Saturday, September 30, 2006




From :

Al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri has called US President George W Bush a "lying failure" for saying progress has been made in the war on terrorism, according to a video posted on the internet.

"Bush you are a lying failure and a charlatan. It has been three and a half years (since the arrests) ... What happened to us? We have gained more strength and we are more insistent on martyrdom," the Egyptian militant leader said.

Zawahri was referring to the arrest of al-Qaeda figures such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

"Bush, O failure and liar, why don't you be courageous for once and confront your people and tell them the truth about your losses in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

He also called Pope Benedict a "charlatan" because of his remarks on Islam.

"This charlatan accused Islam of being incompatible with rationality while forgetting that his own Christianity is unacceptable to a sensible mind," Zawahri said.

In a speech to a university in his native Germany on September 12, Pope Benedict quoted criticism of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who wrote that everything Mohammad brought was evil and inhuman.

The Pope said there was no room for violence in a religion based on reason.

Zawahri also urged Muslims in the same video to launch a holy war against proposed UN peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region.

From the New York Times :
American officials have warned Iraqi leaders that they might have to curtail aid to the Interior Ministry police because of a United States law that prohibits the financing of foreign security forces that commit “gross violations of human rights” and are not brought to justice.

The Interior Ministry, dominated by Shiites, has long been accused by Sunni Arabs of complicity in torture and killings.

The American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said in an interview on Friday that “at this point” Iraq had not been formally notified that its national police were in violation of the legislation, known as the Leahy Law. He said he remained optimistic that Iraqi officials would “do the right thing” and resolve the matter. Nonetheless, he said American officials had begun reviewing programs that might have to be ended.

The issue centers on one of the most sensitive subjects within the Iraqi government: the joint Iraqi-American inspection in May and subsequent investigation of a prison in eastern Baghdad known as Site 4.

Within the prison there was clear evidence of systematic abuse and torture, including victims who had “lesions resulting from torture” as well as “equipment used for this purpose,” according to a human rights report later published by the United Nations mission in Iraq.

The prison, run by an Interior Ministry national police unit, had more than 1,400 prisoners crowded into a small area. An American officer said some had been beaten or bound and hung by their arms. At least 37 teenagers or children were in the prison.

In another sign of Iraq’s security problems, the Iraqi government late on Friday banned all vehicle and pedestrian traffic in Baghdad until Sunday. No reason was given, but the decision followed news that the United States military had arrested an Iraqi employee of a leading Sunni politician on suspicion that he was helping to plan an attack inside the Green Zone. [Page A6.]

The controversy over Site 4 has become emblematic of the problem of militia members infiltrating the Interior Ministry’s security forces and fears that Iraqi leaders are unwilling to take action against rogue groups.

A number of high-ranking officials have been implicated, including one division commander, an American official said. According to United Nations officials, as many as 52 arrest warrants have been issued, though none have been carried out. And shortly after the Site 4 inspection, the government stopped allowing joint Iraqi-American prison inspections.

American officials have long warned about the dangers of militia influence, and had hoped the new government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki would crack down on the groups.

Lately, though, senior American military officials have been voicing increasing concerns about the government’s reluctance to take action against militia members. One senior American military official acknowledged last week, “There’s a political piece to this to see if they deal with these guys.”

In recent interviews, senior American military officials have said time is growing short for Iraqi leaders to take action against militias and corrupt officials, who they say are diverting money from the ministries to political parties.

In a statement on Friday, the commander of United States forces in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., distanced himself from such comments, which he said “do not reflect the close partnership” between the American military and Iraqi leaders. General Casey described Prime Minister Maliki as a “determined, courageous leader” who is “doing a good job in a tough environment.”

Also from the New York Times :
On the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Abu Omar received the call to jihad. Literally.

“There’s a present for you,” a voice on the other end of the phone said that morning, he recalled. It was a common code whenever his friends and colleagues wanted to share a new broadcast or communiqué from Al Qaeda over the Internet, he said.

Abu Omar, speaking on the condition that only his nickname be used, said he soon went to one of the Internet cafes he frequents in Amman and began distributing the latest video by Al Qaeda, alerting friends and occasionally adding commentary.

“We are the energy behind the path to jihad,” Abu Omar said proudly. “Just like the jihadis reached their target on Sept. 11, we will reach ours through the Internet.”

Abu Omar, 28, is part of an increasingly sophisticated network of contributors and discussion leaders helping to wage Al Qaeda’s battle for Muslim hearts and minds. A self-described Qaeda sympathizer who defends the Sept. 11 attacks and continues to find inspiration in Osama bin Laden’s call for jihad, Abu Omar is part of a growing army of young men who may not seek to take violent action, but who help spread jihadist philosophy, shape its message and hope to inspire others to their cause.

Though he does not appear to be directly connected to Al Qaeda, Abu Omar does seem to be on a direct e-mail list for groups sympathetic to Al Qaeda, making him a link in a chain that spreads the organization’s propaganda using code and special software to circumvent official scrutiny of their Internet activity.

As Al Qaeda gradually transforms itself from a terrorist organization carrying out its own attacks into an ideological umbrella that encourages local movements to take action, its increased reliance on various forms of media have made Web-savvy sympathizers like Abu Omar ever more important.

For example, this past Sept. 11, Abu Omar said, a link sent to a jihadist e-mail list took him to a general interest Islamic Web site, which led him to a password-protected Web site, then onto yet another site containing the latest release from Al Qaeda: a lecture by its No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahri, threatening attacks on Israel and the Persian Gulf. Abu Omar said he then passed the video to friends and confidants, acting as a local distributor to other sympathizers.

In recent years, Al Qaeda has formed a special media production division called Al Sahab to produce videos about leaders like Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri, terrorism experts say. The group largely once relied on Arab television channels like Al Jazeera to broadcast its videos and taped messages.

Al Sahab, whose name means the cloud, has continued to draw on a video library featuring everything from taped suicide messages by the Sept. 11 hijackers to images of gun battles and bombings spearheaded by Al Qaeda and others, said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert on Islamist movements with the Vision Research Institute in Amman who has close ties to jihadists in Jordan and Syria.

But this year Al Sahab has released many more recordings than in previous years, said Chris Heffelfinger, a specialist in jihadi ideology at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, in what many analysts see as a new offensive focusing on the Muslim mainstream. Jihadi Web sites, meanwhile, have continued sprouting on the Internet, serving as a conduit for Al Qaeda’s propaganda.

Mr. Shehadeh describes Al Sahab as an informal group with video camcorders and laptops. Some news reports have described it as an organization with a mobile production unit that navigates the Pakistani provinces. “The jihadis have successfully used American technology to show the U.S. as a loser,” Mr. Shehadeh said. “This is an open-ended war, and they use media as part of their jihad against Western and Arab regimes.”

Just days before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Sahab released a barrage of videos, including images of Mr. bin Laden seated with some of the Sept. 11 suicide bombers; a documentary that some have described as a “making of Sept. 11” feature, with testaments by two of the bombers; and the lecture by Mr. Zawahri that Abu Omar said he received that morning.

What is most striking about the messages is their tone, terrorism analysts say. In the past, the group’s leaders were generally depicted as soldiers in battle, often filmed outdoors with weapons in the background. But the more recent communiqués show Al Qaeda’s leaders in the comfort of a living room or office, set against bookshelves with religious texts. The group has also taken to quoting Western authors and famous speeches, in what seems to be an effort to reach those with Western sensibilities.

“It’s a clear message: when there’s a gun in the background, they’re saying, ‘I’m a fighter like you’; when there are books in the background, it means, ‘I am a scholar and deserve authority,’ ” said Fares bin Hizam, a journalist who reports on militant groups for the Arab satellite news channel Al Arabiya. “It is a message that resonates well with an impressionable young man who is 17 or 18.”

One result, terrorism analysts say, is a militant group in transition, seeking to push ideology over direct action, franchising its name and principles to smaller groups acting more independently.

“Al Qaeda has been turning itself from an active organization into a propaganda organization,” said Mr. Heffelfinger. “They now appear to be focused on putting out disinformation and projecting the strength of the mujahedeen. They’re no longer the group that is organizing the mujahedeen. Instead, they are giving guidance to all the movements.”

Men like Abu Omar have become integral to that transformation. Mr. Shehadeh, who introduced Abu Omar to this reporter, says he has known Abu Omar ever since he was a teenager and has observed his gradual embrace of jihadist ideology. He says he has seen Abu Omar’s contributions on numerous chat boards and notes that while Abu Omar is probably not a Qaeda member, he regularly relays news and spreads the group’s message to friends and colleagues.

In Amman’s more conservative neighborhoods, Abu Omar and several analysts said, one or two jihadists tend to be the organizers, distributing messages and content to volunteers, and controlling membership in jihadist e-mail lists.

“We are typically observers, but when we see something on the Net, our job is to share it,” Abu Omar said. He no longer trusts news reports on television, he said. He even cast doubt on Al Jazeera, which typically broadcasts Al Qaeda’s videos but is, he said, still beholden to Arab governments. “We become like journalists ourselves.”

Abu Omar, who owns a computer store in one of Amman’s refugee camps, said he became involved in jihadi movements about six years ago, driven in part by his anger over the death of his father, who he said was a fighter with the Palestinian faction Fatah when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. “On the Net, you can see all the pictures of Palestine and the Muslim world being attacked, and then you see the planes crashing into one of the towers and you think, ‘I can understand it,’ ” he said.

He goes to an Internet cafe several times a week. In recent years, Jordan’s Internet cafes have begun taking increased security measures, like registering users’ identification cards, he said, but jihadists in Amman alternate among a network of sympathetic cafe owners who allow them to surf anonymously.

He never uses his own computer to search for jihadi content, and he limits his time online to about 30 minutes — not long enough for the authorities to locate him, he figures.

In 2005, Jordanian authorities arrested an 18-year-old man, Murad al-Assaydeh, accusing him of using the Internet to threaten attacks on intelligence officials. Abu Omar said several of his friends and comrades had been arrested by the General Information Department in Jordan in connection with Mr. Assaydeh’s case and in subsequent dragnets. Abu Omar said he was once called in for questioning but was released the same day.

He now changes his e-mail address frequently, he said, and he typically carries software that can delete details of his actions from a computer. “In the beginning, I thought maybe I would go for jihad in Iraq, but it was very difficult to get there,” he said. “Now I realize it’s better to work on the Net and get the message out.”

Majority Of Iraqis Support Attacks On US Soldiers

250,000 Iraqis Have Fled The Violence Of War

4 Out Of 5 Americans Don't Believe US Policies In Iraq Will Succeed

"America's Enemies Thrilled That Rumsfeld Is Still Overseeing All Operations In Iraq" - 3 Years Of War, $US500 Billion, More Terrorism

Friday, September 29, 2006





From Gareth Porter writing for the Asia Times :

Are the Sunni leaders in Iraq's al-Anbar province finally coming around to joining the US counterinsurgency war?

That's how the New York Times portrayed the situation last week. Times reporters quoted a Sunni tribal leader in Anbar as saying that 25 of 31 tribes in the province had banded together to fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Iraqi insurgents allied with them.

The newspaper said US officials, who had "tried to persuade the

Sunni Arab majority in Anbar to reject the insurgency and embrace Iraqi nationalism", saw the announcement as an "encouraging sign".

But careful readers of the Times report would have noticed that something was missing from the picture of the political-military situation in Anbar that is crucial to making sense of the tribal leader's announcement, as well as the spin put on it by the unnamed US officials.

The missing piece is the home-grown Sunni armed resistance to the US occupation, which enjoys the strong support of the Sunni population and tribal leaders in the province and has been at war with the foreign terrorists of al-Qaeda for many months. According to a report by prominent security analysts Anthony Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, foreign fighters represent only 4-10% of some 30,000 armed insurgents in Iraq.

The omission of any mention of the indigenous Sunni resistance forces from the Times story followed a Washington Post report on a secret US Marine Corps intelligence analysis of the situation in Anbar, in which Pentagon officials were quoted as saying the document portrays a "vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq".

The disappearance of Sunni resistance forces from these papers' coverage of the situation in Anbar mirrors the view presented by the US military briefers for the past six months, which has systematically ignored what has become, in effect, a third force in the war in Iraq - a Sunni resistance to both the occupation and al-Qaeda.

That third force emerged last year out of the struggle in the Sunni heartland of Iraq over the constitutional referendum and December parliamentary election. Al-Qaeda in Iraq threatened anyone in Anbar province who participated in the referendum with death, but the major Sunni armed groups broke openly with al-Qaeda and supported full participation by Sunnis to defeat the referendum.

Sunni resistance groups then began attacking al-Qaeda forces in Ramadi, Husayba and other towns in Anbar. By early 2006, these armed groups had captured 270 foreign infiltrators, according to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper. US military command spokesman Major-General Rick Lynch publicly confirmed in January that the insurgents had killed six "major leaders" of al-Qaeda in Ramadi.

From late November to February, Lynch made the fundamental conflict between the Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda a major theme of his briefings. He told reporters, "The local insurgents have become part of the solution."

But the Sunnis' solution included the demand that the United States set a date for withdrawal in return for their ending the insurgency and cooperating with an Iraqi government against al-Qaeda. And in the interim period before a final withdrawal, the Sunnis wanted the withdrawal of US forces from Anbar, along with the largely Shi'ite army units they had sent in to control the province.

At a meeting at a US base in Ramadi in December, reported by the London Sunday Times in February, a former Iraqi general, Saab al-Rawi, representing the Iraqi Sunni insurgents in the province, asked General George Casey, the senior US commander in Iraq, for the withdrawal of US forces from Ramadi and their replacement by a brigade of former soldiers from the area.

But Casey angrily refused, accusing Rawi of wanting a US pullout so the insurgents could take over the city. The Iraqi general recalled that his forces had protected the city for six months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. "You have not protected this city and can never do so," said Rawi, "for you are foreigners here - unwanted and unwelcome."

The Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi government was more responsive to the Sunni plea. The Los Angeles Times reported on January 29 that national security adviser Mowaffak Rubaie acknowledged that the major Sunni resistance organizations were in an irreconcilable conflict with al-Qaeda. "We are talking about two ideologies," he declared.

Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari promised the Sunni tribal leaders in January that he would support the request for the replacement of US troops in Ramadi with local Sunni forces, according to Al-Hayat.

But that never happened, and the US military command soon reversed its line on the Sunni armed organizations. Instead of touting them as important to the solution to the al-Qaeda problem, the US military command began to act as though the United States didn't need Sunni armed organizations at all.

In his March 9 briefing, Lynch dropped the distinction between the Sunni armed organizations and al-Qaeda. "The people of Iraq are uniting against the insurgency," he declared. And he added, "Remember, democracy equals failure for the insurgency."

A review of the transcripts of US command briefings since then reveals that the spokesman has systematically avoided any comment suggesting that there is a third alternative to al-Qaeda control over Anbar and occupation by US and Shi'ite troops.

In contrast to the official military line, however, in April the London Daily Telegraph quoted the senior US officer in Ramadi, Colonel John Gronski, as saying that almost all the fighting against coalition forces in his sector had been by Iraqis, and that in the previous five months not a single foreigner had been detained in and around Ramadi. Gronski also admitted that the Sunni insurgents had the support of the local population and that local tribal leaders regarded the resistance as "legitimate".

After the new government was formed under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in May, representatives of the Sunni resistance pressed their case in talks with the Iraqi government. USA Today reported on July 4 that the government was "studying a request from some local insurgent leaders to supply them with weapons so they can turn on the heavily armed foreign fighters who were once their allies ..."

But Washington has continued to oppose such schemes, according to Ayad al-Samarrai, the second-highest official of the Sunni-based Islamic Party. In a report published on September 13, The Times of London quoted Samarrai saying leaders in Anbar had made several proposals to the US on building "an indigenous army and police force" in the province, but to no avail.

The US resistance to arming the Sunnis in al-Anbar, he said, had led many Sunni leaders to believe the US was deliberately helping al-Qaeda because it preferred chaos there.

The Sunni resistance to both al-Qaeda and the occupation represents an acute embarrassment to the US military and the administration in Washington. The US needs the help of the Sunni resistance against al-Qaeda, but to get it, it must admit that it can't do the job itself. Since that option is still unacceptable, the administration has had to pretend that there are only two sides in the struggle in Anbar - not three.

Thursday, September 28, 2006



Major General John R.S. Bastiste

It's been called 'The Revolt Of The American Generals' and President Bush's White House crew talk about it like it means nothing, and that it's some kind of Democrats-fuelled conspiracy to undermine the Republicans.

But the 'Revolt Of The Generals' is very, very real, and it's spreading through the US Military.

The genesis came before the 'War On Iraq' even began.

And it began because Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said there would be no insurgency in Iraq when all the best advice said that there would be one (and it would be bad) and the 'Revolt' set down deep roots inside the US Military when top generals' requests for more troops and better equipment to fight the 'War On Iraq' were refused by Rumsfeld from day one.

Below you will find quotes from Major General John R. S. Bastiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and was previously hailed by President Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a "true American hero".

Bastiste is now demanding Rumsfeld resign, and that he tell the truth of how he lied to Americans to get the war he wanted, regardless of the price of American, and Iraqi, blood.

Bastiste : "If we had seriously laid out and considered the full range of requirements for the war in Iraq, we would likely have taken a different course of action that would have maintained a clear focus on our main effort in Afghanistan, not fueled Islamic fundamentalism across the globe, and not created more enemies than there were insurgents."

...Rumsfeld "is not a competent wartime leader" and surrounded himself with "compliant" subordinates.

"Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build 'his plan,' which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace and set Iraq up for self-reliance...(Rumsfeld also) refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency.

"At one point (before the war began), he threatened to fire the next person who talked about the need for a post-war plan.

"Secretary Rumsfeld's dismal strategic decisions resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American servicemen and women, our allies, and the good people of Iraq...He was responsible for America and her allies going to war with the wrong plan...."

To have a widely respected major general of Bastiste's standing make such public statements about the chief of the Pentagon, during war-time, was unprecedented before the 'War On Iraq'.

But Bastiste is not the first high-ranking Iraq veteran to call Rumsfeld to task for his deadly incompetency, and he won't be the last.

When Donald Rumsfeld was asked by journalists, yesterday, to reply to Bastiste's claims, he refused to answer.

When he was asked if he would resign, Rumsfeld swallowed heavily, mumbled "No" and then asked for the next question.

On television, Rumsfeld looked extremely worried.

As well he should be.

The 'Revolt Of The Generals' will continue to spread through the US Military until Rumsfeld is gone.

Go Here For The Full Story

How Bush And Rumsfeld Ruined The US Army

The Betrayal Of The American Military

Army's Top Officer Refuses To Submit War Budget To Rumsfeld - Revolt In The Open

There's a lot of news to cover today, so we'll just do the headlines (clink for link-thrus) and a short excerpt of the stories we think our readers should be aware of.

Majority Of Iraqis : "Go Home America" - Stunning Poll Figures Reveal Most Iraqis Want Coalition Forces To Leave, Most Think They Will Stay Regardless
A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.

In Baghdad...nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout...

...71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year...77 percent of those polled (believe) the United States intends (to keep) permanent military bases in the country.

Osama Bin Laden Is Alive And He's In Afghanistan, Says Pakistan's President Musharraf

President Musharraf, dismissing a French intelligence report that Osama bin Laden had died of typhoid, said yesterday that he believed the al-Qaeda leader to be hiding in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, possibly with the help of an Afghan warlord.

“It’s not a hunch....Kunar province borders on Bajaur Agency. We know there are some pockets of al-Qaeda in Bajaur Agency. We have set a good intelligence organisation. We have moved some army elements. We did strike them twice there. We located and killed a number of them.”

Israel Claims Gaza Militants Gearing Up, Re-Arming For "Showdown With Israel"
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip are rearming and retraining for an imminent military showdown with the Israeli army, intelligence sources disclosed yesterday.

Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel's intelligence service Shin Bet, said 19 tons of explosives had been smuggled into Gaza in the past year. Other senior Israeli officials indicated that Palestinian fighters were acquiring more effective weapons.

...a Hamas MP said yesterday, "This is a bunch of lies meant to justify Israel's attacks on us...The situation in Gaza is the worst ever. Israel is the one threatening Gaza and attacking Gaza."

United States And North Korea Start Talking Tough As Nuclear Negotiations Fade Into Troubled History
The U.S. and North Korea traded ultimatums in New York on Tuesday, with the U.S. hinting that its primaries on Nov. 7 are the deadline for the North to come back to talks on its nuclear program, and North Korea slamming the U.S. for what it calls "vicious, hostile policies" and demanding it lifts financial sanctions against it soon.

Time is now running out to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Wall Street Journal.

Russian Military Officers Beaten, Held On Espionage Charges In Georgia - Russia Demands Release, Warns Of Serious Consequences

Russia warned on Thursday that it would use every means available to free Russian officers who were detained in Tbilisi on suspicion of spying...

Georgian police and guards on Wednesday surrounded the regional headquarters of Russian troops in Tbilisi, and Georgia said it had arrested four Russian spies.

“We have demanded the immediate release of our citizens and we will achieve this with all the means available to us,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said...

Turkey Bombs Kurdish Insurgency Bases Inside Iraq - New Front Opens In The 'War In Iraq'
Turkey has begun attacking Kurdish insurgency bases in Iraq.Kurdish sources said the Turkish Army shelled bases of the Kurdish Workers Party over the weekend.

The sources said Turkish artillery units targeted PKK camps in the Haftanin province of northern Iraq.

Bush And Chavez On A Collision Course
Chavez's recent criticism of George W. Bush at the United Nations is only the latest in a war of words with the U.S. president. Chavez has accused the Bush administration of trying to assassinate him, a charge U.S. officials have denied. For the Bush administration, Chavez represents indeed the biggest threat in the region, although not necessarily for the reasons U.S. officials state.

Chavez's bold political initiatives have clearly put him on a collision course with the U.S., a course in which he has the overwhelming support of the Latin American masses. Unless the relationship between both countries is more carefully managed, both are to lose from this confrontation.

Taliban Blames "Outsiders" For Shocking Rise Of Suicide Bombings In Afghanistan
THE number of suicide bombings and roadside booby-trap blasts in Afghanistan has soared by 600% in nine months, triggering fears that the Taliban are copying Iraqi insurgent tactics.

The 2006 tally of attacks reached 67 yesterday, compared to 11 in 2005...

Nato forces, including Britain's 4500-strong garrison in Helmand province, are now bracing themselves for a Taliban spring campaign.

Demented NeoCon Writer All But Demands 'War On Iran', Despite The Horrific Consequences
The signal (from Bush in his UN speech) is unmistakable. An aerial attack on Iran's nuclear facilities lies just beyond the horizon of diplomacy.

The costs will be terrible:

· Economic . An attack on Iran is likely to send oil prices overnight to $100 or even to $150 a barrel. That will cause a worldwide recession...

· Military . Iran will activate its proxies in Iraq, most notably, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Many Mahdi will die, but they live to die. Many Iraqis and coalition soldiers are likely to die as well.

Among the lesser military dangers, Iran might activate terrorist cells around the world...

· Diplomatic. There will be massive criticism of America from around the world. Much of it is to be discounted.
Editor's Comment : This is the kind of blind, crazed, warpig arrogance that led the US into the 'War On Iraq'. The above columnist well knows, but fails to mention (because it's just to much to comprehend) that a retaliatory strike by Russia, or China - or Russia and China - on the US in the event of an attack on Iran is extremely likely.

The columnist mentions that "many" coalition soldiers in Iraq would die if the US attacked Iran. He purposely fails to mention that coalition soldiers in Iraq are already hostages of Iran, and they will be slaughtered in the thousands if airstrikes against Iran go ahead. President Bush knows this, and this is one of the main reasons why he will not hit Iran any time soon.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006




President Bush was no doubt hoping the arrival in the US of two chief 'War On Terror' allies - Pakistan's President Musharraf and Afghanistan's President Karzai - would allow him to publicly pow-wow on all the great progress the three countries had made in rolling back the threat of the Taliban and the sprawling influence of Al Qaeda.

But Musharraf and Karzai both arrived in the US days before the big White House meetings and dinner, and used that spare time to bounce around key US media where they slammed and ripped and shredded each other's efforts to fight the war as Bush demands.

Musharraf views Karzai as weak and mocked him for hiding out inside his guarded palace near Kabul, terrified of venturing outside in case he is assassinated. Karzai, meanwhile, hammered Musharraf for cutting a recent 'peace deal' with the Taliban in the border regions of Pakistan, and offering brutal Islamic militants the chance to "live in peace" if they promised not to launch anymore attacks, particularly against targets in Pakistan.
Afghan officials allege that Pakistan lets Taliban militants hide out and launch attacks into Afghanistan. Musharraf says Karzai has bad information and notes that Pakistan has deployed 80,000 troops along the porous border.

Karzai says Musharraf turns a blind eye to hatred and extremism being bred at Islamic schools in Pakistan. At one point, Musharraf said Karzai is behaving "like an ostrich," refusing to acknowledge the truth and trying to shore up his political standing at home.
And this update of the fighting Afghanistan that has set these two leaders against each other :
The Taliban militants have regrouped and launched an offensive earlier this year whose strength and organization took Afghan and U.S. officials by surprise.

They have adopted methods commonly used by militants in Iraq: suicide bombings, ambushes and beheadings. Illegal opium production has risen yearly despite billions spent to suppress it, and Afghanistan is now the source of more than 90 percent of the world's supply.
Here are some highlights of the media coverage, explaining these issues further. First up, how the media-public meeting between Bush, Karzai and Musharraf went down.

From the Los Angeles Times :
President Bush appealed to the bickering presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday to put aside their differences and "strategize together" over dinner on ways to defeat the common enemy of terrorism.

Standing between Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bush emphasized "the need to cooperate, to make sure that people have got a hopeful future" in both countries.

Karzai calls Musharraf "my brother," but after months of sniping that put the White House in the middle of a spat between two of its closest allies, Bush decided it was time to bring the leaders together.

Judging by the body language Bush himself had said he would be watching, there were plenty of tensions to overcome over a light dinner of soup, sea bass and salad. The meal was billed as an "iftar," a meal that breaks the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Musharraf and Karzai are Muslims.

The Afghan and Pakistani leaders stood stiffly on either side of Bush during a brief Rose Garden appearance before they ate.

"I look forward to having dinner with friends of mine who don't happen to share the same faith I do but nevertheless share the same outlook for a more hopeful world," Bush said in the brief Rose Garden remarks before dinner.

"It's very important for the people in Pakistan and in Afghanistan to know that America respects religion, and we respect the right for people to worship the way they see fit," he said.

Musharraf remained expressionless during his host's brief remarks, while Karzai repeatedly nodded agreeably. Karzai and Musharraf never touched, each taking Bush's hand before turning to go inside, but not each other's.
Here in more detail are the attacks Musharraf and Karzai launched at each other in the days leading up to the White House meeting.

Musharraf took the opportunity to slam Karzai, again, during an interview with CNN :
"He is not oblivious. He knows everything. But he's purposely denying, turning a blind eye, like an ostrich. He doesn't want to tell the world what is the facts, for his own personal reasons....he is trying to hide that everything is happening from Pakistan.

"We are getting late. All this that I read is what is happening in Afghanistan in all the provinces. This is a movement going on. This is a Pashtun uprising by the people going on."

"If he doesn't understand this, he will keep going on, and we are going to lose in Afghanistan..."
Karzai, in turn, blamed Musharraf for Pakistan's open support of the Taliban, and claimed this support was the reason why terrorism was on the rise in Afghanistan.

He was openly suspicious of Pakistan's recent 'peace deal' with Taliban militants in the border regions between their two countries, and in neighbouring Waziristan :
"The most important element of the agreement for us is that no terrorists should be allowed to cross into Afghanistan," Karzai said, suggesting clearly that Pakistan is the sanctuary for terrorists. "We will back any move that will deny terror sanctuaries in Waziristan or the troubled territories of Pakistan."
Karzai had plenty more to say on the controversy in an address he gave before the three leaders got together at the White House.
"For all of us in the world to be safer, we must remove the need for groups, organizations or state entities -- and here I am beginning to be very careful in my remarks -- of reliance on religious radicalism as instruments of policy.

"The increased attacks on Afghanistan and the cross-border activities; the loss of U.S., Canadian soldiers; the burning of mosques and attacks on children ... is the continuing of reliance on radicalism as an instrument of policy.

"Young, poor, unaware, uneducated children from the poorest of families are taken and preached hatred against me, against you, against any other person.

"Military action in Afghanistan alone is not going to free us of terrorism. Going to the source of terrorism -- where they get trained, motivated, financed and deployed -- is necessary now."
The air will not clear anytime soon between Musharraf and Karzai, and it is extremely likely that the Taliban will continue to consolidate its positions and influence over larger and larger regions of Afghanistan in the coming months, particularly now they have the green light from Pakistan to regroup and plan new strategies and attacks from inside territory ruled by one of the US' chief allies in the 'War On Terror'.

A truly remarkable series of events, and setbacks, in the Fourth World War.

Bush Urges Musharraf And Karzai To Unite In The 'War On Terror'

Musharraf's Book Becomes Massive Hit In India

Taliban Claim Bin Laden Is Still Alive

Taliban Claims Australian Forces Slaughtered Civilians In Afghanistan Battles


From the New York Times :

Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 25 — Kismayo, one of the largest cities in Somalia, fell to Islamic forces without a shot on Monday — but then the trouble started.

After the city’s warlords fled and hundreds of Islamist fighters poured in, demonstrators took to the streets and hurled stones at the Islamists.

Islamist troops responded with machine guns, opening fire on the demonstrators and killing at least one teenage boy, witnesses said.

“We don’t want the Islamic courts!” the demonstrators yelled, referring to the Council of Islamic Somali Courts, the official name of the Islamic forces.

It was the latest episode of turmoil in a country notorious for it. The Islamist forces took over Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in June and have been expanding their reach ever since. The people of Mogadishu have by and large supported them, thankful for the stability they brought after 15 years of anarchy.

But apparently many in Kismayo did not feel the same way. Kismayo is a major port city on the southern Somali coast, not far from Kenya. It was ruled by warlords called the Jubba Valley Alliance, which had vowed to resist the Islamists.

Islamist leaders in Mogadishu vehemently object to the presence of foreign troops on Somali soil. One reason why they seized Kismayo, they said, was to establish a base to deter any foreign troops from trying to enter Somalia from Kenya.

Islamists On Alert Over Rumoured Arrival Of Ethiopian Troops

Uganda Ready To Deploy 1000 Troops To Somalia In Highly Controversial Move

Neighbouring Kenya Fears It Will Fall Victim To Conflict In Somalia

Growing Popular Resistance To Somalia's Islamists

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Pakistan's President Musharraf has been talking tough while touring the US during the past week, as he meticulously promotes his new book, In The Line Of Fire.

The book was supposed to be a round-up of Musharraf's career and a recent history of Pakistan, but the majority of the book is consumed by Musharraf spilling his guts on his version of the events of 9/11 and the 'War On Terror' that followed.

In headline grabbing interviews last week, Musharraf came across as a man righteously pissed off at how much criticism Pakistan has copped for allowing Islamic extremism to flourish in his country, and for Pakistan's years of backing the Taleban, and turning a blind-eye to al-Qaeda.

The book, and the round of interviews, are all about settling scores and getting his version of the 'War On Terror' into the headlines. He has been remarkably successful at doing just that.

And, let's not forget, Musharraf has democratic elections coming up and it's important for him to let all of Pakistan know he is not another Bush Poodle, like Britain's Tony Blair and Australia's John Howard.

Musharraf is rumourd to have scored a cool million for the book, and it has already proved to be one of the most controversial tomes ever written by a serving world leader.

There's plenty of good reasons for all that controversy.

We've already heard Musharraf's allegations that he was told by Richard Armitage that the US would bomb Pakistan "back to the Stone Age" in the days after 9/11 if Pakistan didn't join the US-led 'War Agaisnt Terror' (as it was then known).

But yesterday, an extract from the book published in the Times Of London revealed the first call Musharraf got from the US was from then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who laid down the law with one clear message that would become President Bush's matra : "You're either with us, or against us."

Musharraf makes it very clear that the United State's first target of opportunity in US plans to strike back for 9/11 was Pakistan, not Afghanistan.

Incredibly, Musharraf's first reaction after Powell's phone call was to sit down with his war cabinet and contemplate just how Pakistan would sqaure up in a full-blown military conflict with the US :

I made a dispassionate, military-style analysis of our options....I war-gamed the United States as an adversary. There would be a violent and angry reaction if we didn’t support the United States. Thus the question was: if we do not join them, can we confront them and withstand the onslaught? The answer was no, we could not...

So Musharraf admits that while he was opposed to terrorism in general, he only made the decision to join the US in the new war after he realised Pakistan could not win, or withstand, a full blown US military assault.

Musharraf describes the 9/11 attacks as, "a great blow to the ego of the superpower. America was sure to react violently, like a wounded bear. If the perpetrator turned out to be al-Qaeda, then that wounded bear would come charging straight toward us."

The perpertrator turned out to be al-Qaeda, but the US charged straight at the Pakistan-
backed Taleban regime in Afghanistan, not Pakistan itself.

But Musharraf was deeply troubled about backing the US. He knew the Taleban, and al-Qaeda, enjoyed vast support from Pakistanis, and he was risking his own political career, and it turns out his own life, by throwing his side in with the US in the new war :

The ultimate question that confronted me was whether it was in our national interest to destroy ourselves for the Taleban. Were they worth committing suicide over? The answer was a resounding no.

Musharraf doesn't refer to his quandry as a "choice", he called it "the ultimate question".

This book is Musharraf fighting back against critics in his own country, and around the world, and trying to secure his place in history as man who realised the mistakes that had been made in using extremists and terrorists as supplementary fighters, particularly in the 1980s during the Afghanistan War.

The history of al-Qaeda and the Taleban told by Musharraf is a version of history that no US president of the past two decades has ever had the balls to even go near, and Musharraf's telling of the rise of these terrorist groups confirms a lot of the legends about Osama Bin Laden and the help he received in his remarkable rise through the 1990s.

And it was help that Bin Laden received from three of the most powerful nations in the world, as Musharraf explains :

It has famously been said that “short-term gain for long-term pain” is foolhardy, but this is exactly what happened to the allies in the jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, not least the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

We helped to create the Mujahidin, fired them with religious zeal in seminaries, armed them, paid them, fed them, and sent them to a jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

We did not stop to think how we would divert them to productive life after the jihad was won. This mistake cost Afghanistan and Pakistan more dearly than any other country. Neither did the United States realise what a rich, educated person like Osama bin Laden might later do with the organisation that we all had enabled him to establish.

Worse, the United States didn’t even consider the rebuilding and development of Afghanistan after the Soviets departed.

America simply abandoned Afghanistan to its fate, ignoring the fact that a wretchedly poor and unstable country, armed to the teeth with the most sophisticated weapons and torn apart by warlords, could become an ideal haven for terrorists.

Our greatest oversight was to forget that when you help to organise and use people fired by extraordinary religious or ideological zeal to achieve your objectives, you must consider that they might be using you to achieve their objectives and are only temporarily on your side for tactical reasons.

In (Taleban leader) Mullah Omar’s case the objective was to gain power in Afghanistan.

In the case of Osama bin Laden it was perhaps to get help from America, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia to create al-Qaeda, obtain funding and arms, and finally secure a base from which to operate. In such situations, who is using whom becomes murky. We — the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia — created our own Frankenstein’s monster.

It is true that we had assisted in the rise of the Taleban after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, which was then callously abandoned by the United States.

For a while, at the embryonic stage, even the United States had approved of the Taleban. We had hoped that the Taleban, driven by religious zeal based on the true principles of Islam, would bring unity and peace to a devastated country.

Absolutely remarkable confessions.

Musharraf also admits that Pakistan supported the Taleban (up until September 10, 2001) for "geostrategic reasons."

He claims that if Pakistan had opposed the Taleban, they would have turned against Pakistan and torn the country apart. Or worse. Pakistan had, and still has, nuclear weapons. One of the reasons why the US was considering "taking out" Pakistan was to keep the nukes out of the hands of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

Musharraf claims, "a vacuum of power" in Afghanistan would have opened up if Pakistan had not supported the Taleban, and the Northern Alliance would have stepped up to face off against Pakistan along the Afghanistan border.

Ultimately, the two main reasons that Musharraf commited Pakistan to fight the 'War On Terror' were, quite simply, "Self-interest and self-preservation...(they) were the basis of this decision."

Go Here To Read The Relevant Extract From President Musharraf's In The Line Of Fire

Musharraf also tells the remarkable tale of how he survived two suicide bombing assassination attempts in late 2003 in this extract from the book.

Afghan Leader Accuses Pakistan's Musharraf Of Furthering Terrorists' Cause By Cutting A Peace Deal With Taleban

How One Of The World's Most Wanted Terrorists "Made Peace" With Pakistan Pakistan Was Paid Millions For Rounding Up Hundreds Of Al-Qaeda Terrorists For The CIA

Furious At Being Bullied By The US, Musharraf Tells All In New Book

President Bush Says "Read Thes Book" As Musharraf Refuses To Answer Questions Over Pakistan's Complicity With Taliban And Al-Qaeda

Monday, September 25, 2006



Embattled US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has been told by the head of the US Army, General Peter Schoomaker, that there is not enough money left to continue to fight the 'War On Iraq'.
(General Schoomaker) refused to submit a budget plan for 2008 to Mr Rumsfeld, arguing the military could not continue operations in Iraq and its other missions without additional funds, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. The seriousness of the protest was underlined by Gen Schoomaker's reputation as an ally of the Pentagon chief. The general came out of retirement at Mr Rumsfeld's request to take up the post.

"It's quite a debacle," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute thinktank. "Virtually everyone in the army feels as though their needs have been shortchanged."

Gen Schoomaker's defiance gives a voice to growing concern within the military about the costs of America's wars, and the long-term strain of carrying out operations around the world.

For the past three years, the $400bn (£210bn) cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been funded by emergency spending bills passed by Congress. But Gen Schoomaker and others say the Iraq war has also put a severe strain on regular budgets. That puts the generals at odds with Mr Rumsfeld's strategic vision of a more nimble, hi-tech military.

In addition, Congress and the White House have cut a number of army spending requests over the past months.

"There is no sense in us submitting a budget that we can't execute, a broken budget,"(Schoomaker) told a Washington audience.

So rotten has the relationship become between Rumsfeld and the various senior branches of the US Military, that criticisms of the Defence Secretary are no longer made 'inhouse'.

It is clear that the frustrations felt within the military ranks is spilling out into a very public battle quite purposefully, with the sacking of Rumsfeld, and the recalibration of the 'War On Iraq', and the 'War On Terror' in general, as the chief goal.

Not even during the height of the Vietnam War fiasco have so many senior serving, and retired, generals in the US Military been seen so publicly criticising the decisions and policies of the defence secretary, and calling for his resignation.

Rumours swirl now in US military circles that once the November mid-term elections are over and done with, bills will go before the Congress to reintroduce the draft.

The United States Army has an active-duty force of some 500,000 soldiers. But 400,00 of them have already done at least one tour of duty in Afghanistan or Iraq, with some 150,000 having recently completed their second tours.

Total US troop deployments to Iraq will actually increase next year from around 134,000 to just over 140,000. The US Army is expected to further heavily tap into the National Guard to make up the numbers and are demanding further massive budget increases to replace vehicles and equipment lost or destroyed in the fighting.

The US Army has clearly had enough of being short-changed by Rusmfeld in dollars and manpower. The day when the hammer comes down and the ultimatum is declared by the Army to the Pentagon: "Get the draft up, or pull out of Iraq" is possibly only a few months away.

All of this havoc comes along with the very public disclosure of the classified National Intelligence Estimate, compiled from reports by all 16 of the United States' intelligence services, that clearly stated that the 'War On Iraq' had fuelled Islamic extremism across the planet, and upping the likelihood of more terrorist attacks on Western targets, including the US.

The (NIE) report describes the invasion and subsequent conflict in Iraq as one of the major factors behind this spread. It says the threat from radical Islam does not now come from a tight-knit core of al-Qaeda terrorists commanded from a central organisation or group of leaders, such as those that carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Instead jihadi ideas have spread to create a new class of terrorists who are 'self generating' and can create terror cells capable of carrying out an attack without much outside help.

This flies directly in the face of claims made by the three key leaders of the 'Coalition Of The Willing' - President Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard - that the 'War On Terror', with Iraq as the "central front" would make the West, and the world in general, safer from terrorism.

Meanwhile, the withering attacks by high-ranking US veterans of the 'War On Iraq' continue in the United States today.

Retired Army General, John R. S. Batiste, has revealed he quit the Army after 31 years of service because of Rumsfeld's incompetence, and the strategic, humanitarian disaster which was Rumsfeld's 'War On Iraq' :

"Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader," Batiste said. "He knows everything, except 'how to win.' He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq, or the human dimension of warfare.

"Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build 'his plan,' which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace, and set Iraq up for self-reliance."

From the New York Times lead editorial :

In the real Iraq, armed Shiite and Kurdish parties have divided up the eastern two-thirds of the country, leaving Sunni insurgents and American marines to fight over the rest.

The civilian death toll is now running at roughly 100 a day, with many of the victims gruesomely tortured with power tools or acid. Over the summer, more Iraqi civilians died violent deaths each month than the number of Americans lost to terrorism on Sept. 11.

Iraq is today a broken, war-torn country. Outside the relatively stable Kurdish northeast, virtually every family — Sunni or Shiite, rich or poor, powerful or powerless — must cope with fear and physical insecurity on an almost daily basis.

Growing violence, not growing democracy, is the dominant feature of Iraqi life. Every Iraqi knows this. Americans need to know it too.

Beyond the futility of simply staying the course lies the impossibility of keeping the bulk of American ground forces stationed in Iraq indefinitely. They have already been there for 42 months, longer than it took the United States to defeat Hitler.

'Civil War' is now breaking out in the Iraqi countryside, as what has been termed "The Taliban Republic" increases in popularity, and power :
Sunni insurgents have largely taken control of the province of Diyala, where local leaders believe the insurgents are close to establishing a "Taliban republic".

Officials in the strategically important province - composed of a mixture of Sunnis and Shias with a Kurdish minority - have no doubt about what is happening. Lt-Col Ahmed Ahmed Nuri Hassan, a weary-looking commander of the federal police, says: "Now there is an ethnic civil war and it is getting worse every day."

At the moment, the Sunni seem to be winning.

The UN said last week that 5,106 civilians were killed in Baghdad in July and August and 1,493 in the provinces outside it.

US Troops In Iraq Are Tehran's "Hostages"

This Is Bush-Style 'Freedom And Liberty' For Iraq : The Carve-Up Of Land, Wealth And Oil Resources Begins

Iraqi Soldiers The Worst US Army "Has Ever Seen" - "More Loyal To The Militias"

US Army Holds Pentagon To Ransom Over Iraq War

Iraq Government Begins Debate On Splitting Iraq Into Three States - One Shiite, One Kurd And The Crumbs Thrown To The Sunnis

American Freedom's Costly Price For Iraq : Fuel, Electricity Up By 270%; Egg Prices Doubled, Tea Cost Four Times As Much As It Did Last Year

One Third Of All US Iraq And Afghanistan War Veterans Seek Help For "Mental Disorders"

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Link :

U.S. intelligence head John Negroponte announced Aug. 18 the creation of a new Central Intelligence Agency mission to oversee intelligence operations in Venezuela and Cuba at the strategic level. J. Patrick Maher, a 32-year CIA veteran with supervisory experience in Colombia and the Caribbean, was named as acting mission manager.

According to Negroponte, "Policymakers have increasingly focused on the challenges that Cuba and Venezuela pose to American foreign policy." He noted Washington's concern about the close ties between the two countries and failure on Venezuela's part to cooperate with Washington's "anti-terrorist campaign."

The change comes in the wake of Raul Castro's temporary accession to the presidency of Cuba on July 31 and coincides with preparations in Venezuela for presidential elections set for Dec. 3.

As a measure of the seriousness with which the U.S. government regards Cuba and Venezuela, the new post is one of only six agencies operating at the strategic level within the intelligence bureaucracy. One of them covers Iran and North Korea -- the only other countries with a mission manager -- and four others deal with counter-proliferation, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and weapons of mass destruction.

Stepped-up U.S. intelligence attention to Cuba comes five weeks after the Bush administration released an update of its plans for returning Cuba to capitalism. Fidel Castro's departure from power was supposed to have signaled the time for implementation to begin, facilitated by $80 million set-aside for Cuban government opponents. That clock, of course, has started.

Intelligence operations in Venezuela are intensifying just as new indications of massive U.S. spending to get rid of President Hugo Chavez are in the limelight. According to an Associated Press report on Aug. 26, the U.S. Agency for International Development since 2002 has distributed $26 million via 220 grants to Venezuelan recipients under a "Venezuela Confidence Building Initiative." The data emerged from a survey of 132 contracts detailed on 1,600 pages made accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

If other Latin American experience holds true, U.S. undercover work will try to influence the media in Venezuela, a fertile field inasmuch as opposition newspapers and television stations there are far from silent.

On Aug. 25, for example, a few newspapers throughout Latin America, among them La Nacion of Buenos Aires, carried an article by Simon Romero of Caracas claiming that Venezuela has collaborated with Iran in a uranium enrichment program.

Journalists working with that paper and others told the Association of Media Professionals in Argentina that the CIA had fostered that line. They alleged that U.S. "diplomats" had offered them bribes to present the U.S. side in stories covering Venezuela's admission into the Mercosur trade group and Brazilian President Lula da Silva's bid for re-election in October.

The exposé by Victor Ego Ducrotto, appearing on the Rebelion web site on Aug. 25, claimed that CIA personnel worked "elbow to elbow" with the representatives of the right-wing Inter American Press Society, based in Miami.


From The UK Telegraph :

The fugitive Taliban commander Mullah Omar has emerged as the key player behind the movement's controversial peace deal with Pakistan.

The Taliban's one-eyed spiritual leader, who has a $10 million price on his head for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks, signed a letter explicitly endorsing the truce announced this month. The deal between the Pakistani authorities and pro-Taliban militants in the tribal provinces bordering Afghanistan was designed to end five years of bloodshed in the area.

In return for an end to the US-backed government campaign in Waziristan, the tribal leaders - who have harboured Taliban and al-Qaeda units for more than five years - agreed to halt attacks on Pakistani troops, more than 500 of whom have been killed. The deal has been widely criticised as over-generous, with no way to enforce the Taliban's promise not to enter Afghanistan to attack coalition troops.

The disclosure that Mullah Omar personally backed the deal will come as a fresh embarrassment to Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, who met President Bush in Washington on Friday to discuss security in the region.

While officially a US ally in the war on terror, Pakistan has been repeatedly accused by Afghanistan of not doing enough to clear Taliban militants out of its border regions, allegations it denies. However, Mullah Omar clearly felt that the deal benefited the Taliban, adding force to criticisms that it was in effect a cave-in. Tribal elders in south Waziristan said that Mullah Omar had sent one of his most trusted and feared commanders, Mullah Dadullah, to ask local militants to sign the truce. Dadullah, a one-legged fighter known for his fondness for beheading his enemies, is believed to be the man leading the campaign in southern Afghanistan in which 18 British troops have been killed.

"Had they been not asked by Mullah Omar, none of them were willing to sign an agreement," said Lateef Afridi, a tribal elder and former national assembly member. "This is no peace agreement, it is accepting Taliban rule in Pakistan's territory."

Waziristan has a 50-mile border with Afghanistan's Paktika province, long a trouble spot for US and Afghan forces in their battle against al-Qaeda and Taliban renegades. It is home to three tiers of Islamists who operate freely. Of greatest security concern is the al-Qaeda element, followed by Afghani Taliban and then local Taliban.

In return for a reduction in the Pakistani army's 80,000-strong presence and the release of about 165 hardcore militants arrested for attacks on Pakistani armed forces, local Taliban agreed to stop supporting the foreign militants in their midst, and promised not to set up their own fundamentalist administrations.

The government also agreed to compensate tribal leaders for the loss of life and property, and to return all weapons and vehicles seized during army operations.

Critics say the deal is a dangerous climb-down by Gen Musharraf, who is under huge pressure from religious conservatives in his own country to curb his US-backed fight against militant Islam.



From Times Of London :

The commander of British troops at the outpost of Sangin in southern Afghanistan has described how a shortage of troops forced him to co-opt engineers and military policemen as infantry during a fierce battle with the Taliban in which one of his best soldiers died.

With considerable understatement, Major Jamie Loden of 3 Para described his period in charge of British troops defending Sangin as “fairly intense”. “I have been in the field since July 27 and have only had three days with no contact,” he wrote in a series of leaked e-mails.

While Loden was full of praise for his own men, he was highly critical of air support for his troops — accusing the RAF of being “utterly, utterly useless”.

“A female Harrier pilot ‘couldn’t identify the target’, fired two phosphorus rockets that just missed our own compound so that we thought they were incoming rocket-propelled grenades, and then strafed our perimeter, missing the enemy by 200 metres,” Loden wrote. He also expressed anger at the maverick behaviour of army Apache helicopter pilots, describing them as “egotistical”.

On Loden’s first day at Sangin, the British attacked a group of Taliban, only to discover that two other groups were waiting for them. The hero of that engagement was Corporal Bryan Budd, who had served in the Parachute Regiment’s elite Pathfinder unit on operations in Sierra Leone, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We initiated a contact with enemy pre-seen,” Loden said. “Unfortunately the pre-seen were only one of the three firing points and two of Budd’s section were quickly wounded. He pushed forward to drive the enemy back, and personally dispatched some enemy taking cover with a couple of grenades and some rifle fire.”

Just over three weeks later, on August 20, one of the platoons, around 20-strong, was using explosives to punch holes in the walls of their base so that it would be easier to patrol.

Budd’s section was to the right of the group, providing cover to the troops using the explosives. To the left, another section with a Land Rover fitted with a heavy machinegun was doing the same.

“Budd saw the enemy 25 metres in front behind a bush line and, using hand signals, organised his section to attack,” Loden said. “As he went forward the Land Rover on the left was ambushed.

“Despite this, he led his section forward with heavy fire, personally accounting for at least two enemy.” But he and three of his section were then hit by Taliban fire.

“As the section pulled back in the face of heavy fire, no one saw Budd was down,” Loden said. “The other two casualties were pulled back, and shortly afterwards Budd was declared missing in action.”

The platoon commander and one of the sections tried to push forward to find him but were driven back by heavy fire.

The company sergeant-major drove forward on a quad bike to recover the casualties while the platoon commander tried to find another route, despite receiving “shrapnel in his backside”. A second section commander was wounded.

With intercepts of Taliban communications showing that they were trying to surround the troops, Loden began putting together two more sections using engineers and two military policemen who had been investigating the accidental death of another soldier.

“The company sergeant-major made another trip out and back on the quad bike to collect the third casualty, this time coming under fire himself but continuing nonetheless,” he said. “I began assembling more forces to push out to bolster the position on the ground. I sent forward a section of engineers with the second platoon commander to effectively control the rear.

“The second platoon commander tried to push round the flank towards Budd but was engaged by enemy across the river and pinned down. I now created two more sections, one led by a corporal from the sniper section with an engineer staff sergeant as the second-in-command and including the Royal Military Police sergeant and corporal.”

At this point there were 80 troops on the ground while Loden himself co-ordinated artillery, mortars and air support.

One team of soldiers to the east of Sangin reported that Taliban insurgents were moving more weapons out of a mosque and were engaged with mortars.

“RAF Harriers overhead could not identify a target, but would have been too close anyway for bombs. Nonetheless, they fired a rocket that missed by about 700 metres. Thankfully by this stage two Apaches arrived.”

Loden passed control of the Apaches to the first platoon commander who used them to bring down accurate fire on the Taliban positions. Then, with Taliban mortars beginning to home in on the British troops, the first platoon found Budd.

“It was around an hour since he had been hit, and initially (he) had no pulse,” said Loden. The troops tried to resuscitate him. “The company sergeant-major raced out on the quad bike and retrieved him, but the doctor was unable to save him.”

Budd, 29, who lived with his wife Lorena and their daughter Isabelle in Ripon, North Yorkshire, was the seventh British soldier to die in Sangin in the past few months.

As the two platoons — “now clearly exhausted” — half ran, half limped towards them, Loden and the other paratroopers watching from the roof of the British base shouted to them to run faster and spread out to avoid Taliban mortar fire. Afterwards, as the adrenaline seeped away and Loden and his men reflected on the battle, there were “plenty of tears, which is all rather humbling”.

While Loden’s criticisms of the RAF have made headlines this weekend, his pride in the sheer dogged bravery of what he calls his “Toms”, the ordinary British soldiers, shines through from his e-mails. “They were all exhausted and scared,” Loden said. “There were many people on that day who will go unrecognised but simply volunteered immediately to go out as part of the reinforcements regardless of rank or experience.”

It was the bravery of Budd, whose wife was pregnant with their second child, that Loden was determined to put on record. “He was an outstanding junior NCO and he will be sorely missed. I hope to get him more fitting recognition in the longer term."

From New York Times :

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.

Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue, and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence. Their conclusions are based on analysis of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.

Analysts began working on the estimate in 2004, but it was not finalized until this year. Part of the reason was that some government officials were unhappy with the structure and focus of earlier versions of the document, according to officials involved in the discussion.

Previous drafts described actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, and some policy makers argued that the intelligence estimate should be more focused on specific steps to mitigate the terror threat. It is unclear whether the final draft of the intelligence estimate criticizes individual policies of the United States, but intelligence officials involved in preparing the document said its conclusions were not softened or massaged for political purposes.

Frederick Jones, a White House spokesman, said the White House “played no role in drafting or reviewing the judgments expressed in the National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism.” The estimate’s judgments confirm some predictions of a National Intelligence Council report completed in January 2003, two months before the Iraq invasion. That report stated that the approaching war had the potential to increase support for political Islam worldwide and could increase support for some terrorist objectives.

The new National Intelligence Estimate was overseen by David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, who commissioned it in 2004 after he took up his post at the National Intelligence Council. Mr. Low declined to be interviewed for this article.

The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of “self-generating” cells inspired by Al Qaeda’s leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.

It also examines how the Internet has helped spread jihadist ideology, and how cyberspace has become a haven for terrorist operatives who no longer have geographical refuges in countries like Afghanistan.

In early 2005, the National Intelligence Council released a study concluding that Iraq had become the primary training ground for the next generation of terrorists, and that veterans of the Iraq war might ultimately overtake Al Qaeda’s current leadership in the constellation of the global jihad leadership.

But the new intelligence estimate is the first report since the war began to present a comprehensive picture about the trends in global terrorism.

In recent months, some senior American intelligence officials have offered glimpses into the estimate’s conclusions in public speeches.

“New jihadist networks and cells, sometimes united by little more than their anti-Western agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge,” said Gen. Michael V. Hayden, during a speech in San Antonio in April, the month that the new estimate was completed. “If this trend continues, threats to the U.S. at home and abroad will become more diverse and that could lead to increasing attacks worldwide,” said the general, who was then Mr. Negroponte’s top deputy and is now director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

From the Washington Post :

The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.

A 30-page National Intelligence Estimate completed in April cites the "centrality" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda. It concludes that, rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials familiar with the classified document.

"It's a very candid assessment," one intelligence official said yesterday of the estimate, the first formal examination of global terrorist trends written by the National Intelligence Council since the March 2003 invasion. "It's stating the obvious."

The NIE, whose contents were first reported by the New York Times, coincides with public statements by senior intelligence officials describing a different kind of conflict than the one outlined by President Bush in a series of recent speeches marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"Together with our coalition partners," Bush said in an address earlier this month to the Military Officers Association of America, "we've removed terrorist sanctuaries, disrupted their finances, killed and captured key operatives, broken up terrorist cells in America and other nations, and stopped new attacks before they're carried out. We're on the offense against the terrorists on every battlefront, and we'll accept nothing less than complete victory."

But the battlefronts intelligence analysts depict are far more impenetrable and difficult, if not impossible, to combat with the standard tools of warfare.

Although intelligence officials agree that the United States has seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qaeda and disrupted its ability to plan and direct major operations, radical Islamic networks have spread and decentralized.

Many of the new cells, the NIE concludes, have no connection to any central structure and arose independently. The members of the cells communicate only among themselves and derive their inspiration, ideology and tactics from the more than 5,000 radical Islamic Web sites. They spread the message that the Iraq war is a Western attempt to conquer Islam by first occupying Iraq and establishing a permanent presence in the Middle East.