Monday, January 31, 2011

Al Queda Leader Kidnaps 21 Afghan Tribal Leaders In Kunar

From The Long War Journal:

Al Qaeda leader kidnaps 21 Afghan tribal leaders in Kunar

Pakistani Taliban Step Up Attacks In Northwest

From The Long War Journal:

2:42 PM (9 hours ago)Pakistani Taliban step up attacks in northwestfrom The Long War Journal

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Northwestern Pakistan, including the tribal belts.

The Pakistani Taliban have stepped up attacks in the northwestern province of Khyber-Paktunkhwa over the past several weeks, with multiple attacks including suicide bombings in the provincial capital and at a strategic tunnel.

In Peshawar today, a teen-aged suicide bomber killed five people, including a senior police official and two police, in an attack that targeted a police van. Seven people were reported to have been seriously wounded in the attack. Also today in Peshawar, another policeman was killed in an IED attack.

The suicide attack in Peshawar took place just two days after a pair of bomb blasts occurred at the Kohat Tunnel, the vital link between Peshawar and the southern half of the province. The first blast appears to have been intended to damage or destroy the tunnel, as a fuel tanker laden with explosives was detonated while the vehicle was inside the tunnel. Five people were wounded in the attack. In the second blast, which appears to have been a suicide attack, a truck packed with explosives was detonated at a military checkpoint; four civilians were killed.

The Taliban and the Pakistani military fought fierce battles for the tunnel several times in 2008. In one battle, in April 2008, Taliban fighters kidnapped more than 50 paramilitary troops from the Frontier Corps during the fighting at the Kohat Tunnel. Several of the soldiers and paramilitaries were beheaded and mutilated.

The attacks over the past three days have been preceded by several strikes against police, soldiers, and civilians throughout Pakistan's northwest since mid-January.

Some of the more deadly Taliban attacks already this year include: the Jan 20 assault on an oil facility in Kohat that resulted in the deaths of five Frontier Corps personnel and two civilians, and the kidnapping of two engineers; the public execution of four civilians in Hangu; the killing of three soldiers in North Waziristan and a civilian in Peshawar; the Jan. 17 suicide attack at a bus station in Kohat that killed 17 Pakistanis; and the murder of four policemen in attacks in Bannu and Khyber on Jan. 14.

The Pakistani military has claimed that the Taliban have been defeated in the group's sanctuaries in the tribal agencies of South Waziristan, Bajaur, and Mohmand, and in the settled district of Swat, after launching a series of operations in Bajaur and Mohmand in 2008, and Swat and South Waziristan in 2009.

Just last weekend, the military again claimed victory over the Taliban in Bajaur and Mohmand after a three-day-long operation. The military said that scores of Taliban fighters were killed during the operation. But the Taliban have persisted despite the declarations of victory from Pakistani commanders.

Meanwhile the Pakistani Taliban remain organized throughout much of the northwest, and have continued, with the help of allied terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and al Qaeda, to strike in Pakistan's major cities. On Jan. 25, suicide bombers struck in Lahore and Karachi, killing 16 people. The suicide bomber that executed the Lahore attack was from North Waziristan.

Muslim Brotherhood Declares Jihad Against America; Obama Regime Declares MB Is Moderate

From Middle East Affairs Information Center:

Muslim Brotherhood Declares Jihad on America; America Declares MB is Moderate

Posted on Mon, January 31, 2011 at 23:00 pm, in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, United States of America .
Mon, Jan 31, 2011
The Rubin Report
By Barry Rubin

MB Leader Muhammad Badi'a

Muslim Brotherhood Declares Jihad on America; America Declares MB is Moderate

The best thing I can do for you to understand the Muslim Brotherhood is to ask you to read what I wrote last October 7. In that article I asked whether the United States would notice that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, through its leader, declared Jihad on America. At the end of the article I noted that an Egyptian friend said I was the only one who noticed outside of the country.

Here’s the key quote:

The United States is “experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading towards its demise….Resistance is the only solution…. The United States cannot impose an agreement upon the Palestinians, despite all the means and power at its disposal. [Today] it is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and it is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan. [All] its warplanes, missiles and modern military technology were defeated by the will of the peoples, as long as [these peoples] insisted on resistance – and the wars of Lebanon and Gaza, which were not so long ago, [are proof of this].”

What I never imagined is that 3.5 months later people would be claiming — in contradiction to every Muslim Brotherhood speech and writing (in Arabic) — that the Muslim Brotherhood is some harmless nonviolent reform group. So please click on the link and read that article. These are the people who may be running the most important country in the Arab world.

Note that even if President Husni Mubarak resigns that is not what is important. What is important is whether the current regime survives or there is a totally new government.

The Muslim Brotherhood won’t take over immediately but would be the power behind the throne. Remember that after the Free Officers took power in July 1952 — the beginning of the current regime — it took three years for Gamal Abdel Nasser to step out as the country’s dictator. Then he nationalized the Suez Canal company, made an alliance with the USSR to get weapons, and began subverting every other state in the region.

One explanation is laziness and ignorance. I have not seen any evidence to date that any journalist who wrote about it either read the “Palestine Papers” (except for the Guardian and al-Jazira people who — to put it politely — creatively interpreted the materials) or have ever read or heard any statement ever made by a Muslim Brotherhood leader.

How can you explain it? The leader of the Brotherhood calls for Jihad on America and destroying all US influence in the region and then the media says they are moderates!


About the author,

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The GLORIA Center’s site is and of his blog, Rubin Reports,


Gaza Militants Fire Barrage Of Grad Missiles At Southern Israel

From Gateway Pundit:

5:26 PM (6 hours ago)Breaking: Gaza Militants Fire Barrage of Grad Missiles at Southern Israelfrom Gateway Pundit by Jim HoftGaza militants fired a barrage of Grad missiles into southern Israel tonight. One missile landed near a wedding party in Netivot.

The Jerusalem Post reported:

Barrage of fire from Gaza hits southern Israel; rocket lands near building where wedding is taking place in Netivot; 4 treated for shock, vehicle damaged; Color Red rocket alert system fails to go off.

The relative calm in the South was shattered on Monday night when Palestinians in Gaza fired a barrage of powerful Grad rockets and mortar shells at the western Negev.

One Grad-type rocket fired from Gaza smashed into the town of Ofakim and a second rocket slammed into Netivot, not far from a building where a wedding celebration was taking place

Pakistan Has Doubled Its Nuclear Arsenal

From FOX News:
H/T:  Terry

Report: Pakistan Doubles Nuclear Arsenal

Published January 31, 2011

Nov. 29: Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari visits Sri Lanka in a bid to boost trade and security cooperation.

Report: Pakistan Doubles Nuclear Arsenal

Pakistan has doubled its nuclear weapons stockpile over the past several years, increasing its arsenal to more than 100 deployed weapons, according to a published report.

As a result, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival, The Washington Post reported late Sunday, citing non-government analysts. India is estimated to have 60 to 100 weapons.

Only four years ago the Pakistani nuclear arsenal was estimated at 30 to 60 weapons.

"They have been expanding pretty rapidly," the report quoted David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, as saying.

Based on recently accelerated production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, Islamabad may now have an arsenal of up to 110 weapons, Albright said.

"Pakistan lives in a tough neighborhood and will never be oblivious to its security needs," Brig. Gen. Nazir Butt, a defense official at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said. "As a nuclear power, we are very confident of our deterrent capabilities."

The report came as hard-line Islamic leaders rallied at least 15,000 people against an American official arrested in the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis and warned the government not to cave in to U.S. pressure to release the man.

The protest in the eastern city of Lahore, where the shootings took place, came as the U.S. Embassy once again insisted that the American has diplomatic immunity and was being detained illegally by Pakistan. But Pakistan has refused to budge, saying the matter must be decided by the courts.

The spat has revealed the fragility of a relationship Washington believes is crucial for success in Afghanistan and against al-Qaida. Large protests by hard-line Islamic groups, which have significant influence in Pakistan, could make it even more difficult for the government to free the American.

"We warn the government and administration that ... if they help the arrested American illegally, then this crowd will surround the U.S. Embassy and presidential palace in Islamabad," Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior official in the Jamiat Ulema Islam party, said during Sunday's rally.

The U.S. has said the American, who has not been named, acted in self-defense when he shot two armed men who approached his car in Lahore on Thursday.

But many questions have been left unanswered, including exactly what the American did at the U.S. Embassy and why he was carrying a gun. The lack of clarity has fueled media speculation he may have been a CIA agent or security contractor, as well as questions over whether he qualified for diplomatic immunity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more:

The Muslim Brotherhood Is The Enemy

From Act! for America:

The Muslim Brotherhood is the Enemy

Posted by Frank Gaffney Jan 30th 2011

Suddenly, Washington is consumed with a question too long ignored: Can we safely do business with the Muslim Brotherhood?

The reason this question has taken on such urgency is, of course, because the Muslim Brotherhood (or MB, also known by its Arabic name, the Ikhwan) is poised to emerge as the big winner from the chaos now sweeping North Africa and increasingly likely to bring down the government of the aging Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

In the wake of growing turmoil in Egypt, a retinue of pundits, professors and former government officials has publicly insisted that we have nothing to fear from the Ikhwan since it has eschewed violence and embraced democracy.

For example, Bruce Reidel, a controversial former CIA analyst and advisor to President Obama, posted an article entitled “Don’t Fear Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood” at the Daily Beast. In it, he declared: “The Egyptian Brotherhood renounced violence years ago, but its relative moderation has made it the target of extreme vilification by more radical Islamists. Al Qaeda’s leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, started their political lives affiliated with the Brotherhood but both have denounced it for decades as too soft and a cat’s paw of Mubarak and America.”

Then, there was President George W. Bush’s former press spokeswoman, Dana Perino, who went so far on January 28th as to tell Fox News “…And don’t be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This has nothing to do with religion.”

One reason we might be misperceiving the MB as no threat is because a prime source of information about such matters is the Muslim Brotherhood itself. As the Center for Security Policy’s new, best-selling Team B II report entitled, Shariah: The Threat to America found: “It is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.”

In fact, for much of the past two decades, a number of these groups and their backers (including, notably, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal) have cultivated extensive ties with U.S. government officials and agencies under successive administrations of both parties, academic centers, financial institutions, religious communities, partisan organizations and the media. As a result, such American entities have been subjected to intense, disciplined and sustained influence operations for decades.

Unfortunately, the relationships thus developed and the misperceptions thus fostered are today bearing poisonous fruit with respect to shaping U.S. policy towards the unfolding Egyptian drama.

A notable example is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). A federal judge in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial – which successfully prosecuted the nation’s largest terrorism financing conspiracy – found that CAIR was indeed a front for the Ikhwan’s Palestinian affiliate, Hamas. Nonetheless, Fox News earlier today interviewed the Executive Director of CAIR’s Chicago office, Ahmed Rehab, whom it characterized as a “Democracy Activist.”

True to form, Rehab called for the removal of Mubarak’s regime and the institution of democratic elections in Egypt. This is hardly surprising since, under present circumstances, such balloting would likely have the same result it did in Gaza a few years back: the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood and the institution of brutally repressive theocratic rule, in accordance with the totalitarian Islamic politico-military-legal program known as shariah.

An important antidote to the seductive notions being advanced with respect to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – and, for that matter, in Western nations like ours – by the Ikhwan’s own operatives, their useful idiots and apologists is the Team B II report. It should be considered required reading by anyone who hopes to understand, let alone to comment usefully upon, the MB’s real character and agenda.

For example, Shariah: The Threat to America provides several key insights that must be borne in mind in the current circumstances especially:

“The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928. Its express purpose was two-fold: (1) to implement shariah worldwide, and (2) to re-establish the global Islamic State (caliphate).

“Therefore, Al Qaeda and the MB have the same objectives. They differ only in the timing and tactics involved in realizing them.

“The Brotherhood’s creed is: ‘God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.’”

It is evident from the Creed, and from the Brotherhood’s history (and current activities)…that violence is an inherent part of the MB’s tactics. The MB is the root of the majority of Islamic terrorist groups in the world today.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the ‘vanguard’ or tip-of-the-spear of the current Islamic Movement in the world. While there are other transnational organizations that share the MB’s goals (if not its tactics) – including al Qaeda, which was born out of the Brotherhood – the Ikhwan is by far the strongest and most organized. The Muslim Brotherhood is now active in over 80 countries around the world.

Of particular concern must be the purpose of the Brotherhood in the United States and other nations of the Free World:

“…The Ikhwan’s mission in the West is sedition in the furtherance of shariah’s supremacist agenda, not peaceful assimilation and co-existence with non-Muslim populations.”

“The Ikhwan believes that its purposes in the West are, for the moment, better advanced by the use of non-violent, stealthy techniques. In that connection, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to establish relations with, influence and, wherever possible, penetrate: government circles in executive and legislative branches at the federal, state and local levels; the law enforcement community; intelligence agencies; the military; penal institutions; the media; think tanks and policy groups; academic institutions; non-Muslim religious communities; and other elites.

“The Brothers engage in all of these activities and more for one reason: to subvert the targeted communities in furtherance of the MB’s primary objective – the triumph of shariah.”

In short, the Muslim Brotherhood – whether it is operating in Egypt, elsewhere in the world or here – is our enemy. Vital U.S. interests will be at risk if it succeeds in supplanting the present regime in Cairo, taking control in the process not only of the Arab world’s most populous nation but its vast, American-supplied arsenal. It is no less reckless to allow the Brotherhood’s operatives to enjoy continued access to and influence over our perceptions of their true purposes, and the policies adopted pursuant thereto.

The VFW Responds To Threats To Cut The VA Budget

From the VFW:

VFW Will Defeat Bachmann Plan

"No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress."

January 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2011 — America's oldest and largest major combat veterans' organization announced it will do everything within its power to defeat a plan introduced by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to cut $4.5 billion from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress," said Richard L. Eubank, the national commander of the 2.1 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries.

On her website, the three-term congresswoman lists more than $400 billion in suggestions to cut federal spending. The VA suggestion would cap increases to VA healthcare spending, and reduce disability compensation to account for Social Security Disability Insurance payments — in other words, an offset. She says her plan is intended to generate discussion.

"The only discussion the VFW wants is to tell the congresswoman that her plan is totally out of step with America's commitment to our veterans," said Eubank, a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran from Eugene, Ore.

"There are certain things you do not do when our nation is at war, and at the top of that list is not caring for our wounded and disabled servicemen and women when they return home," he said. "I want the congresswoman to join us in a tour of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and Poly Trauma Center the next time she's in her home district to witness firsthand the great work the VA does every day to heal their wounds and ease their pain. Then I want her to look those disabled veterans in the eye and tell them their service and sacrifice is too expensive for the nation to bear.

"The day this nation can't afford to take care of her veterans is the day this nation should quit creating them," said Eubank.


The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans' service organization composed of combat veterans and those who currently serve in uniform on active duty or in the Guard and Reserves. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation's largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans' organization. With 2.1 million members located in 7,600 VFW Posts worldwide, the VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to "honor the dead by helping the living" through veterans service, legislative advocacy, youth scholarships, Buddy Poppy and national military service programs. The VFW and its Auxiliaries volunteer more than 13 million hours annually in community service to the nation. For more information or to join, visit the organization's Web site at

Contact: Joe Davis, Director of Public Affairs, VFW Washington Office, 202-608-8357,

Kehler Succeeds Chilton As Commander Of Strategic Command

From American Forces Press Service:
H/T: Terry

Kehler succeeds Chilton as commander of Strategic Command

Posted 1/31/2011

by Jim Garamone

American Forces Press Service

1/31/2011 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AFNS) -- Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton passed the flag of U.S. Strategic Command to Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler Jan. 28, giving the nation's nuclear deterrent mission a new commander.

General Chilton, a pilot who served 10 years with NASA and flew three space shuttle missions, retired after 34 years of service. General Kehler assumed command after serving as the commander of Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates presided over the ceremony. Outside the hangar where the ceremony took place were aircraft important in the command. From B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit bombers, to F-15 Eagles, to U-2 reconnaissance planes, the aircraft served as a backdrop to honor General Chilton's career from the Air Force Academy class of 1976 to orbit to today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted General Chilton's "detour" to being a shuttle astronaut.

"Across the services, officers who take a detour around the 'standard career path' like General Chilton did rarely return to their home service, and when they do, they don't always get the chance to succeed," the chairman said. "It is difficult to compare their value relative to their peers, so rather than embracing their diversity of experience as a benefit, we thank them for their service and send them on to the next chapter in their lives.

"But the Air Force thankfully brought (General Chilton) ... back into the fold," he continued, "and the Air Force, STRATCOM and our nation are better for it."

Secretary Gates thanked General Chilton and his family for their years of service and talked of his high expectations for General Kehler. He also expressed his thanks to the men and women of U.S. Strategic Command.

"Our nation looks to the men and women of STRATCOM to continue to provide the traditional strategic nuclear deterrent, while also taking on new strategic missions that reflect the technologies and threats of the 21st century, most notably in space and cyber," Secretary Gates said.

General Chilton took over the command when it was facing challenges in control and accountability for America's strategic nuclear mission.

"(General Chilton) has led the way in reforming the management of the nuclear enterprise, overseeing the creation of the Air Force Global Strike Command, providing more training for our nuclear Airmen and restoring the nuclear mission to its proper place of honor," the secretary said. "(General Chilton) was also a tireless, principled and effective advocate for the New START treaty with Russia, a service for which (President Barack Obama) and I are grateful."

The threats continue to grow, Secretary Gates said, and are coming from new quarters. He spoke of his recent visit to Northeast Asia and the dangers posed by the North Korean push to gain nuclear arms and the means to deliver them.

"Not only is North Korea determined to carry out nuclear tests and develop ICBMs that could potentially threaten the U.S., they have also proliferated these dangerous technologies in the past," he said. "And even as the United States pursues a more constructive relationship with China, we and our allies cannot ignore the Chinese military's recent advances in missile, space and cyber warfare."

The secretary expressed confidence that the command will not lose a step as Kehler takes the reins.

"A former leader of our ICBM force, General Kehler has spent the past three years leading Space Command and oversaw the standing up of the 24th Air Force, our nation's first true cyber command," he said.

Admiral Mullen echoed Secretary Gates' sentiments.

"We are at the dawn of a new age where the space and cyber domains present a strategic landscape that promises great opportunities, but sobering responsibilities," he said. "Where the click of a mouse can be as devastating as any kinetic attack ever could and an orbital trajectory can become more contested than any sea-lane ever was. So as we march into this new age, I have the highest confidence (General Kehler) is the right person to lead us."

The new commander called the security challenges facing the United States complex, unremitting and compelling, and said addressing those challenges requires the complete focus of all members of the command.

"From high-end strategic deterrence to confronting the diverse demands of hybrid and irregular warfare, our ability to respond when called depends on the skill and dedication of the great men and women serving in STRATACOM," he said.

"Answering the call means that we must provide a safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent force," he continued. "Answering the call means we must work with the other combatant commanders to provide capabilities to support their on-going operations. Answering the call means we must ensure uninterrupted capabilities from space and improved awareness of objects and activities in space. And answering the call means we must enhance the nation's cybersecurity and ensure cyber support for operations."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz presided over General Chilton's retirement from the service. He called the general an inspiration and effective leader, who through natural talent, perseverance and a little luck excelled in all aspects of his service.

General Chilton thanked the men and women of Strategic Command and the surrounding community. He thanked his mentors through the years and friends from his hometown of Los Angeles, from his Air Force Academy class, the Air Force, NASA and beyond for gathering for his retirement. He thanked Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen for their trust and confidence and support. He especially thanked his family for their sacrifices.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Taliban Suicide Bomber Kills Deputy Governor Of Kandahar

From The Long War Journal:

Jan 29, 2011 (yesterday)Taliban suicide bomber kills deputy governor of Kandaharfrom The Long War Journal A suicide bomber killed the deputy governor in the capital of Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar today.

The suicide bomber rammed a motorcycle laden with explosives into a car carrying Deputy Governor Abdul Latif as he drove in a convoy from his home to his office. Three bodyguards were also wounded in the attack.

The Taliban appear to have had good intelligence, as the suicide bomber picked Latif's car out of the convoy.

Today's suicide attack in Kandahar is the second in one of the country's major cities in two days. Yesterday a suicide bomber killed eight people, including three foreigners, in an attack at a grocery in the capital of Kabul.

The Taliban have not yet claimed the attack in Kandahar, however the Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, or the Mullah Dadullah Front, a radical subgroup closely linked to al Qaeda, is suspected of having carried out the attack.

Mullah Dadullah Front is a wing of the Taliban in the south that has adopted al Qaeda's tactics and ideology, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in December 2010. The Mullah Dadullah Front is led by Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban's top military commander and co-leader of the Taliban's Quetta Shura. The Mullah Dadullah Front executed a suicide attack in Kandahar's border city of Spin Boldak on Jan. 8 that killed 17 people, including a senior police commander allied with General Abdul Raziq, an anti-Taliban warlord in Kandahar.

The Taliban, under a directive issued by Mullah Omar, have responded to the Coalition and Afghan offensive in the south with a campaign of violence and intimidation. Taliban fighters have been directed to "capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and/or working for coalition forces" and the Afghan government, as well as "any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces."

As part of the Taliban's counteroffensive in Kandahar, the terror group has targeted tribal leaders, politicians, and other elites for assassination. More than 20 Afghans, including the district chief for Arghandab and the deputy mayor of Kandahar City have been killed since the spring of 2010. The Taliban's counteroffensive is led by Mullah Muhammad Isa Akhund, the military commander for the province.

On Jan. 28, the Taliban claimed to have killed a "puppet traitor from Logar province working as a contractor for the Canadian invaders" in a shooting Kandahar city." The statement was released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban's website. The Taliban refer to Afghans who work for the government or with NAT0 forces as "puppets."

Top leaders at the International Security Assistance Force and US politicians have described Kandahar as the strategic center of the country, and said the province is key to defeating the Taliban.

Coalition and Afghan special forces have heavily targeted the Taliban's top leadership in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province. Scores of mid- and senior-level leaders in Kandahar have been killed or captured over the past several months, including a "key" financier for the Mullah Dadullah Front; an unnamed senior commander who operated in Panjwai and was based out of the Pakistani city of Chaman; and another senior commander who is linked to Iraq's Qods Force.

Numerous Taliban leaders operate from Chaman, which is across the border from Spin Boldak in Kandahar. Pakistan's military and intelligence services have allowed the Taliban to operate from Chaman and other locations, and they support Taliban operations in Afghanistan.

The special operations raids are carried out in support of ISAF and Afghan counterinsurgency efforts in Kandahar. Since the summer of 2010, ISAF and Afghan conventional forces have moved into the districts of Arghandab, Dand, Zhari, and Panjwai in an effort to deny the Taliban safe havens and relieve pressure on the city of Kandahar. Scores of new combat outposts now dot the region in an attempt to secure regions that have been under Taliban control for years.

20 Year-Old Islamist Moscow Airport Bomber Identified

From Gateway Pundit:

20 Year-Old Islamist Moscow Airport Bomber Identified

Obama's New Counter-terrorism Adviser Believes MORE Outreach To Muslims Is The Answer

From Creeping Sharia:

Obama’s new counter terrorism adviser believes MORE outreach to Muslims is the answer

Posted on January 30, 2011 by creeping

Up to 90% more! via NPR, Quintan Wiktorowicz New Obama Counter Terrorism Advisor. h/t Shimron

At the White House, Wiktorowicz’s title will be senior director for global engagement at the National Security Council.

He’s seen by terrorism experts as bringing so much to his new job that he could fundamentally change the way the Obama administration deals with Muslims in America.

Right now, counterradicalization in the U.S. largely depends on law enforcement — on things like FBI outreach to Muslim communities. The sheer volume of homegrown terrorism cases in the U.S. over the past two years makes clear that isn’t enough, Neumann says.

“One of the important things about counterradicalization is that about perhaps 10 percent of it is law enforcement and intelligence, 90 percent of it are things that have relatively little to do with that,” he says. “Counterradicalization also has to include things like politicians visiting Muslim communities, messaging” and beefing up education about Islam among Muslims themselves, so they can better resist radical recruiters.

How Wiktorowitz will apply what he learned in Britain here is unclear. His first official day of work at the White House is Monday.

So if the current approach is primarily law enforcement, and Obama’s new counter terrorism advisor believes only 10% of counter-radicalization of Muslims is law enforcement and intelligence, then the U.S. is in for a whole lot more pandering to Islam – at taxpayer expense. Taxation for Islamization, or plain old jizya tax for safety..

The thought of more politicians pandering to “Muslim communities,” more “messaging” – e.g. false narratives to convince non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace – even though if you suggest it isn’t you are threatened with violence, forced into witness protection, or killed – and the government funding and teaching Muslims about Islam is extraordinary. This is how societies crumble. NPR gives a further glimpse into Wiktorowitz’s mindset:

As part of his research, Wiktorowicz interviewed hundreds of Islamists in the United Kingdom. After compiling his interviews he came to the conclusion that — contrary to popular belief — very religious Muslims were in fact the people who ended up being the most resistant to radicalization.

CAIR and the rest of the Muslim Brotherhood must be hitting the hookah hard in celebration.

Top Hamas Militants Escape Egyptian Prison And Flee To Gaza

From Gateway Pundit:

6:34 PM (1 hour ago)Horror!… Top Hamas Militants Escape Egyptian Prison & Flee to Gazafrom Gateway Pundit by Jim HoftHorror!… Top Hamas militants escaped an Egyptian prison this weekend along with several Muslim Brotherhood members.

Egyptian security forces beefed up their presence along the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday in a bid to stop Hamas operatives from crossing between the two countries… But they were too late.

The Hamas members are already back in Gaza!

AFP reported:

Two out of eight Hamas prisoners who broke out of a Cairo prison as a wave of anti-government protests swept Egypt arrived back in Gaza on Sunday, an official source said.

A senior official in the Hamas government confirmed all eight were on their way back to Gaza, with the report also confirmed by one of the escapees.

By Sunday morning, at least two of the prisoners who had been held in Abu Zaabal prison, northeast of Cairo, had made it back to Gaza, entering the strip through the tunnels which run under the border, a Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity.

They made their escape when thousands broke free from jails across Egypt as officials struggled to control the wave of chaos sparked by nationwide riots demanding the end of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

Among those who arrived back in Gaza on Sunday was Mohamed al-Shaer, a big name in the cross-border smuggling enterprise, who was arrested in Egypt six months ago after completing the haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Shaer entered Gaza through the tunnels, witnesses said.

Several hours later, a second prisoner, Hassan Wishah also made his way through the tunnels to El Bourej camp in central Gaza. He had served three years of a 10-year sentence at the Cairo jail for unspecified security offences.

“All the Palestinian prisoners escaped from Abu Zaabal,” Wishah told AFP.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Supermarket Jihad: Nine Dead In Suicide Attack On Grocery Store In Kabul

From Jihad Watch:

Supermarket jihad: Nine dead in suicide attack in Kabul

Misunderstanders of Islam strike the Finest Supermarket in Kabul, hoping to murder foreigners for their bloodthirsty god. "Kabul supermarket bomb kills 9, foreigners target," by Matt Robinson and Jonathon Burch for Reuters, January 28 (thanks to Ima):

KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide attack on a supermarket in Kabul's upmarket embassy district on Friday killed at least nine people, three of them foreign women, in the first major Taliban assault on civilians in the capital for nearly a year.

A child was also among the dead from Friday's bombing, which shattered a sense of relative calm that had settled over the capital after nearly a year without an attack targeting foreign or Afghan civilians.

Gunfire rattled through the area -- home to the British, Canadian, Pakistani and other missions -- at the start of the assault, which one witness told police was launched by a man in his forties, with dark skin and a long beard.

Bodies were carried from the blackened hull of the "Finest" supermarket, popular with foreigners and several hundred yards from the British embassy, as fires broke out among shattered shelves and scattered food. The wounded were led away wailing.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as un-Islamic, and put the toll at nine, one higher than police, who said six people were wounded. They declined to give the victims' nationalities.

The Taliban said they had carried out the attack. It was aimed at foreigners but the primary target was the head of security firm Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone.

Police said there were no security employees among the dead.

"We claim responsibility for the attack. It was carried out at a time when foreigners were shopping, including the head of a security company," Mujahid said....

Posted by Robert on January 28, 2011 8:29 AM

Moscow: Jihad-Martyrdom Bomber Planning New Year's Day Attack Blown Up When Unexpected Text Message Set Off Her Bomb Early

From Jihad Watch:

Moscow: Jihad-martyrdom bomber planning New Year's Day attack blown up when unexpected text message set off her bomb early

At last, a good use for spam. "Black Widow attempted New Year Moscow attack but blew herself up by mistake," by Andrew Osborn in the Telegraph, January 26 (thanks to Mackie):

A "Black Widow" suicide bomber planned a terrorist attack in central Moscow on New Year's Eve but was killed when an unexpected text message set off her bomb too early, according to Russian security sources.

The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt on a busy square near Red Square on New Year's Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds.

Security sources believe a spam message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her but nobody else.

She was at her Moscow safe house at the time getting ready with two accomplices, both of whom survived and were seen fleeing the scene.

Islamist terrorists in Russia often use cheap unused mobile phones as detonators. The bomber's handler, who is usually watching their charge, sends the bomber a text message in order to set off his or her explosive belt at the moment when it is thought they can inflict maximum casualties.

The phones are usually kept switched off until the very last minute but in this case, Russian security sources believe, the terrorists were careless.

The dead woman has not been identified. Her handler, a 24-year-old woman from the internal Muslim Russian republic of Dagestan, has been named as Zeinat Suyunova. Her husband is apparently still serving time in jail for himself being a member of a radical Islamist terror group.

Security sources believe the new year's eve bomber and the airport bombers may have been members of a suicide squad trained in Pakistan's al-Qaeda strongholds which was sent to the Russian capital in December to target the city's transportation system....

Posted by Robert on January 28, 2011 9:09 AM

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where Is Obama's Public Support Of Afghanistan?

From AEI:

Where Is Obama's Public Support for Afghanistan? By Danielle Pletka

Washington Post

Friday, January 28, 2011

Despite the fact that Afghanistan is slowly making its way to success, many Americans believe the war is unwinnable-and most want out. Perhaps many of them suspect that the president of the United States shares their view. He has done little to disabuse them of the notion.

General disaffection with war is common, particularly with one as drawn out as the almost decade-long battle to secure Afghanistan. But the outlook in Afghanistan has improved: Afghans or allies control large swaths of territory, and while President Hamid Karzai has proved that he lacks certain Jeffersonian qualities, he is certainly no worse than many U.S. allies in terms of governance, reliability and general fealty to his American friends.

Nonetheless, fewer and fewer Americans believe the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting. Polling in December and January found public support for the war consistently below 50 percent, and surveys have frequently shown that almost 60 percent of respondents believe we should not be there. Indeed, in the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, levels of dissatisfaction for the first time equaled those for the Iraq war at its nadir.

Publicly, however, Obama has been remarkably quiet about the war.In many ways, the public's unhappiness is mysterious. It's not rooted in politics: Barack Obama campaigned on the argument that Afghanistan-and not Iraq-was the war that had to be won. As president, Obama has sent more troops to battle against Islamist extremists and has resisted calls to give up. On the other side of the political spectrum, Republicans outnumber Democrats in believing the war is worth fighting-by 2 to 1 in some polls. But even among GOP stalwarts, support is declining precipitously.

It could be that the war is not well understood: Certainly the Afghanistan conflict is not much in the news, particularly compared with the Iraq war. The Pew Research Center notes that media coverage of Afghanistan in 2010-the year we instituted the troop surge and began to fight in earnest (with accordingly higher casualties)-rarely ticked above 5 percent of all U.S. news stories, with only two spikes to 20 percent in the year. Contrast that with 2007, the year of the surge in Iraq: Pew reported that Iraq was the "dominant story" from January, when the surge was announced, to May. Coverage of the topic dropped after that-but remained at 10 percent of news stories for the year.

Or it could be that the American public is weary of the long fight or the expense of the war at a time of national hardship, though historically the latter has not deterred the American people.

All are possible factors, but here is a certain one: President Obama has done very little to support the war. As commander in chief he has prosecuted the conflict in Afghanistan seriously, with commitment and with deliberation. He has been less than effective, however, with the bully pulpit that belongs to the nation's leader.

Since taking office, Obama has remained true to his 2008 campaign pledge that his "first order as commander in chief will be to end the war in Iraq and refocus our efforts on Afghanistan." After a lengthy review in 2009, the president ordered a surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. He set a deadline of July 31, 2011, to begin drawing down the troops-distressing Afghans, Pakistanis, allies worldwide and many in the United States-but even that deadline fell by the wayside at last year's NATO summit in Lisbon.

To be fair, the president has reportedly rejected recommendations by the vice president, his national security adviser and countless others to surge fewer troops, move to a counterterrorism strategy or make a negotiated peace with the Taliban-all wrong moves.

Publicly, however, Obama has been remarkably quiet about the war. This week's State of the Union address had only a passing reference to Afghanistan. Obama has given fewer than a dozen significant speeches focused on national security and only one major speech on Afghanistan. In contrast, George W. Bush gave more than 30 such speeches in his last two years in office.

Nor has the progress of the war, the mission of our troops, the various battlegrounds or other details of what candidate Obama called "the central front" been part of the rhetoric of his everyday leadership.

It is not merely that the president has stayed quiet on war talk. He has also silenced his commanders in Afghanistan, in particular forbidding Gen. David Petraeus to report at home on the campaign. And it was Petraeus, of course, who effectively outlined the strategy to the American people and realized Bush's decision to surge in Iraq.

Clearly, the president is a reluctant warrior. The root of that reluctance-fear of agitating his left-wing base; concerns about shaping his legacy; lack of interest in national security policy?-is immaterial. The president of the United States owes it to the nation to explain what is at stake, why we fight and what more must be done-and to do so often, with all the power of his office. The commander in chief and the president must lead as one.

It may be that at the end of such an effort, the American people will reject his case. But they will at least have heard it and better understand why our troops are risking their lives and what is at stake.

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI.

Suicide Bomber Kills Eight In Kabul

From The Long War Journal:

10:40 AM (13 hours ago)Suicide bomber kills 8 in Kabulfrom The Long War Journal The Taliban claimed credit for a suicide attack today at a market in a secure area of Kabul that is known to be frequented by foreigners.

A Taliban suicide bomber exchanged gunfire with Afghan police and appears to have detonated a hand grenade before detonating his vest at the Finest grocery in the Afghan capital. Eight people, including three foreigners, were killed and six more were wounded in the blast.

The supermarket is located in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, a high security area of the city where many embassies and hotels are situated.

The Taliban's spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that foreigners, including the chief of Xe, the security firm formerly known as Blackwater, were the targets of the attack, The Washington Post reported.

"We claim responsibility for the attack, and it was carried out at a time when foreigners were shopping, including the head of a security company," Mujahid told Reuters.

Today's suicide attack was likely carried out by the Kabul Attack Network, which is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network's tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official recently told The Long War Journal.

The Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban's shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network. In the US military files recently released by WikiLeaks, Taj Mir Jawad is identified as a top Haqqani Network leader.

ISAF and Afghan forces have been targeting the Kabul Attack Network since the spring of 2010 in an attempt to prevent high-profile attacks in the capital. The Taliban are seeking to create the appearance of instability and shut down the operations of foreign companies operating in the capital, a US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. The attacks also allow the Taliban to show they can reach into the heart of Afghanistan despite ongoing security operations in the Taliban heartlands of the south.

Counting today's bombing, four Taliban suicide attacks have been carried out in Kabul since operations against the Kabul Attack Network intensified last year. On July 18, 2010, a suicide bomber killed four civilians at a medical clinic; on Aug. 10, a suicide assault team killed two security guards outside a guest house used by foreigners; and on Dec. 19, suicide bombers killed five soldiers outside a recruiting facility.

Last year's suicide attacks were far less deadly than attacks in previous years, however, which included the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy.


Suicide Bomber Targets Supermarket in Kabul, TOLOnews

Kabul supermarket hit by deadly suicide attack - police, BBC

Explosion in Kabul diplomatic district kills at least 8, injures 6, The Washington Post

Muslim Brotherhood's Terrorist Money Flowing To Anwar Ibrahim

From The New Ledger:

7:59 PM (3 hours ago)Muslim Brotherhood’s Terrorist Money Flowing to Anwar Ibrahimfrom The New Ledger by Brad Jackson

A secret Saudi investigation obtained by CNN this week found that terrorist money may be flowing to Anwar Ibrahim through the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Muslim organization.

CNN’s Nic Robertson cited information from the Saudi intelligence reprt, that millions of dollars have been sent to al Queda, the Taliban and political officials via the Muslim Brotherhood and other affiliated organizations.

The nine-page summary of the secret report states that the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political group present in many Muslim countries, was trying “through its many affiliated charities and organizations — often with the funding of unwitting private Saudi citizens — to spread its influence by providing support for candidates in Islamic democracies.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has a strong global following, having grown their power through political gains in many Muslim nations. The deteriorating situation in Egypt this week has been at least partially fueled by Muslim Brotherhood operators. Seizing on the opportunity provided by Egypt’s uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood threw its support behind the unrest, and “has become active in the protests,” according to reports.

Concern is growing in many other parts of the Arab world that similar violence could erupt in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Jordan, a key US ally, and target of the Muslim Brotherhood, where they represent the largest political opposition party.

Anwar Ibrahim’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood run deep. Ibrahim helped establish the International Institute for Islamic Thought, or IIIT, a Muslim Brotherhood front group in the United States.

IIIT has come under fire for their connections with terrorist organizations. In 2002, Anwar Ibrahim’s IIIT was included in a lawsuit by victims of 9/11 seeking damages from organizations linked to “rendering material support to radical Islamism.” In 2003, US government prosecutors “submitted court documents detailing financial support (PDF) from the IIIT for convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad fundraiser Sami al-Arian.” They also found that Taha Jaber al-Alwani, the president of IIIT had once stated via a fatwa that “jihad is the only way to liberate Palestine.” A US Customs official said that the government is also looking into the possibility that IIIT was involved in “terrorism-related money laundering activities”.

The Muslim Brotherhood also has plans to sow civil unrest in the US by bringing down the current cultural and legal structure in favor of instituting Shariah law, actions that would no doubt be undertaken by the Muslim Brotherhoods American branch, Anwar Ibrahim’s IIIT.

Documents captured by the FBI in 2004 uncovered the details of the Muslim Brotherhood’s plans for North America, including their mission of grand jihad.

The plan calls for:

Eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ’sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s roadmap contains five phases which call for “conflict and confrontation” with US political leaders and includes “training on the use of weapons.” Malaysian and American leaders need to begin asking Anwar Ibrahim if his International Institute for Islamic Thought has been tasked with the implementation of part or all of this Muslim Brotherhood plan.

What is clear, is that the Muslim Brotherhood has distributed money to both terrorist groups like al Queda and politicians it hopes to keep in its back pocket as part of their plan for overthrowing governments and instituting their radical Islamist views on Western civilization. It is also clear that one of the politicians with long established ties to the Muslim Brotherhood is Anwar Ibrahim. That should give pause to Malaysians, and those around the world who provide him a platform for espousing his views.

Obama Regime Lifts Ban On Muslim Brotherhood Leader

From Gateway Pundit:

8:33 PM (2 hours ago)Obama Administration Lifts Ban on Muslim Brotherhood Leaderfrom Gateway Pundit by Jim HoftThe Obama Administration lifted the ban on Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan earlier this week.

Israel National News reported, via Free Republic:

The Barack Obama administration has decided to lift a ban preventing Muslim Scholar Professor Tariq Ramadan from entering the United States. Ramadan, an Egyptian currently living in Switzerland, is a leading member of Europe’s Muslim Brotherhood branch and the grandson of the movement’s founder Hassan al-Banna. The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization for Hamas and some of the groups that recently merged into al-Qaeda, including Ayman al Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Ramadan was invited to teach at the University of Notre Dame in 2004 but the George W. Bush administration revoked his visa, citing a statute that applies to those who have “endorsed or espoused” terrorism. The administration later dropped the terror endorsement claim and linked the ban to $1,336 in donations Ramadan made between 1998 and 2002 to a Swiss charity that was later blacklisted by the US.

Iraq: Sunni Jihadists Bomb Shi'ite Funeral, Murdering 41

From Jihad Watch:

Iraq: Sunni jihadists bomb Shi'ite funeral, murdering 41

Shi'ites then began stoning Iraqi security forces. Sunni-Shi'ite Jihad Update: "Bomb strikes funeral, killing 41 in Baghdad," by Hamid Ahmed for Associated Press, January 27 (thanks to Sr. Soph):

BAGHDAD - A car bomb ripped through a funeral tent in a mainly Shiite area of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 41 people and prompting scuffles between police and Iraqis angry about security failures.

The blast and three other small bombings Thursday were the latest in more than a week of attacks that have killed more than 200 people, raising fears about an uptick in violence as the U.S. military prepares to withdraw from the country.

The violence has mainly targeted the majority Shiite community and Iraqi security forces, posing a major challenge to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his fragile coalition government that was seated last month.

The car that exploded about 2 p.m. Thursday had been parked with the vehicles of other mourners, several yards (meters) away from the funeral tent, so it wouldn't raise suspicion, police said. Several other cars were set ablaze and nearby houses were damaged.

At least 41 people were killed and 75 wounded, according to police and hospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

Young men furious over the lack of security began pelting Iraqi security forces at the scene with stones.

Anger was still high three hours later, and Iraqi troops fired in the air to disperse a crowd of residents gathering for a demonstration against the failure to prevent the bombings. Iraqi helicopters buzzed overhead.....

The current wave of attacks began Jan. 18 with a suicide bombing that killed 65 police recruits in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, followed by two blasts on subsequent days against two security force headquarters in Baqouba that killed a total of 10 people.

The Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group, claimed responsibility for the three attacks north of Baghdad.

Separate car bombings targeting Shiite pilgrims mourning the death of one of their most beloved saints also killed 82 people, while 22 others were killed in sporadic violence elsewhere....

Posted by Robert on January 27, 2011 7:43 AM

Maintain Momentum In Afghanistan

From The Heritage Foundation:

Maintain Momentum in AfghanistanPublished on January 27, 2011 by Lisa Curtis and James Phillips WebMemo #3124 Print PDF

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President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night included brief words on the war in Afghanistan, where nearly 100,000 U.S. troops are deployed. While he was clear on U.S. objectives in the war when he stated, “By preventing the Taliban from establishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al-Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11,” he also undermined overall U.S. strategy by saying that he would begin withdrawing U.S. troops this July. The U.S. should maintain a robust U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan until it is clear that the recent progress is sustainable.

In addition to scrapping arbitrary timelines for withdrawal, the Administration should take a stronger leadership role in driving political reconciliation inside Afghanistan, intensify efforts to work with Pakistan in denying the Taliban sanctuary on its side of the border, and bolster diplomatic efforts that encourage regional support for a stable, peaceful, and unified Afghanistan that is inhospitable to international terrorists.

Don’t Quit When You’re Ahead

General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently wrote a letter to the troops under his command commending them for recent progress in the war, according to media reports. He credited gains to the American troop surge, the growth and improving quality of the Afghan security forces, and the work of the international community in providing crucial development aid, education, and health care to the Afghan people. General Petraeus said the 30,000 additional U.S. troops sent to the Afghan theater in 2010 “halted a downward security spiral in much of the country.”

Instead of reiterating the unhelpful July 2011 withdrawal date, Obama should have spent more time in his address telling the American people about these recent gains in Afghanistan and thus lifting public confidence in the ability of the United States to achieve its objectives in Afghanistan. Republican leaders support the President on the war in Afghanistan, but they reject arbitrary timelines for withdrawal. As Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–FL), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated:

Tonight, the President’s speech reflected a strong commitment, which I support, to defeating insurgents in Afghanistan and rooting out al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, I am concerned that the President has placed a timeline beginning in July for the withdrawal of our troops. This sends a mixed message to our troops and to the enemies they face. I steadfastly believe that, going forward, leaders in Washington must look to our commanders on the ground when determining our troop levels.

At last November’s NATO summit in Lisbon, the Administration had appeared to back away from the July 2011 withdrawal date and highlight instead 2014 as a target date for transferring security responsibilities to the Afghan government. It seemed the Administration had finally accepted that repeatedly talking about a July 2011 date for withdrawal was unhelpful to the overall strategy and thus had decided to alter its narrative accordingly. Obama’s statement in the State of the Union, however, raises doubts about his genuine commitment to success in Afghanistan that will create confusion among America’s allies and encourage its enemies to simply wait it out.

Another problem with repeating the July 2011 drawdown mantra is that it weakens Pakistan’s resolve in its fight against extremists on its territory. The announcement of a withdrawal date discourages Pakistan from breaking ties with its former Taliban proxies, on whom it believes it would need to rely in the event that coalition forces depart the region prematurely. The best way to solidify Pakistan’s cooperation and shift its calculations on support for the Taliban is for the U.S. to reassure the Pakistanis that it is committed to the region over the long term.

Lead Political Reconciliation

Succeeding in Afghanistan requires a sustained and multi-pronged commitment. Now that the tide is beginning to shift against the Taliban on the battlefield in Afghanistan, the U.S. should keep up the military pressure while also pursuing avenues for political reconciliation.

Afghan and Pakistani officials are stepping up their engagement and enhancing efforts to negotiate a peace settlement in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan High Peace Council, led by former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, visited Pakistan earlier this month. The U.S. should take a proactive role in these talks in order to protect U.S. equities and ensure that U.S. military and financial investment in the region over the past decade will not be squandered.

The Administration should counter the perception that the U.S. is war-weary and ready to strike a grand bargain, which could allow Taliban leaders friendly to al-Qaeda to return to power. Instead, the U.S. should support political reconciliation that involves all ethnic groups in Afghanistan and upholds a vision for the region that strengthens those who support democracy, human rights, and religious pluralism and weakens those who adhere to destructive, extremist ideologies.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to promote reconciliation have been inconsistent and threaten to inflame ethnic tensions among groups who fear that he will not protect their interests. The Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara ethnic minorities fear a return to the atrocities carried out against their communities during Taliban rule of the country in the late 1990s. If they conclude that the Taliban are in a position to regain influence, they are likely to re-arm and prepare for a return to civil war. The debacle last November in which Karzai was duped into negotiating with a Taliban imposter demonstrates that the U.S. and coalition strategy for political reconciliation is still at the early stages and requires more serious attention.

The Obama Administration will have an opportunity to assert a leadership role in the reconciliation process when the Afghan and Pakistani leaders come to Washington for trilateral talks some time in late February. In these talks, the goal should be to convince the Pakistan military to shift its strategy in Afghanistan so that it does not invest in the Taliban and instead develops political alternatives. While Washington should acknowledge Pakistani regional security concerns, it should also make clear to Islamabad that it is prepared to devote substantial military, economic, and diplomatic resources to the goal of preventing a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan.

A Genuine Reconciliation Effort

A hasty retreat from the fight in 2011 because of a U.S. political timetable would squander hard-fought military gains made last year and jeopardize U.S. national security by returning the battlefield advantage to the Taliban, whose leadership remains allied with al-Qaeda. Instead of talking about withdrawal timelines to score domestic political points, the Obama Administration should lead a genuine reconciliation effort between Afghanistan and Pakistan that will strengthen those who support democracy and pluralism and weaken those who support extremist ideologies that breed terrorism in the region.

Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center and James Phillips is Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

Iraq Forces On Alert After Baghdad Blasts Kill 53

From Common

Published on Friday, January 28, 2011 by Agence France Presse

Iraq Forces on Alert After Baghdad Blasts Kill 53

BAGHDAD - Iraqi security forces were on alert Friday after a massive car bomb ripped through a funeral ceremony in a Shiite district of Baghdad, killing 48 people in Iraq's bloodiest day in more than two months.

The blast on Thursday was the deadliest in a series of bombings that claimed 53 lives across the capital, and led to an angry crowd pelting security forces with stones when they arrived at the scene.

[A massive car bomb ripped through a funeral ceremony in a Shiite district of Baghdad on Thursday, killing 48 people in Iraq's bloodiest day in more than two months. (AFPTV) ]

A massive car bomb ripped through a funeral ceremony in a Shiite district of Baghdad on Thursday, killing 48 people in Iraq's bloodiest day in more than two months. (AFPTV) It was the latest in a surge in violence in the past 10 days that has left more people dead than attacks throughout any of the past three months, and comes little more than a month after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki formed a coalition government, ending the deadlock that followed March elections.

"The government arrests terrorists, they send them to prison, and then they release them the next day," shouted Abu Mohammed Saadi, 56, one of the funeral-goers.

"Take the criminals off the streets, don't release them so quickly!"

An interior ministry official said the car bomb, which exploded outside a tent where the ceremony was being held early afternoon in the Shuala neighbourhood, killed 48 people and wounded 121.

Saadi and other witnesses said the car bomb was driven by a suicide attacker.

The interior ministry official said "armed men" had fired on the forces who arrived first at the scene, causing the soldiers and policemen to withdraw until another army regiment arrived.

But a witness at the scene, Hussein Mohammed Saadi, said the crowd had become furious after the arrival of the first security force officer at the scene who played down the attack and accused members of the crowd of having planted the bomb.

Maliki ordered the arrest of the area's security chief, army Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed al-Obeidi, in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

In other blasts around the capital on Thursday, five people were killed and 21 wounded by roadside bomb attacks and a bomb placed inside a minibus.

The overall death toll of 53 was the highest for Iraq since November 2, when 11 car bombs rocked the capital, killing 63 and wounding nearly 300 in predominantly Shiite neighbourhoods.

The funeral attack was the latest targeting Shiites since a spate of car bombings last week killed 57 people outside the shrine city of Karbala.

Those bombings came ahead of a Shiite mourning ritual when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims poured into the city to mark 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the slaying of Imam Hussein, the sect's revered seventh century saint.

Imam Hussein's death at a battle near Karbala is at the heart of the historical division between Islam's Sunni and Shiite sects.

The split has fuelled sectarian violence between Iraq's Shiite majority and the Sunni Arab minority that dominated Saddam Hussein's regime until its ouster in the US-led invasion of 2003.

Violence across Iraq since a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a crowd of police recruits in Tikrit on January 18 has already killed more people -- at least 192 -- than in October, November or December, when 185, 171 and 151 people died, respectively.

© 2011 AFP

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Foreign Trainers Active In South-Eastern Afghan Province

From The Long War Journal:

'Foreign trainers' active in southeastern Afghan province

Map of attacks in Afghanistan. Ghazni province is the most violent in Afghanistan. Map from ANSO.

A US military commander operating in the southeastern Afghan province of Ghazni said that "foreign trainers" are working with the Taliban in the district of Andar, while Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate is seen as sabotaging efforts in the province.

"We also have seen some indications that there have been foreign trainers that have come to train the local Taliban who are fighting here in Andar," Lieutenant Colonel David Fivecoat, commander of 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, recently told TOLOnews. The report stated that "foreign trainers" are "Arabs, Chechens, and Pakistanis." US military officials often describe members of al Qaeda and allied terror groups as foreign fighters.

Throughout Afghanistan, Al Qaeda operates in conjunction with the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin network. Al Qaeda operatives often serve as embedded military trainers for Taliban field units and impart tactics and bomb-making skills to these forces. In addition, Al Qaeda frequently supports the Taliban by funding operations and providing weapons and other aid. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda's paramilitary 'Shadow Army' for more information on al Qaeda's role in Afghanistan.]

Andar is the second district in Ghazni to have been identified by the US military as a location where Pakistani, Chechen, and Arab fighters are operating. In July 2010, the International Security Assistance Force targeted a Taliban commander "who is responsible for smuggling Pakistani, Chechen and Arab fighters and improvised explosive device materials into Shah Joy District from Pakistan."

The Andar district in Ghazni is a known Taliban and al Qaeda hub in the southeast. Since October 2008, the US military has conducted seven raids against al Qaeda cells in Andar, according to press reports compiled by The Long War Journal. Senior Taliban and al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitators are known to operate in the district.

Ghazni is the most violent province in Afghanistan, according to data released by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office. In 2010, there were 1,540 recorded attacks in Ghazni, compared to 1,387 attacks in Helmand, the second-most violent province in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda and allied terror groups maintain a strong presence in Ghazni province. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Andar, Gelan, Ghazni, Shah Joy, and Waghaz, or four of the province's 16 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.

Al Qaeda's extensive reach in Afghanistan is documented in the body of press releases issued in recent years by the International Security Assistance Force. Looking at press releases dating back to March 2007, The Long War Journal has been able to detect the presence of al Qaeda and affiliated groups such as the Islamic Jihad Union in 70 different districts in 21 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

Meanwhile, US soldiers claim that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, is attempting to sabotage security in Ghazni.

"The ISI, some people from Pakistan to tell the civilians don't go to Shura with the Americans, don't talk with us, don't have local police program, don't work with them, and it's because they want to destroy our plans for security in this area," Sergeant First Class Paul Meacham said to TOLOnews. "They want to destroy the plans for the government to become stronger. They don't want these people to have government."

ISAF Kills Senior IMU Leader In Northern Afghanistan

From The Long War Journal:

Jan 27, 2011 (21 hours ago)ISAF kills senior IMU leader in Afghan northfrom The Long War Journal

1 person liked thisCoalition and Afghan special operations teams killed a senior leader of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan during a raid two days ago.

Nurullah Bai, who was described by the International Security Assistance Force as "a high-ranking Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader," was killed during a raid on Jan. 25 in Takhar province in northern Afghanistan. Bai was killed along with "several armed combatants." Two "insurgents" were also detained during the raid.

"He maintained close connections with the Taliban shadow governor for Takhar province, al Qaeda facilitators, and other IMU insurgents in the area," ISAF stated.

Bai "coordinated the district Taliban leader's movements, distributes funds, facilitates ammunition deliveries, and was involved in a drug trafficking network between Badakhshan province and Tajikistan," ISAF stated. He also specialized in IED attacks against Afghan government officials in the north.

Bai is the second terrorist leader killed in Takhar this week who has been linked to al Qaeda. On Jan. 24, special operations teams killed Hafiz, a Taliban leader who has ties to an al Qaeda facilitator operating in the province.

Al Qaeda and the allied Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan maintain a strong presence in the northern Afghan provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan. In Takhar, the presence of al Qaeda and the IMU has been detected in the districts of Darqad, Ishkamish, Khwajah Bahawuddin, and Rustaq, or four of the province's 12 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.

Top leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have integrated into the Taliban's shadow government in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar. The Taliban, the IMU, and al Qaeda seek to expand their control of the Afghan north, and use the region to interdict ISAF's newly established supply lines from Tajikistan as well as to launch attacks into Uzbekistan.

Since late August 2010, Coalition and Afghan forces have carried out nine raids against al Qaeda and IMU-linked Taliban leaders in the north. Several top Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders were killed or captured during the raids.

Raids against al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Takhar province since August 2010

Aug. 27, 2010: Special forces targeted an "extremist" linked to the Taliban and the IMU in Kunduz. He and several al Qaeda operatives moved to Takhar from Pakistan.

Sept. 2, 2010: Coalition aircraft killed Mohammed Amin, a senior leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who also served as the deputy provincial shadow governor.

Sept. 3, 2010: Special operations forces captured the Taliban's military commissioner for six of Takhar's districts. The commissioner facilitated foreign fighter suicide bombers.

Sept. 3, 2010: Special operations forces killed Attallah, the Taliban's shadow district governor of Darqad district, who maintained contact with senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders in Pakistan and in the Afghan provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan.

Sept. 26, 2010: During a raid in Takhar, special operations forces targeted a Taliban facilitator associated with several al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Taliban leaders operating in Baghlan province.

Oct. 5, 2010: During a raid in Takhar, special operations forces captured Saifullah, the Taliban district leader for Kunduz's Chahar Darah district. Saifullah maintained close ties with senior Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leadership in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Oct. 26, 2010: Coalition aircraft killed Qari Mahmad Umar, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior leader, who was serving as the Taliban district leader for Khwajah Bahawuddin.

Jan. 24, 2011: Special operations forces killed Hafiz, a Taliban leader, who had ties with an al Qaeda facilitator.

Jan. 25, 2011: Special operations forces killed Nurullah Bai, an IMU leader who had close ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda in the north.

Philippines: Jihadists Murder Five, Wound 13 In Jihad Attack On Crowded Bus

From Jihad Watch:

Philippines: Misunderstanders of Islam murder five, wound 13 in jihad attack on crowded bus

More dawah and bridge-building. "Philippine Officials See Link to Islamic Militants in Bus Explosion," from VOA News, January 26:

Philippine authorities say Tuesday's deadly bomb attack on a passenger bus in Manila has the hallmarks of terrorist attacks in the nation's turbulent south.

Five people were killed and at least 13 others wounded when the bomb ripped apart a bus as it was traveling near Manila's Makati business district. The blast was so powerful it damaged a nearby concrete wall.

Officials say the remotely-detonated improvised bomb used in the attack was similar to those used by Muslim insurgents who have been fighting a decades-long battle for a separate homeland in the southern Philippines, but did not mention any specific group.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Manila attack so far.

Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to al-Qaida, has been linked to terrorist attacks in the region for years. The group has also been blamed for a similar bus bombing in Manila in 2005 on the same road as Tuesday's bombing. Four people were killed in that attack....

Posted by Robert on January 26, 2011 7:18 AM

Moscow Airport Jihad-Martyrdom Bombers Were Trained In Pakistan

From Jihad Watch:

Moscow airport jihad-martyrdom bombers were trained in Pakistan

Our friend and ally exports jihad terror to the West. Will the U.S. be next? "Moscow airport bomb: suicide bombers were part of squad trained in Pakistan," by Andrew Osborn and Damien McElroy in the Telegraph, January 26 (thanks to Ron):

The two suicide bombers who carried out the Moscow attack were thought to be part of a suicide squad trained in Pakistan's al-Qaeda strongholds sent to the capital to target the city's transport system. [...]

An eyewitness said the woman had been dressed in black and had worn a veil, suggesting she may have been a 'Black Widow' suicide bomber from the North Caucasus region out to revenge the killing of her husband by Russian security forces.

"The explosion occurred the moment the presumed female suicide bomber opened her bag," the security source told the RIA Novosti news agency. "The terrorist was accompanied by a man. He was standing beside her and (the blast) tore off his head."

Intelligence services have been embarrassed by the revelation that informants had warned of an attack on an airport in the Russian capital just weeks before the incident. Security experts said the tip-off had revealed that a criminal gang based in the Moscow suburbs was assisting a Chechen bombing making squad and that a suicide cell was travelling from a training camp.

A newspaper close to Russia's FSB security service published what it claimed was a warning to Moscow police issued in December that said there was credible intelligence that a suicide squad made up of three women and one man from Chechnya was headed to Moscow.

The memo said the team had spent time in Pakistan and Iran and that one of the women had a relative with a flat in Moscow that might be used as a bomb making factory. Another group of five Islamist militants trained in Pakistan was also expected to cross into Russia soon, it added.

An al-Qaeda linked website said that the group Islamic Caucasus Emirate, led by the rebe [sic] Doku Umarov, was poised to claim it had staged the attack. It said that Russia's harsh military measures against independence activists in the Caucasus had provoked the attack. It said: "You disbelievers are the firewood of Hell. You will enter it."

The daily Kommersant newspaper said security service officials were alerted to the extent of the threat when a woman accidentally blew herself up on New Year's Eve in Moscow. It later emerged that her husband was in jail for being a member of an Islamist terror group and that she and a girlfriend had been sent to Moscow from the internal Muslim republic of Dagestan to commit an act of terror. [...]

Posted by Robert on January 26, 2011 11:04 AM

Border authorities Arrest Pro-Sharia Muslim Cleric Who Was Deported From Canada Into U.S.

From Jihad Watch:

Border authorities arrest pro-Sharia Muslim cleric who was deported from Canada sneaking into U.S.

"In Quebec's large Muslim community, Jaziri stood out for his outspoken views, and though his mosque was small, he drew outsized media attention for his strict interpretation of the Koran. Jaziri labeled homosexuality a sin and pushed for government subsidies to build a large mosque for Montreal's growing Muslim population." And what a hotbed of peace and tolerance that place would have been.

"Border authorities arrest controversial Muslim cleric east of San Diego," by Richard Marosi in the Los Angeles Times, January 26 (thanks to Block Ness):

U.S. border authorities have arrested a controversial Muslim cleric who was deported from Canada to Tunisia three years ago and was caught earlier this month trying to sneak into California inside the trunk of a BMW, according to court documents.

Said Jaziri, the former Imam of a Muslim congregation in Montreal, was hidden inside a car driven by a San Diego-area man who was pulled over by U.S. Border Patrol agents near an Indian casino east of San Diego. Jaziri allegedly paid a Tijuana-based smuggling group $5,000 to get him across the border near Tecate, saying he wanted to be taken to a "safe place anywhere in the U.S."

The arrest marks the unexpected resurfacing of the 43-year-old cleric, whose protracted legal battle to avoid deportation drew headlines in Canada. A Tunisian immigrant, Jaziri was deported for failing to disclose a criminal conviction in France while applying for refugee status in the mid-1990s.

But Jaziri's supporters said he was targeted for his fundamentalist views: Jaziri backed Sharia law for Canadian Muslims and led protests over the publication of the prophet Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2006....

In Quebec's large Muslim community, Jaziri stood out for his outspoken views, and though his mosque was small, he drew outsized media attention for his strict interpretation of the Koran. Jaziri labeled homosexuality a sin and pushed for government subsidies to build a large mosque for Montreal's growing Muslim population.

"His nickname in Quebec was the controversial imam," said Lise Garon, a professor of communications at Laval University in Quebe City, adding that his case tapped into the anti-immigrant mood in the community. "I think he was deported because people hated his ideas."

Jaziri opposed his deportation to Tunisia because of fears he would be tortured by the government. His case drew support from Muslim organizations and Amnesty International. It's unclear what his treatment was like in Tunisia....

Posted by Robert on January 26, 2011 1:40 PM