JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel‘s foreign minister said Wednesday there was no reason to assume the Mossad assassinated a Hamas military commander in Dubai, even as suspicions mounted that the country’s vaunted spy agency made the hit using the identities of Israelis with European passports.
While few people are privy to the cloak-and-dagger operations of the Mossad, senior Israeli security officials not directly involved with the affair said they were convinced it was a Mossad operation because of the motive and the use of Israeli identities. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a government order not to discuss the case, characterized it as a significant Mossad bungle.
The suspicions ratcheted up pressure on Israel to be more forthcoming over the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a man it claims supplied Gaza‘s Hamas rulers with the most dangerous weapons it possesses. Israeli critics pointed the finger at Mossad, accusing it of sloppiness and endangering Israeli citizens.
Dubai police this week released names, photos, and passport numbers of 11 members of an alleged hit-squad that killed al-Mabhouh in his luxury Dubai hotel room last month. Dubai said all 11 carried European passports. But most of the identities appear to be stolen and at least seven matched up with real people in Israel who claim they are victims of identity theft.
“I don’t know why we are assuming that Israel, or the Mossad, used those passports,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio in Israel’s first official comments on the affair.
But Lieberman did not deny involvement outright, saying Israel rightly maintains a policy of ambiguity where security operations are concerned.
“Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies,” he said. “There is no reason for Israel to change this policy.”
Amir Oren, a military analyst for the Israeli daily Haaretz, called for the ouster of Mossad director Meir Dagan.
“What is needed now is a swift decision to terminate Dagan’s contract and to appoint a new Mossad chief,” wrote Oren in a front-page commentary. “There’s no disease without a cure.”
The Iranian-backed Hamas has been blaming Israel for al-Mabhouh’s killing from the beginning.
“The investigation of the police of Dubai proves what Hamas had said from the first minute, that Israel’s Mossad is responsible for the assassination,” Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas legislator in Gaza, said Wednesday.
Al-Mabhouh was one of the founders of the Hamas militant group, which has carried out hundreds of attacks and suicide bombings targeting Israelis, and now rules the Gaza Strip. He also was involved in the 1989 capturing and killing of two Israeli soldiers.
Israel considered him to be the point man in smuggling Iranian rockets into Gaza that would be capable of striking the Jewish state’s Tel Aviv heartland.
Al-Mabhouh was targeted in three previous assassination attempts, his brother Hussein told The Associated Press.
At least seven people who live in Israel share names with suspects identified by Dubai police. One, a British-Israeli citizen named Melvyn Adam Mildiner, said the passport photo on the Dubai wanted flier was not him but the passport number was correct. He also denied having been to Dubai.
Another of the seven, Stephen Hodes, denied any link to the case in an interview with Israel Radio and said he, too, had never visited Dubai.
“I’m shocked. I don’t know how they got to me. Those aren’t my photographs, of course,” Hodes said. “I don’t know how they got to my details, who took them. …. I’m simply afraid. These are powerful forces.”
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday promised an inquiry into the use of fake British passports in the killing.
“We are looking at this at this very moment,” Brown told London’s LBC radio. “We have got to carry out a full investigation into this. The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care.” He did not assess blame for the forgeries.
Several senior British lawmakers said Israel’s envoy should be summoned to the Foreign Office to explain what his country’s role in the slaying was.
The former leader of the Liberal Democrats, the smallest of Britain‘s three main parties, said that “if the Israeli government was party to behavior of this kind it would be a serious violation of trust between nations.”
Menzies Campbell, who serves on the House of Common’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said “the Israeli government has some explaining to do” and called for the ambassador to be summoned “in double-quick time.”
The committee’s chairman, Mike Gapes, a member of Britain’s ruling Labour party, added that the assassination was either the work of Israelis “or someone trying to make sure it looks like the Israelis.”
Like Lieberman, Israeli security analyst Ephraim Kam said the use of Israeli identities did not prove the Mossad killed al-Mabhouh.
“I cannot see a reason why the Mossad would use the names of Israelis here or citizens who live here,” Kam said.
Rafi Eitan, a former Cabinet minister and Mossad agent who took part in the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, thought Israel’s foes were trying to frame it by using the identities of Israelis.
“It means some foreign service, an enemy of Israel, wanted to taint Israel. It took the names of Israeli citizens, doctored the passports … and thus tainted us,” Eitan said.
Lawmaker Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy commander of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, said he would ask to convene a meeting of the Israeli parliament’s powerful foreign affairs and defense committee to discuss the matter.
“No one should use someone’s identity without his permission or without his understanding in some way what it is being used for,” Hasson told Israel Radio.
The Mossad has been accused of identity theft before. New Zealand convicted and jailed two Israelis in 2005 of trying to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports. New Zealand demanded — and won — an apology from Israel, which Auckland said proved the pair were spies.
But this would be the first time that the Mossad has been suspected of using the identities of its own citizens.
If the Israeli government was behind the identity theft, it broke Israeli laws against impersonation and fraud, said Nirit Moskovich of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Kam, the security analyst, said the people whose identities were released could be in danger from Hamas.
“I think they should be careful,” he said.
The affair could have unwanted diplomatic repercussions for Israel if it indeed used the foreign passports of its own nationals. Several British lawmakers on Wednesday called for the Israeli ambassador to be summoned to the Foreign Office immediately to explain what happened.
The affair could also have fallout for the Mossad as an agency, and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Dagan personally.
But while Haaretz commentator Oren was calling for Dagan’s head, analyst Ronen Bergman of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper deemed the operation a success.
“Al-Mabhouh is dead and all the partners to the operation left Dubai safely,” he said.
|[For God’s sake, take the other smiling mustache with him–you know, the one that has this thing for black goats?]|
|Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By our correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has become vulnerable to be disqualified for his back-to-back statements in the National Assembly for the last two consecutive days against the judiciary, a respected legal mind of the country says.
It is now generally believed both in the political and legal circles that the prime minister is part of the Presidency’s alleged conspiracy to derail democracy and create a situation for yet another intervention of undemocratic forces so that the PPP may emerge as a “political martyr”.
The situation arising out of last week’s controversial notifications issued by the Presidency to impose the government’s choice appointments in the superior judiciary and Gilani’s shocking statements have furthered the apprehensions about the fate of the whole system to such an extent that even serious concerns are being raised within the ranks of the PPP over the decision made by the ruling duo — President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.
Such is the strength of the general perception that something is seriously going wrong in the top most political offices of the country that even a sombre and respected former chief justice of Pakistan Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui is now saying that he is 100 per cent convinced the president and the prime minister are conspiring to create a situation where they could become political martyrs.
Justice Siddiqui said that the statements of Gilani, who he said is hand in glove with Zardari, are not only in violation of the Supreme Court orders, contemptuous towards judiciary but could lead to the prime minister’s disqualification as a member of the National Assembly.
Finding the prime minister’s statements strange, he referred to Article 63(g) of the Constitution and argued that any member of the National Assembly could move a disqualification reference against Gilani for his statements in the National Assembly.
Under the said article, a person will be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shura (parliament), if he is propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of the public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the armed forces of Pakistan.
On Monday, the prime minister surprised the whole world by emphasising that parliament’s endorsement of the executive order through which the deposed judges were restored in March last year is a must for the continuation of the present judiciary.
A day later, on Tuesday, the prime minister touched yet another settled issue of “consultation” vis-‡-vis in the appointment of judges. The former CJP viewed these statements having enough material to proceed against the prime minister under Article 63 of the Constitution.
Another respected retired judge Justice Wajihuddin too does not find any sense in the prime minister’s utterances and said that Gilani is not a fool that he was making such statements without any reason.
Justice Wajih says that Gilani has violated the Supreme Court’s ruling by talking of the endorsement of executive order for the restoration of the judges. He said that his statements were tantamount to contempt of the court, explaining that parliamentary immunity is not applicable in this case as his statements were not restricted to the four walls of parliament but broadcast to the whole world.
Justice Wajih said that it seems that all is being cleverly managed so that the influential accused should appear as victims.Politicians are also sceptical about the motive of the government in its latest assault on the judiciary. It is not only the PML-N that has already referred to the government’s conspiracy to remove all the independent judges.
Khawaja Asif said that the prime minister’s Monday statement was part of a government strategy to remove the independent judges, whom the government had restored following last year’s long march but never accepted them genuinely.
Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Professor Munawwar Hasan too talked of a similar conspiracy and dubbed President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani as two sides of the same coin, which he called Khota Sika (expired coin).
Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan has taken a harder line as compared to other politicians whereas the PML-N Nawaz Sharif has declared President Asif Ali Zardari as the biggest threat to democracy.
However, what is interesting to note is the fact that such scepticism and serious doubts have also engulfed the senior ranks and file of the ruling PPP. Although many PPP leaders do talk of their feelings in confidence and admit that the party is generally concerned over the government affairs, a very few dare to talk to the media publicly on such matters.
A key PPP leader told The News that President Asif Ali Zardari is leading the party in a manner that it may lead it to collective suicide. Amongst a few, who were ready to talk to this correspondent on the record, ex-Senator Enver Baig said that in his view the party’s top leadership should seek advice from the saner elements of the party.
Benazir Bhutto’s close associate and one of the most outspoken PPP leaders Dr Safdar Abbasi minced no words to say that the decision-making in the PPP is far beyond his comprehension. He said that there is a serious flaw in the PPP’s decision making, which led to the government facing one debacle after the other. He counted the delayed restoration of the judges, imposition of governor’s rule in Punjab, mishandling of the NRO issue and finally the recent controversial appointments in the superior judiciary as some of the debacles of the wrong decisions taken by the PPP top leadership.
But despite all this, he wondered, not even a single person has been held accountable for causing these repeated embarrassments for the government and the party. Repeated attempts were made to contact presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, but he was not taking calls. Another spokesperson Farahnaz Isphahani, when approached and asked about the allegations of a well-thought-out government’s conspiracy to target the country’s independent media and create a situation where the president could become a political martyr, said that she is not the right person to respond to such questions.
Faisal Raza Abidi, who also represents the Presidency, when approached, categorically denied that the government is targeting the country’s independent judiciary as part of a conspiracy. He said that the government fully respects the judiciary and it was for the same reason that it would wait for the outcome of the judiciary’s decision on the recent appointments made by the president.
[This can’t be good for Pakistan. Isn’t he the guy that threatened to “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age?]
RAWALPINDI: Mr Richard Armitage, Former US Deputy Secretary of State, visited General Headquarters and called on Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today.
The visiting dignitary remained with him for some time and discussed matters of mutual interest.
By Mariam Hamed
:: Article nr. 63340 sent on 16-feb-2010 15:45 ECT
by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Sajeeb A. Wajed [popularly known in Bangladesh as Sajeeb Wajed Joy], is a scholar, Information Technology specialist, political analyst and advisor to Sheikh Hasina [Prime Minister of Bangladesh].
Mr. Joy is a naturalized American citizen, who lives there for years with his wife and children. He has been able to establish excellent relations with various important figures in United States and is quite regularly invited by various institutions for giving his thoughtful lecture on Bangladesh issue. He also is considered as a knowledgeable writer on Bangladesh affairs.
Couple of years back, Sajeeb Wajed Joy wrote and article titled ‘Stemming the rise of Islamic Extremism in Bangladesh’ in prestigious Harvard International Review jointly with Carl J. Ciovacco, who graduated from the Kennedy School of Government with a Masters of Public Policy in International Security and Political Economy. His thesis on Al Qaeda’s media strategy and was written for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. He received his Bachelor of Science in International Relations from West Point and served as an Army officer in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It is well assumed that, Carl J. Ciovacco has substantial knowledge on defense related issues.
At the beginning of this report-type article, Mr. Sajeeb Wajed Joy and Carl J. Ciovacco, commenting on rise of Islamist influence in Bangladesh wrote: “Islamic extremism is also on the rise in Bangladesh because of the growing numbers of Islamists in the military. The Islamists cleverly began growing their numbers within the Army by training for the Army Entrance Exams at madrassas. This madrassa training was necessary because of the relative difficulty associated with passing these exams. The military is attractive because of both its respected status and its high employment opportunities in a country where unemployment ranges from 20 percent to 30 percent for younger males. High demand for military posts has resulted in an entrance exam designed to limit the number of recruits. Before this madrassa Entrance Exam campaign, only 5 percent of military recruits came from madrasses in 2001. By 2006, at the end of the BNP’s reign, madrassas supplied nearly 35 percent of the Army recruits. In a country that has seen four military coup d’etats in its short 37 year history, the astronomical growth of Islamists in the military is troubling to say the least.”
According to this information, Bangladesh Armed Forces is experiencing “astronomical growth of Islamists” and madrassa [Islamic School] supplied nearly 35 percent of the Army recruits.
They further wrote, “The military is attractive because of both its respected status and its high employment opportunities in a country where unemployment ranges from 20 percent to 30 percent for younger males.”
Commenting on funding of madrassas, Mr. sajeeb Wajed joy and Carl J. Ciovacco wrote: “Since madrassas are educational institutions within the country, they are under the purview of the country’s educational ministry. While almost all funding for these institutions comes from private donors in Saudi Arabia, there is no statute against their regulation by proper national authorities.”
They further wrote: “…Relying on Saudi and Kuwaiti funding that dictates rote Koranic memorization is counterproductive for a nation that desires growth, productivity, and a brighter future, because it limits the population’s skill-set.”
On growth of Islamist forces in Bangladesh, they wrote, “Islamists have capitalized on the poverty-stricken nature of Bangladeshis in recent years. They have harnessed the age-old recruiting technique of telling the people that they are destitute and that only complete servitude and support for an Islamic state and a radical interpretation of Islam will solve their problems. Many poor Bangladeshis have fallen prey to this line and have begun to internalize the hope for a better life in an Islamic state. If, however, poverty is reduced and Bangalis see the potential for progress, they will not be as beholden to radical Islam. Simply put, if the economy gets better, the grip of JI [Jamaat-e-Islami] and Islamists will weaken.”
No one possibly will confront the information Mr. Joy and Ciovacco provided in this extremely important piece of scholarly article on the role of madrassas in spreading militant Islam as well funding from several Arab nations to these institutions. They also mentioned in the article that, major segment of ‘donations’ to madrassas are from private donors in the Arab nations, which are mostly not regulated by the Bangladeshi government.
Bangladesh government and its armed forces did not confront or reject any of the information provided by Mr. Sajeed Wajed Joy and his co-writer in this article. People would surely take this as an endorsement of the given facts by Bangladeshi authorities.
International community will consider Bangladesh Army as an institution housing ’35 percent Islamists’ in it. The number is quite alarming. In every five, one in Bangladesh Army is from madrassa education, and according Mr. Joy and Ciovacco, they are Islamists.
Such information will surely go against the interest of Bangladesh Army in particular because; they are enjoying high esteem in United Nations Peace keeping Forces [UNPKF] for years. Anyone can now raise fingers at such recruitment of Bangladesh Army in UNPKF. On the other hand, the international community may even question the justification of taking the risk of letting Islamists within Bangladesh Army mix with fellow forces from other nations in the world.
[Under the MAD doctrine (mutually assured destruction), missile deterrent survivability can only be assured in the “Triad” deployment of land-based missiles, bombers and sub-based ballistic missiles. When India achieves this level of deployment, Pakistan will lose its “first-strike” capability of eliminating India’s nuclear deterrent in one surprise attack.]
The man steering India’s highly classified nuclear-powered submarine programme has acknowledged for the first time that the warship will be armed with ballistic missiles.
Vice-Admiral D.P.S. Varma (retd), Director General, Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) project, told HT at DEFEXPO-2010, “The K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles jolly well be there on INS Arihant when it is inducted into the Navy. The N-sub should hopefully be with the Navy by the end of 2011.”
The K-15 missile, a closely guarded DRDO secret, is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead up to 700 km. With 12 ballistic missiles in its arsenal, the Arihant will complete the sea-leg of India’s nuclear triad and give it enduring nuclear strike and counter-strike capabilities. India can carry out nuclear strikes with fighter planes and land-launched missiles.
Asked how work on Arihant was shaping up, Varma said, “We are on track. But the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. So we will know when the Navy inducts it.”
The usually tight-lipped Varma said India’s submarine fleet should have five to six nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. He said plans were afoot to build two more nuclear-powered submarines to reinforce India’s strategic deterrent force at sea. He said, “We have to cross a certain milestone before going into specifics.”
Larsen & Toubro, which built the hull for Arihant, has fabricated the hulls for the new N-subs. The United States, Russia, the UK, France and China are the only countries that can deliver nuclear warheads from a submarine.
[Shireen misses the point entirely, in the following report. She fails to see that this whole crisis between executive and judicial branches is a dangerous deliberate distraction to create the confrontation without the real point of contention–the missing persons inquiry. The NRO deal merely hides the guilty, the Supreme Court opening the “disappeared” inquiry on Baloch missing lays the criminal conduct of both the government and the various “mafias” right on the stage, out in the open where everyone can see the Fascist powers that besiege Pakistan.
“Democracy” has never stood a chance of really taking root in Pakistan because of the multiple powerful interests who treat the nation like their personal possession. Democracy relies upon the basic goodness of most human beings, expressed in a consensus, to oversee government. If the people, in the goodness of their hearts, grow weary of the games and ego trips ruling Pakistan with an iron fist, they will stand together once again behind their Chief Justice as he defends them against the powers that be.]
SHIREEN M MAZARI
Worst is that democracy has led us into more political instability as the democratic leaders opt for the usual authoritarian approach to governance alongside a feudal mindset that makes them regard the country as their personal fiefdom.
Is there a deliberate death wish the leadership has for Pakistan and its nationals? Otherwise, why would the president and the prime minister deliberately plunge the country into yet another judicial crisis at a time when the nation is already suffering from multiple crises making their daily lives an uphill struggle? The IMF has ensured that there will be no economic stability for many years to come and that the poor will either become even poorer or, when that option has been exhausted for those who had it in the first place, simply die with the increasing deprivation. Fuel is up; gas is up but barely available as is the case with electricity; water is becoming a rare commodity thanks partially to India and our leadership’s tolerance of its water terrorism; sugar and flour have become luxury goods; yet the IMF’s voracious appetite for destroying the stability of developing countries has yet to be sated and now it is demanding a mini budget with more killer measures for the masses. After all, it is only the masses that suffer such measures, the ruling elite relying on state largesse for gas, electricity, fuel and all other luxuries.
Nor is it just the economic issues of daily life that are taking their toll as never before on the ordinary Pakistani. There is the total lack of law and order and the shadow of terrorism spread across the country post-9/11 after our previous rulers went into a costly and destructive alliance with the US in its misnamed War on Terror and our present rulers’ continuation of the same support – albeit in an even more expansive fashion. It is not that we did not suffer from terrorism before, but certainly after recklessly going along with the US, despite our dismal history with that country, the problem underwent a qualitative shift in scale and type. Right now a typology of terrorism prevailing in Pakistan would have to include the extremist Taliban threat, the ethno-sub national threat, the targeted political killings, state terrorism of India, in terms of support for militancy in FATA and Balochistan, and the US, in the form of drone attacks and the constant blackmail of the “do more” mantra.
As if that was not enough to tax the strength of the nation – and we do have that one quality of survival and bouncing back strength in abundance – the return of democracy is fast becoming a nightmare with corruption of multiple types being the order of the day. But the worst is that democracy has led us into more political instability as the democratic leaders opt for the usual authoritarian approach to governance alongside a feudal mindset that makes them regard the country as their personal fiefdom. That is why, just when the nation was finally seeing a solitary light of an independent judiciary from the tunnel of despair they were in, the leaders have chosen to try and put this light out fast. Why, when they are supposedly the people’s representatives, having come in through a legitimate electoral process? Because, behind that “legitimate electoral process” there were deals to wipe the slate clean on corruption and murder through the infamous NRO. When the judiciary struck the NRO down, the beneficiaries suddenly saw their past coming to haunt them again – hence, the self-created new judicial crisis. But times have altered and the people fought a long hard battle to get an independent judiciary just as the media fought a long hard battle for its independence – and neither is going to sacrifice their victory at the altar of greed, corruption and a whimsically authoritarian mindset the top leadership has.
The polity has been divided and polarised along yet more fault lines and the violence that is being unleashed now has little to do with Taliban terrorism but everything to do with the ill-thought-out policies of the rulers. All institutional decision-making has been destroyed and the president has personalised his rule in a fashion similar to Musharraf’s with all issues being seen in a “them versus us” mode. Whenever rulers personalise their political opposition, it ends in disaster – both for the ruler and the nation and creates unlikely and often undeserving martyrs. Perhaps defending one’s large foreign accounts and properties whitewashed through the NRO can be a major reason to understand the president’s bizarre behaviour on the judges’ issue, but the prime minister’s flip flops are making less sense with each new statement he issues. Why is he being compelled to defend the indefensible when knowledgeable sources insist he was opposed to the president issuing the controversial notifications of Saturday 13th February? Just when one thought sanity was prevailing in prime ministerial quarters at least with the issuance of Gilani’s statement that the government would accept the Supreme Court’s decision on the judges issue, strange sound bytes began coming from the PM. First it was a totally unnecessary and meaningless declaration that the judges’ issue was not Kashmir! Not only was this an absurd statement, it sent a wrong signal to India that Pakistan really did not expect the issue of Kashmir to be resolved!
However, the latest sound byte – although by now there are probably more gems coming the way of the hapless nation – was too much. Gilani declared imperiously that the restoration of the judges had not yet been ratified by Parliament. Does he not know that the judges never accepted the executive order of Musharraf that “removed” them? But in any case, an illegal executive order through an equally questionable emergency, once it is overturned by a legal executive authority’s order, requires no Parliamentary ratification. So who is the prime minister trying to fool?
It is no wonder, then, that our foreign detractors are playing games at our expense. India is blowing hot and cold over the start of a new dialogue framework, while we are showing indecent haste to get to New Delhi for any kind of talks it appears. The most threatening though is the latest edict from Senator Kerry, who obviously loves coming here to satisfy his imperial urges, who has not only flung the “do more” mantra once again at Pakistan but has pushed the Indian agenda forward by telling us that Kashmir should not be part of the initial dialogue between Pakistan and India. Apart from the fact that Kerry is truly ignorant about the core relevancy of Kashmir to all disputes between Pakistan and India, who is he to tell this long suffering nation how to dialogue with India? Enough is enough. For goodness sake, even while the leadership is locked in political disputes and power tussles at home, it should realise that the people of Pakistan have had it with US diktat. The frequency with which US politicians and officials visit and hold forth on what we should be doing has simply got to stop. It merely adds to the discontent and instability within this country. And our leaders are ensuring that that is in abundant supply with no help from anyone!