Below is the full report with links to PDF files of each section.
Report of the Select Committee on
the Events Surrounding the 2012
Terrorist Attack in Benghazi
Below is the full report with links to PDF files of each section.
Up to 45,000 Madrasas in Pakistan continue to train, fund and send terrorists to fight against Afghanistan, the The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said on Sunday.
According to the MoD, terrorists currently fighting the Afghan security forces are fostered in the Pakistani Madrasas. The terrorists are educated and equipped and then dispatched to Afghanistan to attack the Afghan government forces.
Afghan officials have consistently stated that there is a link between certain Madrasas in Pakistan and the hardline militant groups sent to fight Afghanistan and its international partners. The majority of the terrorists captured by Afghan forces in battles have confessed that they were trained and equipped in Pakistani Madrasas and then sent in Afghanistan to fight.
“There are around 45,000 Madrasas in Pakistan along the border regions and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw. If each of the involved Madrasas recruited only one person, it amounted to around 45,000 recruits a month,” a defense ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said.
Political commentators have cautiously reacted to the MoD claims, saying not all Madrasas should be blamed for involvement in terrorist activities and militancy.
“It is difficult to confirm that all 45,000 Madrasas are involved in training terrorists and extremists, however, some of these Madrasas are involved in such activities,” political analyst Rahmatullah Bezhanpor said.
The MOD statement comes at a time when critics have frequently blamed the Afghan government for not defining a coherent war strategy and ensuring better leadership on the battlefields.
“There is no need for large number of soldiers in a war. The war effort rather requires strong leadership and management to boost morale among existing troops,” political analyst Haroon Mir said.
The Pakistani Madrasas remain a potent threat to Afghanistan’s security.
A few days ago, I was watching an interview of Hina Rabbani Khar, the former Foreign Minister of Pakistan with the leading Pakistani journalist Saleem Safi. She was plainly and curiously asked a question about the negative attitude of Afghans towards Pakistan and why they hate the country so much (after all the good things that Pakistan has done for Afghans like hosting over 3 million refugees for nearly 3 decades)? Miss. Khar gave a somewhat broken and unsatisfactory answer. It made me wonder if the Pakistani establishment is really searching for an answer to that question, which would be very astonishing. But let’s suppose that’s the case. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain and tell the reasons why Pakistan is the least favorite and most unpopular country in Afghanistan?
Ever since the agreement of Chabahar dam, Pakistan has spared no time in sullying, bashing and scapegoating Afghan refugees for all the bad things that’s going on in their country. At the same time, they have also hold it as a prime example of Pakistan’s goodwill towards Afghanistan. It seems like that’s the only card left with them to use it as leverage against Afghanistan. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that how grateful are Afghans for all those refugees that Pakistan has hosted when the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan decades ago. Our leaders including common people have repeated this gratification whenever they had the opportunity.
I was myself one of the millions refugees growing in Pakistan’s Peshawar city. My family migrated to Pakistan soon after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. We will forever remain grateful for Pakistan’s generosity towards Afghan refugees. That’s a fact. But its also a fact that Pakistan has received millions of dollars over the years as a aid and bounty because of these refugees, and it’s also a fact that the Pakistani establishment has constantly used and abused these poor refuges over the years. They have been perpetual victims (both physical and psychological) of Pakistan’s Police abuse.
They blame them for terrorism, drug trafficking and all other sorts of crimes when the reality is that those refugees have nothing to do with it. They have always remained peaceful and respected the domestic necessities of the host country. Afghan refugees have contributed a significant amount to the growth of Pakistan’s economy, especially the provincial ones. Most of these refugees are hard-working people who are out all day to earn a living for their family and loved ones. They also live in the most deprived areas of Pakistani cities. I have seen all this on my own eyes when I was growing up as a refugee child in Pakistan, and those stories are true to this day. But despite all that, we have overwhelmingly appreciated the generosity of Pakistan that they have extended to Afghan refuges, most of which came from the common people.
The real reason why Pakistan is the least favorite country of every Afghan lays in the fact that Pakistan has been trying to subjugate and suppress Afghanistan through its proxies for decades. It’s summarized in the following three main reasons:
First: When the Soviets left, Pakistan started arming and supporting different parties and factions against each other to burn Kabul – which resulted in civil war.
Second: When the brutal Taliban regime came into being, Pakistan supported, influenced and indoctrinated them for their own benefits and goals of using Afghanistan as their 5th province and strategic depth.
Third: Pakistan’s support for terrorists and terrorism (which includes Taliban as well) after 9/11 against Afghanistan, which is going on actively to this day. Pakistan is condemning terrorism on the one hand and supporting it on the other hand. That’s been their policy since the arrival of US-lead allied forces to Afghanistan after 9/11. We all know the locations and sanctuaries of Taliban; they are not just in the tribal areas of Pakistan, but also in the main cities of that country.
During all those three different periods in history, Pakistan’s goal has been the same and that’s to keep Afghanistan debilitated, divided and needy to their resources so they can control the country against the supposed influence and involvement of their arch-rival, India. The best way to do that (according to Pakistan) is to support proxy terrorist forces in the region. That policy has nonetheless resulted many unintended blowbacks – their support for terrorism and extremism has had an adverse impact on their own country as well. Stories of intolerance and violence are a common theme in Pakistan nowadays.
I hope Pakistan by now has realized the symptoms of Afghans’ agitation and frustration with their country’s establishment. What bothers Afghans the most is Pakistan’s hypocrisy and duplicity in war against terror, not to mention the fatwas of jihad by their leaders in Afghanistan. The point is that Taliban kill us and Pakistan supports them. That’s the reason we detest Pakistan. And the fact is that Pakistan’s support for terrorist groups outweighs all the good the do. So for as long as they continue with that policy, Afghans will harbor the feelings of distaste for them.
(By Pakistan, I mean Pakistan’s civil and military establishment)
View expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s editorial policy.
Samiullah, now 16 years old and a resident of Seyah Gerd District of Parwan province, was supposed to kill the Khost Governor in a suicide attack, but was arrested by security forces alive.
Sami used to work in one of the hotels of Khost city, where he was taken from by a Haqqani Network recruiter to Miramsha, Pakistan.
“I was raped four nights in women’s clothes and was beaten too,” Samiullah said. “A friend of mine named Muhammad was also raped.”
Afghanistan’s president has ordered a “thorough investigation” into institutionalised sexual abuse of children by police, after AFP revealed the Taliban are using child sex slaves to launch deadly insider attacks.
There has been international condemnation of paedophilic “bacha bazi” — literally “boy play” — which AFP found has been exploited by the Taliban to mount a series of Trojan Horse attacks over two years that have killed hundreds of policemen in the remote southern province of Uruzgan.
“The president has ordered a thorough investigation (in Uruzgan) and immediate action based on findings of the investigation,” the presidential palace said of Ashraf Ghani in a statement.
“Anyone, regardless of rank within the forces, found guilty will be prosecuted and punished in accordance and in full compliance of the Afghan laws and our international obligations,” the English language statement said.
The ancient custom of bacha bazi, one of the country’s worst human rights violations, sees young boys — sometimes dressed as women — recruited to police outposts for sexual companionship and to bear arms.
It is deeply entrenched in Uruzgan, where police commanders, judges, government officials and survivors of such attacks told AFP that the Taliban are recruiting bacha bazi victims to attack their abusers.
The claims — strongly denied by the Taliban — expose child abuse by both parties in Afghanistan’s worsening conflict.
The presidential statement said there was “no place” in the Afghan establishment for abusers, adding it will do “whatever it takes” to punish them.
– ‘Horrific’ –
The announcement follows a flurry of international reaction to AFP’s report.
“We strongly condemn any abuses of the horrific nature described in the article,” the US embassy in Kabul said.
“We urge the Afghan government… to protect and support victims and their families, while also strongly encouraging justice and accountability under Afghan law for offenders.”
In a letter last week to US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Congressman Duncan Hunter demanded a proactive American role to end bacha bazi in Afghan forces.
“I remain concerned… that the Taliban is increasing its use of children to access security positions and mount insider attacks against… Afghan police,” Hunter said in the letter seen by AFP.
“It is my belief that we can begin taking immediate steps to stop child rape from occurring in the presence of US forces and reduce any risk of coinciding insider attacks. This includes imposing a zero-tolerance policy.”
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said bacha bazi is of “high concern” for the international community.
“UNAMA continues to receive anecdotal reports of bachi bazi, including within Afghan security forces, and continues its engagement with government to ensure the criminalisation and prevention of all forms of exploitation and abuse of children,” Mark Bowden, the UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan, told AFP.
The Afghan government announcement, which did not specify a timeframe for the investigation, comes ahead of two crucial donor conferences on Afghanistan in Warsaw and Brussels this year.
The war-battered country remains heavily dependent on international financial and military assistance, which helps sustain security forces — including police.
– ‘Morally reprehensible’ –
Any perception of apathy about bacha bazi risks jeopardising that assistance, said Michael Kugelman, an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
“No donor in good conscience can justify funding police forces that engage in such reprehensible practices,” Kugelman told AFP.
“There’s already much talk of donor fatigue, but as donors hear more about bacha bazi, there’s bound to be donor fear as well — fear of bankrolling institutions that do morally reprehensible things.”
The Afghan interior ministry has said it is committed to institutional reforms, while acknowledging that bacha bazi within police ranks is a “serious crime”.
The government last year launched a probe into sexual abuse and the illegal recruitment of child conscripts around Afghanistan.
But the country has yet to pass legislation criminalising bacha bazi and no initiatives have been publicly announced to rescue any children enslaved by police.
“The absence of any initiatives to release and recover children from their abusers is a serious failure on the part of Afghan authorities,” Charu Lata Hogg, an associate fellow at London-based Chatham House think tank, told AFP, adding that donors must pressure Kabul for change.
“Abuse of children cannot be passed off as cultural practice.”
An Afghan security checkpoint on the outskirts of Tarin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province, where boys recruited to police outposts for sexual companionship are being used by the Taliban to attack their abusers ©Rateb Noori (AFP/File)
Afghanistan’s president has ordered a “thorough investigation” into institutionalised sexual abuse of children by police ©Rateb Noori (AFP/File)
“The change in the post of the Prime Minister (Davutoglu was replaced by Binali Yildirim) – this was a golden opportunity to launch new initiatives in the foreign policy,” Yakish, who was Turkey’s foreign minister in 2002-03, said.
Davutoglu resigned in early May after two years in office due to a sharp deterioration of relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He became the PM after serving as the foreign minister and “it was difficult for (Davutoglu) to change the foreign policies because he was the one who initiated them,” Yakish said.
“Whereas, when there’s a new prime minister, it’s a golden opportunity for Turkey to adjust [its] foreign policy to the realities in the field. And that’s what Turkey is doing now. Both with Russia and with Israel,” he said.
The diplomat backed the decision by the Turkish leadership to finally apologize for the Russian warplane downed by Turkey’s Air Force in Syria last November.
“Better late than never,” he said, adding: “I wish this could’ve been done at the very beginning of the incident and then we wouldn’t have gone through these difficulties.”
Yakish said that Ankara’s initiative was “going to be responded to positively by Russia and we will go out slowly from this crisis where we found ourselves for several months.”
Mending ties will be in the interest of both Ankara and Moscow, he stressed, expressing hope that the countries will be able to “compartmentalize” their relations like it was before, “that’s to say if something goes wrong in one area it shouldn’t have a negative effect on another field.”
On November 24, 2015, a Russian Su-24 bomber taking part in an anti-terrorist mission in Syria was brought down by the Turkish Air Force.
The plane crashed in rebel-held territory in Syria near the Turkish border. The pilots ejected, but one – Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov – was killed by machine gun fire from militants on the ground.
Ankara claimed that it attacked the Russian bomber for violating its airspace, but was never able to provide proof that any incursion took place.
Moscow vigorously denied the Turkish claims and reacted to the incident by imposing a wave of painful sanctions against Turkey, which affected trade, tourism, joint energy projects and other areas.
From the start, the Kremlin made it clear that the restoration of normal relations with Turkey would be impossible without Ankara apologizing, paying compensation to the pilot’s family and prosecuting those responsible for his death.
Turkey’s president has apologized for the downing of a Russian military jet at the Syrian border, the Kremlin said Monday, an unexpected move that could open the way for easing a bitter strain in Russia-Turkey ties.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin comes seven months after the incident, which has triggered a slew of Russian sanctions that have dealt a severe blow to the Turkish economy. The formal apology, which the Kremlin had requested, came hours after Turkey and Israel announced details of an agreement to repair their strained relations.
The Kremlin quoted the Turkish leader as offering his condolences to the killed pilot’s family and saying: “I’m sorry.”
“I share their pain with all my heart,” Erdogan said in the letter, according to the Kremlin. “We are ready to take any incentive to help ease the pain and the burden of inflicted damage.”
Erdogan’s office was keen to describe the letter as an expression of regret, not an apology.
“In the letter, the president stated that he would like to inform the family of the deceased Russian pilot that I share their pain and to offer my condolences to them. May they excuse us,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
In a speech delivered during a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner in Ankara, Erdogan said he had written to Putin expressing his “regrets” over the incident and reminding the Russian leader of the “potential for regional cooperation.”
“I believe that we will leave behind this current situation which is to the detriment of both countries and rapidly normalize our relations,” Erdogan said.
Putin had denounced the downing of the Russian warplane at the Syrian border on Nov. 24 as a “treacherous stab in the back.” Russia rejected the Turkish claim that the plane had violated its airspace, and responded by deploying long-range air defense missiles to its base in Syria, warning that they would destroy any target posing a threat to Russian aircraft.
The plane’s downing came amid a rift between Moscow and Ankara over Syria, where they backed the opposing sides in the conflict.
Moscow moved swiftly to ban the sales of package tours to Turkey, which had depended heavily on the Russian tourist flow; banned most of Turkey’s food exports; and introduced restrictions against Turkish construction companies, which had won a sizable niche of the Russian market.
Erdogan, who often has been compared to Putin because of both leaders’ intolerance to dissent and biting criticism of the West, had apparently miscalculated the plane incident’s fallout for the Turkish economy.
The letter comes at a moment when Ankara’s relations with the EU and the U.S. have also been strained over the migrant crisis, human rights issues and other disputes.
Turkey’s new prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said recently that Turkey wants to increase the number of its friends and decrease the number of its enemies, and the letter came on the same day that Turkey and Israel released details of a deal to reappoint ambassadors and end six years of acrimony over Israel’s 2010 deadly raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship.
Lifting the Russian economic penalties was essential for Erdogan, who has found himself under pressure both at home and abroad. Since the incident, Erdogan and his ministers have continuously spoken in favor of normalizing ties with Moscow, but Putin made it clear that he expects a formal apology and compensation.
Erdogan has now offered both, according to his letter, excerpts of which were released by the Kremlin.
Erdogan’s office also said that the Turkish leader called on Putin to restore traditional friendly relations between Turkey and Russia and work together to address regional crises and jointly combat terrorism.
The Kremlin said that the letter added that the Turkish authorities were conducting a probe against a Turkish ultranationalist militant, Alparslan Celik, who allegedly shot and killed the plane’s pilot as he was descending by parachute. The plane’s co-pilot survived and was rescued, but a Russian marine was killed by militants during the rescue mission near the border.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is set to visit a ministerial meeting of a grouping of the Black Sea nations hosted by Russia in Sochi, a trip that offers a chance to negotiate a rapprochement.
“We are pleased to announce that Turkey and Russia have agreed to take necessary steps without delay to improve bilateral relations,” Erdogan spokesman Kalin said.
Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.
Jordanian intelligence operatives allegedly stole the weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia for Syrian rebels’ use and sold to arms merchants on the black market, the New York Times reported.
According to a joint investigation by the New York Times and Al Jazeera, an arms theft scheme revealed that Jordanian intelligence service (the General Intelligence Directorate/GID) officers used to smuggle weapons provided by the US and Saudi Arabia for Syrian rebels trained on Jordanian soil.
Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, according to the report. The FBI investigation into the shooting included weapon numbers tracking, which led to the revelation of the whole scheme.
The weapons used in the shooting had originally arrived in Jordan for the Syrian rebel training program, the paper reported, citing American and Jordanian officials.
CIA had set up the training facility on the outskirts of the capital, Amman, after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq to help rebuild the shattered country’s postwar security forces and to train Palestinian Authority police officers.
Theft of the weapons, which ended months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, has led to a flood of new weapons available on the arms black market, the New York Times said.
Jordanian officers who were part of the plan “reaped a windfall” from sale of weapons, using the money to buy iPhones, SUVs and other luxury items, according to the paper, which cited Jordanian officials.