Protests condemn verdict against Aafia Siddiqui

Protests condemn verdict against Aafia Siddiqui

In Islamabad, protesters from a political party attempting to reach the US Embassy scuffled with police near a five-star hotel, witnesses said. — Photo by AP

KARACHI: Pakistani activists poured into the streets on Friday shouting “Death to America” and burning effigies of President Barack Obama after a US court jailed a woman scientist for 86 years.In a case that has been condemned across the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 167 million, the government said it would petition Washington to secure the repatriation of the mother of three on humanitarian grounds.

A New York court found Aafia Siddiqui, the once brilliant scientist dubbed “Lady Qaeda” by the US tabloids, guilty of the attempted murder of US military officers in Afghanistan in 2008 — five years after she disappeared.

In Karachi, Siddiqui’s home town and Pakistan’s largest city, police fired tear gas shells to prevent scores of people from marching on the US consulate at the behest of the youth wing of Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

The protestors shouted “Death to America,” “Allahu akbar” (God is greater), “Free Aafia Siddiqui” and “Down with the US system of justice”.

Hundreds of anti-riot police deployed on the main Shahra-e-Faisal road to stop protesters from marching towards the US mission.

Police official Javed Akbar Qazi said police arrested at least 14 people for creating a disturbance.

At a small protest outside the Karachi press club, JI activists burnt a crudely made Obama effigy, condemning US policies as anti-Muslim.

Fowzia Siddiqui, who has vowed to lead a national movement to campaign for her sister’s freedom, told a rally of hundreds of heavily veiled women that the Pakistani government had failed miserably.

“The sentence bears testimony to the fact that this government is puppet of the US… We are peaceful people and our aim is to bring back Aafia.”

Hundreds more took to the streets in Pakistan’s second largest city of Lahore. Cricket hero-turned-politician Imran Khan led a rally to condemn the verdict as “unethical and inhuman,” an AFP reporter said.

They condemned President Asif Ali Zardari and Khan, who heads the party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice), warned that the verdict could fan anti-Americanism across Pakistan and the Muslim world.

In Islamabad, police stopped dozens of Islamic students from marching on the US embassy to hand over a protest note. The crowd shouted “Crush America,””Siddiqui is our sister” and “We will bring her back.”Dozens of lawyers and activists blocked traffic in the central city of Multan, shouting “Down with America” and setting fire to an effigy of Obama and former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, an AFP reporter said.

Siddiqui, 38, who as a student excelled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was found guilty of grabbing a rifle at an Afghan police station where she was being interrogated in 2008 and of trying to shoot US servicemen.

Prosecutors said she picked up the weapon and opened fire on those servicemen and FBI representatives trying to take her into detention. She missed and in a struggle was herself shot by one of the US soldiers.

Defence lawyers argued there was no physical evidence, such as fingerprints or gunpowder traces, to show Siddiqui even grabbed the rifle.

Siddiqui’s lawyers have said they will appeal against the sentence and her family vowed to launch a “movement” to get her released from jail.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the upper house of parliament: “We will use every means to bring her back. Doctor Aafia is the daughter of the nation. We fought for her and we will fight politically to bring her back.”

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government would petition the US administration to review the sentence on a “humanitarian basis” and request that Siddiqui be handed over to Pakistan and dealt with under Pakistani law.

Asked under what circumstances Siddiqui could return home, the foreign ministry said Obama could pardon her, or an agreement could be reached for her to serve at least part of her sentence in Pakistan.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called on Islamabad and Washington to negotiate urgently for her repatriation on humanitarian grounds.

“We fear that the verdict will be misunderstood in Pakistan and bring relations between the two allies in the war on terror under increased strain,”said its chairman Mehdi Hasan. -AFP

Israeli action against Gaza flotilla ‘unlawful’ – UN Human Rights Council panel

Israeli action against Gaza flotilla ‘unlawful’ – UN Human Rights Council panel

The MV Mavi Marmara aid-carrying ship leaving Antalya, Turkey for Gaza on 22 May 2010

23 September 2010 – Israeli forces violated human rights and international humanitarian law during the 31 May incident involving a convoy of aid ships bound for Gaza, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s international, independent fact-finding mission has concluded.

In a 56-page report, the fact-finding mission, which is separate from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s four-member panel of inquiry into the same incident, found that the action of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in intercepting one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, on the high sea was “clearly unlawful.”

Nine civilians lost their lives and several more were seriously injured in the incident against the flotilla that departed from Turkey and was trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been the subject of an Israeli blockade since 2007.

“The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence,” the report states.

“It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

The report, which was made public yesterday, presents a factual description of the events leading up to the interception of each of the six ships in the flotilla as well as a seventh ship intercepted on 6 June, the deaths of nine passengers and wounding of many others, and the detention of passengers in Israel and their deportation.

The three-member mission said there is clear evidence to support prosecutions of crimes such as wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, and wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

It also voiced regret that the Israeli Government declined to cooperate with the mission, and that this is not the first time that this has happened.

“On yet another occasion of an enquiry into events involving loss of life at the hands of the Israeli military, the Government of Israel has declined to cooperate in an inquiry not appointed by it or on which it was significantly represented.”

The mission, chaired by Judge K. Hudson-Phillips, former judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, interviewed more than 100 witnesses in Geneva, London, Istanbul and Amman during the course of its work.

Sir Desmond de Silva, Queen’s Counsel, who was chief prosecutor of the Sierra Leone War Crimes Tribunal, and Shanthi Dairiam, human rights expert of Malaysia and former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, are also on the team, which will present its report to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council next week.

Columbia Shows Dead FARC Leader

Photo revealed the body of Mono Jojoy

The body of the FARC guerrilla was transferred from Catam Legal Medicine. Meanwhile, analyzed 15 computers and 60 USB in the camp.

El cadáver del 'Mono Jojoy'

Photo courtesy Ministry of Defense of Colombia

Following the ‘Operation Sodom “ which was shot in the alias Mono Jojoy, were found at the site of the bombing of La Macarena 15 computers and 60 USB with information that will be analyzed by the authorities.

This was revealed this Thursday night the president Juan Manuel Santos Calderon in New York, over dinner in his honor hosted by Americas Society, Council of the Americas and Colombian-American Association.

Noting that now the Colombian state is present at every inch of national territory, the Head of State stressed the work done by the now former President Alvaro Uribe Velez in his eight years in office.

He said the Democratic Security, Colombia advanced to the Democratic Prosperity.“There’s an incredible change in Colombia. Can not imagine the enthusiasm of the people.The future will be much better. We go to a better country. Colombian people dream of a better future, “said the President.

Santos reiterated that the purpose of government is to achieve social gains not seen in Colombia, which is that investment in the country, which allows for growth and can draw many people from poverty.

“We plan to get many social achievements that have never been seen in Colombia. We want investment, because otherwise we have no growth and we can not get people out of poverty. How do we achieve? Combining growth and social policy focus, “explained the matter.

He said that “expectations are very high because the circumstances will permit. Our responsibility is to give people that hope. “ Noting that it is necessary that the international community to change their perception of Colombia, President Santos said that the initiative of U.S. Ambassadors, as Carolina Barco and Luis Alberto Moreno, to bring Congress Americans to our country, “has had a big impact.”

Similarly, arrived in Bogota the body of ‘Mono Jojoy, visibly affected by the operation against them, especially on her forehead. The remains will be analyzed in Legal Medicine, the capital of the Republic.


Abkhaz Vice President Wounded in Fourth Assassination Attempt

Abkhaz Vice President Wounded in Attack

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Sep.’10 / 13:53

Vice President of breakaway Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab, was injured after a grenade hit his house in Gudauta on September 23 in what appears to at least fourth attack on Ankvab in last five years, officials in the breakaway region said.

Ankvab was wounded in his leg and hand after a grenade fired from RPG-26 launcher hit the roof of his two-storey house at about 2:15am local time, Apsnipress news agency reported quoting Ramin Gablaia, the deputy interior minister of Abkhazia.

His wounds are not life-threatening, officials in Sokhumi said.

Beslan Kvitsinia, a deputy chief prosecutor of the breakaway region, told Apsnipress, that “many details of assassination attempt indicate that the crime was commissioned and related to Ankvab’s professional activities.”

Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, described the incident as “a terrible fact.”

“This is not the first attack on Ankvab. We will try to do our utmost to investigate the case,” Bagapsh said.

It is thought to be the fourth, and possibly the fifth, attempt on Ankvab’s life in last five years.

In February 2005 a group of unknown gunmen opened fire on a convoy carrying Ankvab, then PM, outside Sokhumi. His car was hit by 17 bullets, local television reported at the time. Ankvab, however, was riding in his deputy’s car and survived unharmed.

In April 2005, Ankvab again survived unharmed when unknown gunmen opened fire on his convoy near Sokhumi in which Ankvab’s driver was wounded.

A roadside land mine, found in June 2007 on a road between Sokhumi and Gudauta, a regular route of Ankvab’s convoy, was also believed to have been aimed at him.

In July, 2007 Ankvab, who at the time was the breakaway region’s PM, was reportedly slightly injured with shrapnel after his car came under grenade attack on a road between Gudauta and Sokhumi.

No one has ever been arrested for these attacks.

Alexander Ankvab, 57, an influential political figure in Abkhazia, was appointed as Prime Minister in February, 2005. A close ally of Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, he became the Vice President after Bagapsh was re-elected as the president for second term in December, 2009.

He had wanted to run in the 2004 presidential election, but was ineligible because of an inability to speak the Abkhaz language and because he failed to meet residency requirements. He subsequently backed Bagapsh.

Abkhaz PM Survives Assassination Attempt – Jul’07
Abkhaz PM Attacked Again – April, 2005
Abkhaz PM Survives Assassination Attempt, Amid Cabinet Row – February, 2005

China: Checkmating India In Afghanistan

China: Checkmating India In Afghanistan

‘The total value of the Chinese investment in the copper mine alone will be almost three times the total value of the Indian investments in all projects in Afghanistan.”
by B.Raman

(September 24, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) China has shown interest in the construction of two railway lines—-one in Pakistan via the Gilgit-Baltistan region and the other in Afghanistan. While the railway line through Gilgit-Baltistan, ultimately extending up to Gwadar on the Mekran coast, will meet the external trade requirements of Chinese-controlled Xinjiang and other regions of Western China, the proposed line in Afghanistan will meet the requirements of a copper mine which China is developing in the Aynak area in Afghanistan. A pre-feasibility study by a Chinese company has already been done in respect of the railway line through Gilgit-Baltistan and an agreement was reached during the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to China in July to undertake a joint feasibility study by the railways of the two countries. In Afghanistan a joint feasibility study is to be undertaken by the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), which is developing the copper mine, and the Ministry of Mines of the Government of Afghanistan.

2. On September 22,2010, representatives of the Afghan Ministry of Mines and the MCC signed at Kabul an agreement to undertake the feasibility study. The MCC has, however, cautioned that a final decision on the construction of the railway line would depend on the security situation in Afghanistan. If the security situation deteriorated, the MCC may not go ahead with the proposal. While the Chinese do not anticipate any security problem in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, they do anticipate problems in Afghanistan.

3.Till now, the Taliban has not come in the way of the development of the copper mine. But, in January last, the Taliban kidnapped two Chinese road construction workers. One does not know what happened to them. Probably, the Chinese got them back after secretly paying a ransom.

4. The Chinese Communist Party-controlled “ Global Times” wrote on January 19 last as follows: “The situation in war-torn Afghanistan is deteriorating as Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers attacked buildings across the heart of Kabul , killing at least five people and claiming that they had kidnapped two Chinese engineers working in the country. The kidnappings indicate that China must prepare to cope with crimes targeting overseas Chinese citizens as the country’s presence expands worldwide, especially in some trouble spots, experts say. The engineers, who had been helping to build a road, were seized in the northern province of Faryab with four Afghans.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the abductions. A spokesman of the militia said that a Taliban Islamic court would decide their fate. ….The Taliban’s demands for the latest kidnapping are not clear. Reuters reported that the Taliban often kidnap foreigners as part of their campaign against coalition forces, but abductions have also become a lucrative business for criminal gangs and rival tribes.
A Chinese observer with years of experience working in Afghanistan told the Global Times that Chinese nationals had not been specifically targeted by the Taliban and the kidnapping may be in response to growing Chinese economic interests in the neighboring country. “Chinese enterprises have hired many armed security guards and tightened security measures to ensure safety for Chinese employees there,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. “However, potential threats cannot be eliminated amid such a chaotic situation in the country.” As China builds up its interests in Afghanistan, it faces a dilemma, the observer suggested. “Western nations raised their voice to call on China to offer military assistance. Afghanistan is a thorny issue for the US. It might be one for China in the future,” he warned. Afghan Minister for Mines Muhammad Ibrahim Adel told the Daily Telegraph in November that China has a growing role in the country. He said Chinese projects are likely to triple the Afghan government’s revenues within five years. China Metallurgical Group and China’s top integrated copper producer, Jiangxi Copper Corporation, in July started work in Logar, a province southeast of Kabul, to explore and develop the vast Aynak copper mines. The $4 billion investment was the biggest in Afghanistan’s history and provided thousands of Afghans with jobs.”

5.A question worrying the Chinese is whether the Taliban, which has close relations with the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan (IMET), will honour the agreements signed by the Hamid Karzai Government with China if it comes to power after the withdrawal of the US-led NATO troops. The Chinese are hoping that the Pakistan Government would persuade the Taliban to honour the agreements.

6. It has been stated that the railway line proposal is to connect China with Uzbekistan through Kabul and Aynak, which is to the south of Kabul. It is not clear wherefrom the proposed line will enter Afghanistan from China. The construction of the line, which is unlikely to start for another three years, might require the stationing of troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Afghanistan to protect the Chinese construction personnel. It is not clear how this could affect the functioning of Indian-aided projects in Afghanistan.

7. Speaking on the occasion of the signing of the agreement on the feasibility study, Mr.Zou Jianhui, President of the MCC, is reported to have stated as follows: . “We are still at an early stage. This feasibility study will take two, or two-and-a-half years. If over this period the Afghan security situation gets more stable, and the feasibility study results are good, then we can move ahead with the investment immediately. If the security situation gets worse, then at that time the investors will have to assess how to go forward. The MCC has to ensure the security of investors’ assets, but felt the project would help Afghanistan’s stability and economic development, and is keen to push ahead.”

8.According to the Reuter’s news agency, a commitment to building the railway was included in a contract that the MCC won in 2008 to develop the Aynak copper deposit. China’s top integrated copper producer Jiangxi Copper has a 25 per cent share holding in the project and the MCC the remaining 75 per cent. The two firms started construction of the project in July last year and expect it to produce 320,000 tonnes of copper concentrate annually, with production to begin in 2013 or 2014.

6. In his address to the London Conference on Afghanistan held in the last week of January,2010, Mr.Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, said that since 2002, China has provided more than 900 million RMB yuan (132 million U.S. dollars) in grants to the Afghan Government and canceled all its mature debts. China announced in 2009 that an additional 75 million U.S.dollars in concessional loans which it had previously committed would also be converted into grants, to be provided over a five-year period. The first instalment of 15 million dollars was given in 2009.The remaining 60 million U.S. dollars will be made available in the coming four years. By the end of 2009, China had trained over 500 Afghan government officials in areas such as diplomacy, economy and trade, medical and health care, finance, tourism, agriculture and counternarcotics. On August 16,2009, Mr.Karzai inaugurated at Kabul a 350-bed hospital called the Republic Hospital costing US Dollars 25 million constructed by the Chinese.

7.Since 2002, President Hamid Karzai has visited China four times. He paid his fourth visit in March last, accompanied by 20 businessmen. Premier Wen Jiabao reportedly told Mr. Karzai in their meeting that China would continuously provide aid to Afghanistan and pledged to enhance security and economic cooperation. In a joint statement issued at the end of the visit, China reiterated its support for peaceful reconstruction in Afghanistan. The two countries also agreed to expand economic cooperation and trade, increase mutual investment and technology transfer, and deepen cooperation in areas of transportation, agriculture and irrigation, energy, mining and infrastructure. During the visit, Mr.Karzai and President Hu Jintao witnessed the signing of three documents on economic and technological cooperation, favorable tariffs for Afghan exports to China and bilateral training programs. The two way trade between the two countries reached 155 million US dollars in 2008.

8. The total value of the Chinese investment in the copper mine alone will be almost three times the total value of the Indian investments in all projects in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which has been repeatedly expressing concern over the Indian role in helping the Karzai Government, welcomes the Chinese role and would like it to increase further. It even wants the Chinese to join in training the Afghan National Army. The US, which has strongly opposed any Indian role in training the ANA, has no such objection to a Chinese role. But, Beijing itself, despite prodding from the US, is reluctant. It wants to see how the ground situation develops. It does not want to incur the wrath of the Taliban by any major role in training the ANA despite Pakistani assurances that there would be no retaliation from the Taliban.

9. Addressing a meeting at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington DC on September 20, Mr.James Steinberg, the US Deputy Secretary of State, reportedly said that China could play a role in bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

10. Indian role in Afghanistan—-yes, but. Chinese role in Afghanistan—yes, absolutely. That is the policy of the Obama Administration. The Chinese policy in Afghanistan has two objectives—-to enhance its strategic presence and influence and to checkmate the Indian strategic presence and influence. The US support for the Chinese policy will be to the detriment of India.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

The Convoluted Claims Coming Out Of Tajikistan

[One would think that the best minds at CIA and the Pentagon could invent some new "militant Islamists" to portray its latest villains, but for some reason, they prefer to keep recycling the same old names and faces from the past, even if the militant villains have been reported dead, once or twice.  The tale that the Pentagon corporate media is struggling to put together and shove down our throats, about one legendary Tajik leader, "Mullah Abdullo" (Abdullah Rakhimov) is an excellent case in point.  These terror stories, excuses for military intervention, become even more ridiculous and unbelievable the farther you get from Afghanistan, or the more distant from the events of nine years ago.

Mullah Abdullo is a sick old man, possibly a drug addict, who has not been heard from since 2001, yet the mind-f*ckers at Pentagon have adorned him with AK-47s and rpgs and most likely a black headband (just like John Rambo), simply because they didn't know anyone else to choose for the next fall guy.]

Tajikistan: Army Rakhmonov on the trail of old enemies


In the photo: picture of the Tajik television, transmitted the Russian channel Vesti

Evening of September 22 Tajik Interior Ministry reported a minimum of five deaths among the members of illegal armed groups, concentrating in the Rasht region of the republic. These are the first results of the “cleanings” in the breakaway Pamir, launched by government forces in response to a daring attack on military convoy three days earlier. Ferghana.Ru sources say that the gorge Kamarob, where, according to the authorities, hiding “irreconcilable” warlords Abdullah Rakhimov and Alovuddin Davlatov, began large-scale operation.

According to Tajik police killed five militants – members of a gang of former warlord Mirzohudzhy Akhmadov. Ferghana.Ru sources in the police department of the country reported that the fate of the Akhmadov remains unknown: the security forces still do not know – whether he had survived during the operation to apprehend the persons involved in the attack on a convoy of military. Apparently, during the operation was not without military participation: how to tell the locals, the house Mirzohudzhy Akhmadov in Garm (Rasht district center) was subjected to Wednesday night this rocket fire.

In parallel with the suppression of armed opposition force the authorities carry out an information “processing” of the population.Wednesday evening at the Dushanbe television aired the story, which provided details of criminal acts Mirzohudzhy Akhmadov, known by the nickname “Belgo”. According to the State Committee for National Security (SCNS), Mirzohudzha Akhmadov for a long time hiding in his house in the very Garm Abdullah Rakhimov – “irreconcilable” field commander during the Civil War, better known by the nickname “Mullah Abdullah. After the completion of “cleansing”, more like the shelling, security forces discovered at his home six Kalashnikov assault rifles, three grenades and several thousand rounds of ammunition. “We also found a large quantity of explosives, which he wanted to use in Dushanbe”, – told the National Security Committee.

In TV programs also reported that Mullah Abdullah and Alovuddin Davlatov (nicknamed “Ali Bedak”) organized in various villages of Rasht district training centers for terrorists, in which trained young people “the basics of Islam and terrorist activities.” Viewers even showed one of the “Tajik Taliban, who called Halim Isoev and confirmed that he was trained in one of these centers under the leadership of Ali Bedaka.

Recall, 21 September Mirzohudzha Akhmadov told reporters that because of the actions security forces about thirty soldiers of the former Tajik opposition in recent years engaged in peaceful farm, were forced to go to the mountains. He complained that they could join the group attacked soldiers Tajik Defense Ministry. Earlier he had warned the authorities that if the government forces will take against the former opposition force, then they will simply be forced to take up arms again to ensure their own safety.

What happened in the Garm (Rasht district center district of Tajikistan) in recent years – is not entirely clear. After the civil war and reconciliation of former enemies, many of the members of the so-called “Islamic opposition” joined the ranks of government officials.Mirzohudzha Akhmadov, in particular, from 1997 until late 2008 led to the Garm regional police department for combating organized crime (ROBOP).

(On the current life and personality of 61-year old Mullah Abdullah almost did not really know. In June 1997, Tajik President Rakhmonov and the leader of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), Said Abdullah Nuri signed a general agreement on peace and national harmony. However, Mullah Abdullah, close to the leadership of general relativity, refused to accept the Government’s proposal to reintegrate into a nationwide force of the republic or return to civilian life. In 1999 he left Tajikistan and went to Afghanistan, where he knows what almost a decade. In May 2009, returned to his homeland. Rumor has it that today it is already quite an old man – a hopeless drug addict, rushed into homes in search of the last calm. According to the Tajik journalist and dissident Dodojon Atovulloyev, all charges against Mullah Abdullah flimsy and say only that “the power of all the forces seeking to discredit a man who could become the banner of the opposition. “He also strongly denied the allegations relating to that Rakhimov allegedly fought in Afghanistan with the Taliban.“Yes, he was in Afghanistan, but he was in the camp of Ahmad Shah Massoud”, – said Dmitry Atovulloyev.)

[If Abdullo was a guest of Ahmed Shah Massoud and the Northern Alliance they he was anti-Taliban, NOT a Taliban supporter--Ed.]

In 2008, Tajik authorities have accused Alexander Akhmadov in the death of Oleg Zakharchenko , commander of the OMON Tajikistan. Akhmadov himself denied this fact, stating that he only defended the building of the subordinate ROBOPa. After his meeting with President of Tajikistan E. Rakhmonov was made a mutual decision that that Ahmad and his supporters lay down their arms, and authorities “just” them. Parted whether Akhmadov and his supporters with guns and power ambitions, it is not known. But representatives of the official security forces, in turn, have repeatedly stated that the “killer Zakharchenko soon or too late will be delayed.”Last week, Interior Minister, Ministry of Defence of the country, the Deputy Prosecutor General and Chairman of the Tajik National Security Committee held a meeting in Rasht with former warlords, in particular, with M. Akhmedov, and assured them that no action against former fighters would be taken. Siloviki assured that the input to the region of additional forces associated exclusively with plans to capture the group of Mullah Abdullah. However, just three days on a convoy of troops in the gorge Kamarob was an audacious and brutal attack, which killed from 23 to 40 soldiers and officers, and several dozen soldiers, believed to have been captured. The Defense Ministry believes that the military was attacked by gunmen and militants Mullah Abdullah, “Ali Bedaka.

O where is now the very same Mullah Abdullah, is not known. However, it seems that the sharp confrontation between government forces and “irreconcilable” is just another bitter phase that could shake the fragile peace in Tajikistan, yet zabyvshem horrors of civil war.

Ferghana.Ru sources report that one of the famous former warlords, the United Tajik Opposition – Schoch Iskandarov – also went to the mountains and joined a group of armed fugitives from the army and police.

CIA’s Afghan Kill Teams Expand U.S. War in Pakistan

CIA’s Afghan Kill Teams Expand U.S. War in Pakistan

Let there be no doubt that the U.S. is at war in Pakistan. It’s not just the drone strikes. According to insider journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, the CIA manages a large and lethal band of Afghan fighters to infiltrate into Pakistan and attack al-Qaeda’s bases. What could possibly go wrong?

Woodward’s not-yet-available Obama’s Wars, excerpted today in the Washington Post and the New York Times, unveils a CIA initiative called the Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams, a posse of anti-Taliban and al-Qaeda locals who don’t respect the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The teams are practically brigade-sized: a “paramilitary army” of 3000 Afghans, said to be “elite, well-trained” and capable of quietly crossing over in the Pakistani extremist safe havens where U.S. troops aren’t allowed to operate. The CIA directs and funds the teams.

Administration officials didn’t just confirm the existence of the teams — they bragged about them. “This is one of the best Afghan fighting forces and it’s made major contributions to stability and security,” says one U.S. official who would only talk on condition of anonymity — and who wouldn’t elaborate.

The teams are an implicit concession of a paradox at the heart of the Afghanistan war: the enemies upon which the war is predicated, al-Qaeda and its top allies, aren’t in Afghanistan anymore. The drones — flown by both the CIA and the U.S. military — are one answer to their safe havens in Pakistan. (Two more drone strikes hit Pakistani tribal areas on Tuesday, bringing the total this year to at least 71.) Another is to launch the occasional commando raid across the Afghan border or rely on Special Forces, operating under the guise of training the Pakistani military, to engage in some dangerous extracurricular activity. Still another is to outsource “snatch and grab” operations against al-Qaeda to private security firms like Blackwater.

But the Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams follow a more traditional, decades-old CIA pattern. When it’s politically or militarily unfeasible to launch a direct U.S. operation, then it’s time to train, equip and fund some local proxy forces to do it for you. Welcome back to the anti-Soviet Afghanistan Mujahideen of the 1980s, or the Northern Alliance that helped the U.S. push the Taliban out of power in 2001.

But that same history also shows that the U.S. can’t control those proxy forces. Splits within the mujahideen after the Soviet withdrawal (and the end of CIA cash) led to Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s, which paved the way for the rise of the Taliban. One of those CIA-sponsored fighters was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, now a key U.S. adversary in Afghanistan. And during the 2001 push to Kabul, a Northern Alliance military commander, Abdul Rashid Dostum, killed hundreds and maybe even thousands of Taliban prisoners. He was on the CIA’s payroll at the time.

Then there are the risks that the Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams pose within Afghanistan. CIA has to recruit those fighters from somewhere. While the agency wouldn’t answer questions about how where its proxy fighters come from, the CIA also pays for a Kandahar-based militia loyal to local powerbroker Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s brother. Fearing that the entrenchment of such warlords will ultimately undermine the Afghan government, the U.S. military is trying to limit the influence of such warlords by changing its contracting rules. CIA may be less concerned.

After all, it’s not like the U.S. has many options for Pakistan, where hatred for the U.S. runs highofficial ties to extremists are deep and political restrictions on the presence of American combat troops (mostly) prove durable. One of the larger political narratives Woodward’s book apparently presents is President Obama’s inability to either bring the Afghanistan war to a close or find good options for tailoring it to the U.S.’ main enemies in Pakistan. When the CIA comes to the Oval Office with a plan for inflicting damage on the safe havens — no matter how fraught with risk and blowback the plan is — is it any surprise that Obama would approve it?

Update, 10:42 a.m., September 23: In comments, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the military attache in Islamabad, objects to my suggestion that U.S. Special Operations Forces are engaging in direct military action in Pakistan. I thought this merited inclusion in the body of the piece:

Mr. Ackerman’s inferrence that U.S. Special Operations trainers in Pakistan are conducting anti-militant combat operations “operating under the guise of training the Pakistani military” is completely false. The U.S. military is conducting no combat operations in Pakistan. U.S. military trainers, personnel, and activities here in Pakistan are conducted at the invitation of the Government and military leadership of Pakistan. At their request, we provide training, equipment, and other forms of support to Pakistan’s defense needs. Our SOF-related training and equipment programs are typically focused on supporting Pakistani Military counterinsurgency operations – support which Pakistani Military officials have requested and which supports their energetic fight against Violent Extremists within Pakistan.


Indigenous resistance, from Colombia to Palestine

Indigenous resistance, from Colombia to Palestine: “They only see our water, our land, our trees. They don’t care about us. They want the land — without the people on it.”

Indigenous resistance, from Colombia to Palestine

Anna Baltzer writing from Lopez, Colombia, Live from Palestine, 16 September 2010

A teenager sits above the Toez Indigenous Reserve at dusk. Her community has been repeatedly threatened with displacement by the Colombian government.

“They only see our water, our land, our trees. They don’t care about us. They want the land — without the people on it.”

These words are not of a Palestinian farmer but of Justo Conda, governor of Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve in southwestern Colombia, whose community was repeatedly threatened with displacement under former president Alvaro Uribe Velez. Uribe, recently appointed by the United Nations to investigate Israel’s fatal attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, has a notoriously horrific track record on human rights. Less explored are the clear parallels between his government’s mistreatment of indigenous peoples of Colombia and Israel’s abuses of the indigenous people of Palestine.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Colombia has one of the largest populations of internally displaced people in the world, numbering as many as 4.9 million. According to the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement more than 286,000 Colombians were uprooted from their land in 2009 alone. Approximately ten percent of the Colombian population has suffered forced displacement, many of them indigenous communities, afro-Colombian descendants of former slaves, and campesinos (farmers).

Like Israel, Colombia is the largest recipient of US military aid in its hemisphere. Six billion US tax-dollars over the past ten years have placed Colombia third in the world for US military assistance, after Israel and Egypt. Armed with US weapons and political backing, Uribe’s government and other armed actors have forced out millions through extrajudicial assassinations and terror tactics, clearing the way for the exploitation of natural resources by the government and multinational companies. Always in the name of security and the “War on Terror,” Colombian soldiers have burned villages, ransacked homes and destroyed the livelihoods of communities who have taken the radical decision of staying on their own land.

For many indigenous communities, this is not the first time they’ve been uprooted. With the Spanish invasion five hundred years ago and the founding of Colombia three hundred years later, indigenous peoples have been repeatedly forced to flee their fertile valleys rich with water and minerals, moving further and further into the Andes mountain ranges where the climate is harsher and the land less arable. Now the government wants to take even that land, leaving the communities trapped — community members say if they head higher into the mountains they may be threatened by guerillas who are fighting to maintain control of those areas, while going down into the valleys they will face aggression from paramilitaries, corporations and the army.

There is something eerily familiar about this violent and calculated expulsion and it is no surprise that Israel has now become Colombia’s number one supplier of weapons, advisor on military organization and intelligence-gathering and model for “fighting terror” (“Report: Israelis fighting guerillas in Colombia,” Ynet, 10 August 2007, as cited in “Uribe’s appointment to flotilla probe guarantees it’s failure,” Jose Antonio Gutierrez and David Landy, The Electronic Intifada, 6 August 2010). But like the Palestinians, the people of Colombia are not prepared to abandon their homes and livelihoods without a struggle. Almost twenty years ago, up against a military armed to the teeth, the indigenous communities of southwestern Colombia developed their own form of protection: La Guarda Indigena (The Indigenous Guard).

Justo Conda, governor of the Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve, standing in front of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca flag with the ancestral staff that identifies him as a member of the indigenous guard.

Standing before the flag of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca in the indigenous reserve of Lopez, Governor Conda explained:

“The Colombian government does not represent us, so we have constructed our own system of security. In each indigenous community, individuals are selected to serve for one year defending our land. Each indigenous guard receives a staff, passed down by its previous user, which represents the authority and responsibility of the position. Guards carry their ancestral staffs everywhere they go. It is received voluntarily; nobody is paid to defend their people. And although everyone in our communities would fight for our freedom, the staffs indicate those of us who have been physically and psychologically prepared during the year to defend our people and our land.”

Governor Conda added:

“In the face of a highly-militarized state that consistently denies us our basic rights, the indigenous guard is the only defense we can exercise. We have declared ourselves neutral, allied with neither the guerillas nor the army. We are offering a peaceful solution based on an end to colonization and respect for life and culture. We have no weapons or guns. We don’t need weapons or guns to exercise control. Our guards stand outside our gates, armed only with their colorful staff — a symbol of our strength and our values. And although we have received many threats, many authorities have also come to respect the indigenous guard.”

Conda explained that at the end of each guard’s term, he or she chooses a successor and the authority and responsibility rotates. Next to Conda, the current community guards stood up one by one, a diverse group of men and women; young and old; a pregnant woman; a village elder. They held the staffs, each meant to reach as high as its carrier’s heart.

Colombia’s indigenous communities have a long history of popular resistance. In the 1920s, tribes collectively boycotted taxes imposed by the government on indigenous people to live and work on their own land. Since then, councils have been formed to decide how to recuperate territory and resist expulsion. Although their presence preceded European colonization, indigenous Colombians are often treated as foreigners and invaders.

The response to organized indigenous resistance to displacement has been brutal. Last year alone, four members of the small Lopez Adentro community alone were assassinated (“The Struggle for Survival and Dignity: Human Rights Abuses Against Indigenous Peoples in Colombia,” Amnesty International, 23 January 2010 [PDF]). According to human rights advocate Felix Posada, 1,400 indigenous persons were assassinated during Uribe’s eight-year tenure, representing one percent of Colombia’s total indigenous population. Colombia has the highest rate of indigenous killings in Latin America, numbering 114 last year, reported Posada behind bulletproof doors in his office in downtown Bogota.

Right-wing paramilitary groups are suspected in many of the incidents, despite the Uribe administration’s claim of their demobilization in 2006 (“Colombian Paramilitaries’ Successors Called a Threat,” Simon Romero, The New York Times, 3 February 2010). The “disarmament” was widely seen as a publicity stunt in which individuals dressed up as militants handed over their guns in photo-ops in exchange for a handsome reward. Countless cases have confirmed collaboration between the Colombian army and the paramilitaries (renamed “organized delinquents” these days), the latter often doing the dirty work in exchange for power and immunity.

A mother at the Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve.

In October of 2008, following direct action by the Indigenous and Popular Minga (Community Mobilization) of La Maria in Piendamo, soldiers entered the municipality and vandalized cars, forced inhabitants out of their homes with tear gas, stripped men in front of their neighbors and set fire to residents’ huts, beds, bicycles and even children’s dolls (Video: “La Maria Piendamo,” 22 October 2008). A mass march from La Maria was met with soldiers and helicopters, leading to a stand-off of stones, sling-shots and ancestral staffs versus the army’s tear gas and live ammunition (Video: “Minga de la Maria Piendamo,” 22 October 2008). If Uribe’s administration’s chosen response to wooden, ancestral wooden staffs was bullets, what could he possibly say to Israel’s killing of nine Turks who may have been carrying chair legs?

The gravest threat of all faced by Colombia’s indigenous population is cultural destruction and extinction. Of Colombia’s 102 indigenous tribes, 32 percent are in danger of disappearance. Eighteen tribes have fewer than two hundred persons remaining. One of the most important forms of resistance for many communities has been the preservation of language, cultural values and traditions.

Until recently, the state-imposed educational system mandated schooling in Spanish, but today native languages are taught in classrooms on the reserves. The people have won other victories along the way as far back as 1991 when the new constitution finally recognized the diverse ethnic identities of the Colombian people and their rights to preserve their land and culture. But too often the constitution and laws are ignored in favor of other interests, notably expanding control over natural resources.

Unwilling to continue waiting after twenty years of unkept promises, the indigenous communities of the Cauca and Valle de Cauca regions of southwest Colombia have joined together on a common platform of four priorities: unity, land, culture and autonomy. The vision is a complete one, with freedom conditional on the fulfillment of each element. Another member of the Lopez Adentro community explained: “Peace is not simply an end to war. Peace will come when indigenous rights to land, culture and self-determination are respected. There can be no peace through the destruction or submission of the indigenous population.”

This definition of true peace is a timely one as Israel and the illegitimate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resume negotiations while ignoring the fundamental requirements of justice for the Palestinian people, including their respective rights to land, culture and self-determination.

It is difficult to imagine a leader as enthusiastic about Israel’s repression tactics as Uribe being a fair judge as to the legality of Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. His former administration’s close relationship to the Jewish state alone precludes him as an impartial investigator. And although there are notable differences between the situations in Colombia and Palestine, the likeness of the Colombian and Israeli governments’ responses to indigenous resistance is unmistakable. It would be not only out of character but downright hypocritical for Uribe to hold Israel accountable for the same type of behavior that characterized his own presidency.

Meanwhile, the sumoud and resilience of the indigenous Colombian people persists. Governor Conda continued, “Just as we have for five hundred years, we will continue to struggle and move forward. In fact, we are ready to work harder than ever.”

All images by Anna Baltzer.

Anna Baltzer is an award-winning lecturer, author and activist for Palestinian rights. Author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, she is contributor to four upcoming book on the subject. For more information visit

Nicaraguan Diplomat Throat Slashed In His Own Home In the Bronx

[There seems to be a rash of diplomat murders all of a sudden.]

Nicaraguan Diplomat Found Dead in the Bronx


A 34-year-old Nicaraguan diplomat was found dead on Thursday morning, his throat slashed, in the apartment building where he lived in the Bronx, the police said.

The police identified the man as Cesar Mercado, a senior consulate officer who had been working in New York for the past eight years, and who had been performing the duties of Nicaragua’s consul general.

Mr. Mercado’s body was discovered at 10:35 a.m. by his driver, who had arrived to pick him up, lying just inside the entrance to the blood-spattered apartment at 2070 Grand Concourse, just south of Fordham Road, said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman.

“The door was unlocked” but closed when the driver arrived at the apartment,” Mr. Browne said.

The driver stepped out of the apartment, closed the door and dialed 911, Mr. Browne said.

Detectives from the 46th Precinct responded and found a knife near the body, Mr. Browne said.

By midafternoon, the police were still investigating a motive for the killing. Mr. Browne said the apartment did not appear to have been ransacked. He said Mr. Mercado’s body was clothed, but he could not immediately say whether his hands had defensive wounds on them.

Mr. Mercado had been seen by neighbors on Wednesday, a day before the killing was discovered, Mr. Browne said.

A phone call to the Nicaraguan Embassy in New York was not immediately returned.

The killing comes as world leaders are converging on the city for the United Nations General Assembly, and on a day when President Obama was addressing the body on Manhattan’s East Side. Mr. Mercado’s plans for the morning were not immediately clear, the police said.