Saturday, December 29, 2001

India-Pakistan
India and Pakland continue to make faces at each other while trying to climb back down from their high horses without seeming to. India's still offended by Pak Bad Guys who had orders from ISI to head for Kashmir after they got waxed in Afghanistan. Hardly anybody killed along the Line of Control, though it's pretty hard on the "hardly anybody."
  • Amid growing tension between India and Pakistan, both countries agreed to exchange a list of nuclear installations under a special agreement which prohibits Islamabad-New Delhi attacking each other's nuclear facilities. Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said that both countries have agreed not to attack each other's nuclear installations under the special agreement signed in 1991.
  • Pakistan has requested India for air passage to President Pervez Musharraf to attend the SAARC summit next week. India on Friday said it would allow Pakistan President to overfly India to reach Kathmandu.
  • India rejected Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's offer to meet Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Kathmandu early next month on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit, saying the outlook for a dialogue was not promising. ''India has always advocated dialogue with Pakistan. But under the circumstances until Pakistan creates a conducive climate by acting resolutely and meaningfully against terrorism, the outlook for such dialogue cannot be promising,'' official sources said.
  • A fresh batch of Pakistani mercenaries belonging to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad groups captured in Tora Bora mountains claimed they had been directed by their "controllers" in Islamabad to sneak into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for new operations. Members of the group of 30 Pakistani militants said here they were among a 400-strong group, directed by their leaders in Islamabad to mass in Palandri in PoK, facing Poonch region of Jammu and Kashmir for deployment for "special operations in Kashmir". The mercenaries had fought alongside Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda fighters before being captured. Jamil Ibrahim, who hails from Bhawalpur in Sindh, said that prior to October 2001 there were about six to seven thousand Pakistani militants, including some Pakistani Army regulars bolstering the Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan. Could be that's why Vajpayee doesn't want to bother talking to Musharraf. Who pays and supplies these guys?
  • One civilian was killed and three injured when India and Pakistan traded fire along the tense Line of Control.

    Middle East
    Palestinian coppers nab a few more jihadis while PFLP squeal like a pig. Helpful Euros show up to set fire to things and make faces at the Israelis. Palestinians want Zinni to come back before they screw things up again.
  • Palestinian police arrested two suspected Islamic Jihadis, a move that came a day after a member of the radical group was killed during an attack against Israeli troops. The two were detained and their weapons confiscated in Gaza City.
  • The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement charging the Palestinian Authority with the "kidnapping" and "political detention" of four of its members in Ramallah. "They wuz just standin' on the corner, doin' nothin', y'know? An' then these cops come up, y'know?..."
  • Israeli soldiers confronted about 100 demonstrators, including Palestinians and British, French and Italian citizens, who set ablaze an empty army post near Ramallah to protest against Israeli "harassment and intimidation." Organizers of the protest said the outside agitators joined in under the umbrella of an "international solidarity movement," trying to escort Palestinian students to nearby Bir Zeit university. The foreigners had been taking "non-violent action" for the past 10 days and planned to return home in the New Year. Demonstrators also tried to topple concrete slabs serving as a checkpoint close to Ramallah. "If you want real peace, the occupation must end. You are strangers here," a protester called through a loudspeaker in the direction of the tanks. Uh, guys? You're the "strangers." And setting fire to things isn't non-violent, or at least it didn't used to be.
  • After its weekly meeting on Friday, the Palestinian cabinet urged Washington to send envoy Anthony Zinni back to the region, saying the leadership was ready to show what it had done to meet Washington's conditions for his return. "Send him back, quick, before something else explodes!"

    Terror Networks
    China pops up above the background noise of atrocities in Nepal and Philippines.
  • A man set off a homemade bomb hidden on his body, killing himself and a policeman in the city of Zhongxiang, central China's Hubei province. The man exploded the bomb shortly after he was detained and put inside a police car by two police officers dispatched to a gas station to investigate a report of theft there. One of the police officers, an 18-year-old cadet, was killed along with the bomber. The other officer suffered injuries leading to deafness and was still in hospital. "We don't know the motive. We're still investigating the case," a police official said. Betcha the Chinese are becoming a little less bland about terrorism about now.
  • Nepali soldiers killed six Maoist rebels in separate clashes in their drive to flush out guerrillas trying to overthrow the constitutional monarchy in the Himalayan kingdom. The kingdom has bought two Russian military helicopters to battle Maoist rebels.
  • Ten villagers and one gunman were killed when armed men, believed linked to Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, raided a town in the southern Philippines.

    The Alliance
    Where's Binny? Where's Omar? Pakistan says if they show up there, they're toast. Pak Bad Guys stockpiling weapons around Quetta instead of in Kashmir. 62 Bad Guys in custody in Kandahar, with more on the way. Yemen continues cleanup because they don't want the Marines to come help. Shootouts continue to be the Somali National Sport. Bahrain joins the fleet, now that the shooting's over.
  • Pakistan is confident Osama Bin Laden will be apprehended if he turns up in the tribal border region where some Afghan officials have said he is hiding. "Tribal people and elders have actually apprehended a lot of non-Afghan fighters and handed them over to Pakistan. If at all he turns up, they will hand him over to us," said Major General Rashid Qureshi.
  • Bin Laden is reported to have escaped from Tora Bora as early as on November 19 and is hiding in the Bajaur area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, according to information received from interrogation of Al-Qaeda functionaries by US intelligence agencies. Taliban ex-Emir Mulla Mohammad Omar crossed into Pakistan on December 6 and is stated to be in Gilgit area. Bin Laden was being given shelter in Bajaur by the men of one Sufi Mohammad, chief of 'Tariq-e-Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi'. Mohammad, who had fought alongside Taliban in Kunduz area, was arrested on November 22 by Pakistan when he tried to sneak in through mountain passes. "They're everywhere! They're everywhere!"
  • An additional 25 men suspected of being Taliban or al-Qaida fighters have been turned over to U.S. Marines stationed at Kandahar airport, bringing the total number of prisoners at a makeshift detention camp to 62. Eight more, including Johnny Jihad, are being held on the USS Peleliu.It'll be interesting to sort out what nationalities they are. It'll be a lot more interesting to figure out who's paying them and supplying them. Betcha it wasn't just Binnie.
  • U.S. forces sealed off a northern Afghanistan prison so they could transfer detainees to a staging area for suspected al-Qaida and Taliban members. "We're taking them out of here, and taking them down to Kandahar as quickly as we can," said Maj. Joseph Fenty. "We're primarily looking at detainees that we can use for collecting intelligence." Military officials on the scene gave few details about the operation. Dozens of American troops -- wearing bulletproof vests and armed with assault rifles -- were involved in the operation. A convoy of about six vehicles, including two large closed trucks, emerged from the prison and headed toward the nearby airport. It was unclear how many prisoners were being transported. They let them stew until they were happy to see the Hated Americans.
  • Pakistani police have made the country's largest-ever seizure of arms and ammunition, allegedly smuggled from neighboring Afghanistan. The weapons, found buried in an empty house on the outskirts of Quetta, could have been used for terrorist attacks, Balochistan province police said. Two suspects have been detained in the case. Police recovered 124 submachine guns, 248 rifles, one recoilless rifle, two mortars, 342 mortar bombs, rockets and almost 30,000 rounds of ammunition. Police and troops in Quetta have recently arrested dozens of foreign nationals on suspicion of links with the Taliban movement and al-Qaida network.
  • Yemen has detained 80 foreign students and teachers from a fundamentalist Islamic institute during a crackdown on illegal residents. Authorities were investigating whether the foreigners were in the country legally. The foreigners, mostly from Arab and South Asian countries, were studying and teaching at the private Dar Al-Hadith institute in the Abida tribal region -- the same area where Yemeni special forces have been searching for members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network in recent weeks. When you get used to being Good Guys you're gonna enjoy it. Really.
  • Bahrain became the second Arab country after Jordan to contribute troops for Afghanistan, when its only frigate joined the international naval coalition in the Arabian Sea. "We are totally prepared for taking part in the international humanitarian effort and the task aiming at strengthening the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan," Maj. Gen. Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, chief of staff of the Bahrain Defense Force, told reporters aboard the frigate Bans Sabha.
  • At least nine people have been killed and dozens wounded in clashes between police and armed men in the Somali capital. Fighting erupted late Friday in the Huriwa district of southern Mogadishu and continued throughout the night. Four of the dead were said to be policemen employed by Somalia's Transitional National Government. Two of the gunmen and three civilians also died in the shootout, whose cause could not be immediately established. The fighting died down at dawn, but the area was tense. In another incident earlier on Friday, three people died when rival gunmen fought over the ownership of a stall in Bakara market, Mogadishu's main commercial centre. Y'all just give us a holler when you're done, okay? Take your time, now. Do it right.
  • Kuwaiti officials have questioned the management of a well-known Islamic charity about allegations that its money is going to terrorists. Society for the Revival of Islamic Heritage said in a statement that its president, Tariq al-Issa, had met Kuwait's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah, and would welcome a government audit of its funds. "The society strongly denies any connection to terrorist acts, or factions that use them, be it Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida or any other," the statement said.

    Home Front
    SneakerBoy's aunt says he's just a misunderstood lad who's been misused by his friends. Goober from Florida totes his shootin' arn from plane to plane and nobody noticed until he got to Memphis.
  • KedsBoy was described as a "lost soul" by his aunt in an interview. "He's no terrorist -- he's a lost soul. His life was so empty. He was so lonely he found solace with his Muslim brothers," Richard Reid's aunt Madeline, 50. No doubt he's kind to puppies and kittens and baby ducks. It's only men, women, children and little babies he wants to kill. Wonder where he got all that money to fly around the world?
  • Barry Burnstein, of Tampa, was arrested in the Memphis, Tennessee, airport for allegedly carrying a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage, after apparently boarding flights in two other cities. Burnstein was charged with attempting to board an aircraft with a concealed weapon and released later on $5,000 bond. What part of "no" didn't you understand, Mr Burnstein? What part of "x-ray carry-on luggage" did the airport security people in the two other cities not understand? Have we reached the point of diminishing returns on the security front? Someone should probably do a quick check.
  • Friday, December 28, 2001

    India-Pakistan
  • Indian and Pakistani troops shelled each other in disputed Kashmir overnight, and the Indian army ordered the evacuation of some 20,000 villagers from the border, raising fears of war.
  • India has prepared a list of about 30 terrorists and criminals who have taken refuge in Pakistan and are wanted for crimes committed on the Indian soil. The list, which includes Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, has been compiled with the intent of asking Islamabad to hand them over to India. The list includes the five hijackers of the Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar, two more underworld operators accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel nine commanders of Hizbul Mujahedeen, three of Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, one each of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen and Khalistan Liberation Front.
  • Indian intelligence says it has evidence to link officers of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi to covert activities in the North-East. Two suspected ISI operatives were arrested Assam. Documentary evidence to indict Pakistan was reportedly recovered from the two who have been identified as Shauqat Cheema and Shamsher Hussain. The pair had phone numbers of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi, and the extension number of three of their ‘contacts’—Altaf Hussain, Naseer Mahmoud and Inamul Haque—in the visa, media and research sections of the mission. The men also had phone numbers of ISI officers in Pakistan, including the Deputy Director General I (External) and operatives of the ISI’s Joint Intelligence North (JIN), the Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM) and the powerful Joint Intelligence X (JIX). These divisions conduct operations in Kashmir and the North-East as well as Bangladesh.

    Middle East
  • Islamic Jihad took responsibility a bombing attempt. The Palestinian attacker, carrying an assault rifle and an anti-tank missile, approached Israeli forces near the Netzarim junction in central Gaza. Soldiers shot and killed him, and found that he was wearing an explosives belt that did not detonate.
  • Israeli forces lifted their blockade of Bethlehem, offering another glimmer of hope for a return to peace talks after 15 months of bloodshed but with scattered violence continuing.

    Terror Networks
  • Turkish police have foiled a plan by a militant Islamic group to stage a bombing attack on New Year's Eve. Police have arrested six militants of the Islamic Great Eastern Raider's Front, known by the acronym IBDA-C, which opposes New Year's festivities.
  • Police arrested a Jordanian man, Hadi Yousef Alghoul, and seized 281 sticks of dynamite from his Manila-area home while investigating possible international terrorism activity in the Philippines.
  • Three Maoists have been killed in separate clashes with Nepalese troops and scores more arrested. Two were killed at Solokhumbu district after they clashed with security personnel. The army recovered 270 bombs and 70 kilogrammes (154 pounds) of explosives.

    The Alliance
  • Pakistan told the United States that the possibility of war with India may reduce its ability to support the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, senior military and diplomatic officials said. Pakistan may have to move soldiers to the Indian frontier from the Afghan border, where they are currently hunting followers of Osama bin Laden, the officials said.
  • Britain's prison service dismissed one Muslim cleric and suspended another for allegedly making inappropriate comments about the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. Ahmed Bilal, an imam at Aylesbury young offenders' institution west of London, was dismissed on Oct. 1 after he circulated the transcript of a "potentially inflammatory radio interview" to Muslim inmates. An imam at Belmarsh prison in southeast London was investigated over alleged "inappropriate links" but was cleared and had been reinstated. A third imam at Feltham young offenders' institution in west London was suspended over allegations of unprofessional behavior related to Sept. 11. That investigation was continuing.
  • Dutch authorities were investigating whether Maxwell Smart "Richard Ried" bought the explosives used in the attempt to detonate his sneakers on an American Airlines flight in Amsterdam.

    International
  • Three Somali warlords called for international military intervention in Somalia, saying radical Islamic groups al Qaeda and al-Itihad had several bases in the country. Somalia's transitional government has strongly denied the presence of terrorist cells, and diplomats have warned that opposition warlords may use the U.S. war on terror to try and damage their opponents. Hassan Mohammed Nur Shatigudud, General Abdullahi Nur Gabyow and Hussein Aideed said foreign intervention was needed to stop extremist groups going underground. "Al Qaeda and al-Itihad terrorist groups have got three major bases inside and around Mogadishu alone. The southern port city of Kismayu and Bosasso and the surrounding areas are their strongholds," Gabyow said. "I myself can mobilize up to 50,000 of my militia and fight alongside any international force which would come to Somalia to help eradicate the terrorist group destroying our country." "And with the help of just a few Rangers and some B52 strikes, I can have all my enemies heads on sticks to decorate my rock garden, and maybe a few friends, too."

    Home Front
  • A federal judge ordered "Richard Reid," the KedsBomber, held in jail without bail after prosecutors produced enough evidence to justify his continued detention. Bet producing that took 'em all of 30 seconds.
  • KedsBoy's court-appointed lawyer, Tamar Birckhead, said "We are unaware of any evidence to support a link between the offense charged and any terrorist organization or individual... We urge the press and public to maintain open minds as the criminal justice system proceeds." Guess there's a relationship between an "open mind" and a hole in the head. Yer boy's toast, Tamar. You'll be lucky if they don't lock you up with him.
  • Thursday, December 27, 2001

    (Blush!) The lovely but pedantic Moira points out that Tadjik is an Iranian, not a Turkic, language. I knew that. I just forgot.
    India-Pakistan
  • Pakistan says it has ruled out nuclear war. Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi stated at a press briefing that "one gets surprised how some people jump to a nuclear situation in the event of Indo-Pakistan conflict. Pakistan and India are responsible nations and nuclear option is something which none can realistically even think of. These [nuclear capabilities] are deterrences which are meant to be no more than that. World is very conscious, and so are India and Pakistan. It is not anything one should even consider." That's a relief to all of us. Just to be on the safe side, though, how about backing off your war preparations?
  • Leaders of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Defense Council, a conglomerate of Pakistan's hard-line religious parties, condemned the Musharraf government for taking action against the activities of fundamentalist groups and announced plans to hold protest demonstrations. They demanded that the government release all arrested Islamic leaders to bring out the country from its current crisis. "The US military must be pulled out from the country as soon as possible because now they have no justification for their stay in Pakistan after the fall of Taliban regime." The group criticized the government for taking Pakistan towards (horrors!) "secularism". And this is a bad thing because...?
  • President Pervez Musharraf said the government was not planing any crackdown on the madrassahs. He said that the government would not impose anything on the religious schools but encourage and support those willing to introduce subjects like English, mathematics, science and geography in their syllabus. This would seem to contradict what he said last month. Or was that only for foreign consumption?
  • The Afghan government alleged that Osama bin Laden was now living in Pakistan under the protection of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman. Mohammad Habeel, spokesman for Defence Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim, said "reliable intelligence sources" reported Osama had crossed from the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan into Pakistan about a week ago. "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!" On December 16th, the Rantburg Street erupted at speculation he'd skipped to Pakland and was having a nice visit with Gen. Hamid Gul before heading for Saudi Arabia to visit the folks. Still think that's most likely.
  • The Jammu and Kashmir Police claimed to have come across the first al-Qaeda link in the Kashmir Valley with the arrest of a terrorist in Srinagar. Ghulam Qadir Najjar was closely associated with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and al-Qaeda terror outfits. An al-Qaeda operative, Qamar Ayub, who was arrested in Jammu last week, had stayed at Najjar's safe house for over a month. Terrorists of the Harkat had also been using Najjar's house as a hideout. 20-25 Al-Qaida members were reported to have sneaked into the Kashmir Valley and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, Molvi Abrar, is said to be their chief. A massive campaign has been launched to bust the network. This is not a good time to be an al-Qaeda anywhere, but Kashmir's a worse bet than most.
  • The Indian government has decided to reduce the strength of staff in high commissions -- both Indian and Pakistani -- by 50 per cent within 48 hours. The movement of Pakistan high commission staff including the Pakistani high commissioner has also been restricted to the Delhi municipal limits. Overflight facilities for Pakistan International Airlines have been withdrawn effective January 1, 2002.
  • For the first time in five days, the Pakistani Army lowered the intensity of firing and shelling against Indian border positions. People continued fleeing border hamlets, with migration figures crossing the 7,000. The number of rounds fired dropped from 14,000-16,000 to 3,000-4,000. Good idea. Back off. Take a deep breath. Don't do anything hasty.
  • Six people where killed and 23 were injured in gunfights between Indian forces and Kashmir militants.
  • A senior leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference lashed out at foreign militants fighting in the region, saying their presence undermined the Kashmiri people's "indigenous" freedom struggle. "Ours is an indigenous struggle for freedom and national salvation and the presence of foreign mujahideen here only twists it out of the frame," said Abdul Gani Lone, an executive member of the organization. Yeah, good idea. Get rid of those out of town boys. You see how much they helped the Taliban.
  • Quasipundit Will Vehrs has a discussion of India-Pak. It's well worth reading.

    Middle East
  • Israeli troops entered Palestinian-controlled areas of Hebron and arrested seven suspected members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups. The detainees were students at a Hebron university.
  • Jamal Khashoggi, deputy editor of Saudi Arabia’s Arab News, writes that: "The best solution from the Arab point of view is for a completely new type of peace process to be launched in the Middle East; a peace process that would free them from American pressure and from the efforts of trying to defend a PA that is under occupation; an operation that is not based on the Oslo, Hebron, Sharm el-Sheikh, or Wye River Plantation agreements and their commitments to the security of Israel. Arabs have realized through bitter experience that giving such commitments is embarrassing in the extreme, since no one can prevent a people under occupation from fighting back. The only way a new type of peace process can be introduced, however, is by abandoning the PA and leaving it to wither away. Most Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo last week would likely have agreed to this. Let’s put this issue to a vote. Are there any supporters besides Syria and Lebanon?" Ummm. Yes, probably so. Arafat's proven himself to be a mediocrity, not militant enough for one side, too corrupt for his own people to tolerate, and too dishonest in his negotiations to please the other side. The only factor in his favor is the known devil versus unknown, which translates into nothing but inertia. A push from the Arab side would probably see him living in Monte Carlo while the balance of power readjusts.

    Terror Networks
  • Osama bin Laden warns the United States in his latest video message that it will soon collapse, regardless of whether he lives or dies, as Muslims around the world "awaken to its tyranny." The Criminal Mastermind said that "It is very important to concentrate on hitting the American economy with every available tool... the economy is the base of its military power. The United States is a great economy but at the same time it is fragile." Well, damn. I'm gonna move somewhere stable. Like Pakistan, or Chechnya.
  • President-for-Life Yasser Arafat’s Fatah representative in Lebanon said that he had recently escaped an assassination attempt ordered by hard-liner Abu Nidal. Sultan Abul-Aynayn told a news conference that his group was holding a Palestinian, Ibrahim Abdel-Aal, 25. Abul Aynayn said Abdel-Aal was operating on the orders of Abu-Nidal, leader of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, and was planning to assassinate him with a car bomb in the Rashidieh camp in south Lebanon. Abu Nidal gets its funding from Iraq and Libya and is headquartered in Iraq. We tend to forget they're still around. Bet Abul Aynayn wishes he could.

    The Alliance
  • The Pentagon has chosen Guantanamo as the "least worst" place to hold Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners after they are removed from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said. Thought they were going to Wake Island?
  • Foreign ministers of India and Russia have spoken against "double-standards" in combating international terrorism, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. In their conversation over phone, Jaswant Singh and Igor Ivanov said terrorism has become the most dangerous challenge of the modern times and it was inadmissible to adopt double-standards in combating it. And they're right. If the Bad Guys aren't stomped they'll continue to grow. To quote a famous Russian: "That which ceases to grow begins to rot." Quit pussy-footing and let the rotting begin.
  • At least 11 people were killed and dozens more injured in fighting between militia gunmen split over loyalties to Somalia's fledgling national government. The dead included at least five civilians caught in the cross fire. The gunbattle began late Wednesday and continued into Thursday in the central Medina district, and pitted militiamen loyal to powerful faction leader Musa Sude Yalahow against those loyal to his senior commander, who agreed to join forces with the government. Cmdr. Omar Mohamed Mohamud signed a deal with President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan's government last week. Yalahow, one of two Mogadishu faction leaders opposed to the government, refused to attend the talks. The fighting broke out when large numbers of militiamen prepared to welcome Mohamud back from Kenya. The battle involved several hundred gunmen and more than 10 pickups fitted with anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns. At least six gunmen were killed. AFP put the toll at 22 dead and 50 wounded. Hey, you guys just fight it out. Let us know when you're done, okay?
  • At least six Russian soldiers were killed and another 17 wounded in rebel attacks and land mine explosions in Chechnya. Russian troops launched new security raids throughout the region. 14 rebels were killed in air and artillery strikes over the past 24 hours. Mi-24 helicopter gunships and heavy artillery targeted suspected rebel bases in Chechnya's southern mountains, while federal forces searched for rebels in foothill towns and villages. More than 50 residents were detained over the past 24 hours on suspicion of being linked to the rebels. A Chechen official said rebels shelled federal outposts 24 times, killing three troops and wounding another 13.
  • The European Union has released a new list of organizations it considers as supporting or engaging in terrorist activities. Groups appearing on the new list include: the external security organization of the Hezbollah in Lebanon; the Spanish leftist group GRAPO; four Northern Irish Protestant groups -- the Loyalist Volunteer Force, the Orange Volunteers, the Red Hand Defenders and the Ulster Defense Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters -- and three Greek organizations -- November 17, Revolutionary Cells and Revolutionary Popular Struggle, or ELA -- the Continuity IRA and Real IRA.
  • A leader of Afghanistan's Taliban militia was critically injured in a U.S. airstrike last month and may be dead. Jalaluddin Haqqani and five bodyguards were seriously wounded in the U.S. bombardment on Nov. 16 outside Khost, and is reported to have died of his wounds. Never liked him anyway. Glad he's gone.
  • Nineteen members of an Islamic cult were found guilty of treason for planning a "holy war" to oust Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and could now face the death penalty. Judge Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin announced he was satisfied the prosecution had proven the guilt of the leader of the Al-Ma'unah cult, Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali, and his 18 followers.
  • The president of Pontland district in Somalia, Jum'a Ali Jum'a, has denied the existence of any camp for terrorists in Somalia. He called on the US not to launch attacks against the region. In a statement he made before he returned to Pontland from Nairobi, Jum'a said there is no groups that can threaten the interests of other countries in the world. He said that targeting Somalia, which is torn by war, would not be a wise decision by the US if it actually wants to fight terrorism. Perhaps not from a cost/benefit point of view. But I used to know a few Rangers who would like to come back for a visit.
  • "Let’s unite & put the past behind us," writes Kinda Balkhair, in Arab News:
    Two extremist views have sprouted up since the Sept. 11 atrocities. One is the Western view of the Muslim world. This view sees the Muslims as intolerant of other religions and a safe-haven for terrorists. Then there are those extremists who call the West "The Big Satan" which has done little — if anything — to promote good standards of living for mankind. One little mistake in politics can blow right up in one’s face... so who’s at fault? Who cares? Like it matters to sit and worry about who our next enemy will be. Haven’t we made enough of those already in the world? Peace is what we crave and peace we shall have. Let us unite and put the past behind us. Move on, help and let others live.
    (Italics are mine.) Does that mean you're dropping your program of subversion and attempted world domination? Gonna stop the schools for terrorists? Good idea. We really aren't a vindictive people.

    Home Front
  • The court-appointed lawyers for Maxwell Smart "Richard Reid", the man suspected of trying to blow up a Paris-to-Miami flight with explosives in his shoes, said they had no evidence connecting his acts to a wider plot, ignoring the obvious.
  • French sources said Reid spent 10 days in Israel in July of this year, and went on from there to Cairo. From Cairo he visited Turkey, from where he went to Pakistan in August and made his unsuccessful attempt to enter Afghanistan. The report did not say why Reid would have failed to get into Afghanistan. After his stay in Pakistan he returned to Europe, going first to Amsterdam, where he was based, and then to Brussels, where he obtained the new British passport that he used to take the Paris-Miami flight last weekend. The shoe bombs (The thought makes my arches hurt!) were picked up in Amsterdam.
  • An armed Arab-American Secret Service agent heading to Texas to protect President Bush was barred from an American Airlines flight Tuesday after the pilot questioned his paperwork. Better safe than you-know-what. If I was a crazed terrorist killer, I'd be on my controllers to forge me some documents saying I was a Secret Service agent and free to pack a rod on an airliner.
  • To continue yesterday's rant...
    Sorry. It was late. I wasn't quite done yet.

    There really is racism in this world. There are within the USA groups like the KKK with their sheets, the "American Nazi" subintellects with their propensity for playing dressup, and the Aryan Nations with their impressively subneanderthal brows. The speeches and actions of Robert Mugabe and his henchmen show what racism, naked and unashamed, looks like. And the Arab press triggers the gag reflex on a regular basis.

    Trying to tag anything one doesn't like or agree with as "racist" cheapens the term. If the tagged item is set next to any of the above and can't be seen in the glare, there might be something wrong with either the definition or the definer. If an instance of "racism" can only be detected by trained observers then so also can its effects; people who lose a lot of sleep over it probably also lose sleep over being watched by the CIA and think they know who the other shooter was on the Grassy Knoll. They should consider getting some professional help and possibly medication. Calling something "racist" when no one else can make out even its outline also means that people aren't going to listen really closely the next time the speaker has a hissy fit. Eventually they won't listen at all, not even if he's being beaten up by armband-wearing Aryans.

    Afghanistan isn't a nice place, but except for the Hazaras and maybe one or two other tiny minorities that no one's ever heard of, its people are Caucasians. The Hazaras, descended from the Mongol hordes, are on our side, so what's the beef there? The northern tribes speak various Turkic languages - Uzbek, Tadjik and Turkmen - and use Dari, related to Persian as a lingua franca (as Alan Dershowitz will attest, that means they speak French). The Pashtuns are the same color, as close to the northerners physically as, say, Italians are to Greeks, and speak an Indo-European language. The place has been afflicted with tribal wars, not race riots.

    I guess the Pakistanis and "Arabs" who flooded into Afghanistan and colonized it could make some sort of a claim of racial motivation in our taking action against them to assist the real owners of the country, but they're the bad guys. And we never did sort them out by race - we bombed them all indiscriminately. Admittedly, as the kiddies of U of W whined, ''There are a lot of innocent people in Afghanistan." Usually there are a lot of innocent people in any given locality. The problem never was with them. The problem in fact lay with the gunmen, thugs, sadists and thieves who were preying upon them. The good ol' USA should take immense pride in killing as many of them as it could, so they would stop shooting, beating, torturing and stealing from the innocent folk. But racial motivation with regard to the Bad Guys is only visible to trained observers. If it was there at all (and I say it wasn't, but I'm not a trained observer), it was overshadowed by opposition to naked Evil.

    The Bad Guys' wives and kiddies? Ah, now that does represent a tragedy. The women and children were innocent. Trouble is, we didn't bring them to Afghanistan. Perhaps they should have left them home in Chechnya and Saudi Arabia and Yemen and Kuwait. Or at least someplace other than the front lines.

    A war against Muslims? Afghanistan is one of a tiny handful countries in the world which are effectively 100% Muslim, the other of comparable size being Saudi Arabia. If you stand anywhere in Afghanistan and throw a rock, you'll hit a Muslim. The Bad Guys were Muslims, the guys on our side were Muslims. What's the beef?

    The U of Washington kiddies' positions are really based on an antiwar philosophy and don't have anything to do with racism. Having short attention spans, they're pretty hazy on what happened three, now almost four months ago in New York, which is after all on the other side of the country and, like, close to New Jersey or Ohio or someplace. Having decided that war must be bad, they argue backward to find the reasons for its badness. Having started from a false premise ("all war is bad") they find themselves trapped in a balogna mine and attempt to dig themselves out using whatever materials are lying around, whether suited to the purpose or not.

    Hey, U of Washington kiddies! Grab your crayons and make note of the following: "Socrates was a man, therefore all men are Socrates." This is an example of faulty logic. "One war was bad. Therefore all wars are bad." Is there any similarity? (C'mon, now. Think hard...)

    Wednesday, December 26, 2001

    A criminal mastermind has managed to hack into Blogger, inconveniencing who knows how many people. Kaptain Kaos strikes! Wow. Brilliant. Never seen anything like it. But then, it's to be expected. This is obviously the same guy who put the "back door" into Drugstore.com a couple years ago and now boasts that he hasn't paid for Clearasil since he was twelve. Gosh, betcha his Mom's proud!

    India-Pakistan
  • External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao said steps announced by Pakistan against terrorist outfits Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad were "not adequate" and that "much more needs to be done". Pakistani officials insisted they would continue their crackdown on Jaish and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba but the task is complicated by the fact that Musharraf has alienated many hardliners by his support for the US-led war against the Taliban. Poor man's on a tightrope, put there by his own intel service. Maybe he should move against them first? The Indos would probably be happy to help.
  • Police have arrested 30 militants at the offices of Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Lashkar-i-Taiba has shifted its offices from Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir. It will now be headed by Maulana Abdul Wahid of Poonch, who replaces Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chairman of the Jamaat al-Dawa, the new name for the Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad. The Jamaat will carry out a political, religious and reform program in Pakistan. The Jamaat, he said, would also discharge its obligations with respect to the defense of the country. Translated, they've moved outside Pakistan to pretend they're not a Pakistani organization. The parts of Jammu and Kashmir they've moved to are in the Pak-controlled areas, otherwise the Indos would annihilate them. Mullah Wahid reports to Hafiz Saeed, who remains the big cheese. Changing the name of the "holding company" confuses issues with things like watch lists and for people with short attention spans. The organization itself will continue its efforts to subvert Pakland on political and religious fronts while attempting to look virtuous, and if the government interferes with them too much they'll launch a Taliban-style revolt against Musharraf in favor of someone more compliant. Not real subtle, are they?
  • "Indian leaders are generating a war hysteria because of domestic compulsions," Anwar Mahmood, Pakistan's information secretary, said. "At this moment, we feel it is more important for the peoples of this region to live in peace rather than conflict." US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld have urged Pakistani and Indian leaders by telephone to find a solution to the standoff. Pakistan has offered to let the United Nations conduct an independent inquiry. India has rejected that offer. Good idea. Now shut off the gunfire, scale back your own rhetoric, and round up some more Bad Guys. And India should accept the offer of an independent inquiry.
  • Pakistan media reports have stated that missiles directed against India have been put on alert. Pakistan is reportedly in possession of Chinese-made M-11 and M-9 missiles with strike ranges varying from 600 to 750 kms, 'Ghauri I and II' (1150-1500 kms) and 'Shaheen-II' (2500 kms). India has 150-km range 'Prithvi-I' and Agni-II. Both these missiles can be fired from mobile launchers. India also possesses medium-range missiles of Russian origin. Bad move on both sides. Somebody's going to have to offer a compromise, and the people responsible for the initial attack are going to have to be rounded up. Perhaps Khofi Annan would like to actually earn his Nobel Prize here?
  • Pakistani troops shelled forward Indian positions and villages in the Kargil sector, forcing villagers in the area to flee. The Pakistani shelling was retaliated by Indian troops, and the exchanges were continuing.

    Middle East
  • Palestinians opened fire on Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Kadim, then sought refuge in a house in Jenin, under Palestinian control. Israeli tanks drove about 300 yards into Jenin and soldiers encircled the house, firing two tank shells at the building. Both sides reported persistent gun battles at the scene. A Palestinian policeman was wounded in the fighting.
  • Israeli troops entered the village of Azun, which is under joint Israeli-Palestinian control, and arrested 17 suspected militants. Besides arresting men from Arafat's Fatah movement, they also detained members of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Five of those arrested were Palestinian policemen.
  • Israeli and Palestinian security commanders met for the first time in a week to try to shore up a tentative truce. The two sides agreed on rebuilding the landing strip at Gaza International Airport that was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. Opening hours at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt were to be extended. The Israeli military lifted its blockade of Jericho. The city had been under closure for most of the 15 months of fighting.

    Terror Networks
  • A Canadian citizen for whom Prime Minister Jean Chretien once went to bat is on a list of nine al Qaeda members most wanted by the United States. The list named nine Arabs - five Saudi-born and four Egyptian-born - as the most wanted al Qaeda members. Name Number 9 was that of Ahmad Sa'id al-Kadr, or Abu Abdurrahman, 53, an Egyptian-born Canadian citizen who operated Afghanistan operations of Human Concern International, a Canadian-headquartered charity. Kadr was detained by Pakistani police in connection with the Nov. 9, 1995, bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. While he was in prison, Prime Minister Jean Chretien was on a state visit to Pakistan and raised Kadr's case with then-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Kadr was released a short time later and joined bin Laden in Afghanistan. Good to have friends in high places, isn't it. I'm sure he'd do the same for you or me, too.
  • "After three months since the blessed attack that took place against the head of the snake - the United States - and after two months since the crusade started against Islam, we would like to speak on some of the implications of those incidents," Osama bin Laden said on the latest tape aired on al-Jazeera. "It has become crystal clear that the West in general, led by the United States, are full of hatred against Islam. Hatred that cannot be defined." Some people just can't imagine that other people might actually dislike them personally, y'know? Sadly, he doesn't look dead as of the purported date of the tape, which is sometime between November 16th and December 11th or thereabouts.
  • Al Qaeda has access to scores of tramp freighters around the world, and the United States fears Osama bin Laden could rendezvous with his "navy" on the Pakistani coast and sail to freedom. "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"
  • India believes Bin Laden is hiding in Baluchistan or the tribal agencies of Pakistan. "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"
  • A Pakistani daily, quoting a Taliban commander, reports that Bin Laden died of a serious lung disease in the Tora Bora mountains. "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"
  • A dozen Maoist rebels and six civilians were killed in violence around Nepal, as King Gyanendra said the campaign against the insurgents was proving successful.
  • Russian forces struck rebel positions in isolated mountain regions of Chechnya with ground-attack jets and bombers. Helicopters flew more than 30 sorties to support ground forces during the offensive, which destroyed a large mountain base and a transmitter, and triggered rockslides to block rebel movements. In other fighting, seven Russian soldiers and two policemen were killed in rebel attacks. Federal troops detained more than 50 people suspected of rebel activitiy in three villages. Hmmm. Sounds pretty familiar. Betcha the SpetsNaz has been real busy the past few weeks.

    The Alliance
  • Northern Alliance troops, sifting through piles of papers found in the rubble of the Rishkor al-Qaeda camp south of Kabul, say there's enough evidence to suggest that many men were trained there for missions in Kashmir. They have come across documents which prove that Laskhar-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen men were trained with the Arabs and Pakistanis. "They used to come from Pakistan, stay here for two-three months and fan out after the training," says Commander Popal who moved in from Charikar with his troops.
  • The new Afghan government has nearly completed an investigation into the Taliban regime that reveals the fundamentalist regime was run and controlled by Al-Qaeda and elements of the Pakistan government. An official of the Afghan interior ministry said it "was a Taliban government only in name." The ministry plans to soon provide a complete list of the large number of Pakistani citizens who held key posts in the ousted regime, including ministerial berths. Colonialism? Could Pakistan be initiating a self-destructive war with India to divert attention from its shameful conduct across its other border?
  • Japanese prosecutors demanded the death penalty for former Aum Supreme Truth cult executive Tomomitsu Niimi for his key role in the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo's subways. The prosecutors charged the former Aum executive officer with planning and executing 11 crimes, including involvement in all seven murder cases brought against the cult between Feburary 1989 and April 1995.
  • 15-year-old Chechen Magomed Tashukhadzhiyev has been made a Hero of Russia post mortem. A Chechen rebel warlord murdered his father in front of the boy’s eyes. Magomed and his younger brother, Islam, grabbed their father's guns and opened fire on the terrorists, killing two and wounding the other three, who were apprehended as they fled. One of the two killed was Magomed Tsagarayev, a Chechen warlord who gained notoriety by kidnapping and carrying out terrorist attacks. He had long been on the federal wanted list. Young Tashukhadzhiyev died of his own wounds a few days later. President Vladimir Putin invited his mother Raisa and his younger brother Islam to the Kremlin for tea on Monday and presented them with the award. 12-year-old Islam was awarded the Order of Courage. The Tale of Two Magomeds: The world is a better place without one, a poorer place without the other. Has the Washington Post decided the Chechen "resistance" isn't a group of high-minded freedom fighters opposing the bloody-handed Russians yet? These bandits and killers have been plaguing the area for ten years - and we've seen them in action first-hand in Afghanistan.
  • From August 1, 1999 to date casualties of Russian military forces in the Northern Caucasus totaled to 2355 killed and over six thousand wounded. We're not the only ones fighting terrorists - nor is Afghanistan the only fight against al-Qaeda.
  • Pakistan's coast guard arrested 43 Afghan nationals with suspected ties to Osama bin Laden and Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Maj. Mohammad Akram said the men were taken into custody near Karachi. They are being interrogated. Ow.
  • Russian army engineers have defused nearly 5,000 explosives in Kabul and in the Salang tunnel. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed hope that the tunnel, a vital link between northern and southern Afghanistan, could be reopened to cars in February. But he added that its ventilation system and lights still need to be restored in cooperation with French and British agencies.
  • An Egyptian military court has begun the high security trial of 22 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood arrested in a post-11 September crackdown on Islamist activity.
  • The United States has asked Yemen to allow Marines to take part in a hunt for members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, a Western diplomat and Yemeni officials said. The diplomat, who spoke on condition he not be further identified, said that besides the request that Marines be allowed to join the chase, the United States has proposed setting up a joint task force in Yemen that would includes officials from the CIA and other agencies to coordinate operations.

    International
  • Saudi Shura Council Chairman Muhammad ibn Jubair has called on Muslims to concentrate their efforts to overcome the crisis they are facing since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. He spoke a meeting with visiting Iranian Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karubi. Karubi said he agreed that "Muslims were undergoing a very difficult and sensitive period since there is a plot against Islam and Muslim peoples... Innocent people are being killed in Palestine and other innocent people were killed during the anti-terrorism campaign launched after the attacks in New York and Washington." Karubi has also voiced Tehran’s opposition to expanding the US-led war on terror to include Iraq. "We are against any (eventual) American campaign against the Iraqi people. Muslim countries must use all their capabilities to prevent such a campaign from targeting Iraq," he said. "The duty of all Muslim countries is to stand against excuses by the US administration" to justify expanding the anti-terror campaign." Looks like the new anti-American axis is starting to firm up: two repressive regimes who can't turn their backs on their people, and which have a lot to lose once we start getting close to the real "root causes" of the conflict. Iran now has an Afghan rock on its eastern border, and it doesn't like the thought of a pro-American Iraqi hard place to its west. The ayatollahs have seen what's happening to rule by mullah, and they don't like that even a little bit. The Saudis have left enough tracks in financing their anti-western networks to know we'll eventually trace it back to them. The current crop of princelings and their puppet clerics could find themselves living someplace like Yemen while Hashemites - or Turks - roll in their oil money.
  • Iraq claimed that one of its surface-to-air missiles hit an allied jet fighter patrolling the skies over southern Iraq, but that the plane did not go down and was seen flying toward Saudi Arabia. The United States and Britain denied any of their planes were hit. Maybe it was someone else. We're sure Iraq wouldn't tell lies about something. Maybe it was Mexican.

    Home Front
  • Prisoners in Afghanistan say Maxwell Smart "Richard Reid" underwent training at al-Qaeda training camps there. Some prisoners under U.S. control (and there aren't that many) said they recognized "Reid," also known as Abdel Rahim, and remembered him as being “high strung.” That's Arabaic for "a nut bag." We kinda get the impression from the comments of those who knew him that he's not the brightest bulb on the string, too.
  • "Reid" attended a London mosque at the same time as Zacarias Moussaoui, accused of helping to plot the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "Reid" was a petty criminal with a string of convictions for crimes such as muggings and served time in several prisons in England. He converted to Islam while in custody. He remains under suicide watch pending a psychological examination which should confirm that he is in fact crazed as well as an attempted multiple murderer and terrorist. Sounds like a real good candidate for a military tribunal followed by a firing squad.

    Fifth Column
  • The resolution Richey Kemmling introduced in the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Washington supporting the war has been assailed as racist and some student groups are pushing a resolution that urges the school to adopt an anti-war stance. "The reason why a lot of students from the (minority clubs) were against the war resolution was because our purpose for existing is to make things more equal and get rid of institutional racism - and, in this war, a certain ethnic group was singled out,'' said Alex Narvaez, an Associated Students board member. ''There are a lot of innocent people in Afghanistan.'' Uh, guys? Afghans are white. Like, Caucasians, y'know? And the Northern Alliance, those guys who were on our side from the beginning? They're Muslims. And the innocent people in Afghanistan? We stopped the Bad Guys from whipping them and cutting their heads and hands and things off. Oh, and they killed 4,000 of our people, many of whom were just like you, and they didn't care what color or faith they were. (I thought students were supposed to learn stuff. Haven't they been paying attention?)
  • Tuesday, December 25, 2001

    India-Pakistan
  • Speaking on the 125th birthday of Pakistan's founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, President Pervez Musharraf reminded Pakistan of Jinnah's moderate views and called on his countrymen to reject extremism. "We have undermined Islam to a level that people of the world associate it with illiteracy, backwardness, intolerance," admitted Musharraf. "Leave aside tolerating other religions. We refuse to accommodate views of various sects in our own religion." Thank you. And Merry Christmas to you, too. Really, you should try it - it's not that hard, and it really is fun. Repeat after us: Sec-u-lar State.
  • Pakistan has redeployed its strategic units in the forward areas of the International Border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Poonch sectors. It has deployed medium range ballistic missiles batteries (MRBBs) in these sectors in an action that will further escalate tension. To counter this aggressive posturing, the Indian forces have accelerated mine-laying operations in many sectors. Villagers have started sending children and women to safer locations along with their valuables and household goods. Pakistani forces had engaged in heavy mortar and small arms fire all through the day and overnight. Indian security forces claimed they had killed 25 Pakistani soldiers in the last two days in retaliatory gunfire across the Kashmir border. Pakistan is willing to go to war rather than clean up Lashkar-e-Taiba? That doesn't make any sense. What're we missing here?
  • With an increase in movement of troops from peace time locations to strategic locations along the international border with Pakistan, the Indian Railways has suspended four passenger train lines.
  • The Indian government says it has broken up 101 ISI cells and defeated several covert designs by the ISI throughout the country. The major cases include the exposure of the Lashkar-e-Taiba network in India, the Chittisinghpora massacre, serial bomb blasts by Deendar Anjuman in churches of South India, the attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and the Lashkar-e-Taiba attempt to bomb the Hanumangarhi Temple at Ayodhya.
  • In a major operation against militants in the Kashmir valley, Indian security forces gunned down five militants belonging to Laskhar-e-Taiba in two separate encounters.

    Middle East
  • An Israeli soldier was killed and four others wounded when assailants opened fire on an Israeli border patrol in the worst clash in decades along the normally calm Israel-Jordan border. Israeli helicopters raked the border area with machine-gun fire, and plumes of smoke rose from the heavily wooded border area as Israelis looked for the gunmen. The area was sealed off for hours as the Israelis searched for the assailants. Israeli soldiers later found bodies of two gunmen on the Israeli side of the Jordan River but outside the border fence. Nice attempt to extend the conflict to include the Jordanians. Doesn't appear to have worked, though.
  • Israeli tanks and infantrymen entered Palestinian-controlled territory in the West Bank and arrested seven suspected militants before withdrawing.

    The Alliance
  • Anti-Taliban forces detained a top commander in eastern Afghanistan for alleged ties to al-Qaida. Awal Gul, who played a key role in persuading Taliban commanders to surrender Nangarhar province to a council of tribal leaders, was arrested. Cleanup starting. Should be more in days and weeks to come. This one is relatively small fry.
  • The Afghan government (What a nice phrase!) has begun preparing a new national army. Mujahedin commander Atta Mohammad said that troops would be volunteers, effectively ending the long-standing practice of forcing men and boys to fight. Professional military officers have been appointed to assist Army Chief General Asif Dilawar who is heading a commission charged with establishing the force. Here's hoping the new army adopts the American and British tradition of loyalty to the government and non-involvement with politics. Certainly they should be busy enough cleaning up the detritus left behind from the late festivities.
  • Yemen has expanded its search for backers of al Qaeda and arrested militants belonging to other factions. Authorities have arrested a number of suspects from hard-line organizations, an official said without providing further details. The death toll from a clash last week between security forces and the militants and their tribal hosts rose to 24 troops after six wounded soldiers died in hospital. Officials said there had been no violent encounters since then and the government has won pledges from tribal chiefs for cooperation.
  • Turkey's parliament extended for six months the mandate allowing U.S. and British warplanes to patrol the no-fly zone in northern Iraq as fears mounted that Washington could next target Iraq in its war on terrorism. Maintain pressure on them, but don't expend the resources on Iraq now that could be used other places. Iraq isn't a fundo problem; Yemen, Somalia and Chechnya are.
  • Chechen warlord Salman Raduyev was sentenced to life imprisonment for a hostage-taking of several thousand people in 1996 in the Russian republic of Dagestan. Raduyev rose to prominence with the operation, in which 3,000 people were seized in the Dagestani town of Kizlyar. 200 people -- including 78 Russian soldiers -- are estimated to have been killed in the fighting. These are the guys the NY Times and Washington Post described as "freedom fighters" and condemned the Russians for trying to wipe out.

    International
  • Somalia's transitional administration and representatives of rival factions signed a peace accord paving the way for a national unity government, but key leaders in the armed opposition immediately rejected it. The agreement called for the formation within a month of "an all-inclusive government ensuring equitable power-sharing amongst all the Somali clans", as well as disarmament under UN auspices. They agreed "to renounce violence as a means of settling political differences and to ensure cooperation with the international community in the eradication of terrorism." But Hassan Mohamed Nur "Shatigudud", head of the Rahanwein Resistance Army and co-president of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council, immediately said his coalition took no part in the talks leading to the accord. Shatigudud's co-president Hussein Mohamed Aidid, whose faction controls part of the capital Mogadishu, said: "We reject it completely." You're not taking this seriously, boys. Read the papers.

    Home Front
  • A report in the French La Provence newspaper said Maxwell Smart "Richard Reid" had belonged to an Islamic movement called Tabliq but left because it was "not radical enough" for him. Reports that Reid was the son of a Jamaican father and a British mother were apparently true. Reid was apparently known to British police for petty theft; it is still not clear where the man lived. An even more pressing question is, "Where do they get these people?"
  • A preliminary examination of "Reid's" black suede athletic shoes revealed four to five ounces of explosive packed into each one. Because of the complexity of concocting such an explosive, FBI technicians believe that Reid must have had an accomplice. The type of explosive used usually needs a battery or blasting cap to set it off but FBI tests found a substance had been added that would have allowed it to be detonated by prolonged exposure to flame. Vicious little beast, isn't he? Hope they're not done hitting him yet.
  • If you haven't already, read Rand Simberg's new classic Media Casualties Mount As War Success Continues.
    Merry Christmas to all from Rantburg!

    Monday, December 24, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan's new interim leader appointed Rashid Dostum as deputy defense minister. Dostum had been angry because the key ministries of defense, foreign affairs and the interior all went to an ethnic Tajik group from the Panjshir valley. "I have just signed the letter naming him deputy minister of defense," said Prime Minister Hamid Karzai. "It is the first step toward a national army." Dostam said he supports Karzai and wants his fighters incorporated into a future national army.
  • Tribal forces controlling Kandahar tried to subdue a number of Arab al-Qaida fighters who have been holding out for weeks in a hospital, threatening to detonate grenades if anyone tried to arrest them. Sporadic firing was reported in the hospital, where the fighters have been convalescing from wounds in a prison ward on the second floor. "We have surrounded the place. Whenever we fire, they fire," said Kandahar official, Nusrat Ullah. He said one of the Arabs was captured and eight others remained holed up in the ward. Peace on Earth and mercy mild...
  • A French Muslim who allegedly fought alongside al-Qaida fighters in the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan was found dead in a mountainous border area of Pakistan. The snow-covered body of Herve Djamel Loiseau was discovered along with his French passport, Pakistani and Afghani currency, and a copy of the Quran. Loiseau apparently died from cold, fatigue and starvation near the town of Parachinar. God and sinner reconciled.
  • American soldiers in Afghanistan recently captured a high-level leader of the defeated Taliban movement. Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy chief of the Taliban's intelligence department, was detained in an operation in Gazni province.
  • Taliban soldiers looted around $5 million and billions of Afghanis from the biggest money exchange market in Afghanistan a day before they abandoned Kabul. All to go to charitable activities, no doubt.
  • Two days after the new Afghan government took office, some Taliban elements are mingling with Pashtun militia commanders from southern Kandahar province, eastern Jalalabad province and south-eastern regions of Khost, Paktiya, Gardez, making a beeline for Kabul, to arrive at some sort of compromise for rehabilitation. Does that mean they're gonna give the money back?
  • Aided by Pakistan's secret services, Osama bin Laden has fled to Kashmir, according to an informer who appeared on Italian television. The informer said bin Laden had left Tora Bora on December 12. 2,000 al-Qaeda also succeeded in fleeing Afghanistan to various places including Kashmir and Chechnya. India says they haven't heard about it. "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"
  • Assuming that Osama Bin Laden has been killed in Tora Bora airstrikes, US military leaders are collecting body parts of dead al-Qaeda men for DNA tests. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is in charge of the DNA tests, has already collected DNA samples from Bin Laden’s family to check for a match. "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"

    India-Pakistan
  • Pakistan has cancelled leave for troops and recalled all its military personnel on leave as part of its high alert to the build-up of Indian troops in Rajasthan, Sindh and Central Punjab borders.
  • Close on the heels of Pakistani media reports about "activation" of missiles directed at India from its Kharian base, the Indian Army has moved its Prithvi Short Range Ballistic Missile batteries to strategic locations closer to the India-Pakistan border along Punjab.
  • Foreign ministry spokesman Nirapuma Rao said Pakistani embassy staffer Mohammad Sharif Khan was being thrown out of the country for "engaging in activities beyond his legitimate sphere of activity." A Pakistani foreign office statment said, "These absurd Indian allegations represent yet another desperate attempt to implicate Pakistan in the December 13 terrorist attack on Parliament." It decribed the allegations as "baseless and concocted." Pakland claims Sharif Khan was illegally kidnaped and tortured.
  • Indian troops carried out out engagements in Poonch sector and destroyed Pakistani bunkers abetting, supporting and harbouring terrorists. In the Samba area, the Indian troops launched an offensive leading to destruction of more than two bunkers. The action was in response to an attack by Pakistani Rangers that killed three paramilitaries and injured three others. Pakistani troops retaliated and destroyed four Indian posts, causing heavy damage. Fire broke out at one of the posts, which raged for hours.
  • An Islamabad-based, pro-jehadi newspaper reported that Masood Azhar had been detained and his office and home telephones disconnected. Authorities have also sealed Jaish-e-Muhammad offices. Oooh. Could be they're starting to take it seriously. Could it have been the missiles at the border? Wonder if it's too late?
  • Indian police arrested a man who claimed to be a member of the al-Qaida terrorist network and had confessed plans to attack public buildings and Hindu temples. The man, Qamar Ayub from the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir, was arrested and confessed under interrogation. (Ouch!) Ayub headed a pro-Pakistan militant group, the Harkat-ul Mujahedeen, and was responsible for its activities in Jammu-Kashmir.
  • Indian police arrested a Palestinian national but refused to reveal any details about him or his role in militant organizations operating in Jammu-Kashmir. Either they're not done hitting him yet, or they want to pick up a few of his friends so they can have a little chat.
  • Pakistan froze the bank accounts of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Ummah Tameer-e-Nau. Simultaneously with the Pakistani action, came the news of the resignation of LeT chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in a ‘‘strategic decision’’ aimed at ‘‘refuting Indian propaganda that the (LeT) is a Pakistani organisation’’. Saeed appointed in his place Abdul Wahid Kashmiri, a man described as being from ‘‘occupied Poonch’’. Saeed added that he would continue to remain the head of the Lashkar’s parent organisation, the Markaz Dawa-wal-Irshad. Of course Lashkar's not a Pakistani organization. It's... It's... Slovenian, that's it. Damn those Slovenes!
  • The Pakistani government arrested the spokesman for Pak-Afghan Defence Council, Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi as part of its drive against 26 religious extremists in Islamabad. The administration of the federal capital has a list of 26 Imams and Khatibs of various mosques in Islamabad.

    Middle East
  • Israel kept Yasser Arafat away from Bethlehem's Christmas celebration for the first time in seven years. Scouts playing drums and bagpipes marched beneath Palestinian flags and posters of the absent Arafat. Addressing his people in a prerecorded speech broadcast on Palestinian TV, Arafat, a Muslim, said he spoke "with a heart full of sadness... The Israeli tanks, the barriers and the rifles of the oppressors have prevented me from sharing with you our annual celebration on this divine and blessed occasion," he said. "The whole world that has seen what happened ... has to know what kind of terror the worshippers in this Holy Land are facing." Thought he was gonna walk if he had to?
  • Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Ahmed Qureia, a lieutenant of Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat, have been conducting talks aimed at a renewal of stalled peace talks. Coincidentally, in the West Bank, a Jewish settler was wounded in an ambush by al-Aqsa Brigades gunmen. A caller said the attack was in response to Israel's refusal to allow Arafat to attend Christmas ceremonies in Bethlehem. Nope. He'll just have somebody bumped off at random. Now that's diplomacy.
  • "The ban on the president of the Palestinian Authority to attend the midnight mass in Bethlehem is a decision that, unfortunately, on this Christmas eve, day of gathering and of peace, stains the image of the Israeli authorities," the French foreign ministry said in a statement. And bumping off a civilian at random because Yasser can't have his way enhances the Palestinian image? Might this be termed "a shitty little pronouncement"?

    Terror Networks
  • More than 500 Maoist rebels have been killed since the army was deployed a month ago to fight the five-year-old insurgency, and 29 soldiers have died. Maoists bombed the village home of the Nepalese government minister who led failed peace talks with the rebels, causing damage but no casualties.

    International
  • Syrian foreign minister Farouk al-Sharaa said he doubted that Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network acted alone in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, saying "there should be assistance that had been offered to them from persons and institutions" inside the USA. "Is it possible that bin Laden and Taliban were alone behind this complicated act? I say no." Al-Sharaa accused Washington of a "hidden agenda" in its war against terrorism, such as a desire to control vast oil reserves in the Caspian Sea. Yeah. No doubt it was an inside job. All the evidence is right there, and that sort of stuff happens in the US all the time. Probably the Jews again. Access to Caspian oil would cause them to form an alliance with an international terror organization calling for the nation's destruction and kill as many people at a shot as they could. That's just good, solid Arab logic.
  • Chinese legislators reviewed an draft law amendment which would make terrorism a capital offence. It's not already? Everything else is.

    Home Front
  • The FBI says it believes Maxwell Smart "Richard Reid" was acting alone and not as part of a terrorist cell when he was subdued by other passengers on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. Right. He rooted through Mom's underwear drawer and found her secret stash of C4, then set off from Paris to Miami. He bought his ticket using last week's paycheck. Could be a lone Muslim nut, but where'd the boom-boom come from? Did he mix it up himself in the kitchen? (A little of this, a little of that, maybe a little garlic...)
  • Sunday, December 23, 2001

    India-Pakistan
  • Indian forces are in a state of very high alert in the wake of the Pakistani troop build-up along the border after last week's terror attack on Parliament but New Delhi still does not feel that the situation might spill over into a conflict or a nuclear flashpoint.
  • India said Pakistani troops opened fire on a patrol in Kashmir, killing two soldiers and wounding three others in an unprovoked attack. Some of the troops that fired appeared to be regular army soldiers. Pakistan said two civilians were injured by Indian shells in Pak-occupied Kashmir as the two sides exchanged fire at several points along the Line of Control. A teenager was hit by shrapnel and a woman suffered injuries when a shell hit the courtyard of her home. "They are using mortars and targeting the civilian population without any provocation," a Pakistani official said, adding that a school in Kotli district had also been damaged. In Jammu, a group of masked militants barged into a house in Poonch district and opened indiscriminate fire, killing an aged woman on the spot and critically injuring her daughter. Militants fired on several vehicles from mountain peaks on Poonch-Surankote road, wounding two civilians.

    Middle East
  • Palestinian sources said that in spite of an Israeli ban on him attending Christmas Mass in Bethlehem, Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat's convoy would make its way to the city, and confront Israeli soldiers who try to block his way. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said in response that Israel would not let Arafat through the IDF checkpoints. "We will not give in to the head of an entity that supports terror, while master terrorists roam free at his side." they said. The Prime Minister's Office said that Israel respected freedom of religion, but that Arafat himself was Muslim. Arafat repeated his pledge to go to Bethlehem for Christmas, saying, "No one will prevent me from travelling to Ramallah." Let's manufacture a "human rights" crisis: The mean old Jews won't let poor Yasser go to church. But Yasser heroically stands up to them. The violins in the National Sympathy Orchestra should be tuning up at this very moment. How's it feel being manipulated?
  • The Fatah military wing, the el-Aksa Martyrs, said that "As far as we are concerned the intifada will continue. We must prepare for a continued escalation in attacks against the IDF and settlers if Israel continues its attacks against Palestinians." "You said you wanted attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stop. Well, they have. Us Palestinians keep our part of a bargain, by gum!"
  • Hizbullah’s southern commander in Lebanon said that the resistance movement was “in a state of total readiness” to confront any Israeli aggression against Lebanon. While receiving a delegation of Druze religious leaders from Hasbaya at the former Khiam prison, Sheikh Nabil Qaouk said recent Israeli overflights only “affirmed the resistance movement’s right to resort to all means that ensure putting an end to Israel’s aggression.” Senior Shiite cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah called for national solidarity to face “the growing international threats confronting Syria and Lebanon.” US accusations that Hizbullah was not a legitimate local resistance movement were “a lie aimed at driving the resistance away from the liberation victory in the minds of the Muslims Arabs, and especially the Lebanese public.” Sigh. Yeah. Don't forget to stand up for "Arab Dignity," too.

    Terror Networks
  • Two Afghan nationals arrested last month in India had links with al-Qaeda. "Interrogation by our men clearly revealed that they had links with the al-Qaeda," K L Verma, chairman of the Central Board of Excise and Customs, said. Custom officials arrested the two Afghan nationals on November 22 in Sitamarhi district near the Indo-Nepal border. Now what the hell were they doing up there? Dots between the Nepali Maoists and al-Qaeda? Or just on their way to Bangladesh to do a little recruiting?
  • An explosion damaged the back entrance of a McDonald's restaurant, police said. The pre-dawn blast occurred near a busy road in Athens' northern Agia Paraskevi area. Police said a small quantity of dynamite was used to make the bomb. Anarchist gangs in the Greek capital frequently target international companies and government property. But police said the blast resembled attacks carried out by organized crime groups. Oh. Well, that's okay, then.
  • Osama bin Laden's mother was quoted in a British newspaper as saying she believes a videotape of her son, which the United States says proves he had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks, was a fake. "I believe the evidence against him is not solid. I think the video they produced is doctored," Alia Ghanem was quoted as saying in an interview conducted by a Saudi journalist. If my son was a mass murderer and the leader of an international terrorist cabal, I'd refuse to believe it, too.

    The Alliance
  • A shortlist of three options for attacking Iraq will be presented to President George W. Bush next month. There will be a certain amount of satisfaction when Sammy is nothing but a lingering odor, but he shouldn't be as far up on the list as he is. The fight this time is against fundamentalist networks, not against Iraq's politically-based system. Unless he's trying to raise support in the "Arab street," Sammy could care less about religion. He's a tin-hat dictator in the tradition of Mussolini and Hitler, but "without the warmth and humanity." The greater and more immediate danger is the Wahhabi-driven network of jihadis and a much better place to start would be Kashmir or Chechnya - or Kosovo. Regardless of where, the real target has to be the "board of directors," since it's become obvious Osama bin Laden wasn't the top of the pyramid. So Sammy is a sideshow and his destruction should be almost an afterthought.
  • "There is nobody who would shed a single tear if Saddam were removed from power. The fear is that Saddam will not be removed and so the tragedy will continue on into the unforeseeable future," writes Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid in Arab News. Reassuring at first glance, isn't it? The Saudis wouldn't mind us removing the threat posed by a junior-grade Mussolini from their border. They also wouldn't mind us chasing off in a different direction, rather than pursuing a hunt for the "Board of Directors," which is likely within their borders instead of far off in some theoretical Boskone.
  • Gen. Tommy Franks appeared unflustered as he disembarked the CH-47 Chinook after touching down at the newly reopened American Embassy in Kabul. Officials believe Franks’ helicopter was shot at by a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile, commonly called a "man pad" by pilots. They'd have liked to have gotten him. The Bad Guys are still thicker than fleas in Afghanistan - but they don't control it anymore.
  • Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, said he has applied for political asylum in Pakistan. Pakistan has so many mullahs running around ranting they probably won't notice one more.
  • According to a report released by Afghanistan's World Food Program, no one is expected to die of hunger in central Afghanistan this year. Chomsky must be so disappointed.
  • Pakistan will soon begin trials of 40 non-Afghan Taliban, mostly Arabs who crossed into Balochistan province from Afghanistan and were held by the provincial government. The men initially have been charged with illegal entry into Pakistan without having valid travel documents and will be tried under the Foreigners Act. Not a good time to be an al-Qaeda hero, is it?

    International
  • The Arab world, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said in Lebanon, is in dire need of change as a region that “has been left at the mercy of tyrants, dictators, holy kings, outdated pseudo-revolutionaries, tribal chieftains and failed demagogues.” He suggested demilitarizing Arab regimes and holding free and democratic elections, a step he said was needed to see economic and social development. He also advocated creating a common Arab market, reinforcing relations within the region, liberating the Iraqi people, and benefitting from Iranian strategic importance. Equally necessary, according to Jumblatt, is an Arab-Muslim cultural revolution that will allow the humanization, rationalization and secularization of its various ideologies. Hmmm. No mention of fighting jihad and standing up for "Arab Dignity." Perhaps the appeal of the fundos has peaked with the disappearance of Osama and the discrediting of rule by mullah. (The Druze are far outside the Wahhabi puritan strain, so probably that's wishful thinking.) But also no mention of instituting the concept of personal liberty, which would be necessary to make the rest of it happen. Still, not bad. Perhaps in time... No one in the Arab world will listen to him, of course, or if they do, someone will shoot him.

    Home Front
  • "Mr. Richard Colvin Reid," the attempted airline bomber, has been identified as Tariq Raja, a 28-year-old from Sri Lanka. (AFP gives the name as Abdel Rahim.)Sure hope they haven't stopped hitting him yet. There's an awful lot there to find out. Do the Liberation Tigers dots connect to the Lashkar-e-Taiba dots?
  • "We are concerned that hijackers may attempt to smuggle disassembled weapons on board an airliner by hiding weapon components within their shoes,'' a Dec. 11 Federal Aviation Administration advisory to airlines and security personnel stated. "He appears to be of Middle Eastern descent. I couldn't go further than that,'' said state police Capt. Tom Robbins, describing yesterday's airline bomb suspect. Reid claimed he was from Jamaica. Rather than confiscating nail clippers, perhaps it would make more sense to allow airline passengers to carry knives, clubs, brass knuckles and guns under .32 caliber. I have a dream, a dream in which an American Airlines flight diverts to Logan. On Runway 4 the plane stops. The door opens. The bullet-riddled body of an attempted hijacker is tossed to the tarmac with a satisfying "splat." The door closes and the plane resumes its flight to Miami. Was the faint sound of cheering heard coming from inside the plane? Satisfying, isn't it? (Unless you're a jihadi.)
  • A group of about eight demonstrators representing a variety of stupid coalitions and networks dedicated to promoting "responsible and peaceful" toys spent an hour outside Washington's Metro Center passing out leaflets that asked parents to pass up GI Joe, and for that matter all toy guns, grenades, rifles and tanks. "Ho, ho, ho, war toys have got to go," Manassas resident John Steinbach chanted. Mr. Steinbach dressed as Santa Claus and protested the violent toys on behalf of a group called the Gray Panthers. You can drive to DC from Manassas. You don't have to fly. Probably a good thing, isn't it? "Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be men."
  • Eric Debry, 42, of Paris, said he was among those who restrained Reid. Debry, flying with his wife and children, age 13 and 9, was sitting directly behind Reid. He said he had eaten lunch and fallen asleep when he awoke to the smell of smoke. Debry said he reached over the seat, grabbed Reid by the shoulders and pulled his arms back. "I jumped on his shoulder. Two other guys came and took his legs," he said. He said for about 10 minutes, passengers held Reid down while others collected about 20 leather belts and used them to restrain the man. "It was just an instantaneous reaction," Debry said. "I feel lucky to be alive and I feel proud of the passengers." Oh, dear. How violent. Obviously M. Debry isn't a member of a coalition from Manassas. If he was, he'd have known that There is a Better Way.
  • New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2001. Good choice. Giuliani is a human being, unlike Osama bin Laden. Ascerbic, witty, and brilliant, he's done more good for New York than all his carping critics combined. He is a great man. It's a pity he didn't run against Madam Clinton for the Senate - who is something less than a great woman. But it's probably just as well. The combination of his prostate cancer and his love life probably would have thrown the election to her, once her hit squad was done with it, and the city would have had a lesser man at the time it needed him most.
  • WHY WE FIGHT: The Berkeley City Council has banned log-burning fireplaces in new homes and other buildings, believing the warmth of wood fires comes at the cost of clean air. Jami Caseber, the Berkeley environmental activist who led the drive for the ordinance, calls it "the first step to controlling or curtailing residential wood burning." Caseber said he would have preferred restricting existing fireplaces, but the new law "was the best I could do" as a compromise with "conservatives." Mr. Caseber's concept of "the pursuit of happiness" seems to involve telling other people what to do. He and his fellow mullahs, ayatollahs and commissars regard the concept of liberty as a quaint and tiresome curiosity.