Saturday, December 22, 2001

  • The world welcomed the inauguration of Afghanistan's interim government, with some countries also pledging economic aid and renewing diplomatic ties. Hurrah for Karzai! Viva the USA! Now don't screw it up, Hamid. Just keep feeling pro-American. It's really the best way.
  • President Pervez Musharraf says he's "reasonably sure" that Osama bin Laden has not escaped to Pakistan and that there's a "great possibility" that the al-Qaida leader is dead. Musharraf said Pakistan would hand bin Laden to the United States if he's caught. On the other hand, "My personal feeling is that Osama bin Laden has left for Pakistan," Haji Musa, a commander whose forces are deployed at Tora Bora said. Unless he's now out of Pakistan and back in... Yemen? Gosh. I wonder who they were chasing there? Y'don't suppose...
  • The World Bank and United Nations said in a report unveiled in Brussels that Afghanistan would need $9 billion in aid over the next five years to rebuild after two decades of war.
  • Pakistani security forces captured three suspected Arab al-Qaeda fleeing Afghanistan. The suspects were from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.
  • Anti-Taliban fighters discovered low-grade uranium, cyanide and other poisonous chemicals in an underground al Qaeda storage facility near the Kandahar airport after they captured it two weeks ago, a senior Afghan commander and senior U.S. officials said. U.S. officials said they have concluded that al Qaeda intended to use the non-weapon-grade Uranium-238 found in the complex to make "dirty bombs," which use conventional explosives to spread radioactive material over a wide area. That's the side Johnny Jihad is on. The charge against him should be treason and the sentence should be death. Period.

  • President Musharraf accused India of acting rashly and arrogantly but said he would not retaliate after New Delhi announced the recall of its ambassador from Pakistan. "We regret the very arrogant and knee-jerk response of the Indian government," Musharraf said. Asked if Pakistan would retaliate, Musharraf said, "No." Not by withdrawing its high commissioner, anyway. He's still not taking this seriously.
  • Pakistan's air force chief said Pakistani forces are ready to give a matching response to any misadventure by India along their common border. "There is nothing to be worried about -- Pakistan's armed forces are fully prepared," Air Chief Marshall Mushaf Ali Mir said. "We are fully prepared and can take any challenge."
  • Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged small arms and machine gun fire along the border as tension mounted. But a senior Indian defence official said the exchange of fire along the border in the rebellion-torn Jammu and Kashmir was routine in the circumstances and not alarming.
  • Reacting to reports that the Pakistani government was under tremendous pressure to take action against Lashkar-e-Taiba, Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman of the group, said "the government will have to think a thousand time before taking any action because the people of Pakistan supported it". Stating that the US move would not have any affect on it, Mujahid said "Muslims will continue to support us. They think that we are fighting a holy war against the brutalities and terrorism." This guy could have worked as a spokesman for the Taliban in the good old days, a month or two ago. Same ideas, almost the same phrasing.

    Middle East
  • After two days of internal Palestinian fighting, thousands of mourners attended funerals for six of those killed. The six separate funerals in and around Gaza City all took place without incident. Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat's recent call for an end to attacks against Israel, followed by a crackdown carried out by the Palestinian security forces, led to violence that left seven Palestinians dead and nearly 100 injured. Hey, pretty neat! A call for the end of violence causes an outbreak of violence that leaves seven dead.
  • An uneasy calm has prevailed in Jabaliya, where inter-Palestinian fighting left the six dead and many turned their anger on Israel, saying the clashes were the work of "mercenaries" from the Jewish state. "We deplore the deaths of those who fell to the hands of mercenary traitors, who infiltrated our ranks via the enemy," cried a member of Fatah via a loudspeaker as he drove through the streets.Yeah. That's it. It hadda be the Jews. Palestinians certainly aren't given to spontaneous rioting and trading gunfire for fun. Nope.
  • "Allah is mightier than your bullets, O traitor who orders the shooting of bullets into our children's heart," one Hamas speaker told the crowd, in a reference to Arafat. It doesn't seem like they're buying the Jew thing, Yasser. Try "Americans." Maybe that'll work.
  • A senior Hamas leader, Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi has agreed in priniciple to be put under house. Members Fatah and Hamas brokered a potential solution to the tense standoff between Arafat's Palestinian Authority and Rantissi, whom security forces want to arrest.
  • Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security cabinet decided in a telephone vote to prevent Arafat from traveling to Bethlehem from his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah, Sharon's office said in a statement. "The cabinet made its decision based on the fact that Arafat is not acting to dismantle Palestinian terror organizations and to prevent terror against Israel from Palestinian Authority areas,'' the statement said. Arafat told Voice of Palestine radio he would go to Bethlehem "even if I have to walk there on foot.''

    Terror Networks
  • American Airlines flight 63 from Paris to Miami made an emergency landing in Boston after a passenger attempted to ignite his shoes, which authorities said contained some sort of explosive. The incident began when a flight attendant smelled sulfur and asked the man what he was doing. He said he was 'wired.' Passengers and flight attendants tackled the man, and two doctors who were among the passengers sedated him. The man was then strapped to a chair with belts. During the melee, two flight attendants were injured -- one of them bitten by the man. The flight attendant was taken to a hospital, she said. The Boeing 767, carrying 185 passengers and 12 crew members, landed safely at Logan airport, escorted by two F-15 fighter jets. It was moved to a remote area of the runway. The man, about 28, was carrying a British passport that appeared to have been issued about three weeks ago in Belgium, and identified him as Richard Reid. He was traveling alone and had no checked luggage. Police took him into custody. Once he was removed, his shoes were X-rayed aboard the plane by a bomb squad. "They appeared to have wires and other things contained in them," a spokesman said, identifying the material as a detonation cord and some kind of explosives. The shoes were then taken to a field and "disrupted." Reuters reports "Reid" appeared to be an Arab traveling on a false passport. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials believed the man's British passport, issued three weeks ago in Belgium in the name of Richard Reid, was bogus. MSNBC says the shoe was full of C4, a moldable military plastic explosive. Someone must take it upon himself or herself to hit Mr. "Reid" very many times, while asking him some very detailed questions. The system would appear to be working, as he was subdued by the passengers and crew and there was a military escort just in case he did something rash. Funny shoes now have to be added to the terrorist "profile." Platform shoes would seem to have just gone out of fashion, at least on airlines. Never liked them anyway - looked like orthopaedic shoes, for people with both legs longer than the other. Sure will be interesting to see where "Reid" is really from - and who are his controllers. Still, it's an indication someone's still trying to conduct terror ops. Wonder what the significance is of the passport coming from Belgium - where Masood's assassin's passport came from. We can guess at the significance of an exploding airplane today, the day Karzai's inaugurated. And normal civvies like you and me don't have access to C4. It would also appear the networks have declared war on American Airlines. (Time to relook Flight 587.) If anyone's been feeling merciful toward the Bad Guys, you can stop now.
  • Georgian police and security services arrested Armenian national Eduard Kazaryan in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region in southern Georgia where many ethnic Armenians live. Kazaryan had with him one plate of low-grade uranium-235 which he had smuggled from Armenia and intended to sell in Turkey for $7,000. Sting operation? Or was there an ultimate customer he had in mind? Be nice to know.

    The Alliance
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed a landmark agreement to share anti-terror intelligence as a sign of improving links between Russia and the West. This is new. This is significant. Times are certainly changing.
  • A treason case was registered against Maulvi Kafayatullah, a member of the Pakistan religious organization Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rahman group). Police in Quetta said Kafayatullah had been charged with making anti-government and pro-Taliban statements at a public rally. Kafayatullah has denied the charges, saying that he never spoke against the government. Couldn't have been him. It was probably the Jews. They do that sort of stuff all the time.

  • Iraq said it could resist any U.S. military attack in the "war on terrorism." "We are confident of our capability of resisting any kind of aggression," Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told reporters after opening an international poetry festival in Baghdad. That's what they said the last time, too. Remember the "Mother of All Battles"?

    Home Front
  • Slow news day in the USA. Reuters reminds us that JonBenet is still dead.
  • Friday, December 21, 2001

  • More US forces have been sent to eastern Afghanistan to bolster military operations in the Tora Bora region. US military were helping Afghan allies in a search of caves in the region for remnants of al-Qaeda forces.
  • US troops and Afghan militia forces are holding some 7,000 Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners, the coalition's spokesman said. There was no way as yet of breaking out which were native Afghans and which were al-Qaeda and other foreigners.
  • U.S. warplanes bombed a convoy of tribal elders going to Kabul to attend the swearing in of an interim government, killing 65 people after locals misinformed the Pentagon. But a Pentagon official said the convoy was believed to be carrying leaders of the Taliban or al Qaeda. Sources in the area said that one of the dead was Mohammad Ibrahim, a brother of former mujahideen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani. Haqqani was the tribal affairs minister in the Taliban government. Oops. Sorry about that.

  • Pakistan has declined to accept the bodies of the five terrorists who attacked the Indian Parliament on December 13 and asked India to agree to its proposal for a joint inquiry into the incident. "Just take the damned things, they're starting to stink."
  • India has recalled its High Commissioner to Pakistan and decided to terminate train and bus services between the two countries.
  • White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said while Gen. Pervez Musharraf has condemned the attacks on India and promised to deal with those involved in them, President Bush wants Musharraf to take a tougher stand against the Lashkar-i-Taiba. "The president will support President Musharraf in his efforts against terrorism," Fleischer said, reassuringly.
  • Pakistan will freeze the assets and accounts of Umma Tameer-e-Nau, accused by Washington of helping Osama bin Laden. An announcement about action against Lashkar-e-Taiba will be made tomorrow.
  • Gunmen killed the brother of Pakistan's interior minister Moinuddin Haider in Karachi. There was speculation that the killing of Ehtishamuddin Haider, 50, could be linked to the minister's tough comments against terrorism in recent weeks. Ehtishamuddin, who had no political office, was leaving a blood donation center when he was gunned down by two men on a motorbike. "Stop calling us terrorists or we'll kill your family." Yes, that seems to fit the definition.

    Middle East
  • Islamic Jihad will "continue its resistance" against Israeli occupation, its leader Ramadan Abdullah Shalah vowed in a speech in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. He nevertheless assured that his movement would not retaliate to the crackdown on Islamist militants by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. "We will not go down the slippery slope of the internal conflict, Palestinian blood is for us a red line even if our blood is boiling," he said.
  • Hamas has officially announced it will end military operations "inside the occupied lands of 1948 and the halting of the firing of mortar shells until further notice." Islamic Jihad will have to pick up the slack, while Hamas gives cover to Arafat.
  • In the Jabaliya refugee camp north of Gaza City, Mahmud Abdel Rahman Alemkayad, 17, was killed in crossfire between security forces and militants. A first gunbattle erupted when Palestinian security forces prevented Hamas militants from launching a mortar attack, the kind they're not launching anymore. Five Hamas were arrested and five security officers wounded, one seriously. A short time later, Hamas supporters stormed the scene and threw rocks and opened fire on the security forces as they tried to take the arrested militants to a nearby police station. Twenty people were wounded in the attempt to free the arrested militants. And a wonderful Palestinian time was had by all, except for Mahmud.

    Terror Networks
  • India is helping Bhutan in its proposed military action to drive out insurgents of the North East from that country. With a December 31 deadline for the insurgents belonging to the United Liberation Front of Asom and National Democratic Front of Bodoland to pack their bags approaching, the Royal Bhutan Army and the country’s militia units have moved into combat mode. The deadline (loosely translated) said, "Be out of Bhutan by December 31st or we'll kill you." Hope it works better than Nepal's ultimatum to its gunmen. The Big Question: Where are all these Bad Guys getting their money? When you kill the banker, you kill the gunman.

    The Alliance
  • The Saudi defense minister and the country's newspapers have rebuked the U.S. media, accusing them of campaigning against the kingdom. Newspaper editorials condemned the American press, warning that Saudi patience "has its limits." What're they gonna do, send another twenty or so people to smash planes into our buildings? Or fund more subversive organizations within the USA? Or send another younger son to start an international band of mercenaries to kill Americans? Or will they do to our country what they did to Dagestan? Good thing American patience has no limits, isn't it?
  • A new cologne brand named Osama Bin Laden is on sale in Lahore. Several stores in Pakistan are selling items by the name of Bin Laden. Is that the smell of fear? I understand you can get his tee-shirts cheap.
  • Three Tunisians suspected of being members of al-Qaida were indicted in Italy on charges they sought to obtain and transport arms, explosives and chemicals. The men -- Riadh Jelassi, Mehdi Kammoun and Adel Ben Soltane -- were part of a group arrested earlier this year in a series of crackdowns on Islamic terrorists. Another four men, arrested as part of the same probe, are seeking a fast-track trial that would allow for a reduced sentence. Among the four is Essid Sami Ben Khemais, the alleged head of bin Laden's European logistics. Spanish police are investigating whether Khemais, who was arrested in April in Italy, met with Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta earlier this year in Spain.
  • Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told top government and military officials that his government was committed to confronting lawlessness. The government "will continue its efforts by hitting with an iron hand all those who try to infringe on the security of the nation and its citizens," Saleh said. Suggested new slogan for the tourist office: "Yemen: We're not as lawless as Afghanistan!"
  • Somalia has made a show of its allegiance to the international fight against terrorism by announcing the arrest in Mogadishu of eight foreigners allegedly linked to terrorism. But there were reports that at least some of those detained were Iraqi refugees, dumped in Somalia with no way of leaving. The eight were arrested by a "counter-terrorism task force" in several swoops and were being questioned by intelligence services. "I don't care. Just arrest somebody. I'm tellin' you, the Americans ain't kiddin' around!"
  • Thursday, December 20, 2001

  • Hamid Karzai, warned the international community against abandoning Afghanistan once the anti-terrorism campaign is over and said that Osama bin Laden would be handed over to international justice if caught. "I think the international community cannot afford to leave Afghanistan alone the way it did," Karzai told a packed press conference wrapping up his three-day visit to Italy. "The international community saw the consequences of neglecting Afghanistan. It should be wise enough not to do it again," Karzai stressed.
  • Pakistani officials claimed that the Northern Alliance handed over 110 detained Pakistani militants to India and that Pakistan's archrival then airlifted them to New Delhi for interrogation. The Pakistani officials accused India of planning to use the Pakistanis who fought with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network to defame its neighbour. Reliable sources said that ultimately these Pakistani prisoners are to be divided into several groups and presented as saboteurs by creating incidents of violence in India in attempt to involve Pakistan. Yeah, that must be it. They don't need 'em for intel background, or for information on the structures of terrorist organizations. And they can't find any spies and saboteurs in Kashmir.
  • A mullah who harbored Al Qaeda terrorists at his compound outside Kunduz and was believed to be an adviser to Central Asia's largest terrorist group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, has slipped from Northern Alliance detention and into the Afghan landscape. The alliance had been gathering evidence against the mullah, Qari Akka, and hoped to try him on charges of promoting instability and violence inside Afghanistan. Instead, it has been forced to resort to searching cars leaving Kunduz with hopes of finding the cleric under a stack of blankets or perhaps in someone's trunk.
  • American air power, special forces, and intelligence operatives have begun operating inside Pakistan’s western borders in their hunt for fleeing al-Qaeda fighters. U.S. operations in Pakistan follows a "secret agreement" between Washington and Islamabad to allow "hot pursuit" of al-Qaeda fighters fleeing across the border from Afghanistan. The secret deal will allow U.S. troops to hunt the fighters on the ground and fire on them from the air, but it will also be on a case-by-case basis, with the United States required to ask permission each time.
  • An explosion in a main street of Mazar-e-Sharif has injured some 50 people, and some victims may have died, Kazakhistan's Khabar television reported. Khabar reported that it was believed to have been caused by supporters of the ousted Taliban militia.

  • Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad has denied its involvement in the attack on Parliament but threatened to carry out "shocking attacks" in major Indian cities to create a situation where the BJP will lose power. If the BJP does not desist from what it called ugly activities, the retaliatory attacks will create history, said the statement signed by Abu Hamza, spokesman of the outfit.
  • Britain is understood to have asked Pakistan to take firm action against terrorist groups Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba in the wake of last week's terrorist attack on Parliament. British High Commissioner Sir Rob Young conveyed this to Home Minister L K Advani on Thursday during a 30-minute meeting. Sir Rob told reporters after the meeting that "We have made it particularly clear that terrorism in any form and in any place must stop. And the Government of Pakistan I am sure is in no doubt about our position."
  • Mohammad Afzal, arrested in India's troubled Jammu and Kashmir state after the attack, told Star Television the squad was in constant contact with the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed as they scouted out the Indian capital for potential targets, including foreign embassies.

    Middle East
  • Reacting to Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Authority and a U.S. veto in the Security Council, the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday backed a central role for Yasser Arafat in diplomatic efforts to end 15 months of Middle East violence. Following recent Israeli military strikes on Palestinian Authority targets and its declaration that Arafat was "irrelevant," one resolution approved by the assembly on Thursday stressed Arafat's administration "remains the indispensable and legitimate party for peace and needs to be preserved fully." Identical to the resolution vetoed last week by Washington, it also branded Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas "as illegal and an obstacle to peace." It was approved 124-6 with 25 abstentions. The Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Tuvalu joined Israel and the United States in voting 'no', while most European nations voted for the resolution. Among those abstaining were Britain, Japan, Australia, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia.
  • A fierce gunfight erupted in the northern Gaza Strip when Hamas supporters stoned Arafat's police after they arrested five militants intending to fire mortars at a Jewish settlement. Palestinian security sources and hospital officials said one Palestinian was killed and 14 were injured in the gunfight in the Jabaliyah refugee camp. Five police were shot and wounded. Earlier clashes broke out when police tried to arrest a senior Hamas military leader and supporters elsewhere in Gaza.
  • In the West Bank, two civilians were injured in a gunfight when police sought to search a car belonging to members of Arafat's Fatah movement. Israeli tanks retook positions in the Palestinian-ruled cities of Nablus and Ramallah that they had left earlier in the day. The Palestinian Authority said the return undermined efforts to rein in militants. Palestinians fired at Israeli tanks re-entering an area on the outskirts of Nablus, and a Palestinian was killed when the army returned fire. Israeli military sources said the tanks were ambushed.
  • Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri said that the Israeli onslaught against the Palestinians reflected the Arab states’ inability to act decisively and intervene in the conflict. Berri told MPs who visited him in Parliament that the recent developments in the West Bank and Gaza had all but extinguished the Intifada, along with the last spark of “Arab dignity.” He warned that after crushing the intifada, the Israeli war machine could focus its attention on Lebanon and Syria.

    Home Front
  • President George W Bush moved to block the finances of two more groups allegedly linked to terrorism: Pak-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Umma Tameer-e-Nau. Umma Tameer-e-Nau was established by a former Pakistan atomic energy commission official and masqueraded as a charity for the hungry in Afghanistan. The president said in reality the group gave nuclear weapons information to al-Qaeda network.
  • 100 Days: To recap...
    On September 11th the US was attacked by persons (at that time unknown) who hijacked four airliners full of noncombatants - civilians, peaceably going about their business. Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon. One was crashed in Pennsylvania when a pickup team of American heroes resisted the hijackers, thwarting what was probably a second attack on Washington and sacrificing their own lives. Over 3000 people were killed, which occasioned dancing in the streets in Egypt and Palestine. Within 24 hours the United States had evidence pointing toward Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organization as the attackers. Within 96 hours the FBI had the names of all 19 hijackers and was rounding up people associated with them. Virtually the entire world, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan accepted the investigators' conclusions. President Bush vowed to hunt down and bring to justice those behind the attacks and he stated that the USA would make no distinction between the terror organizations and the countries that supported them.

    On the heels of the airliner attacks there followed biowarfare attacks on the nation. The suspicion is that these were also orchestrated by either al-Qaeda or its sympathizers in the United States, with the objective of causing panic within the nation. We're still not sure who was behind them. Anthrax-infested letters were mailed from Trenton, NJ. Seven people died of inhalation anthrax. Others were treated for skin anthrax, including a toddler. Government buildings were shut down. Millions of dollars were expended in cleanup, prevention and investigation. Maureen Down confessed she was opening her mail wearing long black gloves. Molly Ivins said we should have a Marshall Plan.

    America's friends pitched in to help. Britain's Tony Blair pledged and gave full military and diplomatic support. Russia's Vladimir Putin did the same. India provided intelligence information, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan provided airbases. NATO aircraft assisted, flying combat patrols in the US. Other states in Europe, the Americas and Asia supported the USA, most of them sincerely, some grudgingly, some first one then the other. Even old enemies such as Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi expressed sympathy. The religious fanatics running Afghanistan refused to give up Osama bin Laden and threatened to teach the USA the same lesson they had purportedly taught the Soviets. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, his country torn by large factions who were in sympathy with the Taliban and with a rogue intelligence organization that had given them life -- and still tried to control them -- made his county's airspace and resources available.

    The air war started October 8th, to the approbation of between 90 and 95% of the nation. At the same time, Special Forces and SAS commandos established liaison with the Northern Alliance, who at the time had been pushed by the Taliban into about five percent of the land area of the country. The Northern Alliance was a grouping of fractious, often feuding warlords, representing Afghanistan's ethnic minorities. They were united mainly by their dislike of the Taliban. It takes a lot to be regarded as barbarous in Afghanistan, but the Taliban managed it. It had been the Northern Alliance, under the leadership of Ahmed Shah Masood, who had "taught the Soviets a lesson" while the Taliban were safe in Pakistan. The Taliban had repaid the favor by assassinating Masood two days before the attacks on the US.

    For thirty days and thirty nights the US was in a quagmire in Afghanistan, with no light at the end of the tunnel. During that time the country bombed the Taliban infrastructure, taking out communications and command facilities, and ensured itself of control of the air. During that time American and British troops were fitting themselves into the Northern Alliance command structure, collecting battlefield intelligence, and calling in targets. During that time pundits and intellectuals rolled their collective eyes at the ineptitude on display in Washington, and assured each other that Afghanistan was the graveyard of armies. Thousands of jihadis from Pakistan streamed across the border to help the Taliban slaughter us infidels. There were riots in Pakistan. Abdul Haq left for the Pashtun-controlled areas to raise the resistance against the Taliban; they caught him and hung him on the spot. Hamid Karzai left on the same sort of mission and the Taliban said they killed him, too. Noam Chomsky assured the world the US was committing "silent genocide." People were starving. The US dropped meals, but it was "too little, too late." A lady was killed when a load of groceries landed on her house. Winter was coming and that was our fault, too. If we didn't stop bombing for Ramadan the Arab Street would erupt. The Northern Alliance was stalled outside of Bagram on its push south. The Alliance pushed at Mazar-e-Sharif and was stopped. They didn't have ammunition. They didn't have gasoline. They didn't have socks. Mullah Omar challenged Bush and Blair to fight it out man-to-man, with Kalishnikovs, presumably at 40 paces. It was terrible.

    On November 9th, Mazar fell to the Northern Alliance. It was followed by Herat. It was followed by Pol-e-Khomri. The Taliban announced they would defend Kabul and dared us to attack. The US said for the Alliance to hold off taking the city. The Taliban left in the dead of night for parts unknown. Since no one seemed to be using it, the Alliance took Kabul. The dreaded northerners were greeted as liberators. Konduz fell after extended negotiations. It was rumored the Pakistanis snuck home in the dead of night. All the parties but the Taliban met in Bonn and Hamid Karzai, who wasn't really dead, was named caretaker of a new government. Mullah Omar said the Taliban would defend Kandahar to the last man and the last bullet. Then he changed his mind and said they would surrender. Then they left town in the dead of night for parts unknown. Al-Qaeda was trapped in Tora Bora, the impregnable cave complex where they could hold out for a hundred years. The US bombed the area from the stone ages back to the sand and gravel age. After extended surrender negotiations Osama bin Laden snuck out of town for parts unknown in the dead of night, leaving his men to die glorious deaths. Or to be captured. It didn't matter, as long as he got away.

    Today is 100 days after the 9-11 attacks. I, for one, feel pretty good.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2001

  • At least 12 people were killed when captured al-Qaeda grabbed weapons and opened fire while being taken to jail by Pakistani guards. Six of the prisoners and five security forces were killed in the revolt. A bus driver also died. 156 prisoners were being taken by bus from a detention center in Parachinar in the Kurram tribal agency, to Peshawar when the revolt broke out. Many of the captives tried to run away, some had been rounded up and the rest had been surrounded. The prisoners were mainly Arabs who had escaped from eastern Afghanistan and had not been handcuffed.
  • Johnny Jihad's Mom and Dad are complaining that he isn't being represented by a lawyer. The Jihad family mouthpiece, James Brosnahan, of San Francisco, insisted that the lad has constitutional rights, "whatever the accusation." The White House begs to differ: "Right now Mr. Walker is being treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Convention's protection for enemy belligerents who are captured as prisoners of war," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "So long as he is in military custody and is not being questioned for law enforcement purposes he does not have the constitutional right to a lawyer." They can't shoot him without one, but he doesn't get one until they're ready to shoot him. War's hell, ain't it? Perhaps he shoulda consulted with Mr. Brosnahan before running of to fight jihad and beat other men's wives.
  • Eight FBI agents interrogated al Qaeda captured during the battle in the mountains of Tora Bora at a newly built detention center at Kandahar airport, trying to find out if bin Laden had planned any more attacks on U.S. targets.
  • Northern Alliance forces moving into Interior Ministry offices found eight direct phone links to Islamabad, proving close ties between the Taliban and Pakistan's military intelligence service. Gen. Niamaullah Jalili, the head of Afghanistan's Secret Intelligence Service, said they were run as local phone call lines, not long distance. This proved the Taliban closely cooperated with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), he insisted. Hmm. Yes. You might say that. Gen. Qureshi will of course say it's "proposterous," but we're ready to believe six preposterous things before breakfast.

  • Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir killed 11 rebels, including six from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and found an underground hideout of the group near the Pakistan border. A man died and more than 50 were wounded when a grenade exploded at a crowded crossing in Pulwama town, south of Srinagar.
  • Police in Kashmir also said they had arrested four people suspected of links to the attack on parliament, bringing the total of those detained to eight, almost all Kashmiris.
  • Home Minister L K Advani asked Pakistan to hand over Maulana Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and others involved in terror strikes in the country to prove its credibility in fighting the menace. Advani also renewed New Delhi's proposal for an extradition treaty with Islamabad. Coming down heavily on Pakistan for its role in sponsoring terrorism, Advani said if it wanted to prove it had nothing to do with terrorism, it should not only take action against the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, but also hand over people like Dawood Ibrahim whom it is sheltering. Advani sought to dispel any fear among minorities, saying the fight against terrorism was not a Hindu-Muslim conflict but a fight between civilisation and barbarism, democracy and terrorism. Interesting coincidence that a "Hindu-Muslim" conflict comes on the heels of a "Christian-Muslim" conflict. Wonder if there's anything they have in common?
  • Indian security forces smashed two hideouts in Pahalgam's Lidder valley, where Ghazi Baba and his men were believed to be hiding. Ghazi Baba alias Doctor, commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) for Jammu and Kashmir, is believed to have moved to the Kishtwar area. JeM headquarters in Pakistan have asked Ghazi to get the hell out of Kashmir and come back to Pakistan, sources said.

    Middle East
  • The Palestinian Authority has arrested at least 12 of its own security men as part of its efforts to crack down on anti-Israeli militants. The men, all from the southern Gaza Strip, had been arrested since Monday, the day after Palestinian President Yasser Arafat called for militants to stop suicide bombings and armed attacks on Israelis.. The detainees, who hold security posts in the forces of the Palestinian Authority, also belong to a militant wing of Arafat's Fatah movement. Tuesday the Authority closed six offices in Gaza of the militant Islamic group Hamas.
  • Speaking out of the other side of his mouth, Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat has appealed for martyrs in the war against Israel. In an address in Ramallah, Arafat said all Palestinians are martyrs and that he is willing to sacrifice 70 Palestinians to ensure the death of one Israeli. "We will defend the holy land with our blood and with our spirit," Arafat told supporters from Jerusalem. "We do not only wear uniforms; we are all military. We are all martyrs in paradise." If this report (from World Tribune) is accurate, the sleeves on Arafat's jacket are way, way too short.
  • Israel offered to loosen its military grip around the biggest Palestinian city in the West Bank to help Yasser Arafat crack down on militants. "(The Palestinians) are complaining all the time that we are hindering their efforts to take action," an Israeli source said. "In order to lay to rest all these excuses, we said: 'Take a given area, we'll pull out of there, we'll stop all our operations there.'" The source said Israel had proposed Palestinian-ruled Nablus, the largest West Bank city, as a starting point. "In Nablus they have a lot of Hamas activists and suicide bombers, not to mention bomb factories." Ahmed Abed-Rahman, an Arafat aide, said the offer did not go far enough. "The issue is not lifting the siege in one area in order to conduct a security mission...we need to see a comprehensive and a complete withdrawal of the Israeli troops from all Palestinian territories and an end to the closure and siege," he responded. No pleasing some people, is there? Translated: Israel offered to quit kicking the Palestinians in the balls if they don't go back to throwing stones at them. The Palestinians said no, not until Israel stops hitting them on the head, too. Guess it makes sense. Not much, though.
  • A senior Hamas official said that the movement was calling a halt to its suicide bombings against Israel. "Hamas has taken an internal decision to stop martyrdom operations but we are not going to make an official declaration," said the official, who insisted on remaining anonymous. Is it just me, or is this not the hardest news story ever written?
  • Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah criticized Arab regimes for silencing their people regarding the conflict in the Palestinian territories. “The problem which remains is the lack of a popular movement in the Arab world especially concerning what is happening in Palestine and Afghanistan,” Fadlallah told worshipers on Sunday at the Hassanein mosque in Haret Hreik. He said Arab regimes had “confiscated the opinions of their peoples and had forbidden them from staging demonstrations,” and accused them of “secretly coordinating with the Zionist enemy.” He said: “(Arab regimes) want to be liberated from the Palestinian cause rather than liberate Palestine.” Yeah. Let's get some fanaticism going there, you Arab regimes!
  • Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border shot and wounded a Lebanese man after he threw firecrackers at them. Ali Jamil "Butthead" Hussein, 33, was hit in the leg and rushed to a hospital, but his wound was not considered serious. "Huh huh. Hey, Beavis! There's some heavily armed troops at an outpost on a hostile border. Watch what happens when I throw firecrackers at them! Ow." Guess those Zionist oppressors just don't have much of a senzayuma.

    Terror Networks
  • A team of Indian Special Cell cops led by Inspector Ved Prakash apprehended two Nepalese nationals at the Old Delhi railway station. On searching their belongings, the police recovered 50 kg explosives, 28 gelatin sticks, 389 detonators, 46 bundles of fuse wires and literature relating to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

    The Alliance
  • Yemen sent special army troops led by the son of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to search for Muslim militants linked to Osama bin Laden a day after clashes killed at least 18 people from both sides. "Special units led by Colonel Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh ... have been dispatched to support army units in Marib and Shabwa provinces," a security official said. Ahmed heads Yemen's Republican Guard, an elite force to protect the president. Government officials said the army did not exchange fire with the militants and their tribal protectors but the search operations were going on. "This is a hot pursuit that will continue until the terrorist elements are arrested," one official said. The government's al-Thawra newspaper said Tuesday's three-hour clashes were part of Yemen's efforts to join the international coalition against terrorism. But it added: "Pursuing suspected terrorists is a Yemeni decision and is conducted by using its own national resources." The paper said some of the militants were non-Yemeni Arabs, who had "shown no respect for Yemen's hospitality ... because of their involvement in destructive activities."
  • France's ambassador to Britain cannot remember referring to Israel as "that shitty little country'' during a private conversation with a newspaper owner. A spokesman said the ambassador, Daniel Bernard, was shocked to see media reports of a private dinner conversation he had had with Conrad Black, owner of the Daily Telegraph. Cheeze. Better wait a couple weeks before telling him about the saxophone player and the cigarette girl. And don't even mention the redhead and the Harley; it'd just set him off again. Headache any better?
  • Tuesday, December 18, 2001

  • The United States admitted that the trail had gone cold in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and that it was unclear even if he was dead or alive. After bombing the mountains of Tora Bora for days in the belief that the al-Qaeda "mastermind" was hiding there, the Pentagon said that intelligence “chatter” had gone quiet and that he may have escaped the area. A senior Pentagon official said that “anybody’s guess is the latest thinking” on bin Laden’s location. As the air assault on the area was scaled back and special forces joined Afghan fighters in moving from cave to cave in the White Mountains in search of final pockets of resistance, the fear was that bin Laden had escaped, possibly to Pakistan. (Yawn!) Really? What a surprise.
  • One of the most recent rumors had a team of plastic surgeons sneaking into Afghanistan from Pakistan to give Osama bin Laden a radical new look. "We have concrete reports that they were hired on heavy expenses," an unnamed Northern Alliance official supposedly told an Iranian newspaper. "They have totally changed bin Laden's looks." Was that really Elvis you saw at the Burger King? Y'say he was carrying an AK-47? And had 14 bodyguards? And he was six-foot-five? And couldn't sing? Well, guess what, Bunkie...
  • The United States warned any country that might consider harboring Osama bin Laden to learn from Afghanistan, where the U.S. military helped to oust the Taliban government that sheltered him. "I just think any country any in the world that would knowingly harbor bin Laden would be out of their minds,'' Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said. "I think they've seen what happened to the Taliban and I think that's probably a pretty good lesson for people not to do that.'' "Two, three, many Afghanistans!"
  • Hamid Karzai has warned rival anti-Taleban factions to submit to the control of a central defense ministry. Many observers have expressed fear that, with the Taleban now overthrown, feuding warlords could again vie for control of the country. "We have a ministry of defense and all forces in Afghanistan must eventually be under the ministry of defense," Mr Karzai told reporters.

    Middle East
  • Iraqi president-for-life Saddam Hussein has appealed to Arab leaders to convene an emergency summit to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In a speech broadcast to the Arab world, the Iraqi president said the Arabs had not done enough to support the Palestinians. Saddam said the summit should be devoted exclusively to what he called aggression against the Palestinians. Yup. That should help resolve things. Everybody listens to Sammy.

  • Speaking during debate in Parliament, Union Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah said though diplomacy was the government's primary goal, "no government will be able to say it will not use force. If the need arises, we will." The NDA government, he said, was not an irresponsible government, pointing out that India could have crossed the LoC after the Kargil war but did not do so. Referring to former prime minister Chandrashekhar's statement that under no circumstances should India go to war, Abdullah said India had been the victim of a war for the last 15 years, with many casualties and at huge expense. If the need arose to meet it with force, the country would do so, he said. And there we have it. To recap, India is thoroughly and justifiably cheezed. It will rely on diplomatic means to the extent possible, and if that doesn't work it will thump Pakistan. And it's tired of the Kashmir nonsense, which Pakistan has been driving.
  • A top separatist politician in Kashmir urged India and Pakistan to tone down their rhetoric over last week's attack on the parliament complex in New Delhi. "I appeal to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to cool down tempers," said Yasin Malik, a senior Executive member of All Party Hurriyat Conference. "I request both the leaders to show courage, vision and true statesmanship by co-operating with each other in exposing the culprits," Malik said, piously.
  • Gen. Rashid Qureshi has accused India of propagating propaganda to rename Kashmiris' freedom struggle as terrorism. "The Kashmiris are fighting for self determination and it has nothing to do with Pakistan except that we provide them moral and diplomatic support which we will continue to do." He said the freedom struggle in Kashmir is not Jihad but a movement for liberation. "The UN also recognises the disputed status of Kashmir. India is always trying to crush the Kashmiris' right to self determination... We have always demanded strict action against the terrorists who spread message of hatred and extremism. If Jihadi organisations are involved in such acts Pakistan will never allow it", he said. Quick analysis reveals the balogna content of Qureshi's statements at near 100%. Pakland somehow "allowed" the jihadis to stampede from within its borders to aid and abet the Taliban against the Americans, even while publicly and officially deferring to the heavy artillery. Prior to that the government somehow "allowed" its jihadis to form a significant portion of the Taliban itself. "Kashmiri militants" are usually referred to in the Pak and international press as "jihadis" and they refer to themselves as "jihadis." And then there's the Kargil War, which looked in many ways like a dress rehearsal for the Afghan war.
  • A top-level delegation of Pakistani officials is visiting Saudi Arabia. Musharraf is shortly to embark on a five-day visit to China. Seems likely they're expecting the US to side with India in the dispute, and trying to line up a counteralliance.

    The Alliance
  • Yemeni -- in Yemen, fer God's sake! -- forces conducted operations against suspected al-Qaida members in Marib and Shabwa provinces. Tribal sources said members of the Abida tribe -- which had refused to hand over the men -- opened fire on the government troops from mountain villages in the province, sparking heavy fighting involving tanks, artillery and machine guns. Four tribesmen were killed and eight people, including several soldiers, were injured. A number of people accused of hiding the wanted men were arrested. Security officials in Marib said special forces were pursuing at least five men in the province's al-Halsun region.
  • Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has stressed he has got guarantees during his visit to Washington that Yemen is not targeted in the terrorism fighting campaign. Saleh spoke with clergy, government officials and businessmen in the Yemeni provinces of Aden, Abyan and Lahj in the southern part of Yemen: "We have certain names not exceeding two or three and they are currently chased to be arrested and then find out if they are from al-Qaeda organization." The gist of those "guarantees" was probably: "Clear up the daggone problem yourselves, or we'll come in and do it for you."
  • An Iraqi opposition leader has lobbied the US government with a war plan against Saddam Hussein, calling for an air assault and the deployment of American special forces. He also wants the participation of Iran, which has reportedly agreed to accommodate offices of the opposition Iraqi National Congress and would allow an invasion across its border into southern Iraq. The Bush administration has been encouraged by its success in Afghanistan, and some quarters are pushing for similar action in Iraq, using the opposition led by Ahmed Chalabi. Sadly, this is based on a Seymour Hersh story in the New Yorker -- one of the world's least reliable reporters (Remember: KAL007 was an American spy plane.) -- as reported in The Guardian.
  • European opposition to any move against Iraq remains strong, but Middle Eastern diplomats say Turkey's leaders have signaled that the United States could use Turkish bases if the administration were committed to toppling the President-for-Life and successful romance novelist. Arab governments, including Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, have sent emissaries to Mr. Hussein counseling him to do nothing that might provoke the United States. But instead of taking the advice, Mr. Hussein and his deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, have engaged in saber- rattling toward Kuwait and bluster toward the US. Over the weekend Secretary of State Powell reiterated that it is United States policy to overthrow Saddam and that "we are constantly reviewing ideas, plans, concepts" to achieve that goal. Powell also indicated for the first time that his dispatch of a State Department team to northern Iraq last week was part of an evaluation of "putting in place an armed opposition inside Iraq." Victor Davis Hanson has a very good, possibly over-optimistic assessment of both Sammy and Arafat in NRO.

    Home Front
  • Two Pakistan-based terror groups active in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to be declared foreign terrorist organisations by the US either this week or early next week. The decision to put Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad on the list of FTOs was taken immediately following a high-level meeting convened by Secretary of State Colin Powell a day after the attack in Delhi. When a senior US official was asked if Lashkar and Jaish's inclusion in the FTO list will not be objected to by Pakistan, he said: "President [Pervez] Musharraf has been very clear that the groups involved (in terrorist activities) will suffer the consequences." Good for the USA. Ball's in your court, Perv.
  • A Saudi princess was arrested at a luxury Orlando resort and charged with beating her servant and pushing the woman down a flight of stairs. Princess Buniah al-Saud, niece of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, was booked into the Orange County Jail on a charge of aggravated battery of her Indonesian maid, Memet Ismiyati. (Link via Andrea Harris) Y'see, that's why they don't let 'em drive. If this nasty, spoiled woman had a driver's license, the maid would have a set of tire tracks down her body.
  • Monday, December 17, 2001

  • The American flag that was taken down when the U.S. Embassy was abandoned nearly 13 years ago rose again, inaugurating what envoy James F. Dobbins promised would be a long commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan. "Today's ceremony symbolizes the return, after more than a decade of absence, of the United States to Afghanistan," said Dobbins, the special U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, as he presided over the rain-soaked ceremony in the embassy's dilapidated front courtyard. "We are here, and we are here to stay." To the strains of the national anthem piped over a sound system, a four-man Marine honor guard bore the flag forward and then carefully raised it. For now, the embassy building will be used as a liaison office, housing a small group of American diplomats. A charge d'affaires will be appointed in coming weeks, and then an ambassador in coming months. Diplomats assigned there will be eligible for hazardous duty pay for years to come -- but we win in Afghanistan!
  • Fox News General Geraldo Rivera reported this morning that Osama bin Laden had skipped Tora Bora for Peshawar during the "surrender negotiations." He has shaved his beard, is wearing western attire, and is being protected by a local Pashtun leader. Reaction to "missing" Osama isn't as indignant as one might expect. He's done the same thing Mullah Omar did, retiring from the battlefield and leaving his cannon fodder behind to be captured or killed -- doesn't matter which, because they're cheap and easy to replace, aren't they? At this point, he thinks he can simply move underground and do an Abu Nidal. But, like Mullah Omar, he's been shown to be all bluster and other people's blood. Financial counterops should have cut off lots of his funding by now and he's hunted with a price on his head (shouldn't have done that -- it's a badge of honor in Pashtunistan). So he's severely weakened.

    He'll have to go to ground someplace the US can't reach him, like Chechnya. If it's Somalia we'll take the country apart to get him like we did Afghanistan; if it's Sudan, ditto. If it's Iraq it'll be the briar patch -- we'll be taking it apart almost before the announcement's been made. Chechnya, with US-Russian backyard sensitivities to tangle things would be his best bet, but he'd also stand a fairly good chance of being caught by some very competent Russers and quietly but painfully killed. Yemen might provide an Arabian-peninsula solution, but Sanaa can't be sure the US won't stomp that country flat, just as it would Somalia. And it might even be truly tired of this terrorism nonsense by now. (Link to GOSIZDATPROM via Libertarian Samizdatelstvo. The Russian version is comprehensible.)

    Staying put in Pakland might be his best bet, at least for the short run. He owns half the government and most of the intel services, and he has a few "mini-Talibans" already up and running. The maulvis (mullahs) are up in arms over restrictions on the madrassahs. To replace al-Qaeda, he has Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the smaller jihadi groups in the west. A coup against Musharraf unless he falls into line with the fundos would be a fair likelihood. On the downside, war with India looks like it's just over the horizon because the eastern jihadis went too far with their assault on Parliament. And Pakland will lose a war with India.

  • Al-Qaeda has named Zain Al-Abedin Hasan, a 30-year-old Palestinian from Gaza Strip as Osama bin Laden's successor in case the latter is arrested or killed. Quoting sources in Dubai, Ria-Novosti said Al-Qaeda members fleeing Afghanistan have revealed this to Pakistani intelligence. Hasan has been based in Peshawar for the last few years, overseeing the recruitment and dispatch of mercenaries from different parts of the world to Afghanistan. He is accused of masterminding the terrorist attacks on westerners in Amman on New Year's eve in 2000. The sources said during the 1990s more than 20,000 mercenaries, mainly from Arab countries, had entered Afghanistan to join Al-Qaeda. Does that mean al-Zawahri is dead? Or not expected to remain alive?
  • ABC News reported that US special forces were inside Pakistan coordinating the search for fleeing al-Qaeda fighters, while CIA agents were at Pakistani detention centers interrogating the nearly 100 fugitives arrested.
  • Pashtun forces are preparing to attack a mountain redoubt where ex-Potentate Mullah Mohammad Omar is believed to be hiding with 500 men, and want to hang him. Mullah Omar retreated to mountains and caves around the village of Baghran in Helmand Province, about 160 km northwest of Kandahar, accompanied by diehard Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, Kandahar Director of Intelligence Haji Gullalai said. "We have men with him who are Taliban but are friendly to us." Taliban with Mullah Omar would be given a chance to surrender or else face the consequences. Al Qaeda fighters would be tried in Afghanistan and then handed over to the United Nations, if requested.

    And what of Mullah Omar's fate? "He will be hanged," said Gullalai. "He sold out the country, he sold out our people, he sold out Islam," he said. "He has no place to hide." The mullahs can be disposed of at a more liesurely pace now that Osama's out of the picture. They have no money and no supplies, unless Pakland has started helping them again, which would be inexpedient at this point. But my guess is that when most of his 500 men are shot up, he'll try to bolt again. (That's like guessing that the Yankees will be series contenders next year.)
  • Around Tora Bora, bombs still exploded in the forests on the mountain range where al-Qaida fighters were running away. Auzubillah, a commander of the tribal eastern alliance, said his forces clashed with retreating al-Qaida, killing two and capturing five. Several local fighters said women and children were among the al-Qaida dead.

    Captured gunmen were led down the mountainside on mules. Many were crying. One faction paraded 18 men -- nine Arabs and nine Afghans -- through the streets of a village. Several appeared to be slightly injured, and one man's head was bandaged. About 200 residents watched silently, standing outside a village mosque. Manoghul, 23, cradled a Kalashnikov rifle. "When they were fighting us they were very proud men," he said. "Now they are weak. They cannot even look at us." Khudaifa, a 17-year-old gunman from Kuwait, said he came with his father to fight with al-Qaida, but that an American bomb killed his father and wounded him. "I haven't had a drink for two days. If you don't give me water I will die," Khudaifa begged. The prisoners said they knew of 64 more al-Qaida hiding in the forest.

    Thirteen captured fighters -- four seriously wounded -- were held in the mountains by men under commander Haji Zahir. The captors said the group included two senior al-Qaida commanders, whose names weren't given. The men pleaded with their captors not to turn them over to U.S. forces. This is nothing more than rounding up the expended cannon fodder. They've gone from being tough guys and the lords of creation in their small pond to being pond scum. These are the suckers, the true believers who bought the "Allah and Osama" line and were left behind with no more thought than a worn-out pair of socks gets. There's no sympathy to be found for them -- and any that comes their way isn't deserved.
  • Nine armed al-Qaida threatening suicide in a Kandahar hospital were moved to a ward with barred windows after four comrades escaped over the weekend. Eventually the explosives will come off. When they're in custody someone will hit them very many times. Amnesty International and the Red Cross will be upset. Afghans will think it's a great joke.
  • Militants belonging to Pakistan-backed Harkat-ul-Mujahideen jailed by the Northern Alliance in Doaba, in the Panjir Valley along with over 300 Taliban fighters, are hoping to get out on a general amnesty and are vowing to fight against both India in Kashmir and the new regime in Afghanistan. "We hope to get out of the prison soon as we have heard that the new president Hamid Karzai would give general amnesty to all prisoners. We cannot make any compromise on our goal - to wrest Kashmir from India and reinstate Taliban," Harkat commander Ubeidullah Assad, who is jailed along with nine other militants of the group. Of 330 prisoners jailed by the Northern Alliance, 10 were from Pakistan, 4 are Arabs, 3 are from Burma, 2 from China and the rest Afghan Taliban. These were the Bad Guys the Northern Alliance was holding prior to the US involvement, when they were fighting by themselves. Here's hoping the rumors of a general amnesty are just that.

    Middle East
  • The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have gone underground in a bid to evade both Israeli and Palestinian security forces.
  • In a shooting in Hebron, Israeli forces attempted to arrest a member of the Hamas movement, Yacoub Aidkadik, 28, at his home. Aidkadik tried to flee, and was shot trying to escape. Too bad about that, ain't it?
  • Israeli soldiers fired on two plainclothes Palestinian policemen in an unmarked car near Nablus, killing one policeman and wounding the second.
  • Palestinian gunmen shot and wounded two Israelis near Ramallah. The two Israelis, a father and son, aged three, were lightly wounded when gunmen in a passing car opened fire on their private vehicle. That was typically brave of them, wasn't it?
  • "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran. Ummm. Tell me, what's so holy about this holy man? Wait! I think I can recall why we're on the outs with Iran...

  • Pakistan dismissed allegations by India that the attack on Indian parliament was carried out by the activists of Jaish-i-Muhammad on the instigation of Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Gen Rashid Qureshi rejected Delhi police report, terming it a "baseless" and "concocted". Qureshi reiterated the offer of cooperation made by Islamabad to New Delhi soon after the attack for holding a joint enquiry. "We are ready to give a firm assurance that if on the basis of a joint enquiry anybody based in Pakistan was found involved in the attack we will proceed against him." He took serious exception to the tone and tenor adopted by the Indian government in the wake of the attack. The Indian leaders have started hurling threats of aggression, something which was totally uncalled for and unacceptable for Pakistan, he added. Pakistan armed forces were prepared to thwart any act of aggression by India.
  • Jammu and Kashmir Police have nabbed the liaison man between Mohammed Afzal and Jaish-e-Mohammad's supreme commander in India Ghazi Baba, who is based in Kashmir. 35 kg of highly explosive RDX was seized from a house in Gandhi Vihar area leading to the arrest of two more persons in connection with the case.
  • The laptop computer recovered from Shaukat and Afzal has provided vital information regarding not only the attack on Parliament but also links to the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba organizational setups. The laptop contained information on cells not only in Delhi but also in the Kashmir Valley. "All the instructions they got from across the border were through the internet. The messages would either be e-mailed to the group or conveyed through chat mode," a spokesman said.
  • Five special trains were requisitioned by the Indian Army for troop movement to Jammu. This is in response to reports about Pakistan massing two corps along the international border and Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir over the last 72 hours. The Pakistan Army has also reportedly moved heavy armor and artillery to the border, and cancelled the leaves. The Indian armed forces have been put on "high-alert" after the 10th and 30th Corps of the Pakistan Army were deployed in strike formations along the border. Pakland still isn't taking this seriously, or Musharraf is playing to the fundos and expecting India to back down. Pak didn't show to good effect during the Bangladesh War and India's probably got the Pak nukes targeted at this very moment. This is a real flash point, and the rest of the world isn't following it really close.
  • Five militants, including the operational chief of Lashker-e-Taiba, and a revenue official were killed while three militants were arrested in Jammu and Kashmir. Two militants including Lashkar-e-Taiba operational commander Wasim Kashmiri from Pakistan were killed in an encounter with security forces in Jammu region. Two more militants were killed by security forces at Kanthpora and in Sogam forests in Kupwara while another was killed in Badgam district. Militants killed a paramilitary on his way to a mosque to offer prayers near Srinagar. Security forces nabbed a militant and seized arms in Badgam district. A Hizbul Mujahideen militant was arrested at home and a pistol, four grenades, five under-barrel grenade launchers, a remote control device and some ammunition were seized.

    The Alliance
  • Pakistan released a pro-Taliban Jamat Ulema Islami's faction leader Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman who was detained three months ago for his support to the Afghan militia. Reports from Dhera Ismail Khan, in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) said Rehman was released as a gesture of goodwill on the eve of Eid festival. He was asked to confine his activities to his residence and not to move outside. Rehman was detained for organising violent demonstrations opposing American military action against Taliban and Pakistan's decision to withdraw its support to the Afghan militia. Another leader of Jamat-e-Islami, Qazi Ahmed Hussain, continued to be in detention, while yet another leader, Samuel Haq, has been released to go to Mecca. Gosh. That was a stern lesson, by golly.
  • The United States has expressed concern to Pakistan about terrorist activities carried out by Pakistan-based groups against India, the State Department said. "We made clear that we believe that all countries are responsible for addressing terrorist activities within their borders and we'll continue our discussions with Pakistan in that context," spokesman Richard Boucher said. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he said he was concerned that an escalation of the rhetoric between India and Pakistan could be followed by action, with the possibility of the situation spinning out of control. Hopefully a good talking-to by the USA carries more weight than it did three months ago. We'll see.
  • Of particular concern to the United States are the Pakistan-based Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Muhammad organizations, both of which have participated in terrorist activities. Boucher noted that neither has as yet been formally designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization. To which I, as an American citizen, have to ask: "Why the hell not? Are you nuts?"
  • Britain's highest court refused to block the extradition to the United States of three suspected Osama bin Laden associates wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. Home Secretary David Blunkett must now decide whether to extradite London-based Saudi businessman Khalid al Fawwaz, 37, and Egyptians Ibrahim Hussain Abdel Hadi Eidarous, 39, and Adel Mohanned Abdu Almajid Bary, 42. The three men were arrested in Britain more than two years ago on international charges of conspiracy to murder in the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 231 people, including 12 Americans. Hmmm. Yes. I believe we could find a place for them. They say the ANWR is nice this time of year.
  • Salautdin Temirbulatov, believed to be one of the most brutal Chechen terrorists, is on trial before the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria (a republic in the North Caucasus). Temirbulatov was involved in the execution of Russian captives and in abducting people to ransom. He was caught by police near the hamlet of Duba-Yurt in Chechnya last March. He is facing three dozen charges, including murder, kidnapping, banditry, extortion, and engagement in illegal armed groups. Public Prosecutor Vladimir Kravchenko has called on the judges to sentence Temirbulatov to capital punishment. Another mad dog Chechen terrorist, if the sort the Washington Post was until recently describing as freedom fighters. Russia will be much better off without him.
  • In Spain, two members of the Basque separatist group ETA were sentenced to 30 years each in prison for killing a city councilor. The National Court found Igor Solana and Harriet Iragi guilty in the July 15, 2000 shooting death of Jose Maria Martin Carpena, councilor in the southern city of Malaga.
  • Sri Lanka will seek India's help in ending its 18-year civil war with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam separatists. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will raise the issue when he travels to India later this week on his first overseas tour since taking office in the island nation this month. "We want the Indians to get more involved in bringing about a settlement to the ethnic crisis," Fernando said. "They are a very big country, our closest neighbor and a great power in the world."
  • Sunday, December 16, 2001

  • Tribal fighters said they took the last al-Qaida positions at Tora Bora, killing more than 200 fighters and capturing 25 but finding no sign of Osama bin Laden. "This is the last day of al-Qaida in Afghanistan," said Mohammed Zaman, the eastern alliance defense chief. "There is no more need for American bombing. Our men have the situation under control." Tora Bora was the last major pocket of al-Qaida resistance in the country. Other, less dangerous, holdouts include the Shindand area, Helmand province, and the Kandahar vicinity itself.
  • Zaman said he had no information on the whereabouts of bin Laden. A cave where alliance commanders had thought bin Laden might be hiding was the last al-Qaida holdout. "There were only six people. One was killed by our forces and the others were captured," said another alliance commander, Hazrat Ali. "A few days before today I had information he was here, but now I don't know where he is." Zaman said several hundred routed al-Qaida men might be on the run toward the border with Pakistan. He and Ali said their forces were pursuing the fleeing fighters. Our guess: Bin Laden beat it during the "surrender" negotiations and is now having tea with Gen. Hamid Gul in Pakistan, having a little chuckle over the attack on India's Parliament building. After a little rest, he'll pop on over to Saudi Arabia and Yemen to visit the folks, then head for Somalia or Chechnya to start rebuilding his operations.
  • Several U.S. Marines were wounded in an explosion while clearing old ordnance at Kandahar airport, CNN reported. CNN said it did not know the number or condition of the casualties but said emergency vehicles had rushed to the scene and helicopters were taking away the wounded. FoxNews reports three Marines were injured, one seriously. The men were evacuated to Camp Rhino or medical treatment.
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld flew into Bagram Airbase and held talks with Hamid Karzai. "We were here for the sole purpose of expelling terrorists from the country and establishing a government that would not harbor terrorism," Rumsfeld said.

  • Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said Pakistan's ISI masterminded the attack on Parliament saying "we have got sufficient proof of their involvement in the attack... Pakistan's allegation that Indian agencies had stage-managed the attack clearly speaks of that country's acceptance of its involvement in the dastardly act," Fernandes said. "No person with common sense will ever make such an irresponsible statement." What follows is little more than well-coordinated police work. The hit men, their support network, and their controllers were uncovered in less than four days. Perhaps rather than offering FBI help to Inida, the US should request help from the Indian cops. Or do we have similar networks mapped out and we aren't telling?
  • The five militants involved in the attack have been identified as Mohammad, Hamza, Haider alias Tufail, Rana and Raja. Mohammad was the ring leader of the suicide squad and all were Pakistani nationals. They were in constant touch with Gazi Baba, controller of operations of Jaish-e-Mohammad in India.
  • According to Afzal, Mohammad, the leader of the five attackers, stabbed to death a honeymooner in the ill-fated Indian Airlines plane that was hijackked to Kandahar in December 1999.
  • The attack on Parliament was planned by the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba militant groups, said Ajay Raj Sharma, New Delhi police commissioner. The police commissioner told a press conference that the breakthrough was achieved after police and central intelligence agencies found a Delhi University lecturer Syed A R Geelani had connections with the killed militants. Geelani who teaches Arabic in Zakir Hussain college was picked up on December 15. He revealed during interrogation that two more people - Mohammad Afzal and Shaukat Hussain - had been in touch with the militants who carried out the attack on Parliament, he said.
  • Delhi Police Commissioner Ajay Raj Sharma said four people arrested in connection with the assault were trained by Pakistan's Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. During investigation, Mohammad Afzal was found to be the main coordinator of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Delhi.
  • Geelani disclosed that Shaukat and Afzal had left for Srinagar on December 13 afternoon after the attack on Parliament was carried out. A police team raided Shaukat's residence and picked up his wife. She confessed that she was aware of the attacks, as several meetings had taken place in her house. She also informed that both Shaukat and Afzal had left Delhi for Srinagar. Srinagar police were informed and Shaukat Hussain and Mohammad Afzal were apprehended along with two drivers and a cleaner. A laptop and a sum of cash were seized from them. Afzal had made three trips to Kashmir since October and brought the five Pakistani militants to Delhi.
  • Authorities are decoding e-mail messages between the conspirators and their controllers, archived on the laptop computer seized from Mohammed Afzal and Shoukat Hussain.
  • Security forces have launched a massive operation to arrest Ghazi Baba alias Doctor, supreme commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed, who was hiding in the hills of south Kashmir. A conversation between an ISI controller in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir identified as "Khyber" and some of the militants had also been intercepted in which details about the plans were being worked out.
  • "Pakistan is prepared for joint impartial inquiry into the attack on Indian Parliament. If any evidence is found in the inquiry about the involvement of any individual or group from Pakistan's soil, Pakistan will initiate action in its light", Pakistan's defence spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi told BBC. Hmm. Taking it a little more seriously, are we? Or is the intent to join the investigation and muddy the waters as much as possible?

    Middle East
  • Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat called for a halt to anti-Israeli attacks by radical groups and for Israel to end its "unjust" war against the Palestinian people. "I am calling once again for a halt to all operations, particularly suicide attacks which we have always condemned," he said in a televised address marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. He also called for Israel return to the negotiating table, saying peace talks were the only way of resolving the conflict. Arafat is staring into oblivion. The Palestinians are getting their nether regions kicked and returning to yap-yap can take the heat off while the attacks on Israel start up again with onesie-twosie hits. Israel would do best to maintain the pressure and keep to its resolution to look for someone else to talk to. Like King Abdullah.
  • Palestinian police closed offices affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, sealing doors with red wax or changing locks. At least 26 such offices in Gaza and the West Bank have now been closed. Palestinian police seized documents from some offices during the operation, partly filmed by television crews. Many centers provided sports or medical services. Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said the closure of the offices was no substitute for arresting the ringleaders behind attacks. Israel says it will continue operations against militants if Arafat fails to do so. "We have to do everything necessary to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure... A closed office won't stop a terrorist en route to Israel," Gissin said. Do we detect a lack of trust in Palestinian sincerity? Could there be some justification?
  • Israeli helicopters attacked a refugee camp north of Gaza City, just hours after a frustrated United States recalled its Middle East peace envoy Anthony Zinni. Two military helicopters launched missile attacks on a Palestinian police station and another security building in the Jabaliya refugee camp north of Gaza City. There were no reports of injuries. The two-storey police station had nearly collapsed and the nearby building used by the personnel of the head of preventive security in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Dahlan, was hit head-on by the missiles. Earlier in the day, the Israeli army had pulled out of Beit Hanun. Four Palestinians were killed during that incursion. Those killed were a Palestinian border policeman, two teenagers and 12-year-old boy, while another 75 were injured. Another Palestinian was killed near the Gush Katif settlement bloc overnight by the army, which suggested he may have been planning an attack. Another Palestinian was killed by an explosive charge he detonated on the "Green Line" separating Israel from the West Bank near Tulkarem. Police said they thought he was preparing a suicide attack on Tel Aviv

    Terror Networks
  • In Kashmir, in the second militant attack on the BSF headquarters at Tral in four days, a suicide squad of the Hizbul Mujahideen made a bid to storm the complex which was foiled by the troops who gunned down all the four terrorists.
  • A Nepal Telecommunications Corporation tower 90 kilometres north-west of Kathmandu, was destroyed in an attackby Maoist rebels. A group of about 40 to 50 rebels threatened two security guards at the tower with their lives and bombed the repeater tower after the two ran away. A suspected Maoist, Pitamber Pant, a resident of Nepal, was arrested by Indian police while he was trying to cross the border. He will be handed over to the Nepalese authorities.