The Anti-ISIS Operation Is More War Than Obama’s Boys Can Handle

‘Crashing waves’ of jihadists fray soldiers’ nerves in Mosul battle

Reuters

 

By Dominic Evans and Ahmed Rasheed | BAGHDAD

A week after his tank division punched through Islamic State defenses on the southeast edge of Mosul, an Iraqi army colonel says the fight to drive the militants out of their urban stronghold is turning into a nightmare.

Against a well-drilled, mobile and brutally effective enemy, exploiting the cover of built-up neighborhoods and the city’s civilian population, his tanks were useless, he said, and his men untrained for the urban warfare they face.

His Ninth Armoured Division and elite counter terrorism units fighting nearby seized six of some 60 neighborhoods last week, the first gains inside Mosul since the Oct. 17 start of a campaign to crush Islamic State in its Iraqi fortress.

Even that small foothold is proving hard to maintain, however, with waves of counter attacks by jihadist units including snipers and suicide bombers who use a network of tunnels stretching for miles (km) under the city.

They appear able to strike at will, often at night, denying the troops rest and rattling frayed nerves.

“We’re an armored brigade, and fighting without being able to use tanks and with soldiers unused to urban warfare is putting troops in a tough situation,” the officer told Reuters. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

A year ago, when his forces took part in an operation to drive Islamic State from the much smaller city of Ramadi west of Baghdad, they were tasked with holding territory outside while the counter terrorism forces entered the city.

Mosul, whose capture is a crucial step towards dismantling the caliphate Islamic State declared two years ago across large areas of Iraq and Syria, is too big for specialist forces alone.

“In Mosul, we have to advance inside residential areas, comb streets, clear houses from terrorists and deal with civilians. I’m afraid this job is too tough for us to handle”.

He said it was impossible to differentiate between civilians and fighters who melt in amongst them. Islamic State has forced its dress code on the population during the two years it has controlled the city. Men are required to have long beards, something the militants are still policing.

“Our soldiers can’t recognize them until it’s too late, when the attacker either detonates his explosive vest or throws a grenade,” the colonel said, adding that he lost two T-72 tanks and an armored vehicle in a single day’s fighting on Tuesday.

“It’s becoming a nightmare and it’s nerve-wracking for the soldiers,” he said.

TOUGHEST URBAN WAR

Even for the Counter Terrorism Service, or special forces, trained more specifically for the challenges in Mosul, the last week of fighting has been unprecedented.

“We are carrying out the toughest urban warfare that any force in the world could undertake”, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numani said on Sunday.

One CTS officer, in Baghdad on leave, told Reuters the biggest threat came from snipers. “You don’t know where or when a sniper will strike,” he said. That, combined with thousands of people trying to escape the fighting, was a constant source of stress.

As he spoke, a voice on his radio crackled – one of his men on the frontline. “Sir, there are so many civilians, they have these suitcases with them as well. How do I know what’s in them? And they’re coming towards me…”

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared a crossborder caliphate in Syria and Iraq from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque two years ago, told his fighters last week there could be no retreat in a “total war” with their enemies.

Hisham al-Hashemi, who advises the Iraqi government on Islamic State issues and has visited the frontlines, said all the indications from Mosul so far showed that Baghdadi’s comments were no idle threat.

“Now Daesh (Islamic State) is really fighting,” he said.

Hashemi said the jihadists had dug a 70 km (45 mile) network of tunnels just on the eastern side of the Tigris River, which runs through the center of Mosul, since they took over in 2014.

Using the tunnels they were able to surprise troops inside the city, striking between 2 am and dawn when their defenses are at their lowest. “They are not ready for these surprises – it’s the tunnels which have caused our greatest losses,” he said.

“CRASHING WAVES”

Hashemi said government forces were only in full control of two of the districts they entered last week.

The army says it has captured five other districts, but fighting continues in all of them and Hashemi said in some neighborhoods the army had been driven back three or four times – often at night – before reclaiming territory the next day.

With its tanks unable to navigate narrow city streets, the Iraqi army has called on U.S. Apache helicopters to target car bombers. The Pentagon said on Monday they would continue to be used “in what we expect will be tough fighting to come”.

One of the most devastating tactics the militants employed, which helped them tie down a far greater force than their own, was to send consecutive waves of small units – about 50 strong – against the troops so they could never let down their guard.

The militants call the operation “crashing waves”. Each unit includes suicide bombers, snipers, assault fighters, and what they call infiltrators, as well as logistics and mortar experts.

“Each one only fights for a short period and is then relieved by the next group – it exhausts the army,” Hashemi said.

Although they face a coalition of Iraqi army, special forces, Kurdish peshmerga and Shi’ite paramilitary groups which may total around 100,000 fighters, the asymmetric war strategy has so far meant the 5,000-strong jihadists in Mosul have tied down the advancing troops, without using their full reserves.

Hashemi said an inner core of mainly Francophone foreign fighters, given the name ‘al-Murabitoun’ (Guards) had taken an oath to fight to the death defending strategic positions in the heart of the city.

“The only way they will leave is when they are dead,” he said, adding they were also holding residents as human shields against air strikes.

So far the advancing forces have only breached eastern Mosul. Hashemi said two infantry divisions which have advanced close to its northern and southern limits were preparing to open two new fronts in the city, possibly as soon as Friday.

Ultimately, he said the superior numbers of the forces attacking on multiple fronts would wear down the militants. “We will win, without doubt. But it will be a costly victory”.

(Additional reporting by Saif Hameed in Baghdad and Phil Stewart in Washington)

 

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Thinking Like Trump—Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn

lt-gen-michael-t-flynn
Trump’s top national security advisor 

Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support

the hill

Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support
© Getty Images

It is fair to say that most Americans don’t know exactly what to make of our ally Turkey these days, as it endures a prolonged political crisis that challenges its long-term stability. The U.S. media is doing a bang-up job of reporting the Erdoğan government’s crackdown on dissidents, but it’s not putting it into perspective.

We must begin with understanding that Turkey is vital to U.S. interests. Turkey is really our strongest ally against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as a source of stability in the region. It provides badly needed cooperation with U.S. military operations. But the Obama administration is keeping Erdoğan’s government at arm’s length — an unwise policy that threatens our long-standing alliance.The primary bone of contention between the U.S. and Turkey is Fethullah Gülen, a shady Islamic mullah residing in Pennsylvania whom former President Clinton once called his “friend” in a well circulated video.

Gülen portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist. He has publicly boasted about his “soldiers” waiting for his orders to do whatever he directs them to do. If he were in reality a moderate, he would not be in exile, nor would he excite the animus of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government.

For those of us who have closely studied the careers of Seyed Qutb and Hasan al Bana, the founders and followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gülen’s words and activities are very familiar.

The late Seyed Qutb in particular was very much in the Gülen mold. The author of 24 books on education and the arts, he assembled an inner circle of intellectuals and influential politicians. But contrary to this well-masked façade, Qutb’s writings provided the inspiration for terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. Qutb was hanged in 1966 in Egypt for instigating rebellion.

Likewise, Hasan al Bana, an Egyptian who died in 1949, defined the first phase of pre-emptive jihad as a long and quiet process that can take as long as a quarter of a century, to prepare the forces for a decisive strike. Al Bana famously declared that the only acceptable form of law is Sharia.

To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements in the tradition of Qutb and al Bana. Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey’s point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey’s Osama bin Laden.

Washington’s silence on this explosive topic speaks volumes when we hear the incredulous claim that the democratically elected president of Turkey staged a military coup, bombed his own parliament and undermined the confidence in Turkey’s strong economy, just so that he could purge his political opponents.

This baseless claim is a dark reminder of the vicious rumors spread by our enemies that 9/11 was an inside job by the American intelligence apparatus as an excuse to invade Muslim lands to grab their oil!

To add insult to injury, American taxpayers are helping finance Gülen’s 160 charter schools in the United States. These schools have been granted more H1-B visas than Google. It is inconceivable that our visa officers have approved thousands of visas for English teachers whose English is incomprehensible. A CBS “60 Minutes” program documented a conversation with one such imported English teacher from Turkey. Several lawsuits, including some in Ohio and Texas, point to irregularities in the operation of these schools.

However, funding seems to be no problem for Gülen’s network. Hired attorneys work to keep the lucrative government source of income for Gülen and his network going. Influential charities such as Cosmos Foundation continue their support for Gulen’s charter schools.

Incidentally, Cosmos Foundation is a major donor to Clinton Foundation. No wonder Bill Clinton calls Mullah Gülen “his friend.” It is now no secret that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close aide and confidante, worked for 12 years as the associate editor for a journal published by the London-based Institute of Minority Muslim Affairs. This institute has promoted the thoughts of radical Muslim thinkers such as Qutb, al Bana and others.

The American public is being lulled into believing that Gülen is a Sufi scholar who promotes the teachings of Rumi, the Persian poet, works to expand interfaith dialogue and does a great job of providing American youth high-quality education in math and science as well as English.

Voices of concern about this shady character are quickly muffled by his vast network of public relations and legal professionals. He has established a false façade that he is a moderate at odds with Turkey’s autocratic leader.

This image is a stark reminder of a great American mistake from another era — one that has raised the cost of international security forever. We all remember another quiet, bearded, elder cleric who sat under an apple tree in Neauphle-le-Château in the suburbs of Paris in 1978.

He claimed to be a man of God who wanted to topple a dictator and return the power to the people. Washington believed him. Sadly, shortly after his rise to power through the Iranian revolution, we watched in horror as our diplomats were taken hostage for 444 days in what was once one of our strongest allies in the Middle East.

The world has never been the same since that irreversible mistake. Ayatollah Khomeini, the quiet man of God under the apple tree, created the world’s top sponsor of terror. His revolutionary guards created Hezbollah, the famous Lebanon-based terror organization.

The Ayatollah’s terrorists have killed American servicemen and slaughtered Iraqi Sunnis by the thousands, and his brutal Quds Force killed innocent Sunni civilians in Syria. Ultimately, ISIS became the radical Sunni’s response to the mayhem caused by our friendly mullah under the apple tree.

History repeats itself when people repeat the mistakes of the past. It is time we take a fresh look at the importance of Turkey and place our priorities in proper perspective. It is unconscionable to militate against Turkey, our NATO ally, as Washington is hoodwinked by this masked source of terror and instability nestled comfortably in our own backyard in Pennsylvania.

We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective. What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?

The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven. In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are.

 

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) is the former director of Defense Intelligence Agency and the author of New York Times Bestseller “The Field of Fight.”

Obama Loses 10,000 Arabs (all of them) from His Raqqa Army

[This is the only Arab brigade in Obama’s Raqqa army, numbering 10,000 fighters, one/third of the coalition.  Now there are only 20,000 fighters trying to take-back Raqqa, and Turkey still opposes every single one of them.]

Arab brigade says disagreements forced withdrawal from operation, leaving only Kurds involved

SDF forces expect the Raqqa offensive to last for months (Reuters)

The Syrian Arab component of forces attacking Raqqa have withdrawn from operations, declaring Kurdish forces had broken an agreement to allow them to lead the charge into the Islamic State (IS) group-held city.

In a statement released only days after the “Euphrate’s Wrath” offensive began, Liwa Thuaar Raqqa (Raqqa revolutionary brigade) said it would no longer fight alongside the Kurdish YPG militia.

The brigade accused the US of trying to “sideline” its men in favour of the Kurdish forces, placing pressure on the YPG’s backers in Washington who had pledged to let Arab forces take the lead in the operations.

Liwa Thuaar’s political office leader, Mahmoud Hadi, said: “The brigade refused to participate in the operation because the YPG did not keep to what we had agreed – that the battle be led by the brigade and that the fighters all come from Raqqa itself.”

“The agreement was that the SDF would only provide logistical support for the operation,” he added.

 

“Everything had been agreed beforehand, we even agreed which flags would be raised… and that the brigade would be in charge of the administrative and security management of the city afterwards.

“But what happened on the ground has unfortunately been the complete opposite to what we had agreed.”

The brigade said it was the only Arab component of the operation.

Hadi said his brigade was still committed to its goals of retaking Raqqa, that the operation would be long and that the “sons of Raqqa” were the only ones capable of winning this battle and freeing the people from IS.

“There are internal divisions within the SDF and pressures on the YPG from the international coalition, specifically the US, to sideline the brigade,” said Hadi. However, he added that his men were not pulling out of the wider SDF coalition.

Turkey has previously expressed alarm that the SDF is dominated by the YPG, and an influx of Kurds into Raqqa would change its demographics.

Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist group.

It has vowed to fight it in northern Syria, and warned it could act if Raqqa, an Arab-majority city, is taken by Kurdish forces.

The Turkish deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said Raqqa “belonged to the people” who lived there before the conflict erupted.

“Changing the demographic structure will in no way make any contribution to making peace,” he said earlier this week.

“Legitimacy is not provided by armed terrorist groups. I think in the end the United States will have to understand this.

“Every step taken by non-Arab elements is not in the interests of the United States.”

The YPG-dominated SDF announced the start of ‘Euphrates Wrath’ on Saturday (Reuters)

The US general, Joseph Dunford, said earlier this week that he did not think the YPG would be involved in the direct capture of the town, but only in its isolation, a process that he said could take months.

“We always knew the SDF wasn’t the solution for holding and governing Raqqa. What we are working on right now is to find the right mix of forces for the operation.”

He also suggested Turkish views would be taken into account before any final assault.

“The coalition and Turkey will work together on the long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqa,” Dunford said.

Rangers kill Jundallah chief in Hub

“He was amir of Jundallah group in Pakistan and was manipulating subversive activities jointly with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Islamic State (IS) in the country.”

[The man was running three differently-named terrorist groups, with the same missions, ideologies and methods.  His job, evidently, was to create the impression of three separate terrorist entities operating throughout the region, even though the terrorists themselves were interchangeable pieces of the same puzzle.]

Rangers kill Jundallah chief in Hub

the nation pakistan

QUETTA – Pakistan-based Jundallah Amir Arif alias Saqib was reportedly killed on Friday by Rangers.

The Rangers sources said their crews operating in Hub killed on Friday the amir of Pakistan-based Jundallah, an outlawed outfit Arif. Arif alias Saqib was mastermind of suicide explosions in Balochistan.

“He was amir of Jundallah group in Pakistan and was manipulating subversive activities jointly with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Islamic State (IS) in the country,” revealed the sources. A huge quantity of explosive materials along with arms was also recovered.

Apart from Pakistan, the Jundallah amir was also most wanted in Iran in scores of subversive activities, the sources said.

“Acting upon a tip off by intelligence agencies, Rangers’ anti-terrorist force Thursday night conducted an operation at a suspected militant hideout in the Hub area of Balochistan,” read a statement issued by a Rangers spokesperson, reported a private TV channel.

“During the exchange of fire, the Jundallah chief and nominated deputy chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Sindh, Saqib alias Arif alias Anjum, was killed,” the statement added.

The Rangers spokesperson also revealed that the Jundallah chief along with members of Al-Qaeda, Jamaatul Ahrar and Islamic State was involved in several high-profile terror acts.

Some of them were allegedly involved in various terror activities, including an attack on the vehicle of the then Karachi Corps Commander Lt-Gen Ahsan Saleem, a suicide hit on Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Quetta, assassination of chief security officer of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Bilal Sheikh and attack on a church and members of minority communities.

The Rangers statement also claimed that the killed militant was planning major terror attacks on Rangers’ headquarters and the SSU headquarters in Karachi.

The paramilitary force also recovered explosives from the suspect’s house, which was being used as a factory for preparing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), claimed the spokesperson.

The Rangers also claimed to have recovered huge quantity of automatic weapons, ammunition and hand grenades.

TTP/ISIS/JUNDULLAH Terrorists Commit Massacre At Sufi Shrine In Hub, Balochistan

[Both ISIS and Mehsud terrorist group have claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing, but from the info given below, it is obvious that both ISIS and TTP Taliban (Hakeemullah Mehsud’s boys) are the same group.]

[The NewsTribe article below reveals that the reason behind the attack upon the Sufi shrine in Hub, Balochistan was a raid by Pak. Rangers which killed the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader and destroyed a major bomb-making factory in Hub.

The blast comes a few days after Rangers shot dead several terrorists in a raid in Hub.

Rangers kill Jundallah chief in Hub”–November 11, 2016
Jundallah Amir Arif alias Saqib,

“He was amir of Jundallah group in Pakistan and was manipulating subversive activities jointly with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Islamic State (IS) in the country,”

The man was running three differently-named terrorist groups, with the same missions, ideologies and methods.  His job, evidently, was to create the impression of three separate terrorist entities operating throughout the region, even though the terrorists themselves were interchangeable pieces of the same puzzle.]shrine-of-shah-noorani[At least 62 killed, 100 injured in Shah Noorani Shrine blast in Khuzdar]

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10 dead, dozens injured in Shah Noorani Shrine blast | Thenewstribe.com

30 killed, dozens injured in Shah Noorani Shrine blast

news tribe

UPDATE: Dr Hakeem Lassi of Edhi Foundation while speaking to ARY News told that hundreds of people including women and children are injured in the blast.

  • CM Balochistan Sardar Sanaullah Zehri while speaking to media stated that due to complete blackout in the affected area, helicopters can not be sent for rescue mission in order to avoid any further mishap.
  • Interior Minister Balochistan Sarfraz Bugti condemned the incident and claimed that the government’s focus is on the rescue operation.
  • Blood donation units have been established at Jinnah Hospital & Civil Hospital Karachi. People have been appealed to donate for martyrs  blast.
  • No rescue team has yet reached with injured pilgrims at Civil Hospital Hub from Dargah Shah Noorani after the bomb blast: Lasbela DSP.
  • Rescue sources confirm death toll rises to 30, more than 95 people are injured, rise in death toll is feared.


shah noorani2

As per initial reports from local media, the blast occurred near the courtyard at the shrine where devotees were performing Dhamal on Saturday.

Rescue teams from Hub have reportedly reached the scene and started shifting the injured to nearby hospitals.

Hub is an industrial city and its original name was Hub Chowki because once there was a police and customs check post, named Nakahi.

Hazrat Baba Shah Noorani’s Shrine, which is more than 500 years old, is located in Hub in Balochistan province. It is surrounded by a striking mountain range where one can find a diversity of animal life.

s1

Ambulances from Karachi and Hub have been sent for the rescue operation, But, Shrine of Shah Noorani being too far away from the main city, may cause major halt in rescue operation.

As per an eye witness, the blast took place near 6 pm, but it was reported to media almost 40 minutes later as, telecom signals do not work in the suburbans of Shah Noorani.

The blast comes a few days after Rangers shot dead several terrorists in a raid in the town.

DC Lasbela Zulfiqar Shah said that ambulances were dispatched to the area to help those injured in the attack.

“Although it is not in the jurisdiction of Lasbela, we have sent rescue teams,” he said.

FC, police and Rangers personnel teams cordoned off the area and launched a probe.

The blast comes a few days after Rangers shot dead several terrorists in a raid in the town, reported Samaa.

Pakistan shrine attack: Why Islamists consider mystical Islam a threat

dw

A bomb blast targeting the followers of mystical Islam in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province has killed dozens of people. The attack indicates that militants consider pluralistic Islam a threat.

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The attack took place at the famous Shah Noorani shrine, in the Lasbela district of the volatile Baluchistan province.

It happened as worshippers performed the dhamal – a mystical dance – paying tribute to the famous sufi preacher Hazrat Baba Shah Noorani. His shrine, where followers of mystical Islam regularly gather, is more than 500 years old.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban militants have been known to attack shrines in the region in the past.

Pakistan is facing a protracted separatist insurgency in the southwestern Baluchistan province. But hard-line Islamist groups are also active in the area and have regularly attacked minorities and followers of other Islamic denominations.

In October, Islamist militants killed more than 60 people, mostly cadets, in a police academy in Quetta, the capital city of Baluchistan. In August, a suicide bombing on a hospital in the same city killed 73 people, many of them lawyers mourning a colleague who had been fatally shot. Both “Islamic State” (IS) and a faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed the attack.

“The security situation in Baluchistan is extremely bad. A number of militant groups are fighting in the province – the Baluch separatists, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and IS,” Hassan Sheerazi, a journalist associated with Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, told DW.

“Mystical Islam brings together people from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. That is the reason why Islamist militants target shrines. A few years ago, the extremists attacked the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi,” Sheerazi added.

An attack on pluralism

The militants – most of whom belong to the Saudi-Wahhabi sect of Islam – have attacked a number of Sufi shrines in many Pakistani cities in the past, killing scores of devotees, who mostly belonged to the minority Shiite Islamic group or the majority Sunni Barelvi sect.

Historians say that both Shiites and Barelvis believe in a wide cultural interpretation of Islam and seek inspiration from the Persian and Arabic saints, who played a role in spreading Islam throughout the Indian subcontinent. Many Shiites and Barelvis also revere mystics of Indian origin and regularly visit their shrines which are spread throughout India and Pakistan. These Muslim saints are equally loved by Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Jews in South Asia.

The Wahhabis, which are a relatively small group among the Sunnis, believe in “puritan Islam” and consider pilgrimages to shrines outside of the Islamic faith to be against the teachings of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.

“Wahhabis are against any cultural pluralism, so they attack shrines, music festivals and other cultural centers that are not Islamic in their view,” Dr. Mubarak Ali, a renowned Pakistani historian, told DW. The influence of Saudi Arabia had seeped into the psyche of many Pakistanis, causing an “Arabization” of their many traditions, he added.

Many Pakistani analysts, including Ali, say that the zealot Wahhabi groups and political parties not only frown upon pilgrimages to non-Islamic shrines, they also endorse the demolition of historical Muslim sites, and emulate Saudi Arabia in this regard.

An ideological battle

Shoaib Ashraf, a lawyer and human rights activist in Karachi, told DW that Islamist militants were bent on destroying the diverse cultural fabric of Pakistani society. “Pakistan cannot afford this kind of extremism. It is facing several crises at the moment but this is going to do an irreparable damage to the country. Pakistan will not survive if a minority forcefully imposes its extremist agenda on the majority,” he warned.

Attiya Dawood, a writer and peace activist, told DW that the love for saints ran deep in hundreds of thousands of people in Pakistan and that a big number of Pakistanis went to the shrines and listened to qawwali, or Sufi music. “The Taliban want to create fear among the people by attacking their sacred places in order to restrict their social mobility and freedom,” she said.

Many Pakistani analysts think that political rather than religious reasons are behind the attacks on shrines and followers of the saints, since mystical Islam provides a counter-narrative to extremist Islam and is probably the biggest ideological threat to the Wahhabis. Some believe that mystical Islam could be more effective in defeating the Taliban than any military operation.

‘Support’ for Wahhabi groups

Experts, however, say that the policies of the Pakistani state are not in favor of the proponents of Sufi Islam and are thus emboldening extremists. “As long as the Pakistani state and security agencies continue to use Wahhabism as a dominant state narrative, attacks on shrines and their devotees will not cease,” warned Ashraf.

Historian Ali also pointed out that Wahhabi groups and organizations enjoyed state patronage and flourished at the expense of other groups, which in the past had been snubbed by the government. “It is a bit strange, because Wahhabism is a minority Sunni sect in Pakistan,” Ali said.

The frequent militant attacks in Pakistan have angered the public. Many people now question the military’s claim that its ongoing operation against Islamists along the Afghan border has been a success. The army says it has killed 3,500 terrorists since the launch of the Zarb-e-Azb military campaign in June 2014.

“The attacks show that the military’s much-touted Zarb-e Azb operation and the National Action Plan to eradicate terrorism from Pakistani soil have been failures, despite Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif’s claims of victory,” Arif Jamal, a US-based expert on security and Islamism, told DW. “The terror infrastructure is intact in the country and the militants intensify their attacks on the Pakistani state whenever they want to,” he added.

Peace activists demand that the Pakistani government not only abandon its support for zealot Wahhabis, but also promote pluralistic Islam. This, they say, would not only be beneficial to Pakistani society in the long run, but would also improve the international community’s image of Pakistan.

Obama’s Kurdish Army of 30,000 Against 550 Sq. Km. of Terrorists At Raqqa

[30000 fighters trying to take 550 sq. km. means that there will be 54.5 fighters per sq. km.  There are 247.1 acres in each sq. km., being defended by 54.5 fighters, who will each try to cover 74.25 square meters, watching 243.6′ in each direction.  Under favorable conditions, one man could watch an area less than one-hundred yards square, but he could never hope to defend so much territory against a superior ISIS force.  How long did it take this same bunch of Kurdish fighters to take Kobane from ISIS?]

(30,000) Fighters march against Daesh near Syria’s Raqqa

gulf news


Reuters   US military advisers are on the ground training forces forthe assault on the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.

 

Once the forces coming from the two directions meet, they will surround 550 square kilometres territory controlled by the extremists

Beirut: A spokeswoman for a Kurdish-led force fighting Daesh in northern Syria says they are on the verge of surrounding a wide area north of the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa.

Cihan Ehmed of the US-backed Syria Democratic Forces said Thursday that their fighters are pushing on two fronts north of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Daesh’s self-declared caliphate.

She said once the forces coming from the two directions meet, they will surround 550 square kilometres of territory controlled by the terrorists.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said many people are fleeing areas north of Raqqa because of the fighting.

The SDF says they have committed 30,000 fighters to the offensive, aiming to eventually take Raqqa.

Meanwhile, aid workers in eastern Aleppo were distributing the last available food rations on Thursday as the quarter of a million people besieged in the Syrian city entered what is expected to be a cruel winter, UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said.

The United Nations sent a four-part humanitarian plan to all parties to the conflict several days ago, covering delivery of food and medical supplies, medical evacuations and access for health workers, and Egeland said he was hopeful of a deal.

“I do believe we will be able to avert mass hunger this winter,” he told reporters in Geneva, adding that he had the clear impression that Russia would continue its pause in air operations over the northern city.

Pak. Army Dynamites Wana Business Center For Stopping Support To Taliban and Al-Qaeda

14906970_896902147113695_3437762241204510323_n[Market dynamited as punishment under FCR in South Waziristan]wana-bazaar

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Hong Kong [China], Nov.11 (ANI): The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has urged the international community, particularly the Human Rights Commission of UN, to probe the killings of citizens of South Waziristan in the name of the military-backed Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

It has called on the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to stop Operation Zarb-e-Azb and ensure that all counter-terrorism operations take place in a transparent manner.

The AHRC also said that the Pakistan government must pay compensation for the demolition of a business center valued at over Pakistan Rupees 200 million, and also compensate for losses incurred by traders whose shops were destroyed purportedly on the orders of the army.

The AHRC demand and appeal came after it said that it had received information that in retaliation to locals refusing to supply arms to terrorist organisations like the Taliban and Al-Qaida, army officers have blown up a two-storey business centre, which had more than 150 shops and four commercial halls.

This incident occurred in Wana, the largest town of South Waziristan Agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The city acts as the summer headquarters of South Waziristan, where the army claims to be conducting major operations (Zarb-e-Azb) against terrorists.

This is to be mentioned here that the business center belonged to the Mirza Alam Khan Wazir, the former chief of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe.

In his lifetime, Mirza remained staunchly against terrorism, particularly against the Taliban, at a time when the Pakistan Army was allegedly nurturing these terrorists and facilitating them to conduct cross-border terrorism.

Mirza also did not allow Osama Bin Laden to stay in Waziristan; that is why Bin Laden had to settle in Abbottabad and other areas inside Pakistan.

The army retaliated by dynamiting the business centre after an army major Imran was killed and six soldiers were injured in the area. The major and the soldiers were in the area trying to coerce locals to continue supplying arms to the Taliban. However, from the information gathered so far, it appears the killing of the major was not due to any act of violence on the part of locals, but due to a sophomoric mistake of the major himself.

According to information gathered, it appears that the major wanted a shopkeeper, Khan Kharoti, of Suleman Khel, to restart delivery of arms and ammunition to agents of Afghan militants from the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

Khan had suddenly stopped delivery of the arms around two months ago. Khan was delivering arms and ammunition to Angur Ada, a village and a border crossing straddling the South Waziristan Agency of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Paktika Province. Khan decided to do the business of carpets instead and hired a shop at the said business center in a quest to change his line of work.

On the day of event, October 29, when Khan was arranging carpets in order to open his shop, Major Imran arrived at his shop, along with around 15 soldiers, all in civilian outfits; the major had a hand grenade in his hand and was playing with the grenade, tossing it from one hand to the other, threatening Khan that the hand grenade could be detonated if Khan were not to agree to continue his previous work of supplying arms to the terrorists.

According to the shopkeepers and eyewitnesses, amidst the threats, the hand grenade fell from the Major’s hand, landed on the floor, and exploded. The major ended up being seriously injured. The soldiers panicked and began pointing their guns at the crowd, intending to shoot people. The injured major, however, asked his soldiers not to shoot the people, telling them that the grenade had fallen from his own hands. The major later died, either in hospital, or on his way there.

In response, the military have arrested Khan and his son for “martyring” the major and injuring 10, including six soldiers who were there with him. The father and son have been declared Taliban terrorists.

Given the background to the incident, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the public relations wing of the ,military, took two to three days to come out with its official statement, and even when the ISPR did so, it came out with different versions. The military spin-doctors have been at work trying to mask the true story, and the versions they have given are curious.

However, various newspapers of Pakistan had different versions of the incident.

The Daily Pakistan included the following in their news report: “An army major was killed and six soldiers were injured after a roadside bomb exploded during a search operation in South Waziristan Agency on Tuesday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported”.

Dawn had a different version of events: “A statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations said Major Imran had ’embraced shahadat’ and six soldiers suffered injuries when an improvised explosive device went off during a search operation in Wana Bazaar. According to officials, army and paramilitary forces cordoned off the area to search shops for arms and ammunition as local authorities had imposed a ban on their sale and purchase in the agency. The explosion took place in a shop belonging to one Khan Kharoti, killing Major Imran on the spot and injuring the six soldiers”.

The Frontier Post conflated the death with that of another in this way: “Major Imran was killed during a cordon search operation in South Wazirstan Agency’s Wana area. Last week, an army officer was killed and another was critically injured after falling into a ditch on the Motorway near Hazro, ISPR said. The deceased was identified as Lt. Colonel Shahid whereas Major Jalal sustained serious injuries when they were going back to Nowshera from Rawalpindi in a military convoy. At around 8PM, the officers climbed off their vehicle as the routes were blocked with containers. Owing to darkness, they both fell off the road edge into a ditch along the Motorway. Lt Colonel died on the spot while Major Jalal was immediately shifted to the hospital”.

Even, the army spokesperson was not clear how Major Imran was killed in an improvised explosion device (IED) blast. All indications point to how the mrmy wants to hide the facts and mask the real reason behind the hand grenade blast.

After two days of his killing, the army declared Major Imran as martyred. The military then wanted to show residents of Wana, South Waziristan, and indeed the whole country, that they know how to take revenge for the killing of an officer, and this set up the Army’s need to bring the market down.

On November 2, the military had called a Jirga, a council of tribals, which is a legal forum in FATA. It was at this time that the factual news about the killing of the major went viral.

The military officers insisted that the Mirza Alam Market, Rustam Bazzar Wana be demolished and they refused to make any conciliation. The political administration, under the Governor appointed by the President of Pakistan, tried to pacify the military men and prevent such a harsh action. However, the military were determined to blow-up the business center.

The military took power from the Jirga, under an Article of the Collective and Territorial Responsibility of Frontier Crime Regulation of 1905, amended in 2011.

Army persons, arrived in jeeps, and announced to all the shopkeepers that they should vacate the market, as the Army would soon dynamite the whole business center.

On November 3, a curfew was imposed throughout Wana City. Over 6,000 shops and more than 500 commercial establishments were shut down. The Army installed dynamites all around the building and quickly detonated the dynamite. The two-storied building, with 150 shops and other commercial structures, caved in. At that moment, the Army raised slogans of long live Pak Army, love live Pakistan, and Allah-o-Akbar (God is great).

Mirza Alam Khan Wazir, ex-Chief of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, who founded the business centre bore the brunt of deadly attacks from terrorists during his lifetime. In 2003, his eldest son Farooq Khan Wazir was killed by Al-Qaida and Taliban militants for opposing them and running a renowned Amn Jirga, i.e. a “Peace Jirga”.

When killed, Farooq was sitting outside his gas station, which was also demolished by the terrorists. Later, the terrorists claimed responsibility of killing Farooq Khan. Despite this, Mirza, continued to clean up Waziristan, particularly South Waziristan, from Taliban and Al-Qaida. In 2005, Taliban and Al-Qaida attacked Mirza in Wana and killed him, along with his two sons, two brothers, three nephews, who had come there to visit him; in total nine people were killed by the terrorists in this one incident.

The family members say that anyone can understand who was behind the terrorists; it is those who have nurtured and organized terrorists for decades that are behind such killings of peace activists.

This was the time of the military government of General Musharraf who has become a good friend to the international community after 9/11 by offering his insight into how to deal with terrorists, particularly Osama Bin Laden.

Getting or confirming information of happenings in South Waziristan is not the easiest of tasks, as there are many military check posts and terrorist hideouts; even journalists are not allowed to go to the affected areas where the military claims that it is eliminating terrorists.

The FATA does not come under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government and is also not under the oversight of the Parliament. It is governed directly by the Pakistan President.

The AHRC said that in Wana many innocents have been killed by terrorists and by law enforcement agencies, especially those who dare to report to the Pakistan government about terrorist movement. (ANI)