Who are the experts advising our generals? We know what they’ll say.

Who are the experts advising our generals? We know what they’ll say.

Summary:  The experts at its major think-tanks and NGO’s act as the sheepdogs guiding the American public.  In general they are reliable servants of our ruling elites and protectors of the status quo, their opinions (like Opera) represent money in motion.  But some causes are too extreme, too bizarre, for real experts to advocate – like the Afghanistan War.  Fortunately DoD can call upon its intellectual shock troops, for whom every war is essential and deserving of expansion.

There are 3 great oddities about the Afghanistan War.  These are the key peanuts hidden from the American public as General McChrystal conducts yet another public relations exercise to build support for an ever-larger war in Afghanistan.

  1. Nobody has presented evidence that activities or camps in Afghanistan provided any essential (or even substantial) support for 9-11.
  2. Nobody has cited work by relevant area experts supporting the war in terms of American national interests.  I do not mean COIN or geopolitical gurus, but rather people who know the languages and history of the Afghanistan peoples.
  3. Nobody has drawn an explicit chain of reasoning between a likely outcome of the Afghanistan War and any future attacks on the US.

Contents

  1. About the team
  2. About their handlers
  3. Surprise results:  they want more troops
  4. Update:  analysis by Pat Lang
  5. Afterword and for more information

(1)  About the team

So Who Were the Advisers for McChrystal’s 60-Day Afghanistan Review?“, Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent, 30 July 2009 — Excerpt (red emphasis added):

Biddle, who held a conference call this afternoon to discuss his views now that he’s back from the review — more on that in the next post — clarifies that it wasn’t so much that they advised the review. A group of about a dozen civilian experts, mostly from Washington think tanks, werethe review. When Defense Secretary Bob Gates asked McChrystal to send him an assessment of the war’s fortunes and the resources necessary to turn it around, the civilian experts were flown to Baghdad to conduct the “overall assessment,” Biddle said. Officers from the USFOR-A headed “subtopic” groups of “particular interest to Gen. McChrystal like civilian-casualty minimization, strategic communication and so forth.” But the band of (mostly) Beltway think-tankers were the review.

Notice how very very few of these experts are primarily Afghanistan experts. I’m not familiar with everyone on this list, particularly the Europeans, but this is a group of security experts, many of them quite excellent ones. No one here, to the best of my knowledge, primarily studies Afghanistan. If counterinsurgency holds local knowledge as a core principle, it’s worth asking why that perspective is underrepresented on the review.

Who are these experts playing such a major role in steering America’s war policy?  Here is Ackerman’s list of the review team.  The links go to biographies.

  1. Stephen Biddle, Council on Foreign Relations (Author of the classic Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle)
  2. Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  3. Catherine Dale, Congressional Research Service
  4. Etienne de Durand, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (no bio found)
  5. Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger, counterinsurgency expert, and blogger at the Center for a New American Security
  6. Fred Kagan, American Enterprise Institute
  7. Kimberly Kagan, Institute for the Study of War
  8. Whitney Kassel, Office of the Secretary of Defense (no bio found, possible author of these and these articles)
  9. Terry Kelly, senior researcher at the RAND Corporation
  10. Luis Peral,  European Union’s Institute for Strategic Studies
  11. Lt. Col. Aaron Prupas, USAF officer at Centcom (USAF Academy, Class of 1987; no bio found)
  12. Jeremy Shapiro, civil-military relations analyst at the Brookings Institution

Some of these are unknown to me, but collectively this group appears unlikely to question the basics of the war, or suggest that US forces be withdrawn.  In fact, I suspect it’s carefully drawn so that there is no chance anyone on it will mention that the Emperor is butt-ass naked.

(2)  About their handlers

Additional information from “Winning hearts and minds: all of McChrystal’s advisors“, Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy, 31 July 2009 :

The director/coordinator of the team was Col. Chris Kolenda. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has described Kolenda as “something of an amateur ethnologist” and a “key” Pentagon strategist for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ignatius says the young lieutenant colonel gave an “unforgettable briefing” on the local tribes in his corner of northeastern Afghanistan back in 2008. Kolenda was assisted by U.S. Army Col. Danial Pick.

(3)  Surprise results:  the war is important and they want more money and more troops!

These deserve attention, to prepare yourself for the resulting expenditures of blood and money.  As always, there is lots of thumb-sucking and hedging before they get to the bottom line.

Note how the Domino theory has become a key reason for the Af-Pak war.  The good myths never die.  The American public never learns.

Press Briefing with Anthony Cordesman to discuss Afghanistan following hsi trip advising Gereral McChrystal as a member of his strategic assessment group, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 29 July 2009 — PDF of the transcript.  Excerpt:

We, the United States, are going to have to provide the resources if we want to win. Most of the incremental resources will have to come from us. This means very substantial budget increases, it means more brigade combat troops and it means financing both the civilian effort needed in the field and a near doubling of Afghan national security forces. Those forces not only have to be doubled to provide a minimum level of coverage; we have to face the fact we do not need civil police in a country which has no courts in something like 95 percent of the villages and areas inside the country, has something approaching a court system in really a handful of districts and provinces and where the police cannot survive unless they have paramilitary capabilities and outside support.

It means really coming to grips with the dishonesty, power brokering and corruption of the Afghan central government and, where necessary, bypassing it – working directly with the provinces, working with districts and working with local governments, putting constant pressure on the central government to be honest, effective and develop real-world capabilities, none of which are present in any significant way in most of the areas where this war is being fought.

Conference call with Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations,Federal News Service, 31 July 2009 (audio is here) - Excerpt:

If we are going to send multiple brigades of American infantry to deny al Qaeda a haven, in any place that it decides to turn into a haven, we’re going to run out of brigades, a long time before al Qaeda runs out of havens.

We’re going to have to find a different way of solving that problem, at least for the next one to follow Afghanistan, after Afghanistan per se. But while Afghanistan is not unique as a potential haven for striking us, it is unique as a potential haven for destabilizing Pakistan.

… And one way in which we could do considerable harm is by allowing Afghanistan to collapse into a condition that would create a major haven for making the situation in Pakistan much, much worse. That, I think, is the primary case if one is going to make the case for waging war in Afghanistan.

Other examples of info operations at work, with us as the target.  There will be many more of these during the next few weeks.

  1. A look at U.S. strategy in Afghanistan with Andrew Exum“, transcript of the Charlie Rose show, PBS, 27 July 2009 — See this analysis of Exum’s thinking by Joshua Foust, posted at Registan.
  2. In Afghanistan, U.S. May Shift Strategy“, Washington Post, 31 July 2009 — “Request for Big Boost in Afghan Troops Could Also Require More Americans”

(4)  Update:  analysis by Pat Lang

Excerpt from ”Ruminations on the Afghan ‘money pit,’ etc.“, Pat Lang (Colonel, Special Forces, retired), Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2 August 2009:

Yesterday, I watched file footage of General McChrystal at his confirmation hearing. In it he clearly said that he intended to wage a “comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign.” (paraphrasing). … Implicit in his stated intention is the task of creating a new and grand Afghanistan that will be a stout hearted ally of the United States in our quest to make the world an unsafe place for takfiri jihadi folk.

As I have said before, this is an enormous task, an enormously expensive task that will take a long time. The American people will grow weary of the whole thing before transformation of Afghanistan is achieved. They will demand an end in one way or another and we will then leave.

Netanyahu Continues Israeli Media and Psychological Warfare against Lebanon

Netanyahu Continues Israeli Media and Psychological Warfare against Lebanon

Hanan Awarekeh

Israel seems to be determined to continue its psychological and media warfare against Lebanon, three years on its defeat in the Second Lebanon War. Israeli bullying also seems to be a part of turning the International concern away from building its illegal settlements in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank in a defiant move to the international community in general and the United States in particular.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an assertive message to Beirut, saying, “Let it be clear that the Lebanese government will be held responsible for any attack on Israel coming from its territory.”

The Israeli prime minister spoke before Gush Katif evacuees in Hevel Lachish in southern occupied territories.

Netanyahu addressed the shifting politics in Lebanon, and said, “If Hezbollah entered the government as an official body, let it be clear that the Lebanese government will be held responsible for any attack on Israel coming from its territory. The moment they are part of the government, the sovereign Lebanese government is responsible. I hope we will not need such responses.”

On Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon told Yedioth Ahronoth that should any attempt be made on an Israeli official the Lebanese government would be held accountable. “Hezbollah is not on the moon, its part of the Lebanese government…. if so much as one hair on the head of any Israeli overseas – official or tourist – is harmed, we will hold Hezbollah responsible and the response would be harsh.”

Ayalon’s statements were made in the context of a report in Egyptian media Saturday night that Egyptian security forces had uncovered a plot to murder Israeli Ambassador Shalom Cohen, although Hezbollah was not mentioned in the report.

An Egyptian judicial source meanwhile denied in statements to AFP that the suspects had mentioned any plans to murder Cohen during their interrogation.

Israeli Northern Command chief Brigadier-General Alon Friedman said in an interview to the British Times last week that the quiet on the northern border “could erupt any minute”.

He added that the stability between Lebanon and the Zionist entity was “in danger”. According to the report, Hezbollah has accumulated over 40,000 rockets and has been training its troops to launch rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv as well as airplanes.

In 1982, Israel claimed that the Palestinian resistance tried to assassinate its Ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov, and took it as a pretext to invade Lebanon and occupy its south for the next 18 years. Revelations and analyses have confirmed that Israel was behind the ‘failed’ assassination bid to justify its deadly invasion of Lebanon to eliminate the Palestinian resistance.

Netanyahu also addressed the matter of the Gaza evacuees and their location in eastern Lachish. “We are committed to completing our work, and part of it is ensuring that the territories across the border are not used as launch bases against us. Every attack will yield a response,” he said.

Last week, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell has asked Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak for a “deposit,” an advance commitment of a one-year freeze on construction in occupied West Bank settlements.

He argued that the Arab states will not make gestures toward normalization with Israel without a guarantee of an end to building in the settlements. Mitchell said an Israeli agreement to temporarily freeze construction would facilitate “concessions” from the Arab states.

An Israeli senior source noted that while Netanyahu and Barak did not reject the request, they disagree with the Americans over some of the details. Mitchell asked for a construction freeze of at least a year, but Israel has agreed to suspend building on the settlements for six months, at most.

The Americans have not yet said clearly what will happen at the end of the freeze period. Israel wants a U.S. commitment to reach new understandings with Tel Aviv over future developments that would be similar to those between former president George W. Bush and former prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Israel and the U.S. also disagree over the future of 2,500 illegal housing units already under construction in the settlements. Israel wants to complete all of these units, while Mitchell seeks to reduce the number to be completed as much as possible.

Moreover, French Foreign Ministry questioned last month Israeli Ambassador Daniel Shek, and demanded immediate end to Israeli settlement building ‘including in east Jerusalem’. Shek also told that ‘Israel should open checkpoints regularly to allow reconstruction of Gaza’.

Nabucco is “Sucker-Bait” for Iran

[Can Iran Conform to US Demands?]

Persian Journal - Iran Latest News

Has Iran lost Nabucco?

Aug 9, 2009
Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD International Law – Persian Journal

Iranian.ws

The Nabucco pipeline is a planned natural gas pipeline from Caspian and the Middle East region Turkey and finally to Austria.  The aim of this pipeline is diversifying the current natural gas suppliers and delivery routes for Europe. The project is backed by several European states and the United States.
Nabucco Pipeline (wikipedia)

The main source of Nabucco’s supply will be the second stage of the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan, coming on-stream in 2013. Turkmenistan would provide for

Nabucco 10 bcm of gas annually. The natural gas could be transported through Iran. In the long term, Kazakhstan may become a supplier providing natural gas from the Northern Caspian reserves through planned Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline. Egypt could provide 3�5 bcm of natural gas through the Arab Gas Pipeline. Also Iraqi gas would be imported via the Arab Gas Pipeline from the Ekas field. Iran has also proposed to supply gas to Nabucco pipeline and this was backed by Turkey; however, due the political conditions this is rejected by the EU and the United States. (Condensed from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabucco_pipeline )

The agreement for construction of Nabucco gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea and the Middle East to Western Europe was concluded in July 2009 in Turkey.  It will be 3300 Kilometers long and it will replace part of the Russian supplies to the EU countries. It is supposed to be ready in 2014.  However, it is not very clear which countries will provide the needed gas for the Nabucco.

Iran’s participation is questionable because of its ongoing conflict with Washington. United States Special Envoy Richard Morningstar said yesterday that:

“I don’t think there would be an agreement at this point among the Nabucco consortium for Iranian participation at this time…Our European allies, I think, are in sync with this position…This would be the absolute worst time to encourage Iran to participate in a project in Nabucco when we’ve received absolutely nothing in return”.

Meanwhile, Nabucco Managing Director Reinhard Mitschek appears to be leaving the door open to Iran’s participation. Here’s what he said:

Persian Journal - Iran Latest News

“Nabucco has never, ever excluded any source. Nabucco is not excluding any source. Bottom line, we have to buy the gas. The national gas companies will evaluate the political aspect, the commercial aspect, the technical aspect and then they will decide to buy gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Iran and Russia. For all these sources, we are open to transport the gas”.

It will probably be years before we know whether Nabucco will buy Russian or Iranian gas – but all of this highlights the long-term energy competition looming between Russia and Iran and its implications for America’s effort to secure Russian cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue.(http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/07/nabucco_highlig/ )

The EU‘s long-delayed Nabucco pipeline has received an important boost with the signing of an inter-governmental transit agreement between Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. With Russia’s rival South Stream project having already secured the support of Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece, the Balkans is gradually becoming a tale of two pipelines. The outcome of these respective projects, therefore, will have far-reaching implications not only for Europe’s long-term energy security, but for the strategic balance of the Balkans and the pressures facing the EU‘s enlargement agenda.(http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/22/gas-energy-europe-serbia/print )
In 2006, Gazprom of Russia proposed an alternative project, in competition with the Nabucco Pipeline, that would involve constructing a second section of the Blue Stream pipeline beneath the Black Sea to Turkey, and extending this up through Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia to western Hungary. In 2007, the South Stream project through Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary to Austria, or alternatively through Slovenia to Italy, was proposed. It is seen as a rival to the Nabucco pipeline. Ukraine has proposed the White Stream pipeline, connecting Georgia to the Ukrainian gas transport network.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabucco_pipeline )

Iran and Nabucco

While holding the second largest natural gas reserves in the world, Iran is not a major exporter of the commodity. The EU seeks a lowering of its dependence on Russian energy, and Iran potentially could benefit by joining projects like the Nabucco gas pipeline.

Iran’s isolation and its poor relations with the international community are impediments that stand in the way. Iran’s most important single source of natural gas is the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf, which it holds in common with Qatar. The fact that a tiny emirate across the Persian Gulf has been exploiting the gas from the Qatari side of the South Pars to the tune of billions of dollars, while Iranians helplessly witness the depletion of the reserves has caused the Iranian government a major embarrassment in the eyes of the people (Qatar enjoys the highest per capita income in the region).

Iranian politicians have claimed many times that Iran’s international isolation and the economic sanctions�including those imposed by the UN Security Council�have not hurt the country seriously, and they insist on continuing the nuclear program at all costs. In reality, however, Iran’s oil and gas industry (the country’s main source of income) have suffered and will suffer further if no compromise is made.

The projected construction of oil and gas pipelines over the next 25 to 50 years all bypass Iranian territory and Iran will lose the transit fees, jobs, investment and prestige that accompany such projects.

The United States supports Nabucco as a means of avoiding Russian monopoly in the European gas-supply chain, and has backed the participation of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and especially Turkmenistan in the project.

Brussels and Washington are also supporting the construction of a Trans-Caspian, natural-gas pipeline to run from either Kazakhstan, or more likely from Turkmenistan, along the seabed to Azerbaijan, where the gas would be pumped into pipelines leading to Nabucco. But the Russians and Iran are opposing it under the pretext of the protection of the Caspian Sea environment.

Although, in June 3 2008, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service that while the United States backs a larger effort, including the possible export of Iraqi gas through Nabucco, it does not back the inclusion of Iran in the pipeline plans, it seems that the US and the EU are ready to accept Iran in the Nubucco, if Iran enters into some kind of compromise with the West on its nuclear question.  This may be a major source to pressure the new president of Iran, who has been criticized during the recent elections for his economic policies.  (http://www.nabucco-pipeline.com/ )

Persian Journal - Iran Latest News

Conclusions:

Nabucco has become close to reality by the signing of the agreement in Turkey in July 2009. The issue of suppliers is open to discussion yet and in fact until the pipeline is ready (it will take a few years), the issue may face a different situation. Russian participation is not welcomed because it beats the purpose of construction of Nabucco(which is mainly to avoid the monopoly of the Russians). Iran is able and willing to participate.  The EU and Turkey hope it becomes possible.  However the participation of Iran has more political side than economic side (this can be compared to the Baku Jayhan Oil Pipeline which avoided Iranian territory due to political reasons).  Iran has not yet lost the opportunity, but if it does not come to a kind of compromise on its nuclear program with the West, it will definitely lose the opportunity.

Bahman Aghai Diba, is a Washington based Iran analyst and a former Iranian diplomat, currently a senior consultant to the World Resources Company

© Iranian.ws

Dual Standards in the Wahabbi Homeland

Saudi Arabia’s Double Standard

Monday August 10, 2009

Last month in Riyadh, local acoustic guitarists gathered for a concert at a private compound, as musicians are wont to do in Saudi Arabia (where public concerts are like comet sightings).

Then members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia’s unbeloved “Mutawas” (the word means “pious men,” through it’s piety by the crack of whips) showed up and canceled the show. “A few friends would later report that they were chased by a few mutawwas,” writes Abdullah Nidal Mohiuddin, a financial engineer and photographer who was at the show, “though I can’t comment on the veracity of the claims. Things were bad but they could’ve been a lot worse. As far as we know there have been no detentions.”

Ahmed Al-Omran, who writes the excellent Saudi Jeans blog (“Simply put, because I’m Saudi and I like to wear jeans”), picked up on one of the telling double-standards of Saudi society when he came across this video shot at a Saudi bank–a full-metal party, complete with band and bouncing booties.

“The short clip,” Ahmed writes, “has caused an uproar on some blogs and forums, between those decrying the deterioration of morals and those who deemed it insensitive to thousands of people who lost their money in the stock market crash. Reasonable people may ask: so the bank was having a party, what’s the big deal?”

Referring back to the incident Abdullah Nidal described, Ahmed goes on:

A party like this shows that we have two different sets of rules in this country, one for the poor and commoners, and one for the rich and powerful. “It is only the poor and commoners who get watched, monitored and prosecuted by the Hay’a, while the others have their own places that the Hay’a don’t dare to even get near them,” he said.

Let me be clear, I have nothing against such parties. I am not social by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoy a good party, and as we can see in the video apparently the guys were having loads of fun. Good for them, but the question is: why they can shake their bums freely in a fancy hotel like it’s 1999, but those who want to enjoy a concert of acoustic rock get raided by the Hay’a? It is this kind of hypocrisy and double standards that I can’t stand.

One’s tempted to note that Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue should not be confused with the Taliban‘s own “committee” against the propagation of vice, whose repressive edicts and decrees are the stuff of Ripley’s (or, for that matter, with Iran’s Basij vigilantes). But the distinctions would be futile.

Beyond Afghanistan: Dr. Martin Luthor King, “Time to Break Silence”

more about “A Time to Break Silence: By Rev. Mart…“, posted with vodpod

more about “A Time to Break Silence: By Rev. Mart…“, posted with vodpod

[Dr. King's speech about breaking the silence about his country's crimes in Vietnam would be just as timely if given today.  Afghanistan is our testimony to the world and to ourselves about the great crimes that drive our nation to expand its latest war, far beyond anything sold to the people, thrusting our criminal assault deep into the loins of Central Asia.  Rape on an international scale.  After all, isn't that what we are doing to both friend and foe in the Middle East and beyond, to brutally take all that juicy gas and oil?  Open your eyes to the sordid details of our leaders' choices and see the blood they have shed staining our own hands , then open your mouths to share the shocking truth you have learned!]

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967
Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for “the brotherhood of man.” This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men — for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the “Vietcong” or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators
And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not “ready” for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators — our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change — especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy — and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us — not their fellow Vietnamese –the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go — primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one “Vietcong”-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them — mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force — the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on — save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front — that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the north” as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them — the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

“Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War
Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important
These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world — a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah,
Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ’tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.

Last year, the government claimed to have killed Mangal Bagh–still alive

“Last year, the government claimed to have killed or seriously injured Mangal Bagh – the leader of Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI)—described as a Robin Hood-like character who has gathered several thousand disaffected people around him. Mangal Bagh is still alive and dwelling in the Tirah Valley, where he controls most parts of the agency. Mangal Bagh does not allow his organization to be aligned with the Baitullah Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).”

Local Militants Struggle with Taliban Government for Control of Pakistan’s Khyber Agency

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 24
August 6, 2009 04:10 PM Age: 4 days
Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Military/Security, South Asia
Members of Lashkar-e-Islam

Pakistani security forces have not yet established their writ in parts of the volatile Khyber tribal agency. Despite a drawn out military operation dubbed Sirat-e-Mustaqeem (Straight Path), the wary Islamist militants are still at large. Some call it a friendly game of hide-and-seek, others call it a staged drama, yet over 600 people have been killed in the fighting. Several thousand more have been displaced due to the exchange of fire between the Taliban and Pakistani security forces.

Last year, the government claimed to have killed or seriously injured Mangal Bagh – the leader of Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI)—described as a Robin Hood-like character who has gathered several thousand disaffected people around him. Mangal Bagh is still alive and dwelling in the Tirah Valley, where he controls most parts of the agency. Mangal Bagh does not allow his organization to be aligned with the Baitullah Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but has imposed the same strict Shari’a rules in those parts of the Khyber agency under his control. Anybody who is not wearing a head covering has to pay a fine of 100 rupees. He has also imposed a jazia (also called a jizya, or protection tax) for the non-Muslim communities living in Khyber. Each non-Muslim individual has to pay him 1000 rupees annually, with exceptions for women, children and the handicapped (Daily Mashriq [Peshawar], June 2).

In the government’s fresh offensive against Mangal Bagh’s LeI, Pakistani gunship helicopters pounded their positions in the Tirah Valley (35 km southwest of Landi Kotal, the main town in the Khyber region) and claimed to have killed over 20 Taliban as well as destroyed four LeI “hideouts.” These included a mosque near Bara and a camp allegedly used to train suicide bombers (Daily Times [Lahore], July 28; Dawn [Karachi], July 27). However, very few people believe the latter claim to be true, as Lashkar-e-Islam does not support suicide bombings. The LeI is considered to be a pro-government militant organization that asks its fighters not to attack military convoys and government installations.

Control of the Khyber Agency is important for both the Taliban and the government. The main land route to Afghanistan and the Central Asian states is via the Khyber Pass, now a vital supply route to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The TTP have sought control of this route to gain political and economic leverage. Several times, TTP leaders have tried to align their movement with Mangal Bagh’s LeI, but each time Mangal Bagh has refused to approve a merger with the TTP. Despite their internal rivalries and fierce clashes, the three main militant groups in the Khyber Agency, Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansar-ul-Islam and Amr bil Ma’ruf wa Nahi Anil Munkar (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), have all kept their distance from the mainstream TTP. Local people say the Pakistani establishment has been guiding, supporting and fueling differences among the Khyber’s militants to use them as a buffer against TTP operations targeting the Khyber Pass supply route.

Since late 2005, Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansar-ul-Islam have used pirate FM channels to wage a fierce war of words, but the government has remained a silent spectator unless the broadcasts have resulted in a full-fledged battle on the ground. The LeI preached a Sunni Wahhabi version of Islam, while Ansar-ul-Islam propagated Sufi Islam. The Amr bil Maruf wa Nahi Anil Munkar group has maintained its own identity, though it has the same ideology as Bagh’s LeI and the TTP. Its founder and leader, Haji Namdar, was assassinated last year in Bara by a young man allegedly sent by Baitullah Mahsud’s group to eliminate him (The Nation [Islamabad], August 14, 2008). Baitullah’s deputy, Hakimullah Mahsud, based in the neighboring Kurram tribal agency, took responsibility for Namdar’s assassination. The main reason for their rivalry was Haji Namdar’s refusal to allow the TTP access to the strategically important Khyber region.

Despite the efforts of the so-called pro-government and anti-Baitullah militant groups, the TTP has made inroads and extended influence in the Khyber agency through an Afghan national, Commander Rahmanullah, who took the position in late 2008 after his predecessor Mohammad Yahya Hijrat (a.k.a. Kamran Mustafa Hijrat) was arrested in Peshawar by Pakistani security forces (The News, December 10, 2008). Yahya Hijrat, also an Afghan national, was a deputy to Hakimullah Mahsud and was assigned responsibility for attacking trucks loaded with supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Last December, his men attacked and burnt to ashes more than 300 vehicles destined for NATO troops in Afghanistan while they were parked in a terminal in Peshawar (see Terrorism Focus, January 21). The attacks continue; on July 17 an oil tanker was destroyed in the Jamrud district of the Khyber Pass, with the resulting fire destroying 20 shops and killing a fruit vendor (Daily Times, July 18). A second tanker was damaged by a bomb the same day near Landi Kotal (BBC, July 17).

Oil and Terrorism

Oil and Terrorism


Bloody Nigerian Taliban War Greased by Oil

Walid Phares August 10th 2009
Terrorism - Nigerian Taliban Bodies

The renewal of violence in the northern provinces of Nigeria brings this oil producing country to the brink of “Talibanization,” threatening not only the precarious ethnic and religious makeup of the most populous African state but also the entire region, from Chad to Senegal.

The fight between the now-called “Nigerian Taliban” and the governmental forces took place recently within a country whose borders are 300 miles from where President Barack Obama stood inside the Ghana Parliament to address Africa’s “problems.” Unfortunately,when the president recently spoke, he didn’t mention words such as Taliban, jihadists, Shariah, salafists, or any term indicating that Nigeria and 10 other African countries are suffering from a real invasion, fueled by a totalitarian ideology. That was a miss that came back to haunt the international public opinion as dramatic pictures of the bloodshed were disseminated by the news agencies.

In short, Nigeria is at war with the jihadists, in as much as Somalia, Algeria, Morocco, Mali, and Chad are. But the Nigerian brand of terrorists is peculiar. It indicates not only that we weren’t giving enough attention to the expansion of the Wahhabi ideology in sub-Sahara Africa, but it also projects where the next waves of “African Talibans” will hit inside one of the most explosive countries on the continent, if not across many borders.

The radical Islamists movements in Nigeria have local issues, but as with all jihadists worldwide, the local is subservient to the higher “cause,” which is to resurrect the caliphate from China to the Atlantic Ocean. According the region’s experts, the spread of salafism in Nigeria is the result of the irresponsible financial irrigation provided by the oil rich regimes of the Arabian Peninsula. Wahhabism has been the most aggressive incubator of madrassas and extreme-Shariah militants throughout the Sahel for decades.

Nigeria, as a half-Muslim country, did not escape the spread. The population of the oil producing country is about 140 million, the single largest national population on the continent. The Hausa form the majority of the mostly Muslim north; the Yuroba are the largest to the southwest and the Christian Ibo are concentrated in the southeast province of Biafra.

In 1968, a genocidal civil war killed more than a million Ibo who were claiming self-determination, a la Kosovo, but without obtaining the same support from the international community. After years of military regime, civilian rule came back in 1998; but clashes between Christians and Muslims still left 9,000 casualties, including about 700 killed in the central part of the country last November. However, the most recent incidents were initiated by jihadi elements, as Christians and mainstream Muslims have been sharing power. In 2007 a Muslim president, Umar Mussa Yarado, succeeded a Christan predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2002, a jihadi group emerged from the vast network of Wahhabi indoctrinated militants branding the name of Boku Haraam, which in local language means “Western education is forbidden.” The rapidly rising militia promotes Wahhabi teachings and emulates the Taliban methods by waging terror in the northern provinces, twelve of which already apply some form of Shariah laws.

The Boku Haraam, like the now-defunct Somali Islamic Mahakem and their successors, Shabab al Jihad, wants to establish a total Shariah state throughout Nigeria, regardless of the fact that the southern half is Christian and Animist. Hence, these self-declared Taliban of Nigeria have two strategic tasks: First, wage a “jihad” inside the Muslim communities of the north, mostly the Hausa tribes, to defeat the seculars; and second, wage an “Islamist jihad” against the rest of the non-Muslim ethnicities, principally the Yoruba and the Ibo, to establish a greater Emirate of Nigeria.

Their chief, Mohammed Yussuf, who was killed in the recent incidents, claimed the “jihad” was about local demands against corruption and for the strict implementation of Shariah law. But pro-government Muslim groups, such as Nasr el Islam, dismissed his allegations declaring him an “extremist,” similar to the scenario in Somalia and Pakistan.

This week’s clashes took place in several locations but mostly in Maydo Ghori city, not far from the Chad borders. Yarado responded to the Boku Haraam actions with a strong military campaign leaving hundreds of casualties among the country’s “Taliban.” More than 100 children were freed from the latter’s compounds, perhaps avoiding a Beslan like horror. So far, the government won this round but in my assessment it is not over.

Grounded in Wahhabi indoctrination throughout the north, and fed by oil-related funding from the Gulf, Boku Haraam will come back against with a new leader, and possibly with a future name. What is behind these Nigerian Taliban are a lethal ideology and oil interests. These jihadists want to seize Nigeria’s precious commodity–oil–for the caliphate. If you scratch deeper, you may find the hallmarks of some players inside OPEC, who want to make sure no one can escape its domination of the game.

Meanwhile, the jihadists’ propaganda war is on. Posting on Al-Jazeera, the “Islamic Emirate of Egypt” said, “Our brothers, the Mujahidin, are striking back at Western evangelization in Nigeria.” Abu Ayman al Hadrami of Saudi Arabia, said the Nigerian government is “an agent of the West, but Islam will win in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Iraq, and the entire world.”.

Cutting Edge analyst Walid Phares is the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad. He is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He teaches Global Strategies at National Defense University.

Pakistan Taliban Commander, Presumed Dead, Says Alive

[Have the militants tired of the ISI's games?  If Mehsud resurfaces, will he spill the beans on the entire operation?]

Pakistan Taliban Commander, Presumed Dead, Says Alive

By REUTERS
Published: August 10, 2009

Filed at 9:24 a.m. ET

Reuters

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A close aide to Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, believed by Pakistani officials to have been killed in a shootout with a rival, said on Monday both he and Mehsud were alive.

The comments by Hakimullah Mehsud compounded confusion that

has surrounded Mehsud’s reported death in a U.S. missile attack last week.

“Both I and our amir (leader) Baitullah Mehsud are alive,” Hakimullah Mehsud told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Pakistani and U.S. officials say they are quite certain that Baitullah, al Qaeda cohort, was killed in the missile strike delivered by a drone on his father-in-law’s house in the South Waziristan tribal region last Wednesday.

Baitullah’s second wife, whom he married late last year, perished in the attack.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday that Hakimullah had been involved in a shootout with a rival for the Taliban leadership, Wali-ur-Rehman, and that one of them was reportedly killed. Pakistani intelligence officials and media reported that Hakimullah was most probably dead.

Wali-ur-Rehman, speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location to a Reuters reporter on Sunday, also denied that any tribal council meeting, or shura, had taken place to decide on a successor to Baitullah.

Hakimullah said there had been no shura as Baitullah was alive.

“I have proven the government’s claim of my death wrong and I challenge the government to prove the death of our amir. Baitullah Mehsud is alive, safe and sound,” he said.

Asked whether he could provide evidence to prove Baitullah was alive, Hakimulllah said: “Let the interior minister prove he is dead.”

Independent verification of the claims and counter-claims is extremely difficult as the Mehsud lands where the U.S. missile struck the house of Baitullah’s father-in-law are remote and inaccessible.

(Reporting by Alamgir Bitani, writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Jason Subler and Ron Popeski)

Zionist Leaders Claim Protests to Their Outrageous Sell-outs are “Un-American”

FORUM-Hoyer-Mug-10 FORUM-Pelosi-Mug-10 ‘Un-American’ attacks can’t derail health care debate

By Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer

“It is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted “Just say no!” drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.

Let the facts be heard

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”

Balochistan: Cruces of History- Part II

[An interesting analysis, and fairly realistic from an Indian perspective (India does no wrong, sowing terrorism is something practiced by lesser states, Balochistan is a playground for other nations, etc.), that spells-out the strategic importance of the Baloch part of Pakistan.  If Indian and Pakistani analysts would only replace the vinegar in their assessments of the situation on the ground with honey, then perhaps each side could see the other's logic and understand that the games must end, so that the business of living might go on and even get easier.

Everyday, in every country, leaders make the wrong decisions for their people, all based on ideas of power and profit, rather than upon meeting the peoples' needs.  The pipelines in "pipelinestan" would all be becoming a reality today, were it not for the great games being played to control the pipelines, and therefore control which nation's people get the energy they need.]

Balochistan: Cruces of History- Part II

Posted by: Maloy Krishna Dhar on Monday, August 10th, 2009

I had written a 16 pages long dissertation on Baloch problem with the banner: Balochistan: Cruces of History. Readers may like to read the same in this website. That piece was well appreciated by most intellectuals, my Baloch friends and even a few sensible Pakistani literati.

The recent attempt of Pakistan to internationalize its domestic failure all over the country, especially in FATA, NWFP and Balochistan has come as a shocker to many international Pakistani watchers. While the FATA and NWFP were vastly affected by the Taliban movement, growing influence of Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar al Zill etc Islamist militant outfits, the Baloch territory, barring certain pockets near Quetta remained free from Islamist, jihadist and Salafist aggrandizement. This goes to prove that in spite of efforts of Pakistan to turn Balochistan to Punjabistan by implanting huge Punjabi population, the legendary Baloch Sardars of Bugti and Marri and Mengel tribes and other aboriginal Baloch people remained steadfastly secular. Even the Hindu populations of Hingol (Hinglaz famous) have never felt persecuted. Minorities in other parts of Pakistan are under threat from Sunni aggrandizement. The recent incident of killing of several Christians in Punjab is a pointer. The Sindhi Hindus are treated as slaves by the Sindhi land and warlords. Contrary to this the Baloch people has maintained appreciable secular cool.

Baloch rebellion against Pakistan is as old as the contrived birth of the artificial homeland of Indian Muslims. These points have been explained in Part I of the series on Balochistan. Musharraf did the most disservice by killing Nawab Akbar Bugti on 26th August 2006 at a place near Kohlu. Though initially it was given out that his grandson Brahamdagh and Aali also died in the hands of Pakistan army, he survived and is now piloting the Baloch resistance from outside Pakistan; possibly from Afghan soil.

BLA FlagBLA Flag

balochistan-war-ymbol
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BLA War Symbol                                                                 (READ HERE)

Israel PM Warns Against Including Hizbullah in Lebanon Government

Israel PM Warns Against Including Hizbullah in Lebanon Government

Israel warned on Monday that the Lebanese government as a whole would be blamed for any attack from its territory if Hizbullah is part of the new government.

“If Hizbullah joins the government it will be clear that the Lebanese government will be held responsible for any attack coming from its territory against Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“The moment they are part of the government, the sovereign Lebanese government is responsible. I hope we will not need such responses,” he told journalists during a visit to southern Israel.

There has been an escalating war of words in recent days between Israel and Hizbullah, which fought a 34-day war in 2006 that killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in Lebanon and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Lebanese prime-minister designate Saad Hariri has yet to form a government two months after a parliamentary election won by the Western-backed coalition that defeated a Hizbullah-led alliance.(AFP)

Guessing games over Taliban leader By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Guessing games over Taliban leader

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD – The ongoing confusion over whether Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in a US Predator drone attack in the South Waziristan tribal area last Wednesday bears similarity to previous incidents in which al-Qaeda and the Taliban faked a leader’s death to buy themselves some time.

Baitullah, who has a US$5 million bounty on his head in connection with numerous acts of terror, has variously been described as “dead and buried”, “gravely ill” and “alive and well” following the drone attack on August 5 in which his second wife and more than a dozen militants have been confirmed as dead.

Hakimullah Mehsud, seen as a potential successor to Baitullah, has been reported as killed in a shootout with another leader. Again, this has not been conclusively proved.

In 2005, the Taliban commander of South Waziristan, Abdullah Mehsud, unintentionally committed a blunder which sparked a major military operation that posed a severe threat to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who were at that time in a phase of regrouping

Abdullah Mehsud abducted two Chinese engineers involved in the construction of the Gomal Zam Dam in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and in the subsequent rescue attempt one of the hostages was killed.

Abdullah Mehsud’s al-Qaeda patrons, as well as some top Pakistani militants, were alarmed by the incident. Given Pakistan’s friendship with China, they realized Islamabad would have to send the army into the tribal areas.

They quickly agreed that Abdullah Mehsud, who was injured when the security forces tried to rescue the engineers, would be declared dead. His comrades issued statements to the media that he had been buried in Shawal in North Waziristan.

He laid low for several months and the army did not move into the tribal areas. Abdullah Mehsud then continued his activities until he committed suicide last year after being surrounding by the security forces in Balochistan province.

At present, the army is poised to move into Baitullah Mehsud’s South Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan following a 10-week campaign to pacify the Swat area in NWFP. Apart from his other activities to destabilize the Pakistani state, Baitullah is the main contributor of fighters to southwestern Afghanistan in support of the Taliban-led insurgency.

Baitullah’s TTP, which since the end of December 2007 has pulled together a number of Taliban groups, has an estimated 5,000 fighters. It is a formidable force, but it could never take on the military head-on.

In one of the world’s most difficult terrains at the crossroads of South Waziristan and North Waziristan, where al-Qaeda and Pakistani militant leaders live, the militants keep the army engaged with hit-and-run tactics in an elaborate game of hide-and-seek.

At the same time, they strike at Pakistan’s soft underbelly in the cities. This has resulted in numerous peace deals in the tribal areas, which are usually broken when the United States puts pressure on Islamabad to crack down on militants. This cycle went on for several years.

Then came the US’s unmanned drones, capable of firing lethal missiles at pin-point targets from high in the sky. They have killed scores of militants, including several high-ranking al-Qaeda members.

They forced Baitullah and other leaders to keep a much lower profile. At the same time, the authorities tried, with some success, to turn lower-ranking Taliban commanders against Baitullah, who, suffering from diabetes, some months ago tried to strike a deal with the security forces.

He wrote letters to army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, but his messenger, Shah Abdul Aziz, a former member of parliament, was arrested and the offers denied. Close comrades such as Ilyas Kashmiri and Abdul Jabbar, veteran jihadis from the Kashmir struggle, could have told Baitullah as much.

The establishment regularly brands Baitullah as a spy for the US and for Britain. This is par for the course for enemies of the state. But Baitullah was also called an agent for India’s Research and Analysis Wing, its leading intelligence outfit. The message being sent was that Baitullah would be given zero tolerance and his termination had been ordered.

In light of this, and with the drones buzzing around and the army almost on the march against him, Baitullah might have decided to simply take the heat out of the situation by disappearing, much as Abdullah Mehsud did.

Al-Qaeda used this tactic with Osama bin Laden when the US invested heavily all around Pakistan and Afghanistan to catch him after he fled Afghanistan in late 2001. By 2005, several special forces operations were close on his trail. At this point, he disappeared off the map, only leaving in his wake speculation about whether he was dead or alive.

Another example involves Rashid Rauf, a dual citizen of Britain and Pakistan who was arrested in Pakistan in connection with the trans-Atlantic aircraft plot in August 2006. He escaped and went to North Waziristan. London

was incensed and turned the screws on Islamabad, which in turn rounded up scores of Rauf’s family and jihadi colleagues. In November 2008, news was leaked that he had been killed in a drone attack and the pressure was off. Asia Times Online is aware that Rauf is very much alive and kicking in North Waziristan.

Baitullah, too, could be alive and kicking, and he may have decided to lie low for a while. If this is true – there is no evidence at this stage that this is the case – he has taken something of a gamble.

He is a highly charismatic and ruthless man who through his drive and commitment has made the TTP a major thorn in the side of the Pakistani state while also lending invaluable support to the Taliban’s struggle in Afghanistan.

This vital network could begin to unravel, and in the Tank and Dera Ismail Khan areas the rival Bhitini tribe is already targeting his Mehsud tribesmen, killing more than a dozen in the past few days.

On the other hand, his absence will take the heat out of the crackdown on militancy – the Interior Ministry has already declared that this struggle is “over”. The military will also have good reason to further delay the ground offensive in South Waziristan that it is reluctant to undertake; it would be a very tough campaign and domestically highly unpopular.

Baitullah could simply be dead, although the same results would likely flow from his demise.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

Mehsud’s role in Benazir murder dubious

Mehsud’s role in Benazir murder dubious

LAHORE: Despite been tagged by the Musharraf regime as the mastermind of Benazir Bhutto’s December 2007 gruesome assassination, the involvement of Baitullah Mehsud in the murder of the former premier remains dubious keeping in view the TTP chief’s own denials as well as Benazir’s declaration shortly before her death that people like Baitullah were mere pawns and what worried her was the threat from within the Musharraf regime.

While Benazir had named in her posthumous book Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI) chief Qari Saifullah Akhtar as a key suspect in the Oct 18, 2007 bid to kill her in Karachi, and she had desired in her Oct 20, 2007 email to Wolf Blitzer of the CNN that President Gen Pervez Musharraf should be named as her assassin in the event of her murder. Instead, the Musharraf regime was quick to name Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the mastermind of the Dec 27, 2007 suicide attack in Rawalpindi that killed Ms Bhutto.

Addressing his first press conference after Benazir’s murder, Asif Zardari had made public her email to Wolf Blitzer which mentioned the name of her would-be assassin. “The said email should be treated as Bhutto’s dying declaration. She talks about her murderers from her grave and it is up to the world to listen to the echoes,” Zardari had stated. Benazir Bhutto wrote to Wolf Blitzer in her email: “If it is God’s will, nothing will happen to me. But if anything happened to me, I would hold Gen Pervez Musharraf responsible.” Blitzer received the email on Oct 26, 2007 from Mark Siegel, a friend of Benazir. That was eight days after she had narrowly escaped a twin suicide attempt on her life in Karachi. Benazir wrote to Wolf: “I have been made to feel insecure by Musharrafís minions.”

Benazir had pointed out in her mail that she had not received the requested improvements to her security. Benazir added she had also not been provided with signal jamming devices to prevent remote-controlled bombs or with police mobile outriders to cover her vehicle. According to Mark Siegel, Benazir had asked for permission to bring in trained security personnel from abroad. She repeatedly tried to get visas for his security staff, but the Musharraf regime had denied them the same. A US-based security agency Blackwater and a London-based firm Armor Group, which guards UK diplomats in the Middle East, were not allowed to protect Benazir, despite the fact that she had urged Musharraf to improve her security after the Karachi suicide bomb attack, besides requesting American and British diplomats to pressurise Musharraf into providing adequate security to her. But Musharraf never listened.

Baitullah was first accused of masterminding the Bhutto murder by Interior Ministry spokes man Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema and afterward by Gen Musharraf. In his December 28, 2007 press conference, a day after the assassination, Cheema had claimed the suicide bomber, who blew himself up near Benazir’s bullet proof vehicle, was an al-Qaeda operative hailing from the Baitullah group. In his televised address five days after the murder on Jan 2, 2007, Musharraf had asked Scotland Yard to help the Pakistani investigators in identifying the culprits. Yet, in the mind of the general, it was obviously clear who is to be blamed.

At his Dec 28, 2007 news conference, Brig (retd) Cheema said: “We just have an intelligence intercept that was recorded this morning in which Baitullah Mehsud congratulated his people for carrying out the cowardly act (of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination). He was quick to distribute among the media persons the English and Urdu transcriptions of recorded conversation which, he claimed, had taken place between two persons — Baitullah and Maulvi Sahib — and that both had been congratulating each other over the success of the operation to eliminate Benazir Bhutto.

But despite repeated demands by the newsmen attending the press conference, neither the original tape was provided nor was it proven that the recorded voice was that of Baitullah. On December 29, 2007, a day after Brig (retd) Cheema’s press conference, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told newsmen after the Oct 28, 2007 suicide attack in Karachi, Benazir had received a message from Baitullah: “Identify your enemy, I am not your foe, I have nothing to do with you or against you or with the assassination attempt on you on Oct 18 in Karachi.” The top PPP leadership trusted the message, Babar had said, adding the message was conveyed by Baitullah Mehsud through two different reliable emissaries.

A day after the assassination attempt during her welcome procession in Karachi, Bhutto had stated during a press conference in Karachi that people like Baitullah Mehsud were mere pawns and what worried her was the threat from within the Musharraf regime. On his part, Baitullah Mehsud, too, was quick to issue denials. His spokesman, Maulvi Omar, said on December 29, 2007, a day after the interior ministry spokesman’s press conference: “Why on earth would we kill Benazir Bhutto? We had no enmity with her and more importantly, she had done no wrong to us… By blaming us for the murder of Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf is attempting to portray the tribal areas as centres of terrorists so as to earn dollars from his Western masters. We are equally grieved by the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto and extend our sympathies to her family as well as the PPP workers…”

Maulvi Omar said Commander Baitullah Mehsud, after learning about the allegations against him and sensing gravity of those charges, had convened an emergency meeting of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Shura (council) at a secret location somewhere between South and North Waziristan. “Addressing the participants, he made it clear that harming a woman was against the teachings of Islam and Shariah as well as the centuries-old traditions of the Pakhtun tribal people. Commander Baitullah accused the Pakistani intelligence agencies for the murder of Benazir Bhutto and said the modus operandi and precision of the Rawalpindi strike clearly indicated that the grisly murder, carried out by using a skilled sniper first, to be followed by a suicide bomber, was committed by some highly trained professional hands.”

Reacting to Baitullah’s statement, the interior ministry spokesman reiterated on Dec 30, 2007 that the TTP chief had threatened to kill Benazir upon her return in October 2007, and was also behind the first attempt on her life in Karachi the same month which killed over 140 and wounded 500. Brig (retd) Cheema quoted Baitullah as having threatened on Oct 6, 2007 to launch suicide attacks against Benazir. “My men will welcome Bhutto upon her return. We don’t accept Musharraf and Benazir because they only protect the Americans and see things through US glasses. They are only acceptable if they wear the Pakistani glasses,” Cheema had quoted Baitullah as saying.

But the very next day, on December 31, 2007, Baitullah had strongly reacted to Cheema’s accusations and rejected involvement in the October 18 2007 suicide attack in Karachi, saying he had neither issued any such statement nor could he think of ordering an attack that would kill innocent civilians in such a large number. Two months later, on March 1, 2008, Baitullah Mehsud was declared a proclaimed offender with an arrest warrant issued for him by an anti-terrorist court in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

On December 27, 2008, while speaking on the first anniversary of Bhutto’s death, President Asif Zardari had claimed that he knew the killers of Benazir and that he would reveal their identity at the right time. On July 6, 2009, President Zardari had blamed Pervez Musharraf for the Bhutto murder, claiming she died by a bullet and not by the bomb that a Scotland Yard report identified as the cause. “I wish Musharraf had looked after my wife as I can look after myself,” President Zardari told British newspaper The Telegraph in an interview.

Therefore, the haste with which the Musharraf regime had proceeded against Baitullah Mehsud to establish him as Benazir’s killer and that, too, without any solid evidence seems to be a crude attempt to make him a scapegoat to hush up one of the most high-profile murder cases in the recent history of South Asia.

Hillary Admits US “Behind the Scenes” Agitation in Iran

US was ‘behind the scenes’ for Iran protesters: Clinton

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the United States did a lot “behind the scenes” to show support for demonstrators contesting Iran’s disputed presidential election results.

“We did not want to get between the legitimate protests and demonstrations of the Iranian people and the leadership,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN broadcast on Sunday.“And we knew that if we stepped in too soon, too hard… the leadership would try to use us to unify the country against the protestors.”

“Now, behind the scenes, we were doing a lot,” Clinton said. “We were doing a lot to really empower the protestors without getting in the way. And we’re continuing to speak out and support the opposition.”

Clinton was asked about the case of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist detained in Iran since June 21 on allegations he helped orchestrate protests against the election results that saw Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned to power.

The top US diplomat said she was “just appalled at the treatment that Mr Bahari and others are receiving.”She described the trial Bahari faces as “a show trial,” saying the process is “a sign of weakness.”

“It demonstrates, I think, better than any of us could ever say, that this Iranian leadership is afraid of their own people, and afraid of the truth and the facts coming out,” Clinton said. The secretary of state reiterated that the United States believes it would be “unacceptable” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

“If they believe that this would give them a more secure position, a greater capacity to influence events, to intimidate their neighbors, to expand the reach of their ideology, they were mistaken,” she said. “We do not intend to accept nuclear weapons by Iran.”

Baitullah’s aide says he is alive but ill

Baitullah’s aide says he is alive but ill

By Rahimullah Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: The mystery about Baitullah Mehsud’s fate persisted on Sunday as one of his commanders maintained that he left his father-in-law’s house before a US drone attack that killed his wife. [Just like the funeral attack, which claimed 80 lives, "But the officials said they were later able to determine that Mehsud left the funeral shortly before the missiles struck."  His insider contacts seem to always warn him when an attack is imminent, but, at least in the funeral attack, Mehsud doesn't share the warnings with his followers, meaning the attacks on his men help his cause.]
Maulana Noor Said, who described himself as a deputy to Baitullah, insisted that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) founder and head survived the drone strike. However, he conceded that Baitullah was ill and in poor health.

In a phone call to The News from an undisclosed location, he said a videotape would be issued to prove that Baitullah is alive. “The tape would be most likely issued on Monday or the next day. We would record it as we cannot afford to risk Baitullah’s life by asking him to phone reporters to show that he is alive at a time when the US drones are continuously flying in the area,” explained Noor Said.

Claiming to know the sequence of events last Wednesday night when a pilotless, CIA-operated spy plane fired two missiles at the home of Baitullah’s father-in-law Ikramuddin Mahsud in Zangara village near Ladha in South Waziristan, Noor Said recalled that Baitullah did visit the house but left before it was attacked. “His wife was martyred and Ikramuddin’s son and three grandchildren were injured in the attack,” he said. He denied reports that Baitullah or other family members were on the roof of the house when the missiles struck. He said Baitullah’s wife was killed in her room when it collapsed. “In keeping with his routine, Baitullah didn’t stay there for long. He seldom spends more than an hour at a place,” he stressed.

Noor Said, who is the TTP commander for Orakzai Agency, claimed he had spoken with Baitullah after the drone strike. He said Baitullah was ill and suffering from a number of diseases. Refuting the government’s claim that Hakimullah Mahsud was killed in a shootout with Mufti Waliur Rahman Mahsud during a meeting of the TTP shura, or council, somewhere in Srarogha in South Waziristan, Noor Said maintained that no such incident had taken place. “As Baitullah’s deputy and in his absence, I called and presided the shura meeting. No firing took place there,” he insisted. When asked why Baitullah didn’t attend the meeting, Noor Said pointed out that he was ill. In reply to a question whether the shura meeting was convened to choose a successor to Baitullah, he said it was called to make preparations for defending their area in view of the likelihood of a major attack by Pakistan’s armed forces. “Our area is under attack. There is a siege of the Mahsud territory from four sides. Bombing by jetfighters is being carried out and the US drones are attacking our homes. We need to prepare a strategy for defending our land,” he argued.

Before Noor Said spoke to The News and other media organizations on Sunday, an important TTP leader Mufti Waliur Rahman Mahsud had phoned some reporters to deny that he was injured in a shootout with Hakimullah Mahsud in a meeting of their shura. He said there was no firing incident and neither he nor Hakimullah were injured. He said Hakimullah would also phone reporters to issue denial that he was killed in the shootout.

However, the 30-year old Hakimullah had yet to call any reporter. Also on Sunday, an anti-Baitullah militants’ commander Turkistan Bhittani insisted that Baitullah was killed along with 40 of his men in the US drone attack. He reiterated his allegation that Baitullah was working as an agent of India, Israel and others and was involved in anti-Islam activities. He also claimed Hakimullah Mahsud was killed in the TTP shura meeting.

Interior Minister Rahman Malik too had made almost similar claim. Saifullah Mahsud, a spokesman for another anti-Baitullah faction known as the Abdullah Mahsud group, also insisted that Baitullah was dead and that his commanders were now involved in a power tussle to claim the leadership of the TTP.

When asked to comment on these claims, Noor Said maintained that all these commanders were in the anti-Baitullah camp and were, therefore, carrying propaganda against the TTP and spreading lies. “The information provided by the anti-Baitullah groups is then used by the government, ministers and even the media,” he said.

After Baitullah, Deconstructing the Myth

[The legend grows with each "news" item.  The Pakistani press really ought to get its act together.  Every new report tries to incorporate the fabrications made by the previous reporters, who built their fabricated stories on the previous guy's bull s**t.  Now we learn that yes, indeed, there were forty or more Taliban killed with the Mehsud monster, plus forty more killed fighting to be the next "king of the hill."  We are also told of Mehsud's real estate investments in Dubai, reinforcing Dick Holbrooke's assertions about funding sources, turning prying eyes away from backers in Langley and New Delhi.]

After Baitullah, battle on for Taliban treasure


By Kamran Khan

KARACHI: A bloody feud that followed Baitullah Mehsud’s death involving about three-dozen best-trained Taliban fighters early on Wednesday morning was actually a battle among various Taliban warlords to control Rs 2 billion Taliban funds and ownership of arms and ammunition worth about Rs 1 billion by grabbing the ‘Emarat’ (the leadership) of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to senior security officials and knowledgeable Taliban sources.

Such was the charisma and awe of 35-year-old, five feet two inches tall Baitullah Mehsud that none of his associates ever dared to challenge his leadership till an American missile strike blew his body apart on the first floor of the house of his second wife in South Waziristan last week.

An intelligence official said: “For about four years, some 3,500 trained fighters and dozens of suicide bombers blindly followed Baitullah as he was the centre of gravity of terrorism in Pakistan.” The battle for the control of the Rs 3 billion Taliban treasure erupted within two days of Baitullah’s death, when two of his most trusted lieutenants, Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, claimed succession in an emergency meeting in Sararogha, where an armed clash left Hakimullah Mehsud dead, along with 40 Taliban fighters, on Saturday evening, a security official said.

An official account of this incident said Waliur Rehman got seriously wounded, while Qari Hussain, who ran the Taliban’s suicide operations directly under Baitullah Mehsud, was also wounded with bullet injuries on both legs in the same incident.

Hakimullah Mehsud, Waliur Rehman and Qari Hussain were claimant to the ‘Emarat’ of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, that comes with a grip on funds of billions of rupees, huge cache of weapons and thousands of trained fighters and a close affinity with al-Qaeda and its leader Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who had chosen Baitullah Mehsud to lead the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

“There is a constant flow of tens of millions of dollars from foreign enemy sources that keeps the Taliban machine rolling,” a senior security official said, adding: “Over the years Baitullah had built a cash reserve of about Rs 2 billion in addition to large cache of sophisticated weapons, ammunition and latest communication equipment.”

Intelligence officials believe money for the Pakistani Taliban was either buried in various caves in the tribal areas or it was stashed in various bank accounts in Pakistan and in some Gulf states.

Baitullah Mehsud’s coffers expanded so much last year that he sent one of his cousins to Dubai for cash investment in various real estate projects; subsequently millions of dollars were remitted for adventurous business proposals in Gulf states.

“It was not theft, Baitullah just wanted to bolster Taliban reserves because of growing expenses,” said a Karachi-based Mehsud tribesman, who had associated with Baitullah in the past. Narrating another incident, the same source said when a renowned Taliban commander informed Baitullah about huge monetary offers he was receiving from Pakistani officials to surrender, Baitullah’s answer to this man was: “Money is not with the government of Pakistan. Money is with me, tell me how much you want.” Officials concede Baitullah’s money power was such that it was difficult for them to buy his key commanders, as he conveniently outbid them in case of a couple of important commanders.

A senior police official in Peshawar said Baitullah was convinced by al-Qaeda and Pakistan’s foreign enemies that South Waziristan would soon emerge as an independent “Islamic Emirate” and he would be declared as its first Amir.

Intelligence accounts speak of smooth flow of cash to Baitullah from enemy agents, posing as wealthy and highly motivated Arab Muslims, who had established direct connection with the reclusive Taliban commander.

The Taliban sources close to Baitullah Mehsud say a strong cash flow was his most crucial need because his top priority remained an uninterrupted payment of monthly salaries to the families of each of his fighters. Baitullah was supervising a smooth system of cash deliveries ranging from Rs10,000 to Rs20,000 at the doorsteps of his fighters all across Pakistan. Sustenance allowance reached the families of those killed in action.

“Cash pipelines emanating from RAW and Afghan secret services headquarters were terminating in Baitullah-ran accounts, besides cash and weapons infusion,” intelligence officials believed. They estimate Baitullah was paying about Rs600 million in salaries for his fighters every year.

While intelligence agencies see a direct hand of Indian and Afghan secret agencies in financing terror outfits in Pakistan, US officials have consistently accused wealthy individuals in unnamed Gulf countries of providing finances to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistani and Taliban sources say Maulana Ikramuddin, the man who gave his young daughter to Baitullah Mehsud in marriage last year, was the custodian of some of the key financial secrets of Baitullah Mehsud. Ikramuddin was not at home when the US missile struck his residence, killing Baitullah and about 40 of his bodyguards.

Intelligence officials watched with keen interest that when Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman groups clashed in Sararogha, each one of them tried to kidnap Ikramuddin, who was there to arrange a negotiated succession agreement under his umbrella. Ikramuddin, an official source said, was taken away by injured Waliur Rehman.

While foreign cash inflows remained an important source of the Taliban funding, irrefutable evidence showed that Baitullah also ran strong syndicate of select Mehsud tribesmen in Karachi and some Jihadi elements of southern Punjab who were assigned to provide cash injection through bank robberies and kidnappings for ransom.

In one incident two years ago, two private security guards, both Mehsud tribesmen and close associates of Baitullah Mehsud, looted Rs140 million from a foreign exchange company in Karachi. The investigation led the trail to Baitullah Mehsud, who was later approached by a delegation of top Islamic scholars of Karachi for the return of the money. Baitullah obliged the Ulema by returning Rs16.5 million from the looted Rs140 million. The matter is in full knowledge of JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had organised the Scholars’ meeting with Baitullah Mehsud.

Several important cases of kidnappings for ransom in Karachi and Lahore over the last two years and a majority of kidnappings for ransom cases reported in Peshawar in the past two years were settled when the Taliban or their contacts were paid huge ransoms.

50 suspected Afghan drug lords targeted by US: report

[Why was there such a stink raised over assassinating "al Qaida" when targeting 367 Afghan warlords for death is perfectly alright?]

50 suspected Afghan drug lords targeted by US: report

WASHINGTON: Fifty alleged Afghan drug traffickers with suspected ties to the Taliban have been placed on a Pentagon list of people targeted for elimination, a US newspaper reported late Sunday.

Citing a congressional study due to be released this week, the newspaper said the targeting reflected a major shift in US counter narcotics strategy in Afghanistan.

According to the report, US military commanders have told Congress that they are convinced that the policy is legal under the military’s rules of engagement and international law. [Bush's law]

They also said the move is an essential part of their new plan to disrupt the flow of drug money that is helping finance the Taliban insurgency, the paper noted.

Two US generals serving in Afghanistan said that major traffickers with proven links to the insurgency have been put on the “joint integrated prioritized target list,” which means they have been given the same target status as insurgent leaders and can be captured or killed at any time.

Currently, they said, there are about 50 major traffickers who contribute money to the Taliban on the list, according to the report.

“We have a list of 367 kill or capture’ targets, including 50 nexus targets who link drugs and the insurgency,” one of the generals told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. The generals were not identified in the Senate report.

If Mehsud was killed then why are they feeding us someone else’s pictures?

If Baitullah Mehsud was really killed five nights ago, then why is Pakistan trying to pass off the fat guy as him?  It must mean that any DNA evidence that is produced by the Army or ISI will belong to the new face.  Is it in America’s and India’s interests to portray someone else as their man in FATA?

mehsud blue mehsud

bait ullah green stripe meh The one in green stripes could be either man.

Who is the fat guy?

fat guy really fat guy The new face of Baitullah Mehsud.