US Drone Kills David Headley Co-Conspirator In N. Waziristan

one of the dead militants as Abdur Rahman, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban.

Abdur Rehman retired in 2007 from the Pakistan army as a Major.[2] He worked closely with Lashkar-e-Taiba and coordinated the activities of a Chicago man, David Headley. He was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan on unspecified charges and later released.[3][4][5]”

Suspected U.S. Drone Strike Targets Pakistani Taliban Militants: Regional Official

 


By Saud Mehsud

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) – A suspected U.S. drone strike killed several Pakistani Taliban militants in North Waziristan close to the Afghanistan border, a regional government official and an Islamist militant said on Thursday, in a rare strike on Pakistani soil.

If confirmed, the air strike, which happened on Wednesday, would be only the second drone attack inside the nuclear-armed nation since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January.

Kamran Afridi, a senior regional official in the tribal region of North Waziristan, told Reuters in a text message a “drone strike” had struck Pakistani Taliban militants close to the Afghanistan border and killed seven fighters.

Afridi, who holds the post of ‘political agent’ in North Waziristanl, identified one of the dead militants as Abdur Rahman, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban. Several other militant sources said Rahman was killed.

Abdullah Wazirstani, spokesman for North Waziristan Taliban, a group linked to the Pakistani Taliban, said the strike killed three civilian “laborers” and seven militants from the Pakistani Taliban, which is also known as TTP.

Malik Waheedullah, a local tribal leader, told Reuters he saw two missiles strike a mountain home which caught fire. “I drove away as fast as I could,” he said.

One Pakistani intelligence official and government source said they believed the strike to be a U.S. drone attack.

U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

North Waziristan was a Taliban stronghold until 2014, when Pakistan’s military launched a major offensive against the group and pushed many of its fighters across the border into Afghanistan.

U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan have become rare over the past few years. In its last high-profile attack inside Pakistan, the United States last May killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.

(Additional reporting by Javed Hussain, Jibran Ahmad and Haji Mujataba; writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Saad Sayeed and Ralph Boulton)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.

Department of Justice Press Release
Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman)
For Immediate Release
December 7, 2009
United States Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois
Contact: (312) 353-5300

Chicagoan Charged with Conspiracy in 2008 Mumbai Attacks in Addition to Foreign Terror Plot in Denmark
Additional Charges Unsealed Alleging Retired Pakistani Major Conspired in Danish Plot

 

 

 

 

 

Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman), aka Pasha

 

Abdur Rehman complaint

The two-count complaint unsealed against Abdur Rehman, which was filed on Oct. 20, 2009, charges him with conspiracy to murder and maim persons in a foreign country, and providing material support to that foreign terrorism conspiracy. Abdur Rehman allegedly participated in the planning of a terrorist attack in Denmark, coordinated surveillance of the intended targets, and facilitated communications regarding the surveillance and planning with a member of Lashkar and Kashmiri.

Abdur Rehman, who was not named previously but whose alleged participation was described in the initial charges against Headley and Rana, allegedly played the central role in communicating with Headley and facilitating contacts with other co-conspirators in Pakistan, including members of Lashkar. During Headley’s trip to Pakistan in January 2009, Abdur Rehman took him to the FATA region of Pakistan to meet with Kashmiri and solicit the participation of Kashmiri and his organization in the planned attack on the Danish newspaper, according to the complaint against Abdur Rehman. A search of Headley’s luggage when he was arrested revealed a list of phone numbers, including a Pakistani number that he allegedly had used to contact Abdur Rehman.

The count against Headley charging conspiracy to bomb public places in India that resulted in deaths carries a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment or death. All of the other counts against Headley carry a maximum of life imprisonment, except providing material support to the Denmark terror plot, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

The conspiracy to murder or maim persons in a foreign country charge against Abdur Rehman carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The prosecution of Headley and Abdur Rehman is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Collins and Victoria J. Peters from the Northern District of Illinois, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The investigation into the Mumbai attacks is continuing with the active participation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain mere allegations that are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s Time To Speak Of The Global Horror Wrought By Obama

 

Absent U.S. leadership, a large swath of the globe is now a lawless power-vacuum that NATO countries can no longer ignore

 

Afghan National Army soldiers, left, and American soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Armored Division, destroy a Taliban firing position in the Layadira village of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2013. As American troops prepare to speed up their 2014 withdrawal, it is clear some of it will happen under fire, as Taliban fighters try to strike at departing soldiers. (Bryan Denton/New York Times/Getty Images)Afghan National Army soldiers, left, and American soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Armored Division, destroy a Taliban firing position in the Layadira village of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2013. As American troops prepare to speed up their 2014 withdrawal, it is clear some of it will happen under fire, as Taliban fighters try to strike at departing soldiers. (Bryan Denton/New York Times/Getty Images)

As Afghanistan continues to reel from last week’s assault on an army base in the northern province of Balkh—the bloodiest Taliban atrocity since 2001—it’s high time the NATO countries, Canada included, faced up to something awkward. However ill-tutored and imprudent Donald Trump may be, the catastrophe that has descended upon that great swath of the Earth, from Tripoli to Peshawar, is the legacy of eight years of Barack Obama’s fecklessness and wishful thinking.

It took the traumatic shock of al-Qaeda’s 9-11 attack to teach us all a lesson that we are all being forced to learn again in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen: you can’t just walk away from the world. Abandon parts of the globe to mayhem, warlordism and lawlessness and the state-power vacuum will quickly fill with horrors that the NATO capitals will not be able to ignore.

It’s not just that the Obama-led retreat from a century’s worth of covenants on war crimes, chemical warfare and other crimes against humanity in Syria has already all but destroyed the values-based international order. Nearly a half million Syrians have been killed, and the shadow of millions of refugees pouring across the Mediterranean is darkening all hopes of holding together a 70-year consensus that had united Europe.

RELATED: Our day of reckoning for Syria is coming

Six years ago, France and the Arab League had to drag Obama into a NATO operation that aimed to prevent a Syrian-scale mass slaughter of Libyans by the lunatic dictator Moammar Gadhafi. After the collapse of the Gadhafi regime, Obama opposed a UN peacekeeping force that could have prevented Libya from falling apart, and following Obama’s fashionable lead, we all walked away. After more than two years of stumbling towards a secular, representative democracy, Libya eventually collapsed into pandemonium, becoming the Islamic State and human-smuggling haven that it is today.

In Yemen two years ago, Obama took the opportunity of what was then a ragtag, marginal and containable Houthi insurgency to close down the CIA station running operations against al-Qaeda in the country and shutter the American garrison entirely. Saudi Arabia immediately began a bombing campaign that has resulted in at least 10,000 deaths. Qasem Soleimani, who heads up Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, is supplying the Shia Houthis with military equipment and advisers in a proxy war waged against Yemen’s Saudi-backed Sunni forces.

This week in Geneva, the United Nations is appealing to international donors to help stave off the famine facing nearly seven million Yemenis in what UN officials now call “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”

This brings us back to Afghanistan, where at least 160 fresh Afghan Army recruits were murdered while they were concluding their Friday prayers last week at Camp Shaheen in Balkh. Two of the attackers blew themselves up in the crowds of soldiers outside the camp’s mosque, and the rest went on a shooting spree that lasted several hours.

(By way of comparison, last Friday’s death toll was pretty well the same as the number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan—158—during the Canadian Forces’ entire 10-year sojourn in the country.)

Ever since May 2014, when Obama announced he intended to withdraw the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have been gaining ground. Reckoning it was only a matter of time before NATO was gone, the Taliban’s Quetta Shura in Pakistan went on the offensive. Lately they have been joined by jihadists aligned with ISIS in Iraq and Syria—the target of Trump’s April 13 GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (“Mother Of All Bombs”), dropped on a cave complex in Nangarhar province adjacent to the border with Pakistan.

READ MORE: After the MOAB, Afghanistan reverberates still

After promising to pull American troops from Iraq—which he did, allowing ISIS to spread its gangrene from the outskirts of Baghdad to the Syrian town of Raqqa—Obama was so eager to make an impression on American voters in the 2014 congressional election season that he accelerated his troop drawdown in Afghanistan to a speed his own generals warned would invite disaster.

Disaster is exactly what unfolded. By last summer, the Taliban controlled more Afghan territory than at any point since 2001.

From its peak of 130,000 troops from 51 countries in the UN-sanctioned International Security Assistance Force (Canada’s last soldiers left Afghanistan in 2014), the international coalition backing Afghanistan’s nascent democracy and the Afghan National Security Forces has been reduced to 14,000 non-combat soldiers (about half of them American) from 39 countries, engaged mostly in troop-training.

On Monday, U.S. General John Nicholson, who heads up the NATO-led operation, stood beside U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis, who was paying a surprise visit to Afghanistan. They both hinted strongly that the Kremlin, which has played host to the Taliban in meetings in Moscow, might now be arming the Taliban as well.

This is exactly the kind of horror show that should be expected when NATO’s democracies, which have always been dependent upon American power, simply walk away from the world.

Canadian soldiers shed blood for Afghanistan, and the disaster unfolding there now is not something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland can simply ignore.

Iraq Intercepts $500+ Million In Cash At Baghdad Airport, From Qatar, To Iraqi/Syrian Rebels

Iraq considers next move after intercepting ‘world’s largest’ ransom for kidnapped Qataris

 

 

Exclusive: Prime Minister’s leaked memo reveals Baghdad’s anger as Qataris try to pay militias $500m in cash seized at Baghdad airport

 

Officials at Baghdad International Airport became suspicious earlier this month when their X-ray machines could not see into 23 large bags unloaded from a Qatari plane, producing only a black image because the contents were wrapped in a special material impenetrable to detecting devices. They were further amazed when they opened the bags to discover that they contained hundreds of millions of dollars and euros in cash worth a total of $500m (£389m), says an Iraqi source.

It is now clear that the money was ransom for 24 Qataris, several of them leading members of the Qatari royal al-Thani family, and two Saudis who had been hunting with falcons with official permission in supposedly safe southern Iraq when they were kidnapped 16 months ago by a Shia militia task force. A deal to get them released has been complicated by negotiations involving Qatar and Iran as well as Shia and Sunni militias over the simultaneous evacuation of people long besieged in four towns, two Shia and two Sunni, in northern and southern  Syria respectively.

The extraordinary story of the $500m ransom – perhaps the biggest ransom ever in history – and the release of the Qatari royalty is revealed in a confidential document sent by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and obtained exclusively by The Independent. In a special report dated 22 April, six days after the episode at the airport, he gives senior members of his ruling Dawa Party a detail account of actions by his government, Qatar and other players inside and outside Iraq though the precise identity of several is left vague.

Mr Abadi says that Qatar had requested the Iraqi government for permission to land an aircraft at Baghdad International Airport on 15 April on the understanding that it would take on board freed members of the kidnapped hunting party. But he says the airport officials were “surprised that there were 23 large heavy bags that appeared without prior notice or approval”. When these were put in the X-ray machine “the image appeared black”, which meant that whatever was inside was wrapped in a special impenetrable material.

Those on board the plane included the Qatari ambassador to Iraq and a special envoy from the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, but they had not asked for the bags to be given diplomatic immunity. They apparently had not done so because they believed that the kidnappers or their emissaries had their own people at the airport who would take charge of the money.

Mr Abadi says that even before opening the bags Iraqi officials had become convinced, through overhearing the conversation of the Qataris, that they contained money. What they did not know was how much, so when they finally searched them and counted the cash they were astonished to discover that the amount totalled “hundreds of millions of dollars and euros”. By then the Iraqi government had been told, presumably by the Qataris, that the cash was a ransom payment. But its officials still confiscated it since their government had not been informed about what was going on and they were chary of seeing such a large sum paid to a militia that would inevitably be empowered by a massive cash injection. “Hundreds of millions for armed groups? Is this acceptable?” Mr Abadi asked later at a press conference.

The militia widely reported to have carried out the original kidnapping of the hunting party in Iraq’s southern Muthanna proince in December 2015 was the powerful Iranian-supported movement known as Ketaeb Hezbollah, which is distinct from Lebanese Hezbollah. But all Iraqi and Syrian militias both Shia and Sunni have links, often undeclared and unprovable but well known to most Iraqis and Syrians, to local politicians, political parties and foreign states. Sometimes, the militias are simple proxies of others but usually the relationship is more complex with a degree of mutual dependence.

Mr Abadi hints at this when he mentions in his report that, as news of the confiscation of the money at the airport spread in Baghdad, “third parties intervened strongly, some from the highest levels” and others threatened to use armed force. The Qatari envoy and the Qatari ambassador who had arrived on the plane had a bitter dispute over what had gone wrong.  What is not clear is why the kidnappers released their hostages on 21 April, though they had not yet received the ransom, unless they were confident that once it was in Baghdad airport it was as good as in their hands or replacement funds had been sent by Qatar. Mr Abadi says that the Qataris had been led to believe that “the sponsors of the kidnappers” had effective control of the airport and of the security forces there.

A second strong reason for the freeing of the hostages going ahead is that their release was part of a regional deal involving Qatar, Iran, Jabhat al-Nusra, formerly the al-Qaeda representative in Syria, as well as various Shia militias. This relates to the fate of two Shia towns, Fua and Kefraya, with a combined population of 40,000, that have long been under siege by Sunni Arab militia forces including al-Nusra in Idlib province in northern Syria, and two Sunni towns, Madaya and Zabadani west of Damascus, that are besieged by pro-Syrian government forces including Lebanese Hezbollah. Under an agreement all four towns were to see simultaneous and linked evacuations as a result of stop-go negotiations that have been going on for several years. On the day of the hunters’ release last Friday, an Iraqi source told AFP “the Qataris are now in Haider al-Abadi’s office following a deal between Jabhat al-Nusra and the kidnappers.”

The release of the hostages had earlier been stalled when busses carrying Shia evacuees from Fua and Kefraya were attacked on 15 April  by a suicide bomber in a vehicle, which exploded, killing 126 people, including 68 children and wounding a further 300. This was the same day that the Qatari plane landed in Baghdad. Given that all militias in Syria and Iraq are highly criminalised, the money would presumably have to be shared out among all of those involved as well as with some of their outside sponsors.

Mr Abadi is clearly angry at the way in which Iraq has been caught up in the complicated manoeuvres of foreign powers like Qatar, Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah and a variety of Iraqi and Syrian private armies. He says that “allowing [the Qataris] to deliver big money to armed groups in Iraq, and perhaps also to terrorist groups is to fuel the war.”

The affair has not ended since the Iraqi government now has half a billion dollars whom very violent paramilitary groups and their sponsors were expecting to be paid to them. These are often described as militias, though in fact they are heavily-equipped private armies who pose as community defenders, but are frequently guns-for-hire for foreign states and for their own enrichment. They will not resign themselves easily to the loss of the contents of the 23 bags confiscated at Baghdad airport.

Israeli Air Forces Destroy Weapons Depot Left By Retreating ISIS In Damascus

[Israeli missiles destroyed an ISIS arsenal, seized by Syrian Army, under pretext that these arms were destined for Hezbollah and others (Israeli strike hits Iranian arms supply depot in Damascus: source).]

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:55 P.M.) – On Tuesday, shock units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) sliced through ISIS-held desert territory, seizing 20 square kilometers from the hardline jihadist group.

The surprise government advance, some six kilometers in depth, was conducted east of the Tishreen Power Plant in a region not far from Damascus International Airport.

Islamic State contingents largely withdrew from the sparsely populated area over the past week amid a tactical retreat through the Syrian Desert towards Palmyra. US vetted Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters have also advanced in the area recently.

Strategically, this operation secures an important bufferzone around the East Ghouta pocket which speculations suggest that Jordanian-backed and US-trained Syrian rebels will try to reach in a bid to break its long-standing siege.

250+ Name Casualty List Compiled From Afghan Camp Shaheen Massacre

Credible sources have disclosed the death toll in Friday’s deadly attack on the Balkh military base was over 250.

While Afghans continue to reel from the Taliban’s deadly attack on 209 Shaheen Corps in the northern province of Balkh, the Afghan government has been accused of hiding the truth about Friday’s bloodbath.  

Sources however have told TOLOnews that the number of casualties was much higher than the figure announced by government.

Based on information gathered from different sources, so far the identity of 256 soldiers from ten provinces have been confirmed.

According to credible sources in Kabul and other provinces so far it is known that 68 soldiers from Badakhshan were killed, 50 soldiers from Nangarhar, 40 soldiers from Baghlan, 33 from Takhar, 24 from Uruzgan, 18 from Helmand, 13 from Kunduz, five from Samangan, three from Kabul and two soldiers from Parwan.

Sources have said that many more died – including soldiers from Laghman, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces.

“Unfortunately our wounded soldiers increased the level of our casualties. This is the main reason for the rising casualties. Soldiers were participating in Friday prayers,” said former army chief of staff Qadam Shah Shaheem, who stepped down on Monday following the attack.

According to sources, government decided to withhold the actual death toll.

“The people want information and government must respond; what government talks about is general information,” said Nasir Taimoori, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

“The government has always lied the people of Afghanistan, but this time Allah revealed his curse on them, we all know that initially government put the death toll at eight people,” said MP Arif Rahmani.

On Friday, ten Taliban insurgents all dressed in full military gear stormed the largest military base in the north. Three of them were suicide bombers and managed to gain access to where hundreds of soldiers had gathered. Most of the soldiers had been unarmed at the time.

Sources also said that the majority of victims were new recruits who had only recently joined the army.

Meanwhile a senior diplomatic source said: “If soldiers are killed inside your military base and you cannot count it, it makes you look even worse.”

Heavy ISIS/Taliban Infighting Near Site of Camp Shaheen Massacre

[Taliban Kill 140+ In Mazar e-Sharif, Despite On-site German Troops and US Special Forces Nearby–(Taliban claim 500 killed) ; Govt ‘Covering Up’ Actual Death Toll in Army Base Attack–(deadly attack on the Balkh military base was over 250)]

Nearly 100 dead as Taliban, Daesh clash in Afghanistan

Ongoing fighting related to opium crop, kidnap of drug smugglers in north

Nearly 100 dead as Taliban, Daesh clash in Afghanistan

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan

Nearly 100 Taliban and pro-Daesh militants have been killed in fighting in northern Afghanistan, police said Wednesday.

Sporadic fighting in the Darzab district of Jowzjan province is ongoing, Rahmatullah Turkistani, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police, told Anadolu Agency.

He said a total of 91 militants had been killed in clashes over the kidnapping of drug smugglers who were to pay the Taliban as part of an opium deal.

“The clashes erupted when group of armed Taliban attacked Daesh militants [to secure] the release of three drug smugglers who came here to pay 10 million afghanis [$14,780] to the Taliban for a deal,” Turkistani said.

Raza Ghafori, a spokesman for the provincial administration, confirmed the casualties and said the Taliban had borne the brunt of the losses.

Taliban spokesman Zabehullah Mujahid acknowledged recent clashes between the two groups but did not provide further details.

Like many parts of northern Afghanistan, Jowzjan province is not a traditional Taliban stronghold.

The militants who have pledged allegiance to Daesh are strongest in the mountainous east, where a significant number of Pakistani militants fill their ranks.

Earlier this month, the U.S. dropped a huge GBU-43/B MOAB bomb in a network of tunnels in Nangarhar province, killing at least 90 Daesh militants.

However, Daesh sympathizers associated with the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement are gaining ground in northern provinces.

Last month, U.S. military spokesman Capt. Bill Salvin said the U.S. aimed to drive Daesh out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.

He told Anadolu Agency that the U.S. believed there are up to 1,000 Daesh fighters in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.