Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Evil celebrates evil

My fellow MOB blogger, friend and good guy Uncle Ben from Hammerswing75 had some troubling news on Monday:

This post is going to be difficult to write. Four civilians were kidnapped in Iraq on Saturday. I haven't been able to find lots of details, but here is the general story, which is:

Norman Kember, a retired professor from Pinner, north London, was abducted with two Canadians and an American in Baghdad on Saturday. Mr Kember, a grandfather in his 70s, had traveled to Iraq last week on a peace mission.

Mr. Kember is a good friend of my parents and a longtime member of my Granny's church, Harrow Baptist. I remember seeing him a few years ago when I stopped by in England to visit my Gran. We were at the church and he came over for some conversation. "I remember when you were this tall", putting his hand down by his knees. He is an extremely nice man who went out of his way to be friendly. His wife Pat, who possesses an equally wonderful character, must be in absolute shock.

My parents have asked for my prayers. There will be many. I, in turn, am asking for yours. I hope that there will be many.

(Ben has more thoughts and updates here, here, here, and here.)

In keeping with their twisted souls, the terrorists have released video and photos of the kidnapping victims. For example, see this article from the Washington Times:

Al Jazeera television yesterday aired a video of four aid workers kidnapped over the weekend, apparently being held by a previously unknown terrorist group called the "Swords of Righteousness."

My Pet Jawa also has some video and stills and a number of links.

Last Friday I had a post about several actions where terrorist propaganda leaders were captured. I paid attention to such things for just this very reason. The propaganda they are putting out does not involve pretty 4-color brochures about how they would plant flowers in every boulevard in Iraq if elected.

No, their propaganda traffics in human suffering. It glorifies evil. It preys on the fear of terrified victims, and uses that pornographic thirst to catch the eye of similarly twisted individuals.

On Monday, Power Line pointed out a video that MEMRI posted, a video made by the terrorists who planned the recent bombing of hotels in Baghdad. It is a slick video. The joy the terrorists take in their bloody work is chilling. (The Hedgehog Blog has a frame captured from the video.)

Let's remember Ben and his request for prayers, let's remember all the kidnapping victims and their families.

But let's never lose sight of why we are in Iraq. We are there to throw terrorists and purveyors of propaganda like this to the ground and strangle the life out of them, for evil this far gone can never be reasoned with. It must be killed. It must.

Operation Iron Hammer begins

As I mentioned here, in the wake of Steel Curtain near the Syrian border, and all the activity in the Ramadi and Fallujah areas at the eastern end of the ratlines, it made sense to me that there would be a big operation along the Euphrates, and it would probably come somewhere in the middle.

That operation began today. Operation Iron Hammer is underway in Hit, some 65 km northwest of Ramadi.

The aim of the operation is to clear the region of al Qaeda and Iraq-led terrorists and establish a secure environment for the upcoming National Elections, Dec. 15.

Approximately 500 Iraqi Army soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division and 1,500 Marines and Sailors from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit along with 500 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion-114th Field Artillery Regiment are conducting Operation Matraqa Hadidia (Iron Hammer) east of Hit, approximately 170 km from Baghdad.

The Hai Al Becker region is suspected to be an al Qaeda in Iraq safe area and base of operations for the manufacture of vehicle car bombs, roadside bombs. It is also believed to be a stopping point for terrorists as they transit the ‘rat lines’ down the Euphrates River from Syria into the interior of Iraq.

In early July, Iraqi and U.S. Forces established long-term security presence in the city of Hit during Operation Saif (Sword). During Saif, few terrorists were located; however, a score of weapons caches have been discovered in the region.

Operation Iron Hammer will clear the area on the eastern side of the Euphrates River, an area not typically patrolled by Iraqi and U.S. Forces.

Bill Roggio adds this:

The Coalition forces currently occupy Hit, but Iron Hammer is directed at a portion of the city called the Hai Al Becker region which lies on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

The 13th MEU took part in Steel Curtain. I discussed the Iraqi 7th Army Division here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Rock

In this post, I touched briefly on the sobering number of casualties involving Humvees, and how that vehicle is not an adequate vehicle for the environment in Iraq or Afghanistan. I listed the casualties from Nov 1 through Nov 8 involving Humvees. Here are casualties since then, where Humvees were specified as being involved.

DateNameAssigned ToCircumstances
Nov 15Sgt. 1st Class James Ochsner3rd SFGIED detonated near his HMMWV in Afghanistan
Nov 15Staff Sgt. James Estep
Spc. Matthew Holley
Spc. Alexis Roman-Cruz
Pfc. Travis Grigg
101st ADIED detonated near their HMMWV
Nov 191st Lt. Dennis Zilinski
Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz
Cpl. Jonathan Blair
Spc. Dominic Hinton
101st ADIED detonated near their HMMWV
Nov 19Spc. Michael Idanan101st ADIED detonated near his HMMWV
Nov 21Pfc. John Dearing125th IRIED detonated near his HMMWV
Nov 22Spc. Matthew Steyart508th IRIED detonated near his HMMWV in Afghanistan
Nov 24Staff Sgt. Steven Reynolds
Pfc. Marc Delgado
42nd MPBIED detonated near their HMMWV

This month there was an encouraging report on this front.

A private firm, led by Chris Berman, a Navy SEAL Reservist and former Blackwater USA contractor, is building a vehicle designed to do what the Humvee can't do. Granite Global Services in Kuwait is manufacturing a new armored vehicle designed to fight and survive in the environments of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And it has been tested by fire. As W. Thomas Smith says,

On November 25, during an operation in the Baghdad area, one of Granite Global's armored "Rocks" was hit with an improvised explosive device (IED). The vehicle sustained no major damage, and - best of all - no injuries were suffered by passengers or crew.

The new urban warfare vehicle is called The Rock, and it is a big fellow.

The Rock
(photo from

Built on a Ford 4X4 truck chassis with "street tires," The Rock weighs approximately 15,500 lbs. (depending on an individual vehicle's armor and armament configuration), but it's fast. "It's governed at 94 mph, but – at 15,000 pounds - we can comfortably do 80," says Berman.

The vehicle's armor is comprised of three layers: First is the outer Polyeurea coating. This is followed by the actual armor. Then there is a blanketing insulator. These three layers surround the entire vehicle – roof, sides, front, rear, and below the floorboard. "It is 100 percent armored," says Berman.

Moreover, the outer skin of the vehicle has a "bolt-on" feature that permits additional layers of armor to be attached to the existing armor. An RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) screen may also be added, similar to the screen/cage on the U.S. Army's Stryker.

The Rock can haul a four-man crew and six-to-eight passengers depending on its configuration.

This is the kind of vehicle the US government should have been working on a long time ago. The discouraging element of the story is that being a fairly small private firm, Granite Global is capable of producing only 10 vehicles per month.

Our military deserves the best we can give them, and the inadequacies of the Humvee is not the brightest chapter in the story of this war. We can urge our government to address these concerns, and accelerate the work on a suitable urban combat vehicle.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Conflicts in Africa

The continent of Africa has seen so much suffering. Disease, AIDS, poverty, famine, drought. Yet so much of the suffering has come from human hands. Africa has experienced numerous conflicts, wars, civil wars, oppression, brutal dictators, violence.

Here are some very brief descriptions of conflicts in different African countries over the years. This is not an exhaustive list. I left out some of the more familiar conflicts, like the Islamic extremists in Egypt, and apartheid in South Africa. Or, I've left out some of the smaller conflicts. I didn't include anything that occurred before the 1950s. Most of what I have here has happened since the 1970s, and I tried to focus on events that are either still ongoing, have ended recently, or whose effects linger today.

Still, read in toto, it is a sobering reminder of why poverty and suffering remains so entrenched in Africa.

Algeria - Experienced an intense Islamic insurgency that began in 1992 and killed over 100,000 people. The Armed Islamic Group was defeated by 2002. There are still smaller attacks in some areas, and there is support for Al Qaeda among the extremists.

Angola - A 27-year civil war ended in 2002 with the death of Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Perhaps over a million people died, and nearly two million became refugees. The country remains very poor despite rich natural resources.

Burundi - Until 1993, Burundi was controlled by the military, and Tutsi-minority dictators. In 1993, a Hutu President was elected, but he was assassinated by Tutsis after only 100 days in office. This sparked a bloody civil war. Peace deals and violence continued till a 2003 ceasefire. An extremist Hutu group, FNL, did not participate, and in 2004 massacred 152 Tutsi refugees. In May 2005, there was a ceasefire agreed to between the FNL and the Burundian government. Pierre Nkurunziza, a Hutu, was elected President in August.

Chad - Three decades of civil war and invasions by Libya ended in 1990, but in 1998, a rebellion began in the north, which continues in various degrees to this day. Unrest in Sudan's Darfur region spilled over into Chad in 2003 and 2004. Dictator Hissène Habré was deposed in 1990, and just this week, a court in Senegal said it was "incompetent" to rule on whether Senegal should extradite Chad's ex-Dictator Hissène Habré to Belgium to stand trial there for human rights abuses committed under his rule.

Congo-Brazzaville - After years of Marxist influence, Congo had democratic elections in 1992. However, in 1997 a four-month conflict erupted, and with the help of Angolan troops, Denis Sassou-Nguesso proclaimed himself President. More ethnic unrest continued till a peace accord in 2003.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) - Mobutu Sese Seko was president till 1997. His rule was exceedingly corrupt. Civil war began in 1994, and Mobutu was forced out of power in 1997 by Laurent-Désiré Kabila. He was corrupt as well, and a rebellion began in 1998. Kabila was assassinated in 2001, and his son Joseph Kabila now rules. There has been a shaky peace since 2003, but unrest remains, and there are challengers to Joseph Kabila's rule.

- A Marxist government took power in Ethiopia in 1974, and violence, drought, and refugee problems continuted to 1991 when the regime was defeated by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Eritrea became indepentant from Ethiopia in 1993, and a border war erupted between 1998 and 2000. Just this year, the EPRDF has held elections, but there have been charges of election fraud, and the government has cracked down on protestors, to the objections of many other nations. Tensions are once again high with Eritrea, and there are worries war could again break out.

Guinea-Bissau - After achieving independence in 1974, a coup in 1980 made Joao Vieira president. He survived a few coup attempts to unseat him. He was elected president in 1994 free elections, but a civil war erupted in 1998, and Vieira was deposed in a coup in 1999. Kumba Yala was elected in 2000, but a 2003 coup deposed him. Elections were again held this year, and in a political comeback, Vieria was sworn in as president this past October.

Ivory Coast - A military coup in 1999 overthrew the government. Robert Guéi attempted to fix the election in 2000, but excluded popular opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. A violent response to the election rigging left Laurent Gbagbo as President. A military mutiny left troops in control of the north in 2002. A unity government was formed in 2003, but the government has remained unstable to this day. (You may recall that despite its criticism of the Iraq War, France had no qualms about unilaterally sending troops to Ivory Coast to protect its interests.)

Liberia - Initially founded by freed slaves from America, a coup in Liberia in 1980 brought Samuel Kanyon Doe to power. The president, William Tolbert, was executed. Civil war began in 1989 and Doe was ousted in 1990. Later, in 1997, warlord Charles Taylor was elected President. His rule was brutal and oppressive. Another rebellion erupted as a result in 1999. In 2003, under American pressure to resign, Taylor was exiled to Nigeria. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was just elected as Africa's first female president in November.

Mali - Ruled by military dictators until 1991. An anti-government coup brought the first democratic elections in 1992. Mali remains a very poor country.

Namibia - A Marxist group (SWAPO) began a war for independence in 1966 which continued till 1988. Namibia became independent from South Africa in 1990, and SWAPO has ruled ever since.

Nigeria - There have been a startling number of coups since 1960, as well as numerous flawed elections. Olusegun Obasanjo became President in 1999 and has ruled ever since. His regime is considered by many to be the most corrupt in Nigerian history. The north part of Nigeria is largely Muslim, and there have been many violent clashes between Muslims and Christians. Some Muslim states in Nigeria have adopted Sharia law. There is an ongoing rebellion in Nigeria's oil producing Niger Delta region. One of the rebel groups there is the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, led by militia leader Dokubo Asari. Asari was arrested in October.

Rwanda - The majority Hutus came to power in 1959. In 1990, a Tutsi group (RPF) invaded from Uganda. In 1994, the Rwandan Genocide began. Perhaps 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered. The violence ended when the RPF overthrew the Hutu government. Over 2 million Hutus left the country, fearing reprisals from the Tutsis. Troops from Rwanda became involved in the Congo wars.

Senegal - A mostly Muslim country, President Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia governed together from 1960 to 1962. Dia attempted a coup which was unsuccessful. Senghor governed till 1980. A southern separatist group has fought with the government since 1982, and at times the confrontation has involved violence and killings. A peace treaty was signed December 30, 2004.

Sierra Leone - A bloody civil war raged from 1991 to 2002. With the help of UN and British troops, a ceasefire was achieved, and elections were held in 2002. With the withdrawal of UN troops to be completed by the end of 2005, though, the situation may be deteriorating again. The diamond trade in Sierra Leone is a significant reason for much of the violence.

Somalia - A basket case. Somalia has known assassinations and civil war and violence since 1969. In 1991, the north part of the country broke away and called itself Somaliland. Also in 1991, the clan of Mohamed Farrah Aidid overthrew the government of Mohamed Siad Barre, and more civil war erupted. Famine devastated Somalia in the early 90s, but Aided hindered relief efforts. In 1993, US troops were sent to Somalia. On October 3, 1993, 18 American soldiers were killed in Mogadishu. Three other regions in Somalia declared themselves independent in the 1990s. The central government was nonexistant for all practical purposes. A new transitional government was formed in 2004, but has yet to move to Mogadishu. Because of the lack of a stable government, terrorism may have found a toehold in Somalia, and piracy off the coast of Somalia is a significant problem.

Sudan - Civil war raged from from 1955 to 1972, but started up again in 1983. Osama Bin Laden went to Sudan in 1991. A new rebellion started in the Darfur region in 2003, when non-Arab groups rebelled against the Arab government. Tens of thousands of people have been killed by government-backed Arab groups. Famine devastated Sudan in 1998, and threatened again in the Darfur region. The situation did stabilize to some extent in 2005.

Uganda - The brutal dictator Idi Amin ruled from 1971 to 1979. He was overthrown by an invasion from Tanzania. His successor, Milton Obote, was deposed in 1985. Yoweri Museveni has ruled since 1986. Violence and rebellion have continued in the north and west.

Zimbabwe - Race-related conflict scarred the country in the 1970s. Robert Mugabe was elected President in 1980 and has ruled ever since. In recent years, since 2000, Mugabe has allowed the return of racial violence. White farmers have had their land taken from them and given to blacks. The country is falling deeper into poverty as a result. Mugabe rigged elections in 2002, and his security forces oppress dissenters.

See also:

Conflicts in Africa
Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Looking back at Operation Steel Curtain

Bill Roggio is now in Iraq, and in the last couple days has had a couple of very informative pieces looking back at Operation Steel Curtain. The pieces are at his new blog, ThreatsWatch, which also includes the excellent work of Steve Schippert and Marvin Hutchens. Bill's accounts are full of details that could only have come from talking to the military on the ground there.

The posts are entitled Steel Curtain Unmasked: The Story Behind the Battle for the Western Euphrates and The Hounds of Husaybah: A night on patrol with the Jackals of Lima Company.

For my own reference as much as anything, I'll list here all of my posts on Operation Steel Curtain.

Operation Steel Curtain - Nov 5
Operation Steel Curtain - Day 3 - Nov 7
Update on Steel Curtain - Nov 8
Can't we do better? - Nov 10
Operation Steel Curtain Rolls On - Nov 14
The Glorious Jihad - Nov 15
Operation Steel Curtain Update - Nov 16
quick update on Steel Curtain - Nov 17
followup to yesterday's Steel Curtain update - Nov 18
Operation Steel Curtain enters another phase - Nov 18
The nature of the work - Nov 21
Operation Steel Curtain takes a breather? - Nov 22
Operation Steel Curtain has ended - Nov 22
Pinching the ends - Nov 23

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling for President Bush to be charged with war crimes over the use of depleted uranium shells in Iraq. He further denounced the west for attempting to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions and promised to confront the "supporters of the Zionist entity."

* Jihad Watch links to an article saying an Ohio cleric is to be deported for terrorist ties. "Imam Fawaz Damra, the spiritual leader of Ohio's largest mosque, was convicted in June 2004 of concealing ties to three groups that the U.S. government classifies as terrorist organizations when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1994."

* A Filipino soldier was killed in a shootout with Abu Sayyaf gunmen on Jolo Island, as authorities continue their manhunt for Abu Sayyaf leaders Albader Parad and Umbra Jumdail Gumbahali, both on the terror watch lists of the Philippines and the United States. According to some reports, as many as 30 U.S. advisors are embedded with Filipino counterterrorism units.

Other topics today include: Rafah border crossing opens; King Abdullah ushers in reform; Hezbollah kidnappings; Azerbaijan opposition; GCC moves closer to counterterrorism center; Tehran insists on enrichment; Syria agrees to cooperate with Mehlis; Pakistani convicted in US court over terror ties; debate over Patriot Act; Arrests in Afghanistan; Indonesia anti-terrorism ads; Islamic fundementalism on rise in France; EU-Mediterranean summit; Egyptian elections and violence; and much more.

Iran & the Middle East

* The Rafah border terminal between Egypt and the Gaza Strip opened for the first time without Israeli security since it was established in 1979. Palestinians praised the border opening, a move that some hope will breathe some economic life into Gaza.

* King Abdullah of Jordan has ordered Director of National Security Marouf Bakhit to form a new government aimed at sweeping in reform and launching an all out war against Islamic terrorists. Some rumors point to an "imminent dissolution" of the 110-seat lower house of parliament to pave the way for elections.

* Hezbollah is vowing to continue trying to kidnap Israeli soldiers after a botched attempt last week resulted in the death of three Hezbollah fighters. In southern Beirut, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says "it is our right to capture Israeli soldiers."

* Two weeks after disputed parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, the opposition movement has been unable to muster any significant response. A combination of the government's security crackdown and lack of leadership and trust among the people has largely kept the Popular Front's impact at a minimum.

* According to a UK Telegraph report, Iran is secretly training Chechen fighters at the Revolutionary Guards' Imam Ali training camp, located close to Tajrish Square in Teheran.

* The six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) appear one step closer to adopting a Saudi plan to construct a counterterrorism center in Saudi Arabia that would coordinate information and planning.

* Tehran remains firm on their right to enrich uranium inside of Iran, apparently rebuffing plans a Russian compromise to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran that was enriched in Russia. The IAEA withheld referring Iran to the UN Security Council in an effort to allow Russia to resolve the crisis through diplomacy.

* The Syrian government has agreed to allow top officials to be interviewed outside of the country after posing initial opposition to the measure. The United Nations headquarters in Vienna, Austria is reported to be the site where the interviews will take place.

* Yemen has executed Ali Ahmed Jarallah, a hardline Islamic cleric who killed a member of the opposition socialist party in 2002, declaring it part of a jihad against converts to Christianity and infidels.

America Domestic Security & the America's

* US federal jurors on Wednesday convicted a 25-year-old Pakistani of supporting an al Qaeda plot to attack the United States, despite the man's claim that he falsely confessed under the pressure of three days of interrogation by the FBI. Uzair Paracha was convicted of all five counts he faced, including conspiracy and providing material support to al Qaeda, identification fraud and receiving funds for the benefit of al Qaeda.

* Canadian opposition legislators accused the government on Friday of trying to hide the fact that planes used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to transport prisoners for interrogation had landed at Canadian airports. Earlier this week, Ottawa said it was investigating reports that two planes linked to a CIA shell company had flown from Iceland to St. John's in Newfoundland, on Canada's East Coast.

* Several reasons have been given for the US government's decision this week not to include charges of ties to Al Qaeda or the plans to build a "dirty bomb" in its indictment against US citizen Jose Padilla. The New York Times Thursday quoted unnamed current and former government sources say one of those reasons may be that it was unwilling to allow the testimony of the two Al Qaeda members who linked Mr. Padilla to the above plot because the two men may have been "subjected to harsh questioning."

* A former Leduc cinema owner with suspected ties to al-Qaida has been charged in Miami with conspiracy to murder and providing support to terrorists as part of a North American cell. It’s alleged Kassem Daher and Jose Padilla conspired to "murder, maim and kidnap" people in terrorism-related plots overseas.

* Opponents of the USA Patriot Act are taking advantage of a split between the House and Senate to rewrite the law under a ticking clock that voids some contentious provisions by Dec. 31. A proposed deal between the House and Senate fell apart just hours before lawmakers left for the Thanksgiving break. When the session resumes Dec. 12, lawmakers will have 15 working days to reach a compromise.

* Police have arrested a man at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix for making threats of terrorism and for restraining an information desk clerk. Phoenix Police Sgt. Lauri Williams said the man jumped behind a ticket counter, grabbed the clerk and held her hands behind her back while screaming that he was armed and was affiliated with terrorist groups. "He wasn't making sense, he wasn't coherent," Williams said. "The officers believed he was mentally ill. They did not believe his threats were valid."

* Heavily armed police and army officers swooped down on several illegally operated quarries in Trinidad last week arresting 12 men and impounding several pieces of heavy equipment used in the trade. Nine of the 11 quarries were said to be operated by the Jamaat al Muslimeem whose leader Yasin Abu Bakr is currently in jail without bail after being charged with several offences, among them a terrorism charge. The Jamaat-al-Muslimeen has been accused of muscling its way into the industry, at first claiming to have inherited a lease giving them the rights to mine in the midst of a boom in the construction sector which has fueled a demand for aggregate making quarrying a highly lucrative industry.

Russia & South/Central Asia

* An explosive device hit a vehicle carrying NATO-led peacekeepers in Afghanistan's northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, wounding four of them, two seriously, the force said. A police spokesman in the city, Shirjan Burani, said the four wounded soldiers were Swedish but ISAF would not confirm this.

* Friday's Terrorism Update from SATP has several items involving Maosists, as well as items from Bangladesh and Kashmir. Saturday's update is here, and Sunday's update is here.

* Sri Lanka's new President Mahinda Rajapakse has demanded a review of a ceasefire deal with Tamil Tiger rebels. He said the country needed a new peace process that would not tolerate "terrorism" - but added that he was ready for talks.

* U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed a deal between Nepal's Maoist rebels and the main political parties aimed at restoring democracy and urged the insurgents to extend a three-month ceasefire. His comments on Thursday came after Nepal's seven main political parties and the rebels said they had agreed to work together to put an end to the absolute powers of the king, who sacked the government and took control of the country on Feb. 1.

* Nepal's royal government blasted the deal as "unholy". "Basically, the unholy 12-point alliance-Maoist compact frames an agreement to abolish the monarchy through elections to a constituent assembly, with a view to the establishment of a total democracy," a statement said.

* Nepal police seized equipment from a radio station and arrested four journalists and a technician to block the broadcasting of a BBC interview with the Maoist rebel chief, reports said. Gham Raj Luintel, acting station manager of Radio Sagarmatha FM, told AFP two armed police made the arrests without any warrant.

* Court in the central Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod sentenced Friday three members of Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami organization to various jail terms. Criminal proceedings against the group have been instigated in October 2004. 11 people were detained in the region under suspicion of terrorist activity. Police seized grenades and materials that called for the creation of the universal Islamic caliphate and dethronement of non-Islamic governments.

* The latest issue of Chechnya Weekly, from The Jamestown Foundation, has items on the upcoming election in Chechnya, and tanks that fired at Beslan.

* A report from PINR looks at the closer relationship between Russia and Uzbekistan. A mutual security pact formalizes Uzbekistan's shifting foreign policy. The last US flight left a base in Uzbekistan a week ago.

* Sweden's king and prime minister expressed sorrow on Saturday after the country's first peacekeeper was killed in Afghanistan, but the government said it still planned to boost its force in the country. The soldier, serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), died after a bomb attack on Friday.

* The Afghan national army has arrested six people driving cars packed with explosives into Kabul, the defense ministry spokesman has told the BBC. The governor of the eastern Nangarhar province has said he was the target of a failed suicide attack. And four Afghan policemen who were feared abducted are now back at base.

* Certain Middle East-based international non-governmental organisations operating in Bangladesh are still untouched despite months-old intelligence confirmation of their financing Islamist militant outfits.

* An update from CDI last week summarizes news and analysis about the events in Afghanistan and the U.S. war on terrorism in the surrounding region in the month of October.

* One man was killed and three others wounded Sunday in a bomb attack in southwest Bangladesh, said police, who ruled out a link to Islamic groups that have launched a series of such attacks since August. A bus attendant was seriously injured when a suspected member of a Maoist group hurled a bomb at him in Alamdanga, about 200km from the capital Dhaka, police superintendent Mohammad Sarwar said.

* An article in the Autumn issue of Parameters, the US Army War College quarterly, entitled Afghanistan Four Years On: An Assessment, looks at reasons for guarded optimism and new areas of concern.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Indonesian authorities are filming documentaries for television featuring testimony from several individuals involved in the 2002 bombings in Bali, followed by Islamic clerics rebuffing terrorism, in the hopes of fighting the spread of extremism in the nation.

* The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is urging the Filipino government and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to return to resume negotiations and called for the removal of the "terrorist" label on the CPP, saying it "shows that the government is not serious in talking peace."

* North Korea is criticizing CNN for their airing of a tape smuggled out of the reclusive nation that shows a public execution, calling it "full of sheer lies" and saying the showing was instigated by the U.S. government as part of a psychological campaign to overthrow the regime.

* According to Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, the next round of six party talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons program will begin in January.


* A recent study by the Center for Intelligence Research in Paris shows a rise in Islamic fundamentalism in the French workplace, and more alarming that Islamic networks are trying to establish a presence in "firms involved in sectors such as security, cargo, armored cars, courier services and transportation."

* Authorities in Sarejevo arrested a Bosnian man with ties to four terror suspects previously detained, and charged him with "unlawful trade in military equipment and weapons."

* Queen Elizabeth spoke at the opening of the Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting in Malta, and urged nations to stand united against the threats of terror. Leaders at the three day summit will discuss ways to "increase tolerance in order to fight extremism."

* German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is voicing concerns over allegations that CIA flights with terror suspects may have passed through Frankfurt airport. The German newspaper Berliner Zeitung reported that CIA flights had used European airports 15 times this year.

* Leaders from the EU and Mediterranean states gathered in Barcelona, Spain for a two day summit that included the topics of terrorism, democracy, immigration, and globalization. In addition to the 25 EU members, Turkey, Israel, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian authority and Lebanon were all represented.


* Police in Alexandria, Egypt, arrested 16 members of the Muslim Brotherhood on Friday, a day before another round of parliamentary election voting, a spokesman for the officially banned but usually tolerated Islamist group said. The arrests coincided with controversy over an investigation conducted by judges supervising the elections, which found that officially announced results in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour differed from their own vote count.

* Egyptian police detained over 140 Muslim Brotherhood supporters and restricted voting on Saturday, day four of elections in which Islamists have made a strong showing, the Brotherhood and witnesses said. In the Nile Delta village of Hayatim, men armed with machetes and clubs attacked Muslim Brotherhood organisers outside polling stations, helping to frighten off people who wanted to vote in the parliamentary elections, according to witnesses and election monitors.

* A commentator at Al Ahram Weekly asks what the Muslim Brotherhood's success at the polls means.

* Director General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Uche Okeke, said last week that the nation's Muslim population combined with close ties with the United States of America makes the country prime target of terrorists attack. He said this fear is made more rife by the possible tendency of the terrorists to draw followers to their fold from the perceived fanatical Islamists among Nigerian Muslims.

The Global War

* The Commander of NATO's disaster relief team in Pakistan, Air Commodore Andrew Walton, says the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has no plans to establish permanent bases in Pakistan. He rejected the impression that the US forces were operating in Pakistan under the guise of the NATO team. He said the reports suggesting that NATO forces were in Pakistan to contain China had no basis at all, and ruled out the possibility of NATO setting up an observatory in Pakistan.

* Britain and Pakistan have been cooperating in "extensive operations" since the July 7 bombings in London, aimed at cutting back the transit of terrorists between the two nations.

* Despite protests from Washington, Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono will travel to Venezuela next week to sign a $ 1.5 billion contract for Madrid to sell military patrol boats and transport planes to Venezuela.

* A scientific method that has been used to track the source of illegal drugs, explosives, counterfeit bills and biological warfare agents may have some new uses: detecting rapidly growing cancers and studying obesity and eating disorders.

* Bruce Schneier, who has written several books on security and is the founder of Counterpane Internet Security, told ZDNet UK that officials claiming terrorists pose a serious danger to computer networks are guilty of directing attention away from the threat faced from criminals. "I think that the terrorist threat is overhyped, and the criminal threat is underhyped," Schneier said Tuesday. "I hear people talk about the risks to critical infrastructure from cyberterrorism, but the risks come primarily from criminals. It's just criminals at the moment aren't as 'sexy' as terrorists."

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Doing deals with the devil is risky business

First, a note of caution. You and I don't really have the means to judge the accuracy of this report. But, some interesting news, if true, in the Telegraph today...

Iran is secretly training Chechen rebels in sophisticated terror techniques to enable them to carry out more effective attacks against Russian forces, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Teams of Chechen fighters are being trained at the Revolutionary Guards' Imam Ali training camp, located close to Tajrish Square in Teheran, according to Western intelligence reports.

In addition to receiving training in the latest terror techniques, the Chechen volunteers undergo ideological and political instruction by hardline Iranian mullahs at Qom.

The disclosure that Iran is training Chechen rebels will not go down well in Moscow, which regards itself as a close ally of the Iranian regime.

Russia has sided with Iran in the diplomatic stand-off over Teheran's controversial nuclear programme.

Some have said that Russia's assistance to Iran came with an understanding that Iran would not involve itself in the Caucasus.

Would Iran be so bold/foolish/stupid as to jeopardize an ally on the UN Security Council, one that could help forestall UN sanctions?

If this story is true, I think one or more of the following possibilities are true.

* Iran feels that Russia's usefulness is nearing an end, and can afford to resume its role as chief sponsor of terrorism. Perhaps this is an indication that Iran's nuclear program is closer to completion than anyone realizes.

* Iran has merely been using Russia to hold off the West. Iran senses Russia's inherent weaknesses, and knows that Russia's nuclear weapons and its seat on the Security Council are the only reasons Russia enjoys the prominence it does on the world stage. Russia uses those to maintain the world's attention. Iran has skillfully manipulated those weaknesses to its own end. (You may recall from an earlier post, Russia has roughly the same GDP as the Netherlands. You don't see the Netherlands brokering deals like this in the UN, do you? No, and why not? The Netherlands doesn't have nukes, and isn't one of the five permanent Security Council members.)

* Iran let slip this news, whether true or not, to force Russia into giving up its proposal that Russia retain control of waste generated in Iran's reactors. Iran needs that waste for its nuclear weapons program. (The trade being, you let us keep the waste, and this time we really will stop sponsoring terrorism in the Caucasus. Really. Trust us this time.)

* Iran has wanted to do more to get involved in the Caucasus. There has been a strong Wahabbi influence among the Chechen terrorists. Perhaps Iran used its diplomatic dance with Russia to open the door to Chechnya and become more of a player in that region. Russia looked the other way, either willfully or out of ignorance, thinking it was using Iran to bolster its world position, until it was too late.

Regardless of the truth in this particular story, it would be a deadly mistake to underestimate the willingness of the regime in Iran to use terrorism to further its goals. And if and when Iran has nuclear weapons, how much bolder do you think Iran will be in supporting terrorism, knowing it has a 20-kiloton club in its back pocket with which to beat anyone who tries to confront Iran?

Tick tick tick...

Saturday, November 26, 2005


It's been awhile since I turned the guns on the Strib. Some things in Saturday's paper prompted me to break radio silence.

First and foremost, there was an article from Greg Myre from the New York Times about the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt which was turned over to the Palestinians.

But, what was the headline the Strib chose to run with this article? "In Gaza, a crossing into freedom"

Freedom?! So all those in Gaza are held in captivity? Can we examine the reasons why Israel tightly controls traffic in and out of Gaza? Could it possibly have anything to do with suicide bombers? Could it possibly have anything to do with arms smuggled in from Egypt through tunnels that have their exit points in Gaza? Has the Strib considered how much easier it will be for arms to come through this crossing point now that the Palestinians control it? Ay yi yi.

The Strib has started running a column called The Blog House called Tim O'Brien, in which excerpts of news and commentary from around the blogosphere are highlighted.

Mr. O'Brien mentioned the flap over Democratic Congressman Murtha's call to pull out of Iraq, and that a Marine had sent a message to an Ohio Representative that "cowards cut and run, Marines never do".

Mr. O'Brien couched this summary in terms favorable to Murtha, a former Marine, saying Republicans had no choice but to attack him, and that the Ohio Representative's words were ill-advised. I would just like the Left to answer this question. Why do Murtha's words deserve added weight, simply because they come from a former Marine, but the Marine who feels this is no time to leave Iraq deserves to be criticized?

Finally, there is a good editorial (yes, it's rare) on the "rocky rollout for Medicare Plan D". The editoral is about the spectacularly bad idea that is the prescription drug plan, and how in some cases the Medicare prices were "3 percent higher than prices available to any customer at Costco or"

What a boondoggle this plan is.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The nature of the enemy

Time for another sobering reminder of why it would be a mistake to cut and run in Iraq.

The Iraqi army said it had seized a number of booby-trapped children's dolls, accusing insurgents of using the explosive-filled toys to target children.

The dolls were found in a car, each one containing a grenade or other explosive, said an army statement. The government said that two men driving the car had been arrested in the western Baghdad district of Abu Ghraib.

"This is the same type of doll as that handed out on several occasions by US soldiers to children," said government spokesman Leith Kubba.

If filling children's toys with deadly weapons isn't bad enough, another horrific event occurred in Baghdad on Thursday.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber blew up a car full of explosives in Mahmoudiya, apparently targeting U.S. forces who were handing out toys to Iraqi children at the local hospital, killing at least 30, including several children.

This is hardly the first time these murderers have targeted children.

You may recall my correspondent's thoughts on the nature of the enemy.

Would the Left care to take another crack at explaining why leaving Iraq before this ideology is ruthlessly stamped out is a good idea?

A report in the last day or two had an encouraging sign. Some terrorist groups may be ready to join in talks with the Iraqi government, in preparation to join the political process.

Several insurgents groups have contacted President Jalal Talabani's office in the past few days, with some saying they are ready to lay down their arms and join the political process, the presidential security adviser said Thursday.
In the western province of Anbar, members of some militant groups told the AP that they had been in talks with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi for about two weeks but would not say how they were going.

We'll see what comes of this, but believe this, the only reason any terrorist group would be seeking a way out of the current fighting is that the US military is kicking the living snot out of the terrorists. That is the only thing they understand. If the US was to leave Iraq today, do you think the terrorists would have the same willingness to talk? Not a chance.

Any change in a terrorist's heart is effected by a violent kick in the head from a GI-issue boot. You want a sign that things are going well in Iraq? This is it.

Shooting the Messengers

While we were having turkey, CentCom released news of the capture of yet another terrorist propaganda cell leader:

Acting on multiple intelligence sources and tips from concerned citizens, Coalition forces raided a suspected Jaysh al-Mujahideen terrorist safe house in Abu Ghurayb, west of Baghdad, Oct. 23.

Captured during the raid was Ahmad Ni’mah Khudayyir Abbas (aka. Abu Shihab), a recently identified Jaysh al-Mujahideen lieutenant who oversaw the propaganda cell and who commanded several mortar and improvised explosive device cells.

Abu Shihab, as the propaganda chief for the Jaysh al-Mujahideen media cell operating in the Baghdad area, initially recorded videos and digitized them to compact disc for distribution to various Jaysh al-Mujahideen and al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist groups. These videos would then be downloaded to various Jihadist web sites as propaganda against Iraqi security and coalition forces.

Additionally, the videos would be used to recruit terrorists and foreign fighters, as well as to provide information on potential targets for other terrorists. As his skills and terrorist connections developed, he began directing and coordinating media operations throughout the Baghdad area for Jaysh al-Mujahideen.
The Jaysh al-Mujahideen terrorist organization, which is centrally controlled in Baghdad, also has terrorist cells in major cities in Iraq, to include Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi; Jaysh al-Mujahideen is associated with al Qaeda in Iraq.

Abu Shihab is just the latest propagandist taken down over the last month or two.

* Abu Dijana, senior Al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda cell leader for Karabilah, Al Qaim and Husaybah, was captured in Karabilah Sept 25. News of his capture was released Oct 16.

* I noted at the time, that Abu Dijana's capture came a day after a very significant intelligence success, the capture of Abu Khalil, a chief terrorist finance manager. As controller of the purse, Abu Khalil would've had tremendous knowledge of terrorist operations, and could've provided funds that the propaganda cells needed to put out their their twisted message. (It is certainly possible Abu Dijana's capture had nothing to do with Abu Khalil. Coalition Forces were quite active in the wester river towns, and could've developed intelligence on their own, without information from Abu Khalil.)

* Then, on Oct 19, another high level terrorist finance manager was captured. At the time, I speculated that perhaps Abu Khalil provided information that led to the capture of Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim. Again, it is pure speculation on my part, but the money managers could've had knowledge of the propaganda operations, and it is interesting to note that Abu Shihab's capture came four days after Ibrahim was apprehended.

* There's more. As I noted here, also captured Oct 23, the same day as Abu Shihab, was Abu Hassen, a senior terrorist media cell member and document forger for senior terrorist leaders in Baghdad. News of his capture was released Nov 10.

* Following the capture of Abu Hassen came the capture of Abu Ibrahim, the technology expert who provided Abu Hassen the computer equipment needed to do his work. Abu Ibrahim was also associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq Baghdad propaganda cell. Abu Ibrahim was captured Oct 31, and the news was released Nov 20.

I can't say for certain, but it is fun to speculate that the chain of events was this.

The capture of Abu Khalil leads to the capture of Abu Dijana and Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim. The capture of Ibrahim leads to the capture of Abu Shihab and to the capture of Abu Hassen. The capture of Abu Hassen leads to the capture of Abu Ibrahim.

Regardless of the exact intelligence that went into each of this captures, I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Coalition Forces are achieving amazing success in dismantling key elements of terrorist operations.

Take note of how news of these captures was released days after the events. It is likely intelligence gained from these captures was used to develop other leads, and so on, as I speculated above.

There will be certainly be news of other successes coming in the days ahead, perhaps as a direct result of the ones listed here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday weekend of the year. Christmas is truly special, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but as holidays go, it always feels so rushed.

Thanksgiving is a restful time spent with family, food, feasting, football, friends, and fegg nog. It's a time for taking a nap on the floor, for John Madden and Turducken, for Mannheim Steamroller in the cd player again, for Star Trek Christmas ornaments coming out of storage, for never knowing if we'll need the snowboots, for days on end of cold turkey sandwiches, for thanking God I'm not a woman and don't have any desire to endure the madness of Friday shopping, for piling huge quantities of snacks and nibblys on rickety card tables.

My parents are coming down from North Dakota for the weekend. So, in order to maximize the precious few moments of this weekend, I'll step away from the blog for at least Thursday, maybe Friday, depending on how the spirit moves. (Can't be away too long, still have a Briefing to do for Monday. The terrorists never rest.)

But not before acknowledging the true importance of this holiday, the opportunity to remember all we have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for...

* My precious children

* Health and home

* Freedom

* Those who are serving far from home, all around the globe, and in harm's way, to preserve that freedom

* God's continued guidance and blessings

* The readers who take the time to stop by here, and the good people I've met through the blog

* Gainful employment

* Nature's wonders and marvels

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Pinching the ends

With the end of Operation Steel Curtain, the western end of the ratlines from the Syrian border down the Euphrates to Fallujah has become much more secure.

Steel Curtain has received a great deal of attention, and rightly so, given it is the first time a permanent security presence will be established in the western river towns, and that Iraqi forces performed well.

While Steel Curtain was going on, though, there has been steady action at the eastern end of the ratline, in the Ramadi and Fallujah area. The ends of the ratlines are being pinched simultaneously.

(click the thumbnail for a map of the Ramadi and Fallujah area)

Ramadi has been a continuous source of terrorist activity, and operations over the past month have been trying to disrupt the terrorists there. Fallujah, just to the east of Ramadi, has not been a peaceful paradise either.

I'll catalog here some of the actions that have been taking place in the Ramadi and Fallujah area, from what I can piece together, just since November 5, when Steel Curtain began. It is very likely that none of these actions alone equaled the scale of Steel Curtain, but the pace of operations has been brisk. A similar fast pace has been underway in Baghdad and northern Iraq.

By putting pressure on the entry point, and by putting pressure on the exit point, Coalition Forces seek to disrupt the terrorist supply line from Syria to Baghdad, and to keep the terrorists' heads down ahead of the coming elections in December. I would not be surprised to see increased activities in the middle of the ratline in coming days.

Nov 8Six terrorists captured near Ramadi
Nov 9High level terrorist captured in Ramadi
Nov 9Weapons cache seized in Fallujah
Nov 10Two soldiers killed in combat ops near Al Khalidiyah
Nov 10IEDs destroyed in air strikes near Ramadi
Nov 11Mortar cache raided near Ramadi
Nov 11(photo) foot patrol through Fallujah
Nov 12(photo) foot patrol through Fallujah
Nov 12(photo) foot patrol through Fallujah
Nov 12(photo) foot patrol through Fallujah
Nov 12(photo) foot patrol through Fallujah
Nov 12Terrorist safe house raided near Ramadi
Nov 14(photo) operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 14(photo) patrol in Fallujah
Nov 14(photo) operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 14(photo) operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 15Marine killed in combat ops near Al Karmah
Nov 16(photo) operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 16(photo) operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 16(photo) operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 16(photo) operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 17Operation Panthers - 32 terrorists killed in Ramadi
Nov 17(photo) 4th day of operation in Zaidon area near Fallujah
Nov 19(photo) Operation Trifecta near Saqlawiyah
Nov 20Operation Bruins in Ramadi
Nov 20Marine killed in combat ops near Al Karmah
Nov 22Operation Lions in Ramadi
Nov 26Operation Tigers in Ramadi

(Lions, Panthers, and Bears, oh my!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

FOB Danger handed over

In this post, I wrote about the various bases that had been given over to Iraqi control. Most of them were in Kurdish and Shiite areas, i.e., areas that did not see as much violence over all as in the Sunni areas.

Today, the 29th base was turned over to the Iraqis, and this one was a special one.

FOB Danger is in Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein. The significance of giving such a place back to the Iraqis, in a Sunni area no less, should not be overlooked.

Col. Mark E. McKnight, commander of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, hands the keys to former dictator Saddam Hussein’s Tikrit, Iraq, palace to Hamad Hamoud Shagtti (left), the governor of Salahuddin province, during a Tuesday ceremony. Insurgents fired a mortar at during the ceremony, but the round was a dud and no one was injured.
Bassim Daham / AP Photo

The implications were certainly not lost on the terrorists. They dropped a mortar shell near the ceremonies.

(FOB Danger was also the HQ for the 42nd Infantry Division, whose homegoing I wrote about here.)

More nuclear footsy

Iran continues its dance with feckless European diplunacy over its nuclear program.

Skillfully playing various powers off each other, Iran continues to smile and make "no no, after you" gestures at the door. European diplomats smile in return, walk through the door thinking a deal is imminent, only to turn around and find Iran hasn't budged.

Russia has been trying in recent days to forestall UN action against Iran by trying to broker its own deal. As I wrote about here, Russia would like to use Iran as a counterweight against the US, though some in Russia are wary of getting too cozy with Iran, a chief sponsor of terrorism, given Russia's own problems with Islamic terrorists.

As this article explains:

Washington and its European allies will forgo pushing for Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council later this week, giving Russia more time in persuading Tehran to give up technology that could make nuclear arms, diplomats and officials told The Associated Press on Monday.
But if the Russians fail to win over the Iranians, Washington and the Europeans hope Moscow and other key board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency now opposed to Security Council referral will moderate their opposition.

Russia proposed a deal whereby waste from Iran's reactors would be processed in Russia, the goal being Iran wouldn't be able to use the waste for weapons. (Perhaps playing the games diplomats play to give Iran some wiggle rrom, a Russian envoy in Tehran said a couple weeks ago there was no specific proposal.)

Iran has rejected Russia's proposal, however. Iran needs that waste for its weapons program, and isn't about to let it escape. According to this article from Nov 12:

The head of Iran's nuclear agency ruled out a compromise proposal to enrich uranium for his country's controversial nuclear program in Russia, saying Saturday the process must be done in Iran.

The United States and European negotiators reportedly were willing to accept the compromise to allow Iran to move ahead with its nuclear program while ensuring it does not produce atomic bombs. Enrichment can produce material either for a bomb or for nuclear reactor fuel.

Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who also heads the country's nuclear agency, said Iran was open to other proposals, referring to an earlier Iranian idea that other countries participate in the enrichment process on Iranian soil as a guarantee the program is used only for peaceful purposes.

Today, in the face of this rejection, European diplomats said they want to negotiate more, rather than seeing Iran's true aims for what they are.

European Union powers are willing to revive nuclear talks with Iran to discuss a Russian proposal aimed at defusing an impasse over what the West believes is an Iranian atomic bomb programme, diplomats said on Tuesday.

Under Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal, Iran would be allowed to continue converting uranium ore but would ship it to Russia for enrichment, a system which, in theory, would prevent Iran from producing weapons-grade uranium.
No official comment was available from Tehran. However, EU officials said Iran would probably react positively, given that the Europeans and Americans were prepared to drop their demand that all work at Isfahan come to a halt before talks resumed.
On Monday, EU and U.S. officials said they would not push the IAEA's 35-nation board to refer Iran this week to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, as the Western powers had previously threatened to do.

The officials cited a desire to allow Iran more time to think about the Russian plan.

Iran doesn't need more time to consider, it needs to keep stalling the Europeans and the United States so it can finish its nuclear program.

Tick tick tick...

See the excellent Regime Change Iran and its latest update, for more links on these and other related items.

Operation Steel Curtain has ended

This is from Captain Jeffrey Pool, Public Affairs Officer with the 2d Marine Division.

Operation Steel Curtain has ended. It was one of the largest efforts to secure the Iraq-Syria along the western Euphrates River Valley. The operation had a lot of firsts, but most notably dealt with Iraqi Army soldiers; their first large-scale employment, providing humanitarian support to temporarily displaced Iraqis and security, and the participation of the Desert Protectors.

Also Steel Curtain, unlike some past operations, leaves a permanent security presence behind in all the cities where the operation took place.



CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines, Soldiers and Sailors with Regimental Combat Team -2 wrapped up Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) today near the Syrian border.

The 17-day offensive, which took place in the cities of Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi, was part of the larger Operation Sayaid (Hunter) designed to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq-led terrorists from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and throughout Al Anbar province. The operation made way for the establishment of a permanent Iraqi Army security presence in the Al Qa'im region and set the conditions for local citizens to vote in the upcoming Dec.15 elections.

Operation Steel Curtain ushered in the first large-scale operational employment of the Iraqi Army, approximately 1,000 soldiers, in western Al Anbar province. The Iraqi soldiers conducted detailed clearing missions alongside coalition counterparts and began establishing permanent bases within these three cities. Forces at these outposts will prevent the al Qaeda in Iraq-led terrorists from regaining a presence in these cities and threatening local residents with their murder and intimidation campaign.

Integration of locally recruited Iraqi Army soldiers in Al Anbar was introduced by the arrival of the Desert Protectors. The Desert Protectors were recruited from the Al Qa'im region and worked alongside the Iraqi Army and U.S. units throughout the course of the operation. Their familiarity with the area and its people was crucial in identifying friend from foe and enabled their Iraqi and coalition partners to better understand the geographical complexities of the region.

Ten Marines were killed in fighting during Operation Steel Curtain. Since the operation began 139 insurgents were killed and 256 processed for detention.

The porous Iraq-Syria border was identified as a main route for men, material and money to be transited into Iraq to fuel the insurgency. The Western Euphrates River Valley region was known to be a major artery for al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists. Iraqi soldiers and U.S. forces moved in on Husaybah the morning of Nov. 5, followed shortly thereafter by Karabilah, Ubaydi and winding up clearing the Ramana region.

Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. forces will continue to maintain presence and increase efforts in securing the Iraq-Syria border.

linked to Stop the ACLU's open post

Operation Steel Curtain takes a breather?

UPDATE: Capt. Jeffrey Pool has indicated Steel Curtain is indeed over, and is working up a press release.

Or is it over? The Dawn Patrol this morning linked to a story out of Bahrain saying Steel Curtain had ended.

That announcement came from a high-ranking Iraqi Defence Ministry official, though.

There has been very little news from the US military on Operation Steel Curtain since CentCom announced last Friday that the operation had moved to Rammanah on the north side of the Euphrates. That announcement said little resistance had been encountered in clearing Rammanah.

With combat operations going steady since November 5, this may be an opporutunity to stop and rest, before moving on to the next target, if the operation is not over and still has objectives to achieve. I'd be surprised if they did not secure Rabit, and I'd be a little surprised if Ushsh was not cleared as well.

I've heard a small indication that at the least some elements may be taking a break, but it's such a thin thread on which to hang that assumption, I won't specify what it is here.

Till we hear more, here is a photo essay entitled Along the Syrian Border

Here is another photo essay with pics from around the beginning of Steel Curtain.

Here is a story indicating that in the early phases of Steel Curtain, Marines were indeed in the river valley north of Husaybah and Karabilah.

Before pushing into Husaybah, Marines occupied battle positions at Camp Gannon, located between the city and the border, and in the river valley north of the city. After weeks of waiting and watching, the Marines finally had a chance to take the fight to the enemy
Beginning Nov. 10, the platoon and all of Company L moved into the river valley north of the cities and conducted searches for Al Qaeda in Iraq members who may have fled. The company then moved to eastern Karabilah and began clear and hold operations there.

Monday, November 21, 2005

There's still time... vote for Peace Like A River in the Deck of Bloggers poll

(poll is on the left side)

Why the Five of Spades? Because this blog is Peace Like A River, and in Texas Hold 'Em, the fifth card turned over is the River Card

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

* Iran has turned over documents to the IAEA that were obtained from Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, that experts reveal contain design information critical to building a nuclear weapon. The move raises many questions, primarily Tehran's unwillingness to previously disclose the documents.

* The Filipino military has intensified their hunt of Abu Sayyaf members on Jolo island after more than a week of sporadic shootouts and fierce firefights that have left four soldiers and dozens of Abu Sayyaf gunmen dead.

* By a 183-14 vote, the Iranian parliament voted to restart uranium enrichment and end snap UN inspections if Iran is refered to the Security Council, a possibility in the coming week.

Other topics today include: EIU report; Jordanian security; Jordanian protests; Saudi counterterrorism efforts; Egypt's elections; Canadian armor; al Qaeda on the Mexican border; Clashes in Chechnya; Afghan fighting; India's security report; Indonesian jihadists; Attacks on Christians in Indonesia; Dutch don't want Afghan assignment; Bosnian terror arrests; Somalia piracy; and much more.

Iran & the Middle East

* The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released a report detailing and ranking Middle Eastern nations in political and civil liberties. The top five come as no surprise, with Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq and the Palestinian territories ranking as the most democratic areas in the region.

* In the wake of the Amman suicide attacks on November 9th, security around Jordan has been tightened, with metal detectors being installed at many shopping centers and restaurants, and frequent ID checks and searches becoming a regularity.

* As many as 200,000 Jordanians took to the streets to protest the triple bombings at hotels in Amman last week. Condemnation of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and calls of cowardice for executing the attacks were frequent in the wake of Zarqawi's threat to cut off the head of Jordan's King Abdullah.

* Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz has said the Kingdom can put an end to home grown terrorism within two years, but qualified his remarks by saying "we cannot get rid of it (terrorism) 100 percent."

* The first stage of Egypt's three-stage elections, including both the initial round and the run-off, has left three basic results clear: the ruling National Democratic Party is showing signs of internal strain, the banned Muslim Brotherhood is very strong, and the legal opposition parties are quite weak.

America Domestic Security & the America's

* The Canadian army is buying 50 light-armoured vehicles from South Africa, and expects delivery early next year so the next deployment of soldiers can use them in Afghanistan, The Canadian Press has learned.

* Counter-terrorism investigators are finding an increasing number of "homegrown" Canadian extremists like those who bombed the London transit system in July, and some have undergone training inside Canada, a new report says. A "secret" intelligence study obtained by the National Post says a "high percentage" of the Canadian Muslims involved in extremist activities were born in Canada, a marked shift from the past when they were mostly refugees and immigrants.

* A defense attorney for Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr has said that one of the seven charges he now faces isn't a criminal offence. Bakr is facing four charges of sedition and incitement arising from statements he made during Eid celebrations.

* Brazil has seen no worrisome signs in the area where its border joins those of Argentina and Paraguay, which the United States considers a region with links to activities of Islamic extremist groups, the commander of Brazil's army said here. "We are observing the triple border. We understand that it is under control. We always have a presence there and to date we have no knowledge of anything serious," Gen. Francisco Roberto Albuquerque said in statements published Friday by the local press.

* An Al Qaida operative who was on the FBI's terrorist watch list was recently captured near the Mexican border, housed in a Texas jail and turned over to federal agents, Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, said on Friday.

* A bomb went off at a branch of a Spanish bank near Mexico City on Friday, damaging office furniture and shattering windows, while another planted at a separate location owned by the company failed to detonate.

Russia & South/Central Asia

* International donors reviewing Bangladesh’s programmes on poverty alleviation and economic reforms have asked the government to deal sternly with Islamic militancy and corruption. At a three-day meeting that concluded in Dhaka on Thursday, donor nations said pledges on poverty reduction and tackling corruption and terrorism should be followed up within the next 12 months, before attention is diverted by a general election in early 2007.

* The Russian Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service eliminated a group of international terrorists in Chechnya and their leader, Jaber, a Saudi mercenary who was an Al-Qaeda representative in the North Caucasus, the operative HQ of the United Group of Forces said Friday.

* The leader of a local militant network and a police officer have been killed in an armed clash in a village in Chechnya, the breakaway Russian republic, on the border with the republic of Dagestan, the head of the Chechen Interior Ministry's press service said Sunday.

* The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted bail to Mohammed Afroze, convicted by a POTA court on charges of conspiring with Al Qaeda to attack places of importance in India, Australia and Britain. He has been granted bail on the grounds that his appeal will come after five to seven years.

* Suspected separatist rebels tossed grenades into a Mosque during morning prayers Friday, killing at least four Muslim worshippers, police said. The attack came a day after Sri Lanka held its presidential election, which was boycotted by the Tamil Tiger rebels.

* An explosion on the outskirts of the Afghan capital killed a Portuguese peacekeeper with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and wounded three others. "One ISAF soldier was killed and three injured, one of them seriously, by an explosion in Bagrami district of Kabul," ISAF spokesman Major Andy Elmes told AFP on Friday.

* The latest issue of Chechnya Weekly from The Jamestown Foundation has two items on Chechen rebel president Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev, among the seven items total.

* Despite bombings and the lingering Taliban insurgency, Afghanistan is showing signs of slowly integrating with regional as well as international economic organizations. This past week has been one of Afghanistan's bloodiest, as suicide bombings shook the capital and southern Afghanistan.

* BBC has reported that senior Nepali opposition leaders have held parleys with Maoist leaders in the Indian capital. A BBC correspondent in Delhi said Nepali leaders did meet Maoists in the Indian capital and that the meeting reportedly took place at a government-building. General Secretary of CPN (UML), Madhav Kumar Nepal, however, claimed that the news report was "100 percent false." "There is no need for us to travel to Delhi to meet Maoist leaders," he said. "We can meet them in Nepal itself," he added.

* Saturday's Terrorism Update from SATP has several items illustrating the various conflicts in South Asia, and the different militant groups operating there. Sunday's update is here.

* Police in Bangladesh said they had raided a den of militants on Saturday in the country’s north, seized bomb-making material and arrested three suspects. "A hardcore militant was arrested from the den in northwestern Panchagarh, 500 km (300 miles) from Dhaka, while two others were picked up from other spots," a senior police officer said. Earlier police said they had arrested six suspected Islamist militants on Friday in the northwestern area of Thakurgaon.

* A Taleban spokesman said an Indian engineer and threee Afghans were taken in the Poshat Hasan district on Saturday. The Taleban have been responsible for a number of abductions of engineers, including several Turks and Indians, in southern Afghanistan.

* India's Ministry of Defense has released its 2004-2005 report (244 pages, available in PDF). Chapter 1 is entitled The Security Environment, and is a good summary of the security threats India perceives in its neighbors.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Rohan Gunaratna, head of terrorism research at Singapore's Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, is warning that westerners may be the targets of attacks in Indonesia, including personnel assassinations. The view is supported by the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, who posted similar warnings on their website a week ago.

* Thousands of Islamic terrorists with experience fighting in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Libya, are living in larger cities in Java and West Sumatra according to several Indonesian intelligence officers. Their statements follow a claim by Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Indonesia's second biggest Moslem mass organization, that 3,000 foreign jihadists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan had been recruited to wage holy war in Africa.

* The armed wing of the Filipino communist party (NPA) attacked another Globe telecommunications tower, the 19th such attack this year after the company refused to pay extortion demands. The following day, nine Filipino soldiers were killed when their truck struck a landmine set by the NPA.

* With the annual Schoolies Week taking place along the Gold Coast of Australia, authorities are boosting security measures and the number of officers in an effort to prevent any potential terror attacks.

* At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in South Korea, the Philippines recieved high praise and accolades for their counterterrorism efforts.

* Jihadists in Indonesia continue their attacks on Christians in Sulawesi, in the hopes of driving Christianty from the nation all together with.


* Authorities in Italy have arrested three Algerians believed to have links to an Algerian militant group that has allied itself with Osama bin Laden, police said Thursday. They were detained on suspicion of association with the aim of international terrorism, a charge introduced in Italy after the Sept. 11 attacks, the official said.

* Britain may be forced to increase their troop presence in Afghanistan, because Dutch government officials thinks it's too dangerous to deploy their own troops there. There are currently 625 Dutch troops in Afghanistan, while another 1,000 were slated to join the efforts.

* Bosnian police have arrested two terror suspects who authorities believe are linked to a pair arrested in Sarajevo in October. Denmark has also arrested seven suspects tied to the Sarajevo arrests.

* A British judge denied three British-Muslims a five month extension on a trial to face charges of terrorism offenses, and instead rescheduled the trial for next month.

* Turkish authorities have arrested two men with links to al Qaeda in the city of Konya, and found remote-control bomb making equipment.


* The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) likely will adopt a resolution next week pressing Ethiopia and Eritrea to avert a renewed war and return to a 2000 peace accord, diplomats told Reuters in New York Thursday. "This is a dangerous situation," U.N. peacekeeping Chief Jean-Marie Guehenno told reporters after briefing the council behind closed doors on the latest developments.

* Somali pirates have freed a ship and its crew after holding them hostage for almost one month off Somalia's north-east coast. There are still six ships being held along with their crews by pirates.

* In Egypt, police arrested 400 Muslim Brotherhood activists in a crackdown on the Islamist group which poses the strongest challenge to the ruling party in Egyptian legislative elections on Sunday. Armed thugs also attacked Brotherhood supporters and blocked them from voting in the second stage of elections which will decide 144 seats in parliament, election monitoring groups said.

* Security forces in Morocco have arrested 17 radical Islamists on suspicion of belonging to a "terrorist structure" linked to al Qaeda, the state news agency MAP said on Sunday, quoting a police source. The agency said two Moroccans who had been held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Brahim Benchekroun and Mohamed Mazouz, were among the recruits.

The Global War

* The CIA has established joint operation centers in more than two dozen countries where U.S. and foreign intelligence officers work side by side to track and capture suspected terrorists and to destroy or penetrate their networks, according to current and former American and foreign intelligence officials.

* China’s rapid modernization of its military and naval capabilities has a wide range of implications for the U.S. Navy, according to a report released Nov. 18 by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). One key issue noted in the report is the question of how much emphasis to place on countering Chinese military expansion, balanced against the needs of the ongoing conflicts on Iraq and Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror.

* Kurt Vonnegut has praised terrorists as "very brave people" and used drug culture slang to describe the "amazing high" suicide bombers must feel before blowing themselves up. In discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was "sweet and honourable" to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.

* Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle will star in another new movie about the 9/11 attacks titled "Reign O'er Me," scheduled to begin filming in 2006. Currently two other movies about 9/11 are being made, Oliver Stone's untitled movie featuring Nicholas Cage and "Flight 93" from director Paul Greengrass.

* An article (page 14 of the magazine) in the November issue of State, the magazine of the US State Dept, describes the mission of the Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy. According to the article, "Identifying and cutting off the money flow has proven to be central to undermining terrorist groups".

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The nature of the work

This article from Kirk Semple and the New York Times describes the tough work being done in Steel Curtain. It describes the action that killed Lance Cpl. Sorensen, the first Marine killed in Steel Curtain. It is gritty, frightening work. You never know what exactly is waiting for you behind a door, in the next house. This is the work that soldiers and Marines do.

As the day’s operation began, Third Platoon’s first squad assembled in a yard and then, in file, entered the house through a side door, each man moving in a slight crouch, rifle shouldered, eyes sighting down the barrel into the semi-darkness of the interior. There were several rooms and a staircase leading up. The marines branched off in two’s, each pair taking a room. Three others climbed to the second floor.

On the ground floor, Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Sorensen and Sgt. Jorge Ruiz, the squad leader, came to a locked steel door. Corporal Sorensen struck the lock with an axe. As the door gave way, he pitched forward, Lieutenant Cox said later, straight into a burst of automatic rifle fire. Sergeant Ruiz and the marines on the ground floor reflexively fell back through the front and side doors, yelling: "Marine down! Marine down!"
From the cover of an interior wall, Lieutenant Cox fired his M-16 rifle blindly around the corner toward the rear room. But his bullets were met with bullets. He emptied one magazine of ammunition, reloaded, began firing again and then dashed for the front door, firing his rifle one-handed behind his back, he said, "to make noise" and provide his own covering fire for his escape.

The three marines who had gone upstairs — Lance Cpl. Travis Fox, Pfc. Jason Alexander and Pfc. Daniel Barnes — were now trapped by whoever was downstairs. They scrambled into positions giving them a view of the top of the staircase. Outside, the marines who had pulled back sought anxiously to regroup and counterattack, governed by their code of honor never to leave a fellow marine behind.
About 11 a.m., five minutes after First Squad first entered the house, there was an explosion inside. Corporal Fox, one of the three marines still on the second floor, said later that he thought a gunman had tossed a grenade up the stairs. The blast was followed by automatic weapons fire, which included a burst from Private Barnes’s light machine gun, called a SAW. Moments later, marines on a rooftop across the street spotted someone poke his head out a door leading to a front balcony, and they opened fire. Cpl. Lucien Lafreniere and Lance Cpl. Jonathan Dunn, who were on a balcony across the street, later said they had both hit the man many times. The gunman disappeared through the doorway, but the shooting didn’t stop. Marines on a neighboring rooftop, as well as machine-gunners on an armored vehicle and a Humvee, joined in the wild fusillade. "As soon as marines hear gunfire," Lieutenant Cox later explained, "it’s contagious."
Corporal Sorensen was the first marine to die in the sweep. His death was devastating to Third Platoon, and no more so than to the members of his squad, who have since found themselves grappling with feelings of sadness, anger and guilt. It still keeps Lieutenant Cox awake at night, he says, as his mind replays events and ponders what he could have done differently to save his marine.

But grieving has little place on the battlefield, Sergeant McCurry said, and the mission must go on.

Indeed, several minutes after the house was finally declared “cleared” that Sunday, Captain Carabine received a warning about car bombs in the city. Just then, a huge explosion sounded somewhere to the east, in the direction India Company had already begun to move.

linked to Don Surber's open post

Undimmed by human tears

Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, Patrick Carr.

These were the five men killed on March 5, 1770, an event Samuel Adams called the "Boston Massacre".

Whatever the real story of this event, these five were among the first to die in the long struggle for freedom in this country.

The first among the 600,000 or so killed in all of America's struggles.

In Iraq, there have been nearly 2,100 killed.

Can we begin to imagine the staggering cost? For though the fallen have given their all, grieving families bear their own burdens.

The wrenching scenes continue, one after another. A woman sitting at a graveside, perhaps flanked by children.

The woman is overwhelmed by emotions. Pride that her fallen hero served his country so well. Fear, wondering how she will raise her family alone. Crushing sadness, that her hero is just there, so near, in front of her, yet forever on the other side of an uncrossable chasm. Anger at the killers who took her hero from her. Perhaps anger that he went off to war. Guilt that such feelings come unbidden.

The children struggle to make sense of it all. What does it mean that Daddy won't ever be home again? They show the strength and courage they believe their Mother needs, but quail from a child's worst fear, the fear of being alone in the world, without a parent, helpless and powerless to make their own way.

Such is the great cost of freedom. Such is the price that must be paid to keep our freedom out of the ravenous maw of the relentless evil that seeks to devour us.

America! America. Your alabaster cities still gleam, though too often they are reflected in the tears falling from the face of a spouse, a child, a parent.

Our heroes are taken from us, but if they are God's children, they muster for assembly in front of the Pearly Gates. Perhaps Gabriel, with a wink, marches them through the Gates with a welcoming cadence...

I don't know but I've been told
(I don't know but I've been told)

The streets of Heaven are paved with gold
(The streets of Heaven are paved with gold)

There was a time in all of these families' lives when they had to let go of their loved ones, and let them pass through gates no one else could enter. But after this basic training, the loved ones, now changed, returned, families were reunited.

These families must once again let go of loved ones, and allow them to pass through those heavenly gates, knowing now they won't return. At least in this lifetime. There is a better time to come, when families will be reunited, forever. A time when there will be no more pain, no more tears.

For all of us here, though, can we allow these families to bear this burden alone?

When that woman at the graveside receives her flag, will there be many hands to help her carry it? Will there be many hands to help her carry her burden?

Because we enjoy the precious freedom bought by so many others, we are in their debt. How can we begin to repay it?

linked to Stop the ACLU open post

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Links in the chain

On November 10, CentCom released news that Abu Hassen had been captured Oct 23. Abu Hassen was a senior terrorist media cell member and document forger for senior terrorist leaders in Baghdad.

Abu Hassen was a senior leader in an al Qaeda in Iraq media cell operating in Baghdad. Initially, his duties were to take videos and digitize them to CD’s for distribution to various terrorist groups. These videos would be used to recruit terrorists and foreign fighters, as well as to provide information on potential targets to other terrorists. They also would be downloaded to various Jihadist Web sites as a means of wider dissemination.

Eventually, with the use of his computer, his duties evolved to making false identifications. Hassen admits to making weapon permits, identification cards and press credentials for various al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists as well as the senior al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist leadership in Baghdad.

These identification cards would be used by terrorists to conceal their true identities if stopped by Iraqi security and Coalition forces. They also provided a way to openly carry weapons while conducting terrorist activities. These activities could include attacks, kidnappings, and murders.

Additionally, the false press badges would allow terrorists access to situations where they could reconnoiter targets while posing as news media representatives. That access also allowed them to pose as reporters while filming the aftermath of terrorist attacks, which they then would use as terrorist propaganda.

Hassen has also been linked to Dr. Mushin, a kidnapping cell leader and weapons dealer who was captured in June. Abu Hassen admits to coordinating with Dr. Mushin the procurement of weapons for use by various terrorist cells operating in Baghdad.

The press release noted that Abu Hassen used a computer to do his forgery work. Certainly, other equipment was involved as well. Someone must have supplied Abu Hassen with that equipment. Hmm.

Today, CentCom released this news.

Coalition forces acting on multiple intelligence sources and tips from concerned citizens raided a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist safe house in Baghdad Oct. 31 capturing an al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist named Uthman Faruq Muhammad Abd-al-Hamid (aka Abu Ibrahim). Abu Ibrahim was a technology expert, advisor and supplier to al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists and leaders in Baghdad.

Abu Ibrahim was a computer store owner, a programmer and part owner in an engineering company in Baghdad. Abu Ibrahim admits he supplied hundreds of triggering devices for improvised explosive devices, as well as other technology items, to the al Qaeda in Iraq military commander in Baghdad on multiple occasions. These items include hand-held radios, cellular telephones, wireless telephones, computers, software and computer parts and electronic components.

Abu Ibrahim was also associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq Baghdad propaganda cell. He provided his expertise in the procurement of video equipment, video editing equipment, and computer programs. He was directly connected to the al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda emir and well as other senior terrorists such as Dr. Muhsin, who was detained in June.

That press release mentioned Abu Ibrahim was "directly connected to the al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda emir".

(I'm not sure if this is referring to Abu Dijana, whose capture I noted in this post.)

As I've noted on more than one occasion (for instance, see here and here), the Coalition Forces are achieving amazing results from their intelligence work. They keep knocking the pins down. One success leads to another, and another.

linked to The Political Teen open post

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Today in the Religion of Pieces

I think that's a more accurate title than the Religion of Peace, since all too often pieces are all that's left of people after Islamic terrorists do their evil work.

At least 90 people were killed in Iraq Friday by suicide bombers. From this CNN account:

The Khanaqin carnage occurred when two suicide bombers detonated near or inside two Shiite Muslim mosques, Iraqi police said.

At least 90 people were killed in the attacks, according to hospital officials. The U.S. military said more than 150 Iraqi civilians were killed or wounded in the attack, without giving a breakdown.

The Khanaqin town mayor said many children were among the dead because fathers had brought their sons to the prayer service.

The force of the explosions destroyed both mosques, according to the U.S. military and video from the scene.

Also Friday, two suicide car bombings in Baghdad killed at least six people near a hotel, police said.

First, can we dispense forever and ever with the canard that US troops "desecrate" mosques by attacking terrorists using them as fighting positions? If the Sunnis are quite willing to run into mosques, at a time when they would be packed, and blow up worshippers, they have forever abrogated the right to whine and cry about how holy and sacred mosques are.

Second, a car bomb killed at least 13 today in Baghdad.

A car bomb killed at least 13 people at a market in southeastern Baghdad on Saturday, a day after more than 80 people were killed in a series of suicide attacks in Baghdad and in a northeastern town.

The blast in the Diyala Bridge section of the capital also wounded 15 people, police said. They said the toll could increase.

Today, a car bomb dozens at a funeral.

Car bombs have killed nearly 50 people in Iraq, a day after more than 80 died in suicide blasts across the country and as US President George W Bush pledged never to relent in his "war on terrorism".

In Saturday's deadliest attack, a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle near a crowded condolence tent during a funeral for a Shiite tribal sheikh in a small town north of Baghdad.

Five US soldiers were killed today by a roadside bomb.

The five American soldiers, assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, died in a pair of roadside bombings near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. Five others from the same unit were wounded.

Zarqawi, the instigator of the attacks in Jordan that killed dozens, including many in a wedding reception, had the gall on Friday to try and convince Jordanians that he hadn't intended to target a wedding reception, or other Muslims.

The Mideast's most feared terrorist sought Friday to justify a triple suicide bombing on Amman hotels that killed 59 civilians, insisting he did not deliberately target a wedding party and appealing to Muslims to believe that he was not attacking them.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, took an unusually defensive tone in an audiotape posted on the Internet, seeking to shore up support after widespread anger over the civilian deaths, even among sympathizers.

Still, the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi made clear he was not about to stop the bloodshed, warning he will attack more tourist sites in Jordan and threatening to behead King Abdullah II.

Could the need to stay in Iraq and strangle the life out of every last terrorist we can find be any clearer?

And yet, it is with this violence as a backdrop that this week Congress shamefully toyed with a call to bring the troops home.

First, Senate Republicans proved why the Senate is nothing but a big fermenation vat. You dump Senators in, hermetically seal them off from reality, and inevitably they rot and sour. Most voted for an amendment that called for a general sense of a timetable for withdrawal. You can't be a little bit pregnant, and you can't be a little bit for withdrawing the troops. Either we send a message to our enemies that we committed to grinding them into paste, or we give them reason to believe they just have to wait us out.

Over in the House, Democratic Congressman Murtha proposed a withdrawal as soon as possible. House Republicans called for a vote on the proposal. Predictably, Democrats hopped up and down like a two year old who answered "No" when asked if he wanted a piece of candy, and then threw a tantrum when Mommy said ok, and put the goodies back in the cupboard.

The Star Tribune exhibited the usual fuzzy-headed thinking in an editorial this morning.

First, Murtha did not endorse an extreme liberal position. It's a heartfelt argument without ideological content. Nor did he suggest a retreat.

Calling to bring the troops as soon as possible is not a retreat? What, then, is a retreat? Bringing the troops home while the murderous ideology that seeks to kill us all still finds a home in Iraq is the very definition of retreat.

As I was reading the paper this morning, John, my five year old, asked "Is there bad news?"

Oh, John, you don't know the half of it.

UPDATE: This from today.

Indonesia: Christian woman killed with machetes

Unidentified attackers armed with machetes killed a woman and wounded another in central Sulawesi province, where tensions are high following a series of attacks blamed on Islamic militants, police said Saturday.

Police said it was too soon to say whether the attack was linked to the simmering sectarian conflict in the Indonesian province, where open battles between Muslims and Christians killed about 1,000 people in 2001 and 2002.

Michelle Malkin has more.

Hugh Hewitt refers to the House Democrats as The "Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing" Democrats.

Don't drink anything when you watch this

You might spit it all over your monitor.

This is a video clip of two Chinese kids lip-synching to Backstreet Boys.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Something new to vote for

No, not the blog of the week this time. (Generalissimo is miffed this week)

This is for one of the Spades cards in the Deck of Bloggers at Aaron's CC.

According to the blurb, "The theme for Spades will be blogs which "call a spade a spade", and dig deeply and primarily about a single issue. These are the kind of blogs that the high profile, high visibility and high traffic blogs use when they want EXPERTS on an issue."

Now, I hardly view myself as an expert on much of anything. I'm in the list because I tend to focus on the war on terror, and related issues, at least lately.

So, if you like what you find here, consider it like throwing a nickel in the tip jar.

Go here to vote for Peace Like A River

(poll is on the left side, voting ends Tuesday night)

I begin my march to be the Susan Lucci of the Deck Of Bloggers.

Operation Steel Curtain enters another phase

As I suspected, the next target in Operation Steel Curtain is the town of Rammanah on the north side of the Euphrates.

According to this press release from Capt. Jeffrey Pool, at

Iraqi Army Soldiers and Marines, Soldiers and Sailors continue Operation al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) in the al Qaim region November 18.

Iraqi Soldiers and U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Regimental Combat Team - 2 have begun clearing the Ramana area, which is west of Ubaydi on the northern side of the Euphrates River.

Ramana is a rural, agricultural region with dozens of small villages. The goals of Operation Steel Curtain are to restore Iraqi sovereign control along the Iraq-Syria border and destroy the al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists operating throughout the al Qaim region.

No resistance to the clearing operations has been encountered in Ramana. Iraqi Desert Protectors positively identified seven al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists, who were detained for further questioning.

(See Bill Roggio's map here)

As noted, the purpose of Steel Curtain is to make the area safe for the elections in December, to squelch the flow of foreign fighters through the region, and to establish a permanent security presence in these western river towns.

So far the main actions in Steel Curtain have been on the south side of the river. The stated mission of Steel Curtain could not be accomplished without going to the north side of the river. It is crucial to establish a permanent presence there, too.

Rabit is likely to be a target of Steel Curtain as well.

(Thanks for the tip to Rich, the father of a Marine currently taking part in Steel Curtain. Today was a school day for me, and have been busy all day, and so was slow in getting to today's developments.)

followup to yesterday's Steel Curtain upate

Yesterday I referred to this New York Times article, describing the action in which 5 Marines were killed.

The Marines are probably the ones listed in the notifications here and here.

All 5 were with the 2/1 13th MEU.

How we got here

For an excellent summary of the long history of events in Iraq leading up to the present war in Iraq, see Greyhawk's detailed post at the Mudville Gazette.

Read it and remind yourself why getting rid of Hussein was necessary.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mr. Gorbachev, build up this wall

In 1987, President Reagan stood at the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, and said, referring to the Berlin Wall, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

That Wall, a symbol of oppression, of captivity, came down in 1989.

Recently, however, other walls and barriers are going up, or are being contemplated, for different reasons. Not to keep captive people in, but to keep dangerous people out.

The security fence Israel is building, and has nearly completed, is between Israel and the West Bank, and is intended to drastically reduce the number of terrorists entering Israel.

There are other barriers on the drawing board as well.

As mentioned in the Briefing last Monday, India has decided to speed up work on a barrier between India and Bangladesh. According to this report:

India is accelerating the construction of a 2,500-mile fence to seal its border with Bangladesh amid growing fears that its Muslim neighbour could become "a new Afghanistan".

Indian officials and western diplomats have been alarmed by an increase in terrorist attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and by the Dhaka government’s failure to crack down on them.
India’s cabinet has decided to speed up work on the 8ft security fence, which is intended to keep out terrorists and arms smugglers. The fence, which cuts a swathe through some of India’s densest rainforests, will be finished by the end of next year and patrolled by a border security force. Key stretches are being electrified.

The initiative follows attacks by two groups related to Al-Qaeda — Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harakat-ul- Jihad-ul-Islami (Bangladesh), which was among 15 organisations that were banned in Britain last month.

Also mentioned in the same Briefing, Russia is contemplating a barrier along the border with Chechnya. As The Jamestown Foundation reports:

The Jerusalem Post reported on November 8 that the Russian government "is mulling the construction of a security barrier along the border with Chechnya similar to Israel's West Bank security fence as part of its efforts to combat Muslim terror." According to the newspaper, President Vladimir Putin's envoy to the Southern Federal District, Dmitry Kozak, met in Israel with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra "for talks on the effectiveness of the security fence and Israel's overall success in fighting Palestinian terror." Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the newspaper reported that the talks "focused primarily on the construction of a security fence" and that Kozak "told the participants he would bring the issue up back in Russia and recommend it as a viable means to fight terror." Former Israel police chief Shlomo Aharonishky, who, according to the newspaper, is "serving as a consultant for the Russians," told it that Kozak had "been assigned to prepare a plan on how to fight terror and it will include the construction of a security fence," and that the goal of Kozak's visit to Israel was "to learn from us how to build the fence." Aharonishky added: "He will recommend back in Russia the construction of a fence in certain places. There will also be other ideas including how to deal with the [Chechen] leadership and the people who are sent to carry out the attacks."

In a column last Sunday, Dennis Prager listed five questions that Muslims must answer.

* Why are you so quiet?
* Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?
* Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?
* Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?
* Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

Perhaps another question could be added to this list. Why do countries feel the need to build barriers to keep murderous Muslims out?

quick update on Steel Curtain

This from CentCom today, indicating post-combat type activities are already underway in Ubaydi, as well as Husaybah and Karabilah.

Construction of bases for the Iraqi Army and U.S. military’s long-term security presence is steadily progressing in Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi. Simultaneously, Iraqi Army Soldiers and Marines continue patrolling to ensure terrorists do not return. These patrols also involve detailed searches, looking for hidden weapons caches and deadly improvised explosive devices. Approximately 120 bombs and mines have been located over the course of Operation Steel Curtain.

Three aspects of the operation which makes Steel Curtain different from previous operations in the western Euphrates River Valley are increased Iraqi Army participation, immediate establishment of long-term security presence, and Iraqi Army Soldiers taking the lead in security and care of the citizens temporarily displaced by the operation.

The press release highlights how involved Iraqi troops are in this operation, involvement without which this kind of operation could not have happened.

Approximately 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers took part in Operation Steel Curtain. During Operation Romhe (Spear), conducted in this same area last June, fewer than 100 Iraqi Soldiers took part.

Today, more than 15,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers are stationed in al Anbar province and recently locally-recruited Soldiers are joining and operating with Iraqi Army units and U.S. forces. The Desert Protectors, recruited from the al Qaim region, fought alongside Iraqi Army Soldiers and Coalition forces in Operation Steel Curtain.

Iraqi Army Soldiers provided security and helped facilitate the care and well-being of residents displaced from their homes due to the operation. Iraqi Army Soldiers provided perimeter security and screened displaced civilians to weed out al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists trying to infiltrate the shelter areas. Iraqi Soldiers also helped to distribute thousands of meals, blankets and health and sanitation items to their fellow citizens.

The NYTimes has an article telling how 5 Marines were killed yesterday.

The sequence of events was not clear, Marine commanders said, but testimony by survivors indicated that a squad had just entered a farmhouse in eastern Ubaydi when an explosion occurred, possibly from a hand grenade or a homemade bomb planted by rebels. The blast inflicted at least one casualty, and as squad members struggled to extract the fallen marine, insurgents hiding in the house attacked them with small arms and "a lot of grenades," said Col. Stephen W. Davis, commander of Regimental Combat Team 2, Second Marine Division.

The dead and wounded were recovered from the farmhouse, and 16 rebels in the house and its vicinity were killed in the gun battle, the commander said.

Here is a video clip of an interview with Col. Davis.

(The page dates the interview at November 9, but Col. Davis said they were concluding "Day 6" of the operation, which began November 5.)

In it, Col. Davis says (at the time) the operation was going "moving ahead much more quickly than we envisioned that it would."

The CentCom press release also says "Operation Steel Curtain continues."

As mentioned the operation began in Husaybah on November 5. The operation moved to Karabilah on November 10. The operation then moved to Ubaydi on November 14. I would expect in the next day or two we will see Steel Curtain move to another target.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Operation Steel Curtain Update

According to this account, Ubaydi has been largely cleared, but pockets of resistance remain as Steel Curtain continues.

U.S. Marines with 1st Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, conduct a security patrol through the streets of Husaybah, Iraq, during Operation Steel Curtain, Nov. 8, 2005. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael R. McMaugh

Meanwhile, military commanders report Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors have cleared most of Ubaydi in Operation Steel Curtain, but pockets of resistance and improvised bombs still pose "a considerable risk to both military personnel and civilians," according to a Multinational Force Iraq statement. Searches continue to ensure that the last of the terrorist fighters are captured or killed and their improvised bombs are located and rendered safe, the statement added.

Five car bombs were located and destroyed in New Ubaydi. One car contained about 20 large-caliber artillery shells. These car bombs can either be detonated remotely or used to launch suicide attacks, officials said, though suicide car-bomb attacks are rare in western Anbar province. They more commonly are used in the crowded streets of Baghdad, Ramadi or Mosul, officials said.

The Air Force has been doing its part in Steel Curtain.

After ground forces with the Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines swept into Ubaydi, a town near Karabilah, and came in contact with anti-Iraqi forces, F-15s were called in and delivered precision-guided bombs against enemy forces in a grove of trees.

A Predator fired a Hellfire missile at a building from where enemy forces were shooting and successfully drove them from their location.

Later Monday, F-16s and a Predator responded to provide ground support in the same area. The Predator successfully launched a Hellfire missile against insurgents entrenched in a tree line.

Over 80 terrorists have been killed, and about 150 have been detained.

Also, more evidence of the tremendous courage and fighting spirit exhibited by the noble terrorists. Yesterday, sheep. Today, Dame al-Edna.

This afternoon in a New Ubaydi hospital, Iraqi Soldiers from the Desert Protectors, Iraqi scouts recruited from the al Qaim region positively identified and detained an al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist. The terrorist was attempting to evade identification by wearing women’s clothing.

In an interview with FOX News tonight, Col. Davis said one reason the terrorists are fighting so hard is that they are penned in. As Bill Roggio pointed out in his map, Ubaydi sits on a peninsula of sorts, at a bend in the Euphrates River. That may be a fine defensible position if you're facing a 12th century army. But when you're facing today's US military, it means you are surrounded, trapped by the river instead of defended by it, and you have nowhere to go.

On Monday I mentioned I had indications there at least one amphibious assault unit taking part in Steel Curtain. I can confirm that. The Pentagon today released news that three Marines assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit were killed Monday in New Ubaydi.

The 13th MEU is an amphibious unit, and was brought to the region aboard the USS Cleveland, the same ship that went on to take earthquake relief supplies to Pakistan.

(You may recall 14 Marines were killed in early August when their amphibious Amtrac vehicle was attacked by a roadside bomb. Those Marines were assigned to a different units, not the 13th MEU.)

As indicated by their home website, the 13th MEU has been at Al Asad air base in western Iraq, which is not all that far to the east of where Steel Curtain is taking place.

The fighting is intense. Five Marines were killed today. 16 terrorists were killed in the engagement. But even as the fighting rages, in Husaybah, the initial target of Steel Curtain, efforts are already underway to plan the rebuilding process.

Even as Steel Curtain goes on, Iraqi soldiers and Marines with Regimental Combat Team 2 have established the Husaybah Civil-Military Operations Center, where meetings have begun between Iraqi and coalition forces and local and regional leaders to coordinate the rebuilding of the city and the reconstitution of the city council.

The CMOC also will serve as the primary meeting place for city leaders who are seeking assistance with regard to basic necessities such as food, water, electricity, phone services, waste management and security, officials said.

"The CMOC in Husaybah is a tangible sign of the committed presence of the Iraqi military and U.S. forces," said Lt. Col. Todd Ryder, operations officer, 6th Civil Affairs Group. "It also establishes a location for local government officials to meet with military and national government officials to plan and chart a path for the city's economic and political rejuvenation."

This is why good men are fighting and dying in Iraq, so a people once terrorized by murderers can be free to live in peace and safety, and to exterminate the killers that would like to see us all dead. As foreign fighters and other terrorists continue to come to Iraq, they are going to run into the most lethal fighting force the world has ever seen. Godspeed to our military.

Coalition forces attached to U.S. Marine Corps Regimental Combat Team 2 prepare for a major assault during Operation Steel Curtain in Al Qa'im, Iraq, Nov. 4, 2005. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Jason D. Becksted

Another facilitator taken

Coalition Forces have captured a facilitator of foreign fighters. This one is Abu Ahmed, the al Qaeda in Iraq Emir of Sadah. He was responsible for all terrorist operations in Sadah.

(And don't overlook the fact that "numerous terrorists and foreign fighters" were also detained. There will be some good intelligence coming out of this group.)

According to this MNF press release:

Abu Ahmed, as one of the five senior al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist leaders in the al Qaim region, which includes Husaybah, Karabilah, Sadah, Ubaydi, and al Qaim, was connected to numerous al Qaeda in Iraq senior terrorist leaders. He admitted associations, as well as conducting coordinated terrorist operations, with other senior terrorists and foreign fighters in the region. These senior terrorists were responsible for all terrorist and foreign fighter activities in the region to include the smuggling of foreign fighters into the al Qaim region from Syria.

Note that he was captured on November 7. The fact that we are hearing about this today, November 16, is not an accident, or an oversight. The fact this capture has been kept under wraps for over a week likely means Coalition Forces were trying to get as much information out of Abu Ahmed as they could, using secrecy to preserve the ability to act on the information. It is quite possible Abu Ahmed divulged information that led to other raids in the last week, raids we have not yet heard about.

Sadah is smack in the middle of the area where Operation Steel Curtain is taking place. With the large scale operations taking place in Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi, it is quite possible Abu Ahmed's capture resulted in raids in Sadah during this same period. We shall see what CentCom releases in coming days. (For a good map of the area, see Bill Roggio's map here.)

Abu Ahmed is the first facilitator actually captured in some time. There have been a number of facilitators killed, as I have been tracking in this table.

FacilitatorKilled inDate killed
Abu AliJaramilSept 7
The SheikUbaydiSept 10
Abu NasirUshshSept 26
Abu DuaUshshOct 26
Abu MahmudHusaybahOct 28
Abu Sa'udUbaydiOct 29
Abu AsilHusaybahOct 29
Abu UmarUbaydiOct 31
Abu AsimHusaybahNov 2
AsadallahHusaybahNov 2

Alito and Abortion

Today Captain Ed points out that so far anyway, there have hardly been tsunamis unleashed on the Left in the aftermath of the earthshaking revelation that Sam Alito said in a 1985 document that the Constitution did not protect the right to abortion.

The NYTimes article that the Cap'n links to quotes Alito as saying the sentiments were simply the views of "an advocate seeking a job."

Well, that doesn't exactly mollify me.

I'd be a little worried if Alito is the kind of person who makes political or judicial statements on the basis of expediency.

The Left has emptied a double-barreled shotgun into the Constitution with the Roe v. Wade decision.

The first barrel was the abysmal decision itself. But the second barrel is the Left's insistence of making abortion a litmus test for the Supreme Court, and disqualifying any nominee who doesn't find a right to abortion in an 18th century document, or in an amendment written to address freed slaves.

Because of this, we cannot have public debates in the confirmation process about the proper role of the Court. Perhaps Alito made this comment out of a need to observe this protocol that Abortion Is Just Something We Don't Talk About In Public, as if abortion were akin to Uncle Hank's drinking problem.

I would like to see conservative judicial nominees stop making excuses for their firm beliefs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Could the French riots happen in Russia?

The Russian government paid very close attention to the revolutions in first Georiga, then Ukraine, and then Kyrgyzstan, revolutions in which old orders were swept away in popular democratic demonstrations. In all three countries, frustration with government corruption boiled over.

With ever worsening demographic and economic problems, Russia may be ripe for internal revolt, and Putin's government fears the turmoil that may be loosed as Russian society crumbles.

An editorial at OpinionJournal today briefly highlights some of the things I've mentioned here before.

Russia has suffered an extraordinary long-term deterioration of public health: Life expectancy is lower today than 40 years ago, and Russia's mortality upswing is concentrated in the "working ages." For Russians between 30 and 60, for example, death rates have shot up by over 45% since 1970. Demographers have low expectations for future progress in health--the U.S. Census Bureau, for instance, projects that Russia's male life expectancy will remain lower than India's through 2025, and beyond.

Per-capita income in Russia is now barely one fourth of the European Union. Looking forward, it is difficult to see how Russia can hope to achieve an Irish standard of living if its labor force still faces an Indian (or worse) schedule of survival. Population aging in the context of poor or even declining health poses special challenges. The aging of Russia's workforce (median age for the 15-64 group will rise about three-and-a-half years between now and 2025) means that the health situation for Russian manpower could be less favorable in the future.

The specter of a swelling population of pensioners dependent for support on an unhealthy and diminishing population of low-income workers conjures up grim political choices. Should Russian resources be channeled to capital accumulation, or to consumption for the unproductive elderly? Given Russia's population structure, that question will be impossible to finesse.

As these disturbing trends collide in a race to the bottom, the resulting instability may once again cause Russians to hear the word "revolution" whispered around dinner tables.

Already there are youth movements springing up, inspired by the popular movements that brought down governments in the aforementioned countries, especially Ukraine. As this Washington Post article reports:

"There is an Orange spirit in Russia," said Andrei Sidelnikov, the young head of the new Russian youth group Pora! (It's Time!), which took its name from the young activists at the heart of the street protests late last year that ultimately brought Viktor Yushchenko to power in Ukraine. "We are living through a new era of street politics. Our young people are becoming more and more active. . . . They might explode when they can't take it any longer."

Sidelnikov's assessment, delivered at a Moscow news conference this week, would have seemed ludicrous a few months ago. But following the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the government of President Vladimir Putin was unexpectedly shaken by thousands of retirees who took to the streets to protest cuts in their benefits. They were joined by the youth wings of opposition political parties.

The government quickly backed down and the challenge dissipated, but the fear or expectation of radical change has lingered.

In recent months, besides Pora!, groups with names such as Defense and Walking Without Putin have been formed to fight what they describe as an emerging dictatorship.

The government is taking steps to counter these developments. A pro-Putin youth group named Nashi (Ours) has been formed, reportedly by Putin deputy Vladislav Surkov. It is an attempt to capture the hearts and minds of the youth before societal conditions turn them against the government.

"We're still an unstable country, and the lads have to be trained, educated," Pavlovskii said. "What will they do in the event of an attempt such as the one in August 1991, an attempt to overthrow Putin? Sit and listen to lectures? They have to get up, go into the street, and stop the putsch. It means they have to know how to do this. They have to know how to stop and break up a fascist demonstration. Break it up with the use of force. How else?"
Life at the camp is strikingly reminiscent of the Soviet era -- youngsters call each other "comrade" and cartoons hung between pine trees portray Soviet heroes fighting capitalists, fascists, and American politicians.

Nashi describes Russian liberal politicians, wealthy oligarchs, and radical youth groups as its enemies and tends to brand them as "fascists."

At the Seliger camp, most youths, like this young man, are also eager to extol the virtues of patriotism. "The young generation is the future of Russia," he told RFE/RL's Russian Service. "If patriotic views are not created now for the young generation, if everybody goes to America and so on, Russia won't hold out for very long."

The danger, though, is that groups such as Nashi, in their zeal to fight fascism, as they perceive, will fall prey to another disturbing trend in Russia, that of xenophobia. Attacks against foreign minorities are on the rise in Russia. The fear is that groups like Nashi will turn into gangs of skinheads.

This article in The Moscow Times details some of the past incidents in Russia.

Is there anywhere left in Russia where foreign students can study without getting their heads bashed in by nationalist extremists? Such was surely the question in the mind of the Ecuadorian diplomat who recently escorted two co-nationals from Voronezh to Belgorod, where they hope to complete their studies in peace. The Ecuadorians were following in the footsteps of dozens of their foreign classmates who have fled racist violence in Voronezh. The last straw for the Ecuadorians was the murder of a Peruvian student there last month.
According to a Nov. 2 article in the Belgorod newspaper Zhityo Bytyo, in early October a fourth-year Ghanaian student at a local university was set upon near campus. Three attackers beat him for several minutes before retreating; no robbery or attempted robbery of the victim was reported.
Nor have better police practices hindered their comrades in other cities. Reports of attacks on foreign students, most of whom are from developing countries, come in with disturbing regularity from all corners of the country. This month, a Chinese student was stabbed in St. Petersburg by a group of youths (who apparently made no attempt to rob their victim); a Columbian student was slashed with a knife in Nizhny Novgorod by a young man who reportedly didn't like his accent; in Murmansk skinheads attacked a Peruvian man; and in Krasnodar a Kenyan student said he was denied medical treatment at hospitals after a group of young men beat him up.

There were two incidents in St. Petersburg last week.

Timur Kacharava, a student at the St. Petersburg State University and frequent participant in anti-fascist meetings, was murdered on Ligovsky Prospekt on Sunday night. A preliminary police investigation revealed that Kacharava and his friend Maxim Zagibai, who is currently in hospital with severe injuries to his head and chest, were attacked by a group of youngsters at about 18.30 outside a bookstore, Interfax reported.
In another incident, a fight broke out between two Russian men and a group of African students early Friday morning, leaving one of the Russian men hospitalized, and investigators are trying to determine whether the incident was racially motivated or simply a drunken brawl.
The issue of immigrants and foreign students in Russia has been hotly debated in recent weeks.

Following the incident on Friday, the Moscow Helsinki Group issued a statement accusing the Russian authorities of failing to respond to displays of extremism and indulging nationalists.

"The country’s law enforcement agencies and courts are going to every length to protect nationalists," Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the organization’s chairperson told reporters Friday. "The recent wave of ethnically-motivated attacks is a shame on this country."

An article in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly described efforts of former world chess champion Garry Kasparov to effect the "dismantlement of the [Putin] regime". According to the article:

He is a revolutionary, goaded into action by the Kremlin's authoritarianism and the impotence of the liberal opposition, and he has concluded that Russia's fate will be decided through something resembling the mass protests that recently toppled corrupt governments in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.

The article describes some speaking engagements Kasparov makes, and at one of them Kasparov challenges some members of Nashi. (Nashi considers Kasparov an enemy.)

[Kasparov] smiled. Some in the crowd winced at his words; for understandable reasons, Russians as a rule distrust talk of revolution. But he didn't slow down. Reminding the audience that Putin had strangled the media and cut off channels of communication with the people, thereby consigning resistance to the streets, he hit his stride. "We must do everything so that money remains in the regions, where it is earned, to solve the regions' problems. Moscow is a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up the wealth of the regions and sending it abroad." Capital flight, around $2 billion in 2003, hit $7.9 billion in 2004 and is expected to reach $10 billion this year. "Why, five years after the sinking of the Kursk submarine [and the loss of the 118 sailors aboard it], do we still have no naval rescue service? Why is Russia selling nuclear technology to Iran when Iran sponsors Islamic terrorism—a grave threat to us? Why are we selling weapons to China and supporting the Chinese geopolitical agenda—the gravest threat to Russia, and a country with claims to our territory that it doesn't bother to hide? Our army has been reduced to nothing. Our cities are collapsing ..."

The Nashi youths stirred, crossing their arms and cocking their heads. Kasparov shifted gears and addressed them.

"I have one question for you," he said. "Why did President Putin award the highest medal of honor in Russia, the Order of Hero of Russia (the same order given to the defenders of Moscow against the German Nazis in World War II!), to Akhmad Kadyrov [the Chechen rebel leader, assassinated last year, whom Putin chose to administer Chechnya] and his son, Ramzan [his successor], bandits and murderers of our Russian soldiers? Tell me, why?"

The hall was silent. The Nashi members dropped their eyes to the floor.

"Why? I ask you again, why did the president cheapen our award by giving it to the murderers of our soldiers, of guys your own age? Answer me!"

"We'll ask him when we see him," one grumbled, eyes downcast.

Russia may not face widespread rioting by disaffected Muslim youths, because Russia does not have the same kind of large, isolated Muslim communities that Paris does.

However, Russia faces a very real threat from within, as Russian pensioners seek to preserve their safety net, while at the same time the youth either seek to preserve Russia from perceived outside influence, or react against a government perceived as dictatorial. Russia is sitting on a powder keg. The match may not be Islam, but rather the serious economic challenges Russia faces. It will take skillful leadership, both inside and outside of Russia, to keep that match from being lit.

linked to the Stop The ACLU open post

The Glorious Jihad

The fighting continues in Ubaydi, as Coalition troops clear out resistance in some of the heaviest fighting in Operation Steel Curtain.

It is suspected that many of the terrorists who are now fighting in Ubaydi fled from Husaybah and Karabilah, the first two cities that were secured by Iraqi and Coalition Forces at the beginning of the operation. While the fighting has been sporadic, it has been characterized by commanders on the ground as some of the heaviest since Operation Steel Curtain began Nov. 5. Intelligence reports indicate that the strong resistance to the Iraqi and Coalition push into the city is due in large part to the fact that terrorists believe they are trapped and have nowhere else to go.

An additional 30 terrorists have been killed since last night, for an overall total of approximately 80 killed since entering the city yesterday morning. Most of those terrorists were targeted by coalition air strikes, although some were killed in direct small-arms fire engagements with Iraqi and Coalition Forces on the ground.

Iraqi and Coalition Forces continue to clear the city house-by-house, occasionally encountering buildings that are rigged with explosives and triggered to detonate upon entering the building. Numerous weapons caches have also been seized, to include several that contained suicide vests and bomb making material. Overall, there have been 36 weapons caches found and destroyed during Operation Steel Curtain.

Iraqi and Coalition Forces have also discovered numerous improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines during the operation, the vast majority of which were destroyed by Coalition Forces before they could inflict any damage. The precise locations of many IEDs were revealed by detained terrorists. There have been a total of 107 IEDs and mines discovered during the course of Operation Steel Curtain.

In this account from the Marine Corps Times, it seems fighting the infidels may not be the glorious fight as seen in all those spiffy terrorist brochures.

"Intelligence reports indicate that the strong resistance to the Iraqi and coalition push into the city is due in large part to the fact that insurgents believe they are trapped and have nowhere else to go," the military said. "Several detainees were captured trying to sneak out of the area by crawling among a flock of sheep."


Changing Times

Some of the veterans of this blog know I am a devoted fan and customer of XM Satellite Radio. From time to time I like to listen to the old-time radio channel, with the classic shows from the 40s and 50s.

It always strikes me what passed for popular entertainment then. I mean, I'm a little surprised at the good taste New York audiences had then, which was where many radio shows originated in front of live studio audiences.

New Yorkers generally think of themselves as very sophisticated, very urbane, so it is amusing to hear NY audiences from a half century ago chuckle over jokes like "Here's a job, steamfitter. What's a steamfitter? I don't know, someone who fits steam?" *guffaw chortle laugh*

Today it seems like New Yorkers are bored by anything that doesn't involve someone prancing on stage naked smearing themselves with chocolate.

Why do tastes change? Why do values change?

Of course, sometimes it's not clear whether we should praise the Greatest Generation for enduring the long hard fight of WWII, or condemn them for enjoying the music of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

It now seems like a quaint, fusty era when married couples on TV had separate beds, but was that all so bad, when today, as a recent report said:

An examination of sex on TV released Wednesday finds 70 percent of programming includes some sexual content -- up from 56 percent in 2002.

In all, the number of scenes involving sex has nearly doubled since 1998, from 1,930 to 3,783.

What we value as entertainment, what we allow into our minds, speaks volumes about what kind of society we are. It says something that we view the entertainment of fifty years ago as old-fashioned, and belonging to a time gone by. Perhaps we should not have let that era slip by so easily.

linked to the California Conservative open post

Monday, November 14, 2005

Operation Steel Curtain Rolls On

Operation Steel Curtain began a new phase today, as troops entered Ubaydi, having moved on from Husaybah and Karabilah. (See map here.)

Members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, move out at sunrise to sweep from Husaybah to Karabilah, Iraq, on Thursday (Rick Kozak / Military Times)

From this MNF-Iraq press release:

Insurgent fighters have been battling with Iraqi and Coalition forces since the operation began at dawn.

Five targets were struck by Coalition air strikes. The insurgents were engaging Coalition Forces with small arms fire at the time of the strikes.

Preliminary reports indicate and estimated 25 insurgents have already been captured and are currently detained.

From this article at the Marine Corps Times:

U.S. and Iraqi troops trying to stem the flow of insurgent fighters across the Syrian border launched a dawn assault Monday on another border town, killing a reported 37 insurgents.
The offensive in Obeidi followed demands by Sunni Arab politicians for an end to U.S. and Iraqi military operations, claiming they threaten Sunni participation in next month’s elections — a key U.S. goal.

U.S. commanders have said offensives, especially those in the western province of Anbar near the Syrian border, are aimed at encouraging Sunni Arabs to vote in the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections without fear of intimidation by insurgents opposed to the political process.

Ubaydi is on the north side of the Euphrates, whereas Husaybah and Karabilah are on the south side.

UPDATE: Bill Roggio has a post (Nov 15) where he points out Ubaydi is actually on the south side of the Euphrates.

According to one of Bill Roggio's earlier posts, Ubaydi is the western most bridge across the Euphrates in Iraq. By controlling Husaybah, Karabilah, and the bridges at Ubaydi, Coalition Forces will be in a strong position to block foreign fighters coming down either side of the Euphrates.

It is not clear which route Coalition Forces took from Karabilah to Ubaydi, if they went along the south bank of the Euphrates and crossed the bridge at Ubaydi, or if they crossed the Euphrates before Ubaydi. It is possible there are amphibious assault units taking part in Steel Curtain, but I haven't been able to find confirmation of this. These amphibious units might have ferried across some units. This Washington Post article from May, at the time of Matador, indicated the Marines then crossed the Euphrates on linked rafts. (HT: Security Watchtower) I've seen hints that at least one amphibious assault unit is there, but since the military hasn't released any information on this publicly, I won't name the unit here.

This region was the target of Operation Matador back in May. Towns targeted in that operation included the ones being hit in Steel Curtain. If the intent is to clear and hold this same area, it is possible that after Ubaydi, the towns of Al Rummanah and Al Rabit will be next to be visited by Steel Curtain. Such an action would give the Coalition a stranglehold on the entry points for foreign fighters.

Is all this having an effect? Here are the words of General Casey, in the November 9 issue of This Week in Iraq:

The real story is what you are not seeing in Iraq. For example, the terrorist and foreign fighters are at a stalemate. They are finding it harder and harder to cross the borders from Syria and other adjoining countries. They have lost base areas such as Tall Afar and are experiencing defeat at every engagement. Moreover, they are not able to reconstitute after battles as in the past because of Iraqi Security Forces maintaining security once areas are swept of terrorists.

Additionally, being a terrorist mastermind is not a long-term career. Since January, 800 foreign fighters have either killed themselves as suicide bombers, been killed or captured — over 100 of those are known leaders or trusted agents of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq network. Once captured these terrorists lead to other terrorists, decimating the terrorist network and leaving only the less experienced leading the no-experienced.

Operations in Tall Afar, the Euphrates River Valley and along the border are showing the negative impact the Coalition is having on the terrorist and foreign fighters ability to smuggle people into Iraq, establish safe havens and conduct operations. They are making mistakes and showing their true intention.

Operation Steel Curtain is a watershed moment, because serious large-scale operations designed to clear terrorists out of the western river towns where foreign fighters take shelter on their way into Iraq are being combined with a permanent security presence. This kind of operation was not possible until the Iraqi Security Forces were capable of providing this kind of security presence. My sense is that there aren't hordes of foreign fighters coming in, but the ones that are slipping through are the dangerous ones, the suicide bombers, and if an Iraqi security presence can choke off even these, life in Iraq will be better.

Bill Roggio gives reasons why other phases of Steel Curtain may still be yet to come.

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

* Jordanian authorities continue investigations in the aftermath of the Amman bombings. King Abdullah believes the targets of the attacks were Jordanians, not westerners. The fourth bomber, an Iraqi female, was captured and confessed on television to being part of the attack. Not suprisingly, some Jordanians are blaming Israel for the bombings, a view shared by Iran as well. There also remains concern that al Qaeda may have infiltrated Jordanian security forces.

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is convinced that Iran can prevail over the United States for the future of the Middle East, which includes the "liberation" of Palestine.

* Riots in France continued through the weekend (France on Fire), with 315 cars being torched and 161 people detained on Saturday night, the seventeenth night of violence. Meanwhile, France and the rest of Western Europe is full of kindling for riots. Gateway Pundits also has a good recap of nights 17 & 18.

Other topics today include: Iranian threat not sinking in; Saudi Arabia's fight against terror; advances in Iranian nuke program; Harkat's ties to al Qaeda; Russia considering security wall; bombing in Chechnya; Arrests in India; attacks in Afghanistan; Firefight with Abu Sayyaf; JI bombmaker planned more attacks; Queen of England named enemy of Islam; jihadists urge riots on; Somalian pirates; and much more.

Iran & the Middle East

* In the wake of Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth, Iran's defiance over uranium enrichment, their increasing missile capabilities, continued harboring of al Qaeda leadership, paramilitary training, crushing of dissent and a host of other warning signs, the threat is not sinking in among western policy makers or the mass media.

* Israeli security forces killed Shoja'a Balawi, a leader of al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades in Jenin, after a shootout in the West Bank town late Saturday.

* Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Glaser said that Saudi Arabia has made progress in fighting terrorism and regulation of religious charities has shown improvement, but not enough is being done to regulate Saudi charities outside of the country. Since May 2003, 41 of the top 42 wanted terrorists have been killed or captured (Chart).

* A Kuwaiti defense lawyer is asking the court for leniency for six suspects arrested in January, on the grounds that they were not going to attack targets in Kuwait, but instead were headed to Iraq to wage jihad.

* Back in July, U.S. and European authorities discovered evidence that Iran's nuclear program had "made significant advancement toward weaponization", and have since been sharing the information with selected nations and the IAEA.

* Syria has rejected the idea of Syrian officials leaving the country to be interviewed in connection with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiki Hariri. The defiance comes as Secretary Rice continues to pressure Damascus to cooperate.

* In the midst of a Middle East trip, Secretary Rice is also expected to suggest reforms in Saudi Arabia, nearly a week after a State Department report cited the Kingdom for denying religious freedoms.

America Domestic Security & the America's

* Police and army operations ended Friday at the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Mucurapo compound in Trinidad 37 hours after the armed forces occupied the compound to conduct an arms raid. The man in charge of the operation, ACP Crime Gilbert Reyes, confirmed that the operation had ended but said that other initiatives were continuing.

* Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr and two young men were all denied bail by a magistrate Friday on charges of possession of a large quantity of ammunition, a hand grenade and a rifle. On Thursday Bakr appeared in court on four charges of incitement and sedition relating to a sermon he gave at Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen compound.

* A letter from the Algerian government points, for the first time, to the evidence that Canada may be relying upon to support its contention that Mohamed Harkat made al-Qaeda contacts in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. Mr. Harkat, an Algerian refugee and former Ottawa pizza delivery man, stands accused by the Canadian government of being an al-Qaeda terrorist.

* Colombia's Constitutional Court has cleared the way for President Alvaro Uribe to stand for re-election in 2006. Correspondents say there are fears that left-wing guerrillas, who are desperate to avert another four years of Mr Uribe, will escalate a campaign of violence. Mr Uribe is one of Washington's strongest allies in South America.

* Actor Bruce Willis has offered $1 million to anyone who turns in al-Qaeda terror leaders. The patriotic "Die Hard" star will pay out for information on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, Aymen Al-zawahiri or Abu Musab Al-zarqawi.

Russia & South/Central Asia

* In its North Caucasus Security Watch on Friday, RIA Novosti summarized the main security-related events in the North Caucasus. Included in the summary are items related to the Nalchik attacks and incidents in Chechnya.

* The latest issue of Chechnya Weekly, from The Jamestown Foundation, examines, among other items, the possibility that Moscow might wall off Chechnya, in a manner similar to Israel's West Bank security fence.

* Leaders of seven South Asian countries met in Dhaka, Bangladesh, over the weekend to ratify plans to reduce trade barriers starting from January and to promote economic development in the region which is home to half the world's poor. Saarc countries were strongly pitching for the Dhaka Summit to send out a clear message that there must be "zero tolerance" for terrorism in any form or manifestation. On Saturday, the countries agreed on a united effort to combat terrorism.

* A weapons cache and ammunition were found in Kabardino-Balkaria in the Urvan district. The cache included an anti-aircraft launcher and an improvised bomb.

* A blast in the Sunzhenski district of Chechnya, which borders with Ingushetia, destroyed an armored personnel vehicle, killing two police officers and injuring five, a local police official said Sunday. According to the police report, a roadside bomb went off near the temporary police headquarters.

* Officers of the Russian Federal Security Service Department for Chechnya have averted an act of terrorism which gunmen were preparing against top officials of the republic. As Itar-Tass learnt at the press service of the department, "on the eve, an operation to detain bandits involved in the preparation of this act of terrorism was conducted in the village of Katur-Yurt of the Achkhoi-Martan region of the republic."

* An armed clash took place near the village of Avtury in Chechnya, the Interfax news agency reported Saturday. One rebel has been killed. There have been no casualties among the federal forces. A participant of illegal armed groups, reportedly an Arab mercenary, was killed in the clash, Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov told Interfax on Saturday morning.

* The suspected key coordinator of last month’s serial bombings in New Delhi that killed 62 people has been arrested, police said on Sunday. The search is on for four accomplices identified as members of the hardline rebel group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is among a dozen guerrilla organisations battling Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989.

* India has sealed the border with Nepal in the lawless northeastern state of Bihar ahead of assembly elections there to prevent cross-border violence by Maoist rebels, officials said Saturday. India’s Home Ministry has warned that Maoist rebel groups within the country are cooperating with guerrillas in Nepal, where a leftist insurgency has claimed more than 12,000 lives since 1996.

* India is accelerating the construction of a 2,500-mile fence to seal its border with Bangladesh amid growing fears that its Muslim neighbour could become "a new Afghanistan". Indian officials and western diplomats have been alarmed by an increase in terrorist attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and by the Dhaka government’s failure to crack down on them.

* Some observers remain concerned that Bangladesh still could be exploited by extremists. Ajai Sahni is a terrorism expert at the Institute for Conflict Management, a New Delhi research center. He says the bombings three months ago were partly a recruiting tool for extremists seeking to consolidate their domestic support. Mr. Sahni says militants hope to eventually internationalize Bangladesh's extremist movement along the lines of Pakistan, where militants have been linked to a number of international terrorist groups.

* In Khost, Afghanistan, close to the Pakistani border, militants attacked a police station killing one policeman and injuring five others. In southern Helmand two policemen were killed in an ambush.

* Militants pulled a deputy provincial governor from his car and shot him dead and killed a former district chief while he prayed in a mosque in the latest attacks on supporters of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, officials said Saturday.

* Hundreds of Muslims attacked and burned two churches in Pakistan on Saturday after reports that a Christian man had desecrated Islam's holy book. No one was injured in the blazes. "No Christian burned copies of the Quran," said Shahbaz Bhatti, head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* On Friday, Abu Sayyaf members ambushed a Filipino military patrol on the island of Jolo, leading to three days of intense fighting. Four Filipino soldiers and sixteen Abu Sayyaf terrorists have been killed.

* Indonesian authorities have announced that Dr. Azahari bin Husin, a top Jemaah Islamiyah bombmaker who was killed last week, was planning additional attacks and had 30 bombs at his residence in east Java when police raided it. The news comes as authorities continue an intense manhunt for Azahari's accomplice, Noordin Mohamad Top.

* Ansyaad Mbai, the head of Indonesian anti-terrorism forces, is warning that more terror attacks are likely in the coming days and weeks.

* Australia has indicated they are considering membership in a regional joint-counterterrorism task force being set up by Indonesia.

* On Thursday, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit will begin in Busan, South Korea, and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is expected to highlight the fight against terrorism and poverty.


* Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has named the Queen of England as “one of the severest enemies of Islam” in an older video just obtained by the UK Sunday Times.

* A mutual suspicion is growing in Denmark between native Danes and minority Muslims.

* Websites used by al Qaeda members and other terrorists are urging Muslims around Europe to follow the example set by the rioters in France.

* Following the parliamentary defeat of his proposal to detain terror suspects for 90 days without charge, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is vowing to fight on, saying modern terrorism is on a "totally different in scale".


* By Dawn's Early Light writes, "the importance of the Horn of Africa as a key objective in the Global War on Terror is increasingly apparent." The job of CENTCOM's Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) is often more diplomatic than war-fighting.

* Pirate attacks off Somalia's coast are being organised from command vessels, or "mother ships", the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has said. The IMB says pirates are still holding seven ships and their crews, seized in the world's most dangerous waters. In the past few days, at least four other vessels are reported to have been attacked. Captain Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB, says the situation off the coast of Somalia appears to be completely out of control.

* Somalia could become a terrorist haven because it is a failed state where the number of extremist groups is growing, the top U.N. envoy for the country warned last week. Francois Lonseny Fall said he told a closed meeting of the U.N. Security Council that "extremist groups were growing not only in Mogadishu (the capital) but in the rest of the territory" and were sometimes carrying out assassinations.

* Despite his claim of complete disarmament, the Federal Government of Nigeria said on Thursday that guns and live ammunition were recovered on Wednesday from the Port Harcourt residence of the detained leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Mujahee Dokubo-Asari. A procesutor cited a newspaper interview where Dokubo was quoted as saying that he would die fighting for Nigeria’s disintegration.

* Violence continues in Ethiopia, and detained opposition leaders and editors will face treason charges according to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The U.S. and EU pressed Ethiopia to release the opposition leaders. Eritrea has condemned neighbouring Ethiopia for "bloody suppression and atrocities" during the recent crackdown on unrest.

* On Tuesday and Wednesday the National Defense University will hold a symposium on the topic of Africa : Vital to U.S. Security?. The symposium will consider Africa’s strategic importance to the United States and how expanded U.S. and international engagement could best help African countries address key challenges to their security and become stronger partners in dealing with costly regional crises, global terrorism, and other transnational threats.

The Global War

* An article in the November issue of Air Force Magazine looks at the myriad of missions the Air Force is conducting worldwide. According to now former Acting Air Force Secretary Pete Geren, there is a widespread perception that the war in Iraq is a land-force affair. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the application of US airpower has been so effective that it is largely unseen. Most observers erroneously view the wars as Army and Marine Corps operations.

* Talks between Washington and Bishkek about payments for a military base used by the U.S. in Kyrgyzstan are going well, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Alikbek Djekchenkulov said. The importance of the facility, established in 2001, has grown since Uzbekistan in July gave the U.S. six months to close its other Central Asian base.

* Recent comments by Iraq's national security advisor seem to bring into question an earlier CSIS report that many thought whitewashed the role Saudi jihadists are playing in Iraq.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dispatch from the Front XII

In this dispatch, my correspondent waxes a little poetic.

Howdy one and all. Groundhog day again. I have another Situation Report. Violence. Not much you can do to spin that. Some folks were breathing the day before and now they are not.

About 4 of 18 provinces have a lot of daily violence. Others are certainly dangerous in the extreme. A similar example would be maybe Columbia at the height of its internal conflict where the level of violence was nearly unbelievable. This is not going away any time soon. Most likely years away from stability.

How much and what type of continued American involvement in Iraq remains to be seen.

Anything happy to report? I will have to get back to you on that. Other than that, I am alive and well so far and God continues to bless with safety in some less than safe conditions. Ha!

I leave you with a poem. I enjoy poetry and it's rather shameful it is not held in higher esteem in our society and certainly our public education where in years past all children were inculcated in a wide variety of forms.

A country where poetry is often a bestseller? Iran aka Persia where thousands of years of poetic tradition in its long history is alive and well.

William Henley, 1849-1903, a contemporary of Kipling (of Jungle Book fame, among others, another favorite of mine) and a friend of Robert Louis Stevenson (of Treasure Island fame among others), he had some health issues in life yet perservered with admirable determination.

This poem translated means Invincible in Latin and at times has been an apt metaphor or somewhat realistic in its other descriptions of my then current condition during my military service. Otherwise, it serves as a creed.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Take care y'all. Be well, do good works, and keep in touch.

Dispatch from the Front I
Dispatch from the Front II
Dispatch from the Front III
Dispatch from the Front IV
Dispatch from the Front V
Dispatch from the Front VI
Dispatch from the Front VII
Dispatch from the Front VIII
Dispatch from the Front IX
Dispatch from the Front X
Dispatch from the Front XI

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Islamic groups in Trinidad

You wouldn't expect the Caribbean to be a growth area for Muslim groups, but Islamic organizations are taking root in the region.

Trinidad, in particular, has attracted the attention of US and regional security officials. There are three Islamic groups in Trinidad that have grown in visibility.

The most well-known of these three groups is the Jammat al-Muslimeen, led by Abu Bakr.

As this Media Line article says:

The Jammat is known almost exclusively as a Black Sunni Muslim organization comprised mainly of Afro-Trinidadian converts to Islam.
The Jammat al-Muslimeen’s ideology and rhetoric mirror that of militant Black ethno-nationalist movements, including the most radical fringes of the Nation of Islam.
At the same time, the Jammat is seen by many locally as a well organized criminal empire involved in everything from drug smuggling, money laundering, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion, with Abu Bakr running the show.

A week ago Friday, Abu Bakr delivered an Eid-ul-Fitr sermon in which he threatened rich Muslims with "war" and "bloodshed" unless they contributed money to him for alms. Abu Bakr was arrested following those statements.

This past weekend, Trinidad officials raided the Jamaat's compound and confiscated some weapons. As a result, Abu Bakr and two youths were denied bail on weapons charges.

The second group in Trinidad is the Waajihatul Islaamiyyah. Again, from the Media Line article:

Like the Jammat al-Muslimeen, the Wajithatul Islamiyyah is comprised mostly of Afro-Trinidadian converts to Islam. Local sources allege that Abdullah harbors extremist leanings. The Waajihatul has been accused of publishing material expressing support for Al-Qa’ida, but Trinidadian authorities have not provided conclusive evidence of any direct links with the group.

The third group is the Jamaat al-Murabiteen, headed by one time Jamaat al-Muslimeen chief of security Maulana Hasan Anyabwile. Anyabwile split with Abu Bakr and the Jamaat al-Muslimeen in 2001.

As this article reports:

Soon after splitting with the Jamaat, Anyabwile was shot at his home and left Trinidad . He is now in England after spending time in Sudan and Egypt.

At a briefing of senior foreign military officials last November the army had said that the Masjid was being scrutinised by the security forces and had called it a "fundamentalist organisation".

Poverty and political instability in the Caribbean can provide a spawning ground for Islamic groups, and attract the attentions of Al Qaeda.

Keep an eye on Trinidad, and the possible threat posed by its local Islamic groups.

Another milestone

Last night we took down John's bed, and put up some bunk beds in his room. That's the bed he's had since the first night we brought him home. First as a crib, then converted into a toddler bed.

He long since ceased to be a toddler, but was finally outgrowing the bed, so Rhonda got these big bunk beds from someone she knows.

John is sensitive to transitions and changes, so he cried a bit when his bed was gone. But, after spending a night in the new bed, he likes it.

Naturally, Hanna wondered when she was going to get her "bunker beds".

Our Restroom

Why? Because it sure isn't Our Town.

Where I work, there are a number of engineers at one end of the floor. Now, I always say, stereotypes get to be stereotypes because they're true. Well, whatever stereotypes you hold about engineers, they're true.

One of the more amusing aspects of these engineers is the little pageant they constantly put on in the men's room. Let me introduce you to the little cast of characters.

There's Snuffly. I call him that because of his loud breathing. One day, when I'm in the men's room, there was someone else in a stall. As I'm going out, Snuffly goes
over to the stall, kinda leans in and peers through the crack, and says
"Don't see a wallet in there, do ya?" The poor guy in there, just sitting there
minding and doing his business, says "uh, wallet?".

There are Pathetic Dribble Guy and Bouncing Guy, so-called for their performances at the urinal.

There's Toothbrush Guy. One day I go in there, and he's at the urinal. With one hand he's, uh, going about his business, and with the other hand he's brushing his teeth. Yeah.

There's Heil Hitler Headset Guy. This guy always, and I mean always, walks around with a phone headset on his head. Never takes it off, even in the men's room. And the mouthpiece is always stuck up in the air like some heil hitler salute.

There's Slow Guy. This guy moves like he's swimming in molasses.

There's Flood Pants Guy. Always has on the same colored pants, which don't reach below the ankles.

Of course, there's Small Bladder Guy. He's in there every ten minutes it seems.

There are a couple more, but I want to preserve some mystery.

Engineers. Why? Whhyyy?

linked to Wizbang's open post

Friday, November 11, 2005

new word

Time to bequeath to the world another new word.

Schadennegger - the joy Leftys in California take in having defeated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's initiatives, and the glee exhibited thereupon

linked to Stop the ACLU's open post

In honor of our veterans

(Note: I've posted this a time or two before, but some new to the blog may not have seen it. I post it today in honor of our veterans, and all they have done for us.)


How many times have I heard an athlete praised for exhibiting courage? This kind of grandiloquence is especially prevalent in football.

Numerous awards throughout college and professional football list courage as one of the traits they recognize. It is said it takes courage for a player to play with injuries, and to play through pain. It is said a team shows courage in mounting a game-winning drive in the last minutes. It is said a quarterback displays courage in standing in to throw a pass knowing he is about to be knocked silly by a linebacker.

I would humbly suggest we ought to be more careful in the way we use certain words.

The recent movie Saving Private Ryan is one that should be seen by every adult American at least once. The movie depicts the D-Day landings and the kind of action that typified the following days. It is a visceral and brutal homage to the sacrifices made by so many young men in the service of their country.

Scenes at the beginning and end of the movie take place in the American cemetery near Colleville-sur-mer. The cemetery sits right on the bluffs above Omaha Beach, looking down on what was Easy Red sector. The name was half right.

My wife and I visited this cemetery a few years ago. What a solemn experience. After leaving the bus in the parking lot, we passed through a protective ring of trees, and there came upon row after row after row of gleaming white crosses and Stars of David. Nearly 10,000 are buried in this cemetery, which is laid out in the form of a Latin cross.

The grounds are immaculate. The hedges are neatly trimmed, the grass carefully clipped, the water in the reflecting pool clean. The serene beauty of that hallowed place is a seductive contrast to the unspeakable ugliness that laid those men in their graves.

We walked the paths, and looked down on the beautiful beach, and I thought what a debt we owe. So many of my fellow Americans went through such anguish and terror just to stand where I was standing then. And this cemetery represents just one small corner of the war, the casualties from a few weeks of fighting in NW France. How many other battlefields are there? How many other wars have there been in our history? How many other cemeteries are there that hold the remains of soldiers that fought so I wouldn't have to?

As the vivid colors of the present pale into shades of gray, as memories of the deeds of generations of American soldiers gently fade into the past, may we never take for granted the freedom we enjoy in this country. May we always remember the price so many paid for that freedom.

I don't deny it takes willpower and discipline for a football player to limp out onto the field with a sprained ankle and play with the pain. But the next time you are on your comfortable couch and you hear such a performance described as courageous, just remember what happened on a Norman beach that Tuesday morning in June 1944.

After hours at sea, thousands of young men climbed over the side of their transports, and in the pitching seas descended into the landing craft. When the boats reached the shore, the ramps went down, and the world those soldiers knew changed forever.

Many were shot down before they even left their boats. Many drowned in the ocean under the weight of their equipment. Machine guns, mortar shells, and German artillery turned Omaha Beach into a killing field. Bodies and pieces of bodies were everywhere. Those who saw Omaha later that day said they could almost walk across the beach without touching the sand.

But those who survived the initial hell made their way across the beach to take shelter at the seawall and beneath the cliffs. Wet, cold, many of them wounded, without a coherent command structure, the broken bodies of their comrades and brothers all around; those soldiers could have given up. They didn't. In small groups they blew holes in the wire, made their way through minefields, climbed the bluffs and secured the beachhead.

That is courage.

(I wrote this in 1999.)

linked to Stop the ACLU open post
linked to Mudville Gazette's Open Post
Michelle Malkin says thank-you.
La Shawn Barber has some thoughtful words on what veterans mean to her, and us.
Don Surber has an excerpt from his column on military honors.
Watchman's Words reminds us of some of Kipling's poignant words.
Psycmeistr appreciates the magnitude of what our veterans have done for us.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Can't we do better?

First, the Pentagon has released the identity of the Marine killed Sunday in Husaybah during Operation Steel Curtain. He is Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Sorensen, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II MEF.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in Husaybah and Karabilah, embedded with the 6th Marines, and had this account.

The Marine killed Sunday had entered a house officials believed was used by insurgents. A group of Marines had cleared most of the home, and one found a locked door. As he was breaking down the door to enter the room, someone inside shot the Marine, military officials said.

After the Marine was shot, his comrades left the house, and the suspected shooter ran up to the roof and began firing at others on roofs of nearby buildings. Marines returned fire, killing the man.

Rest in peace, Lance Cpl. Sorensen.

This got me to looking at other recent casualties, and it prompted me to point something out to you, something I haven't written a lot about to this point. My correspondent has had a great deal to say on the subject, though I haven't passed on most of it in the dispatches, except for Dispatch from the Front VIII.

Here are many, but not all, of the casualties announced just since November 1. See if you find what they have in common.

Date AnnouncedNameAssigned ToCircumstances
Nov 1Spc. Kenny D. Rojas3rd IDlandmine exploded near his HMMWV
Nov 1Capt. Raymond D. Hill
Sgt. Shakere T. Guy
ANG 184th IRIED detonated near their HMMWV
Nov 2SSgt. Wilgene T. Lieto
Spc. Derence W. Jack
AR 29th BCTIED detonated near their HMMWV
Nov 3Spc. Dennis J. Ferderer Jr3rd IDhand grenade thrown at his HMMWV
Nov 42nd Lt. Mark J. Procopio172nd IRIED detonated near his HMMWV
Nov 4Staff Sgt. Kyle B. Wehrly123rd FAIED detonated near his HMMWV
Nov 4SSpc. Joshua J. Munger
Spc. Benjamin A. Smith
Pfc. Tyler R. MacKenzie
101st ADIED detonated near their HMMWV
Nov 7Spc. Timothy D. BrownANG 125th IRland mine detonated near his HMMWV
Nov 7Capt. James M. Gurbisz
Pfc. Dustin A. Yancey
3rd IDIED detonated near their HMMWV
Nov 7Sgt. 1st Class James F. Hayes101st ADIED detonated near his HMMWV
Nov 8Capt. Joel E. Cahill3rd IDIED detonated near his HMMWV

This is just in the last week or two. How many have been lost in Humvee-related incidents in the last two years?

The Humvee was not designed for this kind of environment. It was not intended to be an armored fighting vehicle. I don't know if the Humvees involved here were the uparmored variety or not, maybe they encountered the increasingly sophisticated insurgent bombs, but far too many soldiers have been lost in a vehicle not designed to protect them in the environment in which they were fighting.

The Pentagon has increased efforts to get more armor kits into Iraq this year, but nonetheless, the military did not go to war with an adequate vehicle.

And this is my biggest objection to how the war in Iraq has been handled. If you've read this site for five minutes, you'll know I'm very supportive of the efforts in Iraq. I think it is necessary that we be there, it is certainly necessary that we finish what we started.

This is the nation that in WWII moved mountains to build up war materials. Factories were converted from making civilian goods to military goods. Have we converted a single factory since 9/11? Have we been asked to conserve a single stick of butter?

We didn't go into Iraq with enough troops to adequately cover that size of a country, and we didn't go in with vehicles ready to meet the threat, and we didn't go in prepared to alter our lifestyle in any way in order to support the war effort.

Here are some of my correspondent's thoughts over time on this matter. Some of these go back a ways, before the latest efforts to bring in large numbers of armor kits. I don't include these here to try and give a picture of what the situation is like right now, today, but rather to at least give an idea of what things were like at one time.

Last week one of our units got hit with ied, front and rear humvee were the newer uparmor but the middle was just plastic and they waited for it until detonation. So they know what to look for. You want to discuss a travesty. This humvee armor fiasco and lack thereof has been in numerous news and even congressional inquires. I even heard someone say in a hearing recently, everyone has armor. BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that is the biggest baldfaced lie ever. First, many many humvees are still driving around with madmax juryrigged homemade scrounged from whatever and wherever they can find it metal plywood and sandbag "armor". I know, they are here, i see it every day. I've seen it all over the country. And this after a friggin YEAR into the war?!! This from a country that builds a space shuttle. And we can't provide our sons and daughters the best money and technology can buy? it is unconscionable. Disgusting. EMBARRASSING. Second, many of the humvees have only a temporary fix of the uparmored doors and a few other angles. That constitutes the majority out there. Yes, many have it (and it took almost the entire last year to do it.) but they aren't true armored all around shells like the purpose built ones are.
Now, I submit to you that a nation that can build a space shuttle, decode DNA, land on the moon can certainly provide the modern, updated and functioning armor and equipment I believe young troops who join the services trusting and believing in our leaders to ensure they sent them into harms way with modern weapons expect them to have when they sign on the dotted line. I invite (or DARE, if you have enough courage) any officer, congressional leader, industry representative to come visit lovely iraq and see for yourself the vast aray of thousands of Mad Max like vehicles and their bewildering assortment of jurg-rigged, welded on, slapped together armor packages.

Is it effective? I don't know but better than what some were given-NOTHING. Really, I think we can do better than bags of dirt and junkyard metal for our troops? To be sure, and in fairness, since last year the army has been scrambling to upgrade tens of thousands of vehicles. It's a logistical nightmare trying to get all that fixed.

In the meantime, missions have to be completed. The job has to get done. This war doesn't have a timeout for you if you dont have armor on your truck. Everyday kits of armor arrive and they take time to transport and install. Finally (FINALLY!) various trucks are getting an armored cab that is merely traded out for the old unarmored one. Not all trucks have these. Especially the older types that most guard or reserve units have. Many many many trucks each and every day drive around this country vulnerable. That's reality.

Guess you are out of luck snuffy! Ha. Better luck next time. Should have joined the regular army where you have a better chance and the latest and best equipment! And the humvees? The armored ones have kits to upgrade them since these bombs often times can blow right thru them. The unarmored ones have a vast array of various emergency bolt on kits the army desperately sent out. The majority of them have them. Some don't. That's reality.

I would add that the kits are not adequate for a full bomb blast. It's clear from lessons learned the hard way that these kits do not provide adequate protection in the event of a near blast. Once again, better than nothing though. But the armor ones from the factory are better than the add on armor kits.
And don't get me started on that whole stryker brigade fiasco, they knowingly fielded a vehicle that cannot stop an rpg missle into a combat zone! And then bolted on metal cages for an interim fix?! All the time their are 10 thousands of surplus m113 that can cheaply be upgraded at 1/10th the cost and are more effected in sandy terrain, can go down narrow streets etc. I have seen dozens and dozens of homemade metal welded onto all kinds of vehicles. Insane. Whoever approved that crap a YEAR after occupation should be fired and then made to drive down an iraqi street in that crap with his family. Because that is what the young sons of america are doing every day, putting their lives on the line in substandard crap only worthy of some 2 bit 3rd world country not the US, a so called superpower. They look like something from mad max. ludicrous, embarassing.

I don't often vent here, but the recent Humvee-related casualties sparked me to finally share this here. It is such a testament to our fighting soldiers that they bravely get in these vehicles every day and go on patrol. It is a testament to their skill that they started with what they had, and have done an incredible job bringing Iraq to the point where in December they'll be voting on a permanent free government.

I know decisions aren't made out of a conscious desire to harm people, but when lives are on the line, we should make every effort to ensure that those who do put their lives on the line are not getting the short end of the deal.

There are other areas where we need to focus concern, such as in taking care of those families who have lost loved ones, or where loved ones have been wounded. There are many sites that provide information on how we can contribute. Soldiers' Angels is a good resource. The Patriette has links to a number of support organizations.

You and I may not be capable of building an armored vehicle, but we can urge our government to make sure we have adequate vehicles. And you and I can give of our time and money to military families in need. We are all in this together.

Another facilitator dispatched in western Iraq

CentCom has released news of two terrorists killed in Husaybah on Nov 2, before the start of Operation Steel Curtain. One was a foreign fighter facilitator, and one provided logistical support to terrorist cells.

As with many of the facilitators listed below, these two were killed with precision air strikes on suspected safe houses. This is a good sign of high quality intelligence. The military does not bomb houses from the air unless they are pretty sure of what's inside. We may never know the complete story of how this kind of intelligence is being gathered, but someone somewhere is doing a marvleous job.

Coalition Forces identified two al Qaeda leaders killed by an air strike in Husaybah Nov. 2.

Asadallah, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist leader and foreign fighter facilitator in the Husaybah area.

Abu Zahra, a close associate of the current al Qaeda in Iraq Emir of Husaybah.

The leadership of the terrorist network bringing in fighters from Syria has to be in shambles at this point, at least in the western river towns closest to Syria. Here is the current tally of facilitators killed since September.

FacilitatorKilled inDate killed
Abu AliJaramilSept 7
The SheikUbaydiSept 10
Abu NasirUshshSept 26
Abu DuaUshshOct 26
Abu MahmudHusaybahOct 28
Abu Sa'udUbaydiOct 29
Abu AsilHusaybahOct 29
Abu UmarUbaydiOct 31
Abu AsimHusaybahNov 2
AsadallahHusaybahNov 2

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Concerto for Violence and Buffoons

What do you think would be worse, if the Islamic violence we see worldwide is orchestrated by a central, malevolent leadership, or if it has developed independently in widely scattered geographic areas and is conducted by homegrown terrorists?

What do you think would be worse, if the Islamic violence we see worldwide is orchestrated by human leadership, or inspired by an ideology?

Do you think our response to the violence will influence how this war plays out?

How is it that when this snarling, ravenous, murderous hatred leaps straight for our throats, some seek to explain it away, or apologize to the beast?

Today was another bitter reminder of what we struggle against. Three suicide bombings in hotels in Amman, Jordan, have killed dozens. It seems likely the attacks were launched by Al Qaeda, or perhaps Zarqawi. In an especially horrific disregard for humanity, one of the blasts occurred in a hall filled with a joyous wedding celebration party.

Can we begin to fathom the depths to which a human soul must sink in order to willingly march into a room filled with innocent wedding revelers and blow them to shreds?

What creates a person like that? Who would plot and plan for a long period of time to commit such an act? Do you think it is a person depressed and angry over poverty? Do you think it was a person denied employment at this hotels? Can we conjure up anything that would justify these attacks as something that balances a moral ledger?

If you want a laboratory experiment in what happens when a society wrings its hands, and collapes to its knees in paroxysms of guilt before this bloodthirsty beast, hoping to appease it, look no farther than France, a country with a fair amount of practice in appeasement.

For the past two weeks, France has desperately been trying to keep the Islamic genie inside the bottle, as it fights to contain the Islamic riots that started in Paris and then spread around the country. There isn't as yet much evidence that these riots have been orchestrated by Al Qaeda from outside the country, but again I'll ask, does it make you feel any better if the riots spontaneously erupted out of a hatred that was already there, bubbling away?

Mark Steyn characterized the events in France this way:

The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule.

Granted that most of the "youths" are technically citizens of the French Republic, it doesn't take much time in les banlieus of Paris to discover that the rioters do not think of their primary identity as "French": They're young men from North Africa growing ever more estranged from the broader community with each passing year and wedded ever more intensely to an assertive Muslim identity more implacable than anything you're likely to find in the Middle East. After four somnolent years, it turns out finally that there really is an explosive "Arab street," but it's in Clichy-sous-Bois.

The enemy has made no secret that it wishes us dead. The enemy screams it louder and louder with each passing year. And how does the far Left react? By taking off its shirt. Granted, the sight of some of these pendulous activists would be enough to scare off the most hardened of terrorists, but how can such displays be taken as anything but the sign of a decayed, weakened society?

France has been just as pathetic, trying to excuse the riots as simply evidence that not enough social welfare has been doled out. It is indeed a mystery how that country never learned the lesson in WWII, that surrending your capital without a shot and trying to coexist with pure evil is not a recipe for success. (Do we know if there's been rioting in Vichy?)

What has been the most effective response to terrorism since 9/11? The US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, turning as many terrorists into jigsaw puzzles as they can find.

This Islamic ideology that wants us dead will not relent until we have throttled the very life out of it. Like a symphony, there are many parts to this effort. Some small, some large, some quiet, some booming, but they all fit together and form a thunderous response to this evil. We didn't ask for this fight, civilized societies rarely do. Yet we must finish it, or it will eventually finish us.

Michelle Malkin has a round-up on the Jordan bombings.
Captain Ed says most of the victims were Muslim.

Anti-sniper warfare in Iraq

The technology the US military can deploy to the battlefield these days is truly amazing.

You may recall Arthur C. Clarke's adage, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". But even to us, who in this day and age are quite accustomed to advanced technology, some of the tools the US military has do seem like magic.

As one example, consider the newer anti-sniper systems the US military has been using in Iraq.

One system is called the Boomerang Mobile Shooter Detection System, which has been around since 2004.

(photo from

According to this article in Gizmag:

The Boomerang units attach to a vehicle and use seven small microphones, arranged like the spine of a sea urchin, to detect both the muzzle blast and the shock wave from a speeding bullet. Once a sniper's bullet is detected, Boomerang's display panel, which is located inside the vehicle, alerts soldiers through audio and visual signals that a bullet has been fired, its direction and elevation.

This article from Defense Industry Daily last week describes two newer systems.

WeaponWatch picks up on the infrared signature of every weapon the moment it is fired, instantly identifying it from a database of thousands of weapons muzzle flashes and relaying its position on screen. It has already proven itself in combat.

This Wired article points out WeaponWatch has already achieved results in Iraq.

For security reasons, Pentagon officials refuse to disclose which U.S. military units have used WeaponWatch and where.
The system was tested on top of a building where there was a high concentration of insurgent gunfire. Within a few days, American troops were able to use WeaponWatch to return fire more rapidly, Smith said, resulting in a noticeable drop in enemy attacks.

Finally, there is this technology.

Enter Elbit systems' subsidiary Ortek with SCS, a Sniper Coordination System that offers commanders unprecedented control and coordination of sniper (or counter-sniper) teams.

Utilizing a lightweight image splitter attached to the rifle sight, the SCS enables data and image transfer and communications with up to four sharpshooters simultaneously. The commander can see which target each sniper is aiming at, and convey orders to each sniper - silently if necessary. A built in messaging capability allows the commander to send a red or green light into the scope to signal the sniper, and send/receive SMS-like messages as well.

Vision on the battlefield is crucial. If you're a lone soldier with no knowledge of anything going on around you, and you have zero knowledge of the enemy or even of your own side, you are not effective beyond the range of your rifle. But, when commanders are able to see the battlefield and track in great detail the location of the enemy, an army becomes lethal. With the technology today, a known enemy is a dead enemy.

I wrote here about the all the myriad of skills that go into building up this kind of technology. We can be proud of what we have achieved. From electronic communications networks, to laws that protect property rights, to free societies that reward initiative and achievement, and on and on, the United States has created unmatched power through the countless hours of work and thinking by its citizens.

And what is it being used for? Not for oppression and subjugation, as the Loony Left would have you believe. No, all this power and technology is used to protect freedom. No military power has ever done more to use its capabilities to protect and promote freedom. Think about the enemies out there right now, plotting to kill and murder. Think of what's going on in France, think of the plot uncovered in Australia.

I've said it before, imagine what the world would be like if there were no United States. Would you want to live there?

Whither they goest?

JunkYardBlog does some nice thinking in a post about where Zarqawi and his zany band of Al Qaedians might go next if and when they are driven out of Iraq.

Mr. Preston outlines somes logical reasoning that has Al Qaeda ending up bunking with the Palestinians.

Al Qaeda will probably soon be driven out of Iraq, if not entirely then at least functionally. As Strategy Page reports (via InstaPundit), the standing-up Iraqi army and Coalition forces have taken away most of al Qaeda's refuges in Iraq. If the Sunnis get with the democratic program and help turn Qaeda terrorists out their territories, the bad guys will have little to do but run to the border areas and probably into other states. Which states, though?

Syria is an obvious candidate, but its present nervousness and the possibility of real international approbrium stemming from the Hariri assination would seem to make Syria a wobbly host. Assad might just curry international favor by snatching up whatever major Qaeda figures show up in lands he controls and turn them over to the US or UN.

Iran is the next likely host. In fact, it probably already hosts senior Qaeda leadership. But there's only so much functional value to staying inside Iran if you're a bloodthirsty operative like Zarqawi. Whom would the terrorists attack--student protestors? From Iran, Zarqawi and his accolytes could mount attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that's of limited value as well as both are lost to al Qaeda for the foreseeable future, and both are quite hostile to the terrorists from the top of their governments.

I think the Zarqawi brigades are most likely to show up where they believe they'll be able to do some lasting good, from their point of view. If they're driven out of Iraq, they'll end up in Gaza working with Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. From there they will be able to attack Isreal and Jordan easily enough, they could keep Egypt under close watch and they won't be far from Iraq should they see the need to mount attacks there. And the US won't dare mount any direct attacks within any Palestinian territory. The international outcry against any American attack would be tremendous, no matter the intentions or the results. Thus, Yasser Arafat's creation will probably become Zarqawi's next base of operations.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Update on Steel Curtain

An article at the Marine Corps Times says operations in Husaybah have concluded and are moving on to Karabilah. (See map here.)

A tank and vehicles of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, stand by while Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers clear houses during Operation Steel Curtain, in Husaybah, Iraq, on Monday
Cpl. Neill A. Sevelius / U.S. Marine Corps / AP Photo

Two thousand Marine infantrymen completed a four-day sweep through the city Tuesday and continued their advance into a suburban strip leading east to the riverside town of Karabilah.

There were few significant engagements between U.S. and insurgent forces Tuesday. An improvised bomb caused minor injuries to three members of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, as they marched down a dirt street in what the Marines have dubbed the "H&K Triangle," a wedge of residential neighborhoods between densely urban Husaybah and more rural Karabilah in western Iraq.

Shortly after dawn, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines advanced the final few blocks of Husaybah, which sits near the Euphrates’ crossing of the Syria-Iraq border.

Marines with Echo Company, 3rd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, make their way through eastern Husaybah, Iraq, on Sunday
Rick Kozak / Military Times

More evidence that the initial attack came from an unexpected direction.

They found evidence of that Tuesday morning — several fortified positions oriented to the east, including two houses with artillery rockets and improvised firing tubes, aimed in the opposite direction of the Marine advance.

"I expected more built-up positions," said Lance Cpl. Tyler Skjellerup, 20, of Boonville, N.Y., a member of 3/6’s Kilo Company weapons platoon. "They didn’t expect us to come from this direction."

Lance Cpl. Tyler Sytsma, 19, of Minneapolis, with Echo Company, 3rd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, stops to rest as his comrades make their way through eastern Husaybah, Iraq, on Sunday
Rick Kozak / Military Times

A comment on the purpose of the operations.

Now, if Steel Curtain has gone according to plan, those insurgents are now squeezed into Karabilah, especially a triangle-shaped part of town ominously nicknamed the Shark Fin.

Note, a "squeezed in" terrorist is a dead terrorist.

As this article says, one reason the terrorists may have thought the attack was coming from the east is because the Marines had occupied fire bases near Karabilah.

The long movement was an attempt to surprise insurgents in the city, who Marine commanders believe were expecting any assault to come from the east, in the neighboring village of Karabilah, where Marines hold a line of small firebases occupied during fighting in October.

I love the Marines and their penchant for plopping down in the middle of bad guy territory, forming fire bases, and saying "We're here. Whaddya going to do about it?"

This line of fire bases may form one leg of the triangle mentioned above. The attack coming from the west may be trying to drive the terrorists against this leg.

CentCom has released news from the fourth day of Operation Steel Curtain.

Note the emphasis on the fact so many of the terrorists are foreign fighters, i.e. from outside Iraq.

Coalition and Iraqi forces continue to detain terrorists as they fight their way through the city. A number of the detainees have been foreign fighters who originated from various countries within Asia and Africa.

The majority of foreign fighters come to Iraq through Syria where they cross the border into Iraq and meet with members of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the leadership of which is also comprised of mostly foreign nationals.

Until Operation Steel Curtain, Husaybah was an important command and control center where these foreign fighters were trained and dispatched throughout the country to wage war against the Iraqi people and Coalition Forces.

There are approximately 180 men being detained for questioning about suspected ties to the insurgency. The overall percentage of foreign fighters that make up that total is unavailable at this time.

I have been keeping track of facilitators killed in these western river towns. Several of them were not Iraqi, but being facilitators, all were connected to threads running outside of Iraq. Here's the current list.

FacilitatorKilled inDate killed
Abu AliJaramilSept 7
The SheikUbaydiSept 10
Abu NasirUshshSept 26
Abu DuaUshshOct 26
Abu MahmudHusaybahOct 28
Abu Sa'udUbaydiOct 29
Abu AsilHusaybahOct 29
Abu UmarUbaydiOct 31
Abu AsimHusaybahNov 2

* Abu Ali had Al Qaeda connections in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

* The Sheik had connections in Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Syria.

* Abu Dua had al Qaeda connections in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

* Abu Mahmud was believed to be a Saudi.

* Abu Sa’ud was a Saudi extremist.

* Abu Asil was a North African terrorist.

The Saudis are hip deep in supporting terrorism, especially financially, though many donations may be from private sources, not government coffers. Saudi money is oil in the gears of terrorism. Note how many of the above facilitators were either Saudi, or had connections in Saudi Arabia. Whether the government of Saudi Arabia is actively supporting these operations, I don't know. But surely a police state like Saudi Arabia knows what is going on, and at best the government is turning a blind eye to these activities. So far, the United States has been mostly silent in public on Saudi support for the terrorists in Iraq.

On the encouraging side, local Iraqis are involved in Steel Curtain.

The scout platoons assigned to the combat units clearing the city, commonly known as Desert Protectors, continue to assist both Iraqi and U.S. forces. Because of their familiarity with Husaybah, the region, local tribes and dialects, these scouts are able to pick out suspicious individuals for further questioning. Those individuals not associated with the insurgency will be released.

This is the first operation in which these locally recruited and specially trained scout platoons have been employed. As the number of Iraqi Army Soldiers grows in al Anbar, more locally recruited Soldiers will swell their ranks. Currently, there are more than 15,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers serving in al Anbar.

The experience and the confidence Iraqi soldiers will gain as they participate in real-life, live-fire combat operations will serve them well in the future.

Operation Steel Curtain - Nov 5
Operation Steel Curtain - Day 3 - Nov 7

Bill Roggio has an interview with Colonel Stephen W. Davis, the Commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team - 2, who says "Husaybah has been cleared and secured".

Pakistan relief efforts a month later

U.S. Helicopter Relief Flights Top 1000 In Pakistan

U.S. military helicopter crews delivering relief aid to earthquake survivors in Pakistan’s remote mountain ranges have flown more than 1000 trips since beginning flight operations here Oct 11.

When helicopter flight operations ended for the day on Nov. 3, U.S. military pilots had flown 1,056 missions into Pakistan’s Kashmir and Northwest Frontier Provinces, a rugged mountainous region.

There are 24 U.S. military helicopters supporting Pakistani-led relief efforts. The U.S. Army has 17 CH-47 Chinooks and three UH-60 Blackhawks providing aid, while the U.S. Navy has two MH-53 Sea Stallions and two MH-60 Knighthawks.

U.S. Military Hospital Treats 1,000th Patient

A U.S. military field hospital in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan treated its 1,000th patient the evening of Nov. 6.

The 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital deployed to Muzaffarabad as part of the United States’ support to the Pakistani-led relief effort resulting from the devastating earthquake Oct. 8 that caused heavy damage in the Kashmir and Northwest Frontier Provinces, Pakistan.

The hospital deployed to the heart of the earthquake zone from its base in Germany and began seeing patients on Oct. 25. The facility is capable of performing simultaneous surgeries and has a capacity of 24 intensive care unit beds with 60 additional beds for those requiring less critical care. It also has lab, x-ray, pharmacy and other capabilities similar to that of any typical U.S. hospital.

An injured Pakistani child here waits for transport to a medical center in Islamabad Oct. 20.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

An update from USAID:

* From October 10 to 31, USAID completed nine airlifts of emergency relief commodities to Pakistan. The airlifts delivered a total of 45,000 blankets, 1,570 winterized tents, 6,150 rolls of plastic sheeting for approximately 30,750 families, 15,000 water containers, 17 water bladders, 2 water purification units, 10 WHO emergency health kits, and 20 concrete cutting saws. The total value of the completed airlifts, including transport, is more than $4 million.

* To date, USAID/FFP has responded to the WFP emergency operation for Pakistan with 2,400 MT of vegetable oil and 480 MT of wheat soy blend. The total value of this contribution is approximately $3.4 million.

The latest Joint Combat Camera Photos of the relief efforts are dated November 6.

Here are some earthquake-related pictures from Pakistan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Here is a graph I put together with data culled from CentCom press releases. This represents total tons of supplies flown in on the large cargo planes. It does not include supplies the Navy has delivered by ship. (I am not sure if this includes supplies referred to by USAID.) Click the thumbnail for the full size image.

Here is a link to a map showing the location of the epicenter of the earthquake.

Here are some websites related to the earthquake, and relief efforts.

Pakistan Red Crescent Society
Islamic Relief
Pakistan Earthquake 2005
Mercy Corps
World Health Organization
Earthquake 2005
Federal Relief Commission
United Nations Development Programme

US military relief efforts in Pakistan - Oct 13
More on the Pakistan relief efforts - Oct 14
Pakistan relief efforts continue - Oct 18
Making the Pakistan relief effort happen - Oct 20
More on directing the Pakistan relief efforts - Oct 23
Update on Pakistan relief efforts - Oct 27
Pakistan relief efforts continue - Oct 29
Pakistan relief efforts in fourth week - Nov 1

linked to Stop the ACLU open post

Monday, November 07, 2005

Operation Steel Curtain - Day 3

Operations continue in Husaybah as Day 3 of Operation Steel Curtain comes to an end. By clearing and denying one of the closest safe havens just inside Iraq, Coalition Forces aim to make the journey of foreign fighters coming into Iraq much riskier, as the terrorists would have stay on the roads or come through the Euphrates river valley, or worse, come across the open desert.

Sgt. James H. Harrison, foreground left, 1st Platoon Sgt., attached to India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, looks over a rooftop at the source of enemy fire during Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah, Iraq, on Sunday. The major offensive on the city by about 3,500 U.S. and Iraqi troops met limited resistance on its opening day.
Cpl. Neill A. Sevelius / U.S. Marine Corps / AP Photo

(For a map of the area around Husaybah, see the excellent map at The Security Watchtower.)

According to an article today in the Marine Corps Times by Gordon Trowbridge, the operation may have surprised the terrorists by coming from an unexpected direction.

"We surprised them coming into Husaybah from the west," said Capt. Brendan Heatherman, commander of the battalion’s Kilo Company. "I think they started pulling back to spots where they can set up a better defense."

The assault on Husaybah began at dawn Saturday, after two Marine infantry battalions moved across the desert to the city’s western edge, right on the Syrian border.

The long movement was an attempt to surprise insurgents in the city, who Marine commanders believe were expecting any assault to come from the east, in the neighboring village of Karabilah, where Marines hold a line of small firebases occupied during fighting in October.

If this is true, the terrorists aren't terribly good at learning past lessons. Much the same tactic was used at Fallujah in November 2004. The US military set up strong in the south of Fallujah, making the terrorists think the main attack would come up from that direction. However, the thrust of that attack came from the north and northeast. When you're the target, it may not matter much if you're getting hit by the hammer or by the anvil, it feels the same. However, this may be a sign that most of the more experienced terrorist commanders are no longer around to teach these lessons.

Still, the fighting in close quarters is dangerous as it always is. From an MNF press release, the terrorists are not respecting mosques as neutral ground.

The combined force is clearing the city, house by house, as the al Qaeda in Iraq-led terrorists continue to plant improvised explosive devices throughout the city and fire on the Marines and Iraqi Army Soldiers from homes, schools and mosques. Terrorists frequently use religious and public buildings to launch their attacks.

Iraqi Army Soldiers and Marines were fired on by terrorists from mosques in two separate incidents Nov. 6. In both cases, Iraqi Army Soldiers entered quickly and searched the mosques. The terrorists had cleared the buildings before the Iraqi soldiers arrived on the scene.

Pockets of resistance have been encountered and eliminated by the Iraqi Army Soldiers and Marines throughout the day. Ten targets were struck today by Coalition air strikes. Marines can confirm 17 terrorists have been killed since the operation began yesterday. Many more are suspected of being killed, but Coalition forces haven’t been able to confirm those numbers yet. All air strikes were conducted using precision-guided munitions to ensure destruction of the target while limiting collateral damage. There have been no reports of civilian casualties or of civilians leaving the region due to the operation.

Marines make an inventory of a weapons cache found during Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah, Iraq, on Monday
U.S. Marine Corps / AP Photo

From this CentCom press release, three terrorists approached a checkpoint dressed in womens clothing:

Iraqi Army Soldiers shot and killed three terrorists dressed in women’s clothing near the entrance to the safety zone established for displaced persons. The trio brandished weapons as they neared the checkpoint the Iraqi Soldiers were manning, but were unable to use them before being killed by the Soldiers. Iraqi Soldiers identified the terrorists as foreign fighters. The three terrorists were trying to hide among the women and children and gain access to the area for residents temporarily displaced.

A Marine was killed Sunday in Husaybah. A photographer was lightly wounded Saturday. A Marine who pulled him to safety was also wounded. About 40 insurgents have been confirmed killed, according to this Washington Post article.

MNF also released news that yet another facilitator was killed October 31, along with a terrorist cell leader. They operated in and near the towns of Karabilah and Ubaydi.

Coalition forces can now confirm the death of two key al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist leaders who were killed during those air strikes. These terrorists operated in the Husaybah, Karabilah, Ubaydi, and Al Qaim region.

They are Abu Umar, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist leader and foreign fighter facilitator who was the commander of several terrorist cells in the Ubaydi, Husaybah, and al Qaim region, and Abu Hamza, was a senior al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist cell leader who was the commander of several terrorist cells in the Husaybah and Karabilah areas.

Note from the press release that Abu Umar had just taken his post, as had other facilitators also killed recently.

Abu Umar had just replaced Abu Asil who was killed in a coalition air strike a few days prior. He assisted Abu Asil in the smuggling of foreign fighters in the to al Qaim region.

The terrorist underground railroad is losing leaders as fast as they can be replaced, and with the pounding the entry area of Husaybah is taking, the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq is under great pressure.

FacilitatorKilled inDate killed
Abu AliJaramilSept 7
The SheikUbaydiSept 10
Abu NasirUshshSept 26
Abu DuaUshshOct 26
Abu MahmudHusaybahOct 28
Abu Sa'udUbaydiOct 29
Abu AsilHusaybahOct 29
Abu UmarUbaydiOct 31
Abu AsimHusaybahNov 2

Operation Steel Curtain - Nov 5

Bill Roggio comments here on Day 3 of Steel Curtain.
Michelle Malkin has a roundup of links on Day 3, and a note on Project Valour-IT.

This is me practicing my "camera is on me" smile

"This is Liberty 24. Peace Like A River, repeat, Peace Like A River is down."

"Liberty 24 - Do you have the Blog of the Week?"

*Long pause*

"Negative. Peace Like A River is changing call signs. Peace Like A River is now The Susan Lucci Blog."

0 - 6!!!


I'll be alright, I'll land on my feet. I know I have it in me. I mean, I was the Poughkeepsie Fire Station #2 Ladies Auxiliary Spring Garden Social Best Blog (Honorable Mention), and one year I was the Iowa State Fair Pork Blog, and my blog was once chosen to be on a computer screen in the background of a very special episode of Full House. I just have to keep plugging away, and away, and away, and away, and away, and away, and away.

This was purely a team effort. Many humble thanks to my fellow MOBsters for picking me up and trying to heave me across the finish line. Would've been dead in the water from the start if not for the plugs on all your blogs. But thanks most of all for your taking the time to stop by and read.

Oh, we mobsters have our disagreements. Usually settled in great pools of blood on the sidewalk outside some steak house. But we banded together, and there's our victory.

The Diebold machines came through for the Kalifornyuns. After we went up by 5 around 1:30 pm Central time, they came back to outpoint us by 11 or so in the next half hour, including getting five votes in a minute or two. Guido and Luigi will be looking into this shortly.

Lest you think I'm a complete potato, here are all my BOTW entries. Readers are voting with what truly matters, their time and attention, and I'm thankful people take time out of their lives to stop by. (Radioblogger didn't have a botw poll in some of the earlier weeks.)

Journalists: Missing in action or missing the action? - Aug 30
It is in our nature - Aug 31
The Trojan horse has already been rolled through the gates - Sept 17
I wish they would gum up their mouths - Sept 26
The enemy of my enemy is my Supreme Court Justice - Oct 6
Below the Beltway - Oct 10
You can't shake a spear at this nomination - Oct 20
Vox Populi - Oct 27
Blue Screen of Death to Conservatives - Nov 1

The Screaming Eagles get their wings wet

From this MNF press release:

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division discovered a large weapons cache during combat operations south of Baghdad International Airport Nov. 4.

Members of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment discovered the cache around 8 p.m.

Three terror suspects were detained for further questioning.
The weapons cache included 90 82-millimeter mortar shells, 40 hand grenades, 22 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, eight RPG launchers, seven rockets, four 155-millimeter artillery rounds, four 60-millimeter mortar systems, three AK-47 assault rifles, two automatic grenade launchers, two mortar sights, two sacks of mortar propellant charges, two pipe bombs, one 120-millimeter mortar round, one case of 7.62-millimeter ammunition, one improvised rocket launcher, 800 grams of TNT, 300 feet of detonation cord, bomb-making materiel, 25 ski masks, and four sets of body armor with protective plates.

The Screaming Eagles Have Landed

Could've been the whiskey, might've been the gin

Look at the mess they're in.

Over at The Mudville Gazette, Greyhawk has an excellent post with snippets of news accounts detailing the Advanced State of Decayness in the Democratic Party. Here are some of the clips Greyhawk has linked to.

The New York Times

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said on "Meet the Press" on NBC that Karl Rove, the senior presidential adviser, "should leave" the White House because he was found to have had discussions with reporters about the C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson.

The Washington Times

Most anger at the Pentagon is directed at Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Levin has been conducting an investigation into Iraq prewar intelligence assessments at the Pentagon. He has requested reams of confidential documents, some of which the Pentagon says do not exist.

In what one official calls "extortion," Mr. Levin has pressured the Pentagon by blocking the nominations of former Ambassador Eric Edelman to be undersecretary of policy and Peter Flory to be his top deputy on European security matters. As the impasse hardened, Mr. Bush resorted to recess appointments.

The Washington Post

"We were so stupid that we let our idiot president and an Arab con man fool us on a life-and-death issue."

As a campaign theme for elections in 2006 and 2008, that proposition may lack a little something. Yet Democrats who supported the invasion of Iraq but now cannot support the consequences of their vote are flirting with it. To them, good night, and good luck.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Democratic party appears to have finally come up with a way to explain why so many of its elected leaders gave President Bush the authority to wage war in Iraq.

Three simple words: "We were duped."

A parade of top Democrats have contended in recent days that they would have been antiwar in 2002 had they known then what they now believe to be true: that the Bush administration manipulated the intelligence in order to build a bogus case for war. In pursuit of that theme, Senate Democrats on Tuesday successfully demanded that their GOP colleagues quit stalling and finish a long-promised investigation that could determine whether the war planners were dishonest.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The president went on television to announce: "Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors."

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years," the vice chairman of the Intelligence committee told the Senate.

The president was Bill Clinton (Dec. 16, 1998). The senator was Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia (Oct. 10, 2002).

Isn't that a Party.

Monday Winds of War Briefing

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

* In France, youths set ablaze nearly 1,300 vehicles and torched businesses, schools and symbols of French authority, including post offices and provincial police stations, late Saturday and early Sunday. Police also found a gasoline bomb-making factory in a derelict building in Evry south of Paris. They confiscated 50 devices, fuel stocks and hoods for hiding rioters' faces. Gateway Pundit and The Bellmont Club both have good additional coverage and analysis.

* Amir Taheri takes a look at the first 100 days in office for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad and says that he "believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilisations in which Islam is the only credible alternative to Western domination. And he is convinced that Islam can and will win."

* 150,000 Moroccans took to the streets in Casablanca to protests against al Qaeda, who is currently holding two Moroccan hostages in Iraq.

Other topics today include: Hamas looking for a home; Islamic Scholars reject child bombers; Iran and the EU; al Qaeda in Iran; Arab unrest in Iran; Azerbaijan elections; Mehlis to question Syrian officials; FBI arrests in LA; Release from Gitmo; Tajikistan battles radicals; US relief in Pakistan; Terrorism in Bangladesh; Thailand's insurgency; Indonesian travel advisory; Ba'asyir to stay in jail; Piracy in Somalia; UK suspects charged; Denial of secret CIA prisons; Ethiopia/Eritrea square off; Where is Osama?; Female jihadists; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Terrorist group Hamas has reportedly asked Egypt and Jordan if either would be prepared to host the organisation's headquarters, Tel-Aviv based daily Haaretz reported on Friday. Hamas fears that Syria - where it and rival Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad's political leadership are currently based - may force the groups to leave.

* Islamic scholars interviewed by RFE/RL expressed concern over the report of a suicide bombing that was carried out by a child on 1 November in Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk. According to Western news agencies, the suicide bomber was between 10 and 13 years old and detonated his explosive belt as a car carrying Kirkuk's police chief passed nearby. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which appears to be one of the first cases in which Iraqi insurgents have used a young boy to carry out such a suicide mission.

* Iran is calling for a new round of talks with the EU over their nuclear program in the wake of Kofi Annan's cancelled visit to Tehran.

* About 25 al-Qaeda leaders, including three of Osama bin Laden's sons, are running terrorist operations from their refuge in Iran rather than languishing under house arrest as the Teheran regime claims, intelligence officials have said. The disclosure comes as Maj-Gen James Dutton, the commander of British forces in south-eastern Iraq, reiterated on Friday that the technology for lethal new bombs was crossing into the country from Iran.

* A new U.S. intelligence report indicates that an overthrow of Bashar Assad's regime in Syria is unlikely to produce a successor any more supportive of U.S. policy in Iraq and elsewhere.

* According to reports, Sunni Arabs have clashed with Iranian police in the southeast province of Khuzestan, the site of several bombings this year.

* The parliamentary elections were held yesterday in Azerbaijan, and Registan has the full run down of the days events.

* UN investigator Detlev Mehlis has summoned six top Syrian intelligence officials for questioning in the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The list includes the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

America Domestic Security & the America's

* FBI agents in Los Angeles have arrested four people with ties to Hong Kong for allegedly trying to smuggle sensitive material on U.S. military technology to mainland China, a press report said Nov. 4. The material included research into silent propulsion systems for U.S. warships, a technology that is banned from export to China, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an FBI affidavit.

* Several Muslim organisations in Trinidad held a closed-door emergency meeting Saturday to discuss statements made by Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr during an Eid sermon at Mucurapo on Friday. In a sermon on Friday, Bakr warned that blood might flow next year as his group moved to collect zakaat (alms) from rich Muslims. The Jamaat leader went so far to call the names of some people and organisations who would be targeted, giving them the choice: pay zakaat to the Jamaat, or face the consequences.

* Three Bahraini's and a Saudi were transfered from the Guantanamo Bay facility to authorities in the native countries. There is some speculation that more transfers are forthcoming, but those remain unconfirmed.

* Daniel Sutherland, the head of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is urging Muslim air travelers to register before flying, to reduce chances of problems at the airport. The move comes at a time when Michael Chertoff is seeking ways to improve the department effeciency overall.

Russia & South/Central Asia

* The United States and Indian Air Forces are set to begin a joint military exercise today at the east Indian airbase of Kalaikunda that will last twelve days. India's communist party is threatening massive protests in response.

* At least 20 terrorists were involved in preparing and carrying out the three serial blasts that killed 59 and injured about 210 on Oct. 29. Friday's Hindustan Times quoted the police source as saying that, according to the initial investigation, the police found at least 20 terrorists were divided into four groups to carry out separated tasks for the serial blasts. Despite the initial report on the organization of the blasts, the police made little progress in tracking the suspects and identifying where they came from.

* Six foreign al Qaeda suspects were killed in the Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border after a bomb they were building exploded.

* Tajikistan has branded the Islamic religious group "Bayat" as terrorists and extremists in the mold of the Taliban. According to Tajik Interior Minister Khumiddin Sharipov, "Sixteen members of this organization remain on the wanted list."

* Twenty four U.S. military helicopters have flown 1,056 missions into earthquake stricken Kashmir and the North Frontier provinces, delivering more than 4 million pounds of food and evacuating more than 3,200 injured Pakistani's.

* Last week in Bangladesh six powerful bombs and bomb-making materials were recovered in a hilly area in Chittagong. RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) sources said each of the recovered bombs is very powerful and could easily kill at least 50 people if it exploded in a crowded place. The RAB also found letter written in tribal language in which the names of twelve terrorists were mentioned but the date was illegible.

* Relations between Pakistan and Israel have been positive as of late, and are the topic of a CSIS South Asia Monitor briefing titled "Pakistan and Israel: An emerging detente" (pdf file).

* In the run-up to parliamentary elections in Chechnya on November 27, some are suggesting that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Chechen state and government officials maintain that the elections will be a genuine exercise in electoral democracy. The militants themselves are making no comment on the upcoming elections.

* Two district level leaders from Nepal of the CPN (Maoist) were arrested in Darjeeling district of the Indian state of West Bengal on Saturday. The Maoist leaders, during interrogation, admitted to have been operating training camps in Nepal's Ilam district, reports added.

* PINR has an intelligence brief called "Russia in the S.C.O" that describes the Russian role in the organization and their relationship with China.

* An Al Qaeda website containing detailed instructions in Arabic on how to make nuclear, "dirty" and biological bombs has attracted more than 57,000 hits and hundreds of readers’ inquiries, reported British newspaper The Sunday Times. The newspaper said that terrorism experts were warning the site could be boosting the organisation’s appeal to would-be assassins in Britain and abroad.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Thailand tacitly acknowledged Thursday that the violent unrest in its troubled Muslim-majority south was spreading, a day after overnight bomb blasts at electrical power plants and relay stations plunged part of the southern town of Narathiwat into darkness. The government, on Thursday, imposed martial law in two further southern districts in the adjacent province of Songkhla, the commercial centre of the southern region.

* The Australian government has issued a new travel advisory for Indonesia and warned that "recent new information suggests that terrorists may be planning attacks to occur before the end of 2005."

* A top leader of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group (ASG), Radullan Sahiron, was captured in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga Sibugay on Saturday, officials said. Sahiron is the second terrorist leader to be arrested in over a week. On October 26, security forces captured Ahmad Santos, chieftain of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), a group of radical Muslim converts.

* In an abrupt about-face, the government has decided not to grant convicted terrorist and Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir a sentence remission given to inmates in observance of Idul Fitri holiday. There was no explanation from government officials about why Ba'asyir was excluded from the list of 39,348 inmates who had their prison terms reduced.

* An article by Rommel C. Banlaoi in the Autumn issue of The Naval War College Review, entitled Maritime Terrorism In Southeast Asia, says the growing nexus between piracy and terrorism makes maritime terrorism in Southeast Asia a regional security concern. Because piracy is frequent in Southeast Asia, terrorists have found it an attractive cover for maritime terrorism.

* The Indonesian army has set up anti-terror desks to speed up and coordinate information-gathering and intelligence-sharing in its latest bid to fight the terror scourge in the country. The desks, which will operate in each of the 12 nationwide regional commands, will ensure tighter coordination between the police and the army, said Indonesian army spokesman Hotmangaradja Pandjaitan.


* A Dutch terrorism suspect arrested in October allegedly hoped to shoot down an El Al airliner at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a television program reported Friday, citing police and secret service documents. Samir Azzouz, 19, was one of seven suspects arrested in four Dutch cities on Oct. 14 on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack.

* Three Muslims suspected of involvement with terrorism in the UK have been charged in a British court with an array of offenses, including fundraising for terror and conspiracy to commit murder.

* The European Commission said Friday it would encourage governments in Eastern Europe to comment on allegations that the CIA set up secret prisons in the region to interrogate al-Qaida suspects. U.S. officials have refused to confirm or deny the claims, but some EU diplomats are casting their doubts on the story.

* Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's former ambassador to Washington, points towards the war in Iraq as one of the motivating factors in the emergence of local terrorists saying "there is plenty of evidence around at the moment that homegrown terrorism was partly radicalized and fueled by what is going on in Iraq."


* The biggest rebel movement in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region has chosen Minni Minnawi as their new leader. But Sudan Liberation Army's choice of Mr Minnawi seems certain to split the group, long beset by rivalries. For the last six days the SLA has been holding its congress deep in rebel-held Darfur.

* The British government’s decision in October 2005 to designate the al-Jama'a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah fi-Libya (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, LIFG) as a terrorist organization must have come as welcome news to Colonel Qadhafi, given that at its peak the group represented the strongest challenge the Libyan regime has ever faced. Following this designation the British authorities arrested five members of the LIFG.

* Tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea continue to grow, with reports indicating that troops and military hardware are on the move on each side of the demilitarized zone.

* Sporadic violence was reported in northern Ethiopia on Saturday after four days of political unrest left at least 46 people dead and more than 200 injured, witnesses and diplomats said. Police fought opposition supporters protesting against alleged fraud in May elections. The opposition party CUD (Coalition for Unity and Democracy) has become increasingly vocal in its claims that elections held on May 15 were rigged by Meles’ Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolution Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.

* A Seaborn Cruises luxury liner traveling off the coast of Somalia sailed into a serious attack by gunmen in speedboats early Saturday morning in an area known for violent piracy. Only one passenger received minor injuries. In mid-October, the International Maritime Bureau warned ships to stay as far away as possible from the Somali shore. In one travel advisory issued by the Australian governement security authorities, travelers are warned that the risk of terrorist attack against Western interests in Somalia remains high.

* A failed assassination attempt Sunday on the Prime Minister of Somalia and an attempt to hijack a luxury American cruise ship Saturday off the coast has reinforced fears that the country is spiralling out of control as a centre of al-Qa'ida terrorism. Three people were killed in the attack on the Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, as he visited the chaotic capital Mogadishu.

The Global War

* Osama bin Laden has been publicly silent for the longest period since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was last seen in a videotaped message to Americans on Oct. 29, 2004, saying the United States could avoid another Sept. 11 attack if it stopped threatening the security of Muslims.

* Despite Iraq and Afghanistan remaining the central focus in the war against terrorism, the US is more concerned with the Al-Qaeda movement said Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director of Plans and Strategy for Central Command. Kimmitt a senior American military strategist, told a group of Arab Journalists at the American Embassy, in central London, that the US believes that even if Iraq and Afghanistan would stabilize tomorrow there would still be a residual and long-term presence of al Qaeda and its associates in the region.

* Writing for the Jamestown Foundation, Farhana Ali writes that Muslim women are increasingly joining the global jihad. The use of Muslim women for suicide attacks by male-dominated terrorist groups could have implications on the jihadi mindset, challenging more conservative groups such as al-Qaeda to reconsider the utility of the Muslim woman on the front lines of jihad.

* Twelve conflict situations around the world deteriorated in October 2005, according to the new issue of CrisisWatch. Six conflict situations improved in October 2005. For November 2005, CrisisWatch identifies Kyrgyzstan and Ethiopia/Eritrea as Conflict Risk Alerts, or situations at particular risk of new or significantly escalated conflict in the coming month.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dispatch from the Front XI

In this dispatch, my correspondent shares some thoughts on something never very far from his mind, the inevitable casualties that war brings.

I see the latest news and polls showing declining support for continued us involvement here. Somewhat understandable. You were sold a bill saying this was going to short and quick. It was up to a point. But an insurgency erupted.

But now tell me this. What is it about American perserverance that is so fickle? The nation can stomach a war of a few months and maybe a few hundred casualties and then all bets are off?

I am continually amazed at how fickle this sentiment is. Ten, a hundred, 500 dead but then, ouch, it's too much? Think, this is war. People die. Soldiers die and get maimed. It's risky. But what message is going to our enemies? Just start an insurgency and wait us out after a few thousand casualties because the americans quit after that?

It's extremely bad business to make your national foreign policy subserviant to the whims of casualties. If the nation decided it saw fit to wage war, by goodness, then it needs to see it through to accomplishment.

Now, I am not saying I am interested in getting blown away for a bunch of arabs. They can fight for their own freedom and future for all I care. I do and will follow my orders and I do hope for a better future for the people here and maybe even idealistically hope that someday our children won't have to be fighting the children from here all the time.

And to be fair and honest, I am not in continual hatred and paranoia about the people here. Many are very friendly and hospitable and fine people, very generous. The exingencies of war make being chums with most out of the question for now.

Now, I am not saying we stay forever, or do a vietnam and get lied to continually but can you prepare yourself to betray the principles that led us into the war in the first place which was to liberate Iraq and create a nation that would prompt changes in this region? After the first soldier was killed, we invested a lot, it could be said, too much to not finish this job. It is wrong to send us to fight but then face the risk of having our risks come to nothing if you aren't going to support the war to its successful conclusion. Then why go join up and serve if the fickle public is going to back out? If you can't stomach casualties then don't allow the politicians to start one.

The military is volunteer now. We weren't forced into it and we knew the risks. But to be honest, if I stay in, I am looking at being here for part of the remainder of my career, even if the war cools off. I am not sure I am interested in all that. Make no mistake, you bought into a multi-decade committment, just like Clinton getting us into Bosnia or Kosovo and we have been there for ten years. We aren't leaving Iraq for decades, if ever.

Getting back to what started this whole tirade, I understand the public had different expectations and are now frustrated. But to quit is to open the US up to other risks in the future if our enemies see our resolve is weak.

War has its ups and downs. Casualities happen. Not to belittle all or any of the deaths and injuries but the numbers are actually incredibly low. There has never been a war in history with so few casualities. You simply cannot have war without some. Each and every one is sad. I know. I know it all too well.

Since 9/11 I have known and trained and worked with some of the dead, and in the larger sense, I am part of all of them, being in the same service to our country. But then as Americans, we are all, in part, in this together.

It is said only the dead know the end of war. I suppose that is true. We humans can never seem to live without conflict.

Dispatch from the Front I
Dispatch from the Front II
Dispatch from the Front III
Dispatch from the Front IV
Dispatch from the Front V
Dispatch from the Front VI
Dispatch from the Front VII
Dispatch from the Front VIII
Dispatch from the Front IX
Dispatch from the Front X

linked to Stop the ACLU open post

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Operation Steel Curtain

With a permament presence established in the western Euphrates river towns in Iraq near the Syrian border, and having conducted a vigorous series of operations aimed at exterminating the facilitators that bring in foreign fighters from Syria, Coalition Forces are now letting the heavy hammers fall.

(See my previous posts here and here.)

Operation Steel Curtain began today in Husaybah, one of the towns closest to the Syrian border. (See Security Watchtower's excellent map.)

From this MNF press release:

Approximately 2,500 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers with Regimental Combat Team-2 and 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers began Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) in western Al Anbar Nov. 5.

The objectives of Operation Steel Curtain are to restore security along the Iraqi-Syrian border and destroy the al Qaeda in Iraq terror network operating throughout Husaybah.

The operation follows on the heels of Operations Iron Fist and River Gate. During Operation Steel Curtain, elements of the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and specially trained scout platoons recruited from the Al Qaim region will take part in this operation.

From this AP report:

In nearby Qaim, a witness said the offensive in Husaybah began about dawn with four loud explosions, apparently caused by U.S. warplanes or helicopters. The witness said telephone service to the town was cut. He spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety.

Husaybah is a poor Sunni Arab town of about 30,000 people. It is located near the Euphrates River and surrounded by bleak hills and desert terrain. Most residents live in small brick and concrete homes, and many may have fled during another U.S. offensive in the area last month.

The military statement said al-Qaida in Iraq, the country's most feared insurgent group, has used the Husaybah region for its smuggling operations. The military also said that insurgents continue to threaten residents of Husaybah who work with U.S. or Iraqi forces.

Also, yesterday MNF released news that five al-Qaida leaders were killed by an air strike in Husaybah Oct. 29. One, Abu Asil, a North African terrorist, was a foreign fighter facilitator. The other four were terrorist cell leaders.

Coalition Forces conducted a series of raids on suspected terrorist and foreign fighter safe houses to capture or kill terrorists operating in the town of Husaybah. During the raids, Coalition forces destroyed three safe houses with air strikes using precision guided munitions.

One of the safe houses destroyed was the location of an apparent meeting between al Qaida in Iraq (AQIZ) terrorist leaders from the Husaybah and Al Qaim areas.

Coalition Forces now confirm the deaths of five key al Qaida in Iraq (AQIZ) terrorist leaders who were killed in that meeting.

FacilitatorKilled inDate killed
Abu AliJaramilSept 7
The SheikUbaydiSept 10
Abu NasirUshshSept 26
Abu DuaUshshOct 26
Abu MahmudHusaybahOct 28
Abu Sa'udUbaydiOct 29
Abu AsilHusaybahOct 29
Abu AsimHusaybahNov 2

It is a topic for another time, but I wanted to touch on it here. Last week there was a column at TechCentralStation by a soldier writing under a pseudonym.

The premise of the article is that there are enough troops in Iraq.

I disagree, and this operation today in Husaybah is an example of why I disagree. Operations like this are needed in towns all over western and northern Iraq. Locations that are home to terrorist cells, where they take refuge in safe houses, need to be hit hard, and it takes a significant number of troops to do that. The reason you don't see operations like this on a wide scale at the same time is simply because there aren't enough troops to do so.

As I understood it, the TechCentralStation column said there already are enough troops in Iraq in the form of rear echelon and support troops. To that I would say, if you have to give a gun to a cook and clerk in order to carry out widespread combat operations, you don't have enough troops in Iraq.

Another factor in the equation is combat training. Combat units train constantly. You do not create an effective combat soldier by taking any old soldier, giving them a weapon, and pointing them in the direction of the enemy. Would you want an untrained soldier at your back in a combat operation? True, there may be an abundance of troops in Iraq conduction support operations, who will never see a combat mission, but there just aren't enough combat troops in Iraq to conduct large-scale offensive operations.

This operation in Husaybah is necessary, it will be effective, but imagine how much more effective the Coalition Forces could be if at the same time, right now, today, similar operations were taking place in Qaim, Ubaydi, Ushsh, Karibalah, Sadah, etc...

Bill Roggio comments here on Operation Steel Curtain.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Blog of the Week. Again.

Hey, I know, me again. Won't I please go away, blah blah blah. But, this time, it's war.

(Pay no attention to the rumors the Radioblogger is going to petition the FCC to have me banned.)

MOBsters, we must find a way to unite the families. (For again, another MOBster is in the mix, Perspective and Soda. One of us is going to end up sleeping with the fishes.)

Go here to register your vote.

(For me, Peace Like A River, in case that wasn't clear. My entry is Blue Screen of Death to Conservatives.)

The Screaming Eagles Have Landed

The 101st Airborne Division has begun assuming control of areas in northern Iraq.

From the November 2 issue (PDF) of This Week In Iraq:

Unit commanders and command sergeants major from the 116th BCT finish casing their unit colors during the transfer of authority ceremony Monday. (Photo by Spc. Barbara Ospina)

The 116th Brigade Combat Team relinquished authority for operations in its assigned north-central Iraq sector to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during a ceremony here, Monday.

The transfer of authority ceremony recognized the service and accomplishments of the 116th BCT in the Iraqi provinces of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah this past year and officially transferred authority to the 1st BCT.

Do you think the 116th BCT is happy to be going home, and proud of the job they've done?

From the October issue (PDF) of Snakebite:

This is the the end of a long, 18 month tour on active duty and 12 months in theater, as National Guardsmen.

Here are the words of Brigadier General Alan Gayhart, Commander.

It is hard to believe that soon we will be rejoining our families, seeing old friends, and transitioning back to civilian life.
Each of you has accomplished your duties with extreme professionalism and honor. You should never forget that you are a hero.

And here are the words of 116 BCT Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Leroy Lewis.

We have made our area of operation a lot safer and better place to live in then what it was when we arrived. Remember the number of direct fire attacks, I do, and they have been reduced dramatically.

Look at the number of schools in our provinces that we have opened. Count the number of hospitals, clinics, water projects, agriculture projects, power generating projects that will do so much to increase the quality of life for the citizens. We have helped train the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police, Oil Security Battalions, Fire Departments, judges, government officials, and the list goes on and on.

Our BCT rolled up a lot of bad people and have taken them off the streets to include Anti-Iraqi forces from numerous terrorist cells, high value targets from the old regime, kidnappers, and just plain criminals. This has made a difference throughout the providences for the Iraqi people who want to live in a free society.

Also, there is this this story at DefenseLINK (dateline Tikrit):

Task Force Band of Brothers and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) officially took command of military operations in north-central Iraq in a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Danger here Nov. 1.

The ceremony marked the transfer of authority from Task Force Liberty and the 42nd Infantry Division, a National Guard unit from New York that has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for a year, to TF Band of Brothers.

TF Band of Brothers is composed of two brigade combat teams and a combat aviation brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, Ky., and two brigade combat teams of the 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Stewart, Ga.

The 42nd Infantry Division has an End of Tour video (WMV) that chronicles the hard work they've done over the past year, and remembers those who aren't going home but who are now walking with the angels.

Go to Task Force Liberty's Video Room, and click the PLAY button next to the Summary of the End of Tour video. (And if you can make it all the way to the end of the video without at least a lump in your throat, you're not human.)

This civilian salutes all those who are homeward bound for a job well done.

In closing, I'll include here a post I did on September 29, as the 101st Airborne Division was in the process of deploying to Iraq.

The 101st Airborne Division is in the process of deploying back to Iraq. (The Division was last there in 2003). Some advance units have been there since August, and larger units are now starting to deploy, with units going in stages till around November or December.

The colors were cased in a ceremony described here.

The 101st is a storied division. First formed in 1942, the division distinguished itself during WWII. Many people may be familiar with the division from Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers, and the subsequent HBO series.

The Division was involved in much of the most important fighting in the European Theater in WWII. It jumped into Normandy, and in this famous photo, Gen. Eisenhower was talking to soldiers in the 101st as the sticks prepared to board the planes for Normandy.

After the landings,the division saw heavy fighting at Carentan.

In September 1944, the division jumped into Holland as part of Operation Market-Garden, the ill-fated attempt to open a northern route into Germany. The division encountered heavy fighting, but they fought to keep their section of the road north to Arnhem open.

In December 1944, the division held out at Bastogne in one of the most famous defensive stands of the war. When the Germans asked the Americans to surrender, the commander of the 101st in Bastogne, Gen. McAuliffe, gave his famous reply: "Nuts!"

And, elements of the 101st took Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" redoubt.

The division also saw action in Vietnam, including the brutal battle of Hamburger Hill.

The division took part in Desert Storm, as well.

This is a link to a Google satellite map of the 101st Airborne Museum at Ft. Campbell, KY. I visited this museum a couple years ago.

The planes in the middle of the image are part of an "open-air" museum showing some of the planes used by the 101st in various campaigns. There is a C-47 Skytrain-Dakota transport plane, which was used in the Normandy jumps, and a Vietnam era helicopter, among the various aircraft. There is also a memorial to the Market-Garden campaign too.

The building across the street to the left (west) of the aircraft, with the small red structure in front, is the actual museum. There are artifacts and displays commemorating all the Division's major actions, including the ones I've mentioned.

The 101st is scheduled to be in Iraq for a year. That's a long time to be in harm's way, away from home, family, and friends. Let's remember them in our prayers as they begin their journey to Iraq.

Some day this museum will commemorate the many brave deeds the Division will perform in the coming year.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pushing the terrorist underground railroad to the breaking point

The leadership of the terrorist underground railroad bringing foreign fighters into Iraq from Syria via the Euphrates river valley is being chopped to ribbons.

This CentCom press release is from Wednesday:

A series of Coalition air strikes Nov. 2nd in and around Husaybah destroyed several safe houses, killed at least one terror leader and caught an IED cell in the act of emplacing roadside bombs.

Coalition Air Forces, acting on multiple intelligence sources and tips from local citizens, conducted air strikes against three al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist safe houses in Husaybah. Targeted at the safe houses were a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter facilitator, a terror cell leader and an IED terrorist cell that were linked to al Qaeda in Iraq and foreign fighters in the Husaybah, Karabilah, and al Qaim region.

Sources report that Abu Asim was killed at one of the safe houses when it was attacked. Asim was a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter facilitator who was recently brought in to replace another facilitator thought to have been killed by Coalition Forces. Sources report that Asim had contacts across the border in Syria, who would arrange the smuggling of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into the Husaybah and al Qaim region.

Security Watchtower has another excellent map of the region.

On Monday, in a post entitled The wild west, I outlined the success Coalition forces are having in those western river towns.

The safe houses being used by the terrorists are becoming anything but. The foreigners stand out like neon signs to the locals, they always have. With an established presence in these towns, though, the locals can point out these safe houses with a lessened fear of retaliation, knowing the Coalition forces aren't going to abandon the towns to the terrorists again.

Just days before Operation Iron Fist began October 1, the operation that began to establish a permanent Coalition presence in these western river towns, Anna Badkhen reported that terrorists were taking over these towns and ordering the locals to flee or face death. Before, Coalition forces would stay out of the towns.

There had been reports the terrorists were conducting a "campaign of murder and intimidation of innocent women, children and men". This struggle between the locals and the terrorists has been going on all summer.

With a strong permanent presence being established, look to see successes like these start to snowball. The combination of less experienced terrorist facilitators and an emboldened, vengeful local population eager to expunge the foreign terrorists coming through their towns is a serious threat to the supply of terrorist fighters coming from Syria. With the intelligence the Coalition seems to be getting, terrorists facilitators are being cut down about as soon as they can stand up.

The strike reported Wednesday is the fourth such strike in a week.

FacilitatorKilled inDate killed
Abu AliJaramilSept 7
The SheikUbaydiSept 10
Abu NasirUshshSept 26
Abu DuaUshshOct 26
Abu MahmudHusaybahOct 28
Abu Sa'udUbaydiOct 29
Abu AsimHusaybahNov 2

(Thanks to Security Watchtower for the top two rows.)

The bad guys can't be rolled up fast enough, especially considering October saw the highest number of US fatalities in Iraq since January.

It is not easy work dislodging the bad guys.

This story from the II MEF website, out of Camp Al Qa’im, illustrates the dangers.

The 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon took sniper fire all day as they conducted a relief in place with 1st Mobile Assault Platoon.

"I [Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes] was sitting in defilade, just my head above the turret when it felt like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat."

The sniper had shot Snipes square in the side of his head, hitting him directly in his Kevlar helmet.

Snipes dropped down in the turret. It was at that point he realized he was, in fact, still with the living thanks to his helmet.

A passage from Psalms keeps running through my head. The passage is referring to the wicked.

O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD.

-Psalms 58:6 (RSV)

Indeed, Lord. Break the teeth of our enemies in Iraq and elsewhere, quickly.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

And yet it is the sweetest of all

Tonight as we were saying bedtime prayers, this was John's prayer.

"Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day. We love Daddy. I pledge allegiance to the flag. Thank you for A+. Amen"

(A+ is his after-school care program. He loves it, probably more than the kindergarten itself.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Blue Screen of Death to Conservatives

Today was The Left On Parade Day on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, a day to chronicle the facile silliness in the Left.

Hugh chatted with Senator Jon Kyl about the shameless cry for attention the Democrats emitted in the Senate today. Senate Minority "Leader" Harry Reid and his merry band of pranksters forced the Senate to go into closed session, without first consulting with Majority Leader Frist, as is the custom. It is emblematic of how little the Democrats have to offer that in an attempt to forcibly wrest the spotlight away from the Alito nomination like the neediest child at a birthday party, they have to reach back and drag out the frowzy charge of "Bush Lied and Eggs Fried", or "Bush Lied and I Spied" or "Bush Lied and the White Sox are Off the Schnide", or whatever it was, with the hope the MSM will get back to talking about Scooter Libby.

Hugh also spoke with Bobby Ray Sanders, a Fort Worth columnist. Sanders put forth the helpful suggestion that new Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito would be more comfortable in a white robe than a black robe. Oh those wacky Leftys. Nothing like bogus charges of racism to stir the faithful. Except it's not faith Sanders is full of. These Leftys, they go to the same well so often they no longer recognize they can only bring up buckets of dust.

In a post today about her new book, Unhinged, Michelle Malkin has a stark lineup of mug shots of far Leftys arrested for committing a variety of crimes against conservatives. What's truly sad is these are the sorts of citizens and deeds the far Left praises.

I guess the difference between them and us is what we praise are these kinds of folks, and the deeds they do.

And so, in the wake of the Alito nomination, when the Lyin's of the Senate such as Boxer, Schumer, Biden, Kennedy, rise to warble shrieks of "Extremist!" as a response to an eminently qualified judge, the folks in the mug shots are the choir they're preaching to.

As he did with Bork, within hours of the Alito nomination, Teddy Kennedy was saying Alito was far too extreme for a tender nation. However, Kennedy did have an excuse.

Upon hearing of the Alito nomination, a serious fault occurred in the central core processor deep in Kennedy's brain. Using technology developed by goat herders in Kyrgyzstan, I was able to capture the resulting Blue Screen of Death.

Click the thumbnail to see the full size image

The problem is, the same defective operating system is installed in most of the far Left. As the Alito confirmation process continues, you'll see the Left in more and more need of some down time.

Pakistan relief efforts in fourth week

The latest news from CentCom...

Navy Skytrain Delivers Egyptian Donated Relief Supplies to Islamabad

A U.S. Navy C-9B Skytrain delivered more than 8,000 pounds of blankets and tents to Islamabad, Pakistan Oct. 27. The Egyptian government donated the supplies to the relief effort for victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region.

Pakistan Aid Relief Summary

One U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster, one C-130 Hercules, one contracted AN-124 Condor and one contracted B-747 flew in more than 368,000 pounds of medical, office and school supplies, vehicles and other materials in response to requests from Pakistan’s government.

To date, the U.S. Air Force has airlifted more than 4.5 million pounds of relief supplies to Pakistan.

Pakistani earthquake victims are dropped off on a makeshift helicopter airfield at Muzaffarbad, Pakistan, Oct. 28, 2005. The earthquake victims will be treated at the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. The Department of Defense is delivering disaster relief supplies and services as part of a multinational effort to provide aid and support to Pakistan and parts of India and Afghanistan following a devastating earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Barry Loo)

USS Pearl Harbor Makes Third Pakistani Relief Delivery

The amphibious landing ship dock USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52) offloaded 16 pieces of heavy machinery Oct. 29 to contribute to the Pakistani led relief effort for the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region.

The offloading of the heavy equipment was Pearl Harbor’s third delivery to Karachi in 11 days; on October 18 the ship delivered 13 pieces of heavy machinery and on October 24 the ship returned to deliver 140 tons of food, water, milk and blankets.
Pearl Harbor and her sister ship, USS Cleveland (LPD-7) have delivered 66 pieces of heavy machinery, as well as more than 160 tons of relief supplies.

Flight crews air drop humanitarian aid into Pakistan

Two C-130 Hercules flight crews left from here Oct. 29 and air dropped an estimated 50,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to victims of the Oct. 8 earthquake in Pakistan.

Fourteen container delivery system bundles filled with food, water, shelter and supplies descended on people below in need of the items made available.

The latest Joint Combat Camera Photos are dated October 31.

An update from USAID:

* On October 31, the Executive Director of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that more than 17,000 children died in the October 8 earthquake. In addition, the earthquake affected approximately 1.6 – 2.2 million children.

* The USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) Field Officer in Mansehra reports that shelter remains a key priority in the area, particularly for people expected to descend from the surrounding mountains as winter approaches. According to the USAID/DART, a USAID partner operating health units in Mansehra reported receiving patients with conditions related to poor water and sanitation, including gastro-intestinal illnesses and septic wounds.

US military relief efforts in Pakistan - Oct 13
More on the Pakistan relief efforts - Oct 14
Pakistan relief efforts continue - Oct 18
Making the Pakistan relief effort happen - Oct 20
More on directing the Pakistan relief efforts - Oct 23
Update on Pakistan relief efforts - Oct 27
Pakistan relief efforts continue - Oct 29

linked to Outside the Beltway open post

A simple thank-you would suffice

From a CentCom press release today:

Disaster Assistance Center Pakistan – A United States Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter flying in the vicinity of Chakothi delivering relief aid to earthquake victims, is believed to have been fired upon by a Rocket Propelled Grenade today around 1:45 p.m.

The aircraft was not hit and returned safely with its crew without further incident to Chaklala Air Base around 2:30 p.m.

The title here is said with tongue-in-cheek. It's likely anyone shooting at a US helicopter carrying relief supplies is not from a family most in need of the aid.

The earthquake occurred in Pakistani Kashmir, and there are groups there not friendly to the US.

linked to Stop the ACLU open post

In Search Of... IV

It's time for another installment of In Search Of... These are some of the more amusing web searches that have stumbled across my blog. (The previous installment is here.)

-Where can I find the Puritan recipe to make rum
-toyota tacoma carnage
-how to resuce a child stuck on ice in river
-How did the revoking of the edict of nantes affect the colonies
-party game describe yourself as a stream ocean or river
-can anything be art?
-how do aljazeera and alarabiya handle the presentation of the news differently
-Manfacturer of 32 ford steel bodies
-What's green, hangs on the wall and whistles? (A herring) movie
-my house is a very very found house
-powerless carnival rides
-why my dalmation swats at me
-kouba empire sky blog
-how to apply make up to your face to look like jeepers creepers in the movie
-i've been betrayed
-a girl eating spaghetti

Odds and Ends

I'll have more later, but President Bush's new pick for the Supreme Court, Sam Alito, is an excellent choice. Only wish he had made this pick the first time around. Think for a moment, though. If we skeptics had kept quiet like the anti-anti-Miers contingent wanted us too, we'd have Miers heading for the Court today. Instead, we're getting a top notch Justice. Isn't it a good thing we had that big disagreement?

Yesterday was a blog milestone of sorts, the 10,000th visitor since September 16, 2005, when I finally got around to plugging Sitemeter into the page. So, again, much thanks to all those who take the time to stop by.

Ok, so how did Blog of the Week go this week?

0 - 5!!!


(A great blogger, a friend, and fellow MOBster Psycmeistr takes home the gold. Congrats! At least it's one less fellow MOBster to send me down to crushing defeat!)

But it's all in fun. And as pictured below, I have my constant reminders of what is truly important in life. We took the kids out trick or treating, they collected monstrous piles of loot, and then we went back home where John and Hanna had a fabulous time answering the door and giving out candy to visitors. (The first thing Hanna said to me this morning was "Mommy said when I get up this morning I can have some candy.") I did one of my favorite traditions, and scooped the seeds out of a pumpkin and roasted them. Mmm. This morning Rhonda carved the pumpkin, and it now has a wry, lopsided grin. I should find a stalk of wheat to stick in it.