Missiles To Protect Major Indian Cities

Missiles To Protect Major Indian Cities

India is planning to establish Joint Command Analysis Centres (JCACs) near airports in major cities across India and weaponise them with surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that will be able to bring down rogue aircraft.

The move is being seen as a necessary measure to foil 9/11-type attacks from the skies. Currently, only Delhi has a JCAC (near New Delhi’s IGI airport) but it is not weaponised with SAMs. The government is considering a proposal to establish JCACs at more cities and weaponise these centres, well-placed government sources said.
A high-level committee of secretaries (CoS) will meet on September 7 on the issue of “establishment and weaponisation” of JCACs and will discuss a proposal from the ministry of defence (MoD) in this regard, government sources said. The JCAC at Delhi is headed by an Indian Air Force officer and is an establishment comprising both IAF and civilian functionaries.
Sources said that currently, in case a threat is detected from any civilian aircraft over Delhi, the JCAC meets and decides issues such as authorisation to scramble IAF aircraft to neutralise the threat, if any. But the weaponisation of JCACs with SAMs will add a whole new dimension. It will mean that once a civilian aircraft is identified as a rogue aircraft posing a terror threat, it can be knocked out of the sky with SAMs.
In any case, the anti-hijacking policy of the government — formulated in 2005 — permits shooting down of a civilian aircraft if the aircraft is being used as a “missile” in a 9/11-type attack.
New Delhi has some prohibited airspace (no-fly zone) over it on account of the presence of important national and government buildings like Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan and North and South Blocks.
But, as was seen during the Mumbai terror attacks, even high-profile private buildings can be attacked by terrorists to cause maximum damage. Following the Mumbai terror attacks, intelligence agencies had received inputs that terror groups may now attempt to strike at high-profile targets using small aircraft or attempt to hijack aircraft and use them as missiles in an operation similar to the 9/11 attacks in the US.
Sources said the objective is to integrate airspace so that the JCACs can identify all aircraft flying in Indian airspace at any given time. The proposed induction of the satellite-based navigation system “Gagan” will help immensely, sources added. Government sources, however, said extreme caution has to be exercised during any attempt to ascertain whether a civilian aircraft is indeed a rogue aircraft on a terror attack to ensure that a civilian aircraft is not shot down by mistake.

Why the US needs the Taliban

Why the US needs the Taliban

Jul 30, 2003

By Ramtanu Maitra

Since Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf made his much-acclaimed visit to Camp David and met US President George W Bush on June 24, new elements have begun to emerge in the Afghan theater. US troops in Afghanistan are now encountering more enemy attacks than ever before, and clashes between Pakistani and Afghan troops along the tribal borders have been reported regularly.

On July 16, speaking to Electronic Telegraph of the United Kingdom, US troop commander General Frank “Buster” Hagenbeck, based at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, reported increased attacks over recent weeks on US and Afghan forces by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other anti-US groups that have joined hands. He also revealed some other very interesting information: the Taliban and its allies have regrouped in Pakistan and are recruiting fighters from religious schools in Quetta in a campaign funded by drug trafficking. Hagenbeck also said that these enemies of US and Afghan forces have been joined by Al-Qaeda commanders who are establishing new cells and sponsoring the attempted capture of American troops. One other piece of news of import from Hagenbeck is that the Taliban have seized whole swathes of the country.

Reliable intelligence
Hagenbeck’s statements were virtually ignored in Washington. Also ignored were a number of similar statements issued from Kabul by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his cabinet colleagues. On July 17, presidential spokesman Jawed Ludin spoke to the Pakistani newspaper The News of the Afghan government’s concern over the volatile situation on its border with Pakistan. Ludin urged Pakistan to “take steps” to prevent the Taliban fighters from crossing over to launch terrorist attacks against Kabul. “We will take it seriously to confront it,” he warned. “So our expectation is for all those involved in the war against terror to take serious steps,” Ludin added, clearly addressing the Bush administration.

A week later, on July 24, in an article for The Nation, a Pakistani news daily, Ahmed Rashid, the well known expert on the Taliban and Afghanistan, quoted President Hamid Karzai, during an interview at Kabul, as saying: “As much as we want good relations with Pakistan and other neighbors, we also oppose extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism coming into Afghanistan from outside. We have one page where there is a tremendous desire for friendship and the need for each other. But there is the other page, of the consequences if intervention continues, cross-border terrorism continues, violence and extremism continue. Afghans will have no choice but to stand up and stop it.”

Among Americans, only the special envoy of the US president to Afghanistan and a good friend of President Karzai, Zalmay Khalilzad, has shown any concern about the recent developments. Khalilzad has little choice but to keep up a bold front to the Afghans, telling them how his bosses in Washington are doing their best to rebuild Afghanistan, and attributes the present crisis to the security situation. Like everyone else, Khalilzad has little in reality to offer and, given the opportunity, falls back on what “must be done” and “should be done”. At a July 15 press conference at Kabul, Khalilzad said every effort has to be made by Pakistan not to allow its territory to be used by the Taliban elements. This “should not be allowed”, he said. “We need 100 percent assurances [from Pakistan] on this, not 50 percent assurances, and we know the Taliban are planning in Quetta.”

What is happening? Both Hagenbeck, who boasts to the media about the high quality of his intelligence, and Khalilzad, who is unquestionably in a position to know, have stated that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are being nurtured, not in some inaccessible terrain along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border but in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province where the Pakistan Army and the ISI have a major presence. Yet, President Bush and his neo-conservative henchmen have remained strangely quiet, allowing Pakistan to strengthen the Taliban in Quetta, and, as a consequence, re-energize al-Qaeda – the killers of thousands of Americans in the fall of 2001.

Recall for a moment: Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, no other terrorist was portrayed by the United States as more dangerous than al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and no other Islamic fundamentalist group was presented to the American people as more despicable than the Taliban. Within a month the United States invaded Afghanistan to “take out” the Taliban, al-Qaeda and bin Laden, while the world lined up behind the new anti-terrorist messiahs from Washington, providing it the necessary moral and vocal support. Why, then, is Washington now weakening President Karzai and allowing the strengthening and re-emergence of the Taliban?

Karzai shared with Ahmed Rashid his belief, like that of the average Afghan today, that the answer to that question lies in an understanding reached between the United States and Pakistan during Musharraf’s visit to Camp David, that Afghanistan could be, in effect, “sub-contracted” to Pakistan. Karzai also told Rashid that Musharraf’s critical remarks about the Karzai regime during his visit to the United States reminded him of the pre-September 11 days when Pakistan was fully backing the Taliban and exercising ever-more-strident control over Afghanistan. Musharraf had said, among other things, that the Afghan president does not have much control over Afghanistan beyond Kabul. But, Karzai added in the interview with Rashid, no matter what the outsiders are planning or plotting, as of now, “I want nobody to be under any illusion that Afghanistan will allow any other country to control it.” Is Karzai overreacting? Most likely, he is not. He has seen the writing on the wall. It is arguable whether the Taliban’s return to power is inevitable, but there is little doubt that under the circumstances it is very convenient for the US.

Bowing to realities
To begin with, it was clear from the outset that the United States never really wanted to be in Afghanistan. It was basically a jumping-off point for the “big enchilada”, the re-shaping of the Middle East’s politics and regimes. The Afghan reconstruction talk was mostly wishful thinking. For anyone familiar with present-day Afghanistan – its security situation, the drug production and trafficking, its destroyed infrastructure, its rampant illiteracy and poverty – its reconstruction by foreigners is either a dream or a string of motivated lies.

Now, after a half-hearted effort that lasted for almost 18 months, the Bush administration has come to realize that it is impossible to keep Pakistan as a friend and simultaneously keep the Northern Alliance-backed government in power in Kabul. The “puppet” Pashtun leader in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, does not have the approval of Pakistan and the majority of the rest of the Pashtun community straddling both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. So, either one has Pakistan as a friend with an Islamabad-backed Pashtun group in power in Kabul, or one gets Pakistan as an enemy. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind how the Bush administration would act when confronted with such a choice.

Secondly, look at the Northern Alliance (NA) allies. The best ally of the NA is Russia, the Bush administration’s key contestant for supremacy in Central Asia. In the 1980s, the United States spent billions of dollars to get Afghanistan out of the Russian orbit. It is ridiculous to believe that the Bush administration would act differently now to protect the NA and Karzai. Much better is to have Afghanistan sub-contracted to Pakistan and keep the Russians at bay, than to yield ground to Moscow, who is hardly friendly to Pakistan.

Thirdly, the NA, and particularly the Shi’ites of the Hazara region of Afghanistan, are close to Iran. Iran is building a road which will connect the Iranian port of Chahbahar to the city of Herat in central Afghanistan and link up with Kandahar in the southeast. While this is going on, some neo-conservatives in Washington are screaming for Iranian blood. Even if the Bush administration is not quite willing right now to spill that blood, it is nonetheless a certainty that Washington will be more than eager to see the Iranian influence in Afghanistan curbed. If the NA-backed Karzai government stays in power for long, Iran would most definitely enhance its influence. The Taliban do not want that and they have sent a message recently by slaughtering the Shi’ites in Quetta with the full knowledge of the Pakistani authorities. Besides being anti-Russia, the Taliban are also anti-Shi’ite, or anti-Iran. This added “virtue” of the Taliban has not gone unnoticed in the corridors of intrigue-makers in Washington.

Finally, there is the India factor. A minor factor, it does, however, come into play in calculating the pluses and minuses of the resurgent Taliban option. The Bush administration wants closer relations with India – not on New Delhi’s terms, but on Washington’s terms. Indian activity in Afghanistan has increased multifold since the Karzai government came to power in the winter of 2001. These developments are being eyed suspiciously by Islamabad. While Washington would not make a federal case out of it, it surely does not like to see India forming a strategic alliance with Russia and Iran in Afghanistan. Washington would rather like to break such an alliance quickly, particularly if its ally, in this case Pakistan, wants such an alliance broken. Significantly, a well-connected relative of Musharraf, Brigadier Feroz Hassan Khan, formerly at the Wilson Center and now a fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, addressed these issues directly in a recent publication.

Not just whistling in the dark
In the January issue of Strategic Insight, a publication for the Center for Contemporary Conflict, Khan observed: “In Iran, President Khatami is moving in tandem and cooperation with Pakistan in supporting the Karzai government as manifest in the recent visit to Pakistan. However there are hardliners in Iran who would want to continue with the old game of supporting warlords and factions and consider Pakistan as rival vis-a-vis Afghanistan, and who are still suspicious of the Saudi role. Iran is pitching its bid, by constructing a road from Chahbahar Port in the Persian Gulf through Iran’s Balochistan area to link up eventually with Kandahar in the hope of ‘breaking the monopoly of Pakistan’. Afghanistan is currently sustained primarily through the Karachi-Quetta/Peshawar routes – Bolan and Khyber passes respectively – which has provided Afghanistan with trade and transit with the outside world for centuries.”

Furthermore, Khan pointed out, “Russia remains involved with the major warlords [of Afghanistan]. One such warlord, Rashid Dostum, was recently on a shopping spree for arms and equipment from Moscow. Russia believes it has its own experience and expertise in Afghanistan and must reestablish its interests. Given the history, Pakistan is very uncomfortable with this development.”

Of course, the Khan’s treatise would not have been complete without pointing to the devious role of the Indians in Afghanistan. He said: “India is a major proactive player now. It is providing well-coordinated military supplies to the Northern Alliance thorough the air base in Tajikistan. This includes weapons, equipment and spare parts aimed at strengthening those elements that had become the sworn enemies of Pakistan during the Taliban’s rule. Fear in Pakistan is that despite Afghanistan’s changed policies, some elements still hold a grudge against Pakistan and would be willing to do India’s bidding. This would bring the India-Pakistan rivalry into the Afghan imbroglio.”

It is safe to assume that Khan, who has an extensive background in arms control, disarmament and international treaties, and who formulated Pakistan’s security policy on nuclear war, arms control and strategic stability in South Asia, is not merely whistling in the dark.

The terms of convenience
Now the question remains, what might Pakistan be expected to deliver in return for the Bush administration granting it control over Afghanistan once more? In the real world, Pakistan can help the United States significantly. It has already agreed not to provide nuclear technology to Islamic nations. Musharraf may have to give the United States control of its nuclear research facility, among other things. More important will be to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States and send two brigades of Pakistani troops to Iraq to help out the beleaguered US troops there. The arrest of Osama would surely justify the US mission to Afghanistan, and could set the stage for America’s eventual withdrawal from that country. Another likely item on the agenda is Pakistani recognition of Israel.

Would this new arrangement of “sub-contracting” (to use Karzai’s apt term) Afghanistan to the Pakistan-Taliban combination complicate the already complex situation any further? Probably not. It was evident in October 2001, when the United States went pell-mell into Afghanistan with the help of the Northern Alliance, that America’s hastily-organized arrangement there was unsustainable. It was clear that no matter what Islamabad says, or how much pressure is brought to bear on it, Pakistan has absolutely no reason whatsoever to agree to such an arrangement.

Washington came to appreciate the non-sustainability of this arrangement when Musharraf, in a sleight of hand, brought the Muttahida Majlis-e Amal – the MMA, also known as “Musharraf, Mullahs and the Army” – to power in the two provinces bordering Afghanistan. At that point, Karzai’s tenure as president of Afghanistan shrank abruptly, and Washington deemed it time to give up the “Marshall Plan for Afghanistan” and settle for next best – Taliban rule in Afghanistan under Pakistani control, once again.

(Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd.

ISI and MI-6, Marriage Made In Hell

The British Plan To Recolonize
The Subcontinent Is Gaining Ground

by Ramtanu Maitra

[PDF version of this article]

The massive suicide bomb attack on July 7, which killed 41 people at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, including the Indian military attaché and counsellor, indicates the ruthlessness of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-British MI6-aided Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, to break up Pakistan, and create a new, and unstable, nation bordering the resource-rich Central Asia and Iran. Although the Western media is keen to blame the “Taliban,” it is clear that the Afghan Taliban was not involved, and that it was the handiwork of the TTP.

A day earlier, on the first anniversary of the Pakistani Army’s raid of Lal Masjid at the heart of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing at least 19 people, mostly police officers. On the same day the Indian Embassy was attacked, terror struck Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, six times within an hour, as unknown terrorists triggered a series of blasts that wounded over 50 people, including children and policemen. Karachi, the largest Pakistani port, is the main disembarkation station of nearly 70% of the supplies that go to Afghanistan by road to the battling U.S./NATO troops. The supplies pass through the famed Khyber Pass—a 30-mile stretch between the Khyber Hills. At the time of this writing, the Khyber Pass, and a part of Peshawar city, 22 miles east of the Pass, remain infested with militant local tribes working hand-in-glove with the TTP.

The only way to comprehend what is happening is to first step back, and look at the key geostrategic puppet-master in the region: the British Empire.

British Geostrategy for the Subcontinent

The British policy toward South Asia, and the Middle East as well, is uniformly colonial, and vastly different from that of the United States. Even today, when Washington is powered by people with tunnel vision, at best, the U.S. policy is not to break up nations, but to control the regime, or, as has become more prevalent in recent years, under the influence of the arrogant neocons, to force regime change. While this often creates a messy situation—for example, in Iraq—the U.S. would prefer to avoid such outcomes.

Britain, on the other hand, built its geostrategic vision in the post-colonial days through the creation of a mess, and furthering the mess, to break up a country. This policy results in a long-drawn process of violent disintegration. That is the process now in display in Pakistan, as well as in many other nations, including Zimbabwe and Kenya—where the British colonial forces had hunted before, and still pull significant strings.

When the British left the Indian subcontinent in 1947, it was divided into India and Pakistan. The British colonial geostrategists, coming out of World War II, realized the importance of controlling the oil and gas fields. If possession could not be maintained, the strategists argued, Britain and its allies must remain at a striking distance, to ensure their control of these raw material reserves, and deny them to others.

At the end of British rule, Pakistan consisted of East Pakistan (which since has been liberated to form Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. West Pakistan’s western wing (west of River Indus) bordering Afghanistan and Iran, consisted of Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Tribal areas. North of all these, was the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was a princely state under the Maharaja of Kashmir. Of the three areas, Baluchistan and the Tribal areas had not been brought under the British occupation and were kept instead as British protectorates. This was because the Tribals were ferocious, and made it clear they would not accept British troops within their territories. Moreover, the British crown figured that these areas would act as a buffer with Afghanistan, where the British were worried the Russians would show up.

Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), however, is a different story. The NWFP, inhabited by Pushtun Muslims, was under the Indian National Congress, and led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a close associate of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Ghaffar Khan had no intention of joining Pakistan, but when the British called for a referendum to decide which way the NWFP would go, Ghaffar Khan decided not to let his party participate, ostensibly because he feared violence. Because of this, the referendum won by only 50.49% in favor of joining with Pakistan.

It is evident that Britain did not want India to have any direct land link either to Afghanistan, or Russia, or Iran. In the North, when the dispute over the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) arose, India’s access to the North was blocked as well. The Kashmir dispute, the handiwork of London, showed what the British were looking for. Using a large number of Mirpuris (Mirpur is a part of J&K) who had migrated to Britain soon after the partition of the subcontinent, the MI6 built up a very strong anti-India lobby in J&K and encouraged the demand for an independent Kashmir. At the same time, MI6 lent a hand to the Pakistani ISI, to implement terrorist acts within the India-held part of J&K which would undermine India’s efforts to stabilize the area. The policy has not worked so far, but a royal mess has been made, thanks partly to India’s misguided, and often ruthless, policies.

The MI6 mouthpiece, and a link to the British colonial establishment, was Eric Lubbock (Lord Avebury). He was the first British Member of Parliament to publicly support the Kashmiri secessionist movement, which he did in an address to a secessionist group, JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front), at a conference in London, in 1991. There, he also announced his support for an armed struggle, according to The Dawn of Karachi. In a March 1995 issue of the JKLF’s Kashmir Report, Lubbock condemned Indian policy in Kashmir as equivalent to what would have occurred if “Britain had been invaded in 1940,” and suffered Nazi occupation. He demanded that Indian troops be withdrawn. “New Delhi fails to understand that if peaceful initiatives are thwarted, the inevitable result will be further violence,” he threatened. Lubbock is still around pushing the colonial policies.

Who Are the Afghan Taliban?

For the uninitiated, it is important to realize that there exists a distinction between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban. The Afghan Taliban, along with many other Afghans, are engaged in a war against the occupying U.S. and NATO troops, with the objective of driving them away so they can gain control of their land. In other words, these Afghans are ready to fight any foreign troops, be they are American, British, Canadian, or German. But they have no intention of doing harm to others who have not lent troops to the occupying forces. At the same time, the Afghan Taliban would accept help from anyone, including the Pakistani Taliban, or any jihadi group functioning along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, including the much-vaunted al-Qaeda. It must be noted that no Afghan Taliban has ever been spotted, either in Iraq, or Palestine, where the Western, or pro-Western troops are engaged in battling the local Islamic groups.

On the other hand, while it is true that the Afghan Taliban have no love for the Indians, nonetheless they would not risk setting up a large operation of the kind that must have preceded the attack on the Indian Embassy. Moreover, the Afghan Taliban control large swathes of land in southern and eastern Afghanistan, but ground information suggests that they still are not in a position to carry out major attacks inside Kabul. Last April, an elaborate operation was put in place to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. Initially, the operation was attributed to the Afghan Taliban, but later the Afghan authorities charged that it was the Pakistani ISI behind the failed attempt.

The Pakistani Taliban, however, are an altogether different kettle of fish, and are presently involved in breaking up Pakistan on behalf the geostrategic interests of the British colonials. This outfit, besides having a large number of tribes representing Pakistan’s virtually ungoverned Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Northern Areas bordering Afghanistan and the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, is guided by the Pakistani ISI and British MI6. The Pakistani tribal groups, who have never formally accepted Islamabad’s authority, see, in the present situation, an opportunity to carve out a separate nation bordering Afghanistan in the West and River Indus in the East. This objective, however far-fetched it may have seemed just months ago, is now a distinct possibility, not only because the ISI and MI6 have chalked out a design for achieving it, but also because of Washington’s reckless approach to taming the Taliban and al-Qaeda at any cost, including undermining of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The increasing disintegration of Pakistan’s political establishment has added to the threat. The ISI has been deeply infiltrated by MI6, and the Pakistani Army does not have the will to engage in a bloody civil war to prevent yet another break-up, nor does Pakistan’s weak political elite have a clue as to how to integrate the increasingly militant tribal areas with Pakistan.

ISI-MI6 Link-Up

On the other hand, there exists a policy agreement between the ISI and MI6. Following the withdrawal of the defeated Soviet Army in 1989, the ISI moved in to arm and train the Taliban. The intelligence agency also brought in al-Qaeda, and was in the process of developing what is called “strategic depth,” which, it argued, was necessary to protect the country from its “mortal enemy,” India. The civilian governments in Islamabad, under the late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, had little choice but to allow the Pakistani Army and the ISI to pursue this objective.

After 9/11, the scene changed rapidly. The Bush Administration identified Afghanistan, which was under Taliban rule, as the staging ground of al-Qaeda, and invaded the country with the intent of eliminating both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, in one fell swoop. Neither the ISI, and by extension, a section of the Pakistani Army, nor the British colonial operatives, wanted these assets, set up over years with the intent of controlling Central Asia, and undermining Russia, China, and India, to be sacrificed. Pakistan’s ungoverned FATA immediately became the shelter of many who were facing Washington’s wrath. In December 2001, Asia Times reported that the former ISI chief and a close collaborator of the MI6, “Hamid Gul, nicknamed the ‘Godfather of the Taliban,’ is believed to be behind moves to help the Taliban establish a base in Pakistan’s autonomous Pushtun tribal belt.”

The added irony, is that Washington’s foolhardy approach involves two of its “best allies”—Britain and Pakistan—who had built up these assets, and were keen to protect them from Washington’s missiles and rockets. The outcome of Washington’s policy is now plain for everyone to see: Having routed the Taliban, and driven them from power within weeks following the invasion, almost six and a half years later, Washington is now facing an enemy which is surely much stronger than it ever was before. The credit for this, of course, goes to the ISI and MI6. Both have now come to realize that not only can the assets be protected, they can be “officially” lodged in a country carved out of Pakistan.

What Drives the ISI?

The question is, why would the Pakistani ISI want the separation? Putting aside the British control over the ISI for the moment, what must be recognized, is that the ISI was the brainchild of an Australian-born British intelligence officer, Maj. Gen. R. Cawthorn, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army in 1948, who later served in Australia as head of their Secret Intelligence Service. The ISI was structured to be manned by officers from the three main military services, and to specialize in the collection, analysis, and assessment of external intelligence, either military or non-military. At the time, as it exists even today, the ISI considered India its “mortal enemy,” and the key to hurting India was to wrest control of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, where Muslims are in majority.

There is yet another “meeting of minds” between MI6 and the ISI in recent days: their mutual hatred of Afghan President Karzai. The ISI rejected Karzai out of hand because the Afghan President is close to India, and even Russia—but cool toward Pakistan. So, the ISI feels it necessary to replace Karzai with someone who will be pro-Pakistan and anti-India.

Nor does MI6 like Karzai, and has joined with the ISI to remove him, because he is controlled from Washington, and has become openly anti-British: Last December, when Karzai learned that two British MI6 agentswere working under cover of the United Nations and the European Union, and behind his back, to finance and negotiate with the Taliban, he expelled them from Afghanistan. One of them, a Briton, Michael Semple, was working as the acting head of the EU mission in Afghanistan, and is widely known as a close confidant of Britain’s ambassador, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles. The second, an Irishman, Mervin Patterson, is the third-ranking UN official in Afghanistan.

These MI6 agents were entrusted by London with the task of using Britain’s 7,700 troops in the opium-infested, Pushtun-dominated southern Afghanistan province of Helmand to train 2,000 Afghan militants, ostensibly to “infiltrate” the enemy and “seek intelligence” about the lethal arms of the real Taliban. Karzai rightly saw it as Britain’s efforts to develop a lethal group within Afghanistan.

In addition, around the same time, Karzai was under pressure from Britain, the U.S., and the UN, to appoint Lord Paddy Ashdown, a British Liberal Democrat, as the UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan. Ashdown had left his “viceregal” mark while serving as the High Representative of the United Nations for Bosnia a few years ago.

Anticipating that Ashdown, true to his reputation in the Balkans, would function like a colonial viceroy under orders from London, Karzai summarily called off the appointment. This decision raised quite a few hackles in London, and elsewhere.

MI6-ISI’s Anti-Russia Ties

During the Cold War, the Pakistani ISI was not only training and infiltrating armed militants inside the India-held part of Jammu and Kashmir, but was utilized by the British to create security problems on Russia’s southern flank. When the Soviets bumbled into Afghanistan with thousands of troops and tanks, ISI and MI6, along with the CIA, joined forces in the early 1980s to recruit mujahideen to fight the Red Army. MI6 turned over to the ISI some of their assests in the London-based organization known as al-Muhajiroun, or The Emigrants. This became the recruiting arm of al-Qaeda in London, and was used for terrorist work. The first groups were Pakistanis; they were followed by Somalis and Eritreans, among others. Al-Muhajiroun operated at the time under the armless Omar Bakri Muhammad, known as “Captain Hook,” who was the Imam of Finsbury Mosque in London.

Coincidentally, in 1983, the British-based World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), headed by Prince Philip, which often provides the staging grounds for operations of MI6 and other British intelligence outfits, suggested that two national parks be created in Pakistan’s Northwest, and although rather thin in natural wildlife, the preserves have proved to be excellent for growing poppy, and for training and staging mujahideen incursions into Afghanistan.

But, in the post-Cold War days, and particularly after 9/11, Washington moved closer to India, which went from being a “Soviet puppet,” as it was labeled by some American analysts, into becoming a U.S. ally. Following 9/11, Washington made it a point to seek India’s help in fighting the war on terror. Although India never supplied Washington with troops, New Delhi strongly supported Washington’s war on terror policy. At the same time, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf embraced this Washington-led policy, putting the ISI in limbo. With the anti-India angle suddenly removed, the ISI became vulnerable to the British plan to create a separate Islamic state, carved out of Pakistan, located on the threshold of Central Asia. MI6 succeeded in reigniting the the ISI’s aspiration to liberate the state of Jammu and Kashmir as its prime mission. The attack on the Indian Embassy on July 7 was a statement of that objective.

Musharraf on the MI6 Role

The interweaving of British MI6 and the Pakistani ISI is too elaborate to fully describe here. But, to get an idea of it, consider this example: Pakistani President Musharraf, in his book, In the Line of Fire, stated that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a Britain-born Pakistani who has been accused of kidnapping and killing Wall Street Journalcorrespondent Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, in 2002, was originally recruited by MI6, while studying at the London School of Economics. He alleged that Omar Sheikh was sent to the Balkans by MI6 to engage in jihadi operations. Musharraf added that, “at some point, he [Omar Sheikh] probably became a rogue or double agent.”

On Oct. 6, 2001, a senior U.S. government official told CNN that U.S. investigators had discovered that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, using the alias “Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad,” had sent about $100,000 from the United Arab Emirates to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers. “Investigators said Atta then distributed the funds to conspirators in Florida in the weeks before the deadliest acts of terrorism on U.S. soil that destroyed the World Trade Center, heavily damaged the Pentagon and left thousands dead.”

Beyond that, the Saeed Sheikh affair shines a bright light on the MI6-ISI links. More than a month after the money transfer was discovered, the head of the ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, resigned from his position. It was reported that the FBI was investigating the possibility that it had been General Ahmed who ordered Saeed Sheikh to send the $100,000 to Atta. There were reports that Indian intelligence had already produced proof for the Pakistani administration that this was so.

Even more important are the joint operations between the MI6 and the ISI. The export of jihad to the Central Asian republics to pressure the countries of the former U.S.S.R. was a joint venture of the ISI, Pakistan’s Jamaati Islam (JI), and Hezbe Islami Afghanistan. It is also documented that the MI6 directly deposited money into an account in the name of Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed of Pakistan’s JI, name, which Qazi used to pump Islamic literature and money into the Central Asian republics to incite the local Naqshbandi circles (a Sufi group) to rebel against the governments.

Khalistan and the Assassination of Indira Gandhi

Britain’s other gross interference to undermine Indian sovereignty with the help of the ISI became evident during the Khalistani movement in India’s Punjab in the 1980s. A number of militant Sikh-led organizations, such as the Dal Khalsa, Babbar Khalsa, Council of Khalistan, the Khalistan Government-in-Exile, and the Sikh Federation were headquartered in Britain. The Sikh Federation was formed after the 2001 proscription by the British government of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), while the Babbar Khalsa cadres started working under the aegis of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ), another militant group, after the ban imposed by the British government. Moreover, the top leaders of the Khalistani movement, Jagjit Singh Chauhan and Gurmej Singh of the Khalistan Government-in-Exile, used Britain to call for an independent Punjab (Khalistan), yanked out of India.

Although the Khalistani movement, which helped in fomenting the plots to assassinate two Indian prime ministers—Indira Gandhi and her son, Rajiv Gandhi—in addition to the deaths of scores of innocent Indians, is no longer visible, London still carries the Khalistani flag. In a highly significant development for the internationalization of the Sikh freedom struggle, representatives from a range of leading Sikh organizations met with high-ranking officials of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Aug. 15, 2007, in London, in order to seek British support for the Sikh nation’s right to self-determination.

Goaded and helped by MI6 and Britain’s colonial geostrategists, the ISI did its best to create chaos within Punjab during that period. At the time that the Khalistani movement had grown dangerous following the Indian Army’s raid of the Golden Temple, the holiest of holy Sikh shrine in Amritsar, and of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Pakistani ISI chief was Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, who is now leading the charge on behalf of the Pakistani Taliban to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty.

According to an Indian intelligence analyst, in 1988, when Benazir Bhutto became prime minister, Gul justified backing the Khalistani terrorists as the only way to preempt a fresh Indian threat to Pakistan’s territorial integrity. When Mrs. Bhutto asked Gul to stop playing that card, he reportedly told her: “Madam, keeping Punjab destabilized is equivalent to the Pakistan Army having an extra division at no cost to the taxpayers.” Gul strongly advocated supporting indigenous Kashmiri groups, but was against infiltrating Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries into Jammu and Kashmir. He believed Pakistan would play into India’s hands by doing so, the analyst pointed out.

The Kingpin

This brings us to the leading collaborator of the British MI6 within Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul. Driven by his anti-India zeal, and now, with an equally zealous Islamic fervor, Gul is perhaps the most dangerous individual in Pakistan today. As his support for the Pakistani Taliban is expected to unleash more violence in the coming days, Gul will become even more powerful.

It is widely acknowledged, even by the CIA, that Gul played a key role in helping to train and arm the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s. He had extensive liaison with Osama bin Laden, now hated, but liked immensely earlier by the CIA-MI6-ISI trio, while that Yemeni-Saudi was in Afghanistan.

Since the Lal Masjid raid by the Pakistani Army at the behest of President Musharraf last July, to free the mosque of jihadis and Pakistani Taliban, Gul has become violently anti-Musharraf. The July 15, 2007 London Times reported comments by Gul following the Lal Masjid conflict: “The government is trying to hide the number of young girls killed. As the truth comes out that young girls were gassed and burnt, riddled with bullets and killed, it’ll be bad for Musharraf.”

BBC reported Gul’s views on jihad, criticizing Musharraf for seeking to stop jihadists, and challenging: “Who is Pervez Musharraf to say we should stop Jihad, when the Koran says it and when the United Nations Charter backs it up? Musharraf says: ‘Stop the jihad, do this, that and the other.’ No, no, no. He cannot. There is a clear-cut Koranic injunction.”

UPI and the Washington Times have quoted Gul’s interview in Pakistan’s Urdu newspaper Nawa-e-Waqt where he stated: “The leadership vacuum created by the sad demise of [Palestinian] President [Yasser] Arafat can only be filled by Osama bin Laden and [Taliban leader] Mullah [Mohammad] Omar, the real leaders that are the only dedicated individuals with the mass support of the Muslim world.”

It is likely that Gul was directly involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto had contended that the rise of extremism in Pakistan could not have happened without support from government agencies, including the military and the powerful ISI. She added that, though Baitullah Mahsud, the frontman of the MI6 and the ISI in the TTP, had reportedly threatened to send suicide bombers against her if she returned to Pakistan, the real danger came from extremist elements within the government that were opposed to her return.

“I’m not worried about Mahsud, I’m worried about the threat within the government,” she told the London Guardian. “People like Mahsud are just pawns. It is the forces behind them that have presided over the rise of extremism and militancy in my country.”

Despite his inciting speeches and his role on behalf of the terrorists masquerading as jihadis, Gul remains virtually untouchable. Following the imposition of a state of emergency by President Musharraf on Nov. 3, 2007, Gul had demonstrated against the Presidential order. He was arrested, but Musharraf had to release him within two weeks. It is evident that Hamid Gul has become too powerful and that he enjoys high-level protection. Cui bono?

GCHQ: Cracking the Code

GCHQ: Cracking the Code

Episode image for GCHQ: Cracking the Code

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The BBC’s Security Correspondent Gordon Corera gains unprecedented access to Britain’s ultra secret listening station where super computers monitor the world’s communications traffic and Britain’s global eavesdropping and electronic surveillance operations are conducted.

The layers of secrecy which have surrounded GCHQ’s work are peeled away – what exactly does it do and who is it listening to?

The programme explores the wide area covered by signals intelligence – from looking for terrorists planning attacks against the United Kingdom to supporting military operations of the type underway in Afghanistan.

A team from the Counter terrorism section describes what it is like to listen in on terrorists’ conversations and the constant battle to predict where the next attack will come from: “I don’t think you would be human if you didn’t go home at night and couldn’t switch off and thought ‘Oh my God. What happens if . . .?'” What about the ethics of eavesdropping and how does their work compare to the way it is portrayed on television in series like ‘Spooks’?

Code-breakers talk about their work, attempting to find a chink in the armour of a carefully encrypted message sent by a terrorist or a foreign government. “It just feels amazing really,” when there is a breakthrough, says one. “I mean you feel like you’ve won”.

The programme looks at the technological challenges posed by the internet and the threat of cyber warfare, which has led to the establishment of a new cyber operations centre at Cheltenham. It also explores the scientific and mathematical breakthroughs which have been achieved at GCHQ, including the discovery of public key encryption, used when we shop on the internet.

There’s a tour of the building’s four great computer halls, containing racks and racks of IT equipment and covering around ten thousand square metres. “I could actually fit Wembley football pitch into three of the halls quite comfortably,’ says the man in charge of making sure that the equipment doesn’t crash.

Gordon Corera challenges the director Iain Lobban. There has been considerable speculation about whether the government is planning huge databases at GCHQ to keep track of all communications and internet traffic. Do they really spy on us? And how accountable are they?
Producer: Mark Savage.

Bringing Down the International Criminal Syndicates–Drug Pipelines

[The biggest international drug cartels operate from Wall St., where they orchestrate the flow of the real drug hauls, which are measured in hundreds of billions, even trillions.  In this complex network of drug pipelines, the drugs flow one way and money or drugs the other.]

Drugs, guns and money

August 30, 2010
nick mckenzie story    hakan ayik supplied pixGym junkie Hakan Ayik.

Who is Hakan Ayik? In the first of a two-part series, Nick McKenzie looks at the target of one of Australia’s biggest investigations into organised crime.

THERE comes a time when a police target senses he is under suspicion. For 32-year-old businessman and gym junkie Hakan Ayik, the realisation came over two years ago with a series of short, sharp beeps from his mobile phone while he was waiting for a flight at Sydney airport.

The beeping was a remote alarm alerting Ayik that he had some unwanted visitors at his Sydney apartment. His phone was connected to a surveillance system at the apartment, which had just began filming a small group of New South Wales police who, acting on a tip-off about the purchase of a money-counting machine, had decided to make some inquiries.

Ayik didn’t waste any time in sending his own team of investigators to the scene – several bulky and tattooed members of the Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang. Their appearance brought a premature end to the the police operation.

But authorities would soon find other ways to take a close look at Hakan Ayik, and before long he was a major target of one of the most significant investigations into organised crime in this country. Codenamed Hoffman, it has spent the last two years probing an entire drug dealing network whose tentacles reach throughout Australia, in the NSW police force and prison system, on the nation’s docks, and overseas.

The inquiry- detailed on the ABC’s Four Corners tonight – has been led by the Australian Crime Commission, but includes crucial contributions from the NSW and West Australian police, the Australian Federal Police, the NSW Crime Commission and the nation’s anti-money laundering agency Austrac.

It is significant for several reasons: not only does it reveal with unprecedented clarity the extent of the threat posed by organised crime in Australia, but it highlights the difficulty authorities face in fighting a new breed of borderless criminals.

The old-school gangsters who stay in their local patch and deal only with family members or those who speak their own language are dying out. John Lawler, who heads the Australian Crime Commission, the elite body that fights organised crime, describes ”networked groups of organised criminals, across cultural divides, across national and international boundaries … absolutely focused on profit [and] power”.

Ayik’s story is important because it opens a window into the changing battle against organised crime and the technologically savvy and highly mobile modern Australian underworld that is much harder to police and is capable of amassing great wealth with relative ease.

It only takes a quick internet search to realise that Ayik is a vain man. A few keystrokes and here he is, grinning and shirtless, draping his gym-sculpted arms over the shoulders of two lingerie-clad Asian women. A photo on a business networking site shows the graduate of Sydney’s James Cook High School as an entrepreneur (and director of ”multi-capital trading”), wearing a white shirt, dark jacket, and sunglasses, one arm raised and a fist clenched in a pose of unbridled confidence.

Then there are the travel video clips, available only to Ayik’s Facebook friends (a mere 300 or so of them), depicting him in Dubai, Turkey and Hong Kong, either enjoying a helicopter ride, watching the formula one grand prix or firing a semi-automatic pistol at a shooting range.

Perhaps the most telling video clip is the one that shows Ayik travelling to Hong Kong with Daux Ngukuru, the sergeant-at-arms of Sydney’s notorious Comanchero bikie gang. Ayik has also posted a photograph of himself on this trip with Mark Ho, a Chinese gangster linked to the triads. Ho served a prison stint in Australia in 2001 for heroin trafficking before moving back to China.

As well as being a tribute to Ayik’s self-regard, these online images demonstrate the breadth of the connections of those who operate in today’s criminal underworld. Compare this to a decade ago when Australian bikies would have viewed a trip interstate as a major journey.

Having a relationship with the triads opens up a wide range of business possibilities, including access to the Chinese factories (legal or otherwise) that manufacture huge amounts of the precursor chemicals needed to make illicit drugs.

Former NSW Police assistant commissioner Clive Small says the increasing ease with which underworld figures conduct business offshore – where they are extremely difficult to monitor – shows ”how organised crime is maturing in Australia and how it’s becoming an increasing threat that we have to deal with”.

In another Facebook clip Ayik features his $300,000 sports car and his jewel-encrusted watches. The soundtrack is by rap star Akon and is titled Trouble Maker. It includes the line: ”I’m that type of guy your daddy won’t let you go out [with] cos he thinks I sell drugs …”

The first hint that the choice of this song was no coincidence came with a bump and a screech when a light plane landed on Perth’s wind-swept Janadakot airport in March 2008. Waiting on the tarmac were several grim-faced local police detectives who were about to give the passengers from NSW a welcome they would never forget.

Several hours later, the plane’s cargo – 22 kilograms of methamphetamine and about 35,000 ecstasy tablets – was on display at a press conference called by police to announce the arrest of the plane’s two passengers. The bust was a record seizure for the state police, and it also raised questions about where the drugs had been sourced and by whom.

A later submission by the WA Police to the federal parliamentary committee that oversees the Australian Crime Commission was of the view that ”Perth’s domestic security barriers rarely detect” drug runners who do the bidding of ”authoritarian” traffickers.

The statement was not without merit; authorities had confirmed that the light plane in question had made the journey several times before, presumably laden with a similar cargo. NSW authorities also discovered that one of the men arrested at the airport allegedly worked for Ayik.

After the bust, several policing agencies developed a strong interest in Hakan Ayik: police intelligence in NSW noted his unexplained wealth and the view that the Comancheros regarded him as a man who could enrich the club’s coffers.

But investigating Ayik would not be easy, partly because of the frequency with which he moved interstate and overseas, effectively hopping from one police jurisdiction to the next and using an array of mobile phones as he went. Was there another way of keeping track of him?

Making money means moving money, be it to bank accounts in Australia or, as is often the case with crime figures, to accounts offshore. In other words, it means creating a trail that, with the right tools, can be followed.

As police interest in Ayik began to grow in 2008, the task of ”following the money” was being carried out by the Australian Crime Commission, the relatively small but powerful agency formed in 2002 to co-ordinate the nation’s often poorly managed fight against organised crime.

By mid 2008, the ACC was wrapping up a three-year operation that had uncovered at least 300 million narco-dollars being moved offshore, mainly by Vietnamese and Chinese drug syndicates, via four small money-remitting agencies in Sydney and Melbourne.

The ACC had employed its ”High Risk Funds Strategy”. This involves watching suspicious flows of money – moved via the formal and informal banking sector – to uncover the business structures that connect lower-end drug distributors to the higher-end, and mostly offshore-based, importers. The strategy also allows the ACC to reach a better estimate of the size of the nation’s dirty-money trade, which, in turn, leads to better estimates of the size of the criminal economy.

A confidential federal government report based on the results of the High Risk Funds Strategy between 2005 and 2008 concluded that drug importations ”may have previously been underestimated by a significant margin” and that ”most organised crime-related activities” in Australia go undetected. In 2008, then then ACC boss, Alastair Milroy, revealed that by employing the strategy the ACC had tracked up to $12 billion in drug dollars flowing offshore every year.

Understanding exactly how Operation Hoffman operated is difficult, because much of the operation is still under wraps. But it is believed that critical to the probe was the formation of a policing coalition of the willing. If Ayik disregarded state and national boundaries (on one online posting, Ayik describes his location as Sydney, Hong Kong, China, Bangkok, and Seoul, South Korea) state and federal agencies needed to work together – no easy task, given the deep mistrust between certain policing agencies in Australia.

Under the quiet direction of the ACC, police across the country hatched a plan to dismantle parts of the alleged crime network linked to Ayik. Under this plan Ayik was seen as a sort of fixer who utilised his associates, be they Chinese criminals or bikies, to import and move drugs.

The plan’s first public manifestation took place in May 2009, when the NSW police stormed an apartment in Kogarah in Sydney’s south. They discovered five automatic pistols, a Thompson submachinegun, a Kalashnikov, a military issue automatic shotgun and three assault rifles. They also found explosives and what appeared to be police-issue bullet-resistant jackets, helmets and uniforms.

The media reported the discovery of the weapons stash as a development in the war between the Comancheros and the Hells Angels that earlier had led to a man being bashed to death at Sydney Airport. But there were other connections: the man arrested and charged with weapons offences in connection to the raid was Ayik’s nephew.

Operation Hoffman reared its head again in September, this time on the Pacific island of Tonga, when Tongan and New Zealand police announced the discovery of 40 kilograms of liquid methamphetamine, or ice, during a raid on the home of a corrupt local customs officer. The local media described the drugs bust as Tonga’s biggest ever and that the drugs had been bound for another country.

What was not revealed was Australian authorities suspected that Ayik had planned to import the drugs to this country. Exactly how he would do this is unclear. But it is believed that within his network is a host of maritime industry insiders capable of helping smuggle contraband past customs.

Operation Hoffman is just one of several major police probes in the past five years that has discovered serious corruption on the waterfront. For example, a federal police investigation into a massive shipment of ecstasy in 2008 discovered at least three figures working in the maritime sector in Melbourne who where aiding a major drug syndicate. NSW authorities believe a crew of dock workers in Sydney has facilitated drug importations for at least six years.

IN LATE 2009, the breadth of Ayik’s connections was again revealed when NSW police charged one of their civilian employees – who had access to sensitive police intelligence detailing the work of several agencies, including those working on Operation Hoffman – with stealing files that were later leaked to Comanchero associates of Ayik.

NSW Police sources regard the leaks as one of the most serious alleged corruption cases in the past five years, partly because of the risk they posed to the safety of undercover police operatives.

Ayik’s online postings reveal a man apparently unfazed by these arrests, planning his 31st birthday party in Hong Kong and posting a new photo on his Facebook profile – a shot of his muscular, gym-buffed chest.

In February this year, it was the turn of police in Western Australia, who arrested another of Ayik’s contacts, the new president of Perth’s Comancheros, Steven Milenkovski, over his alleged role in trafficking about seven kilograms of ice from NSW to Perth.

Two months later, NSW police raided drug labs in Sydney, seized 10 kilograms of ice and several weapons, and arrested four men, including two of Ayik’s Facebook friends. By now, police had Ayik clearly marked as a key Australian figure in a crime syndicate that had imported, and was still capable of importing, large quantities of ice, heroin, ecstasy and amphetamines. The net was closing.

Three weeks ago, NSW police pulled over a car in central Sydney and seized 24 kilograms of heroin. Arrested were Ayik’s brother and his business partner, another Chinese national. Crucially, NSW detectives believed they now had enough to charge Ayik. But he was nowhere to be found; his Facebook site shut down, his MySpace page became temporarily unavailable. Around a fortnight ago, NSW police finally issued an arrest warrant for Ayik for alleged drug trafficking. At the time of writing, Ayik was on the run.

The heroin bust in Sydney was the last in a long list of operations, including at least seven multimillion-dollar drug busts, that brought Operation Hoffman to an end. But those in law enforcement aware of its impact are not celebrating.

As a single operation, it is an extraordinary success, not least because it has extended the usual ”make a bust and move on” mentality of traditional policing and harnessed the resources of several agencies to uncover an entire crime network. But it also provides a measure of the reach of a typical modern crime network and serves as a reminder that the demand for drugs in Australia is fuelling a thriving, multibillion-dollar illicit market, especially in amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine.

In frank comments, Labor Senator Steve Hutchins, who chairs the ACC’s parliamentary committee, tells Four Corners tonight that the fact that major drug busts have little impact on the supply and price of drugs should serve as a wake-up call for the nation.

He said that if all the drug hauls had no effect on supply and the street price, ”then clearly we are not winning that war [on drug trafficking].”

This view is backed by many experienced organised crime investigators, who say that Australian police remain the Davids in a battle against the drug importing and trafficking Goliaths.

”You’d have to be kidding yourself if you thought you were getting any more than probably 10 or 15 per cent [of drugs] off the street,” says former detective inspector Jim O’Brien, who once headed Victoria’s drug squad and the elite Victoria Police Purana Taskforce.

Privately, many senior police concede that in the nation’s resource-constrained law enforcement environment, long-term multi-agency probes with the scope and reach of Hoffman remain exceptions to the rule. Among senior police across Australia, there is a consensus that the Australian Crime Commission is badly under-resourced given the challenges it faces.

Hakan Ayik’s syndicate is just one of many similar outfits in Australia. Policing agencies in Sydney have recently updated a list of about 150 active, and often overlapping, crime figures they believe need targeting. And that is in NSW alone.

Four Corners, tonight, 8.30pm on ABC1.

Source: The Age

Will US Invade Pakistan to Protect Christian Aid Workers?

Three Christian humanitarian workers killed by Taliban

Three humanitarian workers operating in the Swat Valley, in the northern part of the country, have been killed by Pakistani Taliban while working to bring aid to flood victims. The attack of the fundamentalists, which has also caused several injuries in two villages, took place between August 24 and 25. The tragic news was communicated to Fides by Fr. Robert McCulloch, a priest of the Columban Fathers, a missionary in Pakistan for over 32 years, and was confirmed by local humanitarian organizations. The news of the attack and the death of the three workers – Fides sources say – was withheld by Pakistani military and civilian officials, who tried to prevent the news from leaking into the mass media (given its delicate and serious nature), for fear that word of such incidents could discourage aid agencies working in the area.
The attack by the Taliban on two villages in the Swat Valley,  left several seriously injured. Also, the fundamentalist groups looted the homes and shops of the two villages.
“The purpose of these attacks is an attempt to maintain absolute control of the territory in the Swat Valley, where even prior to the flooding there were clashes between the Pakistani army and the fundamentalist militia,” Fr. Robert told Fides. The priest works with eight of his confrères in assisting flood victims.

Authorities on Wednesday (Aug. 25) recovered the bodies of three Christian relief workers who had been kidnapped and killed by members of the Pakistani Taliban in the flood-ravaged country, area officials said.

Swat District Coordination Officer Atif-ur-Rehman told media that the Pakistan Army recovered the bodies of the three foreign flood-relief workers at about 7 a.m. on Wednesday. An official at the international humanitarian organization that employed the workers withheld their names and requested that the agency remain unnamed for security reasons.

“The foreign aid workers have been working in Mingora and the surrounding areas,” Rehman said. “On Aug. 23 they were returning to their base at around 5:35 p.m. when a group of Taliban attacked their vehicle. They injured around five-six people and kidnapped three foreign humanitarian workers.”

Pakistan has been hit by its worst flooding in decades, with the United Nations now estimating more than 21.8 million people have been affected. Foreign aid workers are involved in relief activities across the country, including Swat district in Khyber-Paktunkhwa Province in northern Pakistan. At least 8 million people require emergency relief, with hundreds of thousands reportedly isolated from aid supplies.

“The Taliban had warned about attacks on foreigner aid workers and Christian organizations,” the ISPR source said. “All the international humanitarian organizations have been notified, and their security has also been increased.”

Rehman noted that the Taliban also has been trying to bring relief to flood victims.

“The Taliban are also trying to support the flood victims, and many other banned organizations have set up camps in southern Punjab to support the victims,” he said. “They intend to sympathize with the affected and gain their support.”

The president of advocacy organization Life for All, Rizwan Paul, said the bodies of the three relief workers had been sent to Islamabad under the supervision of the Pakistan Army.

“We strongly condemn the killing of the three humanitarian workers,” Paul said. “These aid workers came to support us, and we are thankful to the humanitarian organizations that came to help us in a time of need.”

Pointing to alleged discrimination against minorities in distribution of humanitarian aid, Paul added that Christians in severely flood-damaged areas in Punjab Province have been neglected. The majority of the effected Christians in Punjab are in Narowal, Shakargarh, Muzzafargarh, Rahim Yar Khan and Layyah, he said.

“The Christians living around Maralla, Narowal, and Shakargarh were shifted to the U.N.- administered camps, but they are facing problems in the camps,” he said. “There are reports that the Christians are not given tents, clean water and food. In most of the camps the Christians have totally been ignored.”

Life for All complained to U.N. agencies and the government of Pakistan regarding the discrimination, but no one has responded yet, he said.

“There have been reports from Muzzaffargarh and Layyah that the Christians are living on the damaged roads in temporary tents, as they were not allowed in the government camps,” he said.

In Sindh Province Thatta has been flooded, and around 300 Christian families who tried to move from there to Punjab were forbidden from doing so, a source said. Meteorologists are predicting more rains in coming days, with the already catastrophic flooding expected to get worse.

Kashif Mazhar, vice president of Life for All, said that in the northern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa conditions for Christians are better as there are Christian camps established, and Garrison Church in Risalpur is also providing aid to victims.

“It is discouraging to see that the Christian organizations are wholeheartedly supporting the victims regardless of the religion or race, but in most of the areas the Christians are totally ignored and not even allowed to stay,” Mazhar said.

Foreign targets are rarely attacked directly in Pakistan, despite chronic insecurity in the nuclear-armed state, which is a key ally in the U.S.-led war on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. On March 10, however, suspected Islamic militants armed with guns and grenades stormed the offices of a Christian relief and development organization in northwest Pakistan, killing six aid workers and wounding seven others.

The gunmen besieged the offices of international humanitarian organization World Vision near Oghi, in Mansehra district, of the North West Frontier Province. Suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan have killed more than 3,000 people since 2007. Blame has fallen on Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants bitterly opposed to the alliance with the United States.

The U.N. decided last year to relocate a limited number of its international staff from Pakistan because of security concerns. Its World Food Program office in Islamabad was attacked in October last year, with five aid workers killed in a suicide bombing. Then on Feb. 3, a bomb attack in the NWFP district of Lower Dir killed three U.S. soldiers and five other people at the opening of a school just rebuilt with Western funding after an Islamist attack.

We strongly condemn the killing of the three Christian humanitarian workers. These volunteers come from abroad to help Pakistan in this moment of absolute necessity: for that we thank them.

If Mexico Has ‘Lost Control’ of Entire regions, Is US Invasion Far Away?

[These are the fruits of the Bush/Cheney plan to destabilize Mexico in the name of fighting narcotics trafficking.  The “Merida Initiative” is a three-year, $1.4 billion aid program which has been implemented in Mexico since June 30, 2008.  It is a destabilization program in that it is the exact opposite strategy now being used to pacify Afghanistan and Pakistan, in that it wages war against the troops of the drug cartels and not the leadership itself.  In Afghanistan and Pakistan, where we are allegedly trying to pacify the region, American Special Forces are hunting the militant leaders to kill or capture them in their beds, seeking to decapitate the serpent.
In Mexico, they are hacking away at the tail, knowing that a tail can be easily regenerated.  By waging war against the cartel’s peon armies, they have entered formerly safe enclaves and escalated the acceptable level of violence to unprecedented heights.  In their defense, the cartels have waged war just like the Army, using many of the same weapons.  The cartels have adopted the strategies and tactics used in Africa and Asia.  The fight has been enlarged into a massive dogfight to determine “top dog,” while hunting spies within their own ranks and in the communities under their thumbs.  This accounts for a large portion of the killings.  That’s the problem with this approach.
From this US Army analysis (Mexico’s Narco-Insurgency and U.S. Counterdrug Policy), you can easily see that our military leaders understood that this approach was destined to fail from its inception.  They understood that Mexican violence would spin out of the Army’s ability to quell it.  Even though the military knew that the violence would one day force military intervention, they allowed the plan to go forward anyway.  This can only be understood as the military abdicating its responsibility to not allow American servicemen to be used for immoral purposes, or to support actions that will endanger the homeland.  Giving the Mexican Army the training and capability to bring war to Juarez and the other drug-running regions is clearly crossing both of these red lines.]

MEXICO CITY, AUG 28 (Reuters) – The current levels of violence in Mexico, with at least 28 000 murders in three and a half years in a country whose government hangs a fight against drug trafficking, show that “the state has lost control entire regions to the crime, “local experts concluded today.

“The core of organized crime are daily and are seeing that the state is in serious difficulties to retain control in certain areas,” he said Elena Azaola of the Center for Investigations and Superior Studies in Social Anthropology (CIES).

An investigation of the body Evalue Mexico on the level of citizen insecurity and violence has put the state of Chihuahua, which borders the United States, as the entity most insecure in the country. It is there that is located in Ciudad Juárez, regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world.

“Four years ago, has the highest number of homicides in the country and also has the highest number of murders linked to organized criminal activity,” said Azaola, speaking of the state, which borders the U.S. and Texas accounted for a level of violence of 68.5%.

The report says that there are others in intense conflicts regarding illegal organizations are Baja California, Durango, Sinaloa, Michoacan and Guerrero, with rates of insecurity of 54.6%, 54.08%, 50.6%, 46.95% and 44% respectively.

An analysis of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) reported that the increase in violence shown by the ‘loss of control “in areas of different states, and military strategy to fight drug trafficking, adopted by President Felipe Calderon takes office, in December 2006, “is wrong.”

The report notes that “the problem is not confined to the northern border, because in Michoacan and Guerrero [the Pacific] there are entire regions in which neither the army nor the police have access, and are under the control of organized crime that operates in full impunity. It is a fact, the state has lost territories for these groups. ”

Researchers from the UNAM said that after years of operations promoted by federal troops in order to recover the controlled areas and decrease the grassroots support of illegal organizations, the results are “weak and partial.”

The discovery of the corpses of 72 Latin American immigrants killed on Tuesday in Tamaulipas – including at least one Brazilian – “confirms what we knew: that drug traffickers are embedded in other crimes such as trafficking in persons , kidnapping, extortion, but what is not said is that it also expanded the legal activities of trade, industry and services. ”

The Collective Security Analysis with Democracy, based on figures from the U.S. think-tank Brookings Institution, reported that “in Mexico is the total bid to control the drug market and, in consequence, large areas of territory and routes land and sea. ”

“To have a size of the territories lost by the state over the past ten years between 20 000 and 25 000 hectares were planted with poppy from which opium is obtained, which matches the country of Burma [Myanmar] and overcomes the most cultivated in Thailand in the 1970s, “the study said, adding that in the case of marijuana,” the numbers are higher, from 30 000 to 40 000 hectares a year. ”

The Executive Secretary of the National System of Public Security, Juan Miguel Alcantara, said yesterday that the crimes of kidnapping, extortion and robbery with violence in Mexico increased by 400% in recent years. Between January and June last year and the same period of 2010, the rate of kidnappings rose 14.7%, and grew 200% compared with the last four years.