al-Qaeda, but that it would not agree to the U.S. retaining any military bases in Afghanistan – “not one metre”, according to Ahmadzai’s account.

The Quetta Shura representative then reproached the U.S. for having failed to make any response to the Taliban offer to cut the organisation’s ties with Al-Qaeda.

“You haven’t responded to us,” he is said to have told Reeder. “You never told us yes or no.”

The Taliban complaint suggested that the Quetta Shura leadership had been prepared to move into more substantive talks if the U.S. had indicated its interest in doing so.

Reeder, who has been commander of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg since July 2010, did not respond to an e-mail from IPS to the command’s Public Affairs Office for comment on Ahmadzai’s account of the meeting.

After the announcement of the major increase in troop deployment in Afghanistan, the Obama administration adopted a public posture that suggested the Taliban leadership had no reason to negotiate unless put under severe military pressure.

In light of the contacts between senior Taliban leaders and U.S. officials in 2007 and 2009, the Taliban clearly concluded that the United States would not negotiate with the Taliban except on the basis of accepting U.S. permanent military presence in Afghanistan.

After the 2009 meeting between Reeder and the Taliban leader, a number of reports indicated the Taliban leadership was not interested in negotiations with Washington.

Despite the apparent policy shift against seeking peace talks, the Taliban continued to signal to Washington that it was willing to exclude any presence for Al-Qaeda or other groups that might target the United States from Afghan territory.

Mullah Omar suggested that willingness in an unusual statement on the occasion of the Islamic holiday Eid in September 2009.

Then in early December, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the official title adopted by the Quetta Shura leadership for its political-military organisation – said in a statement posted on its website and circulated to Western news agencies that it was prepared to offer “legal guarantees” against any aggressive actions against other countries from its soil as part of a settlement with the United States.

What annoyed Obama about Mullah Omar

What annoyed Obama about Mullah Omar

By M K Bhadrakumar

What really prompted US president Barack Obama to change his mind and to allow himself at the last minute to be persuaded by his military commanders to opt for the ’surge’ in Afghanistan in end-2009 is crucial to understanding the current status of the war and its likely future trajectory. Among Obama’s inner circle, Vice-president Joe Biden was reportedly pitching against the ’surge’ at that time. The former Afghan PM Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai has now revealed what prompted the US ’surge’. ASA is a credible source, having been close to Burhanuddin Rabbani, Rasul Sayyaf in the Mujahideen government (where he served as PM along with Ahmed Shah Massoud as Defence Minister before fleeing for Turkey where he lived in exile during the Taliban regime.)

That ASA was the intermediary between the Americans and the Taliban in 2009 shows the wheels-within-wheels, as it were. (ASA did his graduate studies in the US; he lived in exile in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.) According to ASA, the main sticking point between the US and Taliban in the 2009 talks was that Mullah Omar was stubbornly opposed to the US request to allow permanent military bases in Afghanistan in a post-settlement era. Taliban was willing to compromise on other issues but when it came to the US bases, Omar was tough as nail. He apparently took the stance that “not one metre” of Afghan soil could come under foreign occupation. Interestingly, Omar was willing to negotiate the date of US withdrawal from Afghanistan and was prepared to be flexible on the actual date of withdrawal, but the US troops simply had to vacate at some point.

What emerges is that the Pentagon top brass decided to bleed the Taliban for its ‘obduracy’ apropos the US military bases, based on a strategy to weaken them and somehow compel them to compromise on the question of the permanent US military bases. Thus was born the ’surge’ strategy — make one big push to degrade the Taliban militarily before negotiating. So, looking back, when the Anglo-American thesis of the ‘good Taliban-bad-Taliban’ was shoved down the throat of countries like India at the the London conference in January 2010, Richard Holbrooke and Hillary Clinton indeed had a wholesome game plan. Alas, Indian diplomacy has been naive and continued to be enthusiastic about the ’surge’.

It stands to reason that there was some major intelligence failure and Delhi had no clue to what was really going on. Maybe it isn’t late even today for someone to talk with interlocutors like ASA and try to piece it all together. Unless we know reliably well what transpired between the US and the Taliban, how would we comprehend  what is going to unfold in the coming period? Unsurprisingly, the US continues to keep us ‘briefed’ selectively on a need-to-know basis. Special Representative Marc Grossman visited Delhi just once. He is setting out again on a regional tour that will take him to Pakistan and the Central Asian region (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan). India remains a bystander. All this happened primarily because our diplomats chose to work as the ‘B Team’ of the American embassy in Kabul through the past decade since the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001 and we didn’t diversify our contacts with the Afghan political elites and other regional powers.