The Secret Killers

AC 130H Spectre gunship

The Secret Killers

  • The US military is fast becoming Manhunting, Inc, expanding its use of highly secretive “capture/kill” teams. Task Force 373 in Afghanistan is one such special operations forces assassination unit.

Find, fix, finish, and follow-up” is the way the Pentagon describes the mission of secret military teams in Afghanistan which have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda wherever they may be found. Some call these “manhunting” operations and the units assigned to them “capture/kill” teams.

Whatever terminology you choose, the details of dozens of their specific operations — and how they regularly went badly wrong — have been revealed for the first time in the mass of secret US military and intelligence documents published by the website Wikileaks in July to a storm of news coverage and official protest.  Representing a form of US covert warfare now on the rise, these teams regularly make more enemies than friends and undermine any goodwill created by US reconstruction projects.

When Danny Hall and Gordon Phillips, the civilian and military directors of the US provincial reconstruction team in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, arrived for a meeting with Gul Agha Sherzai, the local governor, in mid-June 2007, they knew that they had a lot of apologizing to do. Philips had to explain why a covert US military “capture/kill” team named Task Force 373, hunting for Qari Ur-Rahman, an alleged Taliban commander given the code-name “Carbon,” had called in an AC-130 Spectre gunship and inadvertently killed seven Afghan police officers in the middle of the night.

The incident vividly demonstrated the inherent clash between two doctrines in the US war in Afghanistan — counterinsurgency (“protecting the people”) and counterterrorism (killing terrorists). Although the Obama administration has given lip service to the former, the latter has been, and continues to be, the driving force in its war in Afghanistan.

For Hall, a Foreign Service officer who was less than two months away from a plush assignment in London, working with the military had already proven more difficult than he expected. In an article for Foreign Service Journal published a couple of months before the meeting, he wrote, “I felt like I never really knew what was going on, where I was supposed to be, what my role was, or if I even had one. In particular, I didn’t speak either language that I needed: Pashtu or military.”

It had been no less awkward for Phillips. Just a month earlier, he had personally handed over “solatia” payments — condolence payments for civilian deaths wrongfully caused by US forces — in Governor Sherzai’s presence, while condemning the act of a Taliban suicide bomber who had killed 19 civilians, setting off the incident in question. “We come here as your guests,” he told the relatives of those killed, “invited to aid in the reconstruction and improved security and governance of Nangarhar, to bring you a better life and a brighter future for you and your children.  Today, as I look upon the victims and their families, I join you in mourning for your loved ones.”

Hall and Phillips were in charge of a portfolio of 33 active US reconstruction projects worth $11 million in Nangarhar, focused on road-building, school supplies, and an agricultural program aimed at exporting fruits and vegetables from the province.

Yet the mission of their military-led “provincial reconstruction team” (made up of civilian experts, State department officials, and soldiers) appeared to be in direct conflict with those of the “capture/kill” team of special operations forces (Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Green Berets, together with operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division) whose mandate was to pursue Afghans alleged to be terrorists as well as insurgent leaders.  That team was leaving a trail of dead civilian bodies and recrimination in its wake.

Details of some of the missions of Task Force 373 first became public as a result of more than 76,000 incident reports leaked to the public by Wikileaks, a whistleblower website, together with analyses of those documents in Der Spiegel, the Guardian, and the New York Times. A full accounting of the depredations of the task force may be some time in coming, however, as the Obama administration refuses to comment on its ongoing assassination spree in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A short history of the unit can nonetheless be gleaned from a careful reading of the Wikileaks documents as well as related reports from Afghanistan and unclassified Special Forces reports.

The Wikileaks data suggests that as many as 2,058 people on a secret hit list called the “Joint Prioritized Effects List” (JPEL) were considered “capture/kill” targets in Afghanistan. A total of 757 prisoners — most likely from this list — were being held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (BTIF), a US-run prison on Bagram Air Base as of the end of December 2009.

The idea of “joint” teams from different branches of the military working collaboratively with the CIA was first conceived in 1980 after the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, when personnel from the Air Force, Army, and Navy engaged in a disastrously botched, seat-of-the-pants attempt to rescue US hostages in Iran with help from the Agency. Eight soldiers were killed when a helicopter crashed into a C-130 aircraft in the Iranian desert.  Afterwards, a high-level, six-member commission led by Admiral James L. Holloway, III recommended the creation of a Joint Special Forces command to ensure that different branches of the military and the CIA should do far more advance coordination planning in the future.

This process accelerated greatly after September 11, 2001.  That month, a CIA team called Jawbreaker headed for Afghanistan to plan a US-led invasion of the country. Shortly thereafter, an Army Green Beret team set up Task Force Dagger to pursue the same mission. Despite an initial rivalry between the commanders of the two groups, they eventually teamed up.

The first covert “joint” team involving the CIA and various military special operations forces to work together in Afghanistan was Task Force 5, charged with the mission of capturing or killing “high value targets” like Osama bin Laden, senior leaders of al-Qaeda, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Taliban. A sister organization set up in Iraq was called Task Force 20. The two were eventually combined into Task Force 121 by General John Abizaid, the head of the US Central Command.

In a new book to be released this month, Operation Darkheart, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer describes the work of Task Force 121 in 2003, when he was serving as part of a team dubbed the Jedi Knights.  Working under the alias of Major Christopher Stryker, he ran operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency (the military equivalent of the CIA) out of Bagram Air Base.

One October night, Shaffer was dropped into a village near Asadabad in Kunar province by an MH-47 Chinook helicopter to lead a “joint” team, including Army Rangers (a Special Forces division) and 10th Mountain Division troops.  They were on a mission to capture a lieutenant of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious warlord allied with the Taliban, based on information provided by the CIA.

It wasn’t easy. “They succeeded in striking at the core of the Taliban and their safe havens across the border in Pakistan. For a moment Shaffer saw us winning the war,” reads the promotional material for the book. “Then the military brass got involved. The policies that top officials relied on were hopelessly flawed. Shaffer and his team were forced to sit and watch as the insurgency grew — just across the border in Pakistan.”

Almost a quarter century after Operation Eagle Claw, Shaffer, who was part of the Able Danger team that had pursued Al Qaeda in the 1990s, describes the bitter turf wars between the CIA and Special Forces teams over how the shadowy world of secret assassinations in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be run.

Fast forward to 2007, the first time Task Force 373 is mentioned in the Wikileaks documents. We don’t know whether its number means anything, but coincidentally or not, chapter 373 of the US Code 10, the act of Congress that sets out what the US military is legally allowed to do, permits the Secretary of Defense to empower any “civilian employee” of the military “to execute warrants and make arrests without a warrant” in criminal matters. Whether or not this is indeed the basis for that “373” remains a classified matter — as indeed, until the Wikileaks document dump occurred, was the very existence of the group.

Analysts say that Task Force 373 complements Task Force 121 by using “white forces” like the Rangers and the Green Berets, as opposed to the more secretive Delta Force. Task Force 373 is supposedly run out of three military bases — in Kabul, the Afghan capital; Kandahar, the country’s second largest city; and Khost City near the Pakistani tribal lands.  It’s possible that some of its operations also come out of Camp Marmal, a German base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Sources familiar with the program say that the task force has its own helicopters and aircraft, notably AC-130 Spectre gunships, dedicated only to its use.

Its commander appears to have been Brigadier General Raymond Palumbo, based out of the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Palumbo, however,left Fort Bragg in mid-July, shortly after General Stanley McChrystal was relieved as Afghan war commander by President Obama. The name of the new commander of the task force is not known.

In more than 100 incident reports in the Wikileaks files, Task Force 373 is described as leading numerous “capture/kill” efforts, notably in Khost, Paktika, and Nangarhar provinces, all bordering the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northern Pakistan. Some reportedly resulted in successful captures, while others led to the death of local police officers or even small children, causing angry villagers to protest and attack US-led military forces.

In April 2007, David Adams, commander of the Khost provincial reconstruction team, was called to meet with elders from the village of Gurbuz in Khost province, who were angry about Task Force 373’s operations in their community. The incident report on Wikileaks does not indicate just what Task Force 373 did to upset Gurbuz’s elders, but the governor of Khost, Arsala Jamal, had been publicly complaining about Special Forces operations and civilian deaths in his province since December 2006, when five civilians were killed in a raid on Darnami village.

“This is our land,” he said then. “I’ve been asking with greater force: Let us sit together, we know our Afghan brothers, we know our culture better. With these operations we should not create more enemies. We are in a position to reduce mistakes.”

As Adams would later recall in an op-ed he co-authored for the Wall Street Journal, “The increasing number of raids on Afghan homes alienated many of Khost’s tribal elders.”

On June 12, 2007, Danny Hall and Gordon Philips, working in Nangarhar province just northeast of Khost, were called into that meeting with Governor Sherzai to explain how Task Force 373 had killed those seven local Afghan police officers.  Like Jamal, Sherzai made the point to Hall and Philips that “he strongly encourages better coordination… and he further emphasized that he does not want to see this happen again.”

Less than a week later, a Task Force 373 team fired five rockets at a compound in Nangar Khel in Paktika province to the south of Khost, in an attempt to kill Abu Laith al-Libi, an alleged al-Qaeda member from Libya. When the US forces made it to the village, they found that Task Force 373 had destroyed a madrassa (or Islamic school), killing six children and grievously wounding a seventh who, despite the efforts of a US medical team, would soon die. (In late January 2008, al-Libi was reported killed by a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone strike in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in Pakistan.)

Paktika Governor Akram Khapalwak met with the US military the day after the raid. Unlike his counterparts in Khost and Nangarhar, Khapalwak agreed to support the “talking points” developed for Task Force 373 to explain the incident to the media. According to the Wikileaks incident report, the governor then “echoed the tragedy of children being killed, but stressed this could’ve been prevented had the people exposed the presence of insurgents in the area.”

However, no military talking points, no matter in whose mouth, could stop the civilian deaths as long as Task Force 373’s raids continued.

On October 4, 2007, its members called in an air strike — 500 pound Paveway bombs — on a house in the village of Laswanday, just six miles from Nangar Khel in Paktika province (where those seven children had already died). This time, four men, one woman, and a girl — all civilians — as well as a donkey, a dog, and several chickens would be slaughtered. A dozen US soldiers were injured, but the soldiers reported that not one “enemy” was detained or killed.

Not all raids resulted in civilian deaths.  The US military incident reports released by Wikileaks suggest that Task Force 373 had better luck in capturing “targets” alive and avoiding civilian deaths on December 14, 2007. The 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was asked that day to support Task Force 373 in a search in Paktika province for Bitonai and Nadr, two alleged al-Qaeda leaders listed on the JPEL. The operation took place just outside the town of Orgun, close to US Forward Operating Base (FOB) Harriman. Located 7,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, it hosts about 300 soldiers as well as a small CIA compound, and is often visited by chattering military helicopters as well as sleepy camel herds belonging to local Pashtuns.

An airborne assault team code-named “Operation Spartan” descended on the compounds where Bitonai and Nadr were supposed to be living, but failed to find them. When a local Afghan informant told the Special Forces soldiers that the suspects were at a location about two miles away, Task Force 373 seized both men as well as 33 others who were detained at FOB Harriman for questioning and possible transfer to the prison at Bagram.

But when Task Force 373 was on the prowl, civilians were, it seems, always at risk, and while the Wikileaks documents reveal what the U.S soldiers were willing to report, the Afghan side of the story was often left in a ditch.  For example, on a Monday night in mid-November 2009, Task Force 373 conducted an operation to capture or kill an alleged militant code-named “Ballentine” in Ghazni province. A terse incident report announced that one Afghan woman and four “insurgents” had been killed. The next morning, Task Force White Eagle, a Polish unit under the command of the US 82nd Airborne Division, reported that some 80 people gathered to protest the killings. The window of an armored vehicle was damaged by the angry villagers, but the documents don’t offer us their version of the incident.

In an ironic twist, one of the last Task Force 373 incidents recorded in the Wikileaks documents was almost a reprise of the original Operation Eagle Claw disaster that led to the creation of the “joint” capture/kill teams. Just before sunrise on October 26, 2009, two US helicopters, a UH-1 Huey and an AH-1 Cobra, collided near the town of Garmsir in the southern province of Helmand, killing four Marines.

Closely allied with Task Force 373 is a British unit, Task Force 42, composed of Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment commandos who operate in Helmand province and are mentioned in several Wikileaks incident reports.

Capture/kill” is a key part of a new military “doctrine” developed by the Special Forces Command established after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. Under the leadership of General Bryan D. Brown, who took over the Special Forces Command in September 2003, the doctrine came to be known as F4, which stood for“find, fix, finish, and follow-up” — a slightly euphemistic but not hard to understand message about how alleged terrorists and insurgents were to be dealt with.

Under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the Bush years, Brown began setting up “joint Special Forces” teams to conduct F4 missions outside war zones.  These were given the anodyne name “Military Liaison Elements.” At least one killing by such a team in Paraguay (of an armed robber not on any targeting list) was written up by New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Thom Shanker. The team, whose presence had not been made known to the US ambassador there, was ordered to leave the country.

“The number-one requirement is to defend the homeland. And so sometimes that requires that you find and capture or kill terrorist targets around the world that are trying to do harm to this nation,” Brown told the House Committee on Armed Services in March 2006. “Our foreign partners… are willing but incapable nations that want help in building their own capability to defend their borders and eliminate terrorism in their countries or in their regions.” In April 2007, President Bush rewarded Brown’s planning by creating a special high-level office at the Pentagon for an assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities.

Michael G. Vickers, made famous in the book and film Charlie Wilson’s War as the architect of the covert arms-and-money supply chain to the mujaheedin in the CIA’s anti-Soviet Afghan campaign of the 1980s, was nominated to fill the position. Under his leadership, a new directive was issued in December 2008 to “develop capabilities for extending US reach into denied areas and uncertain environments by operating with and through indigenous foreign forces or by conducting low visibility operations.”  In this way, the “capture/kill” program was institutionalized in Washington.

“The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war… It’s a war of partners… but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists,” Vickers told the Washington Post as 2007 ended. “That’s why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important… and our Special Operations forces play a large role.”

George W. Bush’s departure from the White House did not dampen the enthusiasm for F4.  Quite the contrary: even though the F4 formula has recently been tinkered with, in typical military fashion, and has now become “find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze,” or F3EA, President Obama has, by all accounts, expanded military intelligence gathering and “capture/kill” programs globally in tandem with an escalation of drone-strike operations by the CIA.

There are quite a few outspoken supporters of the “capture/kill” doctrine. Columbia University Professor Austin Long is one academic who has jumped on the F3EA bandwagon. Noting its similarity to the Phoenix assassination program, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the US war in Vietnam (which he defends), he has called for a shrinking of the US military “footprint” in Afghanistan to 13,000 Special Forces troops who would focus exclusively on counter-terrorism, particularly assassination operations. “Phoenix suggests that intelligence coordination and the integration of intelligence with an action arm can have a powerful effect on even extremely large and capable armed groups,” he and his co-author William Rosenauwrote in a July 2009 Rand Institute monograph entitled” “The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Counterinsurgency.”

Others are even more aggressively inclined. Lieutenant Colonel George Crawford, who retired from the position of “lead strategist” for the Special Forces Command to go work for Archimedes Global, Inc., a Washington consulting firm, has suggested that F3EA be replaced by one term: “Manhunting.” In a monograph published by the Joint Special Operations University in September 2009, Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare,” Crawford spells out “how to best address the responsibility to develop manhunting as a capability for American national security.”

The strange evolution of these concepts, the creation of ever more global hunter-killer teams whose purpose in life is assassination 24/7, and the civilians these “joint Special Forces” teams regularly kill in their raids on supposed “targets” have unsettled even military experts.

For example, Christopher Lamb, the acting director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, and Martin Cinnamond, a former U.N. official in Afghanistan, penned an article for the Spring 2010 issue of the Joint Forces Quarterly in which they wrote: “There is broad agreement… that the indirect approach to counterinsurgency should take precedence over kill/capture operations. However, the opposite has occurred.”

Other military types claim that the hunter-killer approach is short-sighted and counterproductive. “My take on Task Force 373 and other task forces, it has a purpose because it keeps the enemy off balance. But it does not understand the fundamental root cause of the conflict, of why people are supporting the Taliban,” says Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department contractor who resigned from the government last September. Hoh, who often worked with Task Force 373 as well as other Special Forces “capture/kill” programs in Afghanistan and Iraq, adds: “We are killing the wrong people, the mid-level Taliban who are only fighting us because we are in their valleys. If we were not there, they would not be fighting the US”

Task Force 373 may be a nightmare for Afghans.  For the rest of us — now that Wikileaks has flushed it into the open — it should be seen as a symptom of deeper policy disasters.  After all, it raises a basic question: Is this country really going to become known as a global Manhunters, Inc.?

Police probing U.K. links of Norway killer

[I was torn between the journalist’s compulsion to find and rebroadcast the truth about life or death issues like terrorism and my moral hesitation to anything which would further the goals of the terrorist, but in the end, I felt that researchers needed to have access to this material, considering the links to British racism.  For that reason, here is a link to the  “Breivik manifesto.”  2083 A European Declaration of Independence, by andrew Berwick, London  2011.  All roads lead back to British terrorism.]

Police probing U.K. links of Norway killer


Anders Behring Breivik, left, responsible for Norway's twin terror attacks, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo on Monday, July 25, 2011 where he pleaded not guilty to one of the deadliest modern mass killings in peacetime.
APAnders Behring Breivik, left, responsible for Norway’s twin terror attacks, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo on Monday, July 25, 2011 where he pleaded not guilty to one of the deadliest modern mass killings in peacetime.

Scotland was on Monday reported to be investigating potential British links to Norway’s mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik after he said that he had been in touch with right-wing extremist groups in the United Kingdom, especially the English Defence League (EDL) which is engaged in a virulent anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-multiculturalism campaign.

A 1,500–page “manifesto” that Breivik posted on the internet before embarking on last week’s massacre is datelined “London, 2011” and signed “Andrew Berwick”, an Anglicised version of his name. He described an Englishman Richard as his “mentor”.

Describing himself as a successor to the medieval Knights Templar, associated with the Crusades, Breivik claimed he was “recruited” at a meeting in London, April 2002, called by two English extremists thought to be EDL members. He also claimed that he had more than 600 EDL members as his “Facebook” friends and had spoken to many of them.

“In fact, I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning,” he wrote.

The so-called “Breivik manifesto” names former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Prince Charles as “traitors” for promoting multiculturalism and allowing too many immigrants to come into Britain.

Mr. Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are accused of “dishonestly concealing a plan to allow in more immigrants and make Britain more multicultural”.

Mr. Brown’s picture appears in a gallery of “war criminals” for “colluding” with Muslim extremists. Prince Charles is criticised for his links with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

The EDL denied any links with Breivik.

British Government’s National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, asked the police to reassess the threat from far right groups in the light of Breivik’s action and his claims about his links with them.

Mr. Cameron has been criticised for ignoring warning about the threat from white supremacists and focusing solely on Muslim extremists.

Speaking after the NSC meeting, Mr Cameron said: “We are going to take stock of what happened in Norway and see if there are lessons to be learned.”





Evidence outlined in a Pentagon contractor report suggests that financial subversion carried out by unknown parties, such as terrorists or hostile nations, contributed to the 2008 economic crash by covertly using vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system.

The unclassified 2009 report “Economic Warfare: Risks and Responses” by financial analystKevin D. Freeman, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, states that “a three-phased attack was planned and is in the process against the United States economy.”

While economic analysts and a final report from the federal government’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission blame the crash on such economic factors as high-risk mortgage lending practices and poor federal regulation and supervision, the Pentagon contractor adds a new element: “outside forces,” a factor the commission did not examine.

“There is sufficient justification to question whether outside forces triggered, capitalized upon or magnified the economic difficulties of 2008,” the report says, explaining that those domestic economic factors would have caused a “normal downturn” but not the “near collapse” of the global economic system that took place.

Suspects include financial enemies in Middle Eastern states, Islamic terrorists, hostile members of the Chinese military, or government and organized crime groups in RussiaVenezuela orIranChinese military officials publicly have suggested using economic warfare against the U.S.

Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks. (Associated Press)Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks. (Associated Press)

In an interview with The TimesMr. Freeman said his report provided enough theoretical evidence for an economic warfare attack that further forensic study was warranted.

“The new battle space is the economy,” he said. “We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems each year. But a relatively small amount of money focused against our financial markets through leveraged derivatives or cyber efforts can result in trillions of dollars in losses. And, the perpetrators can remain undiscovered.

“This is the equivalent of box cutters on an airplane,” Mr. Freeman said.

Paul Bracken, a Yale University professor who has studied economic warfare, said he saw “no convincing evidence that ‘outside forces’ colluded to bring about the 2008 crisis.”

“There were outside players in the market” for unregulated credit default swaps, Mr. Brackensaid in an e-mail. “Foreign banks and hedge funds play the shorts all the time too. But suggestions of an organized targeted attack for strategic reasons don’t seem to me to be plausible.”

Regardless of the report’s findings, U.S. officials and outside analysts said the Pentagon, theTreasury Department and U.S. intelligence agencies are not aggressively studying the threats to the United States posed by economic warfare and financial terrorism.

“Nobody wants to go there,” one official said.

A copy of the report also was provided to the recently concluded Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, but the commission also declined to address the possibility of economic warfare in its final report.

Officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said senior Pentagon policymakers, including Michael Vickers, an assistant defense secretary in charge of special operations, blocked further study, saying the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks.

Mr. Vickers declined to be interviewed but, through a spokesman, said he did not say economic warfare was not an area for the Pentagon to study, and that he did not block further study.

Mr. Vickers is awaiting Senate confirmation on his promotion to be undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

Despite his skepticism of the report, Mr. Bracken agreed that financial warfare needs to be studied, and he noted that the U.S. government is only starting to address the issue.

“We are in an era like the 1950s where technological innovation is transforming the tools of coercion and war,” he said. “We tend not to see this, and look at information warfare, financial warfare, precision strike, [weapons of mass destruction], etc. as separate silos. It’s their parallel co-evolution that leads to interesting options, like counter-elite targeting. And no one is really looking at this in an overall ‘systems’ way. Diplomacy is way behind here.”

Mr. Freeman wrote the report for the Pentagon’s Irregular Warfare Support Program, part of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, which examines unconventional warfare scenarios.

“The preponderance of evidence that cannot be easily dismissed demands a thorough and immediate study be commenced,” the report says. “Ignoring the likelihood of this very real threat ensures a catastrophic event.”

The report concluded that the evidence of an attack is strong enough that “financial terrorism may have cost the global economy as much as $50 trillion.”

Because of secrecy surrounding global banking and finance, finding the exact identities of the attackers will be difficult.

But U.S. opponents in Russia who could wage economic warfare include elements of the former KGB intelligence and political police who regard the economy as a “logical extension of the Cold War,” the report says.

Asked by The Times who he thought to be the most likely behind the financial attacks, Mr. Freeman said: “Unfortunately, the two major strategic threats, radical jihadists and the Chinese, are among the best positioned in the economic battle space.”

Also, the report lists as suspects advocates of Islamic law, who have publicly called for opposition to capitalism as a way to promote what they regard as the superiority of Islam.

Further Pentagon Low Intensity Conflict office research into possible economic warfare or financial terrorism being behind the economic collapse by the Pentagon’s Special Operations and was blocked, Mr. Freeman said.

The Pentagon report states that the evidence of financial subversion revealed that the first two phases of an attack on the U.S. economy took place from 2007 to 2009 and “based on recent global market activity, it appears that the predicted Phase III may be underway right now.”

The report states that federal authorities must further investigate two significant events in the months leading up to the financial crisis.

The first phase of the economic attack, the report said, was the escalation of oil prices by speculators from 2007 to mid-2008 that coincided with the housing finance crisis.

In the second phase, the stock market collapsed by what the report called a “bear raid” from unidentified sources on Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street firms.

“This produced a complete collapse in credit availability and almost started a global depression,” Mr. Freeman said.

The third phase is what Mr. Freeman states in the report was the main source of the economic system’s vulnerability. “We have taken on massive public debt as the government was the only party who could access capital markets in late 2008 and early 2009,” he said, placing the U.S. dollar’s global reserve currency status at grave risk.

“This is the ‘end game’ if the goal is to destroy America,” Mr. Freeman said, noting that in his view China’s military “has been advocating the potential for an economic attack on the U.S. for 12 years or longer as evidenced by the publication of the book Unrestricted Warfare in 1999.”

Additional evidence provided by Mr. Freeman includes the statement in 2008 by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. that the Russians had approached the Chinese with a plan to dump its holdings of bonds by the federally backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Among the financial instruments that may have been used in the economic warfare scenario are credit default swaps, unregulated and untraceable contracts by which a buyer pays the seller a fee and in exchange is paid off in a bond or a loan. The report said credit default swaps are “ideal bear-raid tools” and “have the power to determine the financial viability of companies.”

Another economic warfare tool that was linked in the report to the 2008 crash is what is called “naked short-selling” of stock, defined as short-selling financial shares without borrowing them.

The report said that 30 percent to 70 percent of the decline in stock share values for two companies that were attacked, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, were results of failed trades from naked short-selling.

The collapse in September 2008 of Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, was the most significant event in the crash, causing an immediate credit freeze and stock market crash, the report says.

In a section of who was behind the collapse, the report says determining the actors is difficult because of banking and financial trading secrecy.

“The reality of the situation today is that foreign-based hedge funds perpetrating bear raid strategies could do so virtually unmonitored and unregulated on behalf of enemies of the United States,” the report says.

“Only recently have defense and intelligence agencies begun to consider this very real possibility of what amounts to financial terrorism and-or economic warfare.”

As for Chinese involvement in economic sabotage, the decline in the world economy may have hurt Beijing through a decline in purchases of Chinese goods.

Treasury spokeswoman Marti Adams had no immediate comment on the report but said her department’s views on the causes of the economic crash were well known.

Analysts say U.S. is shifting Pakistan policy amid new situation

Analysts say U.S. is shifting Pakistan policy amid new situation

By Jamil Bhatti

ISLAMABAD, July 25 (Xinhua) — After the recent U.S. steps against Pakistan, including a bill in U.S. congress to cut the aid for Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s harsh statement about Pakistan in New Delhi, and the arrest of its citizen Dr. Fai for his alleged links with Pakistani intelligence agency, majority of Pakistanis now believe that America has started revenging

Political leader and analyst of Pakistan Dr. Shireen Mazari on Monday condemned the U.S. government in strong words for its recent actions and statements targeting Pakistan on multiple fronts.

She identified three major developments by the U.S. government involving Pakistan within a couple of days.

“First is the introduction of the bill in the congress seeking to restrain U.S. aid to Pakistan, and imposition of unacceptable conditions from the granting of unquestioning quick visas to U.S. personnel to interfere Pakistan’s domestic affairs,” Mazari told Xinhua.

The United States has already, according to Mazari, put forward irrational and irritating demands on Pakistan, especially regarding to the military with which U.S. wants to attach its own military personnel.

The second intentional negative move by the U.S. authorities was the joint U.S-India statement at the conclusion of Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to India in which the United States almost announced India as the future monitor of Asian countries especially of Pakistan.

Many Pakistanis and analysts view this U.S. development negatively as they said U.S. brought India directly into Pakistan’ s internal matters by jointly demanding Pakistan to eliminate all terrorist “safe havens” in the country.

Clinton said while concluding her visit on July 18-20 that New Delhi must play a more assertive role in Asia.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had already showed his concerns over the bill in congress, said Saturday that Pakistan would not accept any country’s domination in the region.

“We don’t want any Chaudhry (a title used locally for powerful individuals) in the region,” Gilani said.

Pakistan’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who plans to travel to India on Tuesday for bilateral dialogue, made clear Pakistani policy about the U.S. announcement on India’s assertive role in the region.

“Pakistan would not accept the supremacy of any country in the region as Pakistan is by no means inferior to India,” said Khar after she returned from meeting with Clinton on the sidelines of ASEAN regional forum in Bali, Indonesia.

The third U.S. development under extreme criticism by Pakistan is the arrest of American national Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of Kashmiri American Council by U.S. security department for his alleged role for Pakistan’s top intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Mazari termed this act as the most bizarre and most damaging for bilateral relations in the long run.

Aslam Khan, another senior analyst who keeps a close eye on Indo-U.S.relations, doubted about the American allegations on Dr. Fai for his relations with ISI because he was arrested just few days ahead of Clinton’s visit to India.

“This action had two open purposes, first to impress the Indians before Clinton’s tour and second to malign and pressurize Pakistan who has tightened its policy on the American diplomats’ freedom of movement within Pakistan,” Khan told Xinhua.

Senior Pakistani analyst and former diplomat Asif Ezdi sees the U.S. support for India’s rise in a broader context.

In an article printed in a local daily on Monday, he said the United States has been launching such efforts over one decade against the background of the growing political, economic and military power of China, seen by Washington as a challenge to its position as the sole superpower.

“India’s assigned role in the U.S. strategy was to serve as a counterweight to China and to stem its assertiveness,” Ezdi said.

Khan believed the Pak-U.S. relations that got tense after U.S. unilateral operation in Pakistani city of Abbottabad which led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, have now dropped to their lowest.

According to some well-informed sources of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, the main reason for icy relations is the unending American demands of “do more” for Pakistan to which the latter has presented many excuses due to unsuitable ground realities as the U. S.-led forces started to leave Afghanistan.

Most interviees asked by Xinhua were not surprised over the U.S. shift of its pakistan policy from soft to harsh, saying that they knew as the United States gradually exits Afghanistan, it would change its behavior towards Pakistan.

Editor: Yang Lina

Hillary Wants India to Come out and play

[Let us hope and pray that Indian leaders have been burned by the empire enough times to see through the smoke and mirrors, not to mention the river of bullshit which flows continually from Washington.]

Come out and play

Seema Sirohi

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is said to be one of the drivers of the India policy in Washington, pushing and pulling when the going gets dull. Her visit to New Delhi for the second round of the India-US strategic dialogue was important to manage the differences that have arisen over time – from the nuclear liability law to defence contracts, from alleged misconduct of diplomats to blocking India from opening a new consulate in Seattle.

But more important was the American eagerness to see India loom larger on the world stage. Clinton’s basic message was “We Want More India” in the world – in Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, in Central Asia, inLatin America.

The joint statement was a veritable spreadsheet of initiatives covering every area of “human endeavour”. From space to clean energy, from student internships to creating an open source data platform on e-governance, from disease detection to aviation safety, every box was checked. While this large mesh is a celebration of the depth and breadth of the relationship, the key is the new American willingness to discuss the world with India with an aim to push it to assume greater responsibility in world affairs. It is up to New Delhi to seize the opportunity, or not.

America is beginning to treat India as an equal partner. The trilateral dialogue of India, the US and Japan, announced during Clinton’s visit, is significant and a perfect venue to discuss China’s rise and the attendant ripples. But the neighbourhood must come first where India faces tough prospects.

The regional situation is grim with assassinations of key Afghan leaders even before the real drawdown of US troops begins, and the clenched-teeth posture of the Pakistan army. India is rightly worried about the endgame in Afghanistan and the talks the US is holding with the Taliban. But it can take comfort: Washington will not plead Pakistan’s case in Afghanistan. If India wants to train Afghan security forces and play a role in shaping Afghanistan’s future besides investing in infrastructure projects, the Americans are on board.

If India wants an Afghanistan with an independent government, which makes its own security decisions, does not allow the country to become a terrorist playground and provides access to Central Asia, it has to do more than just hope for the best. So far the emphatic enunciations from New Delhi have been in the form of what it won’t do – Pranab Mukherjee told Clinton last month India does not want to get involved in the “security affairs of Afghanistan”. So what then?

Success will depend on how well India and Pakistan talk to each other about their region’s future. The Pakistani establishment may recognise that it can’t manipulate the Taliban this time around as it did in the 1990s. Making fine distinctions between Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban is futile; the two are seamless and represent Pashtun interests on both sides of the border. They are a new morphed entity, more a part of the global Salafi movement and less prone to tribal loyalties of the old days. If there is civil war in Afghanistan after US troops leave by 2014, it will be far more vicious. But if Afghanistan were gradually drawn into regional trade – Pakistan could allow transit to India, for starters – the whole region would benefit.

Both India and the US have the same difficult task – bringing Pakistan on board. The overall US policy on Pakistan remains a series of confusing moves, alternately cajoling and berating. While Clinton was meeting top Indian officials, the FBI arrested an ISI front man in Washington. Ghulam Nabi Fai, a Kashmiri separatist prone to sweet-talking his way through the corridors of the US Congress to denounce India, was exposed. Also exposed was the hypocrisy that often goes withIslamabad pleading Kashmir’s cause in major capitals. That the Obama administration is chipping away at the ISI and seriously encircling it, at least within US jurisdiction, is good news.

Also welcome is growing India-US cooperation on counterterrorism – note the heavy hitters who came with Clinton: James Clapper, director of national intelligence, and Michael G Vickers, under-secretary of defence for intelligence.

But the US also bends over backwards and stretches the limits of imagination on Pakistan. Clinton recently certified to the US Congress that Pakistan had shown a “sustained commitment” to “combating terrorist groups” to allow a part of $1.5 billion in new US military aid to flow through. Two days later, on March 20, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the ISI was involved with the Haqqani network. More recently, the US suspended $800 million in aid to Pakistan in retaliation for Pakistan throwing out US military advisers.

Unfortunately, Clinton’s clean chit is a reminder of the 1980s when the US government annually certified Pakistan was “not” building a nuclear bomb when it clearly was, to allow US aid to Pakistan for the mujahideen. State department lawyers would argue that while all the bomb ingredients were present, they were in different places and unassembled. Ergo, no bomb. But terrorist networks of today are very assembled.

The snakes-and-ladders US policy on Pakistan will continue for the foreseeable future with its own impact on the Afghanistan pullout. But the big takeaway from Clinton’s visit has to be the full-throated American call for India to come out to play before the game gets fixed. And not be afraid of the umpiring.

( The writer is a senior journalist)

Norway suspect says his extremist group has ‘two more cells’

People pay tribute to victims of the twin attacks in central Oslo, Norway, today.
By Emilio Morenatti, AP

In a closed hearing today, the suspect in the Oslo killings pleaded not guilty to charges of committing acts of terrorism and will be held for at least 8 weeks.

Update at 9:54 a.m. ET: The suspect was ordered held for eight weeks, the first four in complete isolation, without access to visitors or the right to write letters.

After 8 weeks, the prosecution can return to the court and request that he be held longer, according to a court official.

Update at 9:49 a.m. ET: The suspect in the Oslo killings told the court today about “two further cells in our organization,” the court says. adding that the remarks will reqauire additonal investigation in the case.

A statement by the court said that he also spoke of such cells to police.  (read HERE)