Friday, January 11, 2002

Middle East
Palestinians bust three for arms shipment...
  • Palestinian security forces arrested three Palestinian officials accused by Israel of involvement in a bid to smuggle a shipload of weapons seized by Israeli commandos last week. An internal panel of inquiry appointed by the Palestinian Authority said the men were called for questioning and then taken into custody. They are Major-General Fuad al-Shobaki, director-general of finance for all the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus; Fathi al-Razen, deputy commander of Palestinian naval police; and Adel al-Mughrabi, a high-ranking officer in the naval police. The announcement was made shortly after Secretary of State Colin Powell backed Israel's demand that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat arrest those responsible for the alleged smuggling plot. Bet that "interrogation" started with the words "What the hell were you thinking?"
  • The Alliance
    Gunnies being relieved of Russian-made manhood at Spin Boldak... Somalia is "terrorized" by the US...
  • U.S. troops began disarming militia fighters in the town of Spin Boldak. Security men of Gul Agha Shirzai, governor of Kandahar, had also disarmed many of the private militias in the city. A Reuters reporter saw two U.S. soldiers enter a room at a checkpoint set up by a militia group near the border with Pakistan while a third soldier stood guard outside. A few minutes later the soldiers emerged from the room carrying about 16 Kalashnikov rifles that they dumped in their vehicle. Cheese. Next thing you know those guys are gonna have to get jobs.
  • The president of Somalia's transitional government said his people had been "terrorized" by a U.S. propaganda campaign portraying the country as a possible haven for Osama bin Laden's followers. President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan said that fears of U.S. military strikes were hindering efforts to bring peace to the country. Abdiqassim said his government had set up a committee to combat terrorism and arrested several suspects, but its efforts were being hampered by a lack of resources. The government still only controls parts of the capital Mogadishu and other patches of territory, competing with warlords who flourished after the fall of military ruler Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991. Gosh. That's really terrible to be so terrorized. Are you having bad dreams of dead warlords' bodies being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu? If the central "government" has so little control, perhaps it should ask for assistance.
  • Anti-Terror Operations
    Singapore springs two sympathizers, keeps 13 live ones... Bad Guys shipped express to Guantanamo...
  • The Singapore government has released two of 15 suspected terrorists arrested last month, but the remaining 13 will be detained for two years under the Internal Security Act. The 13 men are members of the clandestine organization JI, and eight are confirmed to have gone to Afghanistan for training in al Qaida terrorist training camps. Before leaving for Afghanistan, members of JI conducted religious studies and physical training in Malaysia. The ministry claimed the local JI organization is part of a larger JI network with cells in Malaysia and Indonesia. Officials said the group was part of a larger organization called a "shura," which is headed by Hambali Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, who is wanted by the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities. The two persons released were not members of JI, but they had donated funds they had collected to the Philippine Moro Islamic Liberation Front purportedly for its welfare organizations. The original UPI article has a good discussion of the structure of the terror network: the "shura" (council) is made up of regional-level organizations like Jamaat Islami, which in turn contain functional arms - "fiahs." The fiahs are made up of a number of cells, consisting of 3 - 5 members each.
  • The first group of al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners arrived at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo under heavy guard, shipped fresh from Afghanistan. The 20 shackled prisoners are the first of at least 371 detainees to be shipped away from the region. Enjoy your Caribbean vacation, boys! You might want to consider taking a cruise next time.
  • The United States , ending a post-Sept. 11 trend of avoiding criticizing Russia's campaign in Chechnya, accused Moscow of using "overwhelming force" in its battle with Muslim rebels there. The sharp words came a day after Moscow announced results of one its bloodiest crackdowns in the secessionist province for a year, saying it had killed 92 rebels in a month. The US has just used "overwhelming force" in Afghanistan with good results. The Chechens made up a significant portion of the problem we faced there. What makes the State Department think they're "freedom fighters" back home? How can the al-Qaeda ties be ignored? The US should be congratulating the Russians - and expressing sympathy for their dead and wounded.
  • Bread and Circuses
    Politically correct revisionism in Noo Yawk... OJ to honor Ground Zero with his presence... Enron shredded evidence... Museum works to trivilialize the Holocaust... California congressman scores 50 Grand in pork for tatoo removal... California to sue PG&E for going bankrupt...
  • At the behest of the Professionally Sensitive, a model of the three firefighters raising the flag which was unveiled on December 21, to have replicated the photo exactly, was reworked to depict firefighters of three different races (the original three were all white), because "people of all races contributed to the rescue effort." OJ is expected to tour Ground Zero as part of a new documentary he's making about his "life and times and the American justice system." The firm that audited the books of collapsed Enron Corp., Arthur Andersen LLP, disclosed that a "significant but undetermined" number of documents related to the company had been destroyed. A Jewish museum's planned exhibit that includes a Lego concentration camp and "designer" canisters of poison gas was criticized as trivializing the atrocities committed during World War II. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., scored $50,000 in federal funding last month for a tattoo removal program in her Santa Barbara, Calif., district. California's attorney general filed suit against PG&E Corp., alleging the San Francisco-based company engaged in illegal, unfair and fraudulent business practices that drove its utility subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. into bankruptcy.
    PC Rampant, OJ, Stinking Corruption, Trivializing the Suffering of 6 Million, Pork, and Demagogues. I repeat: Mickey Kaus was right, just a little off on his time frame. Which shall we choose? The Banality of Evil? Or the Evil of Banality?
  • Thursday, January 10, 2002

    Beirut Daily Star reports on a meeting of leading Sunni and Shiite figures in Beirut this week. Where to start? At a conference held in the Commodore Hotel, some 130 clerics from the Far East, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East were in attendance.
    Speaking during the opening of the two-day conference for the Saving Jerusalem and Support for the Palestinian People, the heads of the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements and senior Shiite and Sunni clerics stressed the role that clergymen could play in promoting the Palestinian cause.
    It seems the involvement of the clergymen - the ayatollahs, mullahs, emirs, muftis and whatnots - has been the factor that's inflamed the situation from a frustrating localized dispute to the status of a world war.
    Hizbullah’s Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke about “the need for honest fatwas,” and also the threat of “killing the essence of the resistance.”

    “This threat can only be overcome with the help of the ulema all around the Muslim world,” Nasrallah said.

    Over the last two decades, resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine have been recognized as groups “qualified for victory,” Nasrallah said, citing their suicide operations and unceasing willingness to undertake resistance activities.
    This piece of seemingly meaningless blather actually states that the Lebanon and Palestine thugs have been leading the fight and that they are the ones who should be in charge when victory comes their way. Arafat and his PLO aren't mentioned. To use an Israeli term, he's "irrelevant."
    Nasrallah argued that the main character of a “mujahid” is his strong belief in God and his will to die in his name. “This belief creates inside of him an unimaginable ability to tolerate pain,” he said.
    Well, yes. Allowing oneself to be detonated would seem to indicate a willingness to tolerate pain, at least briefly. Unaddressed is whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.
    “When voices hired by leading news televisions and satellite channels come and say that suicide attacks are against religion, that they are not a form of martyrdom, and that standing in the face of Israel under the prevailing circumstances will lead to destruction of the nation, they shake the belief of resistance fighters,” he said.
    Truth or falsity isn't addressed, merely the desirability of the fatwah from the standpoint of propaganda. If in fact the suicide attacks are against religion, and the suicidists do in fact go to hell rather than cavorting with almond-eyed virgins for eternity, that would tend to discourage self-detonation, thereby harming the Cause. The Cause, in good totalitarian tradition, is more important than the individuals making it up and in whose name it is purportedly being run.
    “We are not asking for political fatwas that justify the strategic decisions that we have already adopted. We are only asking for honest fatwas,” Nasrallah said.
    Unless the fatwahs run counter to the strategic decisions, of course.
    The head of Hamas’ politburo, Khaled Mashaal, invited clergymen across the Muslim world to “arouse the nation” to interact and support the resistance. He also stressed the importance of talking about suicide operations and their status regarding the concept of jihad.
    One could point out that they talk about little else in Hamas circles. But the Learned Elder of Islam is addressing the fact that suicide bombing is in danger of falling out of favor, along with the jihad mentality, in the wake of the thumping it has received from the US.
    Mashaal also underlined the necessity of finding a Muslim definition for terrorism “in the face of the American and Zionist definition of the term” and expressed his hope that international events would not shake Arab and Islamic values, goals and principles. “The resistance will continue, it is our destiny, and our strategic alternative,” Mashaal said.
    In other words, "It's what we do." Finding a "Muslim definition of terrorism" involves some sort of semantic convolution which will exclude active terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and somehow include "state-sponsored terrorism" by the USA and Israel. The ideal definition by these lights will include a statement that no act perpetrated by a Muslim can be defined as terrorism unless it is directed against other Muslims.
    As for the regional peace process, Mashaal said it was insufficient to merely reject the settlement and announce the failure of the negotiations. He found it necessary to assess the peace process “as a reaction to those who are still trying to promote it and the insistence of the Arabs to support it and to give it a chance.”
    In other words, not only must the peace process be discredited, but so also must those trying to support it - another dig at Arafat and his "moderate" factions. Note here that there is no suggestion of offering a counterplan to portions of the "peace process" that don't meet with the Learned Elders' approval. Peace motions are to be accepted or rejected in toto. The exchange of opinions goes only one way.
    “The project (to establish a political settlement with Israel) has torn our people apart, destroyed our national unity, and turned a part of our people into servants of Israel’s security,” Mashaal said.
    They should be killed or at least discredited. If discredited, they can be shot after victory.
    He said the peace option has weakened a part of the political leadership of the Palestinian people, “many of whom have become professional beggars.”
    That doesn't mean their funding has been cut off - that won't happen - but that they're begging for crumbs of peace from the negotiating table.
    Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah invited clergymen to educate Muslims about the essence of the Palestinian cause, because “the Islamic world lacks awareness and cultural appreciation of this issue.”
    Yeah. Sometimes they think about eating or something. They've got to drop those bad habits and concentrate on the important stuff, like jihad.
    Discussing the history of the Palestinian issue, Fadlallah said that the problem with Arabs is that they always react rather than have their own plan. He lamented their disorganization in the face of the Zionist project, which was carefully designed 100 years ago.
    Yasss. Obviously Zionism is a carefully laid plot, a hundred years old, perpetrated against the innocent Arabs, and they have to form their own counterplot to foil it. This is a world view that gives psychosis a bad name.
    “The international game began, and Zionism started interfering in the Arab and Islamic world, instigating sectarian friction and introducing the fever of military coups and ideologies,” Fadlallah said.

    Over the last 50 years, the Arabs chose to act within small circles that eventually crippled them and induced them to fight wars against each other and boycott one another, Fadlallah said.
    Damn those Jews for introducing military dictatorships, assassination, bad faith, wars, pestilence, a crummy educational system, and mistreating women! Wait. Strike that last one. Arabs don't mistreat women. Anyway, all the problems of the Muslim world can be laid at the door of the Jews, except for the ones that can be laid at the door of the Americans.
    Iranian cleric Sayyed Ali Akbar Mohtashami, invited ulema to promote the creation of a fund for the support of Palestine. He also criticized the American bias toward Israel as well as America’s actions in the United Nations.
    Yes! Yes! We need more contributions! Why, there are holy men living on meager salaries. There are gunmen whose families are going hungry. Give 'til it hurts, brother! (that's a quote from the eminent Muslim cleric Ali Akhbar Gantry)
    “Many countries and organizations have been urging the United Nations and the Security Council, since the beginning of the uprising, to send supervisors to the occupied land and to put an end to the massacres taking place there. This has repeatedly been vetoed by the United States,” he said, asking rhetorically whether the US was a member of the UN or controlled the world body.
    Yes to the former, no to the latter. It would seem that people who practice self-detonation would be able to control the urge themselves. And when peacekeepers were sent to Lebanon they were blown up by suicide bombers.
    Mohtashami also said the international community was well aware that Palestinian resistance was a legitimate right, “a right also stipulated by the UN charter.”
    Just as Israel's right to exist is recognized in a UN resolution, though not quite as unequivocably. Clausewitz described war as diplomacy by other means, but then he was a westerner, so what the hell did he know?
    Sheikh Yehia Ismail Ahmad, secretary-general of the Azhar Ulema, invited all Muslims and Arabs to join forces and criticized Washington’s handling of the Palestinian issue.
    And Washington should roundly criticize the Arabs' handling of the Palestinian issue. There's a tit for your tat.
    Ahmad said that while many Palestinian mothers are not able to find anyone to cry with them over the loss of their sons and daughters in the conflict, former US President Bill Clinton recently issued a statement to mark the loss of his dog.
    The dog was hit by a car. He didn't blow himself up. Well, maybe he did stage a suicide attack on a Buick, but he didn't know any better. Perhaps the Palestinians don't, either?
    Speaking on behalf of the Syrian Mufti Ahmad Kaftaro, Sheikh Raja Dib invited Arabs and Muslims to overcome their differences and to cooperate in order to reach victory. “Our world is witnessing a peculiar situation where the colonial media describes the resistance of unarmed citizens as terrorism,” Dib said.
    Our world is also witnessing a peculiar situation in which the Arabs somehow confuse Kalashnikov-totin' yahoos strapped with dynamite with unarmed citizens. If they were truly unarmed, if they were (dare we suggest it?) non-violent there would be lots of room to talk and lots of room to criticize Israel. But you can't have "armed struggle" without occasional 50-ton shipments of armaments, can you?
    Anti-Terror Operations
    Somalia already getting too hot to hold the snuffies... Somali PM sez they're cleaning up the act... Still bombing Khost cave complex... Terrorist havens shutting down...
  • Warlords from Somalia and terrorists linked to the al Qaeda network have been spotted moving from the African state to nearby nations. A group was spotted recently as they fled to Yemen. The Somalian fighters' movement comes amid growing reports that the United States is considering military operations against al Qaeda terrorists in that country. They are now on the run. What a nice feeling. Just hope they don't let them stop to regroup.
  • The president of Somalia's transitional government ruled out any US strike on his country, which he said no longer harbors terrorist organisations. "We have succeeded in opening a direct dialogue with the Americans and we do not think the United States will carry out any kind of strike against Somalia," Abdulkassim Salat Hassan said. "Somalia no longer harbours camps of al-Qaeda network. Somalia is in the anti-terrorist camp." Somalia's Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah said Sunday that "bin Laden can't come to Somalia and get safe haven... We have trained 26,000 police. We can find and arrest anyone they tell us to." Fine. Start with Mohammad Aideed. We'd like his head on a platter with an apple in his mouth. When you've got him, we'll tell you who to go after next. Better hurry, before they're all gone to Yemen. Must say, they seem to be taking it a lot more seriously than the mullahs did.
  • Bombing raids were carried out for a fifth day against a large cave complex in eastern Afghanistan where al Qaeda and Taliban forces have been trying to regroup. U.S. warplanes attacked the complex near Zhawar Kili, destroying several buildings, defense officials said. Mopping up Afghanistan will take a long time - and it doesn't look like we're going to get any help from the Pashtun section of the country. If the Bad Guys can stage a single major success, it'll be a propaganda victory for them that could cause some of the Taliban to "unsurrender."
  • Christian Science Monitor has an analysis piece that says terrorist havens have begun shutting down around the world. Countries such as Yemen and Sudan are at least attempting a crackdown. Countries that have battled insurgencies with terrorist links - the Philippines, for one - are eager to redouble their efforts, with increased U.S. help. Yeah. But let up in our efforts for a month or two and they'll start crawling back out from under their rocks. The hardest part about sustaining this war will be when they're in hiding and the public can't see a danger remaining. Attention's already turned from al-Qaeda to Cornell West and Paula Zahn, both of which "controversies" make the Condit affair look substantial. Mickey Kaus was just off by a couple months.

    India-Pakistan
    Pak to adopt a moderate path?... Musharraf gets go-ahead to ban Bad Guys from military... Bhutto's party calls for independent election commission, dropping of charges... Pak jugs another Jaish biggie...
  • President Pervez Musharraf will tell his countrymen this week that after 20 years of rampant extremism, the South Asian nation will return to its original values as a modern, tolerant Islamic state, according to the country's foreign minister. "We are reverting to the dream of our founding father who envisaged Pakistan as a moderate and progressive Islamic state based on principles of freedom and tolerance," Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar said in an interview yesterday. "The subject of his speech will be militancy and extremism." That would indicate a sea change in Pak policy. It should also fire up all the religious lunatics against Musharraf. It'll be interesting to see if he can hold it together.
  • President Musharraf approved various steps to curb sectarian terrorism, religious extremism and ensure law and order in the country due to intense international pressure. The go ahead for these steps was given by the President in the concluding session of two-day Corps Commanders Conference at the General Headquarters. "These steps or recommendations were about banning the extremist organisations and after the approval... some of the extremist religious parties and groups are expectedly to be banned." The meeting discussed the law and order situation in the county in detail and agreed that stern actions must be taken to curb sectarian terrorism and religious extremism. Could be the generals have finally realized the religious lunatics were doing too much damage to the country. Who wants to be another Afghanistan?
  • Pakistan Peoples Party in its Provisional Cabinet meeting has urged the present government to hold general elections under independent commission and withdraw all "fabricated" charges against their party leader Benazir Bhutto. Might as well bite the bullet and get it over with. Musharraf's going to need their support to hold things together when the fundos go nuts.
  • Pakistan police have arrested a senior Jaish-e-Mohammad leader, Hasan Barki. Barki was arrested here on his arrival from Bahawalpur, a town in Punjab province where Jaish has its headquarters. With his arrest, almost all major leaders of the terrorist outfit have been detained by the government. During the past few days, Barki had been speaking to the press about his group's resolve to carry on with its militant attacks in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. Now he can carry on his attacks from the jug. Here's hoping the Paks keep him there for awhile. They sure are starting to look sincere in their cleanup. If they turn over the Most Wanted list, the ball will be in India's court.

    Middle East
    Congressmen dump meeting with Yasser...
  • Three U.S. lawmakers canceled a planned meeting with Chairmain-for-Life Yasser Arafat, saying Israeli officials have convinced them Arafat was behind an attempt to smuggle 50 tons of weapons from Iran. Rep. Peter Deutsch, D-Fla., said he and two other members of the House canceled their Thursday meeting with Arafat after an Israeli military intelligence briefing. Deutsch called the shipment "a watershed incident" in Israeli-Palestinian relations and said it also threatened U.S. contacts with Arafat. "This action has, I believe, already begun a re-evaluation in the administration and the State Department of the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and with Yasser Arafat," Deutsch said. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., were also to have attended the meeting with Arafat. Yasser has managed to step in it pretty deep this time. It'll probably be three, maybe even four months before the incident's forgotten.
  • Israel's attorney general will press criminal charges against the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikremeh Sabri, for allegedly breaking the national law against terror. The mufti is a Palestine Liberation Organization appointee. In Islamic law, a mufti is an attorney who writes opinions on legal subjects to help judges decide cases. Charges have not yet been filed. It's not clear what kind of penalty Sabri might face. However, police investigated a meeting that Sabri allegedly held in Lebanon with Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Sabri has allegedly publicly called for the destruction of the United States, Great Britain and Israel. Israel has also accused Ahmad Jamus of sedition for allegedly calling for attacks on Jews in public sermons at the Al-Aksa mosque in Jerusalem. Jamus is one of Sabri's deputies. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to host someone who's calling for your destruction. And it doesn't seem particularly courteous to call for the destruction of the people hosting you.

    Terror Networks
    Lashkar Jihad still operating on Sulawesi...
  • New York Times carries an article on Lashkar Jihad and its war against Christians on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. "Although both sides suspect provocateurs, with either a local or national agenda, no one seems to be able to say who is stoking the conflict." Yet another tiresome jihad by the put-upon Islamists against their oppressive neighbors, complete with the traditional beheadings. This is another organized atrocity that should be dying down shortly after the funding is cut off.

    Home Front
    US blocks phony Islamic "charities"...
  • The U.S. government blocked the financial assets of two organizations and two individuals suspected of financing terrorism. The order applied to two organizations: the Afghan Support Committee and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society. The committee, which the government said bin Laden set up, has offices in Peshawar, Pakistan, and Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The action affected the society's offices in Pakistan and Afghanistan but not in Kuwait. The two individuals named in the order are Abu Bakr Al-Jaziri of Peshawar, whom the government said is the finance chief of the Afghan Support Committee and also had served as bin Laden's chief fund-raiser; and Abd al-Mushin Al-Libi, whom the government said runs the Pakistan office of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society and manages the Afghan Support Committee's office in Peshawar. These individuals and organizations "have been stealing from widows and orphans to fund al Qaeda terrorism," Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill said. Gosh. Wotta surprise. Stealing from widows and orphans? Who'da thunk it?

    International
    Indonesia rediscovers Muslim moderation... Saudis tell Turkey to butt out... Nazareth Islamist leader tells Pope to butt out... Bush tells Iran to butt out...
  • In Indonesia, moderate Muslims have begun rediscovering their moderation as often violent support for Islamic extremists appears to have peaked. Tamalia Alisjahbana has collected 10,000 signatures for a petition against religious extremism that she plans to present to President Megawati Sukarnoputri. The petition opposes severing diplomatic relations with the United States and asks the government to protect foreign nationals in the country, after hundreds of U.S. and other foreign workers fled in fear over the angry protests. How nice. Where the hell were you when they were chasing the foreigners out of the country? How do you know we want diplomatic relations with you? It's amazing how a single successful military campaign can shift the onus of pleasing from one party to the other. It's about damned time somebody worried about "the volatile American street."
  • Saudi Arabia hit back at Turkish protests over the demolition of an Ottoman-era fort in Makkah, telling Ankara not to meddle in its internal affairs and saying the fort would be rebuilt in due course. "The Kingdom was only exercising its sovereignty over its territory," Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments Saleh Al-Sheikh said. "No one has the right to interfere in what comes under the state’s authority." The Ajyad fort will be rebuilt by experts in the same traditional way it was first built and at the same site, albeit not on the Bulbul Hill, Al-Sheikh said. And they complain about arrogant Westerners? And how does one rebuild an ancient fortress that's been demolished? One might build it anew, in the same style, but then it won't be "ancient." It will be "new."
  • Salman Abu Ahmed, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nazareth, accused Christian leaders including the pope and the top Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, of exerting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to halt construction of a controversial mosque near a major Christian shrine in Nazareth. "We are very surprised that the pope stood against our right to build the mosque," Abu Ahmed said. "There are no problems between Christians and Muslims in Nazareth. It's only Christian leaders like the pope and Michel Sabbah who have a problem with the building of the mosque." The Vatican declined to comment on the situation. It was beneath their dignity to comment. More of that damned Western arrogance. Y'see, it's Western arrogance whenever an Islamist rabble rouser can't have his way. And it's impossible for a Muslim to be arrogant, 'cuz Islam's a peaceful religion and ours - whatever the hell it is - isn't.
  • President Bush, in a blunt warning to Iran, said the U.S.-led coalition "will deal with them diplomatically, initially" if Tehran tries to destabilize war-torn Afghanistan. Bush delivered the warning as administration officials fretted over reports that Iran is trying to challenge the authority of the interim government in Afghanistan, and may be giving safe harbor to al-Qaida terrorist leaders fleeing U.S. and allied military troops there. "Diplomatically, initially" is a subtle way of saying "knock it off or we'll twist your nose." Great Satans have long memories. Sometimes we can remember 20 years back.
  • Wednesday, January 09, 2002

    Indo-Pak
    Paks set up moderate committee on Kashmir... Shoot-out at Kashmir mosque... Jaish and Lashkar to be shut down?... Four Lashkar deaders in Kashmir, two real people... LLTE is funded by ISI, armed by al-Qaeda...
  • In an attempt to alter the extremist image of Kashmiri militancy, the Pakistan government constituted a National Kashmir Committee to be headed by former president of Pakistan occupied Kashmir Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan, who is opposed to involvement of hardline Islamic militant groups in the Kashmir insurgency. That's a nice conciliatory move. We imagine there will be others. Musharraf looks like he's serious.
  • One of two militants holed up in a mosque in Kashmir was killed and the other surrendered after an encounter with security forces. The encouter followed when security forces surrounded the mosque in which militants fleeing a search operation had taken refuge. The incident took place in Bamrada village, 40 km northwest of Srinagar. "We called on the militants to give themselves up, and they responded with gunfire," a senior district police official said. After a series of similar incidents, the authorities warned last year they would neutralise any militants using mosques as a place of refuge during encounters with the security forces. It's extra propaganda points if you can get a few bullet holes in the local mosque.
  • General Pervez Musharraf will announce a ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba on Saturday, official sources said in Islamabad. The long-awaited speech on a new terrorism policy will also include bans on two domestic sectarian terrorist groups, Tehrik-i-Fiqah Jafaria and Sipahi Sahaba. That single move should defuse the tensions between the two countries, assuming he follows through and actually shuts them down. They will, of course, try to come back under assumed names, but that can be dealt with if the Paks are really serious.
  • Six people, including four Lashkar-e-Tayyeba militants, were killed in separate incidents in Kashmir valley. Yes. It would be nice to be rid of them for good. There are lots of other problems both Pakistan and India could be working on.
  • The Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam is an Inter-Services Intelligence-aided terrorist outfit, former Union law minister Dr Subramanian Swamy charged in an interview with an Indian publication. "Recently, an Afghan diplomat told me that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda supplied the LTTE with weapons. Today, the LTTE has run out of funds, as its channels of funding have been choked by the United States-led campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan. It is for this reason that the LTTE is practically suing for peace with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe." Thought their turnabout was pretty abrupt. Didn't know about the ISI involvement but it's believable. LLTE has been bad news for another perfectly nice country that didn't deserve to have someone else's problems exported to it. Just another argument in favor of disbanding ISI - which remains politically impossible for Musharraf.

    Middle East
    Ceasefire has ceased: Hamas gunnies hit Israeli army post...
  • Hamas gunmen killed four Israeli soldiers in the first successful attack into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. The two gunmen disguised as police officers attacked the army post outside the kibbutz of Kerem Shalom, across the border from Rafah, before being gunned down themselves by the Israeli army. All four soldiers killed, including an officer, were Bedouin Arabs serving in the Israeli army. The army commander of southern Israel, General Doron Almog, accused Salah Shahadeh, a close associate of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassine, of planning the attack and demanded that the Palestinian Authority arrest him. The PA leadership condemned the attack and vowed to crack down on any violation of the ceasefire ordered by Arafat. "We do not accept under any pretext this violation of our national decision to decree the ceasefire and we will act against any damage to our security," it said in a statement. Facts of life, Middle East style: Any kind of a peace will be harmful to the "clergy" and political hacks who control the snuffies. If peace were to come about through some accident, the justification for their funding would go away. The hard boys themselves come cheap and they're disposable, but it takes a lot of money from "charitable donations" to buy all those arms and ammunition, even more to keep the top leadership living in the style to which they've become accustomed.

    The Alliance
    Law and order to come to Kabul?... Marine aircraft down in Pakistan... Karzai says Afghanistan to follow the free market... Turkey sez for Islamist party leader to step down... Brits freeze charity funds for al-Qaeda involvement...
  • A US Marine Corps KC-130 air refueling aircraft carrying seven marines crashed into a mountain while making an approach to land at a forward operating base in southwestern Pakistan. TV news reports say all crewmen are presumed dead.
  • Interior Minister Yunus Qanooni has ordered the Afghan military to quit Kabul within three days and leave security duties in the capital to Afghan police and an international peacekeeping force, his ministry said. Permits to carry weapons have already been prepared to prevent "irresponsible" people from bearing arms inside Kabul. The International Security Assistance Force is expected to number some 4,500 troops by the end of this month. The force's powers will be limited to "assist in the maintenance of the security" in Kabul and its surroundings. Qanooni is another of the Good Guys in the Afghan drama - another Masood protege. He had his police force put together and trained before they took Kabul.
  • In his first televised address to the nation Hamid Karzai said his administration supports a free market. "Social and economic progress in our country is dependent on a free market economy and private sector development," he told Afghan Television. "The government will lessen its interference in economic affairs. This will pave the way for freedom and private sector initiative... The people will be allowed to take part in a free press. I agree with the constitution and I respect it." Freedom of economy and speech, he cautioned however, was limited by "national interest". He did not elaborate. Karzai said the greatest threat to peace and security in the country was the number of guns on the streets. He said he had given instructions to his security chiefs that armed factions should be incorporated into a national army as soon as possible. Karzai has a tough row to hoe. Chances are he won't succeed - but if he does, think what an example to the rest of the Muslim world! If the energy and resources they put into making war were to go into commerce, they'd become a rich nation.
  • Turkey's top court ruled that the leader of a popular pro-Islamic party violated laws by founding the party -- a ruling that could force the politician to step down as the party's chief. The Constitutional Court said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the Justice and Development Party, was banned from being among the party's founding members because of a prior conviction for inciting religious hatred. Turkey takes this stuff seriously. What's scary is that they've been taking it seriously since the 1920s, and it's still not gone away.
  • The government froze the assets of a Muslim charity in Britain after a similarly named U.S. group was designated a terrorist organization with alleged links to the al-Qaida network. The Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage, based in Stratford, east London, is being investigated by the government Charity Commission for possible links with the U.S.-based Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, which the U.S. Treasury placed on its list of designated terrorist organizations. "Your pledge of just $500 a month can pay the salary of this gunman!"

    International
    Somalia's been warned - again... Sudan sez "Let's talk about what terrorism is... Human rights group demands UN do something about Jihad regimes...
  • The United States has warned several countries, especially Somalia, they must deny safe haven to terrorists if they want to avoid becoming targets in the US war on terrorism, Secretary of State Colin Powell told The Washington Times. But... but... But there's nobody there but them chickens! They said so!
  • East African foreign ministers approved a Sudanese proposal calling for an international conference on terrorism. The announcement came after a closed-door meeting of the ministerial council of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) ahead of a summit of the seven-member grouping. The proposal calls for holding an international conference for the "identification of terrorism" and for fighting it "within international legitimacy". IGAD comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. This is another proposal to talk about the subject endlessly, arguing over definitions, rather than doing anything about it. The US is using a working definition of terrorism right now: People who slam civil aircraft into buildings. Seems pretty simple.
  • The Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights urged the United Nations to appoint someone to investigate what it called "jihad violence" against non-Muslims and moderate Muslims in several Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries. At a rally outside United Nations headquarters, speakers from Afghanistan to Indonesia to Sudan cited the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States by suspected Islamic militants as even more reason for the world to pay attention to allegations of persecution in majority-Muslim countries. In a letter delivered at the U.N. gates to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the group demanded that he appoint a special rapporteur to examine "the status and conditions of non-Muslim minorities, women, and humanist, moderate Muslims in states ruled by Islamic majorities." What an interesting development - a human rights group that's concerned with human rights! They're right, too. Sufis and other Muslim minorities take it just as hard as the Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Ba'hais.

    Home Front
    Moussaoui wants TV trial, just like OJ got... Heavily armed loon worked in nuclear power plant...
  • Lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui, the first person indicted in the Sept. 11 attacks, supported a legal bid to televise and increase public access to his trial, saying it would enhance the fairness of the landmark case. But the U.S. government argued against making an exception to the rule that prohibits cameras in federal court, saying televising the conspiracy trial set for October could endanger jurors, witnesses and court officials. "If you don't acquit, your car might explode. Nothing to do with us, of course."
  • A former nuclear plant mechanic with a massive arsenal of more than 200 weapons was arrested for allegedly threatening workers and supervisors after he was fired from the San Onofre power plant in Southern California. The 43-year-old man, who authorities declined to name, was arrested on Tuesday. Deputies found a cache of 200 weapons, including assault rifles and grenades, and thousands of rounds of ammunition at his home in Laguna Niguel and at a rented storage facility. Hmmm. No. We probably didn't want him working at a nuclear power plant. Don't think we wanted him working at the local gas station, for that matter.
  • Joanne Jacobs sez "This is the key difference between anti-idiots and idiotarians: We like to make distinctions. Idiotarians can't tell X (animals, targeting civilians, requiring burqas, etc.) from Y (people, trying to avoid civilian casualties, allowing bikinis, etc.). -- 1/8", thereby igniting universal agreement. This is the failure I was blogging about a few days ago to make the elementary distinctions of logic: "Socrates is a man, but all men are not Socrates." A closely allied lifeform is the Ideot, which substitutes ideology for thought.

    Tuesday, January 08, 2002

    India-Pakistan
    Israel-Indo line up against terror networks... Two Pak gunnies dead in army camp attack... Jammu organization sez Indos should just get it over with and declare war... Jaish sez crackdown will make no difference... Pak Muslim League agrees... Sikhs signing up in Punjab... Mid Easterners arrested in India on document charges... Pak Muslim League trying to consolidate factions to oppose Bhutto's party...
  • Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Indian leaders exchanged views on the war against terrorism - a priority for both nations as they fight militant groups accused of deadly attacks on their soil. "The world is not divided between East and West," Peres said after meeting with Home Minister L.K. Advani. "The world has a new division now, the countries that harbour terrorism and the countries that fight terrorism." Beginning of a new logical world alignment. It'll be interesting to see who's on which side ten years from now. Being against terrorism is, of course, a sure sign of being a Zionist conspirator. Vajpayee will probably be discovered by the Pak or Saudi press to be secretly Jewish, or at least on the payroll of International Zionism.
  • A three-member suicide squad made an abortive bid to storm the Indian Army's Brigade Headquarters at Kupwara in north Kashmir triggering an exchange of fire that left two snuffies and a soldier dead. The heavily-armed gunnies in combat fatigues drove a stolen car to the main gate of the camp masquerading as security personnel. But they were intercepted by troops manning the traffic check-point near the main gate. One of the militants got off the vehicle and opened fire as the other two attempted to sneak into the camp. Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the strike. One of the deaders was from Pak-occupied Kashmir, the other was a Pak.
  • The Jammu Mukti Morcha has urged the Indian government to end the menace of terrorism once and for all by launching a war against Pakistan. ‘‘A war with Pakistan would be cheaper than being bogged down continuously in counter-insurgency operations,’’ JMM chief Virender Gupta said. Army personnel have remained deployed throughout Jammu and Kashmir for over a decade to counter terrorism, and over 35,000 people killed. He does have a point. Which makes more sense, fighting a war and losing 35,000 people or not fighting a war and losing the same numbers over a longer period, but with the prospect of losing more?
  • Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad has threatened to intensify its activities: "Our target now will be the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy besides Indian Army and paramilitary forces," JeM chief in Jammu and Kashmir Abu Hijrat said. "The crackdown by Pakistani government on the JeM and Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) will not make any difference as far as jehadi organisations are concerned." Dunno if you guys want to do that. They're a lot better armed than women and children and your other usual targets.
  • A senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League said that action against Pakistani groups will have no impact on the Kashmir freedom struggle. Muhammad Ejaz-ul Haq said he that Kashmir's "freedom struggle," being indigenous, would be unaffected by Pakistani government measures. The senior PML vice-president said, "Killing of over 80 thousand Kashmiri people during the armed struggle was a testimony to the fact that it [the movement] was indigenous and Pakistan was extending only moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris. You saw reports of Egyptians, Palestinians and people from other countries being killed in Afghanistan but no such instance could be traced in Kashmir." On the other hand, there are lots of Pakistani dead, and the planning and money boys aren't necessarily the same as the trigger boys.
  • Thousands of men from Punjab villages near the border with Pakistan streamed into an army recruitment center to volunteer for the Indian army. The seven-day recruitment drive is aimed at Sikhs, who are famous for their bravery in wartime and have historically made up a large proportion of the 1.2 million force. That's the bad part about being an Islamic state: you're limited in your choice of tough guys.
  • Two Jordanians and a Palestinian were arrested in a northern Indian town for allegedly carrying fake passports, according to police who said they were questioning them over suspected links to the militant Hamas group. The three were arrested by Indian intelligence police in Lucknow on charges of tampering with their passports and visa fraud. Wonder who's financing their travels through the mysterious East?
  • Faced with a difficult October 2002 general elections scenario, the Pakistan Muslim League is trying to unify and merge smaller factions into its fold. Daily Jang says that the move is at the intigation of the military government in order to contain the Pakistan People's Party in the coming polls. Golly. What a surprise. Some things are just too predictable. That produces the counterforce to pull Musharraf back toward the fundos, which means more pressure to support the gunnies in Kashmir. It'll be interesting to see what kind of coalition actually grows up.

    Terror Networks
    Philippine troops bump off 11 Moro Liberation snuffies... A dozen dead in Chechen siege... Baker bumped off in Kosovo...
  • Philippine army troops clashed with Muslim rebels, killing at least 11 guerrillas believed to support a renegade former governor. The fighting in a mountainous area straddling three towns in Sulu wounded at least four soldiers, the officials said. Soldiers also recovered firearms left by the guerrillas, who were being pursued by troops. Abu Sayyaf rebels were with followers of Nur Misuari, a former governor of an autonomous Muslim region now accused of ordering attacks on government troops to disrupt November elections. Yeah. If I can't be governor, ain't nobody gonna be governor. So take that, you Infidels!
  • At least two-dozen people were killed in continuing violence in Chechnya, where Russian forces are conducting a manhunt for rebels. 12 Chechen rebels were killed Monday, the Orthodox Christmas, in Argun. One of the dead was identified as a Chechen commander, Magomed Gutsuiyev. Russian federal forces have encircled Argun since Saturday, allowing only women, children and the eldery to move in and out of the city. Some 40 people have been brought in for questioning. Sounds like some sort of profiling. No doubt they should be severely censured. An e-mail campaign will surely follow.
  • In Kosovo, a booby-trapped grenade strapped to the front door of a bakery killed a Serbian man in Kamenica, igniting fresh concerns over brewing ethnic violence in the region. United Nations police said they have no suspects in the death of the 35-year-old owner of Zeka Bakery. Investigators from 66th Military Police Company, along with U.N. and local authorities, combed through the rubble in search of clues. Could be they didn't like his pies, more likely they didn't like his nationality. Still way too many hard boys running around Kosovo.

    The Alliance
    Taliban made off with all the cash on the way out the door... Taliban muckety-mucks surrender... Kandahar hospital stand-off: And then there were six... NGOs stealing bread out of the mouths of the hungry in Afghanistan... US forces catch another 14 al-Qaeda gunnies... US gets Hot Pursuit agreement from Pakland... Indonesian religious fanatics decry insidious American plot... "We'll take you to court!" Malay fundos threaten... Saudis won't change curriculum for the West... Syria taking baby steps to lighten up... Willing to help US against Bad Guys... Tehran doesn't want a Jew as British ambassador... Somalis say they like us, so don't bomb, okay?...
  • Washington Post runs a front-page article on how the mullahs looted the country as the going got tough. They hauled the money away in sacks, five and six million dollars at a time, totaling around $100 million. That's a lot of protection money. And a nice little retirement fund when Mullah Omar turns up in Monaco or Biarritz with a shave and a bath and a new wifelet or two.
  • Three former ministers from Afghanistan's Taliban government have surrendered to authorities in Kandahar. “Among those who surrendered were former minister of defence Mullah Ubai Dullah, minister of justice Mullah Turabi and minister of mines and industry, Mullah Saadudin,” a spokesman said. Separately, an Afghan tribal commander said the head of the Taliban's information department and one of their senior spokesmen, Abdul Hayee Motmain, had been detained and handed over to US forces. Did any of them bring any of the money they stole when they left town?
  • In Kandahar, a heavily armed al-Qaida fighter blew himself up rather than be captured as he tried to escape from a hospital where he and six comrades have taken over a ward. Mohammad Rasool jumped from the second-story window at Mir Wais Hospital, found himself surrounded by guards and detonated a grenade, killing himself. The al-Qaida fighters in the hospital have held off guards for weeks by threatening to kill themselves if approached. Goodbye, Mohammad. It wasn't pleasant knowing you. Give our regards to your 72-year-old virgin.
  • U.S. forces operating in the Khost region captured 14 al-Qaida fighters without resistance, including two thought to be senior figures. The two were taken to the Marine base at Kandahar airport for interrogation, along with cell phones and laptops found with them. No telling what happened to the others. It probably wasn't pleasant. Welcome to your shipping container, boys.
  • Some international aid agency personnel are joining warlords in stealing and remarketing vast amounts of donated wheat and other rations destined for Afghanistan, according to UN officials. Because of pilfering, some food shipments have dwindled by more than half on their long journey from donors to the hungry, more than 20 aid officials and villagers said in interviews. ''In reality, there is a big loss of food,'' said Atiq Ullah Muhmond, a program officer for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees. ''There is a lot of corruption. It's the NGOs,'' or nongovernmental organizations; ''it's people with guns. We are trying to minimize it, but we can't stop it. We have no other alternative; we haven't had the international staff recently to oversee what is going on.'' No doubt Chomsky and company will get right on this. Sounds like some sort of silent genocide by NGOs.
  • US troops are set to pursue enemy leaders into Pakistan as fears grow that Osama bin Laden and some of his key lieutenants have escaped over the border. General Tommy Franks, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said Pakistan had agreed that US troops can cross the border to work alongside Pakistani troops attempting to follow al-Qaeda terrorists and Taliban fighters. "We could contact [Pakistan] and say, all right, we are observing people and we are going to follow them into Pakistan," he said in an interview. Wonder how long they've been working to set that up? Big concession from the Paks, but something that should have been worked out a month ago.
  • Leaders of Muslim groups in Indonesia, including two of the country's largest, said the arrest of militants in Singapore and Malaysia was part of a United States-led conspiracy against Islam. Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, together with the Indonesian Ulema Council, outfits operating on the fringe and some legislators, criticized the detentions. The comments suggest that it might be difficult for the Malaysian authorities to gain access to two Indonesians identified as "directing figures" of the detained militants. These are Indonesian Mujahiddin Council Head Abu Bakar Bashir alias Abdus Samad, and preacher Hambali alias Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin -- both of whom are said to be in Solo, central Java. Din Syamsuddin, secretary general of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the nation's top Islamic authority, said that since the Sept 11 attacks on America, Washington and its allies appeared to be "finding fault" with Islam. Our dead and maimed, and our seeming offense with their gunmen and mad bombers are just a pretext. The real reason for the American war against terror is that we don't like them. Never have, never will. If it was Lutheran nut jobs grabbing their AKs at every turn and rushing out to indulge in "armed struggle" by killing people indiscriminately we'd be doing nothing about it. Everybody knows that.
  • Malaysia's main opposition party, the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) gave the Singapore Straits Times seven days to publicly apologize over an article allegedly linking the party with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Describing the article which appeared on Jan 4 as defamatory and libelous, party Secretary General Nasharudin Mat Isa said Pas' lawyers would file a suit against the writer, publisher and printer of the newspaper if they failed to apologize before the deadline. The article stated that Al-Qaeda has established political ties with PAS and military links with Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia. Nasharudin added that PAS, as an Islamic party, abhorred violence. Well, taking them to court is better than bombing their offices. Very unusual for fundos. And we've seen how the fundos engage in non-violent fist shaking, gun-totin', and bombing campaigns. Oh, and let us not forget the Philippine fundos' cute habit of kidnaping people and cutting off their heads.
  • Saudi Minister of Education Muhammad Al-Rasheed denied the Saudi school curriculum would be overhauled in the wake of criticisms from Western countries. "Our curriculum is based on well-established principles, determined by our needs and the requirements of our society," Al-Rasheed said. "No one has the right to interfere in our (internal) issues or dictate to us what he wants," the minister said. Saudi Arabia has reacted angrily to Western claims that the religious-orientated education system in the Kingdom breeds extremists and needs to be changed. Go ahead. Keep cranking out those majors in religious studies and ordnance. There's nothing to worry about. Actually, they're making changes, but they won't link it to 9-11 or OBL, just saving a little face while preserving a little self.
  • Syria appears to be taking steps to allow a degree of secular opposition, while excluding the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Eight Nasserist, Arab nationalist and Communist parties have been allowed to set up offices and publish their own newspapers, and they have been given access to campuses. Well, this is a good time to do it. Opening up political discussion across a narrow (but still wider) spectrum will let some of the pressure for change off the regime and might even lead to a two-party system - though not anytime soon and without any wide disparity between philosophies. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood people aren't looking as good as they did a few months ago. People running around hollering "jihad" look a lot more like insular, brutal yokels than daring freedom fighters.
  • Daily Jang reports Syria is willing to come on board with the US. President Bashar al-Assad said after a meeting with a visiting US congressional delegation that "Syria is willing to cooperate with any country in the struggle against terrorism." Assad urged the United States to "take advantage Syria's successful experiences," apparently referring to the bloody repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria at the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s. The Brotherhood, which had been accused of carrying out terror attacks in Syria, was dissolved, its members jailed or forced into exile. Make friends with them in this case and then get to work on them to wedge them out from under Iran's wing. And as an added bonus, they'd be happy to see Iraq beaten up.
  • A diplomatic storm is brewing between Britain and Iran, over Tehran's refusal to accept the appointment of David Reddaway as the new British ambassador to Iran. According to the daily Jomhuri Islami, Iran has stated that Reddaway, who is the director of public services in the British Foreign Office, "is a Jew, who is an MI6 agent." In response, Britain is threatening to downgrade diplomatic ties if Reddaway is not acknowledged by Tehran. Oh, a little outright racism never hurt anyone's diplomatic relations. Sure hope the Brits don't roll over on this one - it'll mean Britannia's spine is entirely gone.
  • "When we heard what happened with the twin towers on the radio, we were very, very sorry," emphasizes the local imam in the Somaili village of El Wak, Sheikh Ali Abdi Mohammad. "We like America very much, and we invite you to like us too. Anyway, Islam cannot allow for any killing. That is not what I preach." Al Ittihad was expelled from the village more than two years ago by a coalition of local tribes and the Ethiopians. "Those days are gone" says District Commissioner Yussuf Haji Osman. "We did not welcome them then, we would not do so now." Amazing what a good bombing campaign can do somewhere else. We remember how well you liked us when we were delivering groceries ten years ago, and then thanked us by dragging our boys' bodies through the streets. We remember.
  • Monday, January 07, 2002

    India-Pakistan
    Musharraf rejects all terrorism, not just the kind he doesn't like... Musharraf and Vajpayee meet... Pak reviewing Indo Most Wanted list... Jamiat Ulema Pakistan religious fanatics support their government against India... Muslim League religious fanatics don't...
  • Pakistan's president declared that his country rejects all forms of terrorism, for the first time making no attempt to exclude Islamic militants whose conflict with India over the disputed territory of Kashmir has brought the nations to the brink of war. The statement followed a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose visits to India and Pakistan over the past two days turned into an exercise in shuttle diplomacy aimed at defusing simmering tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. Musharraf told reporters in Islamabad: "We are taking steps within Pakistan to bring some degree of normalcy, balance, introducing a tolerant society, checking any form of militancy. All that is being addressed and a final decision will be given when I come and address the nation in a few days' time." Good move, Mr. President General. You won't regret it, unless one of the armed religious lunatics running around your country shoots you. Hope the cleanup operation goes well.
  • A brief meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan failed to resolve a standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbors. The private meeting at a regional summit in Nepal was the first between Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf since both countries put their armies on war alert last month. Can't expect the problem to be resolved in a single meeting. At least they're talking. That's better than making faces at each other while they point rockets.
  • In an apparent climbdown from his hardline stand, President Musharraf said his government was "in the process" of analysing the cases of 20 individuals whose extradition has been demanded by India. Musharraf's remarks came a day after he had during the just-concluded SAARC summit in Kathmandu rejected handing over any of the 20 people India wants for their involvement in the December 13 attack on Parliament, 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, 1999 Kandahar hijacking and other crimes. What a good move. You don't need them in Pakistan, anyway, and the Indos can probably find something to do with them.
  • Chief of Jamiat Ulema Pakistan and United Front, an umbrella organization of six religious parties, Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani has assured every possible cooperation and help to the government to ensure national security. Addressing the central, provincial and district leaders of JUP, he said the masses including the workers of all religious parties would join the Pakistan army against any Indian misadventure to defend the homeland. Well, that's certainly a comfort. The religious fanatics are hoping they'll find it easier bumping off Hindus than they did fighting jihad against the Americans.
  • Pakistan Muslim League has condemned Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his arrogant attitude and muffled threats to Pakistan during the SAARC meeting despite the continuous endeavors of Pakistan to avert a war in the region. Muhammad Siddique-ul-Farooque said that as long as the country was under the subjugation of rootless and unrepresentative rulers, India would continue taking Pakistan and all its peace overtures for a ride. He said that the weak and apologetic foreign policy of Pakistan had emboldened India to attack Pakistan any time. He said General Musharraf still had time to quit and save Pakistan otherwise he would add another chapter of woes to the history of the country like his predecessors. Yes. Musharraf should quit immediately and hand power over to Muhammad Siddique-ul-Farooque. That will certainly defuse any tension in the area.

    Middle East
    Palestinian ship captain sings... Yasser to investigate...
  • The Palestinian captain of a ship seized by Israel with 50 tons of offensive weapons on board said in jailhouse interviews that the shipment was intended for the Palestinians and that he got his smuggling instructions from a Palestinian Authority official. Kinda dents the "It wasn't us" claim, doesn't it? Still cold with your pants down, ain't it, Yasser?
  • Presiden-for-Life Yasser Arafat announced he was launching an internal investigation into Israel's seizure of a ship the Israelis said was smuggling arms, and vowed to punish anyone involved. The Palestinian Authority, which has denied Israeli charges that Arafat and other leaders were behind the alleged smuggling attempt, took action after meeting U.S., European and Russian officials seeking to end more than 15 months of bloodshed. No doubt they'll be shocked - Shocked! - at what they find.

    Terror Networks
    Mad bomber explodes himself, others, at Christmas celebration... Maoists blow Indian temple, abduct priest...
  • A man set off a hand grenade in a pub in northern Serbia, killing four people and injuring another 20. The blast happened at the Big Rouge pub in Novi Knezevac, near the Hungarian border. The man died in the explosion along with three other customers. The pub was packed with people celebrating Orthodox Christmas. The motive for the blast was not known. And Merry Christmas to you, too, you terrorist bastard.
  • More than 500 armed extremists of the outlawed Indian Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) attacked the century-old Khajwati Math at Bodh Gaya and blew up the main building with dynamite. The extremists also looted property and cash besides beating up the mahant and the priests. One of the main priests is missing and is said to have been abducted. They sound like real nice fellows. The Indos don't really need this, when they're preoccupied with Kashmir and Pakistan and possible nuclear holocaust.

    The Alliance
    Binnie's wife picked up in Yemen... Killer kiddie skips... Turk snuffies sentenced to the jump... Saudis tear down Ottoman treasure for a new hotel... Russians shell Argun to dislodge Chechen rebels... Saudi debt going up...
  • Osama bin Laden's favorite wife, her bodyguards and one of his babies were reportedly captured in Yemen, firming up investigators' suspicions he may be living there. Yemeni authorities arrested Amal Ahmed Al-Sadah, bin Laden's third wife, who sneaked out of Afghanistan with their infant daughter, Safia. Amal's bodyguards, possibly members of al Qaeda. Bin Laden has four wives and, according to estimates, more than 40 children. Intelligence agents unearthed documents that suggest bin Laden beat it to Yemen before bombs dropped on his Tora Bora compound in November. Yemen, is is? Now ain't that a surprise. You read it here first.
  • Afghan tribal elders postponed a meeting in eastern Khost to decide the fate of a 14-year-old boy suspected of killing a U.S. soldier after the teen-ager disappeared. Yeah. On a motorcycle, no doubt. It's wearing thin.
  • A Turkish court sentenced three men to death for the killings of four prominent writers and academics in an alleged plan to establish an Islamic state in Turkey. The three were found guilty in the slaying of journalist Ugur Mumcu, killed by a car bomb in 1993, and three other prominent secular writers and intellectuals during the 1990s. The verdict ended a 17-month trial in which prosecutors accused the defendants of membership in shadowy Islamic extremist groups, such as Tevhid-Selam and the Jerusalem Warriors. The groups were said to advocate replacing Turkey's strictly secular system with a state based on Islamic law. The sad part is that it takes 17 months to put away the hard boys who spent just a few days killing their betters.
  • Turkey's culture minister accused Saudi Arabia of engaging in a "cultural massacre" of Ottoman treasures after Saudi authorities tore down a 200-year-old castle in Mecca to make way for a hotel complex. Damn those arrogant westerners! They have no appreciation for the cultural treasures of others... Oh. Never mind.
  • Russian forces shelled Chechnya's third-largest town, and fighting erupted in other parts of the republic, leaving at least three soldiers reported dead and eight wounded. Argun had been under Russian fire since Thursday as federal forces tried to flush out rebels, some of whom are believed to have fled another Russian operation in the nearby village of Tsotsin-Yurt. The fighting in Argun and Tsotsin-Yurt, east of Grozny, is some of the fiercest seen in Chechnya in recent months.
  • Saudi Arabia's debt is expected to increase over the next year. Gulf analysts said stagnating oil prices will make the kingdom one of the biggest debtor nations in the world. Riyadh is expected to owe more than $200 billion by the end of 2002. A study by Saudi economist Ihsan Bu Hlaika said the kingdom turned into a debtor from the oil prices that first stabilized and then dropped during the 1980s. Hlaika said the kingdom has repaid only a small part of its domestic debt. That funding international subversion gets expensive, doesn't it? Wonder what their expenditure per ruthless henchman is?

    Fifth Column
    Jihad threatened for Britain...
  • A British Muslim who claims to have sent volunteers to Afghanistan to aid the Taliban said they may return to Britain to launch terrorist attacks against government and military targets. Hassan Butt, 22, leads the Pakistan wing of the British-based Al-Muhajiroun. He said some of the Britons he recruited to fight with Afghanistan's Taliban government were killed by U.S.-led forces. Those who survived could now launch a "new phase" of terrorism in their British homeland. Keep working on it, Hassan. If you're lucky you could be another Guy Fawkes. And when the innocent are dangling from lamp posts next to your remains, you'll have gotten what you want, right?
  • Sunday, January 06, 2002

    Chistopher Johnson, over at Midwestern Conservative Journal sez
    Current political considerations may require the Bush Administration to steer between the Scylla of Saudi corruption and the Charybdis of Islamic radicalism. But at some point, this country is going to have to face reality. Apart from their oil, we have nothing in common with Saudi Arabia as it is presently constituted or is likely to be constituted in the future. Nothing at all. The longer we pretend otherwise, both politically and economically, the more trouble we will have and the longer our war on terrorism will go.
    Saudi stock with the US public has gone down dramatically since September 11th, a fact of which the Saudis are all too well aware. They've been alternating between bellicosity at the way us nasty Westerners are picking on them, and being conciliatory. Behind the scenes, my guess is that they're covering quite a few tracks as well as they can.

    Somewhere in the USA there is a group of intelligence analysts who are much more interested in Saudi state policies, both overt and covert, than they were on, say, September 10th. They are probably just as interested in the policies of the Wahhabi clergy, which they probably ignored before September 11th. They are piecing together conversations, reports of meetings, statements in the Saudi press, conversations with travellers, and - most important - records of financial transactions to build a picture. Somewhere else are a few people with higher pay grades who are reading daily reports on what that picture looks like. Somewhere not too far from there, there are men in green suits who are putting together and regularly revising big stacks of dry-reading plans in 3-ring binders - arcanae like movement timetables, requisitions for ammunition - and maps. There are lots of maps, each of them laying out a geographic sector and assigning it to a military unit. Somewhere further away there are other guys in green suits, down at the motor pool, painting their tanks in desert camo.

    If the Saudis are very smart they will drop the bellicosity. They don't have the gunnies to make it stick, at least not before there are cigar-smoking Methodists having a few beers and some Carolina-style barbeque with scantily-clad babes in the ruins of Riyadh.

    When they've dropped the bellicosity, they can start unobtrusively cleaning up their mess - we aren't a vindictive lot. We'll know they've made a start toward mending fences when the Grand Mufti in Makkah meets with a terrible accident. We know by now all about the madrassahs and the steady diet of anti-American propaganda, raising kids from elementary school age into the desire to pop off a few infidels on the way to Paradise. We know about the "charitable donations" that buy the arms and ammunition to be used to achieve those ends. We've noticed that everywhere the Wahhabi brand of Islam is exported, there are bloody clashes between its adherents and whatever brand of infidel it is they're living next to. We've looked a little further into Dagestan, Chechnya, Kashmir and Afghanistan, talked to a few Filipinos and Indonesians. They're onto the idea in Singapore and even in Malaysia, too, by the way.

    While they're cleaning up, how can the Saudis dig themselves out of their public opinion hole? Be polite. Be very polite. Do a thorough and public house-cleaning at home. (No doubt they'll be "Shocked!" at what they find.) Dump the arms and ammunition and dump the hard boys. Exporting snuffies to terrorize a good part of the world is a good way to be thoroughly disliked, once people notice. If the Saudis want to fund schools, that's fine. They would even gain merit (to use an unbeliever's term) if rather than running schools for subversion they opened technical and business schools run along the same lines as the madrassahs - i.e., free to poor kids. They would do a Hell of a lot more good for the countries in which they're located, and they'd be the one way to restore the Saudis' good name.

    They won't do that, though. It would mean dumping the Wahhabi tub-thumpers and running the risk of having them turn against the government. And it's a lot easier to turn a kid into a gunman than into a scientist.
    Happy Fun Pundit says Slate's Jacob Weisberg seems to have bought the "Lowenstein Institute" wheeze. He does seem to be paraphrasing its intent pretty well.
    India-Pakistan
    India wants US to go bail for Pakistan... Pak drone shot down... Musharraf offers to free Bhutto's husband... PPP wants elections, now!... Interim administration in Pakland?... New Lashkar head is a Pak, too... Five thugs bumped off in Kashmir gunfights... Pak coppers raid Jaish hideouts... Jugged mercenaries shifted to avoid jailbreaks...
  • As a condition to defuse the confrontation with Pakistan, India wants a commitment from the United States to see to it that Pakistan follows through on cutting off support to groups waging jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are privately discussing terms under which the rivals could sit down for talks about resolving the crisis. Similar American commitments have worked well in the Middle East, haven't they? Pakland is a sovreign nation that has a strong lunatic fringe. The USA has never done well dealing with lunatic fringes. We have invariably come out with egg on our faces and sometimes teeth on the floor.
  • India shot down an unmanned Pakistani spy drone that had intruded into Indian airspace in Kashmir.There was no official confirmation of the report. The drone had flown eight kilometers (five miles) into Indian air space in the Kashmiri border district of Poonch. The incident sparked a heavy exchange of artillery fire between Indian and Pakistani troops massed on both sides of the border.
  • Pakistani authorities have offered to free from prison the husband of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto as long as he makes a plea bargain. Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari were convicted of corruption in 1999 and she has lived in self-imposed exile since then, while Zardari has been in prison. Bhutto, prime minister from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996, and Zardari both denied involvement in corruption. Last year the Supreme Court cancelled their convictions and ordered a retrial, which has yet to start. Musharraf is very sensibly trying to mend a few domestic fences. The Bhuttos can hold out for complete dismissal if they like. Musharraf needs the support of Pakistan People's Party as a counter to what he's lost from his crackdown on the fundos. There's already been speculation about a Musharraf as President/Benazir as Prime Minister arrangement to come out of the elections scheduled for October. Bhutto has put herself and her party in the anti-fundo camp and has supported Musharraf's efforts to go after the religious loons.
  • Speakers at functions on the 74th birth anniversary of the PPP founding Chairman the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto demanded immediate restoration of democracy and the constitution, holding of fair elections under an interim civilian set-up and transfer of power to an elected civilian government. PPP leaders demanded the armed forces be banned from civilian affairs and concentrate on national defense. No doubt Musharraf intends to get around to that some day, but he's not going to let it happen any time before next October, if then. Even if it takes place, the danger will remain of another military takeover. Pakland needs a concerted propaganda effort within the military against involvement with civilian affairs, and it will take at least until a new generation of officers has arisen before the danger is past. Meanwhile, it has to fight against the sectarian fifth column that's even more dangerous and which is allied with elements within the military. Musharraf probably envies the proverbial snowball's chance.
  • Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is considering appointing an interim prime minister to head an interim government likely to be created by the end of this month. The interim government will be tasked with overseeing the transition to democracy by October this year as mandated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Several names for the interim premier are under consideration but Sindh Governor Mian Soomro is most likely to be the top choice of the military government although current Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz is also a strong contender. We can pretty well bet it won't be any of the Bhutto party, and that they'll try to use the time between now and October to build up an alternative structure. It'll be tough, though, without being able to co-opt the support of the fundos. Look for an increase in "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" and that'll lead to more friction with Indoland. "What a tangled web we weave!"
  • The new chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba is a Pakistani of Kashmiri origin and operates from the Pakistani town of Bahawalpur. After Abdul Wahid Kashmiri was designated the chief of Lashkar following the arrest of leader Hafeez Syed by Islamabad, intelligence agencies could find little on him in their records. Wahid is operating from Bahawalpur in tandem with other top leaders, including Abul Ubaid, Abu Usman and Abul Thalla. Usman is the overall in-charge of the military operations of the group, Ubaid looks after operations in the Jammu region and Abu Thalla in Kashmir. "We don't think there is any change," a senior intel officer said. Fits in with my expectation that the leadership would remain where it's safe and warm and cozy, while the cannon fodder went across the border to shoot people and get killed. As my sainted father used to say, "Tough guys always end up working for smart guys." And the smart guys consider themselves too important to let themselves be killed in action.
  • Five militants, three of them belonging to Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Toiba, were killed in gunbattles with security forces in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Y'see, guys, it doesn't matter how tough you are, when you're dead your only talent remaining is decomposition. No doubt the Smart Guys back where it's safe will send flowers. That will be very nice and a great comfort to your families. The sad part is that so many Good Guys end up getting killed trying to protect other people from the Tough Guys.
  • Jang/The Nation reports that representatives of two militant Muslim groups said Pakistani police in central Punjab raided mosques, homes and offices searching for activists and guns. "Police entered our homes, insulting our elders and women. They searched our homes for weapons and messed everything up," said a spokesman for the Jaish-e-Mohammad group, Hassan Burki. A provincial official confirmed the latest round of some 60 detentions saying the activists were being picked up on the instructions of the central government. I hate it when the provincial police pop in to insult my elders and women and take all my heavy weapons. Every time they do that, I get hoppin' mad.
  • In the wake of intelligence reports about militants' plans to storm jails to help foreign mercenaries escape, 187 detainees have been shifted from Jammu and Kashmir to high security prisons outside the state. Among them, 98 are foreign mercenaries. Damn. And those jailbreaks are always so romantic. They always get the yokels fired up. Oh, well. Find something else. Interesting, that half of the jugged Bad Guys are foreigners.

    Terror Networks
    Chechen thugs kill 16 Russian troops...
  • Chechen rebels killed 16 Russian soldiers as they ambushed an armored column. The radical Chechen site, Kakvaz Center, quoted warlord Khattab saying that 15 other Russian troops were wounded in the attack near the village of Tsa-Vedeno. After Afghanistan and the stellar performance of the Chechens there, these attacks look less and less like "freedom fighters" and more and more like what they really are.

    The Alliance
    Hekmatyar aide sez he supports Karzai. Pigs whistle... Pak families trying to ransom their jihadis... Dostum ships Uzbek killers home... Saudis: No politics during Haj... Learned Elders of Islam to try and define terrorism... Iran snuggles up with Iraqi opposition...
  • A close aide of bloodthirsty warlord and leader of the Hizb-e-Islami Gulbadin Hikmatyar, Commander Haji Kashmir Khan, announced full support to the new interim government in Kabul. He was addressing to a gathering at Asadabad, the capital city of Kunar province of Afghanistan. Kashmir Khan expressed full confidence in the leadership of Hamid Karzai. He hoped that the new government would lead to the development and prosperity of the war-torn country. Either that endorsement cost a bundle or the regime can expect some serious burrowing from within. Or both.
  • Some Pakistani parents have paid as much as 2,00,000 rupees to get their sons back from the late festivities in Afghanistan, but not all can afford to pay such high prices, Pakistani journal The Friday Times reported, quoting jehadis who had managed to return home. To get back their sons, many of whom are jugged in Afghanistan, the parents, who are unable to pay high prices, are pressurising the Tehrik-i-nifaaz-i-Mohammdai (TNM), the organisation which sent thousands of Pakistanis to Afghanistan to wage 'holy war'. The organisation and its leaders are hiding from anxious parents. The TNM is an ultra orthodox organisation in the north-west frontier province of Pakistan, headed by Maulana Sufi Mohammad. Sufi was arrested on his return from Afghanistan and is now in a jail in Dera Ismail Khan. Hand me a tissue, will you? Life's really tough for the cannon fodder class, ain't it? What's really unusual in this case is that Mullah Sufi is jugged himself. Could this be described as "A holy man's war and a poor sap's fight?"
  • General Dostum has forcibly returned at least 10 Uzbek prisoners to Uzbekistan, his intel chief Usman Khan confirmed. That move was taken after Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, put pressure on Dostum and his officials to turn over the prisoners, who were members of the outlawed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The prisoners, who said they faced almost certain death on terrorism charges, had said they wanted to claim political asylum in Afghanistan. Dostum said he had turned the men over to United States forces. It is not clear whether American investigators held or questioned the men before they were sent back to Uzbekistan. G'bye, boys. Hope you enjoyed the jihad. Say hello to the folks in Uzbekistan!
  • Saudi Arabia has warned pilgrims against indulging in any form of political propaganda during Haj and said anyone caught violating the country’s laws will be prosecuted. Wonder if that covers recruiting jihadis? Have we decided to become cautious discrete?
  • Scholars from around the world who began a six-day conference in Makkah were urged to work out a clear definition of terrorism to help ward off a malicious smear campaign against Islam and Muslims. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the Kingdom’s grand mufti and head of the Senior Ulema Council, urged the convention to "defend Islam by clearing all baseless accusations which aim at distorting the image of the religion." He said Islamic states in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular, have been the target of "a fierce and criminal campaign by ... unfair and unjust media which have been reversing facts and using false information to defame Islam and Muslims." The objective for the Learned Elders of Islam is to work out a Protocol that will make a distinction between "terrorists" and "freedom fighters." This will result in sophistry similar to that the Paks are coughing up over Kashmir and the Palestinians continue to burp over their fight. What won't be addressed - guaranteed - is the legitimacy of politicians and holy men using hard boys with guns as the policy tool of first resort.
  • Seif Ellahi, the official in charge of the Iraqi desk at the office of Iranian spiritual leader Ali Khameini is holding talks in Syria with the Islamic, national and Kurdish wings of the Iraqi opposition. Sources indicate a new Iranian tactic in dealing with the Iraqi opposition: openness to all opposition wings and working to achieve democracy in Iraq. The Iranian ambassador in Damascus organized a working luncheon for Ellahi which was attended by leading figures at the Iraqi opposition. Ellahi also met with the chairman of the Iraqi al-Watan ("Homeland") party Mashaan al-Jabouri. Iran would seem to be expecting Saddam's Iraq to go down. They also seem to expect the US to use the same technique: supporting an indigenous opposition, leading to an interim government. Having sat out the war against the Taliban, not out of ideology but because they didn't think it could be done, they're going to try and get in on the ground floor in Iraq so they can have some influence with the new regime. That's something they don't have, not yet anyway, in Afghanistan. Whatever successor state (or states) comes about, they can be worked, because Iran will have been there from the first. They may even start putting some significant money into the project, if it looks feasible.