Who Is Who In Afghanistan?

[One of the keys to getting out of Afghanistan in a reasonable manner, is understanding “who is who” in Afghanistan, being able to tell in the field whether any individual Afghan is friend or foe, or merely misunderstood.  Is the guy carrying the Kalishnikov a Taliban, or just a poor Pashtun needing a job?  Is the “Taliban” really a Taliban, or is he a man seeking revenge for a murdered relative, or an Afghan patriot who believes that he is repelling invaders?  Understanding the motivation of the man whose speech you cannot understand might prevent confrontations with the wrong people, or killing men who are NOT terrorists.  If this is a war against “terror,” then identifying terrorists must be a primary consideration in the struggle to bring order to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  

Misunderstandings generate much of the unnecessary resistance to the mission to eliminate terrorism.  Clarification of the players, must be accompanied by clarification of the American mission.  If misunderstandings are to be kept to a minimum, then clarification of America’s real intent is perhaps the most vital element of a workable solution.  If Americans expect Afghans to reveal their own loyalties, then it is also time for America to come clean in its “Af/Pak” game, as well.]


U.S. Counter-Intel Agents Could Outnumber Taliban Infiltrators

He was the last person anyone expected to betray them. “Crazy Joe” was an Afghan cop — and a good one, his U.S. comrades believed. That is, until a day in October 2009, in Wardak province south of Kabul. A group of U.S. Army soldiers assigned to work alongside the Afghan police had just sat down to lunch when Crazy Joe opened fire.

“It dawns on me very quickly that he’s not shooting past them. He’s shooting at them,” Army Capt. Tyler Kurth told reporter Jessica Stone.

Two Americans died that day, adding to a growing list of U.S. and NATO troops killed by their ostensible Afghan allies. One of the worst such incidents happened in April, when an Afghan pilot trainee shot and killed eight U.S. Air Force advisors and a contractor in Kabul.  Since 2009, 57 coalition troops have died and 64 have been wounded by rogue Afghan security forces. Half the casualties occurred in just the first five months of this year.

In many cases, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying its fighters infiltrated Afghan forces with the intention of killing coalition troops. Now the U.S. is deploying 80 counter-intelligence agents to Afghanistan in an effort to prevent Taliban infiltration. The agents “will enhance the vetting of recruits, review profiles of soldiers who are being trained and generally tighten up the procedures to identify individuals who might be vulnerable to extremists’ appeals,” The New York Times reported.

With the withdrawal of U.S. forces slated to begin  next month, it should go without saying that loyal and effective Afghan security forces are a top coalition priority.

But it’s not at all clear that Taliban infiltration of Afghan forces is the biggest problem, or nearly as extensive as the extremist group claims. Just because the Taliban took credit for an attack, doesn’t mean the rogue Afghan shooter was motivated by the extremists’ cause or had any connection to them at all.

Ahmad Gul, the 50-year-old pilot who killed nine Americans in April, was apparently angry following an argument, possibly over pay. Afghan military spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said Gul was not an insurgent.

The Times pointed out that most killings by Afghan troops “stem from disagreements and arguments.”

“These incidents are exacerbated by austere battlefield conditions, combat stress, fatigue and cultural misunderstandings,” Lt. Col. David Simons, a spokesman for NATO’s training mission, told the paper.

And many of the incidents attributed to Taliban sympathizers inside the Afghan security forces were actually perpetrated by insurgents, with no formal ties to the Afghan military, wearing illegally-acquired uniforms as disguises. These attackers pose a very different problem than actual rogue Afghan troops, as they cannot normally penetrate a base or unit as deeply as a turned Afghan soldier might.

A little perspective is useful. While even one “friendly-fire” incident is too many, genuine Taliban infiltration of Afghan security forces has accounted for fewer than 60 coalition deaths, in a war that has killed more than 2,500 NATO and non-Afghan allied troops plus at least 8,000 Afghan troops. It’s likely that NATO air strikes have accidentally killed far more Afghan troops than Afghan troops have deliberately killed NATO servicemembers.

Not to mention, counting army, air force, police, border guards and militia, there are around 500,000 Afghan troops. I’d guess at least 499,900 have zero interest in supporting the Taliban.

Incompetent and corrupt native troops probably pose a greater risk to Afghanistan’s security than Taliban infiltrators do. In my four embeds with NATO forces in Afghanistan since 2007, not once have I witnessed the kind of mistrust between Afghan troops and their NATO allies that would result from truly widespread Taliban infiltration.

Instead, the greatest tension between NATO and Afghan soldiers was over the Afghans’ tendency to mishandle their weapons and shoot wildly at the slightest provocation. In Bermel district in April, green Afghan soldiers wielding a faulty rocket launcher came close to incinerating a group of U.S. Army paratroopers. Earlier, the same paratroopers survived a massive, late-night Taliban assault only to take fire from jumpy Afghan guards shooting indiscriminately into the darkness.

And while the April murder of nine U.S. trainers could slow the development of the Kabul wing of the Afghan air force, the wing’s own corruption is arguably as serious a threat to the organization. U.S. Air Force trainers with the Kandahar wing — the other half of the Afghan air force — told me that Afghan aviators spend a lot of their time flying personal errands for senior officers or smuggling contraband.

That said, the Taliban has occasionally infiltrated the Afghan military or turned existing servicemembers to the extremist cause. Crazy Joe, for one, escaped the scene of the 2009 shooting. Survivors of the attack believe the turned cop went into hiding, with the Taliban’s help.

Expanded U.S. counter-intelligence could mean better vetting of Afghan forces and fewer killings by rogue troopers like Crazy Joe. But adding 80 counter-intel agents probably means the force assigned to identifying Taliban infiltrators greatly outnumbers the infiltrators themselves.

Update 2:52 pm EDT: As one military intelligence veteran notes, this post makes it sounds like the 80 new counter-intel agents are the first folks in Afghanistan that’ll do this screening work. Between the Army, the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, Navy NCIS, the State Department, and, um “other government agencies,” that’s probably not the case.

Photo: David Axe

U.S. Afghan Pullback Lets Taliban Open New Bases, Pakistan Says

U.S. Afghan Pullback Lets Taliban Open New Bases, Pakistan Says

By Haris Anwar and James RupertA U.S. pullback of troops from northeastern Afghanistan over 20 months has let Islamic guerrillas establish bases in the area and carry out unusually large attacks on Pakistan in recent weeks, the Pakistani military said.

Several Pakistani Taliban groups moved fighters into Nuristan and Kunar and used those Afghan provinces five times in the past month to send forces numbering in the hundreds to attack Pakistani border posts or police stations, said military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas.

“In the past we never had this kind of experience, where 200 to 300 militants attacked us,” Abbas said yesterday in an interview at Pakistan’s army headquarters in Rawalpindi. “It’s a big body in this mountainous terrain” and shows that the militants have established bases in northeastern Afghanistan that can house, feed and transport such groups, he said.

Pakistan’s complaint about the Taliban filling a power vacuum in Afghanistan comes as President Barack Obama pledged June 22 to withdraw 33,000 U.S. soldiers between this month and the end of next year, replacing them with Afghan troops and police the U.S. is helping to train. The U.S. government contends that Pakistan has failed to eliminate similar safe areas for the guerrillas in its border districts, especially North Waziristan.

The complaints on both sides underscore the need and the difficulty for Pakistan and Afghanistan to maintain control all the way to the isolated, mountainous border between them, Abbas said.

Escape Route

Pakistani officials say the U.S. pullback from northeastern Afghanistan since late 2009 has given the Taliban an escape route from the Pakistan army’s offensives to clear the militants from two adjacent Pakistani districts, Bajaur and Mohmand.

“The best economy of effort is by conducting joint operations” to trap the guerrillas between U.S. and Pakistani forces, Abbas said.

“We know the border is very porous and the insurgents are using the terrain to their advantage,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Kaye Sweetser, a spokeswoman for the U.S.- ledInternational Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. “We’re constantly trying to deal with that.”

While ISAF “is aware of media reports from Pakistan” saying the Taliban have carried out attacks from Afghanistan, Sweetser said she didn’t immediately have independent information on the incidents.

Laying Blame

Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry spokesman, General Zaher Azimi, denied that any Pakistani Taliban maintain bases anywhere in Afghanistan. Pakistan is “trying to blame Afghanistan,” Azimi said in a phone interview.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters crossed the border from Kunar on mountain ridges as high as 3,700 meters (12,000 feet) to attack police stations in Pakistan’s Dir Valley on April 22 and on June 1, Abbas said. About 300 fighters crossed into Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal district last month and seized two border posts, killing 15 Pakistani security officers, he said.

As the Pakistani army has undertaken offensives since 2007 to re-capture districts taken over by the Taliban, the surviving Taliban forces have moved to Kunar and Nuristan to regroup, Abbas said. These include Taliban commanders Hakimullah Mehsud from South Waziristan, Faqir Muhammad from Bajaur and Abdul Wali from Mohmand, he said.

The U.S. military made its most prominent advance into Nuristan after 2006, establishing several small outposts to interdict guerrillas crossing into the province from Pakistan. After repeated Taliban attacks on the camps left dozens of U.S. soldiers dead, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, ordered a shift of troops from rural outposts to population centers, and the Nuristan bases were abandoned in 2009.

“ISAF posts were vacated and that created a void,” Abbas said. “Unless we resolve this, it will not allow the whole effort of bringing stability in the region.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at hanwar2@bloomberg.net; James Rupert in Islamabad at jrupert3@bloomberg.net

Right-Wing Disillusionment With the War Without A Mission, Or An End

[Double-talk, double-think, double-dealing, all are reasons why Obama really is a “Dick.”  He never intended to seek “victory” in Afghanistan, only to prolong the war until it could be either expanded or relocated next-door to Pakistan and then onwards into Central Asia.  The right-wing’s great disillusionment with Obama is merely the beginning of their own awareness of our fearless leader’s true intentions.  We have all been falling for the bullshit spewing out of Washington for ten years or more.  It is only that the left-wing was a little quicker to recognize “shit creek” when we saw it.  Someone tell the right-wing and the Army guys to “stop paddling,” since we are going nowhere.]

Bing West: Obama’s ambivalence has undermined the Afghan mission

Bob Strong/Reuters

Bob Strong/Reuters

US Army soldiers in Afghanistan work to save a comrade after an IED exploded north of Kandahar July 30, 2010.

By Bing West

It was not easy to understand the military strategy in Afghanistan. “The United States really has gotten its head into this conflict,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared in 2009, “only in the last year.” It had taken Gates three years, two administrations and three commanding generals in Afghanistan to arrive at that conclusion, while Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and master of incomprehensible syntax, continued to talk in circles that supported any position. Their leadership did not demonstrate a consistent, steadfast strategic vision.

In June of 2009, Gen. Stanley McChrystal became the top commander in Afghanistan and decided to implement a “new” counterinsurgency strategy, with the main effort aimed at pushing back the Taliban in the south. McChrystal was modifying, but not reversing, the approach taken by his dismissed predecessor, Gen. McKiernan. It was McKiernan’s operation order that remained in effect. Gates was wrong about the newness of the strategy; the shift to counterinsurgency had occurred before 2009. In fact, battalion commanders were following counterinsurgency doctrine years before McChrystal came on the scene.

In August of 2009, McChrystal sent the Pentagon a memo. “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the nearterm,” McChrystal wrote, “risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” He requested 40,000 more troops — a 40% increase.

If President Barack Obama refused the request, he would be criticized as tolerating defeat. With alarm bells ringing in the White House, Obama ordered a review of his Afghan policy. One group, led by Vice-President Joseph Biden, argued for a reduced strategy aimed at striking terrorist bands. The other group, led by the Pentagon, endorsed McChrystal’s larger strategy of population protection and nation building.

In November of 2009, however, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, America’s top diplomat in Afghanistan, sent a cable to Secretary of State Clinton. Eikenberry, who had served as the three-star commander in Afghanistan, warned against sending additional troops. He wrote that “Karzai was not an adequate strategic partner … shuns responsibility for any strategic burden, whether defence, governance or development … there is no political ruling class that provides an overarching national identity.”

The ambassador also held out little hope that Pakistan would co-operate. “Pakistan will remain the single greatest source of Afghan instability so long as the border sanctuaries remain, and Pakistan views its strategic interest as best served by a weak neighbour.”

After three months of study, in December of 2009, President Obama announced his revised strategy. “It is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan,” he said in a televised speech at West Point. “After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”

The sentence about withdrawing caught the military by surprise. Petraeus later testified that no senior officer had recommended it. Liberals, led by Biden, interpreted the sentence as a promise of substantial withdrawals. Conservatives, led by Republican Senator John McCain, complained that setting an exit time encouraged the Taliban to wait out the coalition. By sending more troops in while promising to begin withdrawing soon thereafter, Obama came down firmly on both sides of the critical issue: Was the United States determined to prevail in Afghanistan?

In September of 2009, McChrystal had defined his mission as “Defeat the Taliban.” Secretary of Defense Gates criticized that goal as a “forever commitment.” So in December, the White House order changed “defeat” to “diminish” the Taliban. Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not object, “diminish” was not an executable military mission. After all, the loss of a single insurgent would diminish the Taliban, while making no difference in the outcome of the war.

In his inaugural address, Obama had pledged, “You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.” In March of 2009, he had declared, “the uncompromising core of the Taliban must be met with force, and they must be defeated.” In his December 2009 speech, Obama purged the word “defeat,” saying the goal was “to deny it [the Taliban] the ability to overthrow the government.”

When asked about the change in mission, Defense Secretary Gates replied, “We are in this thing to win.” Adm. Mullen added, “That’s certainly where I am … If we’re not winning, we’re losing. Having an intellectual debate about winning and losing … I don’t think is very helpful … I urge our troops to think carefully about how they will accomplish the mission they have been assigned.”

If the highest-ranking officer in the military cannot explain the mission, he cannot expect a corporal to carry it out. Any soldier who “thought carefully” would conclude that Washington had ordered an incomprehensible mission. When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs believes the difference between winning and losing is an intellectual debate, it’s time he changed jobs and became a professor at a war college. The amorphous mission risked making the grunts pawns in some strange, possibly delusional geopolitical manoeuvre. How do you tell a squad leader to “diminish” the enemy?

Obama said, “After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.” Gates said “some handful or some small number” might withdraw, depending upon conditions. Vice-President Biden disagreed, saying, “In July of 2011 you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it.” Months later, Biden reversed himself, saying the withdrawal “could be as few as a couple thousand troops.”

Eighteen months was an impossible deadline. An insurgency is a cancer, not a broken bone affecting only one portion of the body politic. American troops were the serum injected into Afghanistan’s bloodstream to enable the body’s natural defences to recover. Gradually, the number of injections would decrease. American soldiers could thin out in 2011. But no general could manage his battlespace based on a firm timeline, or instruct his troops to “diminish” the enemy.

Senator Dick Lugar, the thoughtful ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concern that the logic of the strategy seemed circular. We do and we do not have to nationbuild; we do and we do not have to defeat the Taliban.

“At some moments, it appears as if we are trying to remake the economic, political and security culture of Afghanistan,” Lugar said. “At other moments, it appears we are content with … preventing an implacable hostile Taliban regime from taking over … We need to know what missions are absolutely indispensable for success, however it is defined.”

Is America nation building? Yes (Mullen). No (Obama). Is it pursuing a strategy of counterinsurgency aimed at winning over the support of the Pashtun people? Yes (McChrystal). No (Biden). Would it withdraw a large number of troops in mid- 2011? Yes (Biden). No (Gates). Is Pakistan committed to helping or impeding? Secretary of State Clinton implied that it was both, while rhetorically asking, “Are we to believe that no Pakistani official of any rank knows where Osama bin Laden is hiding?” Does the United States have a real plan for transitioning the war to the Afghans? No senior official has issued a statement for the record.

By declaring an ambiguous mission, the President had positioned himself brilliantly as a politician. His Delphic statements left open his options. That same uncertainty harmed the military mission. The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway, later said the 2011 withdrawal pledge “is probably giving the enemy sustenance.” Gates championed the President, firing back, “I don’t think you’ve heard any of the other chiefs or the chairman say that.” Inadvertently, Gates had called into question the integrity of Joint Chiefs. What honest military commander would deny that a withdrawal date sustained enemy morale?

As the strategy review dragged through the fall of 2009, leaks to the press supported McChrystal’s approach. Obama allegedly responded by dressing down the generals “in a cold fury.” The message was that the military could not manoeuvre Obama into a corner.

Still, the military insisted he meant to say that the number of troops leaving depended upon conditions on the ground. Clearly, Afghans did not want to join the losing side. So Obama changed his tune. “The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground,” he said. “But make no mistake: This transition will begin.” That clarification only reinforced the ambiguity about his intention.

Obama and his advisors, confident of the logic of their position, spoke at length to the journalist Bob Woodward and gave him the administrations’s secret war plan, entitled “President Obama’s Final Orders for Afghanistan Pakistan Strategy.”

“Transition responsibility for security,” the plan read, “to the Afghan government on a timeline that will permit us to begin to decrease our troop presence by July of 2011.”

“Obama’s Final Orders” reflected no finality. The Taliban claimed the plan promised an end to the American presence. It was hard to argue they were wrong, because the language was deliberately tortuous. In later addressing the cadets at West Point, Obama quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote, “To fight out a war you must believe in something and want something with all your might.” While exhorting others to fight mightily, Obama gave no sense that he believed in the war with all his might.

Excerpted from The Wrong War. © 2011 by Bing West. All rights reserved. Excerpted with permission of the publisher Random House, Inc.

India to get Russian Nerpa submarine by yearend

India to get Russian Nerpa submarine by yearend

Nerpa class submarine

Nerpa class submarine

© RIA Novosti.

ST. PETERSBURG, July 1 (RIA Novosti)

Russia will transfer the K-152 Nerpa attack submarine to India on a 10-year lease by the end of 2011, Navy commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said on Friday.

“We will hand this submarine to the client by the year’s end,” Vysotsky said and emphasized that the Indian crew is completely trained to operate the submarine.

The lease contract, estimated at some $900 million, was drawn up after an agreement between Moscow and New Delhi in January 2004, in which India agreed to fund part of the Nerpa’s construction.

The Nerpa was scheduled to be introduced into the Indian Navy as INS Chakra by mid-2008 but technical problems stalled the process.

Then, shortly after the start of sea trials in November 2008, 20 sailors and technical workers were killed onboard the submarine due to a toxic gas leak when the automatic fire extinguishing system malfunctioned. After repairs, the Nerpa is now fully operational.

Pakistani Taliban Leader Denounces Suicide Attacks On Mosques and On Public As Terrorism

Pakistani Taliban at odds over suicide attacks


By Muhammad Tahir

ISLAMABAD, July 1 (Xinhua) — Pakistani Taliban is facing a visible split days after a senior leader quit over suicide attacks at mosques and bomb blasts in public places and formed a new group.

Commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who was leading the Tehrik-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Kurram agency, said earlier this week he has launched a breakaway faction “Tehrik-i-Taliban Islami Pakistan ” (Islamic Movement of Pakistani Taliban) and will not attack Pakistani security forces.

Reports about differences within the TTP had been surfaced on several occasions, especially after the death of the TTP founder Baitullah Mehsood in a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan tribal region in August 2009, but it was the first time that a key Taliban leader openly condemned the group’s policies, staging a rebellion against the Amir (chief) and also launched a new faction.

In a media interaction, Haqqani on Monday declared suicide attacks in mosques and public places as forbidden in Islam. He termed attacks in worship places as terrorism and argued that Islam does not permit such attacks. Haqqani also said that he tried to convince the TTP leadership to stop attacks in public places but the leaders did not give any heed to his opinion.

Pakistani officials said that 35,000 people have lost lives in terrorist attacks in 10 years. Haqqani said that he also opposed kidnapping of civilians, especially Shia Muslims, in the region for ransom. Pakistani media had earlier reported differences and even internal clashes in the Bajaur, Orakzai and Mohmand tribal regions.

Saeed Haqqani is considered a key Taliban commander in Kurram agency, who had been heading the group in the area until he announced a breakaway faction. He has studied in Pakistan’s biggest religious school “Darul uloom Haqqani” at Akora Khattak in the northwest. Many Afghan Taliban leaders have also studied in this school and its current head Maulana Sami-ul-Haq publicly supports Afghan Taliban.

Haqqani is also considered important in the region as he has strong links with Afghanistan’s Haqqani network, the most wanted by the United States. Sources close to the Taliban said that Haqqani had also fought against the U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces along with Haqqani network. The sources added that differences between Saeed Haqqani and TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsood intensified in recent weeks and the locals said clashes have happened between the two sides.

The differences turned to be much serious in March this year when armed men attacked passenger buses in Bagan area of Kurram agency, killing several people and kidnapping 35 Shia Muslims. Haqqani had accused Hakimullah group for the attacks. He also supported a deal to reopen all roads after three years’ closure. The roads were opened with Haqqani consent, which annoyed Hakimullah’s commanders in the area.

The TTP also faced a split in the nearby Orakzai agency this week when fighters loyal to TTP local commander Mulla Tufan clashed with another commander under Mulla Nabi, which led to the death of 12 people from Nabi group.

Two Taliban groups, one led by Mulla Nazir in South Waziristan and the other headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan, have already struck peace deals with the security forces and they are not opposing the military operations against the TTP.

In North Waziristan, commanders of Hafiz Gul Bahadar group have asked the Hakimullah fighters, who had arrived after the military offensive in South Waziristan, to leave the area.

It means the Hakimullah men would now only be confined to few areas in South Waziristan and it would be difficult for them to show any stiff resistance to the Pakistani forces.

The successful military operations by the Pakistani forces in tribal regions and the northwestern Swat valley have already pressurized the Taliban groups and experts believed that these offensives have badly affected the command and control system of the TTP.

The TTP Deputy Chief, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, told the media this month that he has crossed into Afghanistan’s Kunar province from Bajaur. Several other Pakistani Taliban leaders from Mohmand agency also went to Afghanistan and are taking shelter in remote areas under Afghan Taliban control.

The TTP has now lost a key commander, who also enjoys vast influence in Orakzai agency and his decision to take shelter in Afghanistan has shattered the TTP leadership. It would be premature to predict that how much the new Taliban group would be active and effective, but the Tehrik-i-Islami Pakistan would further mount pressure on the TTP, analysts said.

They said the new group will provide an opportunity to those Taliban commanders who have differences with the TTP and want to quit the main umbrella outfit which suffers split at a time when the group has lost sympathy among the people due to its suicide attacks on civilians.

Editor: Yang Lina

Moldovan police seize enriched uranium

Moldovan police seize enriched uranium


Authorities in Moldova say they have detained six men and seized a quantity of enriched uranium.

The seized uranium can be used to arm nuclear weapons and is valued at nearly $29 million.

An interior ministry official said it came from Russia.

The six men are accused of trying to sell at least a kilo to a Muslim national from an unnamed African country.

“The container with uranium has been in Chisinau for a week,” senior police investigator Vitalie Briceag told reporters.

“All that time, intermediaries were looking for buyers. The container, 20 centimetres long and 40 centimetres in diameter, was found at one of the detained men’s apartments.”

He said the metal was uranium-235, which can be used in nuclear weapons, although it was not clear to what degree it was enriched.

Four detainees were Moldovans and two were citizens of the unrecognised Transdniestria, a breakaway region of the former Moldavian Soviet republic.

“We have been helped by experts from Ukraine, Germany and the United States,” Mr Briceag said.

“We have been following the suspects since March.”

In August Moldova detained several men, some of them former police officers, who were trying to sell some uranium-238, an isotope that cannot be used in nuclear weapons.

– BBC/Reuters

Modi destroys massacre records

[SEE: Gujarat riots: Indian SC orders inquiry against Modi ]

29 04 2009


Modi destroys massacre records

By Jawed Naqvi |
Narendra ModiThe Congress party said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Chief Minister Narendra Modi had carried out a criminal conspiracy to destroy the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) records. — Photo by Reuters

NEW DELHI, June 30: In a setback to India`s fabled secular democracy, and with international ramifications, the Gujarat government has destroyed incriminating records of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms, victims` lawyers and political opponents said on Thursday.

The Congress party said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Chief Minister Narendra Modi had carried out a criminal conspiracy to destroy the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) records.

Pakistan`s human rights icon and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Asma Jehangir had met Mr Modi in 2008 to underscore her concerns. However, according to a Gujarat official, the records had already been destroyed in 2007.

“This is nothing short of a criminal conspiracy to see that the truth does not emerge. It clearly points out that the state government is trying to cover up the entire matter,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said in New Delhi.

Alleging there was an attempt to `hide` the truth regarding the alleged involvement of Chief Minister Modi and his cabinet colleagues, representatives of victims and survivors demanded an independent inquiry under the supervision of the Supreme Court into the BJP government`s action.

Mr Tewari found it a `complete travesty` that documents pertaining to a `massacre and carnage`, which is under investigation of the highest court of the land and in which the “needle of suspicion is directly at the Chief Minister of Gujarat”, gets destroyed in this manner.

In the state capital, Gandhinagar, lawyer Mukul Sinha of the NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch, which represents some of riot victims, said: “It is a terrible thing for the government to do. We had a doubt that they had been destroyed.”

“Since all the allegations were against police officer for inactions and negligence, destruction of SIB records could have serious implications,” he said.

Now with the records destroyed it would be difficult to prove the allegations against the accused policemen and political leaders, Mr Sinha said.

“This could also affect judgment in the Godhra train burning case as the phone call records, movement records of police and political leaders prior, during and after the incident are no more,” he added.

Senior Gujarat counsel S. B. Vakil representing the state government in the Nanavati Commission, probing the 2002 violence, had on Wednesday told reporters that telephone call records, officers` movement registers and vehicle log books of the SIB pertaining to the period of 2002 riots were destroyed in 2007, as per government rules.

Kurram Offensive Getting Underway

Yasin Malik

PESHAWAR –  Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Asif Yaseen Malik on Thursday said the armed forces had decided to launch a military operation in Kurram Agency. “Military action against terrorists has been decided in accordance with the unanimous demand of the traditional tribal jirga,” he said while talking to a group of reporters at his office. He said the militants had made the life of the locals miserable in the agency. However, the corps commander did not give a timeline for the military offensive against the terrorists.
Deployment of the security forces is in progress in Kurram since Tuesday. On June 24, helicopter gunships bombed suspected hideouts of militants in Kurram, which resulted in the death of 15 people, including nine militants. The corps commander said military action in the border areas of North and South Waziristan was in progress, while Bajaur and Mohmand had already been cleared. There were reports regarding the fleeing of a large number of local and foreign militants from North Waziristan into Kurram and Orakzai agencies and the tribal jirga had requested an early military action against the terrorists in the area.

US Refuses to Withdraw Predator Force from Shamsi Airbase In Balochistan

[This base has been under control of the UAE since the 1990’s, after they provided the initial funding for its construction.  These wealthy Arabs have been in cahoots with the CIA since the beginning and throughout the entire “Islamisation” destabilization project.  It looks like top lawyers will be fronting the American takeover of Balochistan.]


U.S. rejects demands to vacate Pakistan drone base

By Mark Hosenball and Kamran Haider


(Reuters) – The United States is rejecting demands from Pakistani officials that American personnel abandon a military base used by the CIA to stage drone strikes against suspected militants, U.S. officials told Reuters.

U.S. personnel have not left the remote Pakistani military installation known as Shamsi Air Base and there is no plan for them to do so, said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive material.

“That base is neither vacated nor being vacated,” the official said. The information was confirmed by a second U.S. official.

The U.S. declaration that drone operations in Pakistan will continue unabated is the latest twist in a fraught relationship between security authorities in Washington and Islamabad, which has been under increasing strain for months.

Regarding the Shamsi base in particular, Pakistani officials have frequently suggested it is being shuttered, comments that may be aimed at quieting domestic opposition to U.S. military operations using Pakistani soil.

Earlier this week, Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told the Financial Times that Pakistan had already stopped U.S. drone operations there.

On Thursday, Mukhtar told Reuters: “When they (U.S. forces) will not operate from there, no drone attacks will be carried out.”

He said Islamabad had been pressuring the U.S. to vacate the base even before the May 2 commando raid in which U.S. Navy SEAL commandos killed Osama bin Laden. After the raid, Mukhtar said, “We told them again.”

A senior Pakistani military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that when U.S. forces first launched counter-terrorism operations inAfghanistan, Pakistan “provided Americans two bases in Jacobabad and Shamsi. Jacobabad base has been vacated for long time ago, but Shamsi is still with them.”

“They are vacating it,” the official insisted. “Shamsi base was for logistic purpose. They also used it for drones for some time but no drones have been flown from there.”


The official said no base in Pakistan was presently used by the Americans for drone operations. But he did not give a precise date for when drones supposedly stopped operating from Shamsi.

The U.S. officials disputed that account. If anything, the Obama administration is moving to a counter-terrorism strategy based more on drone strikes and other covert operations than on deploying large numbers of troops.

On Wednesday, John Brennan, president Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism advisor, promised that in the tribal regions along the Afghan/Pakistan border, the U.S. would continue to “deliver precise and overwhelming force against al Qaeda.”

“And when necessary, as the President has said repeatedly, if we have information about the whereabouts of al Qaeda, we will do what is required to protect the United States — as we did with bin Laden,” Brennan said in a speech.

Pakistani officials have faced fierce criticism for tacitly allowing the CIA to conduct drone operations on Pakistani soil. Allegations that civilian bystanders have been killed in drone attacks have only compounded the political problems facing Pakistani authorities.

Brennan rejected suggestions that U.S. drone attacks had caused numerous civilian casualties, claiming that the U.S. had been “exceptionally precise and surgical” in its operations. “Not a single collateral death” had been caused by U.S. counter-terrorism operations over the last year, he said.

U.S. officials have said that since the United States in July 2008 greatly increased the rate of drone-borne missile strikes against suspected militants along the Afghan/Pakistan border, the number of civilian deaths caused by such attacks has totaled under 40. Some Pakistani officials and human rights activists have claimed the death toll is much higher.

(Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani and Chris Allbritton; Editing by Warren Strobel andAnthony Boadle)